Career & Wellbeing

Career & Wellbeing



work has been identified as an essential aspect of life from both psychological and anthropological perspectives in fact satisfying employment is related to both mental and physical health so I'm partnering up today with dr. Lanisha Adams principal consultant at ed linguist solutions we're going to talk about vocational development across our lifespan explore the impact of our vocational identity and address what happens when our work life isn't meeting our needs or worse it's hurting us welcome to read and reason hosted by psychologist dr. Alexis Moreno dr. Moreno brings her expertise to providing smart and practical explanations on human behavior by interviewing diverse health experts regarding today's ever-evolving life and culture turning social science and research into relatable accessible and useful information you can use listen now as dr. mano brings a little bit of positive mental health to your day say you're a person employed full-time for 40 years working 40 hours a week maybe taking 2 weeks of vacation you're spending 80 thousand hours in vocation activities working career have a central role in most adult and adolescent lives not only does work provide compensation for meeting our basic needs like food and shelter it also has important psychological meaning doctor dr. Lanisha tell us more about the role of work across the lifespan great thank you so much dr. Alexis for having me on the show one of the things I'd like to start out by talking about is really thinking about one's career development as a lifelong learning process lifelong learning is really at the heart of every form of career that it takes so you might learn in a traditional brick-and-mortar school or college you might take online courses but it's important to emphasize that all of these do not necessarily need to lead to a degree and sometimes when we're thinking and talking about learning and developing in one's career it's like I to go and get something very concrete and then that will help me get to the next phase and when I work with my clients one of the things that I really emphasize is skill development over time so one of the things that in corporate settings and the tech industry well-respected certifications are more like valuable than advanced degrees necessarily so I say all that to really think about career as a process and development not as a one-time event so it's more of an iterative process that have five major components okay and I've classified them according to like having a futuristic focus where you brand yourself according to your uniqueness thinking ahead about what you potentially want you have definite knowledge of self that really looks for patterns and insights and are based on your strengths and aspirations which are again unique to you as an individual right you take action and that requires you to be like set goals and make decisions to advance and then you think about your II sort of valuation like sort of how much money you can put to the skills and experience in years that you have and really then look at your options to explore them and it helps to do that with people that you know people that are in the field that you want to get to and then also experts who are coaches and you can help guide you through that process and then do you see people going through this these stages multiple times throughout their their career development absolutely yeah I think that most people go through I don't I don't think of it like one stage versus another I think sometimes you're in a job and you are coming up to where you have to negotiate your salary you may not be happy with the money that you're getting paid right and it's like you have to go to your employer and say I when I came into this job I had these sets of skills and I was getting paid this much and based off of all the things that I did and accomplished here's what I should get paid now that conversation with that employer should be thought of like you're thinking about getting a new position and some sometimes you know like this evaluation process that I described yeah sort of forces you to start exploring and then once you start exploring then you start thinking is this what I really want what else might what other aspects of my life might be impacted by this and I totally think that one of the advice major advices that I give is you should always be in this process of self-reflection and reflexivity where you really kind of question yourself about where you are and then where you want to be and if where you are isn't working you know you have kind of the capacity to mobilize in advance right and I definitely appreciate the idea of evaluation all the time like ongoing evaluation to make sure you're where you want to be so Bluestein doctor blade state and his article in 2006 identified that work has several implications it provides people with a sense of identity it has unique personal meaning to each individual it allows individuals to contribute to the welfare of their social and cultural groups and is akin is a constant that connects us to other human beings so how do you work with someone who's just starting their career development process or someone who's beginning to explore a career shift while keeping all of this in mind as far as how important a person's career and work is so I'll talk about two examples one is with someone who's 18 and another with someone who's 50 right so when you're 18 and you just have finished high school I kind of it's important to think about it in terms of ages and phases of career because when you're 18 maybe you've worked two years I'm working with a lot of youth who even they have two years of work experience which is kind of amazing in the district to really see these youth knocking it out of the park with years of experience when they're young but you're a teen you this one person in particular I'm thinking of they did not go to college they took some classes at a community college and then it didn't work for them so they're working at a cafe the vision and the dream that they really want to pursue where they really want to end up is owning their own bakery one day and I start there what is your ultimate end goal and that's based on what are your true hearts desires aspirations passions and from there then we can say what do you need in terms of skill to get to that point and so when we're when she just one client I'm thinking of in particular when she's charting her her process she's sort of like I work at the cafe the cafe gives me a sense of what I might need to do to develop you know client customers and then she's like what I don't really this cafe doesn't really have the vibe doesn't really have the kind of environment that I want to create one I open my new cafe so then I was like well where might you find that and so she then mapped out a whole process to go and find this particular cafe she went and found it and now works in that particular cafe so when she's thinking about okay well what other things so I have like this is how you cultivate a repeat customer base now I want to focus on environment well she wants to own a bakery then she needs the skills of being a baker and so that's one of her next phases so she's working now and in about a year she'll have enough money saved and think about what kind of training program for bakery school would and in the DMV would help her get to her ultimate goal right and that's kind of amazing right so you start thinking about the pieces and then you piece them together so that's the 18 year old yeah the 50 year old has had a whole life time of work 25 years and they're switching careers from something that's non tech to tech this one this person in particular is like I don't have a tech background I don't know what I might do to get a tech background they don't have a tech degree and so they went online and sign up for a Coursera course to really focus on Python you know program coding and development and then got a project management certification Network don't on LinkedIn and then was able to find their next make their next move and so I think that like even those two examples where one person has a lifetime of experience and another one doesn't yeah you know you sort of have this sense of you can still keep your end goal and aspiration in mind and then really work with what you have to get to where you want to be right and I really appreciate that strategic thoughtfulness of we're not just making aimless decisions in our career we're really thinking about reflecting what do I want my end goal to be and then now what decisions do I need to make in order to get there and you know as you mentioned and your examples it takes a lot to get there it takes a lot of different knowledge sets it takes a lot of different experiences in the field to be able to really get to those end goals so with our jobs playing such a significant role in our lives experiencing any kind of rupture or dissonance can take a major toll on various aspects of our well-being so let's talk more in depth about some of the major struggles and how to overcome them all right so unemployment work promotes well-being by serving a protective function for aversive life events and experiences the attainment of work has been shown to correlate negatively with criminal activity substance abuse and other mental health concerns so when we're talking about involuntary unemployment among both youth and adults now that's going to be associated with numerous negative health outcomes including increased depression and anxiety so it doesn't just end there with I'm unemployed don't have a job but then it impacts other aspects of our well-being so what advice do you have for someone who is unemployed the major thing I would say about if you're unemployed is um once again what what is your true heart's content what do you aspire to do or to be and where is that environment you identify that or one that's a very some people like to think of this as non-essential I find that that is essential if you want to live a purpose-driven life and really find the right fit for your talents and you know we're spending a lot of time you listed off all these stats about how many hours we've been working in a year and in our lifetime and I think that this is extremely an important part of the process the other thing that I want to mention is I've worked with a couple of clients who are unemployed and they don't have their LinkedIn profile complete yeah if you have a hundred percent complete LinkedIn profile they've done LinkedIn has done research to show that you have like 40 times more opportunities than those who do not have that you complete your LinkedIn profile you put in your headline that you are looking for an opportunity to wow whatever employer that's next and recruiters and other folks using that platform to hire will look do searches and you'll come up in their search and if you're complete it'll appear higher in the search algorithm which is important for people to know I mean I think that's those are two very simple sort of things you can do really practical um that are very very practical the other thing is to really know your strengths and have some kind of assessment a lot of folks have maybe haven't had the chance to do like Gallup strengths binders or something like that but there are free ones there's a values in action survey the via survey and we'll include a link you know yeah well I thought to the website so check it out and so in that will tell you okay based off of not only your true hearts desire but what are your values what are you passionate about and then also what are your what are you good at and and then you can have this sense that will motivate you based on data about who you are maybe you haven't thought about that maybe you don't have that insight but that's really important to then motivate you to sort of go and do something that requires a lot of risk there's a huge emotional risk when you are unemployed and you might not feel motivated all the time especially if you keep trying and keep putting things out you're not getting the results that you want and so it's the last part I'll say is to really have a very network of how you might search for a job so a lot of people use Google or indeed comm but there are tons and I have about 10 links that will also will add yeah yes and so you want to sort of look at not just focus on one monster is a huge one but there's so many that folks don't even think about or know about and I think having a varied list to increase your odds is really helpful yeah I would suggest looking at organizations that are specific for that field or that industry versus going to the monster where employers put that out and they get thousands of responses back so you're just gonna be one of the thousands so we'll add all of those links on wit and reason comm so it'll be really easy for you guys to figure out how do I set up my LinkedIn account how do I do these surveys so I can learn more about what the potential opportunities are that might be of interest to me and how to how to boost up that opportunity to find employment another piece that I like to mention is that as I previously mentioned employment can be a place where you get a lot of human connection and so if that's taken away from you all of the sudden and you're no longer employed and no longer connected to your co-workers or to your team and it can be very isolating and lonely and I think that might be contributing to those increased rates of anxiety and depression so make sure that you find some kind of support group other people who are in a similar situation looking for work or go to networking opportunities find a mentor so that way you still have some kind of human connection while you're going through this really difficult stage in your life now let's go ahead and talk about underemployment underemployment would be a situation where you're working in a position that under utilizes your skills or knowledge and/or it's a time when you're employed but at a lower level or at a lower rate of pay a lot of people are struggling with underemployment this is another major concern and there's emerging evidence that underemployment also has meaningful impacts for well-being so what advice do you have for people who might be underemployed I would say that to make sure that you know the value that you have do research compare based on your skills years of experience and the value that you add to the organization I find that many people are underemployed and have been working in a particular place for a great length of time so the organizational knowledge that they have is a value that they may not even think of yeah you can't hire someone new and bring them in and like have them have the knowledge that you've had working in an undervalued role so I'd say make sure you do that and then also think about what does a living wage mean for you and to monetize your passions and don't be afraid to go out and make a change I wanted to say a little bit about this LinkedIn study that was really popular and came out there are over seven million users and LinkedIn surveyed about ten thousand people and they found that if you're a millennial you're likely to change your job at least four times in the first decade that you've been out of college now I think that this piece about changing jobs and having success needs to be embraced by everyone because if if a particular place isn't working for you and it's not maximizing your skills passions experience then you should feel inspired to do research to see where you might be able to move and take the next step right right I agree okay so now getting a little bit more specific talking about culture and identity and how that influences our work decisions we all operate within a cultural context in our behavior including our work decisions can be influenced by our gender racial identity background sexual orientation socioeconomic status age and the presence or absence of a disability so looking at the American Psychological Association they were mentioning that these contextual influences help to form our environments and our responses to the environment so as a consulting psychologists it's really important for me to understand which cultural identity variables are salient to the people that I'm working with and in which ways are those how do those variables intersect as well so how have you noticed culture and identity influence a person's pursuit and experience of work I definitely have seen in the negative mainly there are folks brown folks black and brown folks that I work with who really want to get into tech and they feel like they can't because there is a barrier there and they don't have the network they don't have the context but they have the skills right and I think that there aren't enough there needs to be more like sort of opportunities for folks to break those barriers I mean there isn't any way to say it like look if you're in a tech industry and you do not see it as diverse you have a whole network sort of a hive of brown black and brown people how do you link those two yeah so there I spent a lot of time sort of looking into how I might find those opportunities and networks to connect them there's one that I like to talk about that people don't know and it's the Flatiron school and they offer 0% like zero dollar tuition and the reason why it's $0 is so that black and brown folks can then focus on what they need to learn to enhance their skills and look competitive and then they find them the jobs and so you're part of this network you're a fellow as part of the school and then that gives you opportunities I totally think you know race is definitely one race and ethnicity is one sort of mitigating factor but then another piece is around you know how do you talk about your skills in a way that really stand out yeah and that to a lot of folks might sound like showboating and if you're humble and you're raised to be like I don't really it could be a cultural clash to hold it we talk about to talk well about yourself you know and the skill set that you have mm-hmm or to ask for a raise you know or to negotiate money and so trying to figure out how do i balance my cultural values or cultural upbringing with the realities of the workforce and what I need to do in order to make sure I'm getting my needs and absolutely that's always a challenge here that needs to be worked through yeah okay so um some some issues do come up at work harassment is one of them harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race color religion sex including if whether or not a pregnant national origin age so if you're like 40 or older disability or genetic information now harassment becomes unlawful where it's enduring the offense conduct becomes a condition of continued employment the conduct is severe pervasive enough to create a work environment that is that a reasonable person would consider intimidating hostile or abusive and so if you're in a situation like that employees are encouraged to inform the harasser directly if you can't that the conduct is unwelcoming so you're setting up those boundaries and letting them know that this is not appropriate and it must stop it's also encouraged that employees should report that their harassment to management at an early stage to prevent it from getting worse and then if you're claiming that an employer has discriminated against you the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the EEOC may be able to help they have a public portal you could just google it or you'll find a link on our webpage to have you had to work with anybody who's dealing with that kind of harassment at work and that's why that's what's motivating the change yes I've primarily seen it I've worked with waiters folks from the restaurant industry and one of the most perfect I mean that industry is like the most pervasive I've done some looking into the EEOC research in sexual harassment for women and I have had two clients one who switched from being a waitress to a stenographer and figuring out that pathway but she didn't know her rights and thought that that was business as usual from manager from a manager sexually harassing her and we had to sort of map out a game plan for her to figure out woke a well what are my rights what actions like very concretely can I take to first report the complaint when you report it directly when you tell the person who's abusing you and they're in a position of power she did that that didn't work so well he started cutting her hours right you know kind of messing with her money flow she tried to explain to the owner nothing occurred and it wasn't until she started taking legal action that things started shifting for her but she then learned that that environment wasn't the best and ended up leaving but still filed a complaint formally and so I I definitely think that these issues are really key really important for you to know number one what are your rights as a worker and not be thinking that you don't have that and sort of paralyzed by fear to not know what steps to take but I think starting with the EEOC using that tool is really really helpful and key yeah they actually even have a youth program then I want to talk about a little bit later where they're starting at younger ages teaching the youth here are your rights your civil rights while you're at work because you do have them they do exist so they have a lot of good educational opportunities and outreach for youth as well alright so now that we have great understanding about how important our career is across our lifespan let's go ahead and go to some more specific questions about what some challenges people are facing in their career lives when you're in your 30s you're kind of just in suspension you're in the middle of your career you're not as funny something starting out but you're also not near retirement so I guess what I've been thinking about is how do we deal with being stuck in the middle how do we not revert back into the things and the bad habits that we used to do when we started out in the workforce but how do we also not get stuck worried about the future or thinking too far ahead or not being aware enough about what we need to do now so yeah it's just really how do we deal with being in the middle great question from someone who's in their 30s or in their middle phase of their career development what kind of advice do you have for how do we deal with not getting into a rut I think that she said something that was that really stood out in my mind and it was this notion of being stuck yeah and like sort of stuck in the middle and I would say number one reject that notion that you're stuck anywhere when you know it's like sort of the heart of empowerment when you're thinking about where you want to move to next what where do you want to end up you're you might be in your 30s working in a job you've been kind of feeling like you need to have so you can pay the bills save money man when I buy a house maybe you want to do stuff and you have to work in this one particular job for five years and you're starting to get tired of it but you haven't invested any energy into thinking what might I do next what is it that I really want to do what have these last five years been like and once you figure out where you want to ultimately go to next or potentially where you could go to next then that will motivate you to take some action so um I always reference our sort of visual about sort of the career process and in terms of five phases and I think this what this person is describing it really is they're sort of stuck in the middle in this phase of and would require them to think about not take sort of us sort of a diagnostic of where you might want to go to next yeah and then start doing research exploring what are some other possibilities and then once you get into taking those actions you sort of have to track what you're thinking is around where you are and where you want to go to next and if you need a lot of help with like undergoing that kind of process then you hire a coach you hire someone to help facilitate it but I totally think rejecting the notion that you're stuck is really key that's the first step it's mindset yeah and even if you're in the middle phase of your career development doesn't necessarily mean that the curiosity or the exploring different options even within your own organization it doesn't mean that that stops you know you get to you have the opportunity to keep on building your professional self absolutely I think we need to think of it as like a continuum over span over a time span yeah so one of the things I'd say to make sure your team is brought up is to really know what are their values what are what are their strengths you could totally have your team take the values in action survey and then sort of take a look at where their top strengths are like the top five and then see okay how might you use those strengths to really have them do their next plan of development whatever that might be for your particular work context and I'd also say that I appreciate you being a good manager in terms of wanting to lift your people up that is so that is so key okay and how would someone while also building their team focus on their professional and do the day-to-day of putting out all the fires I don't like balance all of that the third time I think one of the managers that I've worked with before who had sort of a similar passion did what he calls like 10-minute coaching sessions when he had check-ins with his one-on-ones with his people that he managed yeah and in those 10 minutes you could really and you just focus on who is the what is individual what do they want what are their strengths and how are they getting there and if you do that over a period of a month 10 minutes devoted exclusively to that where you don't talk about okay well what are you doing and how are you doing it but who are you and what how is this feeding you yeah I think that that would help really block it off because you only have a certain right time to really focus but 10 minutes in a one-on-one meeting leaves you 50 minutes if it's an hour or 20 minutes if it's half an hour to really get at that thank you so much for your time and for addressing some of these questions visit wit and reason.com to get links to the resources we shared on today's show and to connect with me dr. Alexis Bren oh and dr. Lanisha Adams did you hear something on the show today that you relate to on a personal level share your story send us your recording on wit and reason.com and we may be able to post it on our career and well-being show page to help others navigate their career development a special thank you to DC radio and of course thank you all for listening stay posted on Instagram Facebook or Twitter at wit and reason and DC radio for our next show I'm dr. Alexis Moreno let's keep the conversation going you've been listening to Whidden reason with psychologist dr. Alexis Moreno for more information visit wit and reason dot-com

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