Career Counseling in DC
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Reasonable and Unreasonable Expectations of Career Counseling

Jim Weinstein is a renowned Career Development Counselor in DC. His list of achievements is impressive and includes Jeopardy! Winner, co-founder of 4Therapy.com, MBA with distinction from Harvard, and a Masters in Clinical Psychology degree holder. He has been practicing career counseling in DC for many years, and provides expert advice on how to find and prosper in all kinds of careers. Mr. Weinstein is also an experienced life consultant in DC and works with people from all walks of life to foster their personal growth.

A few days ago I received a call from a prospective client needing interview coaching who asked me a number of relevant questions: How does your process work? What are your fees? How many sessions would you expect me to need? Having received satisfactory responses he booked a session.

An hour later he called back with one other question: “What is your success rate in interview coaching?” I wasn’t sure exactly what he meant, so he clarified: “How many people whom you have coached on effective interviewing have gotten the job?”

I wasn’t able to answer the question, since most clients don’t report back on the results of their interviews (though I know that my coaching has helped many clients land jobs). I certainly couldn’t pretend to know the exact success rate. But I pointed out to the client that how an interview goes is only one small piece of the package necessary to land a job. Perhaps most importantly, who else is competing for the job? The best interview answers in the world won’t trump a significantly more qualified/experienced candidate. Other major factors that come into play: one’s pre-existing connections to people involved in the hiring process (i.e. “who do you know?”), one’s references, one’s salary requirements, one’s “cultural fit,” etc.

This conversation raised in my mind the larger issue of what is appropriate for a client to expect from a career counselor. There is a (fortunately) relatively small number of clients who in essence expect the career counselor to have a magic bullet, to land them a job, tell them what career to switch to, or lull them into a false sense of security about their career prospects. That’s not what a good career coach will, or should, do.

Just as in sports, a good coach will recommend strategies for success, assign exercises to improve skills, and build self-confidence. But in the final analysis it is the athlete’s commitment to following the coach’s guidance and the athlete’s inherent talents and acquired skills that will predict success. The best coach in the worlds can’t create a winner out of an individual or team that is lazy, oppositional, or clearly below par vs. competition.

So, when thinking about hiring a career counselor, do your best to develop a clear and reasonable list of expectations and then share them with the candidates you are considering. Listen carefully for overpromise, as of course the candidates will most likely be interested in landing you as a client and unscrupulous ones may wildly exaggerate their abilities to contribute to your success (I’ve heard, for example, about resume services that tout a 90+% success rate which is patently ridiculous since a resume is only one small, initial step towards landing a job.

Career counseling is in most cases a very smart investment. If you, the client, are willing to follow the direction of a wise and experienced coach your odds of success will dramatically improve. But no one can guarantee complete success, no matter how talented. You must wholeheartedly step up to the plate as well.
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Starting a New Job

So, you have managed to land an amazing new job. Congrats! The tough part is over…or is it? 

With your first day on the job quickly approaching, you may begin to feel a bit anxious, underprepared, and hesitant. In this article, well-known career counselor in DC, Jim Weinstein, gives a round-up of everything you need to know to prepare yourself even before you get your foot in the door. As an experienced career advisor in DC, he offers great on-the-job advice to his clients and helps them fight those new-kid jitters when starting a new job. Mr. Weinstein received his BA from Wesleyan University, and went on to get an MA in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. Later, he attended Harvard Business School, and received an MBA with distinction.

A new year is upon us... a time for new beginnings. Perhaps this will include a new job. If so, here are some suggestions on how to start off in the best way. Please note that these suggestions apply to the ”average” new job; they may not apply at all atypical situations such as when an employee is hired with the specific task of shaking things up (which could be the case in, for example, an acquisition).

1 - Go slowly

Naturally you want to make a good first impression. But beware the temptation to rush into recommending improvements without adequate understanding. For example, it may seem obvious to you after only a few weeks on the job that a system your new firm is using to track project profitability is outdated. But before suggesting a replacement learn about why that particular system was chosen, what its advantages are currently, and what degree of disruption would occur if the system were replaced. To repeat the oft-cited dictum, “First seek to understand, then to be understood.”

Similarly, go slowly when it comes to forging bonds in the workplace. Due diligence should be exercised before you start selecting those to bond with - you’ll want to avoid getting too close to the grumblers and gossips, even though they may appear to have valuable insights. Those insights may start to poison your impression of your new job.

2 - Build consensus and alliances

As a new employee you’re going to be observed very carefully by your fellow workers. In order to maximize your effectiveness you’ll want to bond with your colleagues, bosses, and clients. Related to point #1 above, seek to learn as much as you can about them, prioritizing that over impressing them with your knowledge, skills, or accomplishments. There’ll be adequate time for that. Establish a reputation as someone who’s a team player, not as someone who’s chomping at the bit to demonstrate how much smarter they are than their peers. And don’t hesitate to put yourself out for others at work (especially your boss - see below) so as to build credibility, trust, and affection.

I can’t overstate the value of building a relationship with a well-regarded mentor who understands the ins and outs of the interpersonal dynamics at your new place of employment. That mentor will also be really useful in helping you with the next point.

3 - Be sensitive to your workplace’s culture

The culture of a workplace is multi-dimensional, spanning such visible realms as dress code and office/cubicle decor to the more opaque realms of tolerance for creativity or deference to hierarchy. As a new employee you’ll initially want to be sure to fit in (or at least not stick too far out). That’s not to say you should become merely a clone - there’ll be ample opportunity to carve out a comfortable and appropriate image for yourself once you’ve learned the lay of the land. So, if office birthday parties are generally celebrated with home baked cookies, think twice before popping a bottle of Veuve Clicqot, as well-meaning a gesture as that might be.

What if you determine that you’re not a great match with the organization’s culture? That, for example, it’s fairly bureaucratic and set in its way, whereas you’re someone who likes to shake things up at least every now and then. Well, it’s unfortunate that you didn’t discover this until you reported for work (you didn’t do enough up-front fact finding), but beware the temptation to ignore the mismatch and just focus on performing. Even the best performers can strike out if they’re not a good fit with the organization’s culture. Either find a way to improve your cultural alignment, or start looking around.

4 - Impress your boss

In most cases, your boss is the most important person in your new work life*. The more you can learn about your boss and the challenges that he or she is facing the better you will be able to add value. Making your boss’ life easier should rank right up there with performing your job well as a primary objective.

5 - "Begin before you begin"

The brilliant writer and researcher Daniel Pink, in his brand new book "When - The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing," suggests that you visualize yourself "transforming" into your new role, imagining successful interactions with co-workers and your boss. "It's hard to get a fast start when your self-image is stuck in the past. By mentally picturing yourself 'becoming' a new person even before you enter the front door, you'll hit the carpet running."

6 - Sustain your moral with small wins

Starting in a new position is anxiety-provoking, and it's easy to fall prey to self doubt early on. Another Pink recommendation addressing this issue: when you enter a new role, set up for yourself small targets with a high probability of successful completion, and celebrate when you achieve them. They'll give you the momentum and energy to take on more daunting challenges further down the road.

*There are, of course, exceptions, such as a situation in which you’re being brought in to ultimately replace your under-performing boss.
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The Three Stages of Career Exploration

Jim Weinstein is an experienced career coach in Washington DC who has helped hundreds of clients dramatically improve their career and life satisfaction. He has been successfully solving issues from various perspectives and implements excellent techniques to keep you focused and motivated. He has privately practiced career, life consulting, and psychotherapy for over 18 years.

Jim Weinstein is a well-known career advisor in DC. Be it a heavy workload, lack of focus, carrier transition or any other career-related challenge, he provides sound guidance to his clients for all types of career-related issues.

Although I’ve written before about the process of career change, I recently conceived of a simple, 3-stage model that can serve to assist you if you’re wondering about switching careers. The essence of it is outlined below -

1. REALIZATION

Realization is the first stage, the realization that all is not well with your career. Realization can come in a wide variety of forms, and often several realizations converge at once to launch this process. There are lots of obvious realizations: I realize that I dread waking up on Monday and going into work, I realize that I need to make more money, I realize I’m not going to get promoted, I realize that I’m not doing work that excites me, etc. But realization can begin with subtler cues: I realize I’m really interested when my friend tells me about the kind of work he does, I realize that I daydream a lot on the job, I realize that I’m getting more tired than I used to at the end of the week.

Realization often creeps up on people somewhat slowly, but this first stage can be initiated through a methodical process of self-examination, investigating the thoughts mentioned above (“Do I dread waking up Monday morning; do I daydream a lot on the job?), as well as some others, two of which are:

a) Is my career heading in a direction that will land me close to the place in which I dreamed of being when I first launched my career? If not, the answer may not be to switch careers, but it is certainly a call for you to examine what you’re doing right and where you could improve so as to get on track towards that dreamed-of place.

b) Do I aspire to be in a much more senior position on my career track (i.e. “Would I like to be the president of this company, a partner in this law firm, the executive director of this NGO)? If not, you may not be on the right track.

2. EXPLORATION 

Exploration is the second stage. Once you have a firm realization that you’re interested in exploring an alternative career path (or, more commonly, several possible candidates), it’s time to begin exploring. The exploration can (and should) take two basic forms.

One is internal: what aspects of the work I’m doing or have done, or what activities, bring me joy, fulfillment, or satisfaction? The answer(s) might be “working as part of a team towards a common goal” or “making sure projects move ahead on schedule’ or “creative problem-solving” or “being outdoors” or “helping others” or “making a difference in the world” or “getting rapid feedback on my efforts” or “acting as a role model,” or “organizing things,” etc. Internal exploration should also most definitely include contemplating the possibility of a potpourri/composite career also known as a slash career, as in psychotherapist/singer. You may want to add a new layer to your life by allowing a hobby or interest to "go commercial".

The second is external, searching to stimulate new thinking about possible career directions by looking to outside sources. Of course, working with a career counselor/coach, or life coach/ consultant is one important source because such a person can suggest many different avenues of exploration. Some of them are:

a) Talking with close friends, or even e-mailing them, about what they think you’re good at and what they might see you doing in 2 or 3 years. Ask them to concentrate on function (e.g. “selling things,” “Working with people,” or “making sure things happen on time”) rather than specific occupation. 

b) Talking with people who are doing, or who have recently done, what you think you might be interested in. LinkedIn is the ideal tool to do this (see my "LinkedIn Primer"). 

c) Searching job listings using the keywords, or variations thereof, that you identified as a result of your internal exploration. 

d) Reading one of the books recommended in the career section of my website and completing the exercises contained therein. 

e) Spending investigative time on that treasure trove of information, the internet.

3. CONFIRMATION

Stay as present as possible in the experiences you begin to encounter as you move down the paths of exploration. What aspects of the exploration did you look forward to? What stimulated your curiosity? On the other side, where did you encounter fear or anxiety? Talking through the fears with your spouse or a trusted friend can help you determine whether the path you’re exploring is destined to be fruitless because of some deep-seated barriers or that the barriers are surmountable, in which case continue the exploration. As you move further down, the paths remain open to the possibility that an adjustment needs to be made in your original thinking, and that a “branch” of the path may be worth investigating. In the final analysis, though, you will be seeking the inner sense of “rightness” that will tell you that you’ve identified the answer(s) to your quest.

Keep in mind, though, that you're highly unlikely to know whether the shift is the right one until you've spent some time with it. Which is why it's so valuable to "Beta test" a new career path if you can - volunteering, shadowing, or working part time outside of your current job to start to get a feel for what it would be like.
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Networking with Twitter

Do you need some creative, out-of-the-box solutions for professional networking on Twitter? Jim Weinstein is among the most trusted and well-known career counselor in Washington DC. 

He suggests opportunities to his clients for developing new contacts and relationships using the social network ‘Twitter’. In addition to working as a life consultant in DC, he is also a licensed psychotherapist and life coach who provides relationship counseling. 

Being a successful DC life coach, he helps his clients navigate the complex issues of their personal and professional life. Confession: I really dislike Twitter. Like so many technological advances the original concept was promising: brief, direct, focused communication - an information network.  

However, it has evolved into more of an opinion network and as sometimes used by Donald Trump, a DISinformation network. If you're an active Twitter follower, you have added additional distraction to already over distracted routine, constantly being alerted to the latest musings, or sometimes rankings, of numerous people of questionable relevance to your life. 

Nonetheless, if used strategically, Twitter offers the opportunity to develop new contacts and relationships - the key to exploring career and job opportunities. A concise  "Instruction manual" titled "How to Network on Twitter (without looking like a creep) appeared in the March 2, 2016 issue of Forbes that I am reproducing here - "If you're mainly using Twitter to keep tabs on the Kardashians, you're missing out on lots of opportunity. 

Especially, when it comes to professional networking. Twitter is an incredibly powerful networking tool. 

It allows you to access important players in your industry who are perhaps otherwise pretty impossible to reach. When my client Kaela told me about how badly she wanted to write for a particular publication, I asked her what steps she had taken in order to pitch her articles. 

Kaela had submitted her piece through the site's submission form, and had followed up several times without hearing anything back. When I asked if she followed the editor of the section that she was looking to write for on Twitter, it had never dawned on her that she might be able to use social media for something like that. 

It's absolutely possible to make valuable networking connections by leveraging Twitter's platform. Here's a timeline of how to make contact with key players in your industry – without coming on too strong. 

Day 1 Choose the person you want to get in touch with.  


When you're looking to make a connection with someone on Twitter, make sure you're choosing someone with a realistic following. For example, Kaela likely wouldn't have been able to foster a Twitter connection with the publication's Editor-in-Chief, who has 1.5 million followers. 

But the editor on the section she was looking to write for had only 15,000 – which is still a large following, but more reasonable that this person would notice tweets from one of 15,000 followers than one out of 1.5 million. Make your Twitter page look pristine.  

Take a scroll down on your Twitter page and make sure there's nothing vulgar or unprofessional on your timeline. Ideally, your Twitter page should be full of tweets and retweets that speak to recent and valuable trends and information. 

Follow this person on Twitter.  But don't come in too hard, too fast. Follow the person you're interested in networking with, and start to retweet a few of this person's tweets. 

Don't just retweet everything they've tweeted in the past 24 hours. Select tweets that resonate with you and the industry you're serving. This is particularly effective if you’re retweeting something that positions them in a positive light. For example, if this person won an award or nomination, or earned a big media mention, those are ideal tweets to retweet. 

Days 2-4 Take a break. 

Day 5 Tweet at the person. Don't overthink it. Your tweet could be something positive like: “I love the work you do – let me know how to help spread the word!” Or it could be something like “Take a look at @AshleyStahl’s article: Networking is Giving.” 

Just make sure to be authentic, and don't overdo it with the flattery. If you haven't received a reply within a day or two, continue to retweet a few of this person's tweets. 

At some point or another, you’re very likely to get a reply from this person. In Kaela's case, once the editor she wanted to get in touch with replied to her tweets and followed her back on Twitter, I had her craft a message complementing the compelling work that was being done on the editor's section of the site, and asking to chat more. 

The more you support someone on Twitter, the more likely they’ll want to be networking with you. 

In today's job market, it's important to think outside of the box. And sometimes that means using that box of 140 characters on your Twitter account to make the valuable connections you need to take your career to the next level. 

Just ask Kaela, whose most recent article on that site she so badly wanted to write for was one of the top performing articles of the month. Even the Editor-in-Chief retweeted it."
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Dealing with Rejection

Are you depressed because the guy you like doesn’t like you back?


Have you been rejected after an interview by a potential employer?


Any one of these scenarios in your life can make you lose confidence in yourself. You may even start doubting your own abilities, leaving your self-esteem to suffer. On the other hand, failure and rejection are both vital in understanding success and its true meaning. To help you deal with rejection and to provide you with the best catalyst for an assured change, turn to Mr. Jim Weinstein, a renowned career counselor in Washington DC.


Being a successful and prominent Life Coach, Mr. Weinstein provides exemplary strategies with his sound guidance on any challenge. He navigates all types of issues and provides the best help to improve your work and relationships. As a Career Coach in DC, he suggests creative, effective, actionable solutions which will enhance satisfaction with your life in general. Many of my career-counseling clients come to me because they have been repeatedly rejected by potential employers.


Many of my relationship-counseling clients come to me because they feel rejected (unloved or unappreciated) in their marriages or partnerships. And a number of my psychotherapy clients see me to overcome the wounds that a series of rejections has inflicted on their self-esteem.


NO ONE likes to be rejected. This is true in both your professional life and/or in your interpersonal relationships (whether it be with a spouse, date, or friend). So whenever rejection occurs, it’s pretty likely to be disturbing. The disturbance could range from mild annoyance to total devastation (in the event of a cheating partner, for example). But HOW you deal with the unpleasantness of rejection is of great significance to the eventual emotional outcome and, at least to some degree, is amenable to improvement.


For some, virtually any form of rejection is devastating. The rejection is viewed as an indictment of their entire being, and they feel worthless, incompetent, or unalterably unattractive. These people are overly dependent on the perception others have of them to validate their self-worth. The Wizard in “The Wizard of Oz” summarized this proposition when he said: “a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others”. There is truth to that statement. But a larger truth is that our worth comes from our living our own unique lives to the fullest of our ability, and treating others lovingly and respectfully. Whether or not others approve, accept, or reject us shouldn’t be the primary determinant of our life path. In childhood, people often absorb the idea that if they’re rejected they’re just plain no good. This can come from being teased or shunned by playmates, or by unintentional or sometimes even intentional comments from parents. The profound sadness of feeling worthless usually traces to one or more early experiences that occurred way before the cognitive abilities were developed enough to make sense of the rejection. As adults, however, those cognitive abilities are developed, and should be put to use.


Perhaps the most important of these cognitive skills to develop is what Martin Seligman (www.authentichappiness.org), probably the leading figure in the field of Positive Psychology, calls “the optimistic explanatory style”. An optimistic explanatory style takes an event and intentionally interprets it in an optimistic or positive way (or at least in a way that casts minimal reflection on the “rejectee”). For example, if you drive past your neighbor’s house, wave at her, and she fails to acknowledge you, you might conclude that she was momentarily preoccupied and didn’t register your greeting. A pessimistic explanatory style would tend to interpret the neighbor’s lack of response as an indication of antipathy. To take a much more serious example, the discovery of your spouse’s extramarital affair could be viewed at one extreme strictly as a commentary on your worthlessness or lack of intelligence, beauty, or success or, at the other extreme, strictly as a commentary on the weaknesses, failings, or inadequacies of your partner. I think it is self-evident which of these interpretations will ultimately lead to quicker healing.


We now know that some people are in a sense genetically disposed to a pessimistic, depressive way of looking at the world, while others come into the world quite the opposite. Genetics, however, is not destiny. By practicing applying an optimistic explanatory style to the circumstances that feel like setbacks in your life, you can gradually improve your ability to look at events from more a more positive and energizing perspective.


Rejection provides an ideal, if admittedly challenging, arena in which to practice developing a more positive explanatory style. For example, rather than focusing so intently on trying to discover which characteristics or actions of yours led to your rejection, or what you could have done to prevent it, think about rejection in more ‘neutral”, less individually specific terms. Phrases like “If the train didn’t stop at my station it must not be my train” or “You can’t please all of the people all of the time” are truisms that may take a bit of the sting out of being turned down. Coming at rejection from almost the opposite angle, another approach would be to look at the rejection as a learning opportunity. By paying attention to read flags or feedback you may have ignored, you can become better at making smarter choices going forward, and thereby minimize the likelihood of rejection next time you venture forth.

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Principles for Finding the Ideal Career — Part I: Vital Engagement

Jim Weinstein is an experienced career coach in Washington DC known for providing hands-on, practical assistance to individuals and organizations in all aspects of career management. He has been practicing career counseling in DC for many years and has helped hundreds of clients identify career roadblocks, get fresh perspectives, and maximize their potential. As a career development counselor, he often meets young professionals struggling to figure out the right career. In this article, Mr. Weinstein talks about various principles involved in finding an ideal career.

Many of my clients think about choosing a career path in a bit of a vacuum, asking "what kind of work should I be doing?". Let me suggest that, while there's value in looking at career as a distinct category (others being relationships, health, family, hobbies, religion, etc,), there may be even greater value in taking a more holistic viewpoint, thinking of career as simply the largest (in terms of time devoted to it, but not necessarily the most important) part of one's life "tapestry". So a better question might be "what kind of work should I be doing that will allow me to maximize the overall fulfillment I feel in my life?".

Jonathan Haidt, in his must-read book "The Happiness Hypothesis", speaks to the essential importance of two elements in creating fulfillment (which he also calls "vital engagement"). To me, fulfillment, or vital engagement, is synonymous with "bliss" in the common phrase "follow your bliss". Haidt defines vital engagement as "a relationship to the world that is characterized both by experiences of flow (enjoyed absorption) and by meaning (subjective significance). Flow is what you feel when you are so engaged in an activity that you lose track of time; it could be anything from researching a topic of interest to shooting hoops to singing to tinkering with your car to gardening. Subjective significance is simply that whatever you're doing matters to you (whether or not it matters to anyone else).

Let me apply the principle of vital engagement to the coaching/counseling I do. A lot of my clients find themselves "trapped" in work they have grown tired of, and stale in, because they feel the need to earn a certain salary to maintain a lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. A critical question they need to answer is "Does the lifestyle to which you've become accustomed allow you to find enough vital engagement?" Having a beautiful home, and being able to afford certain luxuries, may have subjective significance, but if a significant amount of flow is missing from one's life, dissatisfaction sets in.

I recommend looking at career EITHER as a means to find lots of vital engagement at work (which would be ideal) OR, barring that, as a place that will allow you at least some vital engagement while providing you with the opportunity and means to create more vital engagement in other areas of your life. So it might well be better to take a job at a not-for-profit association, doing work of subjective significance, earning $60,000 and working a 40 hour week, as opposed to a position in a corporation which might pay twice that much but which would involve work of little subjective significance and severely reduce the time available to pursue outside interests that could provide a good deal of vital engagement.

If you are a parent and have growing children at home you may take some exception to this way of looking at career. It may appear a bit self-centered, seemingly neglecting the importance of considering your kids' future. After all, don't you have a responsibility to give them as many opportunities as possible (which means living in a good neighborhood, and perhaps sending them to expensive schools)? I will delve into this in my next post.
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Designing Your Life

Jim Weinstein is one of the most successful career coaches in Washington DC. He has been practicing career counseling in DC for many years; and works with diverse clients to help them identify their goals, explore options, overcome setbacks, & move in a positive direction. Whether you need a job search strategy, a solution to cope with stressful situations at work, or simply want to ensure a smooth career transition, Mr. Weinstein has an effective solution for your problem. In this article, he shares some valuable suggestions and structured exercises that can help you design a resonant and fulfilling life.

I've discovered another outstanding career design book, this one entitled "Designing Your Life," subtitled "How to build a well-lived joyful life," by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Yes, the title sounds like so many other career guidance book titles, but this book is truly exceptional, coming at the process in a new way that very much mirrors my approach. The underlying premise of the book is that there are MANY versions of ourselves, each of which can lead to building a satisfying career. It is full of interesting facts, valuable suggestions, and structured exercises that shed a bright light on potential career paths forward.

Another important philosophy guiding the authors is that passion for work generally ".....comes AFTER (people) try something, discover they like it, and develop mastery - not before." This makes so much sense if you think about it - until you're familiar with the "landscape" of a new career (e.g. becoming adept at the tasks involved, familiar with the field's unique vocabulary) you are likely to feel uncertain about your abilities to master your new path forward. And it's pretty difficult to feel passionately about something uncertain.

Some of the exercises in the book are quite unique. One of them is called creating a "Good Time Journal," which has you note the activities that you undertake in which you feel "engaged, energized, and in flow." It also asks you to note your "peak experiences:" those times where everything seems to be going just right. There is quite a bit of emphasis in the book on free association (the authors prescribe making a "mind map" beginning with the good times / peak experiences and thinking of ideas that relate to them. So, for example, if one of your peak experiences was participating in planning the office Christmas party you might free associate the terms "party planner," "caterer," or further afield "urban planner" or "chef." The key is to let your mind wander, and to not self-censor.

Another valuable exercise poses some very fundamental questions about the role of work in life, questions that you probably haven't thought much about. For example, What is work for? What does work mean to you? What defines work that is good or worthwhile? What do money, experience, growth, and fulfillment have to do with it? And a related one asks you to think about what kind of work you'd do if money or image were not issues.

This creative approach to career planning isn't for everyone. Many people might be more comfortable with career testing that is highly structured and provides relatively unambiguous career direction. The problem with that approach is that it tends to play back to you what you already know about yourself, because the answers you provide in the test are based on your past experience, rather than being grounded in future possibility.

Related to this, another unique attribute of the book that I particularly enjoyed was the sprinkling of statements that limit exploration, accompanied by reframes that open up ways of thinking. For example: Dysfunctional belief: To be happy I have to make the (one) right choice. Reframe: There is no right choice - only good choosing.

Finally, the book emphasizes the value of assembling a group of people to help you come up with ideas to explore and ways of exploring them. This may be a challenge for lots of people, but if you're willing and able to do it you will be availing yourself of multiple perspectives and experiences that can only serve to help you design a great career path forward. Or several!
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“Figuring Out” a New Career

Stuck in a job that isn’t you? Ready to take a plunge into the career change? Well, breaking into a new career is never easy whether you want to do a drastic 180 degree or make a minor shift. In this segment, renowned career advisor in Washington DC, Mr. Jim Weinstein, shares some great ideas to help you brainstorm new career directions. He has been working as a career counselor for many years and has helped many individuals make a smooth career transition.

Almost every time a new client calls me for help in deciding on a new career path they talk about the difficulty they’ve had in “figuring it out”. They’re stuck. This almost never surprises me. Why? Because when a client is literally attempting to figure out a new career (i.e. reviewing the information they already have about themselves: their strengths, weaknesses, passions, values – and their prospective careers), they’re dealing with experiences and knowledge of the past. A new career path is by definition something in the future. So, very simply, if you haven’t been able to “figure out” a new career direction for yourself it’s because the experiences and information you have accumulated from your past are not yet sufficient to move you decisively in a new direction. How to gain more? Here are two specific examples of paths I urge my clients to embark on:

1. Inquiring: You should start to become comfortable with telling your current and future circle of friends and colleagues that you’re looking to find new career challenges. Or you might phrase it as seeking different experiences, or learning a new set of skills. Having established in conversation that you are in an exploration phase, they will understand and most likely appreciate your asking a lot of questions. Most people are flattered when asked to talk about what they do, and appreciate an attentive listener. This is not to say that you should always be asking people about what they do; if you’re looking to move into the arts you probably won’t have a great deal of interest in learning about accounting or researching (although an accountant for the Motion Picture Association or a researcher for the Kennedy Center or the National Gallery might provide a wealth of useful information). A final point: if you do decide to inquire, make sure you are willing to give your full attention to the answers you hear.

2. Experimenting: Experimenting most frequently takes the form of some sort of immersion into the field in which you have interest. There are several ways to do this. One is to enroll in an introductory course (live or on-line) that will expand your knowledge of the particular field you’re wanting to explore, or to attend a series of lectures. A second is to volunteer for an organization or institution that works in your area of interest. For some fields this may seem impossible, particularly those requiring extensive training, but chances are you can find a volunteering opportunity that at least gets you close to the action. Interested in medicine? Volunteer for the Red Cross. The law? Your local Legal Aid Society. Don’t overlook the multitude of industry and cause-related Associations located in Washington. They will be able to help direct you towards volunteer opportunities within their arenas. One excellent source of a wide variety of such opportunities is an organization called onebrick.org which only requires a one-time commitment of three to four hours, after which the volunteers gather off-site for socializing. It offers a wonderful chance to “sample” an activity in your area of interest, and to network with others who have similar interest, and perhaps much greater experience (and good connections).

A third, less “hands on” but still potentially valuable method of experimentation is reading biographies / autobiographies of people who have worked in the field you’re wanting to learn more about. Of course, reading of anything related to that field could be useful, but the personal flavor of biography can give you a better sense of whether you might be a good fit. A superb anthology of short biographies (actually, case studies) of people struggling with finding a new career is contained in many bookes. I recommend “Roadmap” by Roadmap Nation, and a more spiritually oriented book entitled: “What Should I Do with My Life” by Po Bronson. I often hear the phrase “think outside the box” in discussions of how someone can determine a new career direction. The paragraphs above take a somewhat different direction, namely: E X P A N D the box!
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Three Reasons Why Career Counseling Sometimes Fails

Three Reasons Why Career Counseling Sometimes Fails | Career Counseling in DC | Scoop.it
Jim Weinstein is one of the most widely sought after career advisers in Washington DC. As a career coach, he has helped numerous students and professionals find answers to their career blues. In addition to working as a career counselor in DC, Mr. Weinstein is also a licensed psychotherapist and life coach. In this article, he shares his thoughts about an area of career counseling in which the success rate is a bit lower. I.e., identification of better career path. He also mentions in detail, the three main reasons which often lead to failure in this case. 

I pride myself on having an excellent record of success in guiding my clients to solutions to the full range of career-related dilemmas, whether that takes the form of showing them how to Improve the odds of landing a great job, strengthening their leadership abilities, teaching them how to improve their networking skills, or handling delicate political issues in their organization. But, there's an area of career work where my success rate is somewhat lower, namely in leading clients to the identification of better career paths. Why? I've contemplated and analyzed this question intensively, and I can trace most disappointing outcomes to one or more of three factors: 

1. Unrealistic expectations of what to expect from career counselling

Career counseling is NOT job placement. Nor is it just a different version of a personality or career test that purports to provide an answer to the question: "What is the right career for me?" The counselor instructs, inspires, and guides, but in the final analysis it's the client who has to do the heavy lifting. That lifting depends of course on the nature of the client's goal, but you can be sure that in all but a handful of cases a lot of work is required. That fact leads to the second reason for failure: 

2. Inadequate or poorly directed dedication of time and energy

I almost always assign homework to be completed by the next session. Often, though, the next session arrives and the client confesses to having completed only part of the assignment (or, rarely, none of it). "It was a really busy week and I couldn't find the time" is a not infrequent refrain. I invariably reject that explanation, and explain that it was simply a matter of not giving the assignment a high enough priority. Naturally there are times when unexpected developments derail even the best-intended plans: a sick child, the death of a relative, or a crisis at work. But those instances are unusual and hopefully very infrequent. (Another reason why time and energy aren't optimally directed can relate to one of the conditions listed below). Another issue that sometimes crops up is the fact that looking for, and applying to, jobs online provides a quick reinforcement to the idea that meaningful action is occurring, even though the online route to career clarity or a job is generally a barren one. Sending in a dozen job applications may feel much more promising than having a dozen networking conversations, but it almost certainly won't be. 

3. Behavioral and emotional blocks

I find that my skills as a psychotherapist get tapped in working with a large proportion of my clients. Just a few of the issues that can stand in the way of success: 

Low self-confidence

Shyness 

 Procrastination 

 Excessive anxiety or pessimism 

 Depression 

 ADD related disorganisation 

 Peer, familial, or cultural pressures 

 Exploration of alternatives is an absolutely essential element in making a wise career choice. That exploration should be undertaken with curiosity, openness, diligence, creativity, and some boldness. The factors listed above (and many others) can stand in the way and lead to a suboptimal outcome if not addressed. Just to take a few examples, shyness will inhibit the essential networking component of exploration; pessimism can lead to hopelessness and a loss of energy and enthusiasm; peer, familial, or cultural pressure can push someone down paths that their heart isn't in to, but which they feel obliged to pursue, resulting in half-hearted effort.
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Career Exploration - Early On and Later

If our career decisions were to be based on whims & fancies, we would be pursuing a new one every day. However, devoid of liberty, we map our career routes by our interests, inclinations, and competencies. But what if we are still not able to make a concrete decision about which career to pick or which interest to pursue? To answer this question, renowned career counselor in Washington DC, Mr. Jim Weinstein explains various aspects of Career Exploration. As a career coach in DC, he suggests to his clients the different ways to conduct career exploration and help them find clarity about the right career path. Mr. Weinstein is also a successful life coach known for his out-of-the-box solutions to help his clients navigate complex issues of their personal life.

 Last week the New York Times published an article by Jeffrey
Seling entitled:
"Will You Sprint, Stroll, or Stumble into a Career"
 Seling describes the sprint as follows:
"Sprinters start fast right out of the gate. They pick a major early on and stick with it, enabling a progression of internships that look more and more impressive with each year. Some have the perfect job lined up on graduation; others are laserlike in their focus, moving from job to job up the career ladder. They have little or no student-loan debt, freeing them to pick job opportunities without regard to pay."

Sprinters are a distinct minority of twenty-somethings (many of them have no student loan debt because they come from well-to-do families). The truth is that most people graduating college aren’t sure of what they want to do. As a result, far too many of them enroll in graduate programs simply because that’s a structured next step rather than because they’ve desired to deepen their involvement with a particular field.
 How to find clarity?
The answer is wide-ranging exploration, exploration that can (and should) be conducted in numerous ways. Through exploration (primarily conversation with those with experience) a sense can be gained of what various career paths involve their plusses and minuses, their typical trajectory, their income potential. Ideally a plan should be created that calendars career exploration activities on a regular basis.

One of the best ways to conduct career exploration is NETWORKING.

The term strikes fear into the hearts of most young people, but the fact is that older adults generally enjoy giving guidance and advice to their juniors. And actually networking for most can be easier than they might imagine: friends of their parents*, parents of their friends, and alumni of their colleges are all fairly accessible targets.

My favorite source of networking utilizes Linkedin - see my blog post:

http://jimwein09.squarespace.com/blog/2013/8/17/a-linkedin-primer.html

By utilizing people with whom they already have a relationship career explorers can connect with, and learn from, hundreds or even thousands of people who have walked the path they are contemplating.

Career testing is widely considered a great way of choosing a career path, but I see its role much less (if at all) as concretely indicative and more as suggestive. Turning to a career test to provide "the answer" makes little more sense than asking one's parents - tests and parents both understand the subject well, but can't begin to get at what really makes a person tick. My prejudice against the likelihood of career testing providing definitive guidance is confirmed by the absence of any data showing that career tests lead to career success. However, these tests can certainly be valuable in suggesting paths for exploration.

Career counseling can be a very valuable way of exploring if one works with experienced and successful, "real world" career counselors. The perspective and experience they have accumulated from working with hundreds of clients allows them to shed light on numerous paths. Furthermore, if they are successful it is likely attributable at least in part to an ability to read personality and psychological issues that can have an important bearing on career choice.

There are several other great ways of learning what a career might feel like. Going to Meetups of people in a chosen field (Meetups are an easy place to strike up conversations about careers because attendees are there because of their interest in the specific subject). Joining online discussion groups and posing questions to the members. Attending lectures or seminars and interacting with participants. The purpose is not to land a job (although that could be an outcome of a well-handled conversation), but to gather as much information, and to get a feeling, for what working in a particular career would be like.

In the article mentioned above, Seling quotes Jeffrey Jenson Arnett, a psychology professor at the University of Missouri, about the early stages of career life:

“Emerging adulthood is a time of life when many different directions remain possible,” Dr. Arnett wrote, “when little about the future has been decided for certain, when the scope of independent exploration of life’s possibilities is greater for most people than it will be at any other period of the life course.” Today the period of emerging adulthood is even longer than it was when the term was coined in the year 2000.

 Fortunately (and hopefully reassuringly to those uncertain of their career path forward) the average worker will experience several different careers over a lifetime (seven is the often quoted, but not substantiated, number). I myself am on my fifth.

 *My interest in marketing, the launching pad of my first career in advertising, began as a result of the experience I had working in the marketing department of Ronson (the lighter manufacturer) one summer between junior and senior year of college, experience several a stint arranged by my Dad with a neighbor of ours who was a VP at the company.
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Effective Ways to Enhance Your Career in 2016

Effective Ways to Enhance Your Career in 2016 | Career Counseling in DC | Scoop.it
The New Year is a time for change, renewal, and forging ahead with resolutions to transform and grow. If you have been mulling over how to drive your career forward in 2016, Jim Weinstein, who is one of the best career coaches in DC, has some great thoughts for you to consider. As a career counselor in DC, he recommends his clients get a clear picture of their career goals before setting out to achieve them. According to him, all it takes to put your career on the ideal trajectory is some small steps forward and a sense of commitment. Mr. Weinstein is also a DC life coach widely recognized for his ability to enhance satisfaction in his clients’ lives.

No matter at which career stage you find yourself, or whatever your career trajectory, it is almost certain that you can do more to "get ahead" (whether that means more responsibility, more pay, a better title, higher internet visibility, or ideally all of these!).

Here are some thoughts worth considering:

1. GET ORGANIZED AND COMMIT TO IMPROVEMENT - Good intentions are plentiful at the start of a year, but they have a tendency to fade away pretty quickly as the regular routine of life resumes after the Holidays. Now is the moment to take a hard look at how you spend your non-work-related time and to carve out at least a few extra hours a week to devote to ways of enhancing your career. And when I say "carve out" I mean to schedule them firmly in your calendar. Of course that also means identifying things you will spend less time doing (e.g. watching TV or playing video or internet games) or doing less of (e.g. drinking). Even diverting time away from those kinds of activities towards healthier endeavors like exercise or meditation will help improve your energy level and your job performance.

2. TECHNICAL SKILL IMPROVEMENT - If you are in a field that is evolving relatively quickly (e.g. technology, communication, health care, certain aspects of finance, defense/intelligence, etc.) it goes without saying that you need to stay up-to-date. Take a close, critical look at your skill level and solicit feedback on this from others (and, of course, consider any performance evaluations you may have recently had). Assuming you've identified an important skill area in which you are lagging, commit to strengthening it by considering one or more of the following: enrolling in a course, reading technical books, subscribing to appropriate magazines, joining or creating a Meetup or online discussion group, or hiring a coach. Depending on the importance of the skill area to your chosen career path you may want to go further and consider certification or an advanced degree.

More generally, you may want to consider enhancing your entrepreneurial or leadership skills. Dozens of books (by authors such as Jack Welch, Richard Branson, John Maxwell, or Michael Porter - my HBS section mate), websites/magazines (Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur, Harvard Business Review) not to mention educational offerings from Dale Carenegie's online and in person courses and seminars to Harvard Business School's Advance Management Program are available to help you advance.

3. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT - What face do you present to the world? Here I am talking less about "branding" yourself (more on that later) and more about the impression you make on people in vivo. The externals (hair color and style, attire, posture, facial expressions, accent, use of language) come to mind at first. Resources are available to help you address issues in this realm: an image consultant or stylist to help you look your best, and Toastmasters International* (or a presentation coach) to help improve the way you come across. The latter can also help pinpoint issues that emanate from the internal: any manifestations of generalized anxiety (men might tap their foot repeatedly, women giggle nervously), insecurity about one's inherent abilities or qualifications, shyness, or perhaps even lassitude.  As far as I'm concerned, we could all use at least an occasional freshening up if not a more substantial series of "upgrades"!  

4. NETWORKING - My regular readers are probably getting tired of my preaching about the value of networking, but there is no more effective way to achieve career advancement. Networking is essential in locating new opportunities (80% of new hires occur as a result of networking), in learning about different career fields and different organizations, and in cultivating possible mentors. My 10/9/13 post "Is Networking Scary for You?" contains some helpful ideas. Some additional networking methods/tips:

a) Blendabout.com, which facilitates dining among fellow enthusiasts of specific topics like tech, politics, or gardening (you never know if the lady you meet at the gardening dinner who gave you some tips on growing peonies might also be a headhunter, hiring manager, or even CEO).

b) Enroll in a learning environment. If you attend a workshop, lecture, or seminar you will find yourself among people who share your interest, and engaging them in discussion is easier because you can use the presented material as a conversational launching pad.

c) Attend events with a friend. You'll be more relaxed, and will have someone to talk with during the inevitable lulls.

5. BRANDING - Know not just what your strengths are but what benefit those strengths offer to the outside world. The clearer you are on just what that world is, the stronger will be your branding statement. But beware the temptation to prematurely lock into a branding statement so that you can feel that you've checked that box. My 11/8/15 post provides my perspective on some typical personal branding issues.

I wish you extraordinary success in 2016, and would be delighted to help you towards that goal in any way I can!

*There are over 150 Toastmasters clubs within 5 miles of downtown DC, and the cost to join and attend is nominal.
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Interview Questions You Need to Ask

Interview Questions You Need to Ask | Career Counseling in DC | Scoop.it
When that inevitable, “So, do you have any questions for us?” part of an interview comes, most candidates are clueless about what they should say. According to renowned career coach in DC, Jim Weinstein, an interview is not just a chance for the interviewer to grill the candidate, but also an opportunity for the latter to sniff out if the job is a good fit for them. Jim has also established himself as one of DC’s most trusted life coaches. As a career counselor, he has observed how most candidates fail to impress their prospective employer because they just don’t ask the right questions. In this article, he shares six interview questions that every candidate should ask.


When preparing for a job interview* most of the effort goes into anticipating the questions that will be asked by the interviewer and preparing smart and persuasive answers. What is often neglected, however, is the importance of the questions that the interviewee should ask. The right questions will not only serve to impress the interviewer, but will also enlighten the job seeker as to how good a fit the job might be for him / her. Here are six particularly good ones:

1) "Once I'm oriented to the basic responsibilities and people I will be working with, what will be the top two or three priorities for me, and how will my success in achieving them be measured?"

Most job descriptions list a wide variety of responsibilities for the prospective employee. This question seeks to narrow the list and identify what management will be most closely looking at in their new employee's performance. You need to pay close attention to the answer to this question, as it will cut through the generalizations and clutter contained in most job descriptions. As for the measurements of success, they should ideally be as concrete and quantifiable as possible, rather than resting on the boss' subjective evaluation.

2) "Relatedly, over the next year what ONE accomplishment would you be most impressed with?"

You should really understand the organization's primary need as it relates to your performance. If your interviewer hesitates to pick one accomplishment, try phrasing the question in historical terms: "In years past, what kinds of accomplishments of people who've held this position have been most significant?"

3) "What are the most significant challenges I am likely to encounter in this position?"

The goal here is to try to uncover issues related to working relationships and / or organizational culture resources. Pay very close attention to the way these questions are answered. It is unlikely that you are going to be told straight out that you will be working for a very difficult boss, or that Management doesn't fully buy into the mission which the open position supports, or that there's a "good old boy" culture that makes it tough for women to fit in, but tone-of-voice and body language can indicate whether the interviewer is feeling uncomfortable about answering this question. You should always seek corroboration from multiple sources if you have concerns about the challenges you will face.

4) "What are the qualities that the most successful people in this position / organization possess?"

Here you are looking for more specificity than is generally indicated by such terms as "excellent interpersonal skills," "exceptional organizational abilities," "ability to multi-task," etc. Try to find out what about the position or organization makes these qualities the ones that are especially valuable. For example, with proper questioning you might learn that "excellent interpersonal skills" are required because of something like historical rivalry between departments, or a troubled client relationship.

5) "How has this job evolved over the past few years? How do you see it evolving?"

I just like this question - I think it demonstrates to the interviewer that you are thinking beyond simply landing the job, and focusing as well on your longer-term prospects.

6) "Is there anything I've said, or that I haven't said, in our talk today that leaves you with any significant doubts about my ability to succeed in this position / at this organization?" (Obviously this is a question to be asked at the end of the interview).

This question has three aspects to recommend it. First, it expresses an interest in landing the job from a different stance than more standard passion-related or qualifications-related statements might (e.g. "I would really love to work for your organization" or "I know I have what it takes to succeed here."), so is a potentially valuable supplement to those. Second, it demonstrates that you are open to hearing critical feedback. And third, it gives you an opportunity to address lingering doubts that the interviewer might have, but which might not be revealed if this question were not asked.

* These questions are also important to ask in an "informational" interview (I actually prefer to use the term "exploratory interview"). Remember that this kind of interview offers an opportunity for you to impress the person you're talking to, which may lead to enhancing your prospects at some future point down the road when an opportunity might arise.
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Leaving Resentment Behind

If you celebrate Fridays and dread Mondays, you are definitely in a job you do not enjoy. Whether the reason for this is workload, lack of motivation, time management failure, or any other; Jim Weinstein, a successful Career Development Counselor in DC can offer you intelligent guidance to combat these career issues. Being an experienced DC Career Coach, he knows what it takes to survive a challenging work environment without losing focus.

One of the greatest causes of distress for most people is the replaying of past conflict, insult, avoidance, embarrassment, abandonment, or other hurts inflicted and transgressions committed by another. Note that I'm using the word replaying. If I were to total up the number of minutes that a typical client's mind was engaged in thinking about these hurts and transgressions, it would be in the hundreds or, in extreme cases, even in the thousands. Actually, if it were merely thinking it would be a lot less harmful than the simmering emotion of resentment that usually accompanies the reliving of past negative experiences, and the meaning that the sufferer attaches to it.

An example: A spouse/partner (or a friend, business colleague, or anyone of any significance in one's life ) criticizes you, forgets something of importance to you (a birthday or anniversary, for example ) or neglects you in favor of something or someone else. Of course you'll feel at the least disappointment, or perhaps a much stronger feeling like rage. These feelings are "natural." BUT the trick is to move past them, not allowing them to unduly rob you of the preciousness of peace of mind.

First, MAKE A DECISION that you want to let go of replaying the hurt. This seems obvious, but too infrequently do people realize that simply deciding to move on is the critical first step. The act of decision brings into focus the fact that you have some power over the emotional state you're in. In fact, with a lot of practice, you can attain almost complete power over that state.

Once you've decided to let go, here are some tips on how to make the decision stick:

+ Look at what happened from a totally different perspective. That perspective could be the trangressor's ("maybe he misunderstood me," "maybe she had something urgent she needed to do," "maybe he was in a bad mood," "maybe she waas drunk"). Or it could be from a "looking glass" perspective, holding the mirror up to yourself and asking have you ever done something similar that caused emotional pain to another. In most cases an honest answer will be that you in fact have. To err is human.

+ Try to catch the resentment before it attains too much power over you. Resentment towards another often builds over time, but most definitely fluctuates. Allow yourself a brief "hissy fit" or "pity party" over the incident, and then decide to let it go. It will be easier to do so when the resentment is at an ebb. That's the time to employ the shift in perspective outlined above.

+ Distracting yourself with another line of attention and thought will break the resentment buildup. As is the case with so many problematic states of mind, shift your focus to the present moment. That can take many forms: catching up with the doings of your friends on Facebook, listening to music or watching TV, taking a walk and noticing the many wonders of nature, meditating or praying......anything that will divert your cognitive emphasis on the hurt.

Resentment is a toxic emotion. It can often lead to an even more toxic one, the desire for revenge. Give yourself the gift of inner peace and leave resentment behind! Visit Dclifecounseling.com for more info.

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Reasonable and Unreasonable Expectations of Career Counseling

Jim Weinstein is a renowned Career Development Counselor in DC. His list of achievements is impressive and includes Jeopardy! Winner, co-founder of 4Therapy.com, MBA with distinction from Harvard, and a Masters in Clinical Psychology degree holder. He has been practicing career counseling in DC for many years, and provides expert advice on how to find and prosper in all kinds of careers. Mr. Weinstein is also an experienced life consultant in DC and works with people from all walks of life to foster their personal growth.

A few days ago I received a call from a prospective client needing interview coaching who asked me a number of relevant questions: How does your process work? What are your fees? How many sessions would you expect me to need? Having received satisfactory responses he booked a session.

An hour later he called back with one other question: “What is your success rate in interview coaching?” I wasn’t sure exactly what he meant, so he clarified: “How many people whom you have coached on effective interviewing have gotten the job?”

I wasn’t able to answer the question, since most clients don’t report back on the results of their interviews (though I know that my coaching has helped many clients land jobs). I certainly couldn’t pretend to know the exact success rate. But I pointed out to the client that how an interview goes is only one small piece of the package necessary to land a job. Perhaps most importantly, who else is competing for the job? The best interview answers in the world won’t trump a significantly more qualified/experienced candidate. Other major factors that come into play: one’s pre-existing connections to people involved in the hiring process (i.e. “who do you know?”), one’s references, one’s salary requirements, one’s “cultural fit,” etc.

This conversation raised in my mind the larger issue of what is appropriate for a client to expect from a career counselor. There is a (fortunately) relatively small number of clients who in essence expect the career counselor to have a magic bullet, to land them a job, tell them what career to switch to, or lull them into a false sense of security about their career prospects. That’s not what a good career coach will, or should, do.

Just as in sports, a good coach will recommend strategies for success, assign exercises to improve skills, and build self-confidence. But in the final analysis it is the athlete’s commitment to following the coach’s guidance and the athlete’s inherent talents and acquired skills that will predict success. The best coach in the worlds can’t create a winner out of an individual or team that is lazy, oppositional, or clearly below par vs. competition.

So, when thinking about hiring a career counselor, do your best to develop a clear and reasonable list of expectations and then share them with the candidates you are considering. Listen carefully for overpromise, as of course the candidates will most likely be interested in landing you as a client and unscrupulous ones may wildly exaggerate their abilities to contribute to your success (I’ve heard, for example, about resume services that tout a 90+% success rate which is patently ridiculous since a resume is only one small, initial step towards landing a job. Career counseling is in most cases a very smart investment. If you, the client, are willing to follow the direction of a wise and experienced coach your odds of success will dramatically improve. But no one can guarantee complete success, no matter how talented. You must wholeheartedly step up to the plate as well.
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Helping Prolong Career Success as You Age

Helping Prolong Career Success as You Age How old is too old to launch a new business, switch careers or simply do something different with your life? Short answer. Never. “Coming up with an effective plan to prolong career success as you age may seem like a long shot. But it can be done,” says Jim Weinstein, a well-known Career Coach in DC. According to him, it is possible for older adults to preserve their cognitive abilities through simple activities that challenge their brain. In addition to working as a Career Advisor in DC, Mr. Weinstein is also a licensed physiotherapist, life coach, and co-founder of the award-wining 4Therapy.com.

As Baby Boomers enter their 50s, 60s, and (for the “leading edge” of that generation, 70s), they are being increasingly studied in an effort to understand how to prolong their health. Until quite recently, “health” was primarily defined as physical: ambulatory, respiratory, circulatory, Immunological, etc. But the explosive growth of Alzheimer’s and dementia has placed increasing emphasis on cognitive functioning. And interestingly a number of recent studies have conclusively demonstrated that exercise not only aids in maintaining physical health, but also helps people preserve their cognitive abilities. It is those abilities that can help older workers remain competitive in a workplace that increasingly emphasizes problem solving and creative thinking.

“Overall, longitudinal studies show that people who exercise — whether young, middle-aged, or older — score higher on cognitive tests than those who don’t. Why would exercise make you smarter? Scientists are still figuring it out, but they have some clues. They do know that exercise creates new brain cells in the precise spot that handles new memories; it’s called ‘neurogenesis.’ Ordinarily, cells in this area simply die off. Scientists have also found that exercise greases the rails of white matter as it sends signals to various parts of the brain. It is like moving from a dial-up Internet to broadband.”* 

Somewhat counter intuitively, exercise, rather than mental workouts (more on that in a moment) appears to offer the greatest return on time investment. That is not to say, though, that intellectual “exercise” isn’t valuable. It is. But it needs to stretch your mental capacity, not merely engage it. You are indeed using your brain when you read the Washington Post or this blog, but you’re not really challenging it. And it’s challenge that helps maintain and build cognitive abilities. 

What are the best kinds of challenges? Learning a new language probably tops the list. Learning how to play a musical instrument is another excellent choice. And of course solving puzzles — whether crossword puzzles, Sudoku, Words with Friends, or Candy Crush — is great mental exercise. 

Finally, sustained, deliberate practice of the chosen activity (whether physical OR mental) appears to be a key ingredient in improving cognitive abilities. “For four decades, K. Anders Erickson has studied internationally ranked chess players, world-class athletes, musicians, writers, scientists, foreign language interpreters, and even typists, to see why some rose to the top while others remained good but unremarkable. His theory has been incorrectly abbreviated to suggest that genius springs not from genes or innate abilities but from practicing ten thousand hours or ten years.”* He would not, in fact, deny that factors such as family support, discipline, a skilled teacher, and starting to “train” early are important. But most important of all, he found, was focusing on weaknesses until they are mastered. “Doing something novel and complex is going to take some time, it’s going to be painful, it’s going to hurt, you’re going to cry. But as we clear out that brush, we develop new neuron connections…speeding up the amount of time it takes (for neural circuitry) to fire and receive.”* 

Speeding up as you age rather than slowing down — now that is a sure fire way to prolong success in your chosen career, or in launching a new one!

*Excerpted from “Life Reimagined…the Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife” by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, published 2016.
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Career Transition in DC

Career Transition in DC | Career Counseling in DC | Scoop.it
Searching for something new and better, Career Transition in DC, feel free to contact us.We can provide you the best career counseling, coaching and support you need to move forward.
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The Often Illogical Process of Career Transition

The Often Illogical Process of Career Transition | Career Counseling in DC | Scoop.it

Jim Weinstein is a well-known career advisor in Washington DC who can assist you with his exceptional guidance in obtaining a smooth career transition. 

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Strategies for Older Workers Seeking Employment

Jim Weinstein, a renowned career coach in Washington DC, talks about how aging becomes a major concern for many older workers seeking employment, especially in tech-heavy fields. Having practiced career counseling in DC for so many years, he has met many older clients who perceived their age as a barrier to employment. In this article, he shares some great strategies to find employment no matter at what age you seek career transition, change, or progression.

Aging. A word with few positive connotations, and particularly when it comes to careers. A concern that is shared by, if not a majority, certainly a plurality of my clients - almost irrespective of their actual chronological status. Believe it or not I've heard people in their late 20s express fears about their "advanced" age being a barrier to employment.

True, in certain tech-heavy fields and organizations 30 would be considered somewhat "over the hill." But most older (I.e. 50+) job seekers are pretty unlikely to be looking for employment there. However, COMFORT WITH TECHNOLOGY is increasingly essential. So if you are someone who is somewhat technophobic (as I am), take a deep breath, grit your teeth, and push through the discomfort that has kept you in the dark about things like Twitter, Spotify and Snapchat. You may not wind up being very adept, but having some basic knowledge and a rudimentary tech vocabulary will keep you from being labeled as an "old fogey.*

Part of the fear of technology comes from the same place that paralyzes the beginning learners of a foreign language - the fear that you will look or sound stupid. Practice is the answer to that problem. What's more, most young'uns LOVE showing off their tech skills (and their superiority to their elders in that regard). So enlist someone under 30 to tutor you.**

NETWORKING is the most powerful key to finding employment at any age. Unfortunately many people's networks start shrinking as they age. Although it may impose a bit of a burden, make it a point to keep in touch with lots of people from your past. A "Happy Birthday" message on Facebook may be all that it takes to maintain a soft spot in the hearts of old acquaintances, particularly if it's a bit personalized ("Happy birthday, Harry. You're almost as old as our chemistry teacher was in junior high - remember him?").

APPEARANCE is something that people tend to focus on less as they age. The positive aspect of that is that it generally stems from a greater comfort with oneself, and/or reduced emphasis on the opinion of others. But when looking for a job the opinion of others (i.e. the people in a position to hire you) is of vital importance. If you haven't changed your look ( hair style, basic wardrobe ) in a number of years it would be wise to seek guidance on whether and how to update your image. Fashion magazines can be a source for this, as can a friend whose look you particularly like.

AGE CAN HAVE REAL VALUE TO EMPLOYERS. Long and varied career experience, as well as maturity and wisdom, are genuine assets. Older workers can bettter understand the Baby Boom generation, offering valuable product development and marketing ideas to an employer. And Baby Boom workers generally exhibit a stronger work ethic and more loyalty than those of later generations. Pay particular attention to showcasing these kinds of strength in all of the elements of your profile and, of course, your interviews. It's your job to help create a counter-narrative to the prevalent idea that older people are out-of-touch, and too set in their ways to easily learn new skills and procedures.

ENERGY is something that all employers value, and again older workers face a negative stereotype. You can demonstrate energy in many ways - the words that you choose to use, the tone n which they're delivered, your posture, your facial expressions, the topics that you choose to talk about. For more ideas about the advantages older workers have, check this month's AARP Bulletin and read "The Value of Older Workers." I have worked with many dozens of job seekers over 50, and my experience has been that thiose who follow the advice above and put genuine, consistent effort into the process wind up succeeding relatively quickly. I wish you the very best in your search!

*Similarly, keeping up-to-date on SKILLS in your targeted field is essential.

**if you're a Mac person, the Genius Bar at any Apple store is a great place to learn.
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Psychological Blocks to Pursuing a Better Career

Jim Weinstein is a renowned career development counselor in Washington DC. His expert advice has proved instrumental in the lives of hundreds of individuals who once struggled to find the job they love. Whether you are looking for your first job or stuck in a mid-career crisis thinking of a career transition, he has a solution for your occupational problem. As a career coach in Washington DC, he has closely observed and studied various psychological/emotional barriers that hold back professionals from pursuing a better career.

 I recently met with a client who stimulated my thinking for this week's post. She's a very successful lawyer who has "burned out" on her profession, but has been unable to move forward pursuing alternatives without really understanding why. She keeps promising herself that she will take steps to network or research her way into new career choices but finds she keeps putting off those steps. In my first meeting with her, almost two months ago, I had detected some guilt surrounding her consideration of alternatives to the law, but in our session last week we were able to pinpoint the source of much of it. Her mother raised a family (with modest means) of three gitls, sending two to Ivy League schools. The third child, however, suffered from such severe developmental problems that she needed virtually constant attention, and the mother sacrificed her career in order to provide the disturbed daughter with the required care. My client felt that it was somehow inappropriate or selfish of her to be unhappy with her career situation given all that her mother had been through, and the sacrifices that her mother had made in order to provide her with a top-notch education. Guilt stood in the way of her taking the steps she needed to in order to find greater fulfillment in her work life, guilt of which my client wasn't even really aware.

There are several other kinds of psychological / emotional barriers that a not insignificant number of my clients encounter as they explore career options. A common one is perfectionism - the search for exactly the right combination of elements that will virtually guarantee happiness at work. This is a pursuit that is almost certainly doomed to failure, for several reasons. First, and most importantly, there are far too many variables in a work setting to be sure that all of them will align in the way one would like. Think, for example, of the importance of interpersonal relationships on the job with one's boss and co-workers. As pleasant as they might seem in an interview kind of a setting, what kind of interactions will there be six weeks or six months, not to mention six years, into a new career? What if the boss you went to work for quite or is fired and you wind up reporting to a tyrant? How political will the place of employment turn out to be? How can one know in advance whether a company or organization will thrive or wither long-term?

Second, work that might be engaging initially might become tedious over time, and there's no way to ascertain the probability of that happening with a great deal of accuracy. Yes, due diligence in asking people in your targeted career about what they like and don't like about their work, and how the work "wears" with them over time is helpful. But what may hold another interest for the long-term won't necessarily hold yours.

Third, one's interests change over time as well, so a field for which one had passion at age 38 might turn out to be distasteful at age 40 due to changes in personal circumstances (for example the death of a parent, sibling, or spouse). That was exactly what happened to me at the end of my career in the advertising world - work that had previously felt exciting and stimulating became superficial and essentially meaningless.

Related, but somewhat the inverse, is the fear of making the "wrong" choice (rather than the perfect one). People who have had previous work difficulties (e.g. getting downsized or fired) are often overly particularly anxious about the possibility that they will find themselves in the same situation again.

Another psychological / emotional factor that can stand in the way of pursuing a more fulfilling career is the hovering presence of expectations: the perceived expectations of parents who have worked hard to ensure their child is successful, or of peers whose opinion of one's success is judged important, success most easily measured in monetary terms. Or of a family line that has always worked in a particular business or profession. I say "perceived" because many clients misinterpret their circle's expectations. In my experience people who care about you are able to sense when you are truly happy, even if you're not earning the amount of money that they think would be necessary for their happiness, and seeing that you are happy is what's most important to them. If it isn't perhaps you should reexamine the value of their friendship.

The very important first step in eliminating the blocks I've cited above is the simple recognition that they are there. Unfortunately, most people are unable to look at themselves objectively and analytically enough to be able to detect the presence of these barriers. That's where someone like me can be invaluable - someone who's knowledgeable about both career counseling and psychological
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Reluctant to Ask for Career Help through Networking?

Reluctant to Ask for Career Help through Networking? | Career Counseling in DC | Scoop.it
According to a recent survey, networking is still the best way to find a new career opportunity despite the evident explosion of online career tools like employment boards, professional networking sites, job search websites and so on. In this article, Jim Weinstein, a renowned career development counselor in Washington DC, talks about the reluctance in people to utilize this means of advancement. In addition to working as a career counselor in DC, Jim is also a licensed psychotherapist and a life coach.

Arguably the single most effective means of advancing one’s career - whether that takes the shape of choosing a career, switching careers, getting hired, or getting promoted - is networking (I’m using networking in a general sense here; a broader and more inclusively accurate term might be “creating and leveraging relationships to help move ahead”). After all, often career success is determined less by what one knows than by who one knows. Yet over the years I’ve discovered that a surprising number of people are anxious, reluctant, or even outright refuse, to utilize this means of advancement.

Why? Some people are painfully shy and find it virtually impossible to reach out for fear that they will somehow look silly, weak, a failure, or inept. Others (a greater number it seems to me) are reluctant to “impose” on others. To them it feels like they’re “using” relationships in a selfish manner for their own advancement.

Well, yes. The ultimate aim of networking is to help one advance. And it is true that some prime networkers out there are definitely “users,” who would lie, cheat, steal, or casually throw a colleague under the bus to get ahead. But most people are not like that. Furthermore, what is often overlooked is the fact that mutual benefits are incurred in most cases - to the networker and to the “networkee” (if I may coin a term).

The benefits to the networkers are obvious: information, introductions, personal recommendations. To the networkees? Feeling good that they’ve extended a helping hand, of course. But also the possibility of looking good or gaining credit because they chose to help advance a worthy individual who can add value.

Of course if the networkee feels the networker won’t add value, or if it feels like too much trouble, or if there’s a reluctance to expend “networking capital” on that person, it is easy to turn down the request or duck out. There is no obligation on the networkee’s part to “play ball.” For example, if I ask someone I’ve met at a cocktail party or business event to have coffee, it’s easy for the person to agree (“Sure! Give me a call next week and we’ll set it up”) and then not respond to the email.

Finally, networking is now a cultural norm. Perhaps 50 years ago what we call networking today might have seemed selfish, pushy or inappropriate. But most people today (particularly here in Washington) are perfectly fine with being asked for a networking kind of favor, in no small part because they themselves have probably asked others for the same kinds of favors, or anticipate needing to do so in the future, and feel that “what goes around comes around”.
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Analogies to Help You Plan Your Career

Analogies to Help You Plan Your Career | Career Counseling in DC | Scoop.it
Making a career change is always a big stressor, no matter your age. But for older job seekers, switching careers can be downright terrifying. The assumption of being given less preference than a zealous rising star often brings down their confidence level. In this article, renowned career counselor in Washington DC, Jim Weinstein shares some effective strategies that can help veteran professionals seek employment. …Through these strategies, he has helped many older workers make a smooth career transition. Mr. Weinstein is also a DC life coach.

Aging. A word with few positive connotations, and particularly when it comes to careers. A concern that is shared by, if not a majority, certainly a plurality of my clients - almost irrespective of their actual chronological status. Believe it or not I've heard people in their late 20s express fears about their "advanced" age being a barrier to employment.

True, in certain tech-heavy fields and organizations 30 would be considered somewhat "over the hill." But most older (I.e. 50+) job seekers are pretty unlikely to be looking for employment there. However, COMFORT WITH TECHNOLOGY is increasingly essential. So if you are someone who is somewhat technophobic (as I am), take a deep breath, grit your teeth, and push through the discomfort that has kept you in the dark about things like Twitter, Spotify and Snapchat. You may not wind up being very adept, but having some basic knowledge and a rudimentary tech vocabulary will keep you from being labeled as an "old fogey.*

Part of the fear of technology comes from the same place that paralyzes the beginning learners of a foreign language - the fear that you will look or sound stupid. Practice is the answer to that problem. What's more, most young'uns LOVE showing off their tech skills (and their superiority to their elders in that regard). So enlist someone under 30 to tutor you.**

NETWORKING is the most powerful key to finding employment at any age. Unfortunately many people's networks start shrinking as they age. Although it may impose a bit of a burden, make it a point to keep in touch with lots of people from your past. A "Happy Birthday" message on Facebook may be all that it takes to maintain a soft spot in the hearts of old acquaintances, particularly if it's a bit personalized ("Happy birthday, Harry. You're almost as old as our chemistry teacher was in junior high - remember him?").

APPEARANCE is something that people tend to focus on less as they age. The positive aspect of that is that it generally stems from a greater comfort with oneself, and/or reduced emphasis on the opinion of others. But when looking for a job the opinion of others (i.e. the people in a position to hire you) is of vital importance. If you haven't changed your look ( hair style, basic wardrobe ) in a number of years it would be wise to seek guidance on whether and how to update your image. Fashion magazines can be a source for this, as can a friend whose look you particularly like.

AGE CAN HAVE REAL VALUE TO EMPLOYERS. Long and varied career experience, as well as maturity and wisdom, are genuine assets. Older workers can bettter understand the Baby Boom generation, offering valuable product development and marketing ideas to an employer. And Baby Boom workers generally exhibit a stronger work ethic and more loyalty than those of later generations. Pay particular attention to showcasing these kinds of strength in all of the elements of your profile and, of course, your interviews. It's your job to help create a counter-narrative to the prevalent idea that older people are out-of-touch, and too set in their ways to easily learn new skills and procedures.

ENERGY is something that all employers value, and again older workers face a negative stereotype. You can demonstrate energy in many ways - the words that you choose to use, the tone n which they're delivered, your posture, your facial expressions, the topics that you choose to talk about.

For more ideas about the advantages older workers have, check this month's AARP Bulletin and read "The Value of Older Workers."

I have worked with many dozens of job seekers over 50, and my experience has been that thiose who follow the advice above and put genuine, consistent effort into the process wind up succeeding relatively quickly. I wish you the very best in your search! *

Similarly, keeping up-to-date on SKILLS in your targeted field is essential. **
If you're a Mac person, the Genius Bar at any Apple store is a great place to learn.
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How to Answer the Key Interview Question Impressively

How to Answer the Key Interview Question Impressively | Career Counseling in DC | Scoop.it
“So, tell me about yourself.” This seemingly simple question can actually make you sweat, especially during an interview. In this segment, renowned career counselor in Washington DC, Mr. Jim Weinstein, tells how inexperienced interviewees can answer this much-dreaded question impressively and make the right impact on their prospective employer. 

As an experienced career coach in DC, Mr. Weinstein believes that the art & science of creating a great answer is all about being strategic while crafting your response. You need to put together an answer that not just helps you build rapport, but also shows that you are the right fit for the job. 

Very often the first substantive statement that an employer will make in a job interview is “So, tell me about yourself” (or words to that effect). The way that this question is answered sets the tone for the entire interview. Unfortunately many inexperienced interviewees answer in such a way that puts them immediately out of contention. They essentially recite the information contained in their resumes, which suggests that they have some combination of timidness, lack of imagination, and cluelessness. 

Few people like to interview prospective employees. It’s time they’re not devoting to their jobs (unless they’re in HR) and it’s a process that’s generally ill-defined, but that requires a lot of focus and attention. So the key to successfully responding to this request lies in engaging and impressing the interviewer. 

 I coach my clients to respond by beginning with a little (I emphasize LITTLE) personal information: "I was born in Lima, Ohio and had a pretty typical childhood until I went out-of-state to George Washington, where I decided to major in finance, primarily due to an awesome professor I had freshman year. I was lucky enough to land a summer internship at Bank of America two years later, and that really hooked me.” Then I suggest that they pivot the conversation to what the interviewer really wants to know: “Is this a person we should hire?” The pivot can be accomplished smoothly by saying something along the lines of “But let me tell you what I think it’s most important for you to know about me.” And here’s where a version of the elevator speech comes in; stating the key talking points that align with the job specs. I say a version of the elevator speech, because the pitch needs to be tailored to what the employer needs. This is where the concept of “personal branding” can cause trouble, because the interviewee may focus too much on repeating selling points that may be appropriate in a general networking situation but not sufficiently attuned to the job being sought.  

The pivot suggests boldness, initiative, and efficiency: a non-nonsense approach that is pretty much universally valued. Now if the interviewer is someone who’s particularly chatty this might not be the best approach to use; successful interviewing requires the ability to “read” the interviewer and adjust style accordingly. But in most instances the approach I recommend will be impressive.  

In addition to the primary issue of qualifications, a candidate's likeability is such a core component of a hiring decision that it is also important to try to inject an element that will ideally result in the interviewer connecting on a personal level. This might take the form of a "coda" to the recitation of the key talking points. For example, after reciting the qualifications* it could be engaging to say something (with a sort of wink of the eye) like "and maybe not quite so important for you to know, but I'm a rabid Redskins fan," something distinctive and therefore memorable. Whether "So tell me about yourself" comes up or not, the points I've made above are adaptable to almost any interviewing situation. Keep them in mind! 

 *Except in entry-level kinds of situations, don't just talk about what you managed or were responsible for in your work history. Anyone, good or bad, who holds a particular position can claim with equal validity that they managed or were responsible for something(s)/someone(s). Talk about end results, achievements, accomplishments, demonstrating the value that you've created in previous jobs.

To Know more about Career Counselor in DC visit: http://dclifecounseling.com
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Turn Around Your Thinking

Turn Around Your Thinking | Career Counseling in DC | Scoop.it
Jim Weinstein is one of the most widely sought-after career advisers in Washington DC. He helps his clients navigate career issues, like unemployment and career transition by providing them solution-focused counseling. Mr. Weinstein is also a DC life coach known for his out-of-the-box solutions that are designed to effectively address the challenges in your life. According to him, there is a multi-faceted aspect to "reality" which allows us greater freedom and flexibility in reacting to it. To put his point across to readers, he shares many interesting examples that you can easily relate to.

This entry is essentially a repost from a few years ago, but it came to mind as a result of two people (a client and a friend) having their thoughts fall into an exceptionally negative place. There's a wonderful, structured technique for pulling out of that place, first articulated by Byron Katie.

This method has antecedents in post-modern thought, namely that reality is to a great degree constructed by how we look at it. There's a parallel idea that has emerged from quantum physics known as the "observer effect": the mere act of observing a phenomenon alters it to some degree. A problem common to virtually all negative thinking is that the mind scurries around looking for evidence to support its point-of-view, and evidence can always be found. Contrary evidence is rarely considered, because it puts the mind in the uncomfortable place of holding opposing thoughts at the same time (the psychological term for this state being "cognitive dissonance").

The foundational principle behind the method I'm about to outline is that by viewing thoughts / situations from multiple perspectives we can begin to see that there is a fluid, multi-faceted aspect to "reality" which allows us greater freedom and flexibility in reacting to it.

Step One: WRITE down the thoughts that are troubling you. Go on for pages, if you like. Get it all out and down on paper. Then:

Step Two: Take the first thought you've written about and ask yourself "Is it true?". Let's start with a fairly easy example: "My husband is self-centered and doesn't listen to me" You might say "yes, it's true". Then go on to

Step Three: Ask yourself "Can I absolutely 100% for sure know it’s true?". You can't really know anything for sure when it involves the motivations and actions of others, so the answer would have to be "no".

Step Four: "How do you feel or react when you think that thought?" Because the purpose of this exercise is to focus on troubling thoughts, your answer will always involve some kind of negativity, in this case perhaps: "I feel disrespected, I feel unimportant, I feel unloved".

Step Five: Ask yourself "Who would I be without that thought" (or "how would I be feeling without that thought?). In this case, a sample answer might be "I feel less tense, I feel lighter, I feel loved".

Step Six: This is the tricky one. It's called the turnaround. What you need to do is to take the original thought and switch elements of the sentence so that it has a different meaning. For example "My husband is self centered and never listens to me" could be turned around to:

1) My husband isn't self-centered and does listen to me.
2) My husband doesn't listen to me when I'm self-centered.
3) I'm self-centered and don't listen to my husband.

Now, think carefully and as objectively as you can about each of the turnaround statements and think of a time or times in which those thoughts are true.

Let's try another couple of examples: "My wife is rude to my Mom"

1) Is it true ("yes", you feel)

2) Can I absolutely 100% for sure know it's true? (No, at least to some degree rudeness is in the eye of the beholder).

3) How do I feel when I think that thought? Angry, resentful, like my feelings aren't important to her.

4) Who would I be without that thought? Calmer, less angry.

5) Turn the thought around:

"My Mom is rude to my wife"

"My wife isn't rude to my Mom"

"My wife is rude to herself"

Some of the turnarounds will have immediate resonance (in this case, you might recall an instance when your Mom was rude to your wife, or when your wife wasn't rude to your Mom which could certainly shift your perspective on her rudeness). Others less so or not at all, but by working at it you'll usually come up with some examples that support the turnarounds.

Another example (focusing just on the turnarounds, as the preceding steps are fairly self-evident): "I'm always doing things for other people and they should reciprocate".

The turnarounds could be:

"I'm always doing things for people and they shouldn't reciprocate"

"People are always doing things for me and I should reciprocate"

"I'm always doing things for me and I should reciprocate".

By identifying situations opposite from the one embedded in the original troubling thought you are able to see "reality" from a different, less troubling angle.

I urge you to experiment with this method. The turnarounds can be tricky, and depend to some degree on the way the troubling thought is phrased, so try rewording the thought if turnarounds aren't working. If you write down "I'm worried that I'll lose my job," the obvious turnarounds (I'm not worried that I'll lose my job, I'm worried that I won't lose my job) might not make any sense. But if you reword the thought to "If I lose my job I won't be able to find another" a couple of the turnarounds would begin to make sense (If I don't lose my job I won't be able to find another (because I won't feel the need to look), If I don't lose my job I will be able to find another (because there's always the possibility of finding a new job), If I'm not able to find another job I won't lose my job (maybe by stopping the job search and focusing on the job you currently hold you'll improve your performance).
To learn more about this method and how to use it, go to Byron Katie's blog: http://www.byronkatie.com/
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Focusing Your Attention

Focusing Your Attention | Career Counseling in DC | Scoop.it

Jim Weinstein, a renowned career development counselor in Washington DC, is an MBA with distinction from Harvard, and a Master’s degree holder in Clinical Psychology. In addition to being a successful career advisor, he is a marketing expert, a...

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A Closer Look at Feelings

Jim Weinstein is one of Washington DC's most successful Life Coaches and Career Counselors. Through his intelligent career counseling, he has helped a number of individuals in DC navigate the complex issues of their life. In this article, he talks about the power of feelings, how they generate, and most importantly how they impact one's professional and personal life.

The two primary engines of human behavior are thoughts and feelings. I have blogged extensively about the power (both positive and negative) of thoughts, but less so on the power of feelings. Hence today's post.

Feelings can be generated in several ways. There are thought inspired feelings, what I call reptilian feelings, "gut" feelings, spiritually inspired feelings, and feelings of love.

Thought inspired feelings are the most common. Thinking of a problem, an opportunity, an experience, or a memory triggers feelings and emotions. Often, however, the triggering thought is invisible, either because it was fleeting or because it was overwhelmed by the subsequent powerful feelings it generated. Among common thought based feelings are guilt, hopelessness, shame, hatred, envy, embarrassment, and jealousy. The realization that the majority of feelings arise from thoughts is a powerful one because it provides the ability to begin to exert greater control over those feelings by shifting the negative thoughts.

A common example that I see in my clients is a depressed feeling that they are stuck in a career that they have come to dislike, and that there is no obvious way of escaping the situation. When their thoughts focus on the absence of a readily apparent solution, a feeling of being trapped with no means of escape is likely to emerge. Is it really true that there is no escaping the situation? No. In fact most people who come to me with that problem succeed in finding an answer. So clearly it's the negative thinking that is the source of the depressed feeling.

Reptilian feelings are those that trace back millions of years and evolved to avoid danger and maximize safety. A prominent example is the startle response in infants: a loud noise will cause the infant to draw arms and legs towards the chest, providing increased protection from an external threat. Disgust is another feeling that is frequently reptilian-based. Sometimes reptilian feelings are dead on: a sudden movement by something in the environment could signal danger. But more often than not the "automatic" response generated by reptilian feelings turns out to be unnecessary; how often has the perception of sudden danger turned out to be in fact dangerous?

"Gut" feelings are also evolutionarily based. They come from a source that well known author Malcolm Gladwell feels is often much better qualified to help us make decisions than is plain old rational thought. "The cognitive, emotional, and social repertoire that create those gut feelings, or what we call intuition, has evolved over the millennia specifically for making decisions. It is not some sort of mystical chemical reaction but a neurologically based behavior that evolved to ensure that we humans respond quickly when faced with a dilemma”. Gut feelings are not invariably accurate, but they certainly deserve attention.

Spiritually inspired feelings are rare for most people - a sense of peace and tranquility that comes from the sense of being connected to "the universe". These feelings can arise in religious contexts, in meditation, or in being fully in the present moment. They don't generally suggest any particular action - they are contentment with exactly what is.

Then there is that special feeling we call LOVE. It can be the intense initial feeling of oneness that is often present at the very beginning of a relationship, or the mellower feeling of some combination of security, attraction, attachment, and intimacy that underlies more "mature" relationships (romantic or platonic). But of course even love, like most other feelings, can be misleading and result in poor choices.

Don't let yourself be run by your feelings without reflection. You may feel strongly that you want to, or should do something (or, contrarily, NOT do something), but digging beneath the emotional surface can help you make wiser choices. Visit http://dclifecounseling.com/ for more info.

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