Archive | Career Advice RSS feed for this section

Never Apologize At Work

15 Oct

If you are a working woman and reading this then you have probably at some point in your career apologized to someone for something. You are sorry the copy machine stopped working or the network went down or  the coffee pot is leaking or  your boss can’t open an attachment you sent him. Am I right? I know that I have apologized for things. And while there are times and places to be sorry (like when you majorly screw something up) you should never be apologizing for the small things that you have no control over.

For example, the other day I was working out with my husband. We work out at Crossfit. That day was a partner WOD (where you have a partner and the two of you complete a long, hard workout together), and I was partners with a young girl who was stronger and faster than me. We did the workout at pretty much the same pace, but I kind of felt the whole time as if I were holding her back. I think it was just my insecurity in thinking that she was better than me, and I let that get to me. At the end of the workout we said good job to each other and then I blurted out an apology. I said, “Sorry if I was a little slow.” When she said no problem and walked away my husband scolded me. He said that I should never, ever apologize to anyone for working hard and doing the best I can. The moment he said this I knew he was right, and then I instantly felt stupid for second-guessing myself and automatically thinking she was better than me.

This experience can easily translate to the work environment. Let’s say you are working on something with a co-worker who is at your level, and maybe it takes you a little longer or maybe you have a harder time understanding the objective or the results. Either way you in some way feel as if you are making a mistake or not doing things good enough, when in reality you are working your hardest and doing the best you can do. In such an instance you should NEVER apologize for being you. Think about it – the only thing apologizing does it make the other person, your co-worker, the one who is supposed to have confidence in you, think you are insecure and incapable of handling the job.

How many times have you ever heard a male at work say they were sorry? Even when men make mistake, big mistakes, they never really apologize. Instead they will say, you were right – not I’m sorry for being wrong. I do think apologizing is somewhat of a woman characteristic. We always feel the need to please and help others, so when we feel as if we aren’t living up to our own expectations we should apologize. While I, as a woman, understand the need to apologize and make things right, doing this at work does nothing but hurt your career and progression.

Have you ever apologized at work and then regretted doing so? Have you ever apologized for someone else’s mistakes? I tend to think that women do this a lot, and if I could give you one piece of advice it would be never to apologize for being you and doing the best you can.

What To Do On A Slow Day In The Office

27 Jul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know about you guys, but this past month has been REALLY slow for me. I went from being so busy that I could barely breathe to wishing I had a million things to do and couldn’t breathe again. My husband always tells me that I am never happy – that when I am slammed at work I complain and when I am slow I complain – and maybe that’s true. While I hate having to come into work on the weekends while my husband soaks up the sun with our friends, I would rather do that than have absolutely nothing to do. How about you guys?

So, what have I been doing at work this past month? I have been trying to read through certain code sections to at least know what they discuss (yes, I know, fun stuff). But now I am at the point where reading another code section is going to maybe, possibly, make me scream at the top of my lungs.

Summer is one of those times where people just seem to be slower at the office. Maybe this is because the weather is nice and people are enjoying their time outside rather than generating business, or maybe its just a coincidence. Whatever it is, there is no denying that being slow at work is miserable.

If you are in my situation and your work has dwindled during the summer months, what are some things you can do to stay busy and keep progressing as a professional? Obviously Facebooking, online shopping, or chatting with friends on G- chat is not the best way to spend your time (although I know a LOT of people do it anyways). Here are some POSITIVE things you could be doing with that extra time you have on your hands.

READ ABOUT THE CHANGES IN YOUR INDUSTRY

If you are in a particular field where changes in the laws, regulations, etc., affect you, then spending time on those slow days making sure that you haven’t missed any of those changes is probably a good idea. If there are such changes create a Word document making note of those changes and make sure that you thoroughly understand them. What I mean is don’t just read that the government is dropping funding for the program you are working for – find out how this is going to affect you, where the additional funding will come from, and why they are dropping the funding. In my line of work (legal) it is always important to read up on the changes in the laws and make sure that an opinion that was issued the previous day doesn’t somehow change something that you are working on today.

ORGANIZE YOUR EMAILS

If you are anything like me then your inbox contains thousands and thousands of emails that you have not yet taken the time to organize into folders. I don’t do this because it is VERY time-consuming to go through all of your emails and organize them, and because I like being able to search through my inbox for something that I need. But, even I have to admit that it is nice to have your emails organized into appropriate folders, so if you have the time to do it – then do it.

READ A GOOD PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT BOOK

The slow times in the office provide a great time for you to help develop your professional skills. Try reading a professional development book. Here are some of my favs:

If you aren’t in the mood for reading an entire book then read professional development articles by typing “Professional Development” into Google and reading the various things that come up.

WRITE A MANIFESTO

If you don’t have a how-to document that would tell someone how to do your job if you died tomorrow, i.e. where everything is, who to call, what to do in certain circumstances, then making one is a great idea. Not only will this help someone if you decide to leave your job in the future, but it can be used as your go-to guide if you ever draw a blank on what to do next.

TAKE A CLIENT TO LUNCH

If you have the time to connect with a client on a particular day then call a client and asks them to lunch. Not only will this phone call give you a chance to chat with your client, but the lunch may lead to work (which, if you are reading this, you are in desperate need of).

ASK SOMEONE IF THEY NEED HELP

Just because you aren’t busy doesn’t mean that the people around you aren’t. So, if you are in the mood to get busy and keep your mind occupied, ask someone around you if you can help them out. Being a good neighbor is always important, and maybe they will offer to help you one day.

Have you guys been slow this summer? If so, what do you do to occupy your time?

Get Confidence Today!

18 Jul

Image via http://www.positivityblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all know that confidence is the key to success in any endeavor in life. What many of us don’t know is how to become the confident person we know that we can be. We see others who ooze confidence and wonder how to become more like them. I have talked about increasing your confidence here. However, that post focused more on gaining confidence over time – how to keep increasing your confidence. Sometimes I wake up feeling pretty confident about myself and my abilities, but then there are those days where I wake up and think every negative thought possible. Today was one of those days where I was just down in the dumps and feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t like the way my hair looked, I was tired, and the last place I wanted to go was work.

So, if you are like me and wake up on the wrong side of the bed, what can you do to regain your confidence for that day?

WORKOUT

We all know that while working out may suck in the moment, there is nothing that makes you feel as good about yourself as a good, hard workout. Sweat out that bad attitude and get those endorphins pumping that are known to make you happy.

SAY SOMETHING NICE TO SOMEONE ELSE

While you may be the one in need of a compliment, there is something about saying something nice to others that just makes you feel better about yourself. Tell a co-worker that they look pretty today. Tell your significant other that you love them more than life itself. Tell your mom how you look up to her and strive to be like her. Tell someone something that you know will make them happy. To know that maybe you brightened someone’s day is a great feeling and will surely make you feel more confident.

DO SOMETHING NICE FOR SOMEONE ELSE

Offer to help someone with a task at work, offer to help your significant other with dinner, ask a friend out to lunch and offer to pay, give the homeless lady some money, or volunteer for your church or favorite organization at lunch. These are just some ideas of things you can do for others. Just as a compliment can go a long way, so can a good deed. Whenever I do something good for someone else I always feel better about myself and more alive.

SAY SOMETHING GOOD TO YOURSELF

Too often we spend our time focusing on others and neglecting ourselves. While it is nice to help others and compliment others, remember that you need some lovin too. Try writing down a compliment to yourself on a sticky note and attaching it to your computer at work. It can say anything – you are a rock star, people admire you, you are a hard worker. If you are having trouble thinking of something just think back to the last compliment someone gave you and write it on the note. Being able to see one of your good qualities plastered on your computer screen will make you feel better throughout the day.

ASK A FRIEND TO LUNCH

When I am having a crappy day I love to get out of the office and spend some time with my girlfriends. There is no better cure for the blues than a good girl talking session. If you find that your mood hasn’t perked up by lunch ask your work friends to lunch.

DIVE INTO A PROJECT AT WORK

Sometimes we put off those big projects that we are dreading working on because we know it will be never-ending. But if you find yourself feeling down and not having much else to do at work, dive into that project. Not only will this consume your mind and make you forget about your bad day, but it will make you feel productive which in turn will give you the confidence boost that you need.

GRAB A DRINK

If the day is done and you are still feeling down ask a friend or your lover out for a drink. This will give you some time to unwind, get a head change, and forget about the day.

GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP

The key to being productive and being in a good mood is sleep. I am a proponent of at least 8 hours of sleep a night. My husband thinks I am crazy, but I know what works for me and its at least 8 hours of sleep a night. If I get less than 8 hours of  sleep I am prone to be cranky and on edge (which is not fun for those around me). So my advice is to get plenty of sleep so you can wake up on the right side of the bed and with a smile.

What do you do when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed?

Dealing With Imposter Syndrome

13 Jul

Have you ever felt that you weren’t good enough, weren’t smart enough, to be doing whatever it is you are doing – whether it be a job, schooling, parenting, etc.? Have you ever worried, constantly, that someday somebody would figure you out, would find you that you are a phony and undeserving of all that you have achieved? Sure, you may be smart or hard-working, but maybe you feel that you are lacking in something that you believe others think you have, and you are worried that if they discover that you don’t have this they will think of you as a phony. If you have ever felt this then you have been a victim of what is known as Imposter Syndrome.

I know this isn’t a new topic. In fact, I read stories about Imposter Syndrome all the time here, here, and here for example. And while I have read so many articles about it I feel that this is a really important topic for career women to discuss. Not only does this so-called Imposter Syndrome make women feel unworthy of their success, but in my opinion, it holds some women back from the success they could be achieving if they didn’t feel this way.

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS THIS IMPOSTER SYNDROME?

Think about Imposter Syndrome as that bully at school or the mean older sibling that tells you that you are a loser, fat, ugly, and stupid. No matter what you do and how much you achieve that bully is always there pulling you down, telling you that you are worthless. And in return, that bully, no matter how hard you try, eventually makes you think those things about yourself. You end up feeling that all of your success has come about as a matter of luck and not because of your hard work or knowledge. You are unable to actually stand up and say, Yes, I deserve this success.

What Are Some Symptoms Of Those Who Experience Imposter Syndrome?

1.     Downplaying your accomplishments (saying that they are successful because of other people or because of pure luck, not because of you);

2.     Being afraid to speak up and take credit for something;

3.     Thinking that your success is not well-deserved;

4.     Fearing that people will discover that you are not as smart or deserving as they perceive you to be;

5.     Telling yourself, constantly, that you don’t deserve the success you have achieved;

6.     Always comparing yourself to others and wishing you were more like them and less like yourself;

7.     Feeling as if everyone else other than yourself has all the answers and knows more than you do;

8.     Being afraid to step out of your comfort zone or take on a great opportunity;

9.     A feeling that you have fooled others into believing that you are smart and knowledgable; or

10.    Setting low expectations for yourself to avoid failure.

OVERCOMING IMPOSTER SYNDROME

While I am no expert on this topic, I do think there are various ways to battle your inner demons and grab ahold of your unbearable anxieties. Here are some of my tips:

1.     Recognize That Others Really Aren’t Thinking About You

We all have a tendency to assume that others are really thinking of us, focusing on us, when the truth is that they aren’t at all. Have you ever had someone tell you that they thought you were making fun of them or ignoring them when the fact of the matter is that you weren’t even really thinking about them? While it is hard to assume that others are thinking about you, because in some ways we want others to be thinking about us, just take a look and think about how closely you really think about others. Do you spend your entire day focused on how other people have been handed success or are too stupid to be working in a particular job? Probably not, and if you do you may need some more excitement in your life.

2.     Understand That Your Fear Is Just Your Way Of Protecting Yourself From Failure

We all want to protect ourselves from anything that could come along and make us feel bad about ourselves, and the Imposter Syndrome is one way to prepare yourself for any failure that may come your way. There are people out there (the glass half empty people) that always assume the worst, and in the end they say that they are better prepared for the worst when things don’t go their way. While this may help some cope with the failures that come knocking, relentlessly, at their door, do you really want to be a glass-half-empty type of person? Do you want to spend all of your energy preparing yourself for the worst when you could be living in and celebrating the best of times?

Sometimes I am a negative person and focus on what will go wrong, but when you achieve something you shouldn’t be focusing on what others may perceive of you or what they may (or may not) find out. While I know this is the very battle that those with Imposter Syndrome are working to overcome, try to recognize that these feelings – the feeling that you are not good enough – is your body’s way of preparing you for the worst.

3.    Choose To Focus Your Energy Elsewhere

I know this may be hard, but try to push those inner demons aside when they try to tell you that you aren’t good enough and focus your attention on other things – like getting that project completed, making your client happy, writing your book, or whatever it is you are doing. If you try to tell the demon within you that you won’t give it any of your time, then eventually it will go away.

4.     Recognize That Your Aren’t Perfect

Usually people who suffer from Imposter Syndrome have unrealistic expectations of the successes they should have and are often referred to as perfectionists. Do you know someone like this or are you like this? If so you probably have times of extreme self-doubt and feel inadequate, am I right? What I am here to tell you that this is ok. It is ok to feel self-doubt and to have times where you are unsure, and if you do that doesn’t mean that you are not smart enough or hard-working enough to have achieved everything that you have. Recognizing that you are not perfect should be your first step to overcoming Imposter Syndrome.

5.     Share Your Feelings With Other Females

Chances are if you are a working woman who has achieved some success that at some point in time or another you have doubted yourself and wondered whether you really deserved it. While it may feel like something you have to deal with on your own, it isn’t. The truth is that there are tons of women out there who feel this way. Just try asking some of your successful female friends whether they have ever felt this way and discuss your feelings with them. They may give you some perspective on how to handle your anxieties and overcome your fears. I mean, what are friends for, right?

6.    Wake Up Every Morning Saying Something Great About Yourself

I know this sounds sort of silly, but the more you tell yourself that you are great, talented, smart, nice, a good friend, etc, the more you will believe it. Try leaving yourself a note the night before to wake up to the in the morning. Maybe create a jar with tons of good things to think about yourself and pull one out every morning and say it out loud and believe it. Cut out magazine quotes, book quotes, or other inspirational quotes and frame them in your office, your bathroom, or wherever you feel your most vulnerable. Do whatever it takes to encourage yourself to think highly of yourself and your achievements.

ARE YOU A SUCCESSFUL WOMEN THAT IS PLAGUED WITH IMPOSTER SYNDROME? HOW HAVE YOU COPED?

Resources:

http://www.magpie-girl.com/20091102/the-imposter-syndrome-diagnosis-and-treatment/

http://overcomingimpostersyndrome.com/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/bonniemarcus/2012/03/19/why-cant-we-just-be-real-overcoming-the-imposter-syndrome/

http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/22/imposter-syndrome-professional-fraud-forbes-woman-leadership-psychology.html

 

Figuring Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

29 Jun

The other day I was talking to one of my good friends about where we saw ourselves in 10 years. While there is no doubt that my friend’s receptionist job is right for her right now in this transitional period in her life, she was clear that she didn’t think she saw herself doing that forever. So she asked me, what do you see me doing? I thought about it, about the things the she is interested in, and told her that I think she would be a great personal trainer and fitness coach. She agreed, happily, smiling like had never seen her smile. It was clear from that moment that fitness was her passion and that eventually she should be doing something in that field.

But what? How do you know what you want to do?

When we are little our parents always ask us what we want to be when we grow up and we give them answers – a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, an actor, etc. But what do you do when you are a grown up and you are still not sure what you want to do with the rest of your life? Not many of us have the luxury of quitting our day jobs to really find out what it is that we want, so how on earth is one supposed to determine, out of every job out there, that one particular job is what they want to spend the rest of their life doing?

Like a lot of people I went to college and then, because getting a college degree is not enough these days, made the decision to go to law school. I am happy, for the most part, that I went to law school – mostly because I met my husband there, but also because I really, thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed the challenge of having to basically learn a new language and loved seeing the results when I got the highest grade in the class on the final exam. So then, when I graduated, I took the bar exam and attempted to get a “lawyer-like” job.

My first job was as inside counsel to a small Atlanta firm. I was grateful for the opportunity and for the fact that my boss was simply amazing – one of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever met. But then I discovered that I didn’t particularly like sitting at my desk daily not having very much to do on some days. So I put my feelers out there and landed a totally different job – a job as a litigation attorney at a law firm. I have only been working here 6 months so I don’t really know if this is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. I do know that I enjoy it, but I also know that I have a lot of other goals and dreams besides being an attorney – I want to write a fiction novel that gets published (right now I have started tons of books but have only finished one) and I would love to do a fitness competition. What I don’t know is if one of those goals – writing or being a fitness competitor – could possibly be the thing I want to do with the rest of my life.

I read an article by the Daily Muse on Forbes that interested me. It was about this very subject – how you find what you want to do with the rest of your life. The author of the article talks about hating their desk job, which according to the article is quite common. So what did they do? They quit their job and tried to meet with as many people in the field that they thought they were interested in. They set up meetings to ask people for their advice and made appointments to shadow various people for an entire day. What result did this have? It confirmed that what they thought they wanted to do they in fact did want to do.

I think this article is a good read and should be read by anyone struggling to find their passion. It has inspired me to reach out to those around me. While you might not be able to quit your job and travel to meet with people, you can talk to people doing what you like in your town. Take them to lunch, email them, and ask them to tell you about their journey and about how they found their passion.

Have you ever sat back and wondered why you were working at a job you hated only to realize you had no idea what you really wanted to do with your life? What did you do to discover your passion? What advice would you give others?

You Have The Power To Make Yourself Happy

6 Jun

The other day I was listening to a good friend complain about her job. She was going on and on about how her boss micromanages her too much and drives her crazy on a regular basis. I let her vent because sometimes that is really all we need, and then I said, “But I thought you liked your job?”

She responded by saying, “I do like my job, just not all the time.”

This got me thinking, is not liking your job some of the time normal? I have days where I wonder whether my career path is the right one for me, and then my husband tells me that it is called work for a reason. While I tend to agree that work cannot be exciting all of the time, aren’t there people out there who claim that they absolutely LOVE what they do? I always hear actors saying how blessed they are and how much they enjoy their job, but are there really average-Joes out there who thoroughly enjoy their jobs enough that they can tell you with a straight face that they are 100% happy?

If you listen closely you will find that a lot of people complain about their jobs. Heck, I even complain about mine. Either the drive is too long, your boss is a jerk, you don’t get enough direction, your boss micromanages you, you aren’t learning enough, you are bored, you aren’t making enough money, or your work simply doesn’t stimulate you. At some point in my life or another I have felt every single one of those emotions, but does that mean that my career path is all wrong? Does that mean that I am unhappy?

Even if having those days where you hate your job is normal, how do you know if you are really happy?

In my opinion you have the ability to make yourself happy. Happiness is a decision you make and you alone hold the power.

Ok, I hold the power, what does that even mean?

To me it means that we have a responsibility to ourselves to take a step back and evaluate our situations and feelings to determine whether or not we are happy with our given job and life circumstances. If you feel down about your job one day try taking the time to really thinking about how you feel. Ask yourself, “why do I feel unhappy?” Is it because your boss just yelled at you or is it over something much more serious, like working your fourth weekend in a row and feeling like you want to cry or throw yourself off a bridge?

Once you figure out what it is that is bothering you, consider whether this is something you can live with forever. For my friend I mentioned above, I asked her if she could stand working for her micromanaging boss forever. Her answer – probably not. This tells me that deep down she is unhappy in her current situation. Sure, there may be days when she feels good about her job, but those days where her boss is overwhelming her stand out in her mind more so than the good days.

When I have a bad day or am annoyed at work I always sit back and think about why I am mad or annoyed. Usually finding the answer and being honest with myself allows me to fix the problem. At my last job I found that I was always in a bad mood after work. It wasn’t because my boss was mean, it was because my day had been boring or very uneventful. Yes, I know that work gets boring and slow sometimes, but I was bored and slow all of the time. I took a long time thinking about whether that meant my current career path was wrong for me or not. I did almost everything I could to try to see if something else made me happy – I thought of applying to business school, I started writing a book, I created this blog, and I applied to other positions that I was qualified for. In the end I discovered that my current working situation was what was making me unhappy, so I made a change. Now I am working in a new position that fits my overall life and professional goals better.

We all have the power to change our own lives and get them moving in the direction that we want them to go. I always hear people saying they are stuck in a rut or have no other options, but I don’t agree with that. If you are unhappy at work figure out why and make a change.

Jobs Are Like Relationships – When Its Time To Move On You’ll Know

4 Jun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have all been in a relationship that starts out with so much potential that we start imagining ourselves living with a certain person forever. We dream of love, rings, wedding dresses, and children, only to find out somewhere down the road that you and the other person are not as compatible as you once thought. Either your personalities clash, your lives go in different directions, or you decide that you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with that person. We all know that breaking up is hard to do, but inevitably if we want to move on with our lives (without that person) we need to do it, right?

In a relationship there are certain deal-breakers that present themselves that ultimately show us that we are no longer supposed to date that person. For example, you date a guy for two years and find out right before you plan to get married that he has been lying to you about his finances and debt. Deal-breaker, right? Or you are dating a guy who forgets to tell you that he had a child with a crazy woman who is now stalking you. Deal breaker for sure!

In life, when these deal-breakers present themselves and show us who the person we are dating really is we find it easy to dump them and move on (at least I did). I mean who wants to be married to someone who can’t be honest about his money? Not me!

Just as in intimate relationships, deal-breakers present themselves in our working relationships and careers. The following are examples of career deal-breakers that I would not stand for:

  • Having a boss that constantly yells at me or demeans me, making me feel inadequate and stupid.
  • Having a job that causes me too much stress for very little gain.
  • Finding that your learning has slowed and your position is becoming stagnant.
  • Hearing rumors that your company is about to go under.
  • Being physically and mentally miserable at work for any reason.

I am sure you have other deal-breakers than the ones Ihave listed, but my point is that they exist. These deal-breakers find a way to creep through the very crevices of your happiness and make you feel unhappy and unsatisfied with your career.  While these deal-breakers occur in everyone’s career (no matter what anyone tells you no one’s career and/or job is perfect), it seems to me that people have a harder time leaving an awful job than leaving an awful mate. Why is that?

Maybe leaving your job (and your steady income) seems scarier to you than pushing someone who brings you negative energy out of your life. Maybe the thought of being unemployed, which often has a bad stigma attached to it, embarrasses you. Maybe you feel as if you won’t be able to get another job making comparable pay.

There are a lot of reasons people may feel trapped at their jobs. Trust me, I understand what it feels like to be trapped. I used to spend hours on the internet searching for a way out of my old job, but never actually had the guts to quit. It ultimately took me about an entire year to find another job before I even thought about quitting a job that left me unhappy a lot of the times. 

You may be wondering how you know if something is a deal-breaker.  There is no definition of a deal-breaker, but trust me, when something is a deal-breaker you will know. You will know because whatever it is will make you unhappy. My advice: just use your intuition, you always know what is best for you.

What can you do when a deal-breaker presents itself at your current job?

  • Start looking for another job. Utilize social media and your contacts to see if there are any jobs out there that match your skills.
  • Try solving the problem by talking to your supervisor. If the deal-breaker is something that can be fixed, try being honest with your boss and see if he/she is willing to accommodate your requests.
  • Talk to other people in your field to see if the deal-breaker is common. Finding out if this deal-breaker will present itself at another job is important to know before you leave your current situation. For example, if you are a lawyer and hate having a billable hour requirement you will want to make sure that a different job won’t present the same issues for you.
  • Reevaluate your career path. If you find that you dislike multiple things about your current job you may want to reevaluate your career path. For example, if you went into sales and discovered that you hate having to drive around and service client maybe you will find a sales supervisor position more suitable to your personality.

Remember, just because you took the job doesn’t mean you have to stay there for the rest of your life. We live in a culture where it is more acceptable to go from one job to another, and a large reason for that is because Generation Y does not stay at a job they dislike.

So if you are stuck in a bad working relationship then breakup and move on.

What are your career deal-breakers? Have you ever left a job because one of them presented itself?