The Future is Today

In coming blog entries I’m going to review two cutting-edge how-to-get-ahead-in-business books.

It’s a fool’s errand to fake being someone you’re not to try to get ahead in life. You won’t get ahead unless you act true to yourself. I dream a day when a person doesn’t have to “code-switch” or whatever the term is for acting palatable to be taken seriously.

Any business that does not value diversity of thought, background, experience, and understanding is going to be left in the dust as the century rolls on.

With a Visionary archetype I see the direction society should be going in. And I’ll go in that direction before anyone else does to create the opportunities I want to see for myself and others.

The future is today. To live in the world that we want to see each of us must act collaboratively to create this world.

Already–though my career book Working Assets is set to be published this summer–I have the idea for a second radical career book geared to individuals with mental illnesses.

No business that wants to thrive make money and stay in business can afford to shut out of employment the very people who can ignite profits with our revolutionary thinking about how to design, create, market, and sell a product or service.

In fact, as job seekers we’re marketing ourselves as the ideal worker to come on board. Researching the companies that value diversity, equity, and inclusion should yield clues as to where to pitch ourselves.

In a future blog entry, I will write about the benefits of inclusion specifically. I have ideas for strategies that I will talk about.

In the coming blog entry, I will review the business book Be More Pirate, or How to Take on the World and Win.

The pirate way deserves a careful read in this environment.

Purpose Powered Productivity

It can sound woo-woo if that is the term to continue to link who you are with what you do.

In terms of how acting false to get ahead will backfire. However, I stand by my assertion that acting true to yourself is the only way to live.

The Bullet Journal ethic is rooted in “purpose powered productivity.” That is in there being a reason that you’re doing what you’re doing.

The type of disability a person has shouldn’t limit them to only one type of job. Though if this disability makes them more suited for a specific job that job shouldn’t be ruled out.

It’s radical to propose what I do when I’m talking about the livelihoods of individuals living with mental illnesses.

What I propose is eliminating “busywork” from our lives. Finding our life’s purpose and doing what we can to fulfill this purpose.

And who says this purpose should only be linked to our disability?

For some of us it will be. My life’s purpose is to advance my vision of recovery for everyone. From whatever illness a person has. In whatever guise recovery comes to them in.

A simple mission with two tenets.

Why I propose that peers living with mental health issues find our purpose is because we are no different from people who don’t have a disability.

No one wants to feel like their life has no meaning. Like they are adrift going in circles or going nowhere.

Countless motivational books are written about “how to fulfill your potential.”

In a coming blog entry, I will talk about how to find a purpose for getting out of bed in the morning.

In the winding down of the COVID outbreak all of us could be faced with this choice: how to spend our time when tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to arrive?

Living for today has a new resonance.

I for one wouldn’t want to spend my last day on earth cleaning my apartment.

A Remedy for Neoliberalism

Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment exposes the life cycle of a pair of jeans from production to selling to our disposal when we no longer like them.

President Reagan first advanced the neoliberal political ideology. Sending clothing manufacturing overseas was supposed to elevate the income of workers in those countries.

A curious line of thinking when the ulterior motive was for American businesses to cut costs. To allow them to reap millions if not billions of dollars in revenue.

U.S. clothing companies have the money to afford to pay workers a higher salary in other countries and in America.

So does a company like Verizon that I won’t do business with because their union workers went on strike twice in 10 years. To get better pay and working conditions.

In the 1970s commercials on TV told clothing buyers to “Look for the Union Label” in clothes made in America.

Sadly, the neoliberalism that took root under Reagan continued to flourish through Clinton’s term as president and ever since then.

The “trickle-down theory” fails in real-life practice.

In the counties where Amazon sets up distribution centers it gets multi-million tax breaks to do so. To recoup this money the local government imposes higher taxes on residents.

At Amazon warehouse jobs workers have been killed by machinery. Amazon isn’t fined. Amazon doesn’t pay benefits to the families of the workers who were killed.

What can a person in rural America who doesn’t have a college degree–and doesn’t want to move to a big city–do?

An Amazon warehouse job should not be the only job in town.

There’s a solution that lies right in front of our faces. The remedy is to stop viewing an elite Ivy or other college degree and a standard set of prior jobs and skills as a predictor of who to hire for a job.

In an internet news article, I read how hip employers are seeking out job candidates who don’t have this kind of homogenous background.

The result was that more women and BIPOC individuals were hired.

In coming blog entries I’ll talk about cutting-edge ideas and solutions for peers with mental illnesses.

In April I expect to host another Podcast to go live for blog readers to listen to.

Rekindling from Burnout

A real-life scenario:

You receive in a plastic pouch 2 tea bags and 5 sheets of 3″ X 3″ patterned origami paper.

This token gift is given as compensation for the burnout you’ve experienced working through the pandemic.

You question the mentality of the coworkers that thought this kit was the right and acceptable way to treat staff. How will this gift alleviate your chronic fatigue that strikes when you clock out at 5:00 every day?

How will making origami suffice when management doesn’t pay you what you’re worth?

Coming to your workplace soon will be this kind of benefit that you’re supposed to be grateful for.

In light of this trend, I’m keen to advocate for worker’s rights.

Even Alphabet workers at Google have lobbied to create a union at their workplace.

One remedy is to band together as coworkers and exchange your personal non-work email accounts. You can then talk freely among yourselves via email about actions you can take to get paid what you’re worth. You can come together on the same page to demand changes like a 7-hour workday or 4-day workweek.

During the pandemic workers were quitting their jobs in droves. Jumping ship for better opportunities elsewhere.

One good thing about the pandemic is that hopefully with the rise in WFH or Work from Home jobs a person can live wherever they want to in the U.S. and work for an employer in another state.

Is WFH here to stay? In one of the coming blog entries, I’ll talk about working from home in more detail.

The status quo is over. It’s time to advocate for our rights as workers.

Coming up in the blog entries I’ll talk about my own experience and how it has framed what I think of the world of work.

You can love your job. You should simply be paid what you’re worth. Then you could afford to get a massage. Which in my view is a better way to rekindle from burnout.

I don’t drink tea. Do you? And do you think 2 tea bags is a magnificent showering of concern from management about how to rekindle from backbreaking or emotional labor?

No–I didn’t think so.

Work Won’t Love You Back

Reading the above book has gotten me interested in advocating for worker’s rights.

In here I’m going to write a blog carnival of entries with my concrete ideas about how to take back your life.

Sarah Jaffe the author claims that work cannot ever be seen as the source of love. That a worker can only find joy and happiness outside of paid labor.

In my view it’s okay to love what you do on the job. It’s not okay for management to pay workers “poverty pay.”

The Jaffe book expounds on the other books that have exposed the myth: Do What You Love and Other Lies. We Are All Fastfood Workers Now: The Global Uprising Against Poverty Wages.

I read these two other books years ago. What the three books fall short on doing is that they don’t offer alternatives. They don’t offer solutions to taking back your life.

In the coming blog entries, I will detail positive techniques for enjoying what you do on and off the job.

One thing that Jaffe states at the end I do agree with: instituting fewer hours in the workday. How about a 4-day workweek? This is a move in the right direction.

Coming up in the next blog entry: how to rekindle from burnout.

Numbing yourself with alcohol or going on a vacation you can’t afford is not the way to cope with a soul-crushing job.

It’s my contention that a job doesn’t have to be drudgery.

Getting in Indie Gear

The career guide in the photo above is the best quick read on how to create an independent income for yourself.

In my view it’s the best book in this category. I plan on buying a copy to read over and over.

In tandem with this practical business book I recommend one other book wherever I go and in whatever I write:

Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions.

Ben Arment the author of Dream Year reinforced what I’ve always realized: Those of us who choose a different path in life or a unique career can become riddled with self-doubt.

Strive to conquer the self-doubt which is a natural feeling to have when you’re an Artist/Creative or other maker or person in business for yourself.

Use the self-doubt as the catalyst for examining how to overcome this fear. In Dream Year you will be given the confidence to “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams / live the life you imagined” as the famous quote implores.

I’m getting ready to publish Working Assets the book in print and e-book format. My goal is to have the book go on sale in the early spring.

I checked Dream Year out of the library which you can try to do if you don’t want to buy it.

Dream Year is a sharp, succinct, and cohesive collection of action steps to take.

Finding the Right-Fit Job or Career

It’s a myth that you can do what love and always be paid what you’re worth.

The solution is to have what’s commonly called a “side hustle”–a second job or income stream. In addition to your “day job.”

The fact is that when you work for a business or for anyone else you have no control over the trajectory of your work history.

How to gain control?

To be proactive in choosing a career that is the right fit with your personality.

In this blog I wrote about a year ago about taking a detour.

In my own life I spent 9 years in corporate and legal jobs. The first 7 years in insurance offices. The second 2 years in a law firm library.

Figuring out quick that though the new job was in the library field I wouldn’t get ahead playing by a supervisor’s rules. I was passed over for a promotion there. This turned out to be a good thing.

Today I’m a professional librarian in a public library. For close to 9 years I had a second job as the Health Guide at a mental health website.

The point is I didn’t recover until I found this job that was the right fit with my personality.

Wherever you work whenever you are subject to having a supervisor give you a performance review your career path is in someone else’s hand.

Thus my enduring urge to tell readers and audience members to have a second job or income stream in addition to our day jobs.

The yearly evaluation your supervisor gives you can seem capricious.

Though I favor acting true to yourself I remain skeptical about always disclosing your mental health issue to your boss and coworkers in the workplace.

This is because it can influence how your supervisor rates you and how much money you get in a raise.

Is this universally true? No it is not. Yet it is a distinct possibility.

Coming up in the next blog entry how to navigate what happens when you receive a performance review.

The better you like your job and what you do for 7 hours 5 days a week the easier it will be to take your yearly rating in stride.

My experience has been that different supervisors have different personalities. Their worldview and their own quirks in how they perceive other people factor into how they rate your performance.

I will use a “case study” approach from my own files to demonstrate why working at a job you love and having a side hustle could be the way to go.

Illness and Identity and Career

This is going to be a carnival of three related blog entries on the topic of illness and identity and career.

In conversation with a peer friend I asked him to clarify something I had been thinking about on the topic of illness and identity and career.

The friend understood: There are different pieces of ourselves. We’re not just one thing. We can talk and write about life outside of mental health.

For months now I’ve been interested in the Venn diagram intersection between illness and identity and career.

About how people choose to identify themselves to others. Some of us right off will tell people: “I’m disabled.” Some of us will say: “I have a disability.”

In my life I prefer to be identified by my name or by my personality traits or by what I’m passionate about.

This extends to labels outside of illness that people commonly use to identify themselves. Why should we have to label ourselves at all?

Years ago a workshop leader told everyone in her course: “If you name it, you can claim it.” I understand that this is the underlying dynamic in using a “hook” to describe yourself.

In work emails I would rather write after my name: Christina Bruni (Author/Advocate).

What I would ideally like to use is: Christina Bruni (Chris/Christina) to identify myself apart from a preferred personal pronoun.

It’s a matter of a person’s individual preference whether they want to talk about their illness in ordinary conversation. Or whether they choose not to disclose as a matter of course.

The choice is yours whether you disclose, how you disclose, who you tell, and when.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk about advertising yourself as a whole person instead of dwelling on symptoms and illness.

Making a You Turn

The book in the photo above is the number-one career book I’ve checked out of the library so far. I recommend you buy the book instead. Read it from the start to end straight through.

You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, and Design Your Dream Career is great for all job-seekers. Not just those of us who are changing careers after being stuck in a dismal career we hate.

Author Ashley Stahl’s uncommon advice in reality is common sense wisdom for everyone. Even individuals happily ensconced in a job or career would benefit from her stories and approaches on financing, networking, and hitting rock bottom and coming up again.

The book sells for $17 on Amazon.com. You can special order it at your local independent bookseller too. Or go to Barnes & Noble.

The Dignity of an Honest Job

I wanted to write about the dignity of working at an honest job.

Two opposite myths exist:

One–that people with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses can’t hold “competitive” employment.

Two–that there’s a shame attached to a person when they don’t hold “competitive” employment.

These are bold-faced lies not just myths.

In an earlier incarnation of my first blog I gave kudos to Rite Aid cashiers.

Most of them have been staffing the cash register for years and they do it with a smile.

Anyone who is rude to a cashier in a store or thinks that a cashier is below them should be set straight.

My Working Assets blog has celebrated it’s one-year anniversary this January 2021.

My work on the job of keeping this blog has only just begun.

Moving forward into the coming year and beyond I will expand the scope of jobs and careers in here.

I will also take on lifestyle issues for people living in recovery.

In the next blog entry I will talk about what constitutes a “career.”

What a person does for love is as equally valid as an occupation as what a person does for money.