Archives for holidays

What do you want to leave in 2017? What do you want to add to 2018?

Part 1 of 4

Notepad Art by Stephen Dann on Flickr

As the year winds down, and holiday activities kick into full gear, not all of us are focused on the reflection that actually comes naturally this time of year, nor are we always thinking about the new year until we make it through the other winter holidays.

However, before a commercial, consumerist, highly socialized society created new traditions for this time of year that keep us busy rushing around, the tradition was very much focused on peace, quiet, reflection, and resolution.

In Vishen Lakhiani’s book Code of the Extraordinary Mind, he recommends reflecting on 12 different categories of your life and rating where you are and creating a clear vision of where you want to be to know where to focus on improving and determine how. We’ll go through all 12, 3 at a time, leading up to the New Year. Starting…now!

  1. Money

There are the administrative tasks, like making sure your financial records are in order, that need to be done. This gives you the chance to pay attention to a very critical part of your world, your income, where a lot of us derive our value, right or wrong. Even if what you see when you confront the financial part of your life isn’t what you sought, noticing a contrast sets the foundation for creating a new financial goal and vision for the new year. Many people save this reflection for last, or might find it ironic that I appear to be discouraging materialism toward the beginning of this article, but quickly put the focus on money. This says a lot about your relationship to money, actually. Have you been taught that money isn’t spiritual, or that having money means not being spiritual, or even that it’s evil, or to love it is? How do you treat money? If money were your lover, would it want to be with you based on how you treat it? We all know that money is essential to living, but often we resent it, neglect it, or even fear it. I am not promoting making money the most important area of your life, but I am saying that if it is the area of improvement that you want most to focus on improving in 2018, give it the focus and attention it deserves.

If you hadn’t reached your 2017 goals, what accountability can you take for that, and what new knowledge can you gain, people you can meet, or habits can you create to bring about a better result in 2018?

Also, in regards to bookkeeping, here are 5 tips for people who changed jobs in 2017.

2. Career

Speaking of jobs, there is also a very good reason I started with money. While there is a “market price” for most positions, did you know you can still reverse engineer your income to match your desired lifestyle? If there is something that you LOVE to do so much, that you would do it for free, but it traditionally doesn’t pay well and you need to make a good living, there has never been a better time to build an income infrastructure that allows you to do what you love WHILE earning a healthy income. There are formulas you can follow, depending on what kind of life you want to create, and while I’m not saying they’re easy, or even simple, if you have the resolve and vision to pull you through the challenges, you can absolutely follow steps that will lead you to freedom and empowerment in your career. Too many have settled for the “safer” path, but how safe is it really?

“Life is all risky, if you think ‘trying’ is risky, wait til’ they hand you the bill for NOT trying. Wait til’ you get the tab for not investing. It’s all risky, getting married is risky, having children is risky. Don’t worry, in life, you’re not going to get out alive” ~ Jim Rohn

Is your health suffering because of stress at work or based on finances? Do you ever go to work with anxiety, or even physical ailments like headaches or stomach aches that could be caused by anxiety?

Do your relationships suffer because of the time and energy required of your job? Is there a level of joy in life you have yet to experience because your priority was financial “security”? Is your job that secure?

Here’s the most important question: Does your job give back to you as much or more than you give to it?

Most people have not yet tasted what it is like to be exhilarated by their jobs, and if you have tasted it, have you been striving ever since to re-create that feeling but landing jobs that continually fall short?

There is a formula and a system (with tools) you can follow that will put the power back in your hands to bring this experience into or back into your life. We previously made this available to you, have since dropped the price dramatically so that it’s affordable for most people, and intend to bring you a new and improved format that maximizes retention, application and FUN in 2018.

3. Health

Speaking of health, our life expectancy just went up dramatically, but we will only live that long if we take proper care of our self-healing bodies. This, I know from experience, is no easy feat. But good health enables all of the other areas of our lives to operate. Without it, we can’t expect to achieve fulfillment in any other area of our lives, so it’s pretty important.

So many people struggle to create better habits in this area. We all have heard by now that diets don’t work, and that aiming for a healthy lifestyle of moderation instead is a more realistic goal. That sounds like a commitment, though. It’s scary. From 2015-2016, I was in great shape. I started small, with subsequent 21-day challenges. Within those 21 days, I lost enough weight to motivate me to continue my journey, developed better awareness of old habits and created new ones, and improved my relationship with my body, which was an unexpected, but a very welcomed, outcome.

Honestly, my habits now are a far cry from those, and a year is a long time to sustain results, but it wasn’t a lifetime. I had began to crave better and better results, and dove into more and more intense exercise regimens, and stricter and stricter diets, until – I needed stitches in my arm and wasn’t able to lift for a month. When I read Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin pointed out that often when we develop good habits in one area of our lives, we find it naturally easier to develop good habits in other areas of our lives, as well. From my observations, health is the area in which I see that trickle down impact most powerfully, and I can say that when good health habits deteriorate, good habits in other areas tend to go downhill, as well.

It seems counter-intuitive, because if we devote more time to health, we’ll have less time to sustain all of our other habits, but I am challenging myself, and I challenge you too, to creating a habit of devoting time to exercise and nutrition, starting simply. I will exercise 5 days per week to make it a habit, even if it’s only 10 minutes, but it has to challenge me at least 3x per week, in other words, I will work to my limit. I will also make sure that I eat something plant-based with every meal before I go for a starch, meat or treat. I am not committing to depriving myself of anything. I will make this about ADDING what is good for me, which I feel will naturally lead to a decrease in cravings for what I know isn’t good, but I enjoy.

Starting small worked for me at the beginning, and I believe it’s sustainable for a lifetime, though I may not experience the initial large weight drop that motivated me so much the last time.

It’s all about finding what works for you, and if you form healthy habits, but they don’t have the desired outcomes, such as massive weight loss, you know at least you are gaining better health.

Next week, we will explore 3 more critical areas of your life to evaluate as 2017 winds down and 2018 approaches.

Remember to rate yourself in these areas and write down a vision in each of these that inspire you to make changes in 2018.

Counting Crows – A Long December

Listen to more from Counting Crows: https://CountingCrows.lnk.to/Essentials Explore the incredible history of Counting Crows here: https://www.udiscovermusic.com/artists/counting-crows Stream a playlist of their biggest tracks: http://playlists.udiscovermusic.com/playlist/counting-crows-best-of Experience Counting Crows on Vinyl LP: https://CountingCrows.lnk.to/f6ubC Follow Counting Crows https://www.facebook.com/countingcrows/ https://twitter.com/CountingCrows https://www.instagram.com/countingcrows/ http://countingcrows.com/ Music video by Counting Crows performing A Long December. YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 2,037,577.

5 Ways to Give Joyfully During the Holidays, Even with Financial Shortcomings

Gifts by Jennifer C. on Flickr

The holidays aren’t so happy for us all. The idea that giving is receiving, and that we find our joy by giving can make us feel worse if we have very little to give.

I have been there, more than once. In college it’s supposed to be acceptable, but in my senior year I was also facing my mother’s re-marriage and responsibilities of being maid of honor which I knew little about. My brother also was married on New Year’s Day. That year I wanted so much to give them something special, but had only my talent to contribute. I wrote illustrated poems for my family. I realize that in some families the sentiment would have been appreciated, if not at least considered adequate. I was not reassured, especially with a new almost-sister-in-law.  My mom and dad, however, still have those on display in their homes.

Then after I was laid off in August of 2002 and still had not landed by Christmas (and in fact spent another 6 months unemployed after that) I was living on a meager unemployment check that didn’t even cover my student loan payments. I had no savings. I had no budget for Christmas. I used one of my unemployment checks to subscribe to Ancestry.com and did thorough genealogical research on both my mom’s and my dad’s family.

I found out a LOT that none of us knew before (like we’re Swiss!) I took the portion of another check and went to my local craft store and dollar store where I bought picture frames for a one-page family report I compiled on each side, and artful things I could color/frame for my boyfriend (at the time/now husband) who was supporting me financially.  Two of those pictures now hang in our daughters’ room. I felt bad giving so little at the time, even though I put a lot of time into those, because he had been giving me so much. I didn’t even appreciate my own gifts to him until years later when I realized that he had envisioned them there all along.

One of my best friends was having a baby during this time of unemployment. She asked me to make her a playlist for each stage of labor. She wound up not listening to each of them for her first (he came quickly) but she did listen to them all for her second. Then nearly 10 years later I listened to the same playlists during my births. That wound up being another gift that blessed me back.

Look, gifts aren’t always appreciated the way we want, and that’s true whether you spend $10 or $1,000.  Focus on putting thought and heart into your gifts, and find peace in your own gesture. Here are five ideas of ways you can give this holiday season if you don’t necessarily have the budget you want.

  1. Volunteer – I know you have heard this before, and that is because it is really one of the best ways to remember how valuable you can be for others, and at the same time helping others less fortunate than you will remind you of your own blessings. Gratitude is a powerful emotion, and will give you the energy to move forward and make greater efforts for yourself. Volunteering may not give you enough material wealth to give the people in your life presents, but it will make you a more uplifting person to be around. If you can’t give them something material, give them something they can feel.
  1. Upcycle – Make what’s old new again. Hometalk.com has a ton of ideas for taking things you might have around your house or obtainable from your local restore or thrift shop and turning them into masterpieces worthy of giving.
  1. Photo albums – Memories are priceless! Yes, we have become very accustomed to looking at pictures digitally, but let’s not underestimate the power of that physical photo album that you can open and look at with others to remember and honor how these people made your life so special.
  1. The new “mixed tape” – Make playlists on Pandora, iTunes, or even YouTube. Does someone have a road trip coming up? Do they do a lot of cleaning or project work? Do they love to run? A great playlist can be an awesome companion, and they’ll think of you every time they listen. Keep the other person’s musical tastes in mind; don’t impose your tastes upon them. Make it something that expresses how well you know them. Pick songs that have messages they will find meaningful.
  1. Coupons for services/experiences – Time is one of the most precious, finite resources on the planet. The thing I have found about these coupons, however, is that if you fail to deliver, you feel worse, not better. So give the coupons with an expiration date and specific days/times that you are available to deliver. Remember couth, too. For instance, if someone has a messy office, offering to clean and organize it for them may make them more self-conscious. Unless they specifically mentioned that this messy office is a problem for them and they WANT help, don’t be that specific. You could offer handyman services, babysitting services, or contribute a talent. Perhaps there is something you know how to do that the other person would like to learn. There are so many possibilities with this.

Something else that can help ease the pain of not having enough to give, devise a plan to improve your situation where YOU are the determining factor of success, not a plan in which you have to rely on someone else to give you an opportunity. Having a greater sense of possibility and control does wonders for your spirit. That is an area in which we can help – reach out for a free consultation.

While the feelings associated with not being able to give what you want to give can bring you down, we can also learn for ourselves a new value of gifts. If you have always been able to give materially before now, this new experience can provide unexpected blessings to your life. If you have struggled during this time before, hopefully you can use one of the above ideas to have a new experience of gift giving.

We are not our bank accounts. Our value is not dependent on our wealth. We are valuable just as we are, and part of the joy of this life is exploring all the ways that we can create value for others. Whether you have a lot or a little to give, may you feel blessed and be a blessing to others.

 

Happy holidays!

Sarah McLachlan – Fear [live] [HD]

From “Afterglow Live”. Buy the DVD!

Intend to Land Before the Holidays Hit? What You Should Be Doing Right Now!

Holidays by Jim Lukach of Flickr

 

I am in as much denial as you that it is August already! My nieces and nephew in Georgia had their first day of school today and one of my Midwest clients’ kids went back two weeks ago.

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.

Your brain, like mine, may simply refuse to acknowledge that the holidays will be here before you know it, but it is true.  There is always so much to do.

“I’ll just wait until school starts and we will settle into our new routine before I think about my job search.”

But then, the school year starts, and papers, to-dos, and events start to mount up.  The kids go back to their activities and you realize that things don’t settle down – ever!

As much as I admire my students for realizing so young the value of hands-on experience through Drexel University’s world-renowned co-op program, year-round 10-week terms demand a lot of their focus and energy. I wonder how they do it. Then, on top of that they have to pass my 1-credit, but very writing-intensive Career Management class in order to graduate. I can see how some of them may have complaints about the added demand, especially when some of them have landed jobs already.

However, the point can be made that as much as their education and lives demand of them right now, it is likely not going to get easier. Forming good habits by making time for professional development now will prove to exponentially impact their career and income trajectory throughout their future.

My clients already get that; they are the go-getters, the game changers, the disruptors, the thought leaders who invest time and money in increasing their visibility, reach, and impact. They are always looking ahead.

September is traditionally the second busiest hiring month. This is due to new job creation and companies needing to give one last push to end the year with maximum profit.

According to the BLS.gov, job creation was increasing more going into this summer than it had been in 15 years, but September offers the chance to re-invigorate summertime efforts to fill positions that proved challenging because of numerous stakeholder vacation plans.

If you want to get in the mix, you have to be already prepared to strike with a branded résumé and LinkedIn profile that enable you to compete, not just qualify.

Of course, this is true for new jobs, too, but the hiring process may still take several weeks to months, depending on the level and process.

That’s why, if we are being realistic…

The time to start preparing for a change in jobs before the holidays is now.

Here is how you start:

Step 1:

The first step for everyone is Career Discovery, which is an evaluation of what you want to keep and what you want to leave behind, and what you want in your future. This goes for your role, your level of responsibility and impact, your ideal boss, your ideal culture, your ideal income growth, and your overall ideal situation as it contributes to your desired lifestyle.

Yes, shoot for ideal first. You can always test the viability of the ideal and add a step or two if it is not obtainable now, but think far ahead before you plan your next step.

Step 2:

Consider and research what qualifications are needed to obtain the ideal based on those who have come before you. Do some self-reflection, take some assessments, or engage a coach who can help you identify how your natural and acquired abilities lend themselves to such a path.

Step 3:

Craft a brand that promotes your unique value in relation to the pains, challenges, and initiatives of your ideal target.

Step 4:

Compose a résumé and LinkedIn profile that tell a compelling story, but that are native to the media. In other words, have a résumé that takes all your special knowledge, skills, experience, and talents and puts them concisely into hard business terms that demonstrate that you are someone who adds tremendous value and fits the organization’s culture. Have a LinkedIn profile that compliments the story, but sounds like you and allows your personality and passion to come through without sounding trite and cliché.

These are the minimum steps you will want to take in August if you want to land by the holidays.

Sound daunting?  Is it too much to handle?

Nah. You can handle it, but you do not have to handle it alone.

If you think it would be beneficial to invest ($900 – $2000) in an expert partner to help you navigate this process, take advantage of a free 40-minute consultation by completing and sending a needs assessment form and your most recent résumé, even if it is incomplete or not updated.

 

If the investment is beyond your budget, we understand, and have DIY solutions so that you can still take advantage of my expert advice on the branding process and use tools that help you create your own branded content.

 

17 Academically and Scientifically Proven Benefits of Practicing Gratitude Regularly

Gratitude by Sheila Craan of flickr

Gratitude by Sheila Craan of flickr

 

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is not about presents; it is about togetherness. It is the perfect kick-off to start reflecting on our past and planning our future. What science has proven time and time again is that if we want a brighter, happier, and healthier 2017, giving thanks is best done on a daily basis, not an annual basis. It improves mental and physical health. Even when practiced by individuals, the impacts reach far into families and communities.

Here is a list of the SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN benefits of being a thanksgiving practitioner, meaning having a regular regimen around practicing gratitude, such as including it in your meditation, prayer, or journaling.

  • Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More joy, optimism, and happiness
  • Acting with more generosity and compassion
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated
  • Better sleep (even for chronic pain sufferers)
  • Less depression
  • Stronger relationships, including marriages
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Higher likeliness to help others (aka pro-social behavior)
  • Better handling of adversity / greater resilience
  • Lower violence
  • Fewer complaints
  • Less sickness
  • More exercise (an average of 1.5 hours more per week)
  • Lower need for material possessions
  • More energy, alertness, and enthusiasm

 

Below is a non-exhaustive list including some of the studies done on gratitude, validating that many have deemed gratitude worthy of great investments of time and money.

Harvard Medical School

Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley

2006 study in the journal Psychological Science

2010 study in the journal Psychological Science

University of California, Davis & University of Miami

Department of Psychology, George Mason University, Western New York Veterans Administration Hospital, University at Buffalo, SUNY & University of Alabama at Birmingham

 

Beware the Job Search Trap of the Holiday Season

Photo courtesy of s0crates82 on flickr open source. (http://bit.ly/1vQeqQ4)

Photo courtesy of s0crates82 on flickr open source. (http://bit.ly/1vQeqQ4)

The holiday season is almost here and it is one of the most captivating times of year. There are great sales everywhere, you have a long shopping list, and you can’t wait to decorate the house while the sweet smell of pastries fill the air. You’re looking forward to seeing some of your favorite holiday specials on TV or maybe you’re delighted as you make those travel arrangements to see family and friends. Wait a minute! What about the job hunting plans you had?

With holidays inching closer, now is not the time to take a vacation from your job search. Look for your next job before the holidays hit. Thanksgiving is less than a month away. It is the time of year when job seekers think less about being hired, and more about family gatherings and the perfect gifts. You may be more interested in a winter getaway than making a career transition. The temptation to shelve your résumé and start fresh in January is simply too powerful.

What his hiring really like during the holidays?

It is a common perception that no one hires during the holiday season. This simply isn’t true. Employers want to fill open positions before and after the New Year. Specifically, in January companies want to have potential hires already in place. The end of the year is also a time when many companies increase their payrolls. Also, in a recovering economy, hiring does not slow down much at all. The year 2004 was an example of that. I was unexpectedly busy with just as many, if not more job requirements to fill than during September. And I had been looking forward to some holiday downtime. On top of stress, there is increased competition during the holiday season. Taking the initiative before the holidays arrive could help you avoid a stressful job hunt.

The biggest potential threat to your job search during the holidays is a lack of focus and drive. As I stated earlier, it is extremely tempting to take a break from a job transition to relax from November to January. We want to spend quality time with our family and friends. There are also a lot of great sales for those who love to shop. Unfortunately, the next three months are one of the busiest hiring periods of the year. As companies seek to fill positions by or in January, the call for job applicants picks up in November and December. When the holidays are in full swing, competition for open positions can be fierce. You want to get ahead of the competition by making the most of your job search NOW, not later.

Ever try getting people together over the holidays?

Consider it from a tactical standpoint. If you wait until the end of November, you’ll have several things working against you. First, there are the savvier job seekers who know companies are hiring. Second, hiring managers are inundated with applications on a normal basis, and it will take them longer than usual to setup an interview. Likewise, you may find yourself landing interviews at odd times because of how busy hiring managers are. Coordinating schedules with managers is notoriously hard during this time. Odd interview times could easily put a damper on your holiday plans. Third, a lot of the positions during this time of year are contractual. The last thing you want is to cast your net out, only to find less than satisfying offers. If you want to give your career the epic boost it needs, get out in front of the competition. Don’t let your résumé be swept away by a wave of job seekers; ride that wave to your new career.

Kick-starting your job search immediately will ensure you are interviewed by hiring managers before they are swamped with applicants. This means renovating your résumé, especially if you have been neglecting it. Next: network, network, network! Touch base with friends, acquaintances, or alumni in your professional network, they could be the key to a potential job offer. Attend networking events and make an effort to talk to at least one person per meeting. Holiday parties and company events can be used to further network. The end of the year is already a time when we connect to others, so don’t miss the opportunity to advance your job search. Sara Canuso describes how to make the most of a networking event in her program training module, “Networking for Impact.” Make sure you don’t ignore LinkedIn and other social media networks. Building up your personal brand is essential to standing out from the rest of the competition.

Think QUALITY, not quantity

It is always best to identify prospective positions before the holidays hit. You’ll benefit from having your résumé in front of hiring managers early. You will also stand out from the crowd because you put the maximum effort into your job search. You’ll also avoid the huge rush of job seekers trying to land the same position in the New Year, if it remains open. An open position means hiring managers and other stakeholders will scramble to coordinate their schedules to fill the position. You definitely want to avoid being a part of this scenario. Moreover, you’ll have a leg up on those who chose to suspend their job search until the New Year. Not only will you avoid the many pitfalls the holiday season brings, but you’ll also be able to actually enjoy this time of year. Peace of mind is a brilliant way to celebrate the holidays.

If you need help with your résumé or brand management, we are always here to help! Think of it as an early Christmas present to yourself. (Check with your CPA – our services are often tax deductible!)