We love different perspectives and Chris Guillebeau has a way of sharing unconventional strategies. After traveling the world (literally every country) between 2002 and 2013, he’s gained a unique world perspective and some fantastic advice for setting your goals and designing your life. Check out his blog below (an oldie but a goodie) – it’s worth the read.
We have this misunderstanding in our society that to be successful you have to be doing ten things at a time. And if you can’t “multitask”, well, you just won’t prosper. People wear it like a badge of honor. Interestingly, you can find study after study that disproves this fallacy. It’s actually anti-productive to multi-task.
Has this ever happen to you: you have a project you need to really think about and you’re on a deadline. You are making progress, when an email pops up. Instead of letting it sit for five (or fifteen minutes) you stop what you are doing and go check the email.
A New York Times article written by Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine. She found that a typical office worker gets only 11 minutes between each interruption. While it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption. Googling this subject brings up amazing amounts of information supporting this research, yet we keep putting on our multitasking badge everyday.
Instead, this week dedicate yourself to the art of not multitasking see how different it feels to let yourself focus.
Here’s five things you can do to help reach this goal:
- First thing Monday morning, spend 10 minutes perusing your calendar and start to manage your time. Don’t forget it is YOUR time.
- Decline or ask for the host to reschedule double-booked meetings.
- If you’ve been invited to a meeting and there’s no information about the subject matter, contact the host and ask about your role and if you need to prepare anything. You may find out you don’t actually need to attend and get an hour back.
- If you see a big meeting on Thursday, put time on your calendar the day or two before to specifically prepare for that meeting.
- Schedule YOUR time during the day.
- The first and last hour of the day are great times to put “work time” on your calendar. This will allow you to truly focus on the work you need to get done.
- Make your daily to-do list. Put it down on paper, in your phone, on your computer – whatever works for you AND prioritize it. Keep space on that list as other things will certainly get added throughout the day. This allows you to capture all in one place, instead of twenty.
- Make a plan for email time. We had a friend who only checked email three times a day. He’d use 15 – 30 minutes at 8:30, 11:30 and 4:30 to correspond. That might not work for you but maybe try 10 minutes every hour instead. Whatever your preference, just allocate that time instead of letting the email allocate it for you (as in: whenever one pops up).
- Get outside and take a walk.
- This sounds crazy during a busy day yet you will be amazed at how a little fresh air can add perspective.
Give this a try for a week, and let us know how it went… and please share any other ideas as well.
A favorite quote of ours is from author Tom Robbins in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues:
“Plans are one thing and fate another. When they coincide success results.”
It goes hand in hand with Serendipity, the chance occurrence and development of events in a happy or beneficial way. We love this word as it speaks to possibilities: bumping into an old friend you haven’t seen for years, meeting someone completely new and hitting it off, then finding out they work at the company you’ve been trying to get into, taking a wrong turn and discovering a cool new restaurant. These signs are always around us and too often in our busy lives, we don’t stop to pay any attention to them…
We encourage you to take a moment to bathe in coincidence and serendipity – see where it may lead you and what amazing things you may discover about yourself and your world.
She said: “In my head, I just haven’t quite figured out what I want to do”
We said: “Maybe you should talk to someone not in your head”
It’s that time of year, the look back to look forward. Did you set out with a goal and accomplish it? Then celebrate. Or is that goal going onto this year’s list? That’s okay too… sometimes it takes a little more discovery before you can actually make it happen. The important thing is not to go it alone.
To put this in perspective think of an everyday task – like washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen. When you go it alone, it can take a while, but get your significant other, kids or even dinner guests (I know can you imagine) to help, the time flies by and it’s done. Why would or should decision-making be any different? If you do it in a vacuum (aka solo) sometimes the outcome might just suck (yes, pun intended)… but add others’ perspectives and you’ve created potential. We like to think of this as a kitchen table – where lots of important conversations take place – who sits at yours to help you through?
As you look to this new year and consider what makes your 2018 list, start by inviting your team to your table, a group of people who will hold you accountable and cheer you on to greatness. To give you a well-rounded approach, your team, your board of directors should be diverse – if you have all the likeminded thinkers, you may end up right back here next year.
Challenge yourself to find different sets of skills like:
- Cheerleader – they offer their undying support and enthusiasm, they don’t need to know your skill set to know that you are awesome!
- Good Listener -This person creates a safe environment for you to speak they give you the confidence to answer the questions and sort it all out.
- Creative Problem Solver – they look at everything with a different perspective. They don’t get overly emotional; they use logic and some intuition to solve your problems.
- Savvy Politician – They get the politics of the business/situation you’re in. They are amazing at navigating difficult situations.
- The Straight Shooter – They tell it like it is…and they force you to be real with yourself.
- Champion – They know your capabilities, inside and out, personally and professionally, could be a former boss or your “work” wife.
Who will hold you accountable for your 2018 goals? Who’s going to coach you, guide you or cheer you on to greatness? You have that answer, now go and ask them for their help.
2018 is going to be a great year. It’s year two of our journey as entrepreneurs and to say we learned a thing or two our first year would be a bit of an understatement. A huge thanks to all of you who’ve liked us on Facebook, followed us on Instagram, bought our book (or more than one) for you or a friend and everyone in between.
We hope we’ve helped you Think,Transform and Takeoff.
We’ll leave you with this, to contemplate the year ahead:
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” ― Gilda Radner
Here’s to a delicious year ahead from Shift & Spark.
“How to stop time: kiss
How to travel in time: read
How to escape time: music
How to feel time: write
How to release time: breathe…”
The gift of pause
Every holiday season, my mother-in-law has a friend who hosts a pause party. A pause party? Turns out it’s her gift to her friends to take a night off of all their responsibilities, from shopping for the perfect gift, cooking or cleaning the house to sit down for the night with friends, share a meal and a moment during the busiest of seasons. Everyone who is invited makes the time to attend, it’s become an annual tradition.
What a great reminder this holiday season, in the midst of it all, take a moment for yourself to pause. And reflect. And enjoy the moment.
“When asked if my cup is half empty or half full my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.”
We’ve been spending a lot of time in airports lately… and on one particular trip we noticed a young woman walking along with a big smile across her face, a swagger that was not arrogant but approachable and a t-shirt with the word grateful sprawled across it. We stopped to contemplate how such a word has the power to shift the way you approach life.
Our philosophy of think, transform and takeoff comes from a place of gratitude… and we thought we’d share three things that have helped us move from being our own worst enemies to empowering ourselves to realize we can be change-agents. If you happen to google this topic, there’s a ton of advice out there. Here’s ours:
- Gain perspective: if you are only looking at the leaf on a tree, you will fail to see the beautiful forest. It is hard to see the big picture when you may be suffering – you may have just lost your job, going through a divorce or lost a family member – if you can search and find that silver lining, the positivity and perspective will help to keep you going and realize even in your current situation, you have so much to be thankful for.
- Write it down: We are big fans of taking time to write things down… why not what you are thankful and grateful for… it is always a good reminder of how much we really have. When you are feeling up or a little down, take a five minute break and jot a few things down – it could be waking up to your first cup of coffee, your boss, your friends, the 6:00 am hot yoga class, whatever it is – you will find yourself smiling and uplifted.
- Everyday is a new day: a Weight Watcher mantra…don’t beat yourself up, tomorrow is a new day – be thankful we get another sunrise, sunset and everything in between.
We’d love to hear how you embrace gratefulness… Leave us a comment below.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! As we gather with friends and family and enjoy the yummy food and the delicious cocktails we’re reminded to give thanks for all we have, to practice gratitude in a world of plenty. We’re fortunate to have so many things to be thankful for and we know, we really don’t tell you enough, so today just know that we do appreciate each and every one of you.
- Our families, we would be lost without your love and support.
- Our friends, old and new.
- A delicious cocktail and a glass of red wine.
- To everyone who has purchased a copy of our book; gol: a curated guide for the modern day job search.
- To everyone who has liked a post, on Facebook or Instagram, shared our story or referred our book to your friends and family, it means so much to us, you really have no idea.
- To the partnerships we have formed, from the people who helped us get published to the people who sell our book online and everyone we forgot in between.
- To our fellow entrepreneurs and authors for your inspiration and advice.
From the bottom of our hearts and glasses, cheers and thank you!
#shiftandspark #thankful #thanksgiving #cheers
Why two sets of goals? Here’s why: We’re typically so focused on our career goals that we forget the me part and that can lead to unhappiness at work and at home. When our accomplishments are out of whack as to where we want to go as women, wife, mom, friend we can be left feeling empty or unfulfilled. Ask yourself, what do you need in your personal life to make you feel good about your professional life or vice versa. And then write them down. You may notice that your worlds may be competing with each other, for example you may want to spend more time with your kids, but you also want that promotion at work, but the stress of trying to achieve both is killing you. So maybe a good goal for you would be to spend more uninterrupted time with your kids, you know without checking your phone, or maybe it’s simply to adjust when you go in and when you go home. Personal and professional goals can coexist and they don’t have to be monumental to feel good, achieving the goal no matter how big will help you feel great and accomplished.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
For a little motivation, National Update Your Resume month is fast coming to a close and it’s time to stop putting it off… Here’s a few tips to help you get moving:
First, make an hour appointment with yourself – five in a row, daily, weekly or monthly, if that’s what it takes. Building your resume is a commitment. Making an appointment with yourself is not only a reminder to focus on your resume but also makes updating your resume as important as other “appointments” in your life and let’s you bite it off in digestible chunks.
Then build a “to do” list with goals for each of those hours. It can be so easy to take that sacred hour and check social media, read emails or simply fill it with all the “other things” instead of focusing on making this change. Creating to dos for your resume building time gives you a starting place when you sit down and it can also help keep you tracking on what you need to get done.
Use these ideas as a starting point:
Hour 1: Get organized and get ready to go.
- Your most recent resume
- All your former annual reviews from your current and previous jobs – you’ll use these to remind yourself of all the amazing things you’ve accomplished and need to bring forward
Google action verbs and print them out:
- These will help you describe your experiences and accomplishments to give you alternative options to using Coordinated, Participated, etc. at the start of every sentence
Look online at resume formats:
- Having a resume design can help you organize your resume and gets you noticed
Hour 2: Start your draft
Review your existing resume:
- Review your previous jobs on your resume and ask yourself: if you were a recruiter that knew nothing about the organization or job, does your description tell that story? If not, start to make notes on what needs to change.
Add what you do today:
- Start to jot down what you’ve been doing at your current job and any that haven’t been added
- Pull it all together in a draft: using the new design you’ve found, create your first draft
Hour 3: Print out your draft, grab a pencil (with a good eraser) and revise
- Print it out the draft you’ve created and re-read it.
- What do you think? It’s hard to nail it right out of the gate so expect to be making adjustments, finding grammatical errors and rewording sections.
- Let it sit and then re-read one last time for any other changes.
Hour 4: Send your resume to a friend or two to get their opinion
- Do you have a friend who’s a really good proof-reader, savvy copywriter, or really good at being honest with you? Send. It.
- Ask your friends to get it back to you by a certain (within a week to keep you moving)
Hour 5: Get all your friend’s feedback and revise
- By now, you should have a solid resume, a living, breathing document that can get you started
The following was written by our dear friend Sally Vardaman Johnson.
Sally Vardaman Johnson is a health insurance professional and writer. She recently added standup comedy to her endeavors to stretch her creative muscles and show her kids you’re never too old to try something new. You can read her occasional ponderings at sallysmart.wordpress.com, and follow her on Twitter at @vardaman_sally.
Kathy Engen and I met years ago when our boys attended kindergarten together. Those boys will soon start their last year of middle school.
At the time Kathy worked with an outplacement service helping recently laid off professionals find a new job – resume drafting, interview coaching and the like. I barely knew her, but she said something back then that stuck with me. She really believed there was a job for everyone. Each person just needed to find it, and sometimes they need help doing so. When I heard her say it, I immediately believed her.
Many years later, Kathy and Linda Heath published a book, gol: a curated guide to the modern day job hunt. These women are kind, strong and generous contributors to our community. Of course I was going to buy a copy to support them. But I didn’t really need it. Nope. I am not the workbook type.
Not long after their publication date, however, my workplace changed rapidly. Suddenly my own job seemed in jeopardy. I am a self-supporting, single mother, and I was terrified.
You know what is really hard to do when you are scared? Feel good about yourself and promote yourself. Fear fans the flame of economic vulnerability. I knew better than to panic, but I was not sure what to do instead.
Around that time Kathy and Linda appeared on a local news show promoting their new book. They talked about returning to the workforce after a long hiatus to care for young children, which I had done a few years back. It’s hard returning at first, and easy to get caught up doing work that draws praise. You can find yourself following what other people think you should do, instead of discovering what you want to be doing.
I heard that description and instantly identified. I did not even like my job, and already felt the environment did not fit me. But the absence of my paycheck would be an immediate crisis for me.
On a quiet, cold Minnesota evening, I sat in front of a fire with my new copy of gol. I shelved a swirl of negative thinking and excuses, and made myself work through the pages until I ran out of answers. I was sad. I felt I was on the wrong path and it was too late to fix it.
But gol, and my rising anxiety, pushed me into action. I wrote down things I wanted professionally and personally, and stared at them side by side. I thought I had considered such things in tandem, but seeing them on paper was powerful. It grounded my thinking and helped me brainstorm what changes to my existing job would nudge me closer to a different path. In 2012 Neil Gaiman gave a commencement speech to the University of the Arts. In it he describes imaging your big goal as a mountain, and assessing opportunities by whether they move you toward or away from your mountain.
Over the next week I polished my resume and forced myself to send it out without overthinking it. I broke from gol’s advice here and rushed it out the door. I later discovered a horrifying typo on the cover letter of my first submission. But hey, I got it out there. That submission was to a company I had admired for a long time. It won’t matter, I assured myself. I don’t know anyone there. I won’t get an interview.
Turns out I interviewed for two companies, one through a strong professional connection, and the one with my typo memorialized in its system. Fortunately the algorithm gods plucked me from their database anyway. These opportunities were both a better fit than my current job. They required my strongest skill sets, ones not being utilized in my current role.
Here is where my list of personal and professional priorities mattered most. I work in health insurance. This is no childhood dream career. In my list, my long term goals (ahem, dreams) simply could not be executed in the near term. The most realistic incremental change I identified was to consider my vantage point – what parts of this complex and challenging industry would I be excited to see every day? My current job was too far from the big solutions being developed.
As I moved through the interview process at each company, I hung my hat on this idea of vantage point. It gave me something to work toward that mattered to me, rather than escaping a frightening situation. I asked better questions and had more robust discussions with potential managers and coworkers. This focus made me a better candidate. By the way, both companies asked me almost the exact interview questions listed in gol.
Ultimately, I got the job at the company where I sent my typo, where I knew no one. It was the one I wanted. Two months in, I am finding my way and am so grateful for the change. Fear and panic, however uncomfortable, spurred the change I needed.
As I settle into my new role, I think about those dreams I listed – the ones so far from where I am now. In my mind I have built my mountain, as Gaiman said. Change will come again, whether I initiate it or not. My mountain is on paper, and it stares back at me. I have taken a tiny step in its direction, and now I can begin to imagine the next one.
It’s the time of year again. After 13 years of school it’s time for the next chapter. In the Midwest, we have a phenomenon called the graduation party. These can be elaborate shindigs planned for years in advance with house and landscaping projects revolving around this celebration or a simple gathering of family and friends. Either way, these parties are a great way to rekindle your own friendships and check in with people you may not have seen for years. It’s also a time when you or your child will be getting a ton of advice from all the well-wishers.
Yep, there’s no shortage of advice out there. So we’re going to join in on the fun and pass on this great article from the Wichita Eagle. http://www.kansas.com/living/family/suzanne-tobias/article19884336.html It pretty much covers it all, makes us smile and nod in agreement. After the hats have flown high in the sky and the grad parties have come to an end – make sure you take the time to read these tidbits, we promise you’ll find something you like. Tell us your favorite in the comments below.
Here’s to all you special graduates out there. Tomorrow starts today.
Wow, we did it, our very first TV interview! We’ll be telling you more about the experience and what we did to get ready for it, from planning our outfits to practicing interview questions in a later blog post. Until then, if you missed it you can watch it here.