Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pondering Spring Cleaning

So, on this first day of spring, I am once again inspired to write! I've been pondering Spring Cleaning. We started last weekend. It was beautiful on Saturday, and we spent the day outdoors clearing out what winter left behind. It was nice to see some of my son’s yard toys return and the “snow sticks” go away. I thought about “doing the closet”, but frankly, I’m a bit afraid of Murphy. You know Murphy, right? The one the “law” is about…. The one that ensures that as soon as I put my sweaters away it will turn cold again…

I heard a radio host yesterday morning discussing Spring Cleaning as well. Surprisingly, clearing out closets and drawers fell FOURTH on the list of “what people clean” during this time of year. That got me thinking… Why does Spring Cleaning only have to be about bins and closets or windows and drapes?

What if we could clean out our selves? What if we took a cue from nature and had our very own rebirth of sorts? I don’t want to be presumptuous, so I’ll just talk about me.

I would like a fresh start. I would like to have an excuse to change a few things. (I know I don’t NEED a reason to do this, but just like New Year’s Resolutions, it’s nice to have a milestone…) Today, I will get back to basics; go back to the roots. I will remember that it’s OK to crawl before I walk, and walk before I run. I will remember to sound it out and take it slowly. I know that the sun will shine and turn the bulb buried deep into a beautiful, bright, colorful flower.

Today I will give myself permission to dust off the good habits I’ve formed, but have since forgotten. It’s time for them to come out again.

How will you celebrate spring?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When The Only One You’re Hurting is You

“We are accountable only to ourselves for what happens to us in our lives." ~~Mildred Newman~~

Accountability is a curious thing to me. It’s easy to be accountable when there is an external expectation. If a customer is waiting for something from you, you get it to them, and you get it to them on time. If a client is in need, you help them in any way that you can. You are accountable to your customers and clients, and likely to your family and your friends. But how often do you hold yourself accountable for the things that are important only to you? Do you hold yourself accountable for things that are not perceived as requirements to achieve success? I can write about completing a performance review for yourself or your business, and you can think it’s a great idea, but do you do it? Or, do you plan to? What if you forget? Things like that slip through the cracks all the time. You know it’s a good idea. You believe it can help further your success, but it’s for you, and you alone… and so maybe someday you’ll get to it…

Do you hold yourself accountable for the things you say you’re going to do when nobody really is expecting anything from you… except you?

Here are some ways that I believe will help me hold myself accountable to ME.

1. Engage an accountability partner. I have learned that when I have someone who can help nudge me along the way (who is not my spouse!) when I’m not meeting my own expectations is very helpful. I don’t like to admit failure. I don’t know anyone who does. So, if I create the person who IS expecting something form me, I get it done. I’m not talking about a daily thing, maybe not even a weekly thing, but someone who truly helps you stay accountable for your actions, whether for work or for job search, can be extremely helpful.
2. Become part of an accountability group, or create one. This can be especially useful if you work independently, or are in job search. Put together a group of people who have similar needs or desire similar outcomes, and help each other stay focused and on track. Meet as often as you need to, maybe by phone, likely better in person, and keep your meetings productive. Set guidelines, and make sure that everyone in the group understands its purpose.
3. Write down weekly goals along with daily to-dos that will help you achieve those goals. Set timelines, set deadlines, and stick to them. Maybe you can even share your list with your accountability partner or group. And, practice integrity. Do what you say you’re going to do, and create a consequence for not holding up your end of the bargain. Likewise, reward yourself when you do. Celebrate the small successes along the way. The little stuff adds up!

If you have other ideas, let me know! Accountability really is a curious thing to me. And, I need as much help with holding myself accountable as anyone else out there!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Performance Management For The Rest Of Us

“It's not what if, it's what now.” ~Author Unknown

It has been far too long since I’ve written a blog post. I went looking this morning for an old post to reference, and I was completely inspired to write! So here goes!

It’s that time of year again. There’s a chill in the air, Christmas lights are popping up everywhere, the shopping mayhem has begun… And at work, it’s likely time for performance evaluations. Performance management is a necessary practice in human resources. Making sure you have the right people doing the right jobs at the right time for the right price is critical to business success. So, why do we as people not employ the same practices? Isn’t it possible that evaluating our own performance could be critical to our own personal success? I think so. I wrote this post about goals and priorities changing over time and how giving myself a quick evaluation was an eye-opening experience. And I haven’t done another since…
It’s time. I can’t possibly set appropriate goals for next year without evaluating what I’ve achieved (or not yet achieved) this year.
So, whether you’re a job seeker, a business owner, a homemaker, or an employee, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get started.

1. What have I accomplished so far this year? What goals have I achieved?
2. What have I been proudest of? (Or, what made me the happiest?)
3. What should I continue to do next year?
4. What should I NOT continue to do next year?
5. What goals have I not yet achieved? What stopped me? Will achieving them still take me down my intended path?
6. What goals can I set for next year? What should I start doing that I have not yet started?
7. What resources do I need that I do not yet have? Where can I get help?

Knowing (or at least pondering) the answers to these questions will most certainly get you started down the goal setting path for 2012. And there’s no time like today to get moving!

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present.” ~Babatunde Olatunji, a similar version is also attributed to Alice Morse Earle (http://www.quotegarden.com/live-now.html)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Create The Good

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” ~~Leonardo da Vinci~~

This has been a tough year for a lot of people. Between the aftermath of Irene, the earthquake, the floods… the unemployment, the economy, the debt… it’s hard for me to sit here and tell you that everything happens for a reason.

Personally, I have to hold on to the notion that there’s a greater plan, and that I can’t possibly begin to understand that plan, but that’s not the practical advice that “you can use today” that I’ve become known for.

What if, instead, we look for ways to make something good happen from every situation?

Irene, like many of the recent weather issues, created a need for communities to come together in a way I have not witnessed in a while. Families helping one another, even those they don’t know; municipalities offering free services to entire towns in some instances; it has made room for the possibility of everyone actually working as a team moving towards a common goal.

I had a client tell me yesterday that his recent unemployment has given him the time he has not made in a while to take care of himself and get a few things off of his to-do list. He’s been to the doctor, fixed a few things, did some preventative maintenance… and in light of the recent weather, some of this may have saved his house…

I had another client tell me that her (more long-term) unemployment has given her the opportunity to volunteer. As she tries to stay busy and be useful (as well as keep the gaps off of her résumé) she has been working hard in her town to increase the amount of food in the local food pantry and raise awareness about the hunger issues very close to home.

Even in my own family, since the recent passing of my grandmother, my Dad is spending much more time with his father, and creating happiness in his life he hasn’t seen in the last few years. It’s been awesome to hear joy in my grandfather’s voice again, despite the loss of his partner and wife of 68 years!

On Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, total strangers are reaching across the globe to help others in need. From encouragement and support to resume writing and career help, to fundraising for little-known but highly valuable causes… the world is getting smaller in these times…

I’m not going to pretend that this will always be easy. It will not. I can’t tell you that I always find a silver lining the first time I look. I don’t. But I know that there is one, or at least the chance to create one.

I challenge us all to find a way to make something good happen every day, in every situation, no matter how difficult.

Today I will spread positive energy served with a smile everywhere I go. What will you do today?

Friday, August 26, 2011

On Being Committed

“There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results." ~~Kenneth Blanchard~~

It takes a lot of will power to be committed. Will power is not something that comes easily to all. It if did, there probably wouldn’t be a name for it… I’ve written many posts about not going it alone. I often talk about the importance of networking and of getting and giving help. Being committed to being committed is a prime example of when your support system can, well, support you! Ask for encouragement. Ask to be held accountable. Ask for help in recognizing when your commitment starts to waiver. Just because it’s YOUR commitment doesn’t mean you have to do it by yourself. Rally your friends, your family, your coach, your colleagues, the twitterverse… Let people know what you’re up to.

Let’s get the world committed to your success.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Power is in the Pen

"Knowing where you're going is all you need to get there." ~~Frederick (Carl) Frieseke~~

The Power is in the Pen. Well, maybe not the pen, but definitely in writing it down… An interesting thing happened to me early this week. In preparing for the first meeting of my accountability group after summer’s hiatus, I spent some time thinking about my goals between now and the end of this year. I recognized again that goals and tasks are not the same, so I actually spelled out – wrote down – 7 different goals. One business development goal, one public speaking goal, one job seeker social media client goal, etc. I also wrote down a recurring to-do list, things like a daily blog post, daily candidate sourcing; things I need to do every day to help me achieve my goals. Literally within hours, I had a new social media referral from a boutique outplacement firm that seemed to have also taken the summer off. By the next day I also had two referrals / introductions form colleagues to potential new clients, and an inquiry about my LinkedIn Webinar. It felt great!

I was reminded again yesterday about the power of writing it down. One of the participants on my last webinar sent me an email, which I have excerpted below:

Dear Jennifer,

I want to tell you a funny (peculiar, not ha-ha) story about what happened to me after I attended your LinkedIn webinar on 28 July.

On Tuesday, 2 August, my latest newsletter was sent out. With that done, I went back to musing as to how I would implement the to-do list I created while listening to you. Top of the list – how to get recommendations. On Wednesday I received notification that someone had endorsed me.

When I asked this client why he had suddenly written the referral, he responded by saying that he had never written a LinkedIn referral before, but when he got my latest ‘newsletter’, he thought “if I ever write a referral, then it would be for this guy”. And then, he said, he suddenly thought, “Why not now?”. And he did.

So, I put it down to your lessons being in my mind sending out thought patterns to the Universe who then nudged someone to act on it. You have a better explanation?

To which I replied:

I love hearing this stuff! And, I do NOT have a better explanation. I am a huge believer of writing things down, putting thoughts out into the universe, and letting the magic happen! There’s no such thing as coincidence in my book…

My take-a-way… Write it down. Put it out there. Know your intentions. Make them real. By the way… when I was writing down my goals, I also wrote down some affirmations. I even taped them to my wall right next to my computer!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jealous Therapist Syndrome

“Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.” ~~Gordon R. Dickson~~

During an Accountability Group meeting yesterday we discussed what one of my partners called the “jealous therapist syndrome”. I Googled it… I think she may have coined the phrase. Basically the point is that it’s often easier to help someone else than it is to help yourself. We have clarity of thought when we look in from the outside. We can give great advice to others, but we don’t always follow our own. We can see what can work for someone else's situation, but have trouble plotting out our own path. A colleague of mine, Ed Han, even posted about it in his blog a few weeks ago as it relates to resumes, and how hard it is to write your own, while being so easy to give opinions on others. In his post, Ed challenges us to “Imagine what more any of us could learn if we had more input from people whose views we trust?” I like the idea! It’s why there are mastermind groups, power lunches with like-minded people, job clubs, and a whole host of other networking opportunities where we can share information and get input from people we trust and respect. Research has shown that job seekers who are members of job clubs land new roles more quickly than those who do not participate in such networking events. Another colleague of mine, Donna Svei, aka Avid Careerist, a resume writer who also writes a great blog for job seekers, strongly encourages job seekers to “show up” and “get yourself out with people” in her post HERE. So – what are you waiting for? Get out there, ask for ideas and input. Seek assistance… but beware the naysayers and the doom and gloomers. Not all advice is good.