Kick Starting Your New Year

First, I want to start off by wishing all of you a very happy, safe, healthy and prosperous New Year.

happy new year

The holiday season typically provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the year behind us. What lessons did we learn? What would we do differently? What did we accomplish and what weren’t we able to cross off our list. As the new year begins most of us feel rejuvenated, optimistic, full of hope and revolve to make this year different.

This may include setting goals for a new job, home, travel, more money, etc. As you begin to define what you want to change, the how to get there will be a critical input to developing your roadmap.

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If your sites are set on career changes you may want to explore enhancing your skill set. Virtual learning has come a long way over the last few years and now there are variety of free learning options that cater to how you want to learn.

  1. Leverage your company’s eLearning library for education/training programs.
  2. Take advantage of social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ . You can join free groups, participate in conversations, projects, webinars, events and industry discussions.
  3. Sites like Coursera offer college/university level courses taught by professors for free!
  4. One of my personal favourites; YouTube. It’s not just for music videos. It offers instructional videos, how to’s, etc. It’s one of my main go to’s when I need just in time learning.

Upgrading your skills in an evolving market is always a good idea. It demonstrates your willingness to learn new things and keep relevant. Take a few moments to think about what new skills or training you would like to acquire and how that may help you align with your roadmap.

Maybe you’re quite happy with your job but would like to get a better sense of what’s happening within your coffee chatcompany or out there (in your industry). The start of the new year should also be a re-examination of relationships.  Remove those who are toxic and draining. Toxic relationships erode your self-confidence and leave you feeling inadequate. Toss them in the garbage! Draining relationships are ones that are typically one sided, all about the other person. Hey it’s time to put yourself first! Time to let go and move on to relationships that are fulfilling for both parties.

I am a firm believer in meeting new people. Not only does it expand your social network, but it also stimulates your communication and inter-personal skills. It removes complacency and makes us more self-aware. Take some time to build networks both within and outside your organization. How about making a goal to network with six people this year? That’s one every two months.

  1. Pick two people you sparingly interact with at work. Schedule a coffee to learn more about what they do and connect.
  2. Pick two people from your external network that are acquaintances. If they live in another city/location schedule virtual coffee using tools like Google HangOut, Skype, Facetime, What’sapp, etc. so you can still maintain the visual connection.
  3. Pick to two people in your community. Building and cultivating your network can be an important step in helping you make connections to realize your end goals.
  4. Build your networks through LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Google+. Increasing your network will give you more visibility to other professionals.

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Regardless of your end goals, as I wrote in my blog post How to Articulate Your Accomplishments for Your Performance Review, make a point of updating your online profile(s) to include accomplishments, skills and projects you have completed. This will boost your brand and showcase your skills.

Finally, and most importantly, balance your professional goals and objectives with your personal goals and objectives. The way we feel is the foundation of

how we project ourselves to our family, friends and work colleagues. Feeling positive about you should be your number one priority. Maybe it’s time to take up a new hobby or start an exercise routine. Having this balance will help put you into the right frame of mind to focus and achieve your goals. I am particularly passionate about this.

My personal journey to re-focus on health and wellness started in 2013. I felt I was overweight which caused me to be lethargic and more introverted. The final straw was when I went to my cousins wedding and looked at pics of myself. I didn’t like what I sahealthylifestylew. I decided I need to do something to improve my well being. That year I started an exercise routine and started eating more natural foods. Within six months I lost close to 40 pounds and 6 dress sizes. I had a lot of support and encouragement along the way. I’ve managed to stick to my routine and have kept the weight off for more than a year. More importantly, I feel better and have more energy. It’s transformed my attitude, relationships and way of thinking. Make it a priority and find time to spend on yourself. How can you start?

  1. Exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes (cardio)
  2. Reduce your sugar intake
  3. Reduce your  processed food intake
  4. Eat frequently with smaller meals throughout the day

We all think we don’t have time, but with a little sacrifice, you can reap big rewards.

As for me…I am thankful I had a great year last year and feel very optimistic for the year ahead.

I would love to hear what you have planned for the year ahead. I wish you every sucess in achieving your goals. Tweet me @annzaliebarrett

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Get Your Career Plan Into Shape

It’s the new year. We’ve made our resolutions, committed to losing the “holiday weight” and thought about what we will do differently this year. For many of us this includes making a career move.

Career planning is typically treated like dieting. We only focus on it when we want to make a change. Once we achieve our goal we stop. Successful career planning shouldn’t be thought of in a just in time manner, instead it should be approached in the same way as a healthy lifestyle. We can build mental exercises  positive thinking and networking into our daily routine creating a more holistic approach to career planning. Over time this daily regiment will help us grow, develop and learn where we can shape our own career path.

Here are some quick things you can build into your everyday routine to get your career plan in shape:

Exercise Your Mind:  Getting into shape means exercising your body and mind. Your brain needs to work out to be alert and focused. The more your brain works out, the more you stimulate creativity and build memory retention. Here are two key mental exercises you can start doing today:

newspaperRead something new every day: With so many blogs, eBooks, audio books, articles and news items, there is a plethora of rich content available for consumption. Technology has made it even easier to access and read information on the go through an eReader, iPad or smart phone. Reading is an important element in development and education. It’s a way to actively listen to content being presented and form an opinion about it. Expanding the scope of what you read is also important in building your comprehension skills and getting your creative juices flowing. Keeping up to date on new developments within and outside your industry or profession will also keep you relevant and allow you to contribute new ideas and perspectives in your job.

artLearn something new: Life is busy and we often get consumed by our routine to break out and try something different. Career balance is about being well rounded in a variety of areas within and outside work. Taking on something different not only challenges us to move outside our comfort zone, but may also reveal a hidden talent! Learning something new contributes to both your personal and professional growth and may help steer you in a career path you hadn’t considered before.

Socialize: Meeting new people sharpens your interpersonal and communication skills. Socializing on a daily basis is a great way to get introduced to new ideas which can energize your creative juices. Here are two ways to stay actively social:

meetNetworking– Connecting with people within your career stream or industry on a regular basis can foster interesting discussions and ideas which you can leverage in your current or new career. Social tools such as LinkedIn make it easy to connect and participate. Why not join a group on LinkedIn and start a discussion?

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Meet people in person: Can you participate in your next meeting in person? If so, take a moment to have that meeting face to face. Meeting people in person helps build relationships and trust. It also gives you an opportunity to practice and show off your communication and presentation skills. This will come in handy in your next career move!

MC900433947Market Yourself: In the era of social media everyone can create their own personal brand. What do you want people to know about you as a professional? No one knows more about your accomplishments , projects you’ve worked on, awards, recognitions,  etc. than you. Update your LinkedIn profile with your projects and awards. Have you had positive feedback? Ask for recommendations or endorsements on LinkedIn. Your profile will help you to track all of your successes as they occur.

excerciseHave a positive outlook: Is your glass half empty or half full? Getting in shape means focusing on the larger plan, not only what happens today. Feel good about the work you produced. The way we feel about our successes affects our self-esteem, concentration, relationships and the way we approach our work. A healthy outlook focuses on the positive, our glass being half full.

Which of these will you start doing today?

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By Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategies