Tag Archive | self improvement

Gotta Be Coached

Just when I thought things were picking up, I learned there was an emphasis on the word “temp” in the phrase “temp agency.” I was hoping for a longer run, but the work dried up and the need for me was no more.

A lot of good came from having a job again. Probably the most important thing was being able to pay off one of the smaller creditors. Unfortunately I also had a $500 car repair bill, which would have helped to pay off more of my debts if I didn’t need the repair. It is what it is.

Before I left New Jersey, when I had just started with an insurance job, there was one day during training when one of the owners of the agency came in to our class and spoke to us. He gave us four things to remember to do:

  1. Write down your dreams
  2. Be coachable
  3. Have a good attitude
  4. Let go of fears

At the time, I wasn’t writing down my dreams even though the idea of going to Japan was at the forefront. I did have a good attitude, as I was convinced, even while I was watching everything fall apart, that I was doing just fine and that my problems at the time were starting to turn around. I didn’t even think of my fears, so how could I let them go? What was I even afraid of at that time? As for being coachable, I wasn’t in a position to be coached, so I didn’t have to worry about that at the time.

I was coached once in this past month. When I was told I would be coached at some point during that day, it felt like the equivalent of saying to me, “wait until your father gets home.” I was a bit nervous, wondering what I had done wrong in my calls and everything else.

It wasn’t as terrible as I had anticipated, though. To begin, one of my calls was audited and I scored a 92 out of 100. That came later during the coaching session. The coaching actually started with trying to overcome rejections, people telling me they weren’t interested and me accepting that as an answer. I was also asked to change the tone I used for the introduction script, as I was far too cheerful and also sounded like a recording. My boss played one of my calls, and it was one where some woman answered the phone with a curt, “What do you want?” I went into the introduction, completely broken out of the tone I had been using.

“You were talking so naturally,” my boss remarked.

“Yeah, because I was scared of her!”

My boss talked about how I could carry on conversations rather well, as he had asked about my umbrella earlier in the day and I was telling him that no, it wasn’t actually a sword even though the handle looked like a katana. I love that umbrella because it always sparks a conversation or at least catches someone’s glance.

But the meeting wasn’t entirely me being told what to do or what I was doing wrong. If I had questions, I asked them. Sometimes I asked if I was doing something right, or if it was acceptable at all. Sometimes if I was given advice, I would slightly question that advice or explain why I was doing things my way, because I was looking to understand the methods used instead of just blindly doing things a certain way.

I walked out of that coaching session feeling pretty good about things. Better still, I applied some of the advice I had been given, and I noticed an improvement in my metrics, my number of completed surveys per hour.

So understandably, I was sad when work dried up because I’m not working there now. I feel like things had just begun, you know? I was honing my skills, and now I have to see where I’ll be going next.

But I was coachable. And it worked out well.

There is another side to this. Not that there was a time when I wasn’t coachable, although I’m sure I’ve had stubborn moments when I just didn’t understand what I should have done and then didn’t change.

I had one job where my immediate supervisor actually refused to talk to me.

I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting a uniform shirt. Someone said I had to “earn” the shirt, but no one told me what I needed to do to earn it. My first shirt was a pink shirt, for breast cancer awareness month, which meant I still needed the regular blue shirt by the end of the month, but it was a start and I wouldn’t need to wear my own shirt anymore. When I got my name tag, my first name was split, and below that it said “Media” while everyone else in my department had a name tag that said “Media Specialist.” After a year, I was no longer on the schedule, despite my willingness to pick up extra shifts when people couldn’t work when they were scheduled. I knew exactly who my immediate supervisor was, and we were rarely scheduled at the same time, but when I did see him, he was always too busy to talk to me. So I never knew what, if anything, I was doing wrong. All I knew was I wasn’t getting the best treatment, but I stuck with it because I thought things could improve or that I could show that I’m actually a decent employee.

Of the four points I mentioned, while I agree with all of them, I think being coachable is so often overlooked and forgotten. I think people get into this mindset of doing things how they want to do them, or they might do their own research to see how to improve, but I don’t think people actually invest the time to talk to others who could point out their flaws and how to change. Even if a person allows someone else to tell them what needs to change, I don’t think enough people actually try to understand what’s being said, they might think they know the advice they’re being given but they don’t know how to apply it or how to change.

And also, write down your dreams. I think I’m going to go do that now. Oh wait, isn’t that why I have a blog?

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Self Awareness Exercises, Question Three

Can’t I just skip some of these questions? Tonight’s seems to be difficult and boring!

While I have been putting it off, I will admit to being busy and having other things going on. Also, I did want to get the entry written up about the Japanese-learning apps I’ve been using. Needless to say, if I don’t live a life away from a computer, I won’t have many interesting things to write about when I’m back at the keyboard.

Tonight’s question, I’ve put some thought into ahead of time. I’m not sure if that’s within the rules or not, but it’s a question where you have to debate whether your answer fits at all or even a little bit.

Anyway, let’s get this out of the way, shall we? Here’s the introduction, if you need a reminder:

“We each write our own story for our life.  What story are you writing for yours?  Set a timer (there should be one on your phone if no where else) for 5 minutes for each prompt and write as fast as you can for those five minutes.  If it goes off mid sentence, finish your sentence and stop.  You can always go back and do them again.  And if nothing come out at first, just start writing random words, and free write even if it seems like gibberish.  Remember to give yourself at least a little time to digest everything that comes to the surface for each prompt.  It may not hit all at once, or it may do so and it may even possibly overwhelm you.  Let it out and let it go.  There are no right or wrong answers here, only your deepest truths.  If it helps, look at these exercises as writing prompts for a novel, with you as the hero/heroine and write your story.”

And tonight’s perilous question?

3.  The dilemma at the heart of my story is . . . 

The thing here is not to confuse a dilemma with a problem.  Problems can be solved or fixed like a flat tire for example.  A dilemma can only be resolved by a shift in perception, like the bigotry behind women not having the right to vote years ago.  An example on a more personal level, realizing your parents aren’t as bad as you thought, and while they may not have been good parents, they did the best they could with what they had.  (This is a good one to come back to as you grow and work through things.)

I’m off to hide in my pillow fort now.

Oh, right, I actually have to write this, correct? For those of you following along, I could just post the question and bow out. But some of you might be interested in how I think, or at least how I’m going to answer. So let’s set a timer for five minutes, starting… now!

I would say my dilemma is that so many people think I make the wrong choices in life. Even if I don’t follow through in what I want or how I want to do things, there is always someone close to me who says I have the wrong idea about what I should do or how to do it. So I have to wonder, if I start to do things the way other people want me to do them, will I be true to myself and what I want? Will I achieve my goals, even though I’m not taking the path that I believe to be correct? Or will listening to others put me in a place in life that I didn’t want to go to? I can admit that I haven’t always made the best decisions, and while it would be easy to say that I have regrets and wish I could reverse time, the fact remains that my mistakes have caused me to learn something about myself or to rediscover some part of myself that I left behind. So should I start to listen to other people, so I don’t have to hear them complain that I’m living life in a way that they wouldn’t want me to live? Or do I continue to make my own decisions, considering the wishes of others but ultimately deciding my path based on all the information I’ve been given and have found on my own?

And that’s five minutes! I went a little over the time because I was finishing my sentence.

So where did I get that answer from? Well, I’ve been thinking about how my general plans for moving to Japan have some people’s undies in a bunch. I’ve been thinking about my upcoming interview this week and how I might have lost a guaranteed job that I interviewed for last week because I’m now gambling my future. I thought about moving to New Jersey and how I probably shouldn’t have done that.

But, moving to New Jersey caused me to find Mitsuwa Marketplace, which in turn reignited my interest in Japan. So I can’t say I regret ever moving to New Jersey for that reason. I’ll know if I did something stupid if I don’t get the job I’m interviewing for this week. As for moving to Japan, or even visiting Japan, I don’t feel as if I need to have everything planned out just yet, not when I have things I have to take care of first, so I have time to get everything lined up.

Why did I go with this as my answer? Well, can it be fixed? I would have to shift my perception and decide to listen to other people, then evaluate the results. There’s no guarantee that a shift in perception would resolve things, it might actually put me further away from my goals. There are times when people might actually know the best way to go about doing things, I will admit that.

Lately I’ve listened as people, in person and on YouTube, gave me advice on how I should go about learning Japanese and going to Japan. My favorite JVlogger Victor, who you might know as GimmeABreakMan and GimmeAFlakeMan, said in one of his videos that if he had to do it over, he would go to Japan first and learn Japanese in one of their language schools. Before I came across the video, my plan had become just that, enroll in a Japanese language school and go over on a student visa. The friend I’m staying with insists that I shouldn’t go over without learning Japanese first, because “nothing is in Japanese and the people don’t speak English.” There’s actually only SOME truth to that, as some Japanese people DO speak English but knowing Japanese makes things a bit easier for them, and there are some signs that are in English or have pictograms for people to understand. Still, I’m at least trying to learn a few things before going to Japan, so I’m not completely in the dark as I wander around, and so I don’t have to rely so much on translation apps on my phone. So do I listen to the guy who’s been in Japan for well over ten years, or do I listen to my friend of over ten years who has always lived in different places in Upstate New York?

And there’s my dilemma. What’s yours? As always, you can post it in the comments, or add it to your own digital or paper journal. Don’t forget to check the tag labeled “self-awareness questions” for the other questions I’ve done and the ones I have yet to do.

Self-Awareness Exercises, Question Two

The month of March ended fantastically, and it was just what I needed after it seemed like I should start giving up hope. But that’s not the energy I want to put out into the universe, I want to be hopeful and have good things happen, and they have!

So I started doing these self-awareness questions to try and bleed out any negativity in my system. The first part was making lists of things that comforted and made me feel safe, and the next day I was feeling a bit better, probably because I was more conscious of things that I was doing to feel comfortable and safe. The first question was about why I was afraid to move forward in life, and maybe my fears are reasonable but maybe they’re just things I have to work through on my own.

And then I turned 33, and I had an incredible birthday that was full of tears and laughter and heartfelt moments. It reminded me of the friend who sent me the self-awareness questions. She once told me that my energy was “fire surrounded by water”, and that I shouldn’t be afraid of being emotional or crying from time to time. Maybe it was building up inside of me and needed a release, or maybe I cried just because I was moved to do so, but it seems as though it was necessary.

But I can’t just start these self-awareness questions and stop after only the first one! I feel like you’re counting on me to at least post the rest of the questions so you can do them for yourself, but that would still be giving up on my end. So without further ado, let’s do question number two!

A reminder of the introduction:

“We each write our own story for our life.  What story are you writing for yours?  Set a timer (there should be one on your phone if no where else) for 5 minutes for each prompt and write as fast as you can for those five minutes.  If it goes off mid sentence, finish your sentence and stop.  You can always go back and do them again.  And if nothing come out at first, just start writing random words, and free write even if it seems like gibberish.  Remember to give yourself at least a little time to digest everything that comes to the surface for each prompt.  It may not hit all at once, or it may do so and it may even possibly overwhelm you.  Let it out and let it go.  There are no right or wrong answers here, only your deepest truths.  If it helps, look at these exercises as writing prompts for a novel, with you as the hero/heroine and write your story.”

And tonight’s story of my life is…

2.  One thing I feel strongly about is . . .   (Think of something you belive in with such conviction you would fight for the death to defend it.  Ex. Love, Respect, Civil Rights, Animal Rights, etc.)

Let’s go!

One thing I feel strongly about is actually love. If there was one thing that has motivated me for so long, it was to find a romantic relationship that would make me happy. I’ve always wanted what my parents had, and that is to say that I’ve wanted a marriage that lasts well over three decades and works well in spite of differences in interests because there’s similar personal values. I don’t just want that for me, I want that for everyone, to be happy with someone who makes them that way. I don’t even care if they love someone of the same gender, different gender, or whatever the case is. I don’t care if it’s romantic love or platonic love, or even just the love that’s shared between a parent and a child. Love your parents, love your children, love your partner and take care of them. If you care about a person and you hope they don’t die, then show it somehow.

And my five minutes are up.

Love is really all-encompassing. Even if I said civil rights, or I said something about saving the planet, it would come back around to thinking of others and caring for them.

I’ve probably had more crushes on celebrities than I have had crushes on real people. Maybe it was just because it’s easy to project an ideal personality onto a person that I’m never going to meet, so I’d never have to feel disappointed that they didn’t match the version of them I created in my mind. Of course, as social media has blossomed, it’s actually become easier to find out more about my favorite celebrities. While it changes the perception, it also presents information that might make me idolize a celebrity that much more. There is a point to this paragraph that makes me seem quite pathetic. Say what you will about fantasizing over celebrities, because it hasn’t stopped me from meeting real people. I haven’t set my standards so high that my qualifications are, “you must be (a famous male singer/songwriter or actor) or similar,” because that’s ridiculous. However, knowing what I like about a celebrity is a pretty good start, because I know I like that quality in a person and will search for it in possible romantic partners. Even if it’s just something I projected onto a fantasy version of that celebrity, it’s obviously something I value and therefore worth searching for in a partner.

And yes, I’m more likely to fantasize about love than anything else. Even if I’m angry, I don’t contemplate violence and bloodshed, I’m just angry.

So a Yankees fan married a Red Sox fan and they lived happily ever after. A country girl married a city boy. A republican married someone who was more democratic/independent. A frugal woman married a guy who liked to buy nice things. A prudish lady married a gentleman who… you know what? These are my parents I’m talking about, and I won’t go into how I reformatted my Dad’s iMac after he passed so I wouldn’t have to see the porn he downloaded. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, and I would have kept it, but then I’d be reminded that it was my Dad’s porn.

Which brings me to my next thing. I’m bisexual. For the purposes of this blog, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I support people regardless of their sexuality or gender. If you’re straight, that’s awesome! If you’re gay, good for you! If you’re asexual or aromantic, fabulous! Personally, I don’t think anyone should force themselves into something they’re not comfortable with. Be with who you love, marry them if you want to.

There’s not much else to say. I mean, I shouldn’t have to say much to defend myself. It’s love, love for all humans and all living beings. It’s not just love for people like me. It’s not just romantic love. It is the absence of hatred. Hatred is what I would fight against to the death, if I could try to show people that caring about your fellow man is far more rewarding in the grand scheme of things.

As always, if you want to do the questions, you can either comment here or fill your own journal (digital or paper). Just look for the tag that says “self-awareness questions” and click on that to get all of the questions so far.

Self-Awareness Exercises, Question One

It seems strange to think that I feel a little better than yesterday, when I started the self-awareness exercises and only needed to list things that made me feel comfortable and safe. Maybe there’s something about the realization of safety and comfort, no longer overlooking what I actually have, that made all the difference.

So I must press on, and see what challenges await me!

Here’s the introduction I was given:

“We each write our own story for our life.  What story are you writing for yours?  Set a timer (there should be one on your phone if no where else) for 5 minutes for each prompt and write as fast as you can for those five minutes.  If it goes off mid sentence, finish your sentence and stop.  You can always go back and do them again.  And if nothing come out at first, just start writing random words, and free write even if it seems like gibberish.  Remember to give yourself at least a little time to digest everything that comes to the surface for each prompt.  It may not hit all at once, or it may do so and it may even possibly overwhelm you.  Let it out and let it go.  There are no right or wrong answers here, only your deepest truths.  If it helps, look at these exercises as writing prompts for a novel, with you as the hero/heroine and write your story.”

Okay, sounds easy enough. So what’s the first question?

1.  I am afraid to move forward in life because . . .  (I find this one works better in list form.)

You’re kidding me, right? Okay, here goes.

I’m afraid to move forward in life because I’m afraid of losing everything I’ve established. I’m afraid of moving forward in life because I’m afraid I’ll get in over my head with challenges, and they’ll be things that other people like me should be able to accomplish. I’m afraid to move forward in life because I’ll have to change and be boring. I’m afraid to move forward in life because I’ll fail. I’m afraid to move forward in life because I’ve always been told that my ideas are wrong, so I’ll do something wrong. I’m afraid to move forward in life because what if my efforts get me nowhere, and I’m stuck in a perpetual cycle of dreaming things that are always out of reach?

That was my five minutes, and I have tears welling up.

I’m not sure what I meant by “losing everything I established.” It was the first thing that came to mind.

Despite being an Aries who likes a challenge from time to time, I am actually scared that I haven’t “adulted” as well as I should have, and I’m going to face something that I can’t tackle. I feel like I should already have a certain skill set when it comes to working and having a job, and that I just don’t have those skills though I don’t know where I’m lacking.

I am absolutely afraid of change and becoming boring. I don’t consider myself to be immature, for one thing. I’ve been told that I don’t have any adult interests. However, I abhor flatulence humor but favor puns, and I can’t stand to watch anything on television that seems to cater to less intelligent individuals. But people have said that I should act more my age, yet that’s not where my interests lie.

Of course I’m afraid of failure. If I have to risk something at a time when I can’t afford to lose it, then I’m not going to advance at all. That’s why I considered having friends and family fund a trip to Japan for me, because I don’t even have enough to risk on that venture. But then, if I do fail, at least I tried. I might be deeper into a hole, but there would be another lesson learned. Then again, if there’s nothing to catch me once I’ve fallen, it’s going to be worse than, “ho hum, I failed, back to the drawing board to try this again.” I mean, I make it sound like failure is scraping my knees, when it’s more like the bike has fallen apart and I’m too badly injured to try riding again.

I usually am told that my ideas are wrong. I wanted to be a famous singer when I grew up, so I was in the school choir to learn a few things. When I finally managed to make my parents realize that it wasn’t six-year-old me cutely dreaming about life as a singer, but rather sixteen-year-old me using the internet to research things such as million dollar contracts and contemplating the best way to get to NYC to get discovered, my parents told me to join the church choir. Singing in the church choir, in a small town, would never work towards my dream. At least vocal lessons would help, but they never invested my time or their money into such things. It wasn’t even, “go to college and have a backup plan,” it was “don’t even consider it, your backup plan should be your main plan.” So I’m seeing a repeat of that time in my life, as I have friends who think I should learn Japanese before I even consider going to Japan, while I think I’d do better by immersing myself in the language while working a job where I don’t even need to know Japanese. There’s more to my plan than that, but apparently it’s wrong and makes no sense, and that’s coming from someone who has done less research than I have on being in Japan.

That also brings me to the part where I said that my dreams might constantly be out of reach. What if I become a wage slave and can never make or save enough money to get to Japan? Do I give up on the dream, or do I insist that it’s possible and work myself to death trying to achieve that dream?

I also happened to think just now, moving forward in life can also relate to loved ones.

Am I afraid to move forward in my love life? Yes? I mean, I jumped back on OKCupid after a week of being single again, because I really didn’t want to waste any time. It’s been about six months since I met someone on there who I’m still chatting with. I’m at the point where I just want to know all of a person’s flaws so I don’t get too attached, and that way I’m not wasting any time on someone who’s going to ruin my life. As for my ex, I talk about him less and less as time goes on. I need someone to step up and be so awesome that I can’t help but talk about them instead of my ex.

Am I afraid to move forward in regards to the passing of loved ones? Well, they’re not really holding me back from anything. I don’t feel tethered to any one place right now, though, and having my Mom in my life gave me a reason to be in a particular place in the world. I’m always going to think of the loved ones I’ve lost, especially my parents, but I don’t feel like I need to stay near my hometown or to do certain things because I don’t feel like they really expect me to stay in one place and not live my life in a way that would make me happy. I believe they would want me to do what would make me successful and happy in life, and that means putting one foot ahead of the other and going where my heart kind of leads me. Besides, I don’t think I can really “move on,” because no one can replace my parents. I can’t even imagine having in-laws who I would consider to be parental substitutes.  Maybe I don’t need to move on, since I’m rather functional despite the losses.

And that was the first question, plus my analysis. Just a reminder, if you want to participate, you can post a comment here or answer the question in your own journal of some sort (digital or paper). Check the “self-awareness questions” tag for more of these questions and how I’ve answered them.

Why Still Single? What Should You Change About Yourself?

I was watching videos on YouTube earlier today, when I came across one from a channel called Find Your Love In Japan. Well okay, I won’t rule out finding love in Japan, and I’ve watched a few videos from that channel which have given me hope that I could find love over there. But the one video in particular was titled, “Why Do You Think I’m Still Single?” It was the owner of the channel doing his normal street interviews, but he was asking people what he could change about himself to become more attractive to the opposite gender.

In the video, people asked Nobita about his personality, and they cited various things about his appearance and such. As someone who knows as much about him as everyone who met him on the street, I have to say I wouldn’t change a thing about him. Let me tell you why.

People could tell you to go to the gym, either to lose weight or to bulk up your muscles. There will always be people who like chubbier people or less muscular guys.

People could tell you to dress more nicely, either to wear a nice suit or dress or just to not wear sneakers. You never know when you might need to get a little dirty or you might need to run or climb for the sake of helping the one who’s caught your eye.

People can tell you to change your sense of humor, to be less sarcastic or bitter or something. You could bore your partner if they’re holding back because they don’t think you’d appreciate their sarcasm.

You can cut your hair short, but there will be someone looking for long haired partners.

You can hide your interests, perhaps going so far as to sell every comic book or video game or figurine that you own. True love might have walked in to the nerd convention that you decided not to attend.

Maybe you’re sensing a trend. If not, here’s the secret: no matter what you change about yourself, there will always be someone who wants a person like how you used to be.

“But what if there’s something I really have to change about myself?” you ask. That’s a good question. Start with your last relationship. If you’ve never had a relationship, I highly recommend jumping into one. You might have to lower your standards a bit, and that might be part of your issue (looking for absolute perfection and expecting to find it without getting to know a person). After your relationship comes to an end, evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Now you have a starting point to figure out what it is you need to change, because now you’ll know that something didn’t work and you’ll know what it is. If it’s something you can change, then you probably should try to change that.

If you just want to change something for the sake of being a new person, then take cooking classes, or learn how to do basic maintenance on a car, or learn massage therapy, some kind of skill that might be useful later on. To start, any classes you take will put you around people also trying to learn the same things, which means you have a chance to ask someone out on a date to “practice what you’re learning.” Whether or not you use it as an opportunity to practice your new skills is up to you. If your classes are filled with people who are absolutely not your type, it’s not an issue. When you finish the class, you’ll know how to make something better than blue-box macaroni and cheese, or you’ll be able to change the oil in a car, or you can work on achy muscles, or you’ll have learned some useful skill. Then when you do meet the right person, you can impress them with your cooking, fix their car when they’re in a bind, take care of their neck muscles after they slept in a weird position, or whatever else you learned.

But of course, everything comes down to one thing: how confident are you?

Confidence is your ace in the hole. You need to be confident enough that you have a genuine smile on your face. Shyness will only get you so far, as it’s one thing to be shy because you’re nervous but chronic shyness will keep you from everything. If you’re not comfortable in the clothes you’re wearing, or the way your hair looks, or the shoes you’re wearing, then change and wear something that will make you feel comfortable and confident. Decide for yourself if you want to find someone who likes you for you, or if you want someone who likes people who are everything you aren’t. Also understand that you could still attract a person whose type is usually all of the things that don’t equate to being you, and they might find you charming as you are.

Ruling out negative personality aspects, if you’re still single, it’s not you but rather just timing. You will find love eventually, and whatever dry spell you’re facing exists only to make you appreciate love when it comes. Just be the best, most honest version of yourself that you can be, and things will eventually fall into place. If your heart pulls you towards a certain location, try traveling there and see what happens. Even a failed relationship gives you an opportunity to learn about yourself and what you need to change, if anything. Don’t be afraid to fall in love, and don’t deny your feelings to yourself.

And denying your feelings works both ways. If you’re into a person, but things don’t look right in theory, give it a shot regardless. If you’re not into a person but can’t figure out why not, give it a shot but keep one foot outside in case you need to run.

Beyond that, if you’re still single, tell yourself that a significant other would just hold you back from your real destiny, then focus your time and energy on your passions. Who knows? You might be a writer of some sort, who would channel your emotions into a song or a poem or a full novel.

But go forth confidently, and become the person you believe is deserving of love. (Here’s a hint: you are already deserving of love, you just need to find it)