Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What makes you happy? #59

I hate most exercise, but I don't necessarily mind being active.

And there's a real nice point that comes most evenings when my FitBit buzzes on my wrist.

That buzzing means I hit 10,000 steps for the day.

Yeah, sometimes it includes a run I forced myself to take.

But sometimes it's running errands, or wandering around the park, or just decided to walk to church instead of driving, or walk to the slightly further bar.

If I can get myself out of the house, I've got a good chance of hitting it.

It's a pleasant moment.  Maybe I should even up my goal?

Updated 3/30/16 to fix links.

Monday, December 21, 2015

I Don't Know What I Want... Chapter 12, Part 5

I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This 

By Julie Jansen 

 Chapter 12: Job Search -- the Nuts and Bolts

Your Job Search: The Most Important Elements of a Job Search.
Let's see if I can't simplify this a little.  Said elements are:

  • Your Resume. Be sure to have both an Internet version and a hard copy version.  I personally have a "master" resume that has everything, ever, plus a bank of keywords; I then edit it down to one-to-two pages for specific jobs.
  • Networking. The only people I know of who like networking don't even like networking; they like free cocktails and passed hors d'oeuvres and possibly showing off to one or two specific people. But basically, real networking is just keeping in touch with people and making sure you can offer them what they need so they're eager to do the same for you. I watched your dog while you were at the funeral, so you came to my fundraiser, where you met your future partner, who introduced me to my future client. That's not so hard!
  • Answering Internet or Newspaper Ads. Meh.  Even the book says you're better off going right to the websites of companies you like and looking at their Careers pages.
  • Contingency and Search Firms.  The book says these are mostly for high-end jobs, but I've gotten several low-to-mid-range jobs though these companies.  They're given a position by their client, then comb the major job sites for likely candidates (see "Resume" and "bank of keywords").
  • Interviewing. Nothing new here.
  • Follow-up.  Write thank you notes! Emails are fine! (I try to send a quick email right away and more formal notes by the next morning). You stand out, and it's a really positive way to remind your interviewer that they saw you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What Makes You Happy? #58

For our anniversary back in September, Chris and I spent the day in Woodstock, NY.  Now, yes, a lot of the residents sure seemed like they came out for the concert and never went home.  But that's fun, too.

picture of a wrapped present
picture of a wrapped present (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What was really satisfying was that we started our Christmas shopping.  Yes, it was technically too early, but as we wandered the strange little shops, small items kept jumping out at me.  Person A would love this! they'd say.  Person B would love that.  Sometimes I'd make a note.  Other times, I'd make a purchase.

Heck. It spreads out the costs so our credit card doesn't take a hit come December.  That alone makes me a little happier.

Not to rush you, but do you have any fun holiday plans yet?  

Updated 3/30/16 to fix links.

Monday, December 14, 2015

I Don't Know What I Want... Chapter 12, Part 4

I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This 

By Julie Jansen 

 Chapter 12: Job Search -- the Nuts and Bolts

Your Job Search: You Must Make Decisions and Take Action
If you feel stuck, make the decision or take the action anyway; it's the best way to get unstuck.

...Yeah, because it's totally that easy.

But it helps to understand our motivations. Why are you doing this or that?

10/1/15: Three Good Things
  1. I have a Fitbit! I was paying a credit card I only still have because it's my oldest (as soon as my credit history allows, I'm closing it) , and saw that I have a ridiculous number of points.  Now, the points are only good in the offiial "store" -- I can't get cash back or miles or really much of anything.  I think I got a CD once, and by that I mean a Compact Disk, not a Certificate of Deposit (although, given the current interest rates, one's about a useful as the other...).  Anyway! Seeing my ridiculous amount of points, I thought I'd skim the "store" and see what thy had -- and they had some fairly high-end fitness trackers.  A little research later, and I have a Fitbit Charge HR.  This didn't happen today, but I just happened to find it useful today, so I thought I'd mention it. This happened because I managed to combine two whims (get a fitness bracelet; check out my rewards points) into something useful.
  2. It's raining! Again, this didn't start today, but it's just so nice.  It's cool, and it's sucking the humidity out of the air, and it's just a pleasant fall rainstorm. I'm trying not to be pessimistic and think about how this is probably the first salvo of a hurricane (you'll know the result of that before this goes live), so let's just enjoy it while it's good.
  3. Tea. I'm just enjoying a nice pot of tea.  I bought some tea, but not a tin for it, so I'm trying to finish off a tin that's nearly empty so I can reuse it. Also, I just like tea.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What makes you happy? #57

Chris and I  have very different views on hiking.

English: Upper Kaaterskill Falls, Catskills, NY
English: Upper Kaaterskill Falls, Catskills, NY (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I want to enjoy nature.  Look at the flowers, the animals, the waterfalls, the vistas. The physical strenuousness is a price I choose to pay for that, and if the price is too high -- if I'm too tired, or in pain, or worried about losing my footing to enjoy what's around me -- then I'm not interested.

Chris is there for the challenge. He wants to conquer the mountain; that saps all the fun out of it for me. If we're conquering, we're not appreciating.

Yes, there's probably a sociopolitical metaphor there.  No, I don't feel like untangling it right now.

For our anniversary trip [link to friday 10/2], we started by hiking the Kaaterskill Falls.  We couldn't do the whole trail; it's being renovated for safety reasons.  And the falls themselves were pretty weak, given how dry it had been.

But as a result, we could climb on boulders all the way out to the base of the falls. And we could just take in the beauty of nature.

Is it any wonder an entire arts movement was formed around this region?

Cole, Thomas - Kaaterskill Falls
Cole, Thomas - Kaaterskill Falls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Three Good Things, 9/29/15:

  1. An English muffin for breakfast. I don't buy them often, because they're kind of expensive, but a few weeks ago, they were buy one, get two free, so of course I bought three packages and froze two of them. I don't know why, but they're so much more satisfying than toast. This was caused by the willingness to jump on an opportunity when I saw it.
  2. Pulling the trigger on my dad's birthday present. For a long list of reasons I'm not getting into here, this was a frustrating task.  And as things stand now, it still won't arrive in time.  But I did it. This was caused by my recognizing the situation and being willing to organize all those involved.
  3. The Adventure Zone.  This podcast never fails to make me laugh, and I finally got to start listening to the latest episode. I really recommend it. This was caused by me recognizing the need for a laugh and the desire to catch up.

Monday, December 7, 2015

I Don't Know What I Want... Chapter 12, Part 3

I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This 

By Julie Jansen 

 Chapter 12: Job Search -- the Nuts and Bolts

Your Job Search: Have a Focused and Flexible Plan with Realistic, Achievable Goals
This is really straightforward: your plan should be made of action steps. The job search is overwhelming, but if we break it down into smaller chunks, it's doable.  For example, here are some chunks for me:

  • Update resume, consolidating freelance work into a single item.
  • Create a CV encompassing all my freelance work (and possibly some of my published writer).
  • Make a list of agencies and websites that should get my updated resume
  • Make a list of companies with freelance pools.
  • Contact at least one person off those lists every day.
  • Touch base with previous clients.
  • Update LinkedIn, including resume, CV, and links to blog.
Then, you just update your goals once a week to reflect your progress.  Nice.

What smaller goals do you have?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Life Reimagined: Reimagine Your Career, Part 2

So last time we looked at this exercise, we figured out where my interests lie.  This time, we're imaging the possibilities.

We start with a brainstorm journal.  I kind of hate these; I'm not sure why.  But I jotted down some things I enjoy.

Next, I have to... huh.  Show my profile to a friend and have them come up with some ideas of types of work (not jobs, work) I might enjoy.

Well, folks, you know me decently well if you've been reading all along (especially since most of you are only reading this because you know me, let's be real...) and you got a good sense of my profile last time.

Throw some ideas at me in the comments (or on Facebook, if you're on a mobile device; you probably got here from Facebook anyway...).

Updated 3/29/16 to fix links, typos.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What makes you happy? #56

I mentioned before, a few weeks back [link] Chris went to a Giants game.

I've had the whole day to myself.  I do most of the time, these days, but this was different.

First, I had very few obligations that day.

Second, I wasn't sitting around the house.

I don't that combination often when I'm by myself, and even less when I'm not traveling.

But that day, it was all me, no pressure.

I went to church, got some lunch, and then just meandered until I was tired.

It was a good day.

(Well, mostly, but you already read about that[link].)

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Science of Happiness: Making the Most of Your Friendships

10/26/15: Are Some Social Ties Better Than Others?
English: me and my friend
English: me and my friend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So this article was posted to the Greater Good website in March of 2014, and was written by Juliana Breines.  Go read it and then we'll chat.

So, we're both more connected than we've ever been, and lonelier than we've ever been, at the same time.  That sounds about right, don't you think?

Online communication does help us feel connected, and can give us a chance to help people. It offers these opportunities especially to introverts, who don't necessarily have it in them to do these things face-to-face. Still, it's not the same as seeing someone's expression, or hearing someone's voice, or getting a hug. So understand your network's limitations, and strive to be actively engaged.

Professional networks and other acquaintances aren't deep friendships, but they're a wide and diverse pool that can help you find a job, or a doctor, or a closer friend. It's good to deepen these relationships, even a little -- even if they don't become true friends, they;ll be better, more friendly acquaintances.

Close friends are, well, close friends. We belong.  We feel known. We become more empathetic. We can even become less racist! However, if a very close friend succeeds in an area we care about, we can get pretty threatened; I wonder if this is related on a psychological level to sibling rivalry? In any event, we should work on that, because our friends need our support in the good times just as mmuch as in the bad.

Significant others... we kind of discussed already, but they fall under the "friendship" umbrella as well. It's important not to be too insular with our SO's, or to put too much on them -- we need other friends, if only to spread the burden around.

(Did I just call being friends with me to a burden? ...I might have.)

And it goes both ways. Our partners need friends, too, and those friends aren't a threat to us.

Both week ties and strong ties are important, and we have to be careful not to overdo it -- or to overcompensate and cut off all ties when we need the support the most.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Life Reimagined: Reimagine Your Career, Part 1

So recently I talked about the Job Hunting Calling Cards, but the site is constantly adding new exercises, and it seems that one is so old it fell off the menu.
A chimpanzee brain at the Science Museum London
A chimpanzee brain at the Science Museum London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But that's OK, because they offer a similar activity.

So the first part is to identify work from your past that you still enjoy. I think this would be a lot easier for me if I had signed up using LinkedIn rather than Facebook, but oh, well. So I dug up an old copy of my resume (which I really need to update) and plugged in some choice terms.

Then I have to describe some dreams jobs, which is always fun.

OK, now it asks me:
Imagine walking into a party with six types of people there. Which group would you want to join first?
I'm skeptical, but as I read the descriptions, the types are more about what kinds of jobs those people do. OK, then.  I then pick my second and third choices. I choose Artistic, Investigative, and Conventional.

Ah! The cards I've been waiting for.   There are 33 choices of fields, and I have to choose at least four.  I choose, to absolutely no one's surprise:
If you picked more than four, you have to narrow them down, but since I picked exactly four, I'm good.

I guess the computer shuffles them, because I'm asked to pick one over another to gauge my preferences. Looks like Fine Arts is getting the boot.

Now it's asking me what skills I like to use.  This really is starting to sound like the cards activity.  I picked:
  • Repair
  • Construct
  • Imagine
  • Perceive Patterns
  • Shape, model, sculpt
  • Set up, assemble
  • Convey warmth and empathy
  • Speak
  • Follow through, get things done
  • Serve, care for, follow instructions faithfully
  • Help people link up or connect
  • Communicate well, in writing
  • Divert, amuse, entertain, perform, act
  • Pay attention to details
  • Design, use artistic abilities, be original
  • Use my brain
  • Research

Before you laugh, these are the one I enjoy, not the ones I'm good at.

Now I prioritize again, leaving me my top three favorite skills, again to no one's surprise, of Imagine, Communicate well, in writing, and Use my brain.

What skills do you enjoy using, even if they're not your strongest?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What Makes You Happy? #55

While visiting friends in Boston [link to 9/18 friday review], we took some time in the late afternoon to walk along the water.  It was a lovely day, just cool enough to need a light sweater when the breeze came up off the wharf.
Wharf derby wharf salem massachussets
Wharf derby wharf salem massachussets (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For about ten minutes or so, it was just quiet and peaceful. The sounds of the water and the birds, the feel of the fresh air and setting sun. Sitting on the beach for hours sounds like the most boring thing, but give me a destination and I will take the route that goes along the water.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Science of Happiness: How Does Parenting Relate to Happiness?

10/26/15: What Makes a Happy Parent?

So this article was published to the Greater Good website by Emily Nauman in August of 2014. Go ahead and read it.

Young couple with baby.
Young couple with baby. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It looks like the sort answer to the question "Does parenthood make you happy?" is "It depends."  The marginally less-short answer is "It depends on the individual parents and the individual children."

Well. OK.  Let's see if we can be any more specific at all.

Older parents tend to be happier than younger parents. Dads tend to be happier than moms.  Parenting style seems to have an effect, but it's tough to say what it is.  And parents with secure attachment styles before they have kids are better at maintaining their non-kid relationships upon becoming parent.

Chill kids have happier parents, while kids with serious problems can add a lot of stress to their parents' lives.

Age makes a difference.  Parents of welcomed fetuses and brand-new newborns are really happy -- but their happiness plummets soon after, and doesn't pick up until the kid is 5, or 7... or moving out, depending which study you look at.  The happiest parents?  Grandparents.  No pressure, right, Mom and Dad?

Social support makes parents happier.  Employment is a mixed blessing: less financial stress, more time stress. And if you have goals of personal achievement other than having children, children aren't going to feel like as much of an achievement.  Which... makes sense.

Married parents tend to be happier than single parents, and custodial parents tend to be happier than non-custodial parents.

Biological attachment to the children may or may not affect the parent's happiness.

Parents?  How much of this rings true?