Why Your Cell Phone Might Be Hindering Work-Life Balance

I updated my iPhone several weeks ago and received an alert. Without much thought I clicked on the link and received a shocking dose of reality: I had used four glorious, precious hours of my life on my cell phone alone last week. What?! Four hours?! I couldn’t believe it. Four hours is half a work day. It’s an 8-mile hike. It’s the four hours I’ve been needing to finish one of my work projects.

This reality brought a hefty-dose of awareness to how often I was using my phone and the purpose I was using it.

Cellphones control our priorities. 

There was the time I was sitting on Metro on my way to meet some friends. I checked my cell and noticed several work emails. “Better respond quickly,” I thought. So instead of using the ride to decompress, I elected to respond to emails.

Instead of meeting my friends excited and ready to engage, I was completely preoccupied with logistics and work. By choosing to be on the phone, I was unknowingly letting technology dictate my priorities (work over relaxation) and ultimately put myself in a stressful mindset.

The habit of checking cellphones creates more work. 

I’m so thankful to my wonderful clients who respect my time and have reasonable expectations. However,  I recognize that not everyone is so fortunate. I’ve seen too many people who feel pressured to respond immediately to a work email, ultimately sending the message that they are now available 24/7.  An email leads to a phone call, which spirals into a sleepless night attempting to resolve a work issue. The reality is that oftentimes putting up boundaries and deciding not to respond in the first place might have led to resolving the issue the following day.

The constant connection reinforces limiting beliefs.

We all have some type of limiting belief about ourselves. “I’m not good enough,” “I don’t have enough,” “Others are better than me,” etc. etc. Our constant connection to our emails and social media reinforces these limiting beliefs.

How many times have you felt frustrated after checking your email after you’ve left work for the day? Perhaps it reinforced that the feeling you don’t work hard enough or that you did something wrong. Think about all the times you’ve compared yourself to someone else on Instagram, reinforcing the feeling that you’re not happy as someone else or lacking what they have.

And what’s the fallout from telling  yourself negative messages all day? Do you overeat that evening? Binge watch television to escape from reality? Get frustrated when someone is trying to talk to you? The domino effect is not worth it.

At the end of the day, we need a break from our overactive minds.

Constantly checking our cell phones is pushing our minds into overdrive. Between the brainpower needed to solve a problem, or the thoughts that come from the comparison and judgement over social media, we need to give our minds a break.

We must allow ourselves permission to spend time alone or with loved ones.
Imagine your partner, friends, and children associating memories of you spending time with them, not your cellphone.

Imagine enjoying a vacation- fully unplugging and engaging in each beautiful moment of the holiday you worked so hard for.

Imagine a life where you are okay with turning off, being unproductive, and choosing to be fully present.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

What you can do about it.

  1. Turn off Notifications- I turned off all notifications from my emails, text messages and apps. The exception is inbound calls and calendar alerts. I find when I choose to check my apps, it’s about making a conscious choice instead of feeling to the need to react.
  2. Setting Sacred Time-  I no longer check my phone before meeting with loved ones and during my time with them. It allows me to stay present and not get distracted with work. It also allows for me to take a break and truly connect. I’ve also set sacred time during walks, meditation, and even movie watching.
  3. Permission to Take Vacations- During my last vacation, I disabled my work email and put limits on my phone use.  Because I’m self-employed and rely on new clients, I gave myself permission to work for two hours in the morning. After those two hours, I gave myself permission to turn everything off.
  4. Finding Other Things to Fill the Time- Since I’ve put my cell phone down , I’ve been able to enjoy listening to music as I drive, breathing in air as I walk, and watching people as I ride the train. I’ve also been writing, drawing, and painting.

By no means have I mastered my compulsion to check my phone. That said, I can report a newfound sense of freedom. My mind feels less stressed and more open. I’m feeling more balanced than ever before.

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.

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!

4 Ways You Can Take Advantage of the Holidays to Find a New Career

4 Ways You Can Take Advantage of the Holidays to Find a New Career

Published on SharpHeels: http://sharpheels.com/2016/11/holiday-job-hunting/

We often believe that hiring slows down prior to the new year. This is a myth! Hiring managers are still searching for applicants, but interviews and hiring decisions may be slower because of the difficulty in getting a team of coworkers together during the holiday season. The holidays are an excellent time to get in the pipeline for the first-quarter hiring wave when everyone returns to the office in January. Below are four tips to take advantage of this time of year to find a new job or change careers:

Network
Do you ever feel like you need time away from your loved ones during the holidays? Keep in mind that you are not the only one who feels that way! That’s why the holidays are a great time to network. The reason networking meetings (also known as informational interviews) are so effective in helping you get a job is that companies are more likely to hire someone through referrals. When you first begin to network, your goal isn’t to ask for a job, but to build relationships. After you have connected with someone, you can ask him or her to pass along your résumé to a hiring manager or inquire about upcoming career opportunities within the company. There are many articles available that discuss effective ways to schedule a networking meeting. Below are a few quick tips to guide you.

  • First, reach out to an old colleague, coworker, or friend who is working at a job, company, or industry you are interested in. If there is a chance that the person may not remember you, remind him or her of who you are and when you met last. Include your headshot in the signature of your email. Share what you have been up to (employment, education, etc.), the reason you want to meet (do not ask for a job), and invite him or her to meet you for coffee.
  • During your meeting, ask questions about his or her career, company, or industry to obtain information that you cannot find on the internet.
  • Toward the end of your meeting, ask if he or she would be willing to introduce you to other people with whom you want to connect. Be specific about the individuals you are interested in, e.g., “Do you know of anyone who is in x role and x company? Would you be willing to make email introductions?” You are more likely to have a new contact agree to meet with you if you are introduced by a mutual contact.
  • Lastly, be sure to send a note thanking the person for his or her time, advice, and support.

You will be surprised how many people are willing and able to get together this time of year because work slows down. Take advantage of it!

Show Your Gratitude 
When you are looking to change careers, you are going to want others to share job leads, provide references if you are offered a position, and advise you along the way. That’s why relationships are so important for your career success. One of the best ways to foster your relationships is through gratitude. If you are still connected with people who have helped you in the past with your career, send them a holiday card, email, or even a gift, if it is appropriate. You will probably need their help again, so these small gestures show that you care and appreciate their support. If the people who have helped you in your past realize that you are grateful, they will most likely help you again in the future.

Update Your Cover Letter, Résumé, and LinkedIn Profile
Because the trends for cover letters, résumés, and LinkedIn profiles change every year, the holidays are a great time to update them, especially if you have not applied for a position in a while. Spend some time researching the most common trends from reputable career, recruiting, and business magazines. Compare your résumé with the job descriptions you want to target and make sure you are mirroring the roles and responsibilities, industry language, and keywords.  Also, research others on LinkedIn who are in similar careers, companies, and industries, and update your application materials as necessary. If you know someone with excellent editing skills, ask him or her to review your documents–you don’t want any mistakes on your application materials! Also, if you know of anyone in a job, industry, or company similar to the one you are applying for, have him or her provide feedback on your cover letter, résumé, and LinkedIn profile, as well.

Take on Side Projects
As New Year’s Eve quickly approaches, so do the resolutions. Many business owners want to reorganize their office, catch up with administrative work, or market their business. The new year is an opportunity to provide temporary support to a small business while building your portfolio. If you are highly organized, know how to use Microsoft Office, or have other applicable skills, offer to help a small business owner and see if he or she would be willing to compensate you. This is a great way to build your résumé, demonstrate your skills, and fill in any employment gaps. If you find it challenging to find paid work, then volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to build your skills, receive training in a new area, and network with a nonprofit or people who could potentially hire you.

Whatever you do, don’t slow your job search efforts this holiday season. Get yourself out there, touch up your application materials, and keep the job search going. Don’t let the holidays pass you by; take advantage of this time of year, when most people are in a generous mood and are happy to help others.