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Are You Really Thinking About the Big Picture?

August 15, 2019

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We’ve touted the benefits of a career mentor and career planning, but it’s come to our attention that we might all be doing this wrong. When you think about your overall career growth, goals, and potential, hopefully your work-life balance is taken into consideration. But what about going beyond that? Really thinking about your life outside of work–your parenting goals? Personal happiness? Friendships? Relationships?

The Harvard Business Review recently wrote an article called Great Mentors Focus on the Whole Person, Not Just Their Career. It comes to the conclusion that we can’t give or take career advice without considering the person as a whole. A question such as, “What are 5 things you’d want friends or family to say about you on your 80th birthday?” can really boil down what’s truly important in someone’s life. Consider your five answers to that question and how they interplay with your career path and goals.

When we start thinking about the big picture of our life, it may put our careers into better perspective. The work-life balance conundrum may become more clear. Our priorities might more easily rise to the top. Our self-criticism may dampen and we may give ourselves permission to choose happiness. Our career path may take a different direction. How else do you consider the big picture when mapping out your career growth?

Image via Eli Christman/Flickr.

 

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Are You Truly Challenging Yourself?

August 13, 2019

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Professional athletes aren’t afraid of feedback. In fact, they seek it out. Their daily routine involves setting up various feedback loops, in which their efforts are constantly put under scrutiny. Their work is assessed, measured, analyzed, and scored. They’re expected to take that feedback and do one thing with it: get better. It’s a part of the job. We can learn a lot from athletes and their dedication to increasing performance and results. In short, we need criticism in order to excel.

Are you making yourself vulnerable enough for feedback? It’s an uncomfortable situation to put yourself into, no doubt. But if you really want to improve in your current position and continue to find success in life, you need to seek out feedback. Then you need to take that feedback and grow. How can you get reliable measurements on your skills? Here are just some ideas:

  • Just ask–even on the small tasks: For example, after you run an important meeting, send out a quick email to the group or to a trusted colleague and say, “I’m looking to improve my public speaking skills. Is there anything you think I could have done better today?”
  • Get it on the calendar: If you’re only required to have an annual and semi-annual review with your manager, consider putting a quarterly meeting between the two of you on your calendar. While it may not be an “official” performance review, use it as a chance to assess your progress on your goals and responsibilities. Where are you lacking? Where are you excelling?
  • Be real with yourself: We’re not advocating to be super hard on yourself, but let’s be honest–we know when we’ve messed up. We know when we’ve been slacking, and making excuses, and self sabotaging. Unleash your inner critic but focus on giving yourself actionable advice.
  • Write it down: Keep track of your goals, your progress, and the feedback you’re getting and check in on it at least once per month. We can’t improve if we don’t have a starting point and an end goal. Set yourself up for success and then track that success each step of the way.
  • Celebrate the good with the bad: Don’t lose sight of your strengths as you get feedback on your weaknesses. Remember that weaknesses are simply chances to improve and we should always be seeking to improve throughout our life.

Image via Toby Bradbury/Flickr.

 

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Pick Yourself Up and Move Forward With These Motivational Quotes

August 8, 2019

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“One’s only failure is failing to live up to one’s own possibilities.” – Abraham Maslow

“I honestly can’t think of any career ‘mistakes.’ Everything happens for a reason.” – Katherine Power

“Failure is nothing more than a chance to become better.” – Unknown

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

“Just start. Don’t worry that you don’t have all the answers yet.” – Alli Webb

“Fall in love with the process and the results will come.” – Eric Thomas

“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” – Estée Lauder

“If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission.” – Unknown

“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.” – Dolly Parton

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Image via Alan Lam/Flickr.

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How to Network Your Way Into Your Dream Company

August 1, 2019

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You’re one of the lucky ones — you know exactly what you want to do and who you want to do it for. In the perfect scenario, your dream job and dream company are within reach. But how do you make that dream a reality? There are many simple steps you can take to get even closer to your goals.

  1. Reach out to your network. 
    You don’t know who your network knows unless you ask! See if anyone has a connection to this company or this industry. If you’re still in college, that network includes your campus career resource center as well as your professors.
  2. Peruse LinkedIn. 
    Can you image a time before LinkedIn? You essentially have an employment directory at your fingertips. At the very least, you can get a better idea of who’s working in your industry or your dream role (or even in the exact department in your dream company) and what their background is like.
  3. Talk to people in the industry. 
    Even if you can’t connect with someone at your dream company, connecting with people in your industry is just as helpful. Professional organization and meet-up events are a great place to start. People in the industry can give you insight into the job market and inside details on what it’s really like to work in your dream position. Ask these people if they know anyone else who’d be interested in talking to you, or if there are any other industry resources you should turn to.
  4. Set up an informational interview.
    If you’re lucky enough to find a connection at your dream company who’s willing to connect, ask if you can have an informational interview on site. Treat them to coffee and have intelligent questions prepared. You could even ask if you could shadow them for a day or for a few hours.
  5. Sign up for a job alert.
    Be the first one to know when a position at your dream company opens up. Also be open to internships, temporary work, or similar positions within the department of your dreams. Right now, your goal is to get your foot in the door and get face to face in front of a recruiter.
  6. Stay in touch. 
    Check in every month or two with your network and with recruiters that you’ve connected with. You can’t expect to be on the top of everyone’s mind all the time, but a friendly check-in brings you to the forefront.

Image via @@@/Flickr.

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Motivational Quotes That Will Keep Your Goals On Track

July 30, 2019

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“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

“Pay attention to the itch. That feeling, that there’s something else bigger out there for you, that you should be doing something else better for you–that is a feeling that you have to pay attention to you can’t ignore it.” – Ann Shoket

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller

“If you’re too comfortable, it’s time to move on. Terrified of what’s next? You’re on the right track.”  – Susan Fales-Hill

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Karim Seddiki

“Don’t get good at what you don’t want to be doing.” – Anonymous

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through these moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” – Marissa Mayer

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

“Always go with the choice that scares you most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.” – Caroline Myss

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5 Ways to Disconnect From Work

July 18, 2019

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One of the top ways to beat burnout–and some would argue the only way–is to disconnect from work. This could be on a nightly or weekly basis (or in extreme cases, it may call for a week-long vacation or a months long sabbatical.) Here are five ways to incorporate moments of disconnection into your week. It will help your work-life balance, your overall energy levels, and your productivity.

  1. Have a podcast, e-book, or audiobook on hand. And make sure it’s not a business book or podcast! Use your commute, lunchtime, or afternoon walk to decompress with something that’s totally not work-related. Mindlessly watching TV or scrolling through social media does not count! Fiction is a great way to escape from the reality of life, work, and the news.
  2. Incorporate silence into your day for at least 15 minutes. Consider a car ride with no radio–just your thoughts. Or a morning meditation session. Or an afternoon walk sans headphones. Just be with your thoughts for 15 minutes each day and take time to breathe in and breathe out.
  3. Set rules–and stick to them. A line needs to be drawn in the sand. What is work time and what is personal time? For example, “I don’t check my email until 8 AM.” Or “I don’t check my email after work until my kids are in bed.” Or “I only work on the weekends on Sunday nights.”
  4. Shut off your notifications. You don’t have to be the first person to respond every time. And you don’t have to be available at all times. You can temporarily shut off notifications at certain times during the day (for example, just by logging out of your email for 30 minutes while you need to get something done) or by permanently disabling certain notifications from your phone. (You’re bound to check it eventually anyway.)
  5. Don’t keep your phone in your hand. Invest in a docking station and drop your phone and laptop in that area when you return from work. Feel free to check in occasionally–but don’t always have it within arm’s reach. Out of sight, out of mind.

Image via Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr.

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How to Get Better at Saying No

July 11, 2019

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One huge part of beating burnout at work is being okay with one word: “No.” But I have to be a “yes person” to succeed in the workplace, right? Not necessarily. Those who guard their time and energy and consistently produce their best work will not only earn the respect of their coworkers but will also succeed greatly throughout their life. So how do you make saying no a little bit easier?

  1. Pause, and take time to think. Don’t automatically jump to a “yes.” Literally ask for time to think about it overnight or for a few hours, or even just take a few breaths before replying. Here are some exact lines you can replicate:
    • “Let me think about that for a moment.”
    • “I have a few more questions I’d need to ask you before I say yes.”
    • “I’ll need to get back to you on whether or not I can commit.”
    • “Let me consult my calendar and my workload first.”
  2. Get face-to-face for the final “no.” People might be more willing to accept a no in person or over the phone than via email. When they hear the sincerity in your voice they may be more understanding. But make sure that you are also willing to stick to your guns during that conversation. If they try to downplay your “no” try saying something like this:
    • “I understand, but it’s a hard no for me at this time.”
    • “I wish I could, but I can’t.”
    • “I’ve already run through all the scenarios in my head and I am confident that I won’t be able to commit.”
  3. Don’t apologize or give too many details. A firm no should be enough. Don’t give people opportunities to find a workaround or judge you for the priorities you are making. Here are some ways to be firm but polite:
    • “Unfortunately, I don’t have the capacity to take that on right now.”
    • “Thank you for thinking of me but it’s just not going to work out this time.”
    • “This sounds like a great opportunity but I have to pass based on my current workload.”
  4. Offer to help but in a different way. If you don’t want to commit but still want to be a part of the project in some way, try one of these responses:
    • “I can’t commit now, but my schedule opens up next month.”
    • “I’m sorry I can’t be a part of that project, but I’m happy to offer feedback at the end if you’re looking for an extra set of eyes.”
    • “I’d love to be considered for something like this in the future but I just don’t have the bandwidth at this time.”

Image via marc falardeau/Flickr.

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How a Few Key Habits Can Keep Your Life on Track

July 5, 2019

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As we continue to talk about topics like burnout as well as work-life balance, it’s important to get real about strategies. Because the reality is that sometimes life is completely and utterly overwhelming. A new job, a big promotion, a new baby, an illness, or any other major life event can throw your day to day into a swirl. No matter how organized and competent you are.

So how does one possibly find success in a situation like that? Jackie and John Coleman co-wrote an amazing article for the Harvard Business Review outlining how to get through these hard times. It turns out that focusing on a few key habits when life gets busy is one way to keep you and your commitments on track. “Daily or weekly habits aligned with your long-term goals can keep you on track even when it’s hard to think ahead, and they can add stability in an otherwise unsteady time,” says the authors.

They recommend asking yourself, “What are the 5-10 things you need to do daily or weekly to keep life on track?” When choosing these five to 10 habits, considering mental and physical health, maintaining relationships, and building in time for personal and professional reflection is important. Learn more about how to choose these habits over at the Harvard Business Review.

Image via Steven Kersting/Flickr.

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5 Ways to Beat Burnout

July 2, 2019

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Exhausted? Overwhelmed? Completely unproductive? You may be suffering from burnout. We’ve already covered the symptoms of burnout, the feelings that surround it, and how it’s different from depression or anxiety. So what do you do if you’ve identified yourself as suffering from burnout? Experts have given a few tips:

  1. “Prioritize self care,” recommends the Harvard Business Review. That includes managing your physical and emotional energy so you can overcome the feelings of exhaustion. Things like sleep, nutrition, and exercise need to be more important than work.
  2. Forbes says, “Disconnecting is the most important burnout strategy…because if you can’t find time to remove yourself electronically from your work, then you’ve never really left work.” Being available 24/7 isn’t healthy for yourself or your relationships. Take a vacation, turn off your phone over the weekend, or set a rule that you don’t check email between 5 PM and 8 PM.
  3. “Turn to family and friends for support,” says The Muse. Not only will it feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders but they may even be able to offer you some advice.
  4. Lifehack recommends: “Be willing to say no when you don’t think you can keep up with the pace or when you’re feeling overwhelmed.” Saying no and being more protective of your time is an important muscle that needs to be flexed.
  5. According to NBC, “establishing healthy connections at work” can help you overcome burnout. This may include asking for help, delegating, or finding a mentor.

How do you beat burnout?

Image via Geoffrey Roberts/Flickr. 

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30+ Ways to Add More Happiness To Your Life

June 25, 2019

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Summer is the perfect time to focus on the good feelings that so easily follow sunny days and warm nights. How can you incorporate those same feelings of joy into your every day? Here are just a handful of ideas that make your day great.

  • Walk away from your desk and take a 30 minute lunch break either alone (if that feels most fulfilling to you) or with someone else (if you feed off other’s energy).
  • Cut out habits that interrupt your sleep cycle like drinking caffeine, reading on your phone in bed, or working out too close to your bed time.
  • Start volunteering for an organization that means a lot to you.
  • Sign up for an exciting learning opportunity at work or outside of work that will increase your skills or knowledge.
  • Take a vacation day mid-week.
  • Get up 30 minutes earlier so you can prepare and eat a fulfilling breakfast.
  • Set an earlier bedtime.
  • Take an afternoon walk: outside, inside, on a treadmill, wherever! Just get moving during the afternoon slump.
  • Set a meal plan for the week (including breakfasts, lunches, and healthy snacks!) so your grocery shopping trip can be more efficient and purposeful, and you won’t be grabbing unhealthy food on the go.
  • Mentor a younger coworker or ask someone to become your mentor.
  • Book a much-needed vacation and completely unplug.
  • If you’re always missing deadlines, always write the deadline as one day earlier in your calendar.
  • Add a plant to your desk like one of these workspace friendly plants.
  • A good set of headphones and a cheery playlist can make or break any day.
  • Surround yourself with a few of your favorite pics of friends and family or from your favorite travels.
  • Stay motivated and on track with a vision board that keep you focused on your dreams and goals.
  • Bring a lamp to add a soft glow to your workplace.
  • Add in a mid-afternoon walk and you may be able to kick the caffeine habit and squeeze in daily exercise.
  • Get some exercise before or after work.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. Focus on yourself and your goals and accomplishments, and don’t size them up against those of your coworkers.
  • If you’re always late to work, set your alarm 30 minutes earlier.
  • Forgo the gossip. It’s ok to vent sometimes, but venting all the time just builds up a negative wall that’s hard to break down.
  • Choose gratitude. When things go wrong, think about what you’re thankful for. 
  • Hang out with positive people. Surround yourself with people who love to smile and laugh.
  • Don’t let the little details bog you down. Little frustrations, negative feedback, and unexpected challenges can easily dampen your spirit on a daily basis.
  • If you constantly deal with a low-battery phone, why not order a second charger for work and a third for your car?
  • Every day should be filled with a nice mix of friends, family, and you time as well as work and play. Find the perfect mix for you.
  • Start a journal.
  • Cut back on social media.
  • Instead of being jealous, start learning. Find inspiration in an idol’s career path or the bold steps they took to get where they want to be.
  • Not where you thought you were going to be? It doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen. Don’t give up. Having something to work toward is a wonderful thing.
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