Why Marriage is a Lifehack

What I see around me everyday is a seemingly growing culture of ambivalence towards marriage and just commitment in general. Children are born out of wedlock, marriages end in record numbers, and the new priority is career before all else. Religion’s authority over society is weakening more and more everyday, especially with the horrendous acts perpetrated by certain members of the Catholic church. How can we take anything seriously anymore?

The truth is, the world and society at large has spent the last few decades making a mockery of what values have caused societies such as the United States and Europe to prosper. With seemingly no one to trust anymore, how can young adults trust a marriage partner? Isn’t having children selfish, since there are so many starving children? Isn’t it greedy and arrogant to ask someone to give themselves to you forever? Doesn’t it seem like a lot of work to stay with the same partner your entire life?

Yes, yes, yes!
But that’s the good thing!

The reason why I don’t feel bad about saying yes to these statements is because the alternatives ask me to not acknowledge my own life and needs. As I believe everyone is on this Earth for a purpose, what sense does it make not the fulfill that purpose? One of the most rewarding parts of life is realizing everything that happens to you, you intended. Good and bad. You can assume responsibility for an orphan child, but it is not your acts that put the child into the world, you did not intend it.

This “greediness” of marriage and acknowledgement of your own humanity is paralleled by other characteristics.

Giving your life to marriage is the ultimate gift you can give someone.

Fancy dinner our? Hah.
New BMW in the driveway? Pff.
My entire freaking life? Whoa there.

After years of reading relationship literature I realized that gifting someone in order to receive something back, be it a relationship, or a kiss, or whatever, is incredibly selfish and manipulative. I give credit to David Deangelo for first steering me in that path. The person you are gifting doesn’t even get the gratification of the gift, because underneath your smile, they know you really want something in return. How selfish!

Marriage is sacred, it is more than a “contract”. Marriage is a bond broken only by death. You can choose to either have a happy marriage or unhappy marriage. It is epic and can sometimes be scary. It is everything the postmodern world has been harping against, true, unclouded decision.

But then something strange happens. The clouds open so your worst days are not that bad. Green and yellow shades highlight your brightest days more so than ever. Sometimes it seems as if God thanks you for such a gift to another human. The gears around you seemed oiled, as if the world wants you to continue and give life to a new human. The universe just keeps on thanking you more and more as if you really did one-up it. Somewhere in my wildest dreams, I remember predicting all of this. A happy marriage, kids, life in a sunny valley, wildest dreams.

Can you forget that there may be someone else out there for you? (There is). Can you acknowledge your own mortality and take the wild ride in store for you?

How to Focus on Goals

Imagine you wanted to walk to the other doorway. Imagine the path there is full of people talking to you, trying to sell you things, and generally trying to delay you or even prevent you from reaching your goal. Everyone thinks they have something good for you.

You stop and look at the scene and what do you do? What is waiting for you when you reach your goal? Are there better things waiting for you on the way? How do you even know in this information age where most of humanity’s knowledge can be accessed in a few seconds? What is the best choice?

The easy answer I like to give is, you never know.

From this standpoint, it seems relatively easy to just walk to the other door, doesn’t it? But in real life, where the paths are often hidden, it is much harder. You must stay focused on the goal and your legs will walk themselves while your mind keeps you focused. You socialize, live life, and do the tedious everyday chores like anyone else, but you are going in one direction, you have momentum. Imagine the other doorway you want to reach and keep it in your mind and make no excuses for wanting to go to there.

Choose where you want to go.

Start walking.
Live everyday moving a little closer to the goal (step by step)
As you approach, you gain more momentum, propelling your legs.
Once you reach the goal, then you can choose where to go next.

Many people seem to change their minds when they are halfway there.

That is saying to yourself that you do not trust your own mind, your own decisions. To finish one’s goals is to acknowledge your own decision making willpower – your life levels up. So stick with the path you choose, you will be happier at the end and fresh to start a new challenge.

Know Your Interviewer’s Style before You “Break the Ice.”

Job interviews typically start off with introductions and then some basic “small talk” to break the ice. Knowing how to handle the transition from “Hello” to “Tell me about yourself” depends, in part, on your interviewer’s “style.”

There are three basic types of interviewers: the Dominant, the Dependent and the Detached.

The Dominant interviewer is the easiest to talk to if you have done your homework. They are professionals who have been trained on how to interview. Most likely they will greet you with a handshake and offer their name. Their office and desk will be neat and professional. They will have a copy of your resume in front of them and prepared questions. If they have not already broken the ice, you could begin the conversation by commenting on the award on their wall or bookcase (it is common for these individuals to have them) or mention something else positive you have noticed about the interviewer or the company.

The Dependent interviewer is the poor guy who got tagged to do the interview and may be more nervous than you to be there. The Dependent interviewer often will not know your name (or in some cases why you are even there!). Their office or desk may be in shambles as they shuffle papers looking for your résumé. With this interviewer, you will want to take more control of the interview.

You may break the ice by saying how pleased you are to have an opportunity to talk with him about the company and the position (a subtle way to remind him why you are there and give him time to get his thoughts together.) Because the Dependent interviewer probably had very little, if any, preparation for the interview, they may not know what questions to ask so they may launch into casual conversation to “get to know you.” Be careful of this type of interviewer because you may find yourself chatting about things best not mentioned in an interview. If you do not take control of the interview and guide the questions and answers, you may leave there thinking what a friendly guy he was, but not knowing anything at all about the job.

The Detached interviewer is rare and most frequently experienced when interviewing for highly technical jobs. This individual is more apt to make his or her mind up after reading the résumé and sees the interview as an unnecessary formality. You will recognize this person when he comes into the room because he will not make much eye contact and will be quite regimented. There really is no way to break the ice or make small talk with this individual, because it goes against his grain. Just take a seat and politely wait for him to begin the interview.

I had a client once who told me that he had a Detached interviewer who only asked him one question – “Why do you want to work for this company?” After my client answered, the interviewer got up and walked out of the room. After waiting a few minutes, he looked out to the receptionist and asked “is he coming back?” and she replied that he went to a meeting!

And speaking of the receptionist – keep in mind that the interview starts as soon as you enter the lobby. Only make small talk with the receptionist if they appear to have the time and interest – and make sure the conversation is on brand!

Keeping Your Network Alive and Well

Establishing a solid network can actually be fun its all about creating a targeted community. Once youve established a strong network, its important to keep the contacts fresh. That can be a bit trickier!

A good rule of thumb is to touch base once every four to six weeks. Its helpful to keep track by setting reminders for yourself so you can get on a regular schedule. Six weeks can slip away quickly!

You may send a newsletter out at the same time each month or perhaps quarterly. Newsletters can be a good way to keep you on the tip of your customers brain but its not very personal.

So in addition to a newsletter, choose another time roughly each quarter to make a one to one contact with each person in your network. This does not need to be formalized, but its a good idea to keep track of who you have contacted with what. Theres nothing quite as embarrassing as sending the same article twice.

In your more personal contact, you may ask about a concern they had the last time you spoke, send along an article you feel theyd enjoy or helpful resource. You may even send a small gift but make it personal. You dont want to send candy to a diabetic or a beautiful cookbook titled 101 Ways to Cook a Chicken to a confirmed vegan.

Of course, one of the best contacts is sending them business. Do this often enough and they will always remember you.

Chat with people in your network and immediately after your meeting, write up a few notes. Do they admire a certain author? Do they see every movie made by a particular actor? Do they have a favorite food? All of these provide opportunities for touching base and avoiding missteps.

You might also read their newsletter and write them a note thanking them for their insights. Be specific in your praise and feel free to ask an intelligent question or two.

Finally, take your industry into consideration and know your audience. Of course its important to be professional, but is it best to be formal or more casual? Do they like (appropriate) humor? Do they like a longer newsletter or is it best to just get to the point? Regardless of the industry, its almost always best to obey the cardinal rule of avoiding religion and politics.

Interview Wardrobe Challenges

Living in Chicago, dressing for business is a constant challenge. I need to have something professional, fashionable, yet able to be worn in a brutal winter or a hot summer. In addition, we women have an added challenge that men do not–all the fashion changes and rules! Men can wear a suit to any business function, but women have to consider skirt length, colors (is black too plain? is pink to bright?), and even whole outfits!

In some corporate cultures, “business” can range from a sweater and skirt to anything non-denim. If you’re not sure, it’s better to play it safe, and stick with a conservative business suit. This can be changed around depending on the weather (e.g. skirt instead of pants, sleeveless shell instead of a long sleeved button-down), and you’ll fit most professional situations. It is better to ask your professional coach about your personal business style.

Sure, this can be easy if you’re going from your house to an interview, but what if you’re going during your lunch hour? It’s happened to everyone–you dress up for work, and people start making jokes about you leaving.

I’ve learned a few creative tricks to keep them from finding out! These include:

1) Wear a business suit once a week. No one will suspect anything if you regularly dress up.

2) In cooler weather, take your blazer off with your coat, and hang them up together. As long as the rest of your outfit is business casual, no one will know.

3) Roll up your business jacket and put it in a bag. It’s less likely to wrinkle when rolled instead of folded.

4) Get your suit and/or blazer dry cleaned, and pick it up on the way to the interview. It’ll be in tip-top shape, and you’ll likely be able to use the cleaner’s dressing room to change.