JOMO – Embrace the Joy of Missing Out

February 4, 2019

aaron-burden-20304-unsplashMany are familiar with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This acronym was coined by Patrick McGinnis, an entrepreneur and investor, during his time at Harvard Business School. As a small-town boy from Maine he describes the overwhelming nature of being “transplanted from a calm place with a simple lifestyle to a hub of 1,800 highly ambitious, connected young people.” His mania to try to fit it all in led to his FOMO discovery and his book FOMO Sapiens is now available.

What is the antidote to FOMO and the accompanying feeling that you are never doing quite enough?

JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out – is about being present and content with your current life and not feeling the need to compare your life to others. It often means tuning out the external or internal background noise of what you “should” be doing allowing you to free up the competitive and anxious space in your brain.

Give Yourself Permission to Say No
You don’t have to accept every party invitation. It is important to be intentional with your time and prioritize what is truly important to you. Do what you feel is necessary for you and don’t worry about what others are doing or thinking.

Embrace Real Life, Not Social Media Life
Social media can often trigger FOMO feelings. You don’t have enough money to go on a cool vacation like some of your friends or you feel you aren’t as professionally or personally successful as a peer’s profile might suggest. Take time to disconnect and not fall into the rabbit hole of scrolling through social media feeds. Unsubscribe from accounts and unfollow individuals that make you feel negatively triggered.

Be Present
Slowing down and being in the present moment can help calm us down but it can also allow us to more fully reflect on our thoughts and feelings. This is akin to meditation, which has a slew of benefits. Give yourself permission to disconnect and not feel like every moment of the day has to be scheduled and/or productive for a specific purpose.

Danish psychology professors, Svend Brinkmann, recently wrote a book The Joy of Missing Out. He notes that the Latin motto “Carpe Diem” is one of the most popular tattoos because as a society we have this prevailing mood where we feel “we must all rush around seizing the day” and maximizing our time at every turn. Brinkmann points out that less often delivers more in terms of meaning. “If we want to be friends with everyone, we cannot truly have a friend. If we want to do something well, we cannot do it all.” Learning to embrace limitations and self-imposed boundaries can help offset our neurotic hyperactivity and maximalist expectations.

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Expressing Yourself and Your Ideas as an Introvert in an Extraverted World

January 28, 2019

rawpixel-682403-unsplashIf you are introverted or reserved, you may sometimes feel pressure in an extraverted world to express your thoughts and ideas even though you don’t really feel the need to share them. Each individual has their own preferences for when to engage and communicate with other people professionally and personally.

You may wonder: “Why do I need to do this?” The answer is – you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. However, sometimes at work or at home, it will be in your best interest to share your thoughts and ideas verbally (aloud) with others.

Also, there are times that everyone, whether introverted or extraverted, might choose to do something that they don’t prefer to do, or that that don’t feel they excel at, to reach an important goal or to strengthen a relationship.

Even if you don’t feel the need to share your thoughts, developing skills to engage with others and express yourself will enhance your ability to contribute professionally when it will help you to reach your goals.

  • Need help from a colleague or mentor?
    • Mentors are not mind readers. it’s important to let him or her know and ask for their help.
  • Want to express your opinion about a problem or experimental approach?
    • You will be more effective if you can discuss your ideas out loud as well as in writing.
  • Looking to meet new people for social or career purposes?
    • Find a way to reach out. Even extraverts can be shy and will appreciate your taking time to talk with them.

You may be applying for graduate school or medical school after your post-bac or seeking a full-time job after your post-doc at NIH.  Just doing good work or getting good grades is not enough to help people understand your strengths and goals

Developing assertive skills to speak up about your skills and knowledge will enable the faculty/employers evaluating your applications to understand you and the knowledge and commitment you will bring to their organization or university.

The more you develop your skills at reaching out: commenting, talking and engaging with other colleagues and fellow scientists, the more effective you will be in communicating your ideas.

If you prefer introversion you probably have many internal thoughts and ideas about issues and problems/experiments. It will help you and your mentor/colleagues to better understand you if they actually hear your thoughts.

Speaking up and sharing our thoughts is an assertive act and one that is sometimes not as important or preferred by people who are introverted. They simply do not have the need to talk about their thoughts all the time. For extraverts – talking about their thoughts is an important part of the process of thinking through a problem and sorting through the alternatives.

No matter what your preferences, you can be more effective in making requests and expressing your ideas and opinions if you use I-Statements.

Planning an I-Statement can help you to clarify your thoughts and focus on the message you want to express or the request you would like to make.

Using I statements would include a formula something like this:

Use a 3-part statement:

  • Describe a behavior or situation that is going on, or what you want or need
  • The effects are . . . (describe how the behavior or situation concretely affects you or would affect you)
  • I’d prefer, I’d like . . . (describe what you want/need/plan to do)

 For example:

  1. I think I have enough results to present at the ASM meeting in September in Arizona.
  2. I think this would really help me move ahead toward my goal of working in academia.
  3. Do you think the lab would be able to support my attendance at this meeting?

Using I statements doesn’t guarantee that we will always get what we want. However, they can be a great first step in letting other people know about our ideas and goals and also help us to clarify our thoughts.

Remember that it is up to you how you choose to engage and speak up professionally and personally in the world.

Assertive behavior can help you to be more effective when you choose to communicate your ideas and requests. The next assertiveness workshop will take place on be Feb 28, 2019. https://www.training.nih.gov/events/view/_2/2629/Speaking_Up_How_to_Ask_for_What_You_Need_in_the_Lab_and_in_Life

If you aren’t at the NIH, two good resources for follow-up include:

  1. Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking 
  2. Susan Cain’s blog on executive presence for Introverts

https://www.quietrev.com/executive-presence-for-introverts/

 


Core Competencies & Blog Resources

January 14, 2019

There are four groups of skills that all trainees need to have to help ensure success in their careers. These skills are not only beneficial for success if your current role, but are vital skills to continue to develop in order to excel in future career paths. Below are descriptions of these skills sets and a listing of blog posts on each topic. Check out the posts to delve a bit further into each subject area.

Core competencies include:

COMMUNICATION
We communicate with people everyday:  writing papers, sending emails, giving presentations, or discussing ideas in meetings.  In almost every job, the ability to share thoughts and ideas clearly with others is a necessary competency.

Blog Posts to Check Out:
Difficult Work Conversations
Negotiating Across Cultures
Interviewing with Confidence
Improving Your Writing Skills
Public Speaking for Introverts

CAREER READINESS & EXPLORATION
Starting your career search requires a strong set of skills:  From preparing for job interviews and writing cover letters, to networking and using social media for finding jobs or opportunities for collaborations.

Blog Posts to Check Out:
Best Practices for Resume Writing
Guide to Cover Letters
Five Most Common Networking Excuses
How I Overcame My Fear of Informational Interviewing
Career Options Series

LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT
Any position that requires managing people requires effective teamwork skills.  Are you the president of your student group, or supervising others in your lab?  Then you need leadership skills.  Not only do we need strong people management skills, but you also need project management skills, such as being able to set realistic milestones for your research or thesis, and then hitting those deadlines.

Blog Posts to Check Out:
Good Mentoring Guidelines
Identifying Mentors and Getting the Most Out of Your Mentoring Relationships
Manage Your Time with a Tomato
A Tool for Feedback: Situation, Behavior, Impact
There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day – Time Management Tips

TEACHING & MENTORING
Teaching and mentoring skills help us share knowledge with others, and go beyond the classroom setting.  More experienced employees often share knowledge and information with newer ones, which helps the entire team or organization be more effective.

Blog Posts to Check Out:
Tomorrow’s Professors: Preparing for the Academic Job Market
Getting a Faculty Job, Revisited
Managing Mentoring Relationships – Tips of Mentors and Mentees
Writing the Teaching Statement
Basic Overview: The US Academic System


New Year – New Career?

January 1, 2019

Happy 2019!brooke-lark-194254-unsplash

According to this article, fewer people are making new year’s resolutions to exercise or lose weight. More people (37%, up from 6% in 2018) are focusing on saving money. Others seem to be resolving to make new friends (11%), get a new job (12%), and find love (7%).

If you are among the 12% looking for a new job this new year, here are some career resolutions that can help you stay on track.

  1. Resolve to be more accountable by joining a job search group.
    If you want to make a change in your professional domain, you should start by making SMART resolutions. SMART is an acronym used to describe goals as :

    S
     = Specific
    M = Measurable
    A = Attainable
    R = Realistic
    T = Time-bound

    Many resolutions are too vague and don’t put in the accountability often needed for success. For example, often individuals find that having a workout buddy can help them actually get to the gym because there is now an external source of accountability. If you think you would benefit from having an external support group and you are at the NIH, consider applying for the 2019 Job Search Work Team. This support group will meet weekly for a month in order to promote career-oriented action steps among members. For more details, see the online application here: https://www.training.nih.gov/sas/_20/1558/

    If you are outside the NIH, consider creating one of your own with friends/colleagues. This could be a great way to kick start your new year and stay on track!

  2. Resolve to do one thing.
    This seems like a manageable resolution, right? Too often, people make too many resolutions and then become overwhelmed about where to start. Choose just one thing and follow through. If you need some ideas on what that one thing should be, check out our monthly calendar of suggestions here. Whether it is speaking with your PI about your career or making an appointment with an OITE career counselor, choose one thing and do it.

  3. Commit to your own wellness.
    Job searches and transitions are rife with stress. Not only are you trying to continue to be successful in your current role, but you are actively searching for the next best step for yourself. It can be a struggle to feel calm and centered when your schedule feels chaotic. Try to build activities into your daily routine which can help, whether that is arriving at work a bit earlier to get through emails or spending some time at lunch meditating. If you are at the NIH, there are many resources and activities that focus on wellness. You can see the full listing here.

Waiting is Hard to Do

December 18, 2018

From the Archive: Blog written by Michael J. Sheridan, MSW, PhD, Special Advisor for Diversity and Wellness Programs, Michael.sheridan@nih.gov

It is December 2018, and while many are preparing for holidays, if you are trainee, you are probably asking yourself, “I haven’t heard back from a number of medical schools, is there something I can do to move them along? Should I assume I won’t get in?  Will I get an interview at the graduate programs that I applied to?  I am waiting to hear from academic positions …is there anything I can do?  The good news is that, if you haven’t heard anything yet, you are still being considered. With the holidays fast approaching, it is probable that most communication will resume in the new year.  The reality is that waiting for a response is hard thing to do.

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Dr. Michael Sheridan, Special Advisor for Diversity and Wellness Programs offers some strategies to help and writes that an area to be aware of while you wait is what is going on in your mind – specifically, the “inner chatter” that is present. It’s important to realize that you “talk” to yourself more than anyone else and thus, what you are saying makes a difference.  There are two particular qualities of this inner chatter to be mindful of – the “when” and the “what.”

The “when” of your inner dialogue refers to how much the mind is focused on either the past (“I wish I had remembered to put X in my application.” “I should have had so and so critique my letter before I sent it.”) or the future (“What will I do if I don’t get any interviews?” “If I don’t hear back from them by the end of this week, it means I didn’t get in”).  The reality of both past and future musings (or let’s face it, worrying) is that it is truly wasted effort as you can’t change something that’s already happened and you can’t predict what is going to happen in the future!  The only moment you have any control of is the current moment – and even then, I’m talking about control of your own thoughts and behaviors – not the actions of others or the eventual outcome.  Focusing on what you can do versus what you can’t lowers anxiety and builds confidence.

The “what” of your inner chatter has to do with the overall message or tone of what you are saying to yourself.  Are your thoughts harshly self-critical? (“I know I did a terrible job on that personal essay – I probably sounded really stupid”) Do they have a doomsday or “catastrophizing” flavor to them? (“I didn’t get this position, which means I won’t get any of the others I applied for either”)  Or are they balanced and positive? (“I know I won’t get accepted by everyone, but I probably won’t get rejected by everyone either” -“I’ve done the best I can and I can handle whatever the next step needs to be”).  A good thing to cultivate during the waiting is compassionate self-talk, or treating yourself with “the same kindness, care, and concern that you would treat a good friend” (Dr. Kristen Neff, www.self-compassion.com). So notice what you’re saying to yourself and if it is not supportive, ask yourself if you would say this to a good friend.  Chances are, you would offer something more encouraging, so try being your own good friend!

In addition to Dr. Sheridan’s suggestions above, we invite you to visit our blog, where we suggested some activities to engage in during the holidays that will help you prepare to continue pursuing your career goals.  Also, be sure to visit our OITE web page as well to attend workshops and schedule an appointment with a career counselor.  If you are one of our extended community readers, please check with your home institution and local resources for career services. We will see you in 2019!


Managing SAD at Work

December 11, 2018

lily-banse-363743-unsplashJust over a month ago, we set our clocks back for Daylight Savings Time. This combined with fewer daylight hours means that most of us are leaving work in the dark. This is just one of the many groan-inducing moments which wintertime brings. Others include frigid mornings making it harder to get out of a warm bed, commuting through snow/ice and gloomy grey days all the while navigating sick colleagues in the lab.

It is no wonder that many of us find that our energy levels and happy outlook dissipate with the change in seasons.  For some of us, the winter blues can be easily shaken off; however, others are afflicted by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons and differences in daylight hours.  Not accounting for personal variability, SAD usually begins in October/November and ends in March/April.

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, SAD is not considered a separate disorder; it is a type of depression displaying a recurring seasonal pattern.  For individuals to be diagnosed, they must meet full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons for at least two years.

On top of some of the common symptoms of depression such as feeling hopeless, sluggish, and experiencing difficulty concentrating, other symptoms of winter pattern SAD include:

  • Low energy
  • Hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness)
  • Overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Craving carbohydrates
  • Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”)

There are attributes that make you more likely to suffer from SAD. Living far from the equator is an obvious one; for example, only one percent of those who live in Florida experience SAD whereas about nine percent in New England and Alaska suffers from SAD.  If you have a family predisposition or prior diagnoses of depression or bipolar, you are more likely to experience SAD as well. Another risk factor is being female as SAD is diagnosed four times more often in women than in men.

If you are concerned that you might be suffering from SAD, please seek help from a physician or counselor right away. There is no need to suffer these winter months away and four major types of treatment have been proved effective. These include: medication, psychotherapy, light therapy, and vitamin D which can be used alone or in combination with one another.

Don’t be hesitant to ask for workplace adjustments which could help as well. Some of these small tweaks could include sitting by a window in the lab/office or even installing a light box which is designed to simulate sunshine and help increase one’s production of serotonin. You may also ask to adjust your work hours, so that you are able to leave the lab before it gets dark at night.


Character Strengths

December 4, 2018

Character Strength Word InfographicDo you need help identifying your signature strengths?

According to the VIA Institute on Character, knowing your character strengths isn’t just interesting information to have; it can have a positive impact on your life overall. It is believed that understanding your strengths can help you: 1. Manage and overcome problems; 2. Improve your personal and professional relationships; 3. Enhance your overall sense of well-being.

Martin Seligman (Founder of Positive Psychology) and his research group have a website through the University of Pennsylvania called: authentichappiness.org.  This site includes information on learning and applying the principles of positive psychology to any domain, such as a job search. We have talked about the site before on the OITE Career Blog when we discussed the importance of positivity and resilience in your job search in past blog posts like “Enhancing Optimism and Resilience in Your Job Search & Beyond”. This website has a whole range of different surveys that you can take, such as assessments on happiness, grit, work-life balance, etc. The one we suggest focusing on today is the Signature Strengths Survey which helps you identify your top five strengths.

This online assessment denotes six classes of virtues that make up the 24 character strengths listed. These six classes and corresponding strengths include:

  • Wisdom and knowledge

Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge
Strengths: Creativity, Curiosity, Judgment, Love-of-Learning, Perspective

  • Courage

Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal
Strengths: Bravery, Honesty, Perseverance, Zest

  • Humanity

Interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others
Strengths: Kindness, Love, Social Intelligence

  • Justice

Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life
Strengths: Fairness, Leadership, Teamwork

  • Temperance

Strengths that protect against excess
Strengths: Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, Self-Regulation

  • Transcendence

Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning
Strengths: Appreciations of Beauty, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, Spirituality

Hopefully this assessment will help you focus on not only identifying your strengths but also finding new ways to begin using those strengths more intentionally within your life. A logistical note about taking this survey: it is quite long as it has 240 questions and you can’t save it and come back to it, so be sure to take it when you have sufficient time. You do have to create a log in to access the surveys, but by participating you are actually paying it forward in a way by helping with their positive psychology research.