Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Importance of Mental Health Days After 50

Statistics show Baby Boomers tend to be the most loyal to their jobs. We show up on time and try not to take more days off than necessary. Many of us take pride in never having called out sick.

Well, now that I've returned to the workforce I see the absolute NEED to call out sick---even when I'm not. These are my "Mental Health Days." I am one of those people who rarely gets sick enough to call out but I DO get frustrated enough to take care of my sanity.

If you're over 50 and still working an eight hour, five-days-a-week job, mental health days become EXTREMELY important. Here are some signs you might need to take a day off for your mental health's sake:

YOU AREN’T ENJOYING YOUR WEEKENDS: If the stress of your Monday through Fridays is bleeding into your Saturdays and Sundays, you probably need a day off. It’s normal to get the “Sunday evening blues” as your weekend draws to an end, but if all you can think about is how much you dread going in to work the next day, you need to take another day to re-group and revitalize.

YOU LACK CREATIVITY: When we’re mentally drained, the first thing to go is our creativity. A tired brain results in work that lacks imagination, originality, and resourcefulness. You get used to doing the same things, the same old way. Take a hard look at your last few projects. If they’re missing the creative edge you usually bring to the table, it’s a sign that your mind needs a break.

LITTLE THINGS ARE SETTING YOU OFF: You find yourself snapping at everybody no matter where you are and the smallest things are upsetting. Your co-worker is asking for help and you're frustrated she asked you instead of trying to figure it out for herself first. Never mind the fact that she thinks you're really good at your job and she wants to learn from the best. Also, if you find yourself in an outrage because the person in front of you at the checkout counter is taking too much time to count her exact change, your best course of action is to call in (mentally) sick to work before you snap unnecessarily at someone else.

YOU'RE PLOTTING WAYS TO GET BACK AT YOUR YOUNGER BOSS: Yes, he might be an asshole and he might not treat you with a lot of respect but if you're spending all of your time and energy trying to figure out how to get back at him or get him fired, you might be sending yourself into an early grave. Thinking those negative thoughts all the time can only create stress and we all know stress KILLS.

Try this: the meaner he/she is to you, the nicer you are to them. It is truly a challenge, (trust me because I know first-hand) but if you continue with "positive thoughts" things are surely to turn around in your favor.

YOU'RE BRINGING YOUR WORK HOME EVERYDAY: If you're coming home and still talking and/or thinking about what's going on at your job, you need some mental health intervention. Home is supposed to be a place for sanctuary; a place you can go to forget about the troubles of the day. Home is where you should be relaxing and re-energizing and giving loved ones your undivided attention. If you can't do that, a mental health day should be considered mandatory.

When was the last time you took a mental health day from work? By the way, Mental Health Day is celebrated every year on October 10th.  So be sure to mark your calendar and request the day IN ADVANCE :).

Friday, September 12, 2014

Job Search Tips for Boomers

In September of last year, I made a tough decision to return to the workforce after a seven-year attempt to make it as an entrepreneur. I am still working.

Going back to work put me in an environment I left for good reason. I didn't like the idea of working for younger bosses who thought they knew everything and didn't value what older workers brought to the table. I found it impossible to deal with younger co-workers who had the same attitudes. But I am not going to use this space to vent about the past. I am moving onward and upward in a new direction.

Over the past several years, this blog has been focused on boomer related subjects and issues. It will remain the same but with a clearer focus. As a boomer who has returned to the workforce I want to share some useful tips and information that can help others do the same thing.

This particular topic is on how to get back into the job market.

First of all let me say, finding a job is challenging for anyone in tough economic times but it's harder if you're over the age of 50. Although it's illegal for employers to discriminate based on age, any older job-seeker will tell you it happens ever day. Before I landed my current job, I sent out dozens and dozens of resumes and attended a number of job seminars.

Here are some job tips for boomers with some help from AARP:

1) Use books and online tools to help craft the best resume, which should be no longer than two pages. Don't let your resume reflect your age. Let your experience speak for itself.

2) Highlight your experience in detail on your resume and in your cover letter. Outline why you, an older employee, are the best candidate for the position.

3) If you haven't participated in an interview for awhile, you should brush up on your interview skills. Ask one of your teenage children/spouse or friend to ask you some anticipated questions.

4) Get in touch with old contacts. You never know who knows who and networking still remains one of the best ways to find a job.

5) Don't get discouraged. The job hunting process is truly an exercise in patience. You may be sending out dozens of resumes before you get your first call.

Friday, April 18, 2014

No Pain No Gain

After leaving the gym one day this week I had the nerve to come home and complain about how sore I was. My loving, encouraging husband said, "That means you've pushed yourself to another level. No pain--no gain." That reminded me of a conversation I had with my daughter a few years ago.

Once when she was in college, she called and asked me to pray for her because she felt like she was losing her focus. She said college life and the work involved had become overwhelming. As cruel as it may sound to you, the first thing I said to her was “Welcome to the next journey of your REAL world.”

No doubt my daughter had a lot on her plate. In addition to trying to complete the second year of college in 2009, she also had a 3-year-old son to think about and a part-time job that had her commuting about 45 minutes each way on the weekends. But what I wanted to make her understand was these are the issues that have been been created in her life. She could either deal with them or roll over and play dead.

I told my daughter that God gives us all a vision—but it doesn't come without trial and tribulation. It is up to us to clear our minds and FOCUS.

My advice to my daughter three years ago has now become the absolute BEST ADVICE for ME as I have discovered the "no pain no gain" mentality beyond the gym. Opting to return to the workforce for a steady paycheck was a very painful decision for me to make last year because I felt like it meant I had lost my focus and failed as an entrepreneur after seven years of trying.

Here are some tips for people who feel like their eyes are OFF the prize:

1. Check Your Emotions
If you are charged or upset about something then keep reminding yourself that these emotions will not allow you to get to the next level.

2. Let it Go
Do not dwell on the would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. You have to let the “stuff” go and move forward. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, find an anchor in a confidant or professional. No use crying over spilled milk–just wipe it up and get a new glass.

3. Take A Breather
If you feel you are losing focus -stop, switch off and come back refreshed.

4. Keep a Notepad handy
Maybe that distracting thinking that keeps coming into your head is a good idea and could be useful. Write it down so that you know it is there, re-focus and come back to it later

5. Reschedule
The mind will wander when you are tired so re-schedule. Its more productive to stay focused on the work you are doing. It takes a lot of practice but it’s worth it.

As a parent, I do appreciate the fact that my daughter came to me to ask for prayer. At least I know she knows where her help and strength comes from and so do I.

Sometimes there is triumph and victory in our pain.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Job or Career After 50

If you're at least 50 years old chances are you've had a few jobs over the course of your lifetime. As for me, I'm going on job #11 (not including my own business start-up). The overwhelming number of those jobs were supposed to lead to advancement on my career track. A few did, while others simply moved me into another tax bracket.

So here I am, closer to retirement, working in a JOB that has moved me totally out of my comfort zone and into a world that I have been totally unfamiliar with: time clocks, micro-management, and younger bosses. My ego-driven personality would find this job unbearable but the "thankful for the opportunity" side of me is prepared to suck it up for the greater good.

So what is a job?

A job is something you do simply to earn money.

A job has minimal impact on your future work life.

A job offers few networking opportunities.

A job can stunt your growth mentally and physically.

The good news is you can turn a job into a new career after 50.

Although I was hired for a specific job, I have set my sights on another position inside the company. My plan is to use the skills I've developed over the years and make them marketable for that department. Not only do I see my my skills as an advantage, but I also see my age AND race as bonuses based on the hiring practices of this particular company.

The truth of the matter is, over our lifetime we've acquired many useful skills, whether it was in a previous career or through other life experiences. You'd be surprised to see how skills can transfer across occupations.

Although you may be hired for one position (like I was), you can use your experience to move into a position that will showcase your talents. Many older workers are led to believe that age works against them when, in essence, it can be your trump card. Age is only a factor if you make it one by being a know-it-all, difficult to communicate with and someone who thrives on telling everyone else how to do their jobs.

You can shine in a new career after 50.