Little wisdoms

After catching up with a friend yesterday over breakfast, we got on to the topic of negative self-talk, and how utterly devastating this can be for your self-worth. It also reminded me of a fantastic little book I stumbled upon called ‘fast food for the soul‘ by Barbara Berger.

I’m constantly amazed by what you ‘stumble upon’ when you make a conscious decision to change your life, and in this ‘easily digestible’ little book what I found echoed my personal realisations about self-talk, and reiterated how powerful this message was to share with my coaching clients.

“Your thoughts are the architects of your destiny” – this is one of my favourite quotes and something I believe very strongly. Reading this book of little wisdoms is a great reminder of the power of your thoughts – and your ability to harness them as a tool for change.

Barbara’s website can be found here – and the book can either be purchased on her site or through Amazon. I stumbled across the book at my local library… so really there’s nothing stopping you ‘checking it out’..

Everyday beginnings

Did you ever wake up one day, and realise that while you were busy going about your life – literally MONTHS had passed you by?

Did you catch up with someone you hadn’t seen for a while, and have them ask you what you’ve been doing — only to have a complete mental blank?

Life is what happens when you’re not paying attention… I think I read that somewhere.. so what HAVE you done lately?

– Read an interesting book?
– Learned something new?
– Bought yourself something really special?
– Took someone you love out for a beautiful meal?
– Started a new exercise regeime?
– Found a new band/ new music?

 

What have you done lately that EXCITES you? Lethargy breeds lethargy.. if you’re in a funk.. shake it up! Change your state.. open your mind – do something different!

Winter is fast approaching and if you’re feeling a little low on energy now – how will you feel when it’s cold and grey?

The best time to start anything new is right now

 

How’s your fuel tank today?

Inspiration is ‘LIFE FUEL’. It drives you to make things happen.. rather than sitting back and reacting to whatever crosses your path.

If you could tap into that inspiration and make it work for you – what could you accomplish?

Coaching harnesses your personal life passions and helps you direct that energy to drive change.
Have you ever taken the time to sit down and create a list of the things that inspire you? The things in your life that give you a ‘buzz’ – make you feel warm inside – laugh out loud and smile with wild abandon?

Try it.

Spend ten minutes articulating all the things that bring you happiness. By focussing on these things for just ten minutes – feel what happens inside you… the warmth that occurs – the smile that appears.

Now: how would it feel to have more of that in your life? What would that life look like? Imagine living each day doing the things that inspire you and bring you joy! How much would it mean to you to have a life filled with energy and inspiration? What do you need to do to have that life?

People often make drastic life changes after a major life event – such as an illness, break up, loss of a loved one or accident – but why wait for this? If you spend time identifying your passions and inspiration you can start to achieve the life you want now.

 

Get a wriggle on!

Boost your energy!

As we head back to work after the holidays, many of us notice a dip in energy levels and enthusiasm… it doesn’t have to be that way. Whats the point of taking time out if you fall back into the same patterns that had you hitting the wall in last year?

So why not do some simple things to boost your mood?

FOCUS ON THE GOOD STUFF – we are own harshest critic, so with that in mind why not take some time to focus on what you do like about yourself? Try writing down 10 things you like about yourself and creating some actions around playing up those fabulous features?

For example:

– I have beautiful eyes – Treat yourself to some new eye makeup to highlight that feature

– I am a great writer – create a blog or send some of your work in to get published

Playing up or focussing on your good points leaves less time for negative or unrealistic comparisons to others – and it really puts a spring in your step!

 

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GOOD PEOPLE – take stock of the people you are spending time with, and notice how you feel during and after you see them. If you feel drained or negative from interacting with them make a choice to spend less time with them! When you want to get happy and positive it’s much easier to do so when you surround yourself with like-minded people.

 

TAKE A MINI-BREAK – you deserve it! And it’s not too early to plan this – infact it will give you something to look forward to.

If you live in the country – plan a trip to the city! If you are a city-dweller and can’t remember the last time you sat on a beach or went for a walk in nature then make it happen. It doesn’t have to be expensive at all – in fact with a little planning you may find you can borrow someone’s beach house, or house-sit their apartment in the city for free!

A weekend break from your routine could be just what you need to shake up your energy levels.

 

DO SOMETHING NEW & EXCITING – why not do something you’ve never done before? Grab a positive friend or family member and organise an experience away from your normal routine. It’s up to you – you could try ice skating, or indoor rock climbing, do a wine tasting evening or take a cooking class – the possibilities are endless.

 

LET IT OUT – Negative thoughts and emotions will fester away inside you if you have no outlet. If you have a negative situation that is taking up your thoughts and eating away at your energy – why not deal with that in a positive way?

Talk to a person you may have fallen out with and try to resolve you differences and move on. Or if that’s not an option why not create a journal and write down how you feel? It’s a positive and personal way of releasing your thoughts and emotions. Or why not try your hand at poetry or music? Painting or pottery?

 

You can start to feel better about yourself and happier each day by doing little things for yourself – you have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain.. The fact you are even reading this far shows that you are ready to take control of your life.. So go out and make it happen – you deserve it.

The Resume

It’s the first thing a potential employer sees of you.. it should capture your professionalism, your skills, education, training, experience and general all round awesomeness… so why do so many people STILL get this wrong?

What a resume should not have:
Lots and lots of colour – it detracts from the document itself and is distracting and annoying. (case in point – a serial applicant who made the background of their resume bright green – whoever opened this resume would exclaim ‘urgh’ and close it down, moving on to the next) it should be your suitability for the job that jumps out and makes people remember you
Pretty pictures – especially those of the cartoon variety – anything you include on this document should relate to your industry or profession
Word Art – if you are 12 years old and illustrating a school project – fine – but ‘Word Art’ has no place in a professional resume
Photographs – unless you are a model or actor then this simply is not relevant! And please, if you absolutely must put a photograph on your resume, make sure it’s professional and flattering. (case in point: shots taken in your bathroom holding the digital camera out from you = no. Shots from your school ball where you slice out your partner = no. Shots of you with a cute furry animal or kissing a dolphin to show your sensitive side = no.)
Spelling Mistakes – this is compounded when you emphatically state you have ‘good attention to detail’ and even spell this phrase incorrectly… always, always spell check
Too much information – especially in this current employment market! Application ratios have increased by 30 – 40% per job and people simply do not have any more time, so why present them with a 10 page monster that merely makes their eyes glaze over?

 

A basic list of what a resume should have:
Concise relevant information – dates of employment (eg: March 2004 – July 2006) who you worked for (company name) what you did (job title) and a basic list of your duties and any specific accomplishments
A realistic size – 2 – 3 pages is pretty standard
Training + Education – list this as you listed your work history
Contact details – there’s no point in taking all this time to show someone how wonderful you are – if you then provide them with no way of contacting you (+ make sure it’s up to date!!)
A widely accepted file format – lets face it – most applications are done electronically these days – so you want to make reading your resume as easy as possible. Stick to Microsoft Word, Adobe .pdf, or save your word document as a web page.

 

KEEP IT SIMPLE – stick to the facts. You do not need to specifically provide your references up front for most jobs, and a potential employer must first have your permission to contact the referees. Anything related to the job you applied for can be addressed in the cover letter…

And above all else – read the advertisement – read the specifics of the job – and make sure you tick some or all of the boxes for the job you intend to apply for… why spend that time applying if you don’t fit the bill?

There are a myriad of online resources offering templates and advice – so if you have read the above and you STILL aren’t sure – for goodness sake do some research. This really is the first thing a potential employer sees – so make that first impression count.

Building your career

In a fiercely competitive environment – what can you do to stand out?

To differentiate yourself from other candidates or employees – it’s important that you develop and drive your ‘Career Brand’.

ASK YOURSELF:

  • What sort of image are you presenting to your co-workers and managers?
  • Do you cultivate effective relationships and networks within your organisation and industry?

Your career brand is as much about your ‘image’ as your attitude in general – so here are a few key things you can address to take control of your personal branding:

 

TREAT YOUR JOB LIKE IT’S YOUR OWN BUSINESS

  • Ask yourself honestly: what would you do differently if your job was your business?

It is vital that you take the work you do seriously, care about the quality of the work you produce and the way you interact with clients and co-workers. Ultimately your career success is up to YOU… so if you want the returns you need to invest the energy every day.

 

FIND A MENTOR – they provide a unique sounding board for ideas, keep you focussed, give great advice, and can create career opportunities through their network of connections and contacts. Your career will go further faster with a mentor.

 

BE AWARE OF YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE – employers and recruiters use the internet too! With the prevalence of social networking sites such as facebook, bebo and myspace, an employer can investigate what you do outside of ‘office hours’ with a few simple clicks of a mouse. Pay attention to the images and language associated with your online presence.

Spend time checking out the content of these sites and what is available for the public to view – Facebook, for example; provides several privacy options that allow you to control what content shows in your profile. You should also ‘google’ yourself to be aware of any ‘dishonourable mentions’ that could pop up.

With a little forethought you can make the internet a powerful and effective branding tool by having a personal site to showcase your resume/ achievements. You can also utilise business networking sites such as ‘linked in’ – which provide a free service allowing you to reconnect with ex-colleagues and bosses.

 

WHAT IMAGE DOES YOUR BEHAVIOUR PAINT? First impressions count -it pays to keep in mind when out and about that you could be meeting a future boss or customer – if you want to be memorable be sure it’s for the right reasons.

 

WHAT DOES YOUR LANGUAGE TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOU? If your communication with others has a negative slant – you could be tarred with that brush. To foster inspiring relationships and have the opportunity to be part of exciting initiatives in your organisation – you must be seen as positive and forward thinking.

Avoid pessimistic conversations and language – positivity can be ‘catching’ in the workplace – so choose your attitude and lead others by your example.

 

USE EFFECTIVE GOAL SETTING – effective goals are INSPIRING. They take you further than the ‘KPIs’ set in your role. They should be specific, measurable, ‘stretchy’, and be aligned with your passions and your values. Goals are personal and powerful – make them work for you.

 

WHAT DOES YOUR WARDROBE SAY ABOUT YOU? Think about the details of your physical appearance – ironed shirt? clean (non-scuffed) shoes? tidy hair? Being meticulous in your dress creates a professional image. Even if you don’t quite ‘feel’ the part – you can certainly look the part.

 

MAKE WRITTEN COMMUNICATION WORK FOR YOU

  • Are you professional, upbeat, friendly and to the point in your communication?
  • Do you send email when you could or should be picking up the phone instead?

Think about how your email use portrays you to others. Is your language overly-familiar? Do you use vague abbreviations or ‘text speak’? It’s easy to be misunderstood without the aid of body language or tone/ inflection of voice – so it’s worthwhile taking the time to review your written communication style and making it work for you – not against you!

 

WHAT DO YOU FOCUS ON? If you start each day dreading what’s to come – what sort of day do you think you will have? Be aware of your internal monologue and choose to STOP negative language in your mind. By focussing on the positive and telling yourself how great the day is going to be – you will attract good things to you. Try it – it works.

 

MANAGE YOUR STRESS – Generally speaking, as you move up the career ladder, stress and pressure increases: so learning to manage this now makes sense. Know your triggers, take control of your stress and do what you need to do to manage the pressures in your day. This could be a simple as getting up and walking away from your desk. If it works – do it.

 

USE NETWORKING TO YOUR ADVANTAGE – some organisations and industries require you to get attend breakfast or ‘after 5’ networking events, and this is a great way to build your career brand or profile. You get a chance to learn, promote your organisation, as well as forge important relationships within your industry. This is an opportunity not a chore!

Think about the way you interact with your colleagues at work – the relationships you create with Administrative or support staff are just as important as those with a Manager. Treating everyone with respect will ensure you get assistance when you most need it.

 

To harness opportunities in the workplace you need to be savvy about your ‘Career Brand’. Set your own standards high – and be honest with yourself about the effort you put into both your image and your attitude each day – be consistent.

You drive your success – you have the tools – so choose your direction and go for it!

Why ‘goal setting’ doesn’t work..

This is an interesting title for an article written by a Success Coach! So let me explain what I mean… I have had many goal setting sessions with managers over my years in the corporate world.. and as much as I appreciated that my manager was taking the time to ‘look forward’ with me – it just didn’t work.

Ultimately, the goals we were setting were too much like KPIs to be inspiring, powerful and therefore DESIRABLE to me. If you are a manager who wants to deepen your relationships with your staff – to become a mentor rather than just a ’score-keeper’ then it’s vital you know about powerful, effective goal setting. As Thomas J Leonard wrote in his book – ‘The Portable Coach’: “Competency is no longer some great lofty thing to aspire to; it has become the floor, or even subfloor, of professional success. It’s the starting point, not the goal”.

Whether you are a manager going through performance appraisal time, or an employee planning your next 6-12 months – powerful goal setting will set you on an inspiring and challenging path for the future.

For goal setting to be powerful and effective – it must combine your passions and your values. It’s worthwhile spending time uncovering this because these are the true DRIVERS of our natural behaviour. Goals that don’t fit with this are not nearly as attractive.

Once you understand your personal drivers – you can start thinking BIG about where you want to be. A goal takes you further but it needs to be something you actually WANT to acheive – rather than a prescribed outcome for a specific role – goals are personal.

There are a myriad of resources for managers and employees to use; a simple google search will uncover many sites offering free advice on goal setting. You can wade through that information – or – you can employ the services of a Life Coach to get you underway today.

What you focus on becomes your reality

  • How do you feel right now?
  • What are the thoughts that are running through your head?
  • What’s on your mind in this moment?

If you are thinking about and focussing on situations that are upsetting or annoying to you right now – then they will cloud your emotions and your reactions to your day. You have the power to decide what you spend time thinking about. It doesn’t mean burying the bad or challenging things that might be happening in your life right now – it means accepting them, and when you do think about them to focus instead on what you can do to change the situation.

Decide to think positively.

When I have this conversation I often get the response: “It’s all very well to tell someone to ‘think positively’ but for some people it’s just not that easy!” Well – you can do it – everyone can with a little practice – and when you learn to listen to your thoughts and consciously decide to change them you will notice a difference in the way you act and RE-act every day.

The first step is to be aware of negative thoughts – such as putting yourself or others down or thinking ‘that will never change’ or ‘I can’t do it’ – NOTICE these thoughts and tell yourself “STOP!”. Say it strongly. Mean it. Decide to stop thinking those thoughts. It may feel odd but with practice it really works.

Consider this as ‘training’ for your mind – you are getting back the power to decide the direction of your thoughts. As Barbara Berger tells us in ‘Fast Food for the Soul’ – “there is no one else in your mind” – so you decide what to focus on. If you have a negative monologue 24 hours a day 7 days a week – how do you think the world will look and feel to you with those kinds of filters?!

If you wake up each morning and tell yourself it’s going to be a GREAT day, that you expect good things to happen – you will notice those good things readily because you are open to them, you can see them ….a normally busy and ‘gruff’ colleague smiles at you and says hello, there’s no line when you go the cafe for your morning coffee… You smile at people on your way to work and they smile back… wow that positivity is catching!

You can start today and literally change the way the world looks and feels to you. Imagine how you will feel when you start to realise that you are in control of your world… it’s powerful stuff! You have already started – by choosing to listen to yourself.

…..’so what do you do?’

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question over the last 12 years of my life… I would have a very large pile of coins indeed.

And interestingly enough it was being asked this question for the umpteenth time at a party on Saturday night that prompted me to think about blogging again.

So this guy, who was a little, shall we say, ‘intoxicated’ – proceeded to ask me ‘what I did’… I don’t think that he expected to hear I was a Success/ Life Coach. I don’t think he was expecting such a succinct and eloquent ‘definition’ of this either!

 

So why do we ask people ‘what they do?’ well there’s a couple of reasons:

  • We associate personality traits and types with different kinds of jobs
  • We assess peoples prosperity, intelligence and success based on the job they do

 

For the better part of two years, I decided to play a little ‘social experiment’ and would answer this question, each time I was asked, with the very serious: ‘oh I do stuff. I do stuff really well actually’. This would provide one of the following answers:

  • Shock ‘did she just say what I thought she did?’
  • The double-take ‘oh no, I wasn’t really listening, what did she say?’
  • Laughter

My favourite was the third, but I always found that by answering like this, it broke the ice of the initial ‘meet & greet’ and I could steer the conversation away from the benign ‘what do you do’ into really interesting stuff like passions, dreams and goals (and yes, I do have some pretty intense conversations!)

I think if you are going to ask this question, a great follow up is ‘why?’ (as in ‘so why do you do that for a job? how did you get into that?) The answers will tell you a heck of a lot about that persons attitudes and beliefs… and you just might learn something in the process.

So what do I do? I’m a Success Coach, with a background in corporate recruitment, currently employed with one of NZ’s largest companies in a strategic sourcing role and coaching part time.

Why? Coaching was a natural transition for me from recruitment. I’ve always been passionate about coaching people to find their ultimate career – it’s about waking up every day and looking forward to how you choose to spend your time. And coaching empowers people to have that choice. It puts you back in the drivers seat. Being able to do this for people gives me a buzz. It’s really that simple.

What about YOU? Imagine being able to answer that question with energy, passion and enthusiasm the next time someone asks you.