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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Career Lessons Learned While Taking my 3 year old to Get a Hair Cut

By Annemarie Segaric

I took my daughter to have haircut. To give you a little background…Isabella is 3 and a half and she knows exactly what she likes and what she doesn’t like. I knew she was going to throw a fit--this isn’t the first haircut she’s ever had! So we made a deal: if she could get a haircut without crying and screaming, we would go directly to Target afterward and she could pick out a princess video. As we were leaving I said, “Ok, we have a deal, Isabella, right? No crying.” Her response was, “Well, Mommy, I might.” I reminded her that if she cried then we weren’t getting the video and she rolled her eyes (remember she’s 3!), and said to me, “Mommy, when I say ‘I might’ that means ‘I won’t,’ ok?”

Things didn’t go as planned which I could have predicted if I weren’t such an optimist. Isabella cried--a lot. She still got her princess video. And lunch at McDonald’s and a new pink bicycle helmet. Here’s what I want you to take away from this as you are out there looking for a new career or changing jobs:

1) Be creative and roll with the punches. Leading up to the moment of her haircut, I knew I had to outsmart her. A reward will often work, but sometimes a penalty is what’s needed. As I stood outside the salon with my screaming preschooler, I noticed she was holding a pair of sunglasses she loves, and I used that as a bargaining chip. I eventually got her into the chair and she got to hold on to her sunglasses. You gotta do what you gotta do. Moral of the story: when you hit a roadblock, come up with a creative solution. If that doesn’t work, come up with another--don’t give up.

2) Don’t take other people’s comments to heart. The hairstylist--a single man with no children--exclaimed that Isabella must run the house because I let her get away with a lot. He didn’t understand that I was deliberately picking my battles. Rather than taking offense and buying into his idea that I’m a pushover (trust me, I’m not), I simply laughed and said, “You’re just seeing one slice of the pie. You have no idea.” That seemed to quiet him. Keep this in mind when others question your job decisions. Only you have the perspective to fully understand your choices; others won’t necessarily agree or empathize with what you’re going through.

3) Stand up for yourself and ask for what you want--even if it seems like you’re asking for too much. While Isabella was picking out her video, she asked for a second one. “Nope, not going to happen,” I told her, especially since the deal was ‘no crying.’ Later we passed the bike helmets and she asked for one that caught her eye. This time I agreed because I’d been meaning to get her one and here she’d found one she really liked. So ask for what you want. Hey, you never know when you’ll get a ‘yes!’

Annemarie Segaric is a life and career change coach and owner of The Career Changer Company. They help professionals figure out what they want so they can change careers. Annemarie is also the author of the soon to be published career change guide, Step into the Right Career: 107 Tips For Changing Your Career While Still Paying the Bills. Visit www.thecareerchanger.com for coaching, events, and a free career toolkit.