Sunday, January 3, 2010
The holidays are over; it’s a new month, a new year. January provides us with a clean slate, a fresh start, there’s a newness of where we are heading or what we could be about, what we could accomplish in 2010.
The month of January takes its name from Janus, the Roman god of gates and doorways. He is depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. He looks left and right. He views what is in the past and what is in the future. Both perspectives are valuable. We learn from our past. We look back and realize the past is where we gained experience, memories and wisdom. We can look to the past and view our accomplishments and failures. It becomes our personal and professional history, our life archive. We know the past doesn’t change. Perhaps our memory or recall can fade, but not the events or circumstances.
The opposite direction is about the future…looking forward. Where do you want to take your life or your career this year? When it comes to a career change, job search, or new opportunities in your current job that can lead to lead to a promotion…that’s about the future, looking forward.
You have a choice, look back or look forward. Now is a good time to reflect and take stock of what you accomplished at work this past year. Grab a notepad and log your accomplishments, disappointments and the unfinished business of the past year. Remember those goals you set for yourself. Maybe they were performance goals. What kind of year was it? On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself? What learning can you take with you into the New Year? It’s done. It’s history. Bookmark it and move on.
Now, a new sheet of paper for the New Year. Let’s focus on the future. John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” What do you want to accomplish this week, this month, this quarter, this year? Do some brainstorming and a little dreaming. Write it down your goals. You can put your list in any order and arrange it later. Just do it.
Look at you list of goals, ideas, dreams or wants. Are your goals personal or professional? Create categories for the goals. When do you want to begin the goal and accomplish the goal? What is the timeline? What steps will be needed to accomplish the goal?
This is your future and the future is where you belong. Now go have a Happy New Year with a plan for the future!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I have read all of Amy Tan’s books starting with the Joy Luck Club, Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and more. Each book carries the reader to the Far East and often, the author mentions people playing the game of Mahjongg, an ancient Chinese game of skill, strategy, and calculation with a certain amount of luck. I usually paused and thought, what’s that?
This fall, a friend invited me to learn how to play Mahjongg. I didn’t know anyone who played Mahjongg, no matter how you spell it (Mah-jongg or Mah-jong). I didn’t know the game was available.
Reaction & Reflection on Learning Something New
I wondered, do I have time to learn the how to play the game? You know, work vs. play. I wondered, would I catch on or need remedial Mahjongg for the slow learner. I decided to show up for the first learning session out of curiosity. I got hooked and committed to weekly playtime for a 2-hour session. After five sessions, as Prof Higgins would say, “By jove, I think she’s got it!” And the added bonus, I made a few new friends and had a few laughs. Just like playing cards, there’s an amount of memory, concentration and strategy involved. I think I stimulated a few brain cells.
Steps to Learning
Most of us would say that we are life-long learners. That’s good. Yet, when we are asked to step up to the plate to learn or try something new, we often find an excuse like:
I’m too busy, no time
I’m too old
I’m not coordinated
It’s too expensive
When is the last time you learned something new?
As a life coach, I tell people I coach clients to get in the game of LIFE and not merely be spectators. I think it’s easy to get sidelined in our lives and become spectators rather than participants when we get stressed, get overwhelmed, get older, get complacent in life or work. We think being on the bench will be easier and safe. Yet, I think, most of us want to get reinvolved, but don’t want to fail.
As we move from summer learning/activities to fall and winter, what has been on your mind? What has been calling to you? Take some time to sit down, check in with yourself and write it down.
What am I curious about? What have you been thinking about, but put it on the back burner. Remember the movie, The Bucket List? We don’t have to wait until we are running out of time. Maybe it’s reading a book, joining the church choir, learning to knit, taking an online class, visiting a yoga class, meeting a friend for coffee or trying out snowshoes. Raise the antenna on your life for better reception. Maybe it’s about fun/recreation, career, health/exercise, home, relationships with family/friends, or spirituality/personal growth.
What gets in the way? Usually it is time, money or fear. These familiar items seem to multiple and feed on each other. Yet, we find ourselves stymied by them time and again. Like a broken record, these items replay in our lives. How can we become bigger than the obstacles? How can we shrink the items and regain control rather than let the items control us?
Gains vs. Losses
What do you have to gain? A lot. This is about what you value, what you find important, what you find meaning in? If you are resisting and saying “no,” you continue to live your life small by sitting on the bench. The excuses become the default in your life.
Who losses? You. It can become habitual to play life small by letting the obstacles hold you back. Are you happy in this place? Are you fulfilled? Are you tired of the broken record of excuses? Are you ready to regain control?
I challenge you to try something new this fall, push the envelope for yourself, and move forward. I’d love to hear from you. Tell me what you are saying “yes” to this fall. Good luck.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
It’s been a long day—started at 7:00 a.m. and finished at 5:30 p.m. My day? Helping human resources at a Fortune 500 company with notifications for the downsizing of production and salaried workers. So, how was your day?
Some of us have had a day like this. Maybe you were notified once upon a time or recently notified—downsized, excessed, terminated or fired. No matter what it is called, there is a loss. The company lost you along with your skills, education, leadership, ideas, etc. You lost your career path along with your salary, insurance, 401k, co-workers, and a place to go 40 hours a week or more.
Life is filled with beginnings and endings and that encompasses our career. I always celebrated the beginning of a new employment position. It was a time of excitement, electricity, new challenges, new people, and new possibilities. And then, there are employment endings.
Endings come at different times and in different ways. Some endings are by choice and some are imposed. Endings are like the flavors of ice cream. Some are smooth and predictable like your retirement day; maybe the flavor is vanilla or chocolate. Sooner or later, we will generally have one of these basic flavors.
Sometimes the flavor is Rocky Road. Remember a time when you had an off day at work, missed a deadline, had conflict with a co-worker, or a poor performance report. The taste of Rocky Road offers those big learning moments with its chocolate ice cream mixed with marshmallow and nuts. Soft and hard…Rocky Road is full of contrasts.
Lately, the flavor of the day with the recession has been Elephant Tracks. In fact, the flavor of the day has become the flavor of the month and the year. We seem to be stuck with the flavor of chocolate ice cream with a swirl of chocolate and peanut butter cups. The elephant or the recession has had a heavy impact on our lives, careers and businesses.
And yet, I have had the privilege of meeting wonderful, talented people who are making the most of the situation. I am amazed to see how people are coping, networking, supporting one another and finding innovative ways to keep “the boat afloat.” It’s so true, tough times call for a tough attitude! I see people volunteering, updating their education, thinking outside the box and using creative self-marketing to move through the uncertain times.
We are amazing human beings. We continue to look forward and not backward. We fight the role of victim and self-pity. I wish you well as you persevere in your job search or recreate your career path. What’s in your scoop?
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green"
Last year at this time, I had just attended my daughter's college graduation and now a year later, I am writing this ezine as I wing my way to visit her in Boston where she has her first job. What a difference a year can make!
We start to descend and I look out of the window at 10,000 feet over Boston. It really is that aerial view, so vast, so big picture-like. I sit up and take notice. The vastness of the blue sky, rays of sun and sea of green treetops look so fresh and alive. Yes, spring is here and summer is knocking on the door. Spring means new growth, opportunity, planting and possibilities.
A change of scenery can be a good thing for a fresh perspective. Lately, my life has been a lot about detail: meetings, deadlines, meeting goals and moving forward. It feels good to look down at the landscape and see the big picture of Boston, to see the lay of the land.
Some of us are naturally, big picture people. Some of us have a preference for close-up, detail oriented. We need both kinds of people. Both skills are beneficial. Both skills are needed on the job, needed in life. We often feel more comfortable with one versus the other, but being able to develop both and call it forward when you need it is a worthwhile exercise. Can you move between the two?
Like me, you might find one easier than the other, but wait-there's hope! Yes, we usually have a preference, but with awareness and intention to improve on a skill, you can increase you ability to think big picture or detail.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Form the big picture in your mind and let your life be guided toward it. It often helps to write or sketch what you see or sense. People who are big picture thinkers focus on the future. They can visualize the end product in their mind. They might orchestrate or employ the people they need to connect the dots and fill in the detail to accomplish the goal.
2. Need more big picture thinking? Let the big picture be the lighthouse that sends out the beacon of light to guide to direct your boat to shore.
3. Now for the detail. Adjusting the sail and moving the rudder will bring your boat to safe harbor. The tacking and small adjustments help you to move forward and accomplish your goal. Keep your eye on the beacon of light and not just the waves lapping at your boat.
4. You need a destination or plan to move forward, otherwise your boat can move in circles. People with a preference for detail need to know what the plan or goal is or need to create the plan before getting into action. Once the plan is laid out, they are generally able to move it along. Forward the action, deepen the learning!
As we celebrate Memorial Day Weekend, I am thinking about the price of freedom. As they say, freedom isn't free. Some have chosen to serve our country to defend our freedom. They made a career choice and I am grateful for their service. Some have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Their life and career path through military service may have ended.
Despite the difficult job market and uncertain financial times, I hope you will honor their service and continue to work or job search with American pride, courage and integrity. I wish you stamina, perseverance and wish you well in your endeavors!
It's one of the first things to hit the reader. That's important. The SUMMARY or PROFILE has replaced the Objective. Throw out any old resources from the 80's or 90's or earlier! Don't date yourself with an old resume format!
It's what's up front that is important. A SUMMARY is an eye-catcher and in a few lines, summarizes what the candidate can do or bring to the table. Keep it tight and do not use "I" in the statement. The SUMMARY is the frosting on the cake (your resume). Make it appealing to the reader.
One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. - Andre Gide
Need more? Call me for a free consultation.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Here is a primer to expand your job search vocabulary.
Netiquette - network etiquette. This is the Internet merging with Emily Post. The guidelines are a code of conduct for acceptable behavior for online communication.
Wikipedia - a web-based, free encyclopedia written and edited by volunteers. The site combines the word “wiki,” a type of collaborative website along with “encyclopedia.” Since Wikipedia is a collaboration, be aware that it contains some misinformation and bias. Consider it a starting point for research.
Googling - obtaining information on the Web using the search engine Google. You can google an employer during your research. Google your name. See how you show up.
Digital Dirt - An employer or recruiter can find information about you on the Internet that is not complimentary. It might show you as you lapsed in judgment with your words/actions or were photographed at a party. Remember what happened to Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps? Ouch!
Blog - a contraction of “web log” is a free, shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal experiences, expertise, hobbies, you name it. A blog is frequently updated and meant for public consumption and comment. Today, specific blogs are being created like corporate blogs (internal/external/ceo), video blogs (YouTube) and mp3 blogs (music/audio).
Social Networking - the way users build online networks of contacts and interact with personal or business friends. We have seen our sons and daughters use MySpace (music fans) and Facebook (classmates) though the boundaries have expanded to include all kinds of users. Professionals can meet and be introduced to other business contacts through LinkedIn.
Microblogging - allows the subscriber to broadcast short messages to other subscribers of the Web service. Microposts can appear on a website and/or be distributed to a group of subscribers in real time as an instant message or a cell phone text message.
Microblogging is immediate, portable and brief. Heard of Twitter? Presidential candidate Obama used Twitter on the campaign trail. Now, The New York Times and the BBC are sending headlines and links. There is potential use with traffic and sports updates along with the emergency broadcast system. What possibilities can you create to forward your job search?
JibberJobber - Need to get more organized with your job search? If a spiral notebook or Excel spreadsheet doesn’t work, www.jibberjobber.com could aid your career management.
“E” - in front of any word, means electronic. We know about email, but the list continues with esignature, ezine, ecommerce, etc. Watch for more ewords as our eworld continues into new frontiers!
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I’m packing my suitcase to attend my daughter’s college graduation. It seems like yesterday when she was deciding which college to attend and now, four years have flown by. During her college life, she would call with snippets of happenings about her classes, long hours at the library, writing a big paper, summer job prospects, preparing for study abroad, and the like. I’ll miss those conversations. Now, it’s time to step out into the “real world,” but first a little POMP!
After Commencement, there are parties, dinners, photographs, yearbooks, gifts and well wishes. It’s a right of passage, a send-off. Our sons and daughters are moving on and stepping into adulthood, and some of us as adults are graduating as well.
Graduation always does it to me. Graduation is about endings and beginnings, doors closing and opening. Soon I will hear the tunes of the familiar march, Pomp and Circumstance, which is virtually synonymous with graduation exercises in North America. Pomp and Circumstance brings images of graduates processing in flowing gowns with mortarboards with tassels swaying.
After the POMP comes the CIRCUMSTANCE, which can look differently as the graduates move forward with their life plans. For most, it’s employment, employment search, military or more school. It will be a time of new places, new independence, new people, new assignments, new opportunities and new challenges.
Life is a series of becoming, arriving and ending. We spend years preparing for the destination and often arrive at the destination only to repeat the process or find ourselves dissatisfied with the destination. It is said that life is about “the journey.” These words ring true as we know that a diploma or degree marks the beginning of lifelong learning. Many will take their life experiences and benefits to reenter the workplace or return for more training. People change jobs and careers several times or more in life. Change is more of the rule rather than the exception. Some people in their 40’s and 50’s with established careers are finding themselves back in the beginning stages again. In some cases, they find themselves competing with the new graduates except they have 25 years of experience, a full resume, well-honed skills, a proven work record and often, a family and mortgage. In today’s job market, nothing is certain.
Yes, grads, enjoy the POMP as CIRCUMSTANCES will weave in and out of your career. As the Boy Scout motto says, “be prepared” and may I add, continue to prepare, avoid complacency. Change is the future.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
In April 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin launched Earth Day. It evolved after seven years of observation, discussion and planning to bring the environment into the "limelight." Today, I'm buying bottled water and see our air, ground water, soil, oceans and glaciers under siege. As we hear more about Going Green to save the planet, what can we do to Green our Career? Just like the environment, we cannot take anything for granted in today's workplace. Keeping our career path intentional and updated is necessary for career survival and redesign.
In honor of Earth Day, April 22nd, here are some ways to green your career:
Sustainability: It's can be tough to stay motivated in a career search, but to persevere and stay with it are necessary. Be the glacier and resist having a "meltdown!" Looking for work is work. So, eat healthy, go for a walk, get fresh air, join a work support group, hire a coach, etc. It's about survival, and you can do it. Remember, Darwin's Survival of the Fittest? The village blacksmith will not return and neither will hand milking or the keypunch operator. You have to move on, retool and renew. That means an investment in you.
Recycle - Reuse - Renew: When did you update your resume? Did you ever attend a professional development workshop or use a career tool that identified your strengths, interests or leadership style? I have talked with so many clients who discounted this kind of experience and shoved the results in the back of the file cabinet. In good times, we tend to think, that's nice, so what! Dig out the results and reread them. The results could be insightful.
Even if the resume or a performance evaluation is 5-10 years old, it can be a springboard. Dig it out, dust it off and remember who you were. It can provide direction as you ask, who am I today? Reflect, regroup, react. Just like paper or plastic, we can be "reused." Besides, it's spring and it might be time to spring clean your files and get reorganized.
Preserve: How can you preserve your identity and integrity? Some traits are timeless! It is important to "know thyself." Some workers think, it's over, I'm outdated, too old, too inexperienced, washed up. Hold on! A solid work ethic, good work record, willing to learn and retrain still mean something in today's workplace. We are not "throw-aways" waiting for the landfill. You are a valued entity in today's workplace, so market yourself, get grounded and persevere.
Save Energy: Like the new energy-saving light bulbs, they cost more, but save money and energy in the long run. How about you? Can you save an employer money and energy in the long run? Are you a good investment? Can you glow brightly and provide long-lasting productivity? Think about the value you bring to the workplace.
Increase Efficiency: In your work search, work smarter and be efficient. Focus your job search, schedule your calls and keep accurate records of your applications, follow-ups and responses. To stay efficient, you need a plan and a schedule for your workweek. A "hit or miss" philosophy or "when I feel like it" attitude will not serve you.
Keeping your career path green means you are aware, enlightened and alive. Spring is a season of renewal. The workplace is dynamic and your career path and credentials need to be dynamic too.
Quote for the Month - Celebration of Spring
and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. - Anais Nin
Spring is here! Is your career and your life ready to green out and bud with new growth, new vitality and a fresh outlook? Coaching can help you clean away the old snow and clear the pathways. Give it a try with a complimentary session! Come on, take a risk, try someting different for different results.
I look forward to your questions, feedback and suggestions about this ezine for work/life balance and fulfillment. Whether you are a college student, growing your career, maintaining your livelihood, or eyeing retirement, we all experience ups and downs in the various stages of life.
I coach and write with your agenda in mind, where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow.
Thank you for taking time to balance our planet. It all starts with YOU!
If you are new to coaching and wonder if coaching could be helpful, contact me for a complimentary coaching session.