Four Favorite….

Career & Life Planning Resources for 2017

I wanted to share a few of my favorite resources for the New Year on Life & Career Planning- I hope you find these helpful!

Image result for new year

Favorite Podcasts:

  1. Success Talks: Interviews with various successful people from multiple fields (featured in Success Magazie)
  2. Michael Hyatt: This is Your Life
  3. The Tony Robbins Podcast
  4. TED Radio Hour– Various speakers on multiple topics

Best Books on Life / College / Career Planning:  (most are available as ebooks and on Audible)

  1. Living Forward – Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy
  2. What Color is your Parachute for Teens –  Carol Christen
  3. Teens Guide to College and Career Planning– Justin Muchnick
  4. The Art of Work- Jeff Goins

Helpful Websites for Career Planning:

  1.  Occupational Information Network:   www.onetonline.org
  2.  Career One Stop:    www.careeronestop.org
  3.  My Next Move:   www.mynextmove.org
  4.  Bureau of Labor Statistics:

My Newest Habits:

1.  Make small but consistent healthy choices. 

Often New Years is a time for dramatic resolutions that can quickly become overwhelming and lead to burnout.  If I had decided I should start running 5 miles a day I would quickly get discouraged and give up.  Instead I decided to make a few small changes that I can realistically stick with over time, including:

-Drink more water and less caffeine.  (It’s easy for me to drink coffee and sweet tea all day long- but that’s not the best way to stay hydrated and the excessive caffeine actually makes it harder for me to focus.)

-Do something physical for at least 10 minutes a day- even if it’s just a brisk walk.  (This one is not difficult now that I get to chase my very mobile 1 year old around most days- it’s not official exercise, but it wears me out!)

-Eat one more salad and one less fast food meal a week  (On work days I quickly default to the familiar cheeseburger and french fries for lunch- but all those calories just make me feel overly stuffed and lethargic by about 2:30.  I feel much more energetic with smaller portions and healthier options.)

These simple changes will have a positive impact on my health over time and are easy enough to commit to and stick with over time.

2.  Wake up 30 minutes earlier than I need to.

I’m using this time to pray, plan out my day, read, or spend some time planning for our future.  And it’s truly amazing the impact these few minutes alone have had on my mindset and productivity the rest of the day.  (My husband actually got me started on this when he started setting his alarm and getting up at 6am.  At first I was mildly annoyed to be woken up so much earlier than absolutely necessary- but when I decided to try getting up early too instead of laying there trying to squeeze in those last few minutes of sleep I suddenly had so much more free time in my day!  And where mornings used to be alot of frantic rushing around and stress, they’re now calmer, peaceful and actually pleasant- which is a nice start to the rest of the day.)

3.  Waste less time on TV, Facebook, etc.

 It’s so easy to grab my phone when I have a free minute, open Facebook and spend 30 minutes scrolling through other people’s lives.  Or to watch “just one more episode of whatever” on Netflix…6 or 7 times.   And while there’s nothing wrong with catching up with friends or enjoying a couple shows occasionally-  these activities have the potential to drain away a lot of my time with very little positive results to show for it.   I’m becoming more aware of how I’m choosing to invest my free time.

4.  Fill the void– Be productive with downtime; read, listen to podcasts, exercise or connect with someone.

We all have things we know would be beneficial for us but we “just don’t have time” for.  And while it may be difficult to find a whole extra uninterrupted hour in a day, we all have little pockets of time we can put to good use.   Five minutes to go for a quick walk outside, 10 minutes to read one chapter in a book or call a friend you haven’t talked with in a while.

We live in Houston so we spend a lot of time driving and in traffic- and I used to just flip constantly through several radio stations and get frustrated we weren’t moving any faster.   However lately I’ve been using my drive time to listen to podcasts and that gives me something to focus on and makes the drive time feel so much faster.  A friend of mine uses her drive time as prayer time and prays for herself, family and friends while driving.  How can you make better use of the little pockets of time we all have scattered throughout our day?

These are just a few of the resources and life changes I’ve found to be helpful recently and I hope they are useful for you too as you start off 2017!  I’d love to hear what positive changes you’re making in your life and what helps keep you motivated and focused on your New Year’s Goals!

 

Not Quite Perfect

quotescover-JPG-50

Often we have high (sometimes unrealistically high) expectations of how our life “should” be – which can leave us frequently disappointed when our reality doesn’t match up. But reality is that life is crazy sometimes, and really hard other times and seldom perfect for anyone for long.  There are always issues and when you get those issues resolved there will be new ones.  Life is dynamic, fluid, always changing.  We’re always learning, growing and seeing the world in new ways.

So if perfection is so difficult do we quit trying? No, but we also learn to love the imperfections, to celebrate today, to live now- not to put off joy until this happens or that happens or we finally achieve _______ .

So don’t stop dreaming and working toward your goals, but don’t put you life on hold until everything is perfectly organized – because it may never be- but it can still be beautiful.

Living your dream- or living the slash?

More and more lately I meet people who want to live their dream but are stuck living in the slash.  Writer / waitress.  Actress / barista.  Entrepreneur / Retail Sales.  Their time is split between what they want to be doing and a job that pays the bills.   Transitioning from the job to the dream can be challenging.  This can be more difficult for people pursuing non-traditional careers like entertainers, athletes or business owners.

Here are a few ideas to help chart your path out of the job and into the dream:

  1. Make sure you have talents (natural ability) and skills (learned ability) needed to be successful in the area you’re pursuing. We’ve all seen the American Idol auditions that someone should have redirected a long time ago. If you’re planning to make a living with your passion you must excel in it.
  2. Decide if you’re willing to commit the time and work necessary to making your passion a successful career. Some interests can be kept as a hobby but don’t have to be the source of your full time employment.
  3. Bridge the gap. Since success in non-traditional careers can take some time it’s usually helpful to have a dependable way to pay bills while you’re working toward your goals. One option is to look into some certification programs that can be completed in 1-2 years and can have a beneficial return on your educational investment.
  4. Network. Spend as much time as possible around people doing what you are interested in and ask them how they got started and if they have any advice for someone starting out in the field. One way to find these groups is to search for trade associations in your area and go to their monthly meetings.
  5. Volunteer or intern in your field of interest to start getting some real life experience and to make more connections for future career opportunities.
  6. Find a mentor who can help you walk through the process.
  7. Work hard and don’t give up.

success

Why I’m Never “Caught Up”

Last week I listened to an interview with author Steve McClatchy on time management.  It was a bit mind altering. I had to listen to it three times to fully process the ideas Steve was presenting.  I wanted to summarize some of the main points that really captured my attention here and I hope it is as helpful to you as it was to me.  (The full interview can be heard on Success Magazine’s February 2015 CD.)

  1. There are 2 types of activities we do in life.

-Prevent pain activities:  Things that we have to do or we will have negative consequences- our “to-do” list.

            Ex: take out the trash, clean house, laundry, etc.

-Gain activities: Things that move us closer to our big goals in life.

            Ex: write a book, get a degree, go on a vacation

Most of the activities in the Prevent Pain category are cyclical and must be done on a repetitive basis.  In other words- you’ll never “get caught up.”  Often we tell ourselves, “I’ll work on my goals when I get caught up with _________ first.”   But if we wait to work on our Gain tasks until we have time we’ll never get to them because we’ll be too busy taking out the trash and doing laundry.   This is why some days we can feel like we’ve been so busy all day long but didn’t really accomplish much.  One solution for this abundance of tasks and shortage of time is to delete or delegate some of these simple, repetitive activities.

  1. We must make time for what’s truly important.

If we want to make progress on our goals we must be intentional about scheduling time to work on them.  The same is true for relationships.  Leaving things to chance or spare time will never work.  Get out your list of goals and your calendar and schedule time to make progress on what you truly want to work on, and then guard that time and commitment carefully.

  1. Do your best work at your best time.

We all have a different time of the day when we work best, when we feel our most alert, energetic and creative.  Schedule your most important tasks for these times so you can make the most progress- and save the mundane chores for your less productive times.  Don’t waste your best energy doing laundry.

  1. Live in the now.

We have to train our brain out of the habit of just crossing tasks off the to-do list and learn instead how to live fully in the present moment and actually enjoy the life we’re living now.  Vacations can help with this.  Schedule one today!

 

behappy

 

Detours

Sometimes life doesn’t work out exactly as we envision.  Sometimes there are bumps in the road in the road to success.  Sometimes mountains.  Sometimes quicksand.  Sometimes being a grown up isn’t as easy or as glamorous as we anticipated.

An unplanned pregnancy, a relationship ends, illnesses happen, jobs don’t work out.

So then what?  What do you do when you need to come up with a Plan B, or C, or D right now?

You have two options:

  1. Shut down / Get bitter

-Focus on the past, replay regrets – what should have been and what went wrong and make excuses for why things can’t get better.

  1. Keep going / Get stronger

-Focus on the future, keep moving, learn from the past and get better because of it.

The difference is your attitude, not the circumstances.  So when life gets messy and it’s not what you were planning for don’t just shut down.  Give yourself time to analyze the situation, reevaluate your goals and recalculate your directions- but keep moving.  Don’t get stuck.  Do the best you can with what you have to work with and remember you can’t control the rest of the world, but your response is up to you.

Embedded image permalink

Which adjectives best describe your typical day at work?

  Focused  or  Distracted

Productive  or  Busy

Organized  or  Overwhelmed

Engaged  or  Apathetic

Calm  or  Anxious

Which list best describes your typical day at work?

My first two years as a new nurse definitely involved all the adjectives on the second list and few from the first.  I worked 12 hour days on the med-surg floor taking care of about 6 patients with lots of issues, medications, doctors, and worried family members.  And I hated my life because of my job.  I remember thinking multiple times a day, “There has got to be a better way!  This can’t be it!”

Eventually I found another job- still in nursing but this time in the Baby Department and my overall job satisfaction improved greatly.  But even working with precious little babies can get a little hectic from time to time…especially when there’s 20 of them all over the nursery and they all decide they’re hungry at 7:10am, which is also when all the doctors show up needing help with this and that and the phone starts ringing that we need nurses for more deliveries and there’s visitors staring through the nursery glass watching us zoom around trying to organize the chaos… and then I just remind myself, “It’s ok- it could be worse- it could be med-surg!”  But even on the crazy days I am still grateful for that job, in that department, and with the awesome nurses I get to work with.  (Some days I might have to remind myself that I am grateful a few times before I start to believe it… my nursing friends understand this…  🙂

Picture1

Our work days can be noisy and our schedules can get hectic quickly.   Here’s a few ways to manage the chaos without having a nervous breakdown:

  1. Sleep – Your body and mind need time to rest. Often when we’re feeling stressed we try to cut into our sleep to get more done- this is rarely helpful long term.
  2. Pray or meditate- Giving yourself some quiet time to focus before a busy day can help us stay in the right mindset throughout the day- and our attitude has a profound impact on our day.
  3. Prioritize your To-Do list- focus your best attention on the most important tasks, delegate or decline the ones you don’t have time to do well now. Give yourself time to prepare for upcoming projects & use that time efficiently.
  4. Be healthy- Food is our fuel and our bodies and brains can only go so long on coffee, coke and cheeseburgers. Exercise is a great stress reliever and there’s so many different options to help make exercise fun.
  5. Relax and have fun- When you work in job situations with high levels of stress or responsibility you need time to unplug from that and just relax. Friends or hobbies can help with this.  My personal favorite way to relax after a chaotic day is a bubble bath. Vacations are also fantastic ways to take a long break from work and recharge.

Finally, depending on your personal life and job satisfaction, you may need to reevaluate your work situation and goals and see if there could be better options you could consider.  If you’re living for Friday’s and dreading Monday’s it might be time to explore new opportunities.

Do you LOVE your job?

love-my-job

Valentine’s day is a time to celebrate the people you love.   But when was the last time you loved or celebrated your job?  Answer the following questions as honestly as you can about your current job:

The best thing about my job is _________________________.

When I wake up in the morning to go to work I feel ______________.

My favorite part of my workday is ___________________________.

If I could change one thing about my job it would be ______________.

If I am still working in my current position in 10 years I will feel ___________.

Your answers to those 5 questions should reveal a lot about your job satisfaction, engagement and motivation in your current position.   Maybe you’ve already found a job that is a perfect fit for you.   Or maybe you’re still looking for that perfect position.

Job satisfaction involves several factors including: duties, compensation, location, work environment, pace, boss & co-worker relations, work-life balance, etc.   We know that no job is ever going to be 100% perfect all the time- but what I want to help you find is what job would be the best fit for you?   Personality type and personal interests and motivators are the best place to start when considering what jobs would be good options for you.  Ask yourself these questions and include your answers in your search for your dream job.

What do I love to do? _______________________________

What am I really good at?  ______________________________

What is my optimal work environment? ______________________________

What gives me a sense of accomplishment? _______________________________

What am I created to do? _______________________________

Finding a job you love (and can make a living at) is not usually an easy project.  It takes time to learn about yourself and what options would be the best fit for you.  It takes time to prepare for the job you’re seeking.  And it takes time to work through the job search process.  But finding a job you love is worth the effort and time it takes.

And as Steve Jobs said, “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart you’ll know when you find it.”

passionwork2

Three Options when Facing Fear

Fear is a normal response to new or unfamiliar situations.  And it’s not always a bad thing.  Fear can help us be cautious of a potentially dangerous situation.  But fear can also shut us down.  This can sometimes come across as “the voice of reason” or “just being realistic” or “here’s a list of all the reasons this idea won’t work.”  And we can often talk ourselves out of an idea because there may be some element of risk or uncertainty involved.  Life is full of change.  And change can often be scary.  But if nothing ever changed how safe and boring would life be?

So how can we constructively handle fear:

  1. Assess the situation or decision for what it truly is.
  2. Identify the true risks and separate them from the unknowns or unfamiliar.
  3. Weigh the risks and the benefits of your options.

“What’s the worst thing that could happen?”  (Usually it’s not the end of the world.)

“What’s the best thing that could happen?”

  1. Pray and seek wise counsel – especially from people who have done what you’re considering.
  2. Make a decision and move forward.

Fear can sometimes be crippling and the easiest decision is often to do nothing-this is sometimes referred to as “analysis paralysis.”  Often it takes doing the thing we’re most afraid of to realize it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.  Sometimes we can break this down into small steps we can work on a little at a time- a process known as “gradual desensitization.”  Other times we may just have to jump out of the plane.  Next time you feel fear remember you have three options: shut down, move forward with baby steps, or face it head on and see what’s on the other side.  It might just be amazing.

DSC_3008-skydive

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”   ― Eleanor Roosevelt

What is one thing you’re afraid of?  What is one thing you could do today to constructively face that fear?  Or how have you faced a fear in the past and what was the outcome?

 

(P.S.  This is not a picture of me skydiving, because I don’t have a picture of me skydiving…because I’ve never been skydiving…because that kinda scares me a lot… but it also looks kinda awesome….so I need a buddy.  Any takers?)

New Growth

We had a bit of break in the gray winter weather yesterday so I scooped up the Yorkies and headed off for a long walk around the pond.  They were so excited to be out of the house and bounding around chasing ducks and celebrating the sunshine.
 
As I was walking through the layers of fallen leaves I looked up at the empty tree branches and wondered how much longer it would be before they started blooming again with new growth for Spring.  

IMG_2213
 
And I realized that sometimes in our lives we have to let go of old things to make room for new growth.  And sometimes we don’t want to let go of what’s familier to us, don’t want to move, or change jobs, or leave old friends because sometimes all we focus on is what we’re losing. 

IMG_2199

But the beauty of the seasons and of our life is that the new is coming.  New growth, new jobs, new friends, new seasons. 
 
IMG_2204
 What in your life is God calling you to let go of to make room for new growth?
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…”  Ecclesiastes 3:1
 
This blog post is deticated with love to my sweet Mother, who was my very first blog subscriber and one of my biggest fans- and who has been working on Spring Cleaning for a while now… Remember Mom, “Let it go, let it go!”