During the free exploratory session I have with potential career coaching clients, I often hear the question:
Do I need to go back to school or get more training?
The answer is a resounding:
Yes, as a believer in lifetime learning I advocate for all types of education and the power that knowledge has on the career change process.
When people meet with me, they get an unbiased viewpoint that can help them focus on clarifying their educational goals in relation to their career.
Additional training may be needed in your next career if it will support you in obtaining:
One might even consider taking a short course in photography, cooking a specialty food, or learning what trail cairns are for, who knows? The hope is that by exploring something that you don’t already know about, you gain a new perspective and meet people outside of your current circle.
2, 4 or 6 years of higher education may or may not be the key to unlocking your ideal career path but I would guess that a 2, 4 or 6 week short course will give you some insights you didn’t have before, and might be your cairn that helps you navigate your career path.
Heather Palow, Career and Business Coach who empowers entrepreneurs, career changers and people who want to take control of their lives by clarifying their strengths and achieving their goals.
You have been quite a tricky one to figure out. You have been both a friend and an enemy. In my personal quest to make meaning in my life, I realize that I need to figure out how to navigate you and by doing so, stop fighting you. I just updated my iPhone and I noticed that Apple felt it was important to add seconds onto the timer function I often use. I guess hours and minutes were not enough, suddenly, seconds mattered. What is our society coming to? Even more reason to develop a more respectful and sustainable relationship with you.
My friend Tammy mentioned you over the summer, as she, who has been battling with you for decades, decided to finally find a way to live with you, peacefully. As she proclaimed that she was no longer a slave to you, would no longer feel your squeeze, and refused to be bullied by you, I was excited for her, but pondered if I too, had as difficult a relationship with you as she had. I immediately thought, “nah….” But as weeks went by and I continued to reflect, I don’t remember exactly when it hit me, but I woke up one day and thought, “Oh no…it’s true. I hate you.” Thus started my own journey of understanding your role in my life – how you provide for me, punish and manipulate me. And that perhaps, I am not alone in this feeling. That you do this to all of us. Or said another way, we allow you to.
At any given moment, I feel like I don’t have enough of you, Time. Though I have the same amount of time that every other person has, 24 hours just doesn’t seem like enough. I am constantly trying to find the 25th hour in the day. Because I tell myself that I would be happier if I just had that one more hour to get X done. Funny enough, whatever X is, it never seems to be work related. Although there isn’t as much time in my schedule for even those tasks, X is often more self-serving, like meditating more, slowing down and catching my breath, being mindful, or spending time with those I love.
As a society, we try to manipulate time by changing it (daylight savings), managing it (clocks, alarms, chimes), negotiating with it (“please give me one more day with my loved one before they pass”), and fighting the science behind it (Albert Einstein's 1905 special relativity challenge.) Time has defined my success in life. I would write out long lists of what needed to get done in a day and I was only happy if I could get the ridiculous number of things on that list done. If I didn’t, then I considered myself a failure or “less than.” Was that the right way to judge myself? Well, perhaps not, but the entire western society that surrounded me sent messages that time was to be feared and would become my arbiter on judgment day.
“If you are killing time, it’s not murder. It’s suicide.” - Lou Holtz
The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you and I are pilots of our lives.
I have control – you have control. But do I choose to take control? Not always. The control I sometimes seek is to go back in life. Not to change anything, but to feel a few things twice. What it felt like to be wrapped in my mother’s arms when I came out of the cold Atlantic Ocean after swallowing what felt like a gallon of salt water, what it felt like to hold my father’s arthritic hands, knowing that by being held, his pain was relieved, or what it felt like watching a live concert where I knew every word to every song as did everyone around me and so was not embarrassed to scream the lyrics at the top of my lungs. Those moments. But you can’t, they are gone. You have to make new ones. Sometimes, there is no next time, no second, third, or fourth chances, no pause button or time out. Sometimes it’s just now or never. Then what?
Humans seem to freeze when they face a “now time.” We so desperately want “time” and then, when time is given to us or a moment is offered up to take action, we freeze, unable to grab the opportunity and act.
“If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want.”
Kevin Ngo’s quote reminds us that we are in some way in control of you time, but not so much how fast or slow we go, but how we use you. How much of my life has been spent trying to beat you, Time?
I struggle to make the most of you, Time, yet I find myself in a constant battle with you. You never seem to give back all that you take from me. I fall prey to your time vampires, you know those time-sucking people, projects, and tasks that take precious time away from your day, usually unexpectedly. You parade around every morning, teasing me, making me think that a totally unscheduled day will remain so, but there is always something that you throw in that takes you away from me. An unexpected emergency, call, or “client must have” that takes away precious hours of my day. So, I schedule myself to the minute, because when I schedule, then there isn’t time for time vampires. I use my schedule as a stake that I can throw at time vampires. And it works, most of the time. But occasionally, I throw the schedule stake and it bounces off. And suddenly, I have both a full schedule and a time vampire to deal with. No wonder I am exhausted. But I refuse to fall on your stake any longer.
Part of making meaning in my life means bringing back control over my schedule. And although as a Professional Certified Coach, I make meaning in my life every day I am working, I crave more meaning making. And that will take reflection. And time to do that reflection. And I’m a hypocrite if I tell others the #1 priority in their lives is their own self-reflection when I can’t seem to find the “time” to do it myself. I am reminded that if I don’t have time for what matters, I need to stop doing things that don’t.
It’s time to make meaning through working with time, instead of against it.
But I also need to remember, that sometimes, time needs, well, time.
So, I’ll also be patient.
There are several types of LinkedIn Profile Summaries: there are those that reveal your Personality, those focused on your Mission, there are Cut-to-the-chase Shorty summaries, Blended summaries, and Achievements-based summaries. (There are more, to be sure, but these are the biggies.) Choose the one that best reflects who you are – not just as an employee or entrepreneur, but as a person.
If your LinkedIn Profile Summary is perfectly tailored to a potential employer or a potential audience, you are bound to get that job or client. But will that job or client make you happy? When you ignore your own story in your profile, so too will your potential employer, thus increasing the chances of working in an environment you may come to deplore.
I’m not suggesting that if you are a polyamorous recreational drug user that your LinkedIn Profile Summary reflect such private activities, but that you portray yourself in the way your best friend might: with accuracy and great care. “To thine own self be true,” as Polonius told his son in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Tell your story accurately, but appropriately. A CPA might use a different LinkedIn Summary style than a chef or a motorcycle mechanic. Whether you choose a mission-based summary or one that underscores your personality or your accomplishments, make sure that the end result is the same. Tell your story.
I listened this morning to an NPR piece that underscored the importance of telling your story. The report was about Wonder Valley, the novel by Ivy Pochoda. I was struck by how incredibly important our personal stories can be. Especially in the midst of a job search.
“Your story is the only thing that belongs to you proper," said one of the characters in the novel. “No matter what you have, you'll always have your story. That is your sense of identity and that's what keeps you true to yourself, and as long as you can remember your story and stick by your story… you can retain a sense of dignity, a sense of purpose, a sense of being and belonging.”
And ultimately a sense of dignity, purpose, and belonging are the best possible things you can find in the right job.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!
Author Jane Taylor specializes in stories (LinkedIn Profile Development, Professional Biographies, Cover Letters, etc.). She presents her clients in such a way that their stories shimmer and compel readers to act.
When I started my career after grad school, I served as an AmeriCorps volunteer at a non-profit in Burlington, VT that matched underserved youth with businesses, exposing students to different careers and giving them a way to gain work experience. It was awesome. In fact, our model for high school internships is still going strong in Vermont today!
Little did I know that each time I bought someone a cup of coffee to talk about how they could create an internship, I was one step closer to uncovering what I was meant to do. During these meetings, I would ask questions like: What do you love about what you do? What is your definition of success? What would you tell someone getting started in your career? I quickly became aware of just how much a person’s body language can tell you. In some cases, the person would become larger than life as they told me all the cool things they spend their time on and how excited they were to share this with a young person. And sometimes, I'd see the opposite as they’d shrink into themselves as though hiding from the truth that they wanted a career change.
In those moments, I’d listen; mostly to their fear (“I’ve spent so much time and money, how can I change now?”) and how they felt misguided (“I didn’t realize it would be like this.”) Needless to say, I would end those exchanges asking who else at their business might be a good connection for a student!
I share this not as my Coaching origin story, but rather to highlight how buying someone a cup of coffee and asking a few questions can have a life changing impact. Welcome to informational interviewing.
If you’ve never heard of this, it basically means meeting up with someone you think has an interesting career and asking them about it. That’s it.
In my opinion, this is the easiest way to learn more about a company, organization, industry, or project you are curious about. It may even lead to a tour, shadow, internship, job, or opportunity to volunteer or collaborate.
If the first three sound like something you can only do in high school or college, know this: they are not. People of all ages can benefit tremendously from these experiences, especially in times when you are bored at work, looking for your next thing, or want to expand your professional network.
“But I don’t have the time.”
To that I say, you don’t have time NOT to. One of my clients challenged herself to do two 45 minute meetings per month. At the end of each meeting, she would ask “who else do you think I should talk to?” and “would you introduce me to them?” These two questions are key and having a personal introduction, even virtually, will greatly increase your chances of setting something up. How did that go for my client? She landed her new job way sooner than she thought.
Here are three creative ways to reach out:
And, finally, if you’re not able to meet in person because of location or time, my suggestion is to send them a $5 gift card to a coffee shop right after you connect. Not sure which one? Pick a universal place like Starbucks. My gut tells me that $5 is well worth spending.
Lindsey Lathrop works with motivated people who want to make a change but feel stuck - stuck in their thinking, stuck because of perfection paralysis and imposter syndrome, you name it. She understands the value of a solid support system, and that's what she's able to give her clients. Lindsey believes in "eating the frog," good socks, strong coffee, and paying it forward.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the #1 reason people leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated.
When talking with one of my small business coaching clients, he remarked about how his employee's morale dips during this busy time of year. Does this sound familiar to you?
According to Gallup, only 13% of employees worldwide are fully engaged on the job. That means the other 87% aren’t giving their full effort. Add in a busy time of year or when a tough deadline is looming, those numbers start to hurt business even more.
Few employees go into a job with the intention of performing poorly or not caring. It happens over time, months and years of not getting positive feedback or worse - any feedback at all - they begin to give up because they don’t know how to meet the employer's expectations.
To focus on employee engagement, you have to focus on the employees themselves. You have to set expectations for the employee and then encourage them so they understand what you want to see more of. Recognition goes a long way toward building morale.
As the employer, focus on spotting what works and encouraging it because it is repeatable, understandable, and gives you a high return on your employee investment. This doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time or money.
Encourage your employees by noticing when they do great things such as:
Positive recognition makes people feel really good about themselves. It also motivates employees to keep up the good work year round but most especially when the ‘end of year holiday season’ craziness or large deadlines loom near.
Maya Angelou said it best, “...people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Heather Palow, Career and Business Coach who empowers entrepreneurs, career changers and people who want to take control of their lives by clarifying their strengths and achieving their goals.
In his podcast episode “Quit the Wrong Thing Now” Brendon Burchard explores how quitting – a job, relationship, or otherwise – can be a courageous step towards living a bold and rewarding life. He states that the world’s highest performers are actually habitual quitters. And quitting, he clarifies, doesn’t always mean giving up, but rather knowing when something is not the right fit. Burchard argues that while perseverance is crucial for short term success, long term success is determined by how you identify what works and what doesn’t. And in many cases, success is determined by choosing to be more okay with uncertainty than certainty that is miserable or boring. So, quitting in this sense is being able to let go of what is no longer right in exchange for the unknown and the possibilities therein.
It is important to note the difference between quitting when something is difficult, and quitting something that is wrong. As Burchard explains, it takes a high level of psychological courage to admit that what we’re doing is wrong, and high performers quit the “wrong thing” fast. They aren’t quitting to avoid the struggle, he says. In fact, high performers honor and embrace the struggle with the understanding that it yields growth. They are quitting because if they don’t, they forfeit living out their next level of contribution.
A friend who had recently quit her full-time job to pursue her passion recommended I listen to “Quit the Wrong Thing Now” when I had repeatedly expressed feeling stuck on my own professional path. My gripe was that the irregular hours and physical demand were gravely impacting the amount of time and energy I had left to spend on much of anything else, and I could feel myself running out of room to grow. My job was no longer the right fit for me. I had known this long before I acted on it – because let’s face it, admitting that we have outgrown what used to fit so well is scary – but when I did, the universe responded by shedding new light on a version of myself that had been clouded by “stuckness.”
Since making the decision to quit, I have welcomed opportunities to learn new skills, nurture important relationships, and invest my resources in professional endeavors that will amplify my next level of output. I have learned that no matter how uncertain the outcome, quitting what is too comfortable or predictable is not giving up. It is giving in to who we are meant to become.
As a coaching group, we continually reap the benefits of sharing knowledge and resources that inspire us. My fellow Coach and Accountability friend Alexandra Hughes shared with me an interesting TedEd talk entitled “Try Something New for 30 Days” and asked me to consider what I’ve always wanted to do consistently but just haven’t.
I was surprised to find that my first thought was journaling. My surprise came from the knowledge that I write quite a lot every day, mostly resumes, cover letters, eNotes, and other documents for my career coaching and communication clients. But to sit down and write for myself, well, that’s always felt a bit overwhelming.
I took up the challenge, and knowing my personality, I created a short action plan for success:
In the end, I managed to journal for 27 of the 30 days, not bad for my first attempt. While the number of days wasn’t really my focus, consistency was the key. I found that taking the time to write down a few things helped bring the things I spent energy on into focus, brought structure to my feelings of chaos, and calmed my many thoughts before going to bed.
Would I do it again? Yes! I’m really enjoying the journaling so I’m going to continue with that process. In my desire to start the “something new for 30 days” right away, I printed a pdf version of the free Best Self “self journal” (try it yourself!) and if I continue to enjoy and use it for the full 13 weeks then I will buy one of their hardbound physical journals. They offer a few different products, check out the free pdf version of the scholar journal if you’re a student!
Since I’ve had a good experience with my first 30 day “something new” challenge, I’ve decided to try a second one. This time I’m focusing on celebrating fall, my favorite season, with Griffin, my favorite scruffy little pup. Wish us luck as we get outside every day, enjoy the fall leaves and change of the seasons!
What will you do for your “something new for 30 days?” What short action plan will you create to help make it a success?
Heather Palow, Career and Business Coach empowers entrepreneurs, career changers and people who want to take control of their lives by clarifying their strengths and achieving their goals.
You thought figuring out what to do for a career was hard…some consider retirement harder. At FromWithin Coaching, we see time and time again people struggling to find their “dream job” in a career…in fact, many folks aren’t having a hard time “finding” their dream job – they are out there, instead, they struggle with knowing what they want in that dream job. So, what makes you think you will get clear, all of a sudden, the second you retire? Will you suddenly know what you want? I have seen it so often when folks finally get to retirement, they are just as lost about how they want to spend their time as they were when they were working. Shocking I know, I am sure your head went to sitting on a beach and sipping a cool, frosty beverage. But for most of us, we won’t be on a beach everyday of our retirement…then what will we do with our time?
As a Professional Certified Coach, my job is to help provide clarity, focus, and support in setting and getting my Clients’ career goals. But what happens when the dream of retiring arrives, and you aren’t ready for it? I don’t just mean, financially, although that is a large concern for many, but I mean emotionally. You think it will be easy to go from 90mph in your life to zero? Think again.
I look to subject matter expert, Kim Halladay, Ph.D., ACSW, LMSW when it comes to supporting individuals and couples avoid potholes and find opportunities and pathways to enrich life during one’s active older adult years – in other words, to help them discover the silver lining in aging. After a long career in the mental health field, including nearly a quarter century as the director of a community mental health center in Michigan, Dr. Halladay decided to move his professional focus away from counseling and organizational leadership towards working with people transitioning into their active older years. This is a journey he has personally traveled. And his voyage continues like everyone else.
Dr. Halladay shared with me that, “like most people, I assumed that my life beyond my primary career would fall naturally into place, just as the other chapters had. While it was a frustrating learning process for me, I eventually discovered that I had to nurture a fresh perspective and a new set of skills, since what had worked in my past didn’t quite address my new challenges. In retrospect, it became clear that many of the bumps I faced could have been smoothed out with better awareness, combined with the courage to make challenging life decisions. Ultimately, I realized that opportunities don’t just appear, but need to be sought out and created. Among other things, this meant confronting the daunting task of deciding what to look for and where. After all, it’s hard to succeed on a treasure hunt if you have no idea what you’re seeking.”
Dr. Halladay and his wife of 48 years, Jeanie, moved to Vermont in 2016 after residing in Michigan most of their lives. While the allure of Vermont’s beauty and life style were major attractions, being close to their three grandchildren was the principal motivator for their move.
As the final step in his career transformation, in 2017 Dr. Halladay created Act2 Transitions, a coaching, mentoring, and consulting practice. Act2 Transitions coaching is a structured and professionally guided process of addressing important issues and decisions that need to be confronted to improve the chances of a successful transition into the active older adult years. In coaching, individuals, and occasionally couples, meet with a professionally trained individual to prepare for life after the end of one’s primary work career. Act2 Transitions coaching is also used by persons already retired when things are not working out as desired. While financial security is a crucial building block for aging well, the coaching provided by Dr. Halladay focuses on non-financial factors that are also vital to success.
Can you benefit from sitting down with Dr. Halladay? Anyone seeking a positive life experience after the end of one’s primary work career will benefit by sitting down with him. This service will be especially valuable for persons who find themselves perplexed by the many variables and life decisions that need attention. (And isn’t that most of us?)
Ask yourself the following:
If you do not have solid answers to the above questions, perhaps taking a moment in your busy day to consider if your “silver lining” of retirement is as sparkly as you think it is makes sense. My advice? Reach out to Dr. Halladay for a coaching session to stop guessing at what happens to you after retirement and become as intentional in your retirement as you are about your current career.
Dr. Halladay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him I sent you!
And reach out to me anytime at email@example.com to see what we can do for you, today.
To talk about achieving our goals, we have to talk about keeping the bar low. Why? Because anyone who has achieved success will tell you, it not about the big leap. (Of course, we are made to feel this way.) It’s actually about all the tiny steps (and small decisions) that it takes to get momentum going. This especially comes in handy when you’ve lost your motivation.
I can't talk about keeping the bar low without taking about my dog, Jake.
We think Jake is 15 years old. The facts: we adopted him in 2003 and he wasn't a puppy. He could be 17. #winningatlife
What we noticed right away with Jake is that he puts in the least possible effort. Let's take the dog park. He will plant himself in the middle of the field, and as other dogs chase each other, Jake spins himself around barking and wagging his tail - as if he's ALSO in on the chase. But let's be honest, he really isn't. And while yes, this sounds like a life hack for having old joints, he's been doing this from day one.
Other questions Jake seems to ask himself...Why swim when I can just lay in the water? Why NOT sleep ALL day?
Alright, let's talk about humans and low bars. Because, unfortunately we can’t sleep all day.
Keeping the bar low has helped me reboot SO many times in my life. Why? It helps me shift my mindset.
Some examples of me lowering the bar:
“I’ll be killing it if I get up everyday at 5:30am this week.” VS. “Get up at 5:30 one time this week.”
“I’ll only be happy if I run 5 miles today.” VS. “I’ll be happy to get outside today for a half hour.”
“Drink a gallon of water each day.” VS. “Bring your water bottle when you leave the house.”
“I’ll be a good wife if I send a birthday card to all of our family this year.” VS. “Send cards to those you can and call/email/FB message the rest.”
“Don’t buy coffee out this week.” VS. “Buy coffee 2x this week.”
You get the picture. Every time I am down and/or have lost steam, I go back to setting the bar low. When I sit down to write out my low bar goals, sure, the voices of “Lindsey, you should know how to do this by now” or “Really?! This again?!” creep in.
And then I feel really smart. Because, I remind myself that with setting the bar low:
1) I almost can’t fail because they are so achievable.
2) The achievement WILL make me feel better.
3) I almost always do more.
This is the way I kick start myself.
So, knowing emotions, people, other priorities will inevitably pop up AND knowing we’re human and will experience a plateau during a task or project – how do we keep up?
Set a low bar and design with your “distractions” in mind.
We design knowing we will need to build momentum - again.
We design knowing we will need to boost our confidence – again.
We design knowing we will have negative thoughts - again.
It’s all going to be there. Again and again and again.
For many of us, we are fueled by our achievements. We get a little dopamine boost every time we check something off.
If you’re thinking to yourself “Only lazy people keep the bar low.” or “Small goals are too easy.” That second point IS The point. It’s harder NOT to meet these goals. (It’s like a frown...it takes MORE muscle to frown than to smile.) And, if you’re not getting stuff done anyway, think about how nice it’ll be to check a tiny thing off.
It doesn’t have to be forever. In fact, it won’t be.
Because small achievements + time = bigger achievements.
Well, except for Jake. But he’s winning at life anyway.
Lindsey Lathrop works with motivated people who want to make a change but feel stuck - stuck in their thinking, stuck because of perfection paralysis and imposter syndrome, you name it. She gets the value of a solid support system, and that's what she's able to give her clients. Lindsey believes in "eating the frog," good socks, strong coffee, and paying it forward.