The College Experience: What’s Personality Got to do With it?

The College Experience: What’s Personality Got to do With it?

We know them: The classroom dominatrix, who seems to have an opinion on every issue, the more reserved student whose eye rolls and bubble captions loom after a peer’s constant comments, or the student who believes the least participation wins the popularity contest. While there are many layers to the classroom environment, one constant remains- personality. I invite you to read today’s newsletter by Carrie Morris, a Career Development Coach and MBTI® Practitioner of CarrieOn Coaching, LLC.

THE ROAD MORE OR LESS TRAVELLED

MARCH 8, 2017 | BY CARRIE MORRIS, PHR, ACC

"A foot and lighthearted I take to the open road

Healthy, free, the world before me

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose…” 

Which for the time being – is my parents’ basement.

For the first time in more than 130 years, Americans, ages 18-34 are choosing an alternative living situation. And out of the crowded field of choices – life with Mom and/or Dad has become the top pick for millennials – particularly men. That’s more than 1 in 5 young adults, according to a recent report from real estate hub Zillow. And of the 14.1 percent of 24 to 34-year-olds living at home and whom remained unemployed as of 2016, about 55 percent were male.

While not a sequel to the popular Matthew McConaughey movie, or a true diagnostic category – yet,Failure to Launch Syndrome,” Failure to Thrive,” or the “Boomerang Generation,” describes young adults who are unwilling or unable to navigate a smooth glide path and fully transition from dependence to independence. Lacking the developmental skills others of their generation seem to have adopted more naturally, this group when faced with adversity, opted for an about face. They returned home, inspired tension and guilt among family members who wonder and worry when their child will “pull it together,” and what if anything they can do to fast-track the process?

Granted the changing face of the economy, a shrinking job market, burgeoning college debt – for those who did graduate, has significantly impacted the prospects for young adults to experience the same level of financial independence their parents and generations before them experienced. But – least we assume these are the only critical dynamics at play in millennials’ reluctance to strike out and support themselves. It’s not. Whatever the reason and backstory, the majority of these young people are overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with the challenges and demands of college and later on in the workforce.

What differentiates these young people from their peers who’ve made more successful transitions? Good question.

With ample theories and theorists focused on this at-risk population, one theory supports the era of entitlement and instant gratification has impeded what therapists’ call “frustration tolerance.” This is how we handle upsetting situations, tolerate ambiguity, and learn to navigate the circumstances and natural consequences of breakups, poor grades, setbacks and normal life stuff. If a young person is not tasked to cultivate the spirit of reliance in the face of adversity during adolescence, it’s unlikely they’re going to naturally cobble this skill set together once in adulthood.

There can also be underlying learning and/or attention challenges that don’t have a significant impact on a student’s functioning until they leave home and enter college where the demands of organization, time management and independent study are required to grasp larger and more complex material.

Factor in well-intentioned parents who’ve grown accustomed to playing the role of academic advocate and project manager, providing the scaffolding throughout their children’s secondary and post-secondary education. And unless a parent plans on moving into the dorm room across the hall, once at college and left to their own devises, these young people are ill-equipped to make the necessary adjustments and strike that critical balance of self-sufficiency apart from the family’s gravitational force field.

So how do we as parents, mental health professionals and coaches, effectively encourage young adults to establish realistic goals, cultivate greater self-reliance, and a meaningful vision for their future?

Here are just a few things to ponder:

  • Engage in an honest and constructive dialogue about realistic expectations and boundaries with your adult child – (God forbid children) about what you’re willing and unwilling to do to support them during this transitional period. Think about incorporating creative problem solving known as “Question Storming.” A branch of brainstorming where you and your adult child identify a series of questions in rapid succession without discussion or judgment. The biggest difference between brainstorming and Q Storming is the emphasis on questions, not ideas. There are any number of ways to view a problem, and identifying the right problem is often the first step toward creative solutions.
  • Help separate long-range from moderate and short-term, measurable goals, with consistent action, and timelines associated with the fulfillment of the agreed upon goals. Identify why the goal is meaningful to your young adult? Otherwise, the motivation and path forward will be hollow and unsustainable. Q Storm around how best to motivate the young adult to continue working toward the fulfillment of the goal and the natural consequences associated with him/her not living up to their agreements.
  • Psychotherapy may be an option, and seeking a psychiatrist for medication management could be helpful in the management of depression and anxiety. Discourage/disallow substance use, which can exacerbate depression and anxiety symptoms.
  • Reinforce the value of ongoing, nonjudgmental inquiry; observing what’s working in their plan as well as opportunities for revision. Keeping a log of incremental successes is very powerful and self-affirming. Small successes eventually lead to larger successes!

Perhaps it’s also worth considering a broader definition of success and the circuitous pathway toward maturity. A one size fits all – it’s not. Only when we build the capacity of self-respect and self-management in our young people, demonstrate faith, patience and confidence in their ability to “get it” in their own, unique way – in their own, unique time, handle the demands of adulthood with nimbleness, accountability, and creative problem solving skills, will they eventually find a place to reside and thrive in their own skin.  And after all, isn’t that the ultimate definition of success and our wish for all young people?

 

Career Ready: Distinguishing Yourself From the Interview Pack

What does it mean to be the PC…The Perfect Candidate? It begins with your STORY.

Is your ambitious college grad on the verge of entering the job market or currently teeing-up that invaluable summer internship? If so – and they can demonstrate in a well-crafted cover letter and resume that they have some of the requisite skills organizations’ value, they’ll be far closer to landing that first gig! 
But first – they’ve got to GET the interview. And then – they’ve got to NAIL it!

No doubt, it’s a highly competitive landscape out there, with far more candidates vying for far fewer jobs. Your job is to rise above the crowd by first establishing you’re a serious candidate on paper! And you accomplish this by focusing on the transferability of your current skills! These may include your college and any relevant extracurricular activities AND their application in the environment you would like to enter (presumably, that of your target organization.) The takeaway here: no generic cover letters. Customize, tailor, tailor, tailor. One good test is to ask your friends, parents – that man on the street, if they can tell what job you’re applying for just by looking at your resume. If they can, terrific! And if you stay with me, below I’ll make a quick reference to how the job description can be your best guide in crafting your resume.

So, let’s make some assumptions and say you’ve advanced from the initial phone screen to the in-person interview. Now what????

Here’s where I come in: showing you how to effectively convey your winning attributes in an in-person interview.

Together We Will:

• Identify your (USP) Unique Selling Proposition.
• Capitalize on what sets you apart from your competition. 
• Understand the difference between the Traditional Vanilla and Behavioral-Based Interview and how that translates into your interview preparation. 
• How crafting a well-structured storyline “STARS” can address any question an interviewer tosses over the net with a sure-fire lob back! 
• How Mise en Place (MEEZ-ahn-plahs) – the French culinary term that means “everything in its place” translates into successful interview preparation and outcome. 
• What your body language says that speaks louder than any words.
• Pacing, and that all important VOICE. How to ensure that yours is a three-chair turner.
• How to address broad and equally lame interview questions such as: “So, tell me about yourself? (And they don’t mean if you’re a vegan.)
• Why the Job description should become your best friend and greatest source of intel. 
 • Shifting the traditional interview mindset; recognizing it’s not about you to IT’s ALL ABOUT THEM!!!!!
• How to turn your stretches into strengths when asked about your greatest weaknesses.
• How best to authentically position yourself to showcase your value to the organization.
• How to be a closer, not a poser.

 

Cognitive Distortions/ Limited-Thinking Patterns

Cognitive distortions, a concept from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), refer to biased ways of thinking about oneself and the world around us.  The model essentially states that there are specific (and common) ways people distort their thinking. These irrational thoughts and beliefs (i.e., distortions) can lead to problematic emotional states and behavior, like anxiety, low self-esteem, depression and relationship conflicts. That’s why you want to be aware of them, so that you can shift your thinking to more rational and objective thoughts whenever possible.  More rational thinking tends to lead to more positive emotional and behavioral experiences.

Below is a list of 10 common cognitive distortions, from Dr. David Burns, author of the best seller “The Feeling Good Handbook.”   All human beings use these cognitive distortions to greater and lesser degrees.  See which ones apply to you.

1.      ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING (also known as POLARIZED THINKING): You see things in black and white categories. If your performance fails short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure. There's no middle ground, no room for mistakes.

 

2.      OVERGENERALIZATION: You reach a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. You exaggerate the frequency of problems and use negative global labels.

 

3.      FILTERING: You focus on the negative details while ignoring all the positive aspects of a situation.

 

4.      CATASTROPHIZING: You expect, even visualize disaster. You notice or hear about a problem and think, "What if tragedy strikes?"  You inappropriately exaggerate the importance of things.

 

5.      MAGNIFYING: You exaggerate the degree or intensity of the problem. You turn up the volume on anything bad, making it loud, large, and overwhelming.

 

6.      SHOULDS: You have a lot of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act. People who break the rules anger you, and you feel guilty when you violate the rules. You try to motivate yourself with "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts," as if you had to be punished before you could be expected to do anything.  The emotional consequence is guilt.

 

7.      PERSONALIZATION: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event or someone's reaction for which, in fact, you were not necessarily a consideration or an important factor.  You assume that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who is smarter, more competent, better looking, and so on.

 

8.      MIND READING: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don't bother to check this assumption out.  Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do.  In particular, you have certain knowledge of how people think and feel about you.

 

9.      EMOTIONAL REASONING: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."

 

10.   LABELING AND MISLABELING: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: "I am a loser."  When someone else's behavior rubs you the wrong way you attach a negative label to him or her.

 

11.   SELECTIVE ATTENTION & SELECTIVE MEMORY: When you pay attention to information that confirms your beliefs and ignore other information that may contradict your beliefs.  Selective memory is when you only remember certain pieces of information that confirm what you believe.

 

 

Change Your Awareness, Change Yourself

Abraham Maslow once said, “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” As good a place to start as any. During these times when your life is starting to move in a new direction (career reinvention, transition, retirement, unexpected loss, etc.) and stress or suds levels bubble to the surface, trust and tap into your character strengths to help you shift your mindset and recognize the path forward has distinct possibilities and you’ve got CHOICES!

1. Learn and Draw your Strength and Confidence from Past Successes
Think of a time in the past when you were successful at something. You directed your energy and focus into a task and felt proud of the outcome. Maybe you finished a complicated work project, spent the day making a family member, friend or work colleague feel special and loved, or hosted a successful dinner party. First, consider which of your core character strengths you utilized to help you complete this task. Then, reflect on how those particular strengths can continue to help you move through this life transition with more clarity, grace and confidence.

2. Give Yourself a Break and a Boost
Some life changes may leave you feeling weak and insecure, ill-equipped to handle the unexpected. But when you remind yourself of your natural, strength-based qualities that you’ve successfully marshalled in the past and what makes you – YOU, and uniquely positioned to handle this situation and those to come, you will bring renewed strength and creativity to your current situation. Land on a mantra that will become uniquely yours. “I bring more {ENTER TOP STRENGTH} into my life and into this world.” 

3. Ground your Goals    
Research shows that when you align your goals with your character strengths you have a better chance of succeeding. How do you see yourself on the other side of this life transition? Make a game plan to accomplish this goal with small behavioral actions/changes rooted in your top strengths. For instance, maybe you plan to use your strength of curiosity to learn one new thing each day about your new job/organization which will contribute to your ultimate goal of being productive in the position.

Using your Character Strengths effectively during a life transition can help reduce the stress and uncertainty you experience.

 I look forward to accompanying you on this leg of your journey and those to come.

 

 

 

HardWired for Happiness...Who Knew?

Happiness, scientists say, is already a part of our DNA. We’re actually hardwired to be happy. Whoa! Who Knew?

So then why do so many of us schlep around feeling dissatisfied. That there’s something we don’t have that we’d be happier, if we did have? Well, after great reflection – and a bit of straw polling – I believe it boils down to this:

We’ve been operating in a flawed model.  The If/Then, or When/Then model of happiness.

If I were thinner, younger, had a better job title, were retired, travelled more, travelled less, were married, were divorced… if only my kids would finally leave home and not find their way back, Then I’d be happy.

We all have our specific if’s that we’re focused on. But what happens at the conclusion of your if...? You need a new if. Reminds me of a Seinfeld episode. 

So. What are the steps? We all want to achieve something. That’s life and that’s good. It gives us a sense of focus and something to work toward. But, here’s where we often run aground. Where we naturally invest our focus. On the outcome, not the actions taken to accomplish the goal. Actions are within our control. The outcome?? Not so much. So how do we detach from the outcome? When we invest in the outcome, (stay with me) to the exclusion of the process, the incremental accomplishments, the check points along the way, we’re setting ourselves up for frustration and continually moving the goal posts. It’s not enough. I’m not feeling the Happy Meal. I need a new If. 

The alternative and today’s take away. Invest in the process! Invest in the reason you started the project. The why it was meaningful for you? The what would it satisfy in you. The actual Being in the curriculum vs investing in the what the outcome might look like. You have no control over the outcome and chances are even if you got it, you may not like it because it bears zero resemblance to what you thought it would. And then you need a new if… Starting to make sense now, isn’t it?

So, focus on the outcome only to the extent it gives you focused roadmap and something to track. That’s positive. But then completely invest yourself in the organic nature of the process. The being of it, vs the doing of it? If you succeed great! If not – equally great! You’ve been granted a new starting point, opportunity to cultivate new resources to bring to bear to the next situation and the one after that. And perhaps a better outcome than the one you first conceived.

Stay open, stay curious, and most of all enjoy the ride. Carry On!

 

CarrieON Coaching

Carrie on Rock Sedona-01-1.jpg

CarrieON Coaching

Greetings, Parents, and Friends

Is your ambitious college grad on the verge of entering the job market or currently teeing-up that invaluable summer internship? If so – and they can demonstrate in a well-crafted cover letter and resume that they have some of the requisite skills organizations’ value, they’ll be far closer to landing that first gig! But first – they’ve got to GET the interview. And then – they’ve got to NAIL it! (And no offense, but if I may speak directly to your youngin’s.)

No doubt, it’s a highly competitive landscape out there, with far more candidates vying for far fewer jobs. Your job is to rise above the crowd by first establishing you’re a serious candidate on paper! And you accomplish this by focusing on the transferability of your current skills! These may include your college and any relevant extracurricular activities AND their application in the environment you would like to enter (presumably, that of your target organization.) The takeaway here: no generic cover letters. Customize, tailor, tailor, tailor. One good test is to ask your friends, parents – that man on the street, if they can tell what job you’re applying for just by looking at your resume. If they can, terrific! And if you stay with me, below I’ll make a quick reference to how the job description can be your best guide in crafting your resume.

So, let’s make some assumptions and say you’ve advanced from the initial phone screen to the in-person interview. Now what????

Here’s where I come in: showing you how to effectively convey your winning attributes in an in-person interview.

Together we will:

• Identify your (USP) Unique Selling Proposition.

• Capitalize on what sets you apart from your competition.

• Understand the difference between the Traditional Vanilla and Behavioral-Based Interview and how that translates into your interview preparation.

• How crafting a well-structured storyline “STARS” can address any question an interviewer tosses over the net with a sure-fire lob back! • How Mise en Place (MEEZ-ahn-plahs) – the French culinary term that means “everything in its place” translates into successful interview preparation and outcome.

• What your body language says that speaks louder than any words. • Pacing, and that all important VOICE. How to ensure that yours is a three-chair turner.

• How to address broad and equally lame interview questions such as: “So, tell me about yourself? (And they don’t mean if you’re a vegan.)

• Why the Job description should become your best friend and greatest source of intel.

• Shifting the traditional interview mindset; recognizing it’s not about you to IT’s ALL ABOUT THEM!!!!! • How to turn your stretches into strengths when asked about your greatest weaknesses.

• How best to authentically position yourself to showcase your value to the organization.

• How to be a closer, not a poser.

If I may be of service, I hope you'll connect. If not, I wish you the best in your endeavors, and most importantly, enjoy the ride! Be well!