How to Use Your Job-Hopping Experiences to Identify Your Career Direction

When I talk to potential clients, I often hear fears that their job-hopping experiences mean that they may never settle down into a career. This fear is unfounded: Job-hopping experiences can be one of the best resources to help someone identify a career direction. Job hopping, of course, is when a person works at several companies for one to two years and leaves the positions for a lateral move, increased compensation, increased responsibility, or change of title. The benefits of job hopping are that the person has exposure to different jobs as well as an opportunity to see what is available. Job hoppers have also had a chance to learn about themselves and what they bring to the table. The reason some struggle to identify a career direction after job hopping is that they are not given the tools to unpack those experiences. This article is intended to help in evaluating these job experiences, recognizing patterns, and using the information to guide future career steps.

Identify Your Likes and Dislikes
If you were to look at every job that you have had, what did you like and dislike about each one? Were there any patterns among the roles and responsibilities? Perhaps you found yourself enjoying using similar talents or skillsets among your different roles. You also might find that certain skillsets bore or frustrate you. You might also notice that you have strengths and weaknesses in certain areas. Where there any patterns among the company culture? When you look at your likes and dislikes, did you notice anything about the places where you have worked? This is a great opportunity to look at the values and work culture of the various companies where you have worked. Do you prefer a small, medium, or large company? Do you prefer to work from home or in an office environment? Do you prefer set work hours or a flexible work schedule? Do you prefer a startup or perhaps a company that is established and has been around for a while?

Evaluate Your Experience 
Now that you have taken some time to write down your likes and dislikes, it is important to evaluate what you have learned so that you can use the information to guide your career direction. First, look at patterns among your roles and responsibilities. The goal is to identify these patterns and carry them forward to roles and responsibilities as well as strengths into your future career. Once you identify roles and responsibilities you enjoy, find careers that allow you to build upon them and use them every day. If you want to love going to work every day, you must enjoy what you do. You also have to be willing to walk away from the patterns of roles and responsibilities you do not like. Getting hired because you have previous work experience is easy; however, if you do not like your job on a day-to-day basis, you will continue to quit and job hop.

Next, identify patterns in company culture. When you start carefully evaluating what you have liked and disliked about your previous employers, you can better identify companies where you might want to work in the future. You can do research on websites like glassdoor.com and linkedin.com, and you can ask friends, family, and coworkers for suggestions as well.

Do you want to be self-employed? No matter what, you might realize that you just do not like having a boss. You prefer being able to work on your own terms such as freelancing, contracting your services, and/or starting your own business. You will still be accountable to those who hire you, but you can set your own terms. Starting a journey to self-employment is not a bad thing. A study by Emergent Research, which studies trends in small businesses, found that by the year 2020 almost 40% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancing.  If you start a freelancing business right now, you will be ahead of the curve.

Take Action
Now that you have taken some time to evaluate your past experiences, what do you need to do next? Do you need to do more research about career possibilities and companies? Do you need to go back to a specific career that was a good fit? Do you need to start your own business? Or perhaps do you need to hire a coach? Keep in mind that making a career change is a one-step-at-a-time process.

Don’t let the fear of job hopping stop you from settling down; use it as a platform to gather information about yourself, make informed decisions, and take your next steps.  Job hopping can be a blessing in disguise, instead of a hindrance. It is all a matter of how you learn to share your story and sell yourself to a potential employer.

8 Tips to Help You Thrive Through Winter

Winter days are shorter, and winter nights are longer, so we find ourselves waking up in the morning and coming home from work in the dark. In colder climates we may find ourselves outside less and indoors more. Fortunately, we just have to survive a few more months before the flowers come into bloom. As a career coach and licensed clinical social worker, I notice a big difference in my clients’ moods between the winter and summer months. My clients report a decrease in work satisfaction during the winter, and they are more likely to struggle with paying attention to work tasks, getting through the workday, and feeling bluesy when they come home.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) occurs when signs of depression begin and end at the same time every year. Symptoms include increased anxiety, mood changes, overeating, sleepiness and more.  Sometimes it is called “winter blues.”  According to Mental Health America, four out of five people who have seasonal depression are women. Whether or not you suffer from SAD, it is important to take care of yourself in the winter months both at work and at home so that your personal and professional situations do not suffer. Try these tips to help get through the winter months and thrive.

At work:

  • Take walks. With the limited hours of sunlight, getting outside is important. Ask coworkers to take walks with you. If your work requires a lot of networking, such as owning your own business, ask colleagues to walk with you instead of going to a coffee shop. Walking is a good way to socialize, to get to know your colleagues, and to enjoy the benefits of the vitamin D that sunlight provides.
  • Socialize. During the winter months many people work through lunches and limit social time. If you enjoy connecting with supervisors and coworkers, and you have good relationships with them, schedule lunch time or other opportunities to connect. The benefit of social time at work is that it allows you to focus attention and energy on something other than work. Additionally, another benefit of setting times to connect is that you can build stronger relationships.
  • Take breaks. We live in a society that values overworking and grinding through the day. We often lose touch with ourselves because we are in action all day. When you take a break, even just for five minutes, do something to get in touch with yourself. Meditate, listen to music, stretch, or just breathe. We often focus on things outside ourselves and fail to develop a relationship with ourselves, so this could be perhaps the most important thing you do throughout the day. We often think breaks will take time away from work, but often with a break we come back refreshed and more productive.

Outside of work:

  • Schedule personal time and keep it sacred. We often put other’s time, especially if we have children, ahead of our own. In the winter months we also tend to use downtime to binge watch Netflix and favorite television shows instead of pursuing activities that we would during the spring and summer months. Instead, schedule personal time and honor it as much as you would your professional obligations. When scheduling that time, plan things that you enjoy other than watching television. If you enjoy crafting, go craft. If you enjoy reading, go read. This will help bring more work/life balance into your life and change things up when they are getting stale.
  • Set aside time with loved ones. Like the advice of scheduling personal time and keeping it sacred, do this with loved ones as well. Make sure this time is separate from going to the movies and watching Netflix. Whether the time is spent playing board games or going to a museum, make sure the time is interactive and focuses on connection.
  • Dress yourself beautifully. You may put on the same clothing every week because it does not constrain and feels more comfortable, and you may start associating this clothing with feeling down during the winter. Get rid of clothing that you associate with not feeling good about yourself. Even if you have gained a few pounds and want to lose it, purchase a few items or attend a clothing swap to get things that make you feel beautiful. When you wear things that make you feel beautiful, it helps increase your confidence both inside and outside the work setting. You are amazing and have so much to offer, and you should show it both in your confidence and in your outward appearance. This approach also helps boost positive attitude during the winter months.
  • Move your body. During the winter, we may stop working out and doing the activities that excite us during the summer. Do things to move your body, like working out, stretching, walking around a mall or museum, dancing in your living room, getting a massage, or anything else. The idea is to provide moments to allow yourself to feel you and not disassociate from your body. Activity helps you get out of negative thoughts and focus on how you feel, as opposed to what you think.
  • Seek support. Talk to loved ones and friends. Winter can be long, but you do not have to get through it alone. Make sure you ask for help because often you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings. Be sure to reciprocate and listen to others since that will help you move outside yourself and not wallow. Of course, if you need more intervention such as therapeutic or medial support, seek out a licensed therapist or medical doctor/nurse practitioner.

More than anything, the way to get out of the winter blues is to bring acts of intention, connection with yourself and others, and mindfulness into your day.  These actions can help you get out of negative thoughts and turn your attention towards yourself and others. If you already feel yourself in a grind, or if your head is overwhelmed with negative thoughts at the moment, refocus yourself. Every moment is a moment that you can make a new choice.

Tips for Setting Strong Goals for the New Year

Tips for Setting Strong Goals for the New Year  

Published on SharpHeels: http://sharpheels.com/2017/01/setting-strong-goals/

As we move into the New Year, we often write goals and resolutions hoping to make changes, and about two months into the New Year, they may be thrown to the wayside. Many articles about comprehensive goal setting miss a key aspect of why it is so difficult to accomplish goals — change is hard! Certain things are not discussed when it comes to goal planning. Here are a few key considerations in setting appropriate goals for the new year.

  • Are the sacrifices and discomfort in achieving your goals worth it? Many of my clients want a new job, yet when it comes to getting one, they do not want to experience the discomfort that comes with the process — from the introspection that is required in evaluating yourself and your career options to the rejection experienced in being turned down after an interview. Part of the career change process is experiencing pain and discomfort and persevering through it. It means sacrificing free time and other activities to achieve the long-term outcome. The process is much like losing weight — you have to actually sit with the cravings and push through the workouts in order to drop the pounds.
  • What if the grass is not greener? We often think that if we achieve a career goal, we will hit a pinnacle of happiness, money, and work-life balance. Of course, this is not true. How many times have you achieved a goal only to be happy for a short period before reality sinks in again. I often hear job seekers say, “What if I get a new career and I don’t like it?” or “What if I get my dream career, and I don’t have work-life balance?” A change in careers may not mean a change in our emotional state. Even if we get what we want, we may have to continue to do the internal work to change to a more positive emotional state. Going back to the analogy of losing weight, often women who lose significant weight do not like the attention it brings to them. Now they have to do the emotional work of the weight loss and the changes it brings.
  • What if you achieve your goals? That means you must live with the outcomes. Remember,change is hard. If you actually achieve your goals, it means you have to experience and live with new outcomes — new thought and behavior patterns, emotions, people, and much more. Sometimes these changes are embraced, but that does not mean they are not difficult or even overwhelming. Your life could look different, even for the better, but you still have to deal with that change. Once again to reference the weight-loss analogy, once someone loses weight, he or she has to maintain it, which takes a lot of effort as well. 

Once we consider these points, how do we move past these emotional hurdles to achieve our goals?

  • Learn to accept and embrace discomfort. I always suggest trying something small and moving up in your discomfort level. We are a pain-avoidant society, and we have created an entire economy to make us feel more comfortable and pain-free, so this process takes time. Try one thing at a time to push yourself out of your comfort zone. If networking feels uncomfortable, then start networking with someone you know and eventually move to someone you do not know. Use this opportunity to get to know and push yourself. You’ll be surprised how amazing the experience can be and how it builds your grit.
  • Evaluate how your goals will fulfill your deepest desires. Look at what the outcomes will bring you and the deepest desires it will fulfill. This includes really detailing what outcomes you would like, why you want them at a deep level, how they will make you feel, and how they will change your life. For example, if you have a gift to offer to the world, and you cannot do it through your current career, making a career change will fulfill that deep desire. Your new career may not be perfect, but it will fulfill you on a deeper level. The book The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte can assist with this process. I also use journaling and honestly evaluating several areas — the reasons I want to set the goals, my fears and worries, as well as all the reasons I may not want to set and/or achieve the goals. Sometimes being brutally honest with myself on why I may or may not want something allows me to work through my hurdles.
  • Shift your perspective about the concept of reaching a pinnacle. When we drop the dream or concept of reaching a pinnacle, whatever that means to you, we take a great weight off our shoulders. We also set ourselves up for more realistic expectations of our lives knowing that we will always evolve and that the journey is more important than the endpoint. Our goals become about fulfilling our deep desires opposed to thinking we are going to reach a peak. For this New Year, I suggest when creating your goals to evaluate them at a deeper level.  If you waver about a goal, perhaps it is not the right time and maybe you should hold off. If you are ready, set the goal and prepare to be uncomfortable, to break old patterns, and to live with the outcomes of your change. Most importantly, shift your perspective from the concept of reaching a pinnacle to enjoying the journey.  This allows for the process to become more gentle and self-loving.

Moving into the new year, may this be a year of personal growth, evolution, and learning!

Traveling to Havana Cuba? How to Prepare.

Traveling to Havana Cuba? How to Prepare:

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

  1. Do your homework- Cuba is not the easiest place to travel because they are still building the infrastructure. Book hotels, tours, and restaurants in advance and do your research on Trip Adviser or Lonely Planet.  Internet is hard to come upon, so it’s not like you can easily look something up. Some of the best articles we found were:

http://www.globotreks.com/destinations/cuba/40-things-know-before-traveling-cuba/
https://www.southwest.com/html/promotions/new-service-cuba.html
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Guide-g147271-k1550-Havana_Ciudad_de_la_Habana_Province_Cuba.html

  1. Print your itinerary including lodging confirmation, dinner reservations, and addresses ahead of time.
  2. Get Euros before the trip. If you exchange USD, there is an extra 10% fee for the exchange. Take lots of cash with you because you will not be able to pull money from ATMs or use your credit card. We also recommend you exchange your money at the airport as the banks in the city have long lines.
  3. Purchase a map of Havana and any other places you want to visit in advance. Mark the addresses of the places you are staying and restaurants you want to try on the map (it helps when you are navigating the city and to show taxi drivers where you want to go).

    Havana

  4. Cubans are very friendly. Some will just want to chat while others will want to talk you into purchasing tours. Say no to purchasing tours that are not provided by the hotels or travel agencies as they are most likely a scam (we took a BS tour around old Havana when we could have easily walked it).
  5. Bring someone who speaks Spanish or learn to speak it yourself. Havana is not the easiest city to navigate without knowing the language.
  6. Don’t drink the water! Purchase bottled water.
  7. If you prefer not to plan your trip, definitely go with travel agency. This is not a country where you can wing it.

Most importantly, have a great time! This city is awesome!

3 Benefits of Peer Accountability to Achieve Your Career Goals

As we move into the New Year, we start making resolutions and goals for 2017. We often set goals for our career and do not stick with them.

There are many reasons why we don’t stick with our goals. Perhaps they are not goals we want to accomplish in the first place. Or our goals are too lofty to accomplish. Or perhaps our self doubts get in our way. Perhaps one of our greatest hindrances to achieving our goals is that we don’t have anyone holding us accountable.

It is common at the executive level for CEOs, Presidents or Senior VPs to have mastermind groups, round-table discussions, or peer coaching. One of the reasons they are so successful is because they have another set of eyes on their business strategy.

Sadly, it is not as common for mid-career professionals to seek the support of their peers. Peer accountability is one of the best means to help develop strategy to forward your career, increase your performance, and achieve your goals.

Here’s are the top 3 reasons peer accountability is essential for your career success:

1. Peer Accountability allows you to look at your goals from all angles: When we set goals we often do not see all sides of the situation. Having peer accountability helps bring perspective to your situation and carefully evaluate all aspects of your goals – from the sincerity, to the strategy, to the execution of your goals.

2. Accountability helps ensure you have an effective strategy: Once you have a stronger perspective, you are better positioned to form concrete strategies. Peer accountability allows you to build measurable goals and to identify specific benchmarks with a team to help you work out any roadblocks that could get in your way.

3. Accountability helps you stay engaged:  Sharing your goals helps affirm and stick with your commitment. Moreover, it’s fun to celebrate your successes and wins with those who have been along the journey with you.

That is why I suggest that coming into the New Year, you do one of several suggestions in committing to yourself and career goals:

1) Set goals and hold yourself accountable: If you are going to set goals for this New Year, hold yourself to it. Do not allow yourself to not move forward and make your failed goal more proof that you’re not good enough or deserving. No more self-fulling prophesies of failure! It is better to set no goals then to set them and not pursue them.

2) Get an accountability partner and meet with them regularly: Make sure this is someone who is committed to themselves and to you. When you set meetings, stick with them. I recommend that you call to check in once a week and meet in person once a month. Set a format to your meetings and stick with it.

3) Join a peer accountability group:  I’m hosting a monthly Peer Strategy Group on Feb 7th, March 7th, April 4th, May 2nd, August 8th, Sept. 12th, Oct. 10th, and Nov. 14th from 6-8 PM MST. You can join us in-person at my office off Colorado and I-25 or virtually using Zoom.

This group is designed to provide a safe space to receive insights and honest feedback about your career goals, to brainstorm solutions to problems in the workplace, and to build relationships. You will also connect with an accountability partner to support you in between meetings.

I will also be having top coaches in their field present on their area of expertise during each meeting. Topics include networking coaching, resume writing, financial coaching, and effective communication in the workplace.

To learn more or register, please email me: danielle@innercompasscoach.com.