Thursday, February 1, 2007

5 Ways To Become More of an Optimist

From Elizabeth Scott

Optimism is measured by your explanatory style, or how you define events. If you can learn to define positive events as being a) because of something you did, b) a sign of more good things to come and c) evidence that good things will happen in other areas of your life, you’re halfway there. If you can also think of negative events as a) not your fault, and b) isolated occurrences that have no bearing on future events or other areas of your life, you’re the rest of the way there!

Here's How:

1.When something positive happens in your life, stop to analyze your thought process for a moment. Are you giving yourself due credit for making it happen? Think of all the strengths you possess and ways you contributed, both directly and indirectly, to make this event occur. For example, if you aced a test, don’t just think of how great it is that you were prepared, but also think of how your intelligence and dedication played a role.

2.Think of other areas of your life that could be affected by this good event. Also, think of how the strengths that you possess that caused this good thing to happen can also cause other positive events in your life. For example, what other good things can come from your intelligence, dedication, and ability to effectively prepare for tasks?

3.Imagine what future possibilities could be in store. Because you hold the key to your success, shouldn’t you expect to do well on future exams? Isn’t a successful career a natural result?

4.When negative events occur, think of the extenuating circumstances that could have contributed to this happening. If you do poorly on an exam, for example, were you especially busy in the preceding week? Were you somewhat sleep deprived? What outside circumstances contributed to your failure? Keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily a reflection of personal weakness.

5.Also remember that you’ll have endless opportunities to do better in the future. Think of your next potential success, or other areas where you can excel.


  1. The key to optimism is to maximize your successes and minimize your failures.
  2. It’s beneficial to look honestly at your shortcomings so you can work on them, but focusing on your strengths can never hurt.
  3. Keep in mind that the more you practice challenging your thought patterns, the more automatic it'll become. Don't expect major changes in thinking right away, but do expect them to become ingrained over time.
  4. Always remember that virtually any failure can be a learning experience, and an important step toward your next success!

Top 5 Easy Ways To Make a Career Change

By Perri Capell

Many people find it difficult to change careers because they think they have to do it in one big leap. But you can start by taking small steps that will lead you where you want to be professionally, without losing significant income or disrupting your family.

Here are five ways to make the transition.

1. Build on functional skills. If you like using your core skills and knowledge, consider transferring them to a different industry or field.

Lucinda Wright was a marketing executive for Battle Creek, Mich., cereal maker Kellogg Co. for nine years, rising to vice president of marketing for natural and frozen foods. She then started a consulting business that helped companies with marketing issues. Meanwhile, she volunteered at her graduate business school, the Eli Broad School of Management at Michigan State University. In 2004, when the school needed a new director of career services, Ms. Wright was offered the job.

She now markets the school's M.B.A. program and helps students market themselves to employers. "I'm applying my experience and knowledge to new targets," says Ms. Wright, who is 43.

If this type of career change might work for you, identify your key functional skills and experience and repackage them in a resume aimed at the new field. Next, think of employers to approach and network to learn of possible openings.

2. Return to school. This can help you enter a new field that requires educational credentials that differ from your current background.

After earning an engineering degree, Joe Flerlage joined Underwriters Laboratories Inc. in Northbrook, Ill., and worked his way up the ladder to become an engineering group leader. But he dreamed of becoming a lawyer and decided to attend the DePaul University College of Law at night while continuing in his engineering job during the day.

He commuted to class in downtown Chicago after work and studied at night and weekends and during lunch. After three years in law school, he resigned his engineering job to join a law firm. He finished his last year of law school while working as an associate at his current firm, Brinks, Hofer, Gilson & Lione, a 120-attorney firm in Chicago.

This strategy isn't right for everyone because of the time it requires, says Mr. Flerlage, now 38. However, he says he made more money immediately as a law associate than he did as an engineer with nearly 10 years' experience.

3. Start a parallel career. This is a career that begins while you continue in your former field.

After relocating to New Orleans for her husband's career 1997, attorney June Coldren needed to pass the state's bar exam before she could practice. Meanwhile, she helped her husband set up and run a consulting firm serving oil-and-gas companies.

After she passed the bar, Ms. Coldren did pro bono work to learn more about the law field in Louisiana and explore whether to join a firm or start her own firm. Meanwhile, she helped with the paperwork for her husband's company at night. When her husband accepted a full-time job, he urged her to continue with the consulting business.

Ms. Coldren decided to take his advice and learned the oil-and-gas industry from the ground up. Ten years later, her firm, Cenergy Corp., has logistics services and consulting arms that contract out rig and wellhead supervisors, geophysicists and other exploration-and-drilling professionals.

If you keep your day job, while working weekends or at night in a second profession, be careful not to antagonize your primary employer, since companies don't always view moonlighting favorably.

4. Make an internal move.

If you like your current company, consider a change of jobs there that launches your career in a new direction. Identify unfilled needs -- perhaps things others don't want to do -- and volunteer to do them while in your current job. You may be saddled with extra work temporarily, but it may get you into the new area or a promotion.

"Seek new learning opportunities and ways to expand your skills," says Arlene Hirsch, a Chicago career counselor.

5. Go cold turkey. S
uppose you don't want to stay in your current job another day longer. For you, quitting outright to enter a new field may be an option, especially if you can survive temporarily without an income.

Deborah Bolin wasn't making enough money as a photo-journalist in Dallas and grew tired of working side jobs to pay the bills. She quit to get her real-estate license and became a mortgage broker to learn the home-sales industry. In three months, she made $60,000, more than she had ever earned in a year, says Ms. Bolin, who is 53. She has since moved to Monroe, La., and is selling real estate full time.

Career Counseling: A Holistic Approach

-- Ms. Capell is a senior correspondent for