Does having a positive attitude work?

…when you don’t feel it? And this blog post is focusing on the 9 to 5.

It’s a bear.  Day in and day out you face the same routine, wondering if all the culmination of hard work, years in school and/or the military (like myself) are paying off.

Is there something about your work environment that is creating stress?

beingpositivequotesYou have a couple of options either 1.) Change or job 2.) Continue on in your abject misery or option 3.) Change your attitude.  And with today’s economy #3 is the far better choice.

Pretty much everyone has that one thing (such as workload) or with a particular someone, which contributes to their stress. You can try delegating some of your work or reducing the number of projects/responsibilities you have, (if that’s a viable option), or simply practice better time management.

Everyone has a work complaint.  However, if you persist with the negative attitude, then you need to examine if this type of job is really for you.

Also, examine your goals.  Are you ready for a promotion?  Is there another job opening within your agency that has “your name on it?”

Think about various ways you can improve yourself,  even your immediate work environment. If you have a cubicle (like I do) personalize it (if you’re able) and bring a little piece of home with you including pictures. Those are great motivational tools for someone like myself. I decided to start small and am “reinventing” myself through a new wardrobe.  The compliments I receive, let alone just feeling better about myself, has greatly picked up my spirits.  Speaking for myself, I love my jeans and t-shirts so getting out of the lazy habit of throwing those on when I come to work (dress code is informal), was difficult for me.  But when I decided to change my current style, (if you want to call it that), was fun and uplifting.

10175070_10152262957958366_149267932635700388_nDo what works for you and create goals!  Having something to reach for, to look forward to is quite an energetic way to continue on the right path towards success and ultimately a more sane and “better” you!  🙂

 

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New wardrobe=new outlook

92106_SueAndKris_HP_2014_0701_LF4_1403901736As simple as this sounds, buying a whole new wardrobe does lay a “sparkle” on things.  Getting up every morning to go to work sometimes can be quite “routinish” boring. That’s where online shopping steps in.  😉 I have noticed a wonderful pick-me-up within myself and continuous compliments from the ladies here at work.


Zulily offers a plethora of items from clothing to household goods.  Perusing through their many colorful selections, you can easily become addicted to it.  (Just don’t tell my husband). :p

In all seriousness though, when you feel that you need a little extra boost to your work routine, don’t pull your hair out. Figure out what you are able to change and if it’s bringing in a brand new wardrobe so be it. Splurge a little. But of course in a responsible way (i.e. don’t let your mortgage fall behind).  89321_fig_HP_2014_0701_AMS1_1403721941🙂

 

Keeping a positive attitude….at work

“That’s when I first learned that it wasn’t enough to just do your job, you had to have an interest in it, even a passion for it.”
Charles Bukowski

 

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I actually love what I do. Albeit there are days when I would much rather be home. Stress can really play havoc on your entitled sense of well-being.

However, with that being said, bringing a positive attitude to work is simply a must.  We have to “live” with our coworkers 8 hours plus a day. Sometimes this means you spend more time with them than with your own family and friends. Make the most of it.

Having a positive outlook will most certainly met out in wonderful consequences such as a promotion, goals met and success of projects.  But the most important thing is simply a generalized sense of well-being.

They say work in a field which you love. And I do.  I deal with veterans and military history.  I’ve served in the military pretty much all my adult life. Since the age of 15 I strongly felt serving the U.S. Government was a calling.  One I gladly answered.  There was no hesitation on my part to join the Army or to apply for a federal job.

 

Just remember:

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

Patanjali

 

 

 

Retirement? What’s that?

I calculated that I have at the very least 17 delightful more years of employment before I can retire.  My goal was 55 but unfortunately I am under the federal retirement system called the Federal Employee Retirement System (which sucks) or FERS for short. (source)

With that being said IF I retire with less than 30 years of service prior to 62 5% of my retirement pension will be deducted for each year am under the age of 62.

So, as of right now am trying to see about buying back my active duty time and apply it towards my total years of federal service.  If I am able to do that it means I can retire in about 13 to 14 years putting me at the tender age of 58. However, FERS employees only receive 1% of their base pay for each year they are in federal service.  So, 30% really isn’t a lot unless I put a bulk of my paycheck into my Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and we all know with inflation and this shitty economy that’s not going to happen.

Friends have told me that eventually the pension will go the way of the Do Do Bird, and employees will have to invest instead in some kind of 401k plan.  Now, being a federal employee I am currently in no danger of losing my pension but when I reach 58 or 62 who the hell knows?

Scary to think I’d end up like those Detroit retirees whose pensions were to be frozen.  (source) Sad state of affairs. Perhaps a strong union would help. I feel it’s a travesty to our retirees taking their hard earned money. God only knows what’s in store for my daughter and future grandchildren.  It behooves young people to save NOW for their retirement.  Sock it away in something viable.  Though, when I was in my 20’s I wasn’t too concerned since we seem to think we are all invincible at that age.

If you are a federal employee or interested in becoming employed with the federal government here is some retirement info you can read to see if it’s something you really want to do:

FERS retirement topics:

  • Eligibility – The main eligibility requirements for the common types of retirements.
  • Computation – How your retirement annuity is computed.
  • Creditable Service – Rules showing the civilian and military service that can be used to compute your FERS retirement benefits.
  • Planning and Applying – It’s never too early to start planning for retirement in order to ensure it goes smoothly. Here you will find information to help ensure your retirement starts well.
  • Early Retirement – Explanation of the minimum retirement age and early retirement if your agency under goes a “reduction in force” or you are involuntarily separated other than for cause.
  • Types of Retirement – Learn about the age, service requirements and considerations affecting the various types of retirement.
  • Deferred – If you are a former Federal employee who was covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), you may be eligible for a deferred annuity at age 62 or the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA).
  • Survivors – When a Federal employee dies, monthly or lump sum benefits may be payable to survivors. Learn about these Survivor benefits here.
  • Military Retired Pay – Adding military service to your civilian service
  • Service Credit – Payment to increase your annuity for civilian service when no CSRS retirement deductions were withheld or were refunded or for military service after 1956.
  • Former Employees – Options if you leave your Government job before becoming eligible for retirement.

Professional Courtesy

Professional Courtesy
Web definitions
  1. Professional courtesy refers to the understanding that people of the professions relating to human destiny would obviously sacrifice their ideals when it comes to their family members or others working in their field.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_courtesy

Practicing good work etiquette seems to be a lost art these days.  Forget about professional courtesy.  Employees seem to forget how to act in this social arena.  Perhaps they need a refresher course on this type of protocol.  How an individual acts behind closed doors (i.e. with home/family/friends) should really not be brought into the workplace.  It’s unnecessary and certainly not conducive to a polished work environment.

Everyone that I know of experiences work stress. It’s a given we’ll have it but how you react to it is a testament to your character.  We all face job burn out.  It’s par for the course.  Coping with stress in today’s uncertain job climate is enough to drive any American crazy.  Your emotions are contagious and if you’re in a negative mood it’ll reflect in your work and among your coworkers.  Myself, I try to keep a positive attitude each and every day.  My job is highly stressful and I’ve learn to compartmentalize my feelings. I think my years of military training and being immersed in that environment has helped to keep me in check.

Sadly though I’ve seen coworkers lose their temper, the demands of their job getting the best of themselves.  They also bring personal problems with them and it spills over into their work output and how they interact with their peers.

Thankfully my employer has flex time and I can come in as earlier as 6am and handle yesterday’s/today’s business in relative peace.  Once 9:30am hits though (the latest one can report to work without facing repercussions or having to take leave) it’s fair game.

According the the American Psychological Association (APA) American workers are one of the most stressed out populations worldwide:

Americans are known for placing great emphasis on work and career. Working hard, however, should not be confused with overworking at the expense of relationships and physical health. According to a 2007 nationwide poll by the American Psychological Association, three-quarters of Americans list work as a significant source of stress, with over half of those surveyed indicating that their work productivity suffered due to stress. Furthermore, almost half stated that they did not use their allotted vacation time and even considered looking for a new job because of stress. Job stress is also a concern for employers, costing U.S. businesses an estimated $300 billion per year through absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and direct medical, legal and insurance fees.

The turnover rate for my employer is relatively low considering the comprehensive benefits package that we have along with flex time.  APA suggests managing your work stress by doing one or more of the following:

  • Know yourself. Be aware of your stress level and know what stresses you out. People experience stress in different ways. You may have a hard time concentrating or making decisions, feel angry, irritable or out of control, or experience headaches, muscle tension or a lack of energy. Learn your own stress signals.
  • Recognize how you deal with stress. Do you engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking or eating poorly to cope with your stress? Do you lose patience with your children or spouse or coworkers when you feel overwhelmed by work pressures?
  • Turn off and tune in. Communication technology can take you to productivity heights never imagined, but it can also allow work to creep into family time, dinner and vacations. Set rules for yourself, such as turning off your cell phone when you get home, or establishing certain times when you return calls. Be sure to communicate those rules to others, so you can manage their expectations. Let technology be a tool that works for you, rather than the other way around.
  • Keep a “To-Do” list. Worried that you’ll forget something important? Constantly thinking through all the things you need to get done? Clear your head and put those thoughts on paper (or in an electronic task list) by creating a list of work and personal tasks and marking those with the highest priority. Not only will you reduce the risk of forgetting something, you’ll also be better able to focus on the task at hand.
  • Take short breaks. Stay energized and productive by taking a minute or two periodically throughout the day to stand up, stretch, breathe deeply and shake off the accumulating tension. Short breaks between tasks can be particularly effective, helping you feel like you’ve wrapped up one thing before moving on to the next. Take a 10-15 minute break every few hours to recharge and avoid the temptation to work through lunch. The productivity you gain will more than make up for the time you spend on break.
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress. Work to replace unhealthy coping strategies, such as eating junk food, smoking or drinking alcohol with healthy behaviors, like exercise, meditation or talking with friends and family. Keep in mind that unhealthy behaviors develop over time and can be difficult to change. Take it slow and focus on changing one behavior at a time. Some behaviors are very difficult to change and may require the help of a licensed professional such as a psychologist.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and engage in regular physical activity. Ensure you have a healthy mind and body through activities like yoga, taking a short walk, going to the gym or playing sports that will enhance both your physical and mental health. Take regular vacations. No matter how hectic life gets, make time for yourself — even if it’s just simple things like reading a good book, listening to your favorite album or enjoying a leisurely Sunday brunch at your favorite café.
  • Ask for professional support. Accepting help from supportive friends and family can improve your ability to manage stress. Your employer may also have stress management resources available through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), including online information, available counseling and referral to mental health professionals, if needed. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by work stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behavior.

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Remember, you’re not alone.  Find a support group or talk to your friend and spouse about whatever workplace issues you are having. But remember this….it’s easy to complain….even harder to act but the more your procrastinate the higher your stress levels will be. Take action.

“If you are feeling unhappy in life for any reason and often getting negative results, try this -> start replacing negative thoughts with the positive one, make a plan and act on them. The more positive thoughts you have the more positive and happy your will become and results are bound to be positive sooner or later.-Subodh Gupta author “Stress Management a Holistic approach – 5 steps plan”
Subodh Gupta, Stress Management a Holistic Approach

Making a difference

I look at young kids today and wonder what the future has in store.  I remember when I was 15 how my exuberant need to succeed, to be independent overshadowed everything but trying to make a difference….for my life to actually mean something.

Kids have it far easier than when I was a child and of course I had it easier compared to generations past.
 
I get it, the economy has its fair share of problems, we are collectively struggling as a nation to keep this country afloat.
 
But never have I heard so many excuses from young adults as to why they aren’t “making it.” 
 
What happened to the American spirit? Do we have to hand over everything to these young citizens in order for them to stay productive? 
 
And don’t get me started on individuals who have been on unemployment for months……I’m not perfect by any means but I remember when I was searching for a job I made that my full-time.  I worked two jobs while attending college AND raising a child all by myself with NO child support. So, when I hear people lamenting about their spot in life I ask them what have you done to better yourself?
 
Are you taking classes?
Are you spending enough time putting in job apps? 
What are you doing to make a difference for yourself? For our country, your community?
 
Complaining, excuses can only get you so far in this life………..and what a waste of life it would be to let opportunity simply slip through your grasp………

 

Attitude Check

I don’t feel sorry for mentally sound and healthy people who can work.  I don’t understand how a person can be on unemployment for more than a year and STILL not find a job. If you have family living in another town see about staying with them and putting in apps. Take on anything right now but work. DO something. And don’t tell me illegals are taking the good jobs. What good jobs are you all talking about? Being a migrant worker?  Lawncare?  Am quite sure they are not taking on the white collar jobs but those that require hard phyiscal labor. The only gripe I have with illegals is that they use our healthcare system and the tax payer usually ends up footing the bill or the hospital which raises rates.

I digress but I will never completely understand how people complain about not being able to work. Make FINDING a job your FULL time job until you land one. Might not be your ideal but at least it’s something in the meantime to pay the bills.  There are also classes one can take, Pell Grants to go back to school, MANY resources out there if you only take the time to look. I just don’t get how our country is falling apart when we Americans are renown for being made of sturdy stuff………..

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Learning a new skill set

I have always been the motivating type.  However due to circumstance I was unable to achieve certain goals in life and am now at 43 (and 1/2) seeking new talent. 

Who says just because you turn 40 you’re all washed up? The Federal Government has certain laws in place to prevent discrimination on hiring individuals 40 and over. Why the arbitrary number?  I don’t know but it irks me to think there are employers out there ready to dismiss someone’s talents and drive simply because of a number.

I have always sought to better myself both in education and diversifying my skill set. Today’s economy presents new challenges to the American worker.  We all are feeling the pressure to add to the repertoire.  We have to remain competitive no matter the age.

We need to take control of our own training and education.  Don’t always rely on your employer to provide new skills.  Go out and learn something new, from computer software programs to leadership seminars/problem-solving skills.  Such actions show a willingness to adapt and change and frankly when we get to our age, change can be a four letter word.

And network…I cannot stress this enough. Some of the better jobs out there (especially $ALARY wise) is on WHO you know. Join professional groups, attend seminars, do what it takes to remain marketable.

By doing these things your career will take a turn upwards and you’ll feel a real accomplishment.  Don’t sit on your laurels. Today’s economy demands that you don’t………

DIVERSIFY YOUR TALENTS!!!!

Professionalism in the workplace

Professionalism is basically, the knowledge that an individual carries about a certain field. At work, professionalism refers to a person doing his/her job with sincerity, and maintaining professional etiquette and ethics at workplace. It leads to logical and completely unbiased decision-making, making it the basis of a good work environment. Professionalism at work is completely devoid of politics, positive politics or mind games. Its root lies in those who do their work with quality and quantity in mind.

Buzzle.com
When it comes to the workplace how you act at home doesn’t necessarily mean you have the green light to display the same behavior within a professional setting.
When I hear an individual berating an employee those types of issues need to be held in private and with lowered voice.  If an employee makes a mistake why in the world would you broadcast it where the entire workforce can hear it?
One thing the military taught me was how to properly discipline a soldier.  If at all possible you take them to the side and discuss the issue in a rational and professional matter. Something, it seems, many people fail to grasp. Instead they call out the person, embarrassing them to the point of stress–what kind of quality or loyalty would you then expect from this person????
Buzzle.com has some interesting points regarding the matter:
Distinct Facets that Personify Professionalism
  • Adhere to your commitments with your reporting heads and colleagues. Living up to your commitments every single time is a mark of a true professional.
  • Realize the sensitivity of the work that comes over to you and make sure not to misuse it in any way. This will make you a trustworthy professional.
  • Valuing the time and effort spent by others is never taken for granted by a thorough professional.
  • Conducting yourself well in office, following a certain set of work principles and setting an example for others will make you a good role model.
  • Laying high standards for your work performance from time to time and always doing your best in all that you do, speaks volumes about your professionalism at work.

Why is professionalism important in the workplace? The following are some of the reasons:

  • Professionalism at work is important to ensure good performance by all. If everyone is professional, everyone will do the best they can at their job.
  • Professionalism at work is required to ensure a good team spirit. If people work professionally, they will know how to value their organizational goals, along with their personal ones.
  • Professionalism is required to keep all the employees motivated. Happy employees are positive brand ambassadors for the organization. Keeping the employees motivated, is important to maintain a good reputation of the office.
  • It is important to ensure justice to everyone’s efforts. In a professional environment, a person’s quality of work is taken into consideration along with the quantity of their work. This phenomenon does justice and appreciates the efforts of the employees.
  • Professionalism at work helps in maintaining the right amount of communication at the workplace. It also ensures that those who need to be heard, are heard.

Professionalism is the axis around which any organization revolves. Without this axis, the organization will be lost in the galaxy of politics, mind games and blame games.

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As a supervisor, when your employees respect you it shows. It shows in their production, quality, and commitment.

Who wants to work in an hostile work environment?

Certainly not me.

Loyalty of service

I attended a retirement ceremony for an Illinois State Trooper employee. She served over 42 years. WHERE can you see such commitment these days?

It seems we all (for I am guilty also) have jumped from various jobs either to gain experience, move upward, or left because we maxed out our potential.  So we seek to find greener pastures.

With our uncertain economy I know there are plenty of people who would simply be satisfied with being gainfully employed.  I for one would love to see my daughter safely secured in a federal position because we all know how safe those jobs tend to be.

During my parents’ era loyalty of service was taken for granted. Individuals would remain with the same company pretty much their entire career.  These days it could be a death sentence with various employment venues either downsizing or going out of business. That’s why it’s smart to take a look at market trends and see where certain jobs are actually headed.

I consider myself lucky to have been able to find federal employment. I have over 14 years of Federal service and more than 20 years of military.  Thinking ahead for your retirement is a must. It isn’t a luxury.  Begin early socking away and invest what you are capable of towards your 401k if your company is fortunate enough to offer such a plan.


Retirement has been a discovery of beauty for me.  I never had the time before to notice the beauty of my grandkids, my wife, the tree outside my very own front door.  And, the beauty of time itself.  ~Hartman Jule