Editor’s Note: From time to time, we like to recognize some of the projects and accomplishments of our regular contributors beyond their work for the site. Kristin Kaufmann’s second book in her “Is This Seat Taken” series, “It’s Never Too Late To Find The Right Seat” was just recently published, and here she gives us a sneak peak.
As we ‘start again’ in this new year AND we are already 3 weeks into 2015, how can we make the most of the coming 12 months? The first step, from my perspective, is to HONESTLY assess where we are today and also gauge where we want to be tomorrow! We have to take a hard look in the mirror (not always easy) and ascertain ‘how we did in 2014’ AND if there is still room for improvement. There are a few questions, which I encourage my clients to ask themselves, as we embark on this new year…….
The 2014 year at a glance:
- How did I spend my time?
- What were my greatest accomplishments?
- What were my greatest disappointments?
- How did these experiences change me?
- How am I different now (December, 2014) than in December, 2013?
- How can I further integrate this awareness as I enter the 1st half of 2015?
- What am I tolerating? Why? What steps can I take to make a change?
- What am I trying to force to happen? What would happen if I ‘let go’?
What are my intentions for 2015?
- What will be my primary focus going forward?
- What do I really want? What is still holding me back?
- What do I want to contribute to the world?
- How will I hold myself accountable?
- What is working for me? How can I have ‘more of that’?
- What kind of partners do I want going forward into this next chapter?
- What may need to change? What are the first steps to make that change?
- At the end of 2015, where would I like to find myself? Physically? Spiritually? Professionally? Financially?
- What is my intention for my life in 2015?
Also, if you need further inspiration , and feel like ‘life is passing you by’ and you are not where you thought you would be at this stage in your life…..you may find inspiration is my latest books in the ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ book series. I personally was inspired by each and every one of these individuals who completely hit the ‘reset’ button in the last 15-20 years of their lives. What I know for sure is this – what we make of our lives is 100% our choice……what will you choose?
About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.
Simply, you start at the top and you go from there. One word at a time, which then forms a sentence, which then forms a paragraph and before you know it, a whole page indeed.
What has this got to do with you and HR? A lot.
Consider this. You do have a blank page.
There’s the corporate vision of your company that you have been made aware of. There are the goals and aspirations of your team, whether they have made that known to the other teams, or kept it quiet. There’s the individual goals and dreams of each one of your colleagues, both your downliners and your leaders. And there’s you.
And you can start by being guided by everything that is out there.
But it would be so much better …
… for you to start, with what is within you;
… for you to not draw within the lines but to create the outline yourself first;
… to start with your vision and see how you can meld that with the vision of the organisation you are with;
… for you to start with what matters to you.
Because the truth is that what matters to you, does matter. And no one can tell you otherwise. They simply cannot push and prod and try to create visions, frameworks and models of how things should be, without it crashing into your own ideas of what these visions, frameworks and models should be.
So, to start with your own is to establish where you come from and to where you must go.
And how do you start?
Start with a dream. Start with an empty page on which you carefully lay your dream. Start with an unfettered dream as dreams that are shackled by limitations, placed by you or anyone else, simply will not do.
Let yourself wander around, go beyond and explore.
Consider what possibilities might be… and see what might happen as a result.
You are here to lead, you are here to inspire, you are also here to heal, to mend, to make anew.
To do so, you need to have the capacity to see things from a new perspective and to see possibilities where others see none.
To do so, you need vision and hope, you need a plan and you need to execute. No one said it would be easy. But easy is not the point, is it?
So, if you’re at the beginning, it’s exciting, hopeful and risky all in one.
And if you are in the middle, there’s always a chance to start at the beginning again. You need only think of the possibilities to make that happen.
How can a blank page scare you? How can a new job, new opportunities scare you? In so far as you see the limits and challenges far more than the possibilities of what may be.
So, what are you starting now? Where will you go from here?
Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters Magazine, a quarterly print publication aimed at Human Resource professionals. She is also the co-founder and Programme Director at Flipside, a business services company with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, providing professional certification training. Here, she provides strategic direction as well as oversight on client training and corporate functional areas. Rowena blogs about developing habits, execution, growth and personal development. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband, two young kids and now, a newborn. Connect with Rowena at email@example.com.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella got a whole lot more attention than he bargained for when he opined that women in technology could do more for their careers by being patient and relying on “karma” rather than asking for raises. The implication was that if they’d just hunker down and do their jobs, women would find that their pay would naturally rise to the right level and everybody could be spared the awkwardness of the dreaded “salary conversation.” Though Nadella backtracked quickly, it’s hard not to have the impression that he was sharing his honest belief: That in the meritocracy of technology, people are paid what they’re worth, regardless of gender.
Of course, no business is a pure meritocracy, and gender matters a lot. On average, women earn just 77 percent of what their male counterparts do, and hold just 5.4 percent of the top jobs in the Fortune 1000. The good news: The discussions about inequality are more open now. The bad news: We still have to have them.
Obviously, then, women who are looking for work face the prospect of gender discrimination. Sometimes, the discrimination is overt — we’ve all heard stories about the hiring manager who calls you “sweetheart” during the interview. But sometimes, it’s more subtle, entwined with a culture that penalizes those who even ask about family leave, or hidden in questions about children or aging parents.
Many companies are trying to do better, though, aggressively working to recruit women into their ranks. One approach they’re taking is to post open positions on job boards that focus on women.
These websites — which range from a handful of standalone offerings to postings on the sites of women’s professional organizations — don’t offer any kind of magic bullet. Employers can’t set aside specific jobs for specific genders, after all, and chances are each position’s been posted in more than one place. But by seeking out women through these sites, the company is sending a message that it’s serious about diversity.
How do you find these sites? Google is a good place to start. Enter search terms like “women accounting job postings” or “women technology job postings.” The results will usually include links to appropriate organizations and their career sections.
Practically speaking, many of the best listings are on the sites of women’s groups in specific industries. For example, the websites of Women in Technology and the National Association of Women in Construction offer full career centers, featuring job listings as well as the ability to post your resume. In many cases, you don’t need to be a member to view the postings.
Unfortunately, these sites still leave the seeker with a lot of work to do. A posting by itself says only so much about a company’s culture and workplace, so the onus remains on you to search out intelligence using your network, social media, online forums, and the Web.
Dedicated job sites provide women with a reasonable place to begin their search, especially when they’re hosted by an organization focused on skills that match the candidate’s interests. Does posting there prove a company’s commitment to gender diversity? No. But it’s a promising signal.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
About the Author: Mark Feffer has written, edited and produced hundreds of articles on careers, personal finance and technology. His work has appeared on Dice.com, Entrepreneur.com as well as on other top sites. He is currently writing for JobsinVT.com, the top local resource for job seekers, employers and recruiters in Vermont.
Men have always dominated the workforce, winning out over the fairer sex in both wages earned and positions held. Sadly, this trend is continuing in the tech industry today.
Even though Google has often been called one of the best places to work, it doesn’t appear to be for women who make up just 30% of their total employees. That number dwindles further to only 17% in departments that are specifically focused on technology.
Women seem to be fighting an uphill battle, but they are still climbing the mountain. Let’s look at ten facts about women in the tech industry that show both positive and negative figures:
1. Women hold 51% of all professional occupations in the United States while only 26% of those are computer-related. While women are getting more white collar recognition, they aren’t gaining much ground in the tech arena.
2. The CIO (Chief Information Officer) position with Fortune 250 companies is 19% female, but of the Fortune 100 firms, only four have a women as their CEO. Women are present in these companies, but not many of them are seated in the president’s chair.
3. While women comprise only 7% of tech company founders, those led by women are have 12% higher revenues using 33% less capital. Those in top management roles are more successful than their male counterparts.
4. Further figures show that twice as many women are leaders in successful startups over those ventures that failed or are failing. Women at the top in the startup game are again more successful than men.
5. More than half (56%) of women in the technology industry leave midway (10-20 years) through their careers, but 22% of them go on to be self-employed in the same market. If you’re going to go out, then go out swinging.
6. Men and women software developers start out with similar pay, but men have a higher upper range and end up earning more in the long run. Perhaps that is their motivation for women exiting the venture to pursue their own interests.
7. The gender pay gap is less for computer programmers where women are down only 7%, but that is still better than some other professional occupations, where male lawyers earn 13% more and female accountants take home 24% less pay.
8. Ethnically speaking, the numbers are very dismal. In 2012, only 3% of our computing workforce were African-American women, 4% were Asian and only 1% of these females were Latino. Adding race into this equation makes it even more difficult for the placement of women into tech fields.
9. Even worse, these numbers are down from 2010 where 16% were African American, 9% Asian and 6% Latino. Let’s hope that 2013 and 2014 show more promise, but it is not looking good thus far.
10. Facebook is mirroring that of Google and the rest of our leaders in technology, with a tremendous lack of both women and minorities in their employment diversity data. The overwhelming majority of tech workers are either caucasian or asian men.
Even though these numbers are depressing, thinly veiled underneath is the fact that women are more successful than men in the business and tech worlds. Take a second look at items three and four to see why businessmen should be taking a hard look at these statistics. When leaving their tech positions, some women didn’t give up, they become self-employed instead, leaving their bosses behind and leading themselves down a better path.
About the Author: Megan Ritter is an online business journalist and entrepreneur with a background in social media marketing. In addition to having a passion for technology, she also enjoys writing about business communications, globalization and online branding. Connect with her on Twitter.
“If you limit yourself to what’s comfortable, you deny yourself what’s possible.”
This week I’m at the 2014 New York State SHRM Conference in my hometown of Buffalo. At the time I’m writing this, we’re about three quarters of the way through the conference and have seen four of the five keynote speakers. As you’d expect, and as is typical of conferences such as these, the keynote speakers had numerous what we would call “tweetable moments” – tidbits of information that translate very easily into 140 or less character tweets. These are typically key ideas and calls to action, and if you search the #NYSHRM14 hashtag you’ll see many of them. But amid all of the ideas shared by the speakers, I keep coming back to the one above. This particular nugget came from Sunday night’s keynote Dan Thurmon, who entertained the crowd with his juggling and unicycling skills while encouraging us to live life “Off Balance on Purpose.”
I think this idea resonates so much with me because it’s something that is so easy to forget. We get comfortable. We tell ourselves that this comfort equals happiness. But does it? Is it happiness, or is it complacency? I was reminded of Robin Roberts in her keynote at SHRM National this year, when she encouraged attendees to be thankful and grateful for what we have, but never, ever get content; always ask yourself if you’re ready for something more, something bigger.
The danger when we get complacent is that we stop challenging ourselves. We convince ourselves it’s good enough. It’s easy. It’s routine. We’re happy. Right? Right?? Or are we really just complacent?
In our personal and professional lives, in the midst of the frenetic pace many of us maintain, sometimes it’s just easier to be content with where we are. Life’s pace can get tiring, and it becomes easy to say we don’t have the energy to push ourselves further. It’s too much effort. And besides, we’re happy. We have the right balance. But as Dan Thurmon reminded us, there is no such thing as sustainable perfect balance…and even if there was, it would get boring fast.
Are we happy? Is the illusion of balance really making us happy? Or again, is it simply complacency?
When we’re complacent, we stop learning, we stop growing… we stop bettering ourselves, our lives, our companies, our personal situations.
Are we actually ready for more? Do we deserve better?
Tuesday morning’s keynote Mark Murphy, author of “Hundred Percenters” aligned with this message by reminding us that “no great accomplishment happens within our comfort zone.” Great accomplishments are hard, require learning something new, and require pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. We can’t accomplish anything worthwhile without effort, without pushing outside what we know and what we’re comfortable with, without stepping into a little uncertainty. I think that goes for each of us in both our personal and professional lives. Keynote speaker Jennifer McClure shared with us a personal story about how and why should “step out” – to face fears, uncertainty, and even naysayers and just go for it; to believe in ourselves and take risks to strive for bigger and better things.
Stepping out can be scary….but I think it’s worth it.
So I ask you, what are you ready to do? What are you going to change? What are you going to stop just accepting? As HR professionals. As business people. As humans.
How are you going to embrace possibility?
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.
It’s been said before that the problem with expecting Common Sense from others is that common sense just isn’t that common. It’s kind of a judgmental statement, right? It almost implies that there are general “rules” for life we should be following but most of us aren’t. What’s worse is that there are a lot of people out there who like to put HR down by saying “It’s just Common sense”. For those of us who actually work in HR, we know how untrue and unfair that statement is.
Forget about common sense, let’s talk about “HR Sense”. I often get the chance to chat with people looking to break into HR and sometimes I am surprised by what they think HR entails. It makes me wonder, is HR sense something you are born with, or is it something that you develop over time? Now, some things you obviously can’t know without experience and study. No one instinctively knows how to handle FMLA or navigate payroll. But what about the less technical aspects of the job?
Can you teach someone how to be empathetic and approachable while simultaneously being firm and direct? How about staying calm under the pressure of a workplace emergency or assisting an injured employee? Can you learn the level of professionalism HR truly requires?
Important questions all. But ultimately, those aren’t the questions we need to be asking. Instead, ask anyone who has worked in HR for a while: What keeps you in the profession? What excites you about what you do? I can almost guarantee that the HR Pros who truly love what they do will make the answer clear.
A lot of people think they can do HR. It’s just “common sense,” right? Which is why you can’t focus on why someone wants to get into HR; you have to find out why they’ve stayed and how they’ve been successful. Only then can you discern how a person’s natural talents meld beautifully with the skills only experience and education can develop and hone over time.
So the answer is: HR sense is both something you are born with and something you learn. A person’s natural HR sense is what helps them take an interest in HR and lead an individual to learn more and improve upon their abilities. For example, a natural willingness to communicate effectively and professionally can lead someone to take a business writing class or join Toastmasters. It’s the ability to know what you need to improve upon and being willing to try. This is what makes HR sense something both innate and learned.
So for all you aspiring HR pros out there, don’t give up. Trust your instincts but be willing to work on your skills. It’ll not only make you a better HR Pro, it’ll help you maintain your passion for HR for a long time to come.
As many companies and individuals face possible obsolescence or at a minimum becoming stale in their service offerings, their approach to their market, or perhaps in their own passions for how they are contributing, the concept of ‘reinvention’ is becoming more and more prevalent. Though this concept is certainly not new, this term has become a mainstay in our present vocabulary. Blame it on the Baby Boomers, who are seeking career longevity amidst the onslaught of the millennials and the ‘Gen X and Y’ populations. Regardless of the catalyst, reframing ourselves and our offerings – or perhaps just reframing the way we look at our companies and our own personal careers, has always been the key to survival.
Over the years, I have watched many mediocre business professionals carve out very successful careers by their ability to parlay their approach into attractive and ultimately lucrative options. No, these individuals are not the smartest nor the most successful in their prior roles, yet they honed the knack of marketing themselves. They have mastered the ability to show (and in most cases virtually create from nothing) a multi-faceted face – both in ‘real life’ and via social media – which puts forth the image they wish to create. Today’s social media enables these ambitious ones to paint the picture they wish to paint, associate with those they wish to align themselves online (primarily for the purpose of self-promotion), and to show only the sides they wish to show. It is a fascinating phenomenon. Of course, as my father has always taught me: “If you see it, everyone else probably sees it, too”. Thus, these social media mirages are indeed, just that. So, if one does want to ‘change the frame’ on their careers – and do so authentically and anchored in reality versus ‘social media hype’ – how does a person get started? If a person wants to ‘reinvent’ their focus areas for contribution, or perhaps even their lives – how do they this?!
As mentioned before, it is not luck (in which I am personally not a believer) or plain smarts or even hard work that most commonly leads to uber success (success, by the way, as defined by the individual). Ultimately I believe it is our intentions fed by our energy – consistently and genuinely – which will lead to our success. So, what are a few initial steps we can take to harness our intentions and ‘change our frame’ as we build our ‘second or third acts’?
1. Know where you are today AND determine where you want to go NEXT.
While working with Dr. Noel Tichy over the past few decades in our transformational leadership work, we utilize a process which undoubtedly is one of the most impactful exercises for organizations to experience. It is the process of discerning ‘Our current state’ (facing the harsh reality of where we find ourselves today) and then, defining and projecting ‘Our desired state’, which is where we ultimately want to go. We can use this process for individuals just as we do for companies and organizations. The objective is to look in the mirror and determine – are we doing what we REALLY want to do? Are we good at what we are doing? Are we aligned as individuals, or if we are part of a team – is the team aligned around where we want to go? If not – that is the first awakening. We must determine where we are AND where we want to go.
One last and critical note on this – the ‘where I want to go’ does not have to be the FINAL destination. So many times, we think and think AND think…..which leads to ‘analysis paralyses’!! Nothing in this world is permanent; so your next step will probably not be your ‘last step’. Make the move. Forward momentum is how we determine if the direction is the ultimate ‘right’ direction!
2. Parlay your Gifts into the Market
This can be a tough step. Just because you love what you do AND you are good at it does NOT mean that anyone will want to buy it! What NEED are you filling? What is it that YOU offer that makes you different? Who are your potential clients….or hiring audiences? Learning how to take what we ‘do’ and apply it to a void in the market is a critical success factor. AND, remember, what folks wanted to buy 5 years ago is not what they will want to buy today….unless it has been modified for the market.
3. Creativity coupled with Agility is Key
We have to hone the ability to ‘think outside and inside the box’. It is hard to do this in solitary confinement! So – we need to build our posse of partners to help us. Retired executives, leadership coaches, prior professors, supportive customers, and even competitive business colleagues. Each will have a perspective or insights to offer. We have to be willing to ask for help – and to hear the brutal, honest truth. Does the market value what I bring? Is my approach outdated? Do my clients want more – or different – services from me? What do I NOT know – that I need to know – to truly thrive and survive in the market today? We have to be open to the answers….as hearing them and then ignoring them – does nothing! We need to hear (and listen) to the market and then be creative and AGILE in how we meet them where they are.
4. Build a game plan and be FOCUSED.
Every business has a game plan (and if they don’t – they will not be around for long!). Every one of us, for our careers, needs a game plan, too. Sure – it will change – yet, to not have any sense of where we want to go and HOW we are going to get there – results in mere folly. We need to lay out specific steps on how we are going to accomplish specific goals. Too many times, we become insular in our focus – meaning that we focus on stuff that will not REALLY move the dial. We need to determine where we want to go, what we want to contribute and THEN determine how we are going to get there. Then, become ruthlessly focused on these steps…..the other stuff is just noise.
5. Hang tight.
This is easy to say; yet, this is where the weak are separated from the strong. We have to exercise our muscles so that we do not give up too easily. As any company, organization, or individual introduces new approaches, new products and services, or a ‘new face’ to their markets and constituents – immediate acceptance and ‘manna from Heaven’ is not guaranteed.
There is always going to be a phase of education to the market; then a phase of ‘differentiation and selling’ and then – if we are diligent – we will secure our first proving ground. This may be a new job in our new field or a new customer for our new service offering or a product extension in an existing market. Yet, what I know for sure is that it will probably NOT come about instantly AND it will not happen without sweat equity. Yet, when we do ‘win’, our expended effort just makes our success that much sweeter.
My final thoughts are: we need to stop comparing this new chapter with the old chapter – good or bad. There is no comparison, thankfully. We (and the organizations for which we work) are a compilation of all our experiences, and this new chapter will be a completely new life in many ways. That concept can be quite liberating when we allow ourselves to embrace it. We need to simply embrace progress not perfection. Keep the forward momentum. Stay open. Be receptive to even what may appear to be an opportunity which is out of your wheel house. If you are attracted to it, explore what about the role turns you on. There is a reason – of this I am certain. Our intuition and inner voice does not lie. Ever. So listen to it. AND remember that nothing is permanent.
About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken?, centers on her global experiences seeding her journey toward alignment. The book is scheduled for release in November 2011. Kristin is on Twitter as @KristinKaufman.
Achieving successful work-life balance can very often seem like mission impossible. Busy work schedules often dictate lives of most people so much so that your personal time gets affected and can become limited. For many of us we don’t even realise that we are not finding the time for ourselves and this can have an impact on us, mentally and within your overall health.
You are probably thinking that it is easier said than done, which is correct. We all have different lives, schedules and responsibilities – from the young professional working extra hours to secure the promotion, to becoming a senior manager who has mouths to feed and KPI’s to secure. Nevertheless we can all try and dedicate some valuable ‘me’ time for ourselves in order to see some great improvements when it comes to our work-life balance.
Incorporating any one of these seven tips listed below will bring you a step closer to achieving a healthy work life balance you so desire:
Introduce Skype meetings
Important business meetings can require a lot of travel, which could equate to multiple days away from home and the office. Today’s technology has made it possible for you to reach clients that are states and even countries away, all from the comfort of your home or office. Skype and conference calls are both ideal ways to communicating with clients, whilst saving you and your business time and hassle of travelling.
If a business trip is a must then using Skype would allow you keeping in touch with your colleagues back in the office and maintaining office relationships. Even more you will also find Skype reducing your business’s travel costs, meaning the money could then be invested elsewhere.
Treat yourself regularly
Treating yourself regularly is really important for your sanity and health. Choosing to do something you enjoy will make you feel more grounded and relaxed. Allow yourself a 30 minute window each day where you do something for yourself. Things you truly enjoy, such as read a book, have a bath or cook a nice meal.
If you are a busy city worker, go into the local salon and treat yourself to an express facial. Alternatively you could always have a girl’s night in a nice restaurant or have a date night with your partner. These easy things will definitely make you feel happier and more relaxed.
Work from home
If you have a lunchtime client meeting you must attend, consider traveling to the venue from your home, as commuting directly will be help you cut down on travel costs. Another benefit of the many innovative technologies we have today is the ability to share documents and other information online. This allows you the great opportunity of working from home, yet still be connected to your office. Therefore, by utilizing this tool, you can cut down on the days you have to go into the office. This will also help you out on days when you are not able to make it into the office due to weather or child care, and will become a perfect solution to being able to access all your documents.
Set realistic expectations
It is a good idea to set your expectations for your life reasonably. For example, it is a realistic goal to aim to climb the ladder at work, become a good cook and keep your home running efficiently. However, it is not realistic to be working 70 + hours a week, whilst becoming a gourmet chef and keeping your home spotless – it just won’t happen. Therefore, to avoid becoming discouraged, it is smart to set manageable goals and not expecting yourself accomplishing superhuman tasks.
Remember you are just a human and it is not a crime to ask for help!
Be willing to alter your definition of success
Different stages of life call for different definitions of success. For example, if you have young children, you can feel successful if you get your kids off to day-care, get yourself to work on time and get at least a portion of your duties accomplished on any given day. However, if you don’t have children, of course you can expect more from yourself in regards to your job and your personal goals. In other words, your definition of success will likely change throughout various stages of your life, and that is okay.
Exercise on lunch break
According to John Ratey, Harvard Medical School psychiatrist, exercise is the best thing you could do for you brain in regards to learning, memory and mood. Since exercising also leads to a fit body, incorporating it into your working day just makes sense. If you are not lucky enough to have a gym in your office building then fear not. Most fitness suites offer express classes during lunch times that are high intensity workouts lasting 30 minutes. If you would rather prefer a low impact workout, then try going for a swim.
Getting up and moving, somewhere away from your computer, will give you some fresh air during a hectic day, allowing you to concentrate, which will lead to a more productive workday.
Make sure your career choice fits your strengths
For whatever reason, many people end up in a career that is completely wrong for them. A person who hates numbers ends up working at a bank, or a person who doesn’t care for children has a career as a teacher. This career choice just doesn’t make sense. Therefore, if you have ever felt like your career choice just doesn’t match your strengths or personality, do something about it and find a career that fits you better.
If it is impossible due to financial reasons, consider utilizing your personality and skills taking part in volunteering activities outside of work. Helping others will allow you utilizing your gifts and give you a sense of greater purpose as you will be giving back to others.
By following the seven tips listed above, you will be on your way to a healthier work-life balance. Be careful not to set your goals too high, just half an hour to an hour a day can really make a difference.
About the Author: As a young entrepreneur and business blogger, Lucinda Smith has developed a passion for helping small and medium sized businesses grow. She likes to particularly focus on using technology and software solutions to save businesses time and money. She also contributes to the DNS managed print services blog.
Most professional women I consult with feel guilty about taking time off work for a variety of reasons. Some of the ones I hear most often are:
“I have so many responsibilities in my job that if I take time off it just means that when I return I have to work a mass amount of hours to get caught up. It makes the time away seem like it’s not even worth it. I end up feeling punished for being away.”
“I don’t want time away from work to hurt my reputation, jeopardize my position or impair my promotional opportunities. I’ve worked too hard to be perceived as not entirely committed or reliable.”
“I love being productive and informed. It feels like when I’m away from work for more than a day or two, I lose out on knowing what’s going on and it makes me feel out of the loop and out of control.”
“I need to save all of my time for the ‘in case of emergency’ or ‘sick parent/kid’ situations.” (Note: most of us need a cushion of time on the books for unforeseen emergencies, but saving all of your time isn’t healthy.)
The problem with this rationale is that we short change ourselves, our careers, and in the long run even our employer. If we neglect to balance our time at work by taking time off, we risk diminishing returns for ourselves and our organization. Here are a few things to consider:
- Stepping away from the day-to-day activities of the job gives your mind an opportunity to dream, create and innovate, providing fresh new ideas for how to tackle your responsibilities when you return.
- Women need to view their jobs from multiple perspectives. Vacation and relaxation is a vantage point that can give a person a whole new sense of self (both professionally and personally).
- Burnout occurs when there is too much of any one thing in a person’s life. All work and no real play contribute to an inability to see beyond the next task at hand. It creates an unhealthy cycle of reactionary behavior (too much work – not enough time – not enough energy – more backed up work, repeat).
- A temporary hiatus from the job is not just a nice-to-have, it’s essential to take time away from work to give your brain and body a break:
-Research shows that being constantly under pressure floods the brain with stress hormones, wearing down the high performance brain function that needs to occur at work to maximize our jobs and performance.
- Recent studies have reaffirmed that leisure time, including vacations, contributed to higher positive emotional levels, better coping skills, less depression and lower blood pressure.
- Women who reported that they vacationed less than once every two years were more likely to suffer from significant episodes of stress than those who took vacations at least twice a year.
So what can a dedicated, hard-driving business woman do?
Simply put, start small. Work your way into taking your vacation time by:
- Try 2 hour vacation slots in the early morning, extended lunches or late afternoons.
- Take half days during lower volume times (e.g. Thursdays and Fridays).
- Build up to extended weekends (Mondays and Fridays).
- Use vacation around the holidays or slow work cycles, when others are out too and business processes slow down a bit.
- Take time off to volunteer with charitable organizations (you likely won’t back out of the commitment and you’ll feel good about yourself for having helped others out).
- If you’re afraid to go cold turkey, then limit yourself to staying connected to your email/phone for certain periods of time while you’re out. Check in every morning and afternoon if you need to, but give yourself the rest of the day to disconnect.
- When you get back in the office, pause long enough to acknowledge that even though there may be additional short term stress, the office survived and so did you.
Set your sights to build up to big:
- Reserve time on the books in advance. Do whatever you can to force yourself to take the time off – buy the plane/train ticket far in advance, book a non-refundable hotel stay, create commitments to friends and family so there is an expectation of follow through.
- If you can’t disconnect on your own, consider visiting a place that has limited technology reception so you are forced to really take the time away, to power off and enjoy. It will reinforce for your body and mind that time away is actually advantageous to your mental health.
- Invite friends and family to your home or city for visits in order to obligate yourself to spend time away from work with additional people you care about (yes, there are so many people at work that we care deeply about, the time off is often for the others that we unintentionally neglect spending quality time with).
- During your time off do activities that really make you happy and excited, or peaceful and rested. This will make the time away seem worth it.
- Anticipate the break from work and routine. Allow yourself to really look forward to the day(s) off. The anticipation will help your brain get accustomed to the idea that time away is fun and healthy.
- Understand that it comes down to this: what you mentally project about your work and time away is a strong component of what becomes your reality. Your personal perception of what you deserve is part of what you will project to your employer. Keep in mind that it’s appropriate to use the time that your employer gave to you as a benefit. Take the time and use it as an investment in your overall health and an investment in your professional self.
The final, and maybe most important piece, is to remember to put it all into perspective. At the end of our lives while many will be satisfied to have had a successful career, our most important reflections will most likely be on the big ticket items: the way we lived, the people we touched, the adventures we had, the friends and family we loved. Spending all of our time at a desk or wired up to others won’t afford us the experiences we need to minimize regret and to feel great about the lives we’ve led.
About the Author: Amanda Andrade is the Chief People Officer for Veterans United Home Loans – Fortune magazine’s 21st best medium workplace and one the fastest growing companies in the United States according to INC magazine. Amanda has led human resource organizations in both public and private sectors. She also has a doctorate in Environment and Behavior, focusing on highly profitable, employee-centric work environments. Connect with Amanda on Google+.
I just returned from a short vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC. Myrtle Beach is a place that I’ve visited many, many times over the years, both with family and friends. It’s one of the first family vacations I went on when I was a little girl, and it has continued to be a place that I’ve returned to over the years, through various stages of my life…as a kid, a teenager, a young adult on my first vacation on my own, and more recently with extended family, including my niece and nephews.
The beauty of returning to somewhere that you’ve visited many times, at various stages of your life, is that it remains a constant – relatively unchanged – no matter how much your life changes from one visit to the next. So I find these periodic visits to be the perfect opportunity to reflect on those life changes. As I walk the shores of the beach that I’ve walked so many times, I have the chance to think about just exactly what is different in my life since my last visit…for the better, for the worse, and for the, well, just different.
But it’s not just an opportunity to reflect on what has changed since the last visit, it’s also an opportunity to speculate about what could be different by the next time. Each time I’m there, before I leave, I take a moment to enjoy a view of the ocean and appreciate where I am at that moment, but also to wonder where exactly my life might be by the next time I return. And each time I do that, I’m often amazed at exactly how much IS different since the last time…the people who have come into or left my life, the losses I’ve experienced, the successes I’ve enjoyed, the opportunities I’ve had both personally and professionally, the direction my life has taken…many of these changes being things I never would have or could have expected. And though many times change is something we can’t necessarily anticipate, moments like these can also serve as a time to reflect on what we KNOW we want to change in the future.
What does this have to do with HR or business?
In the hectic rush of our days, weeks, and years, I wonder how many of us take those moments to reflect on how far we’ve come and where we want to go? To really appreciate exactly how much we’ve accomplished over a finite period of time, and exactly what more we’d like to do over that next finite period of time? Many of us talk about “three year plans” or “five year plans” but do we effectively take time in the midst of those plans to stop for a reality check? To re-calibrate the plan as needed? Or to just stop and appreciate the wonder of the unexpected places that fate sometimes takes us beyond what we had planned?
What about you? Do you stop to reflect? Do you have a constant place where you can go to appreciate where life has taken you and think about the future?
And as HR professionals, do we encourage our employees to do the same? Is reflection, planning, and re-calibration part of our career planning processes?
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.