3 Words to Live By – 2017 Reflection (Learn)

Goal SheetThis is the first of a three part blog as I reflect on the words I chose to live by in the beginning of 2017.

It’s mid-December and we’re closing out the year. Before I choose 3 Words to Live By for 2018, I need to see how I embraced this year’s ideas into my goals and the way I live each day.

2017 was the second year I chose three words to live by. One of my early career mentors, Phil Buckley, shared on LinkedIn that he does this. Seemed like a fun idea, so I gave it try and I’ve found it to be very powerful. The original creator of the “My 3 Words” exercise is Chris Brogan.

My Three Words for 2017: Learn – Love – Share

I created goals that connected to those three words. In reflecting on my achievements over the last year, it’s been cool to think about how I integrated these three words into everything I do.

I’m playing around with what my three words will be for 2018…maybe something about growth. Definitely gratitude…because I’m so grateful for the people I interact with by doing the work I do!

Word to Live By #1 – LEARN:

I experienced so much learning in 2017, I don’t think I can capture it all!

In 2017 I collaborated with new companies that allowed me to learn and grow while helping others. I worked as a Recruiter and as a Career Advisor for two different companies, both on a part-time basis.

Learning what is relevant to hiring managers right now and participating in the recruitment process gives me better information to share with my career coaching clients who are in job search mode.

As a Career Advisor, I began helping a broader range of clients, including young adults figuring out their academic choices. (Great info I can use when my own daughters go through this process in the near future!) I became certified in a new career assessment tool. What I learned from my colleagues, who are psychologists, was phenomenal.

On the fitness side, I took Marc Lebert’s Foundation to Function  course and found new ways to use Equalizers and Buddy Systems in our classes.

Personally, I learned how to transition my kids from one community (East Toronto) into another (Uxbridge). I learned what it takes to buy and sell a house in a frantic market. And how to maintain ties with the people and places that shaped our first 10 years of parenthood while building connections where we live now.

Plus, I hired a coach and started on a path of personal development that continues to be transformational.

Up next, thinking about all the LOVE I gave and received during 2017! Stay tuned for my next post…

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“Who are the People in your Neighborhood?” – Why Networking with other Parents is Good for your Career

Think Differently about the networking you already Do

Networking is a dirty word for many of us.

The idea of “getting out there” to advance your career makes us feel uncomfortable.

I’d argue that as a mom, you’re already doing a lot of networking. It is the community you’re building with parents you meet at drop-in centres, playgrounds, mom’s groups and kid’s programs that can enhance your career in the short and long term.

Connect to Spark some Entrepreneurial Spirit:

I know many moms who formed friendships during maternity leave who went on to create successful business partnerships. Oaks ‘n acorns, the studio where I run my group fitness business is an example. The co-owners met in a mommy group and decided they didn’t want the experience to end…so they created a space where parents can hang out with their kids and other adults while learning and fun! There are many women who didn’t believe they had the skills to become entrepreneurs but then went on to pursue a business opportunity while on maternity leave. Often times it was meeting other moms with kids the same age that became the catalyst for some amazing business collaborations.

If you don’t partner with another mom on your entrepreneurial venture, you will gain the support of other parents as you launch your own business. Before I started CareerFit Mom I utilized my mom’s group for market research through an online questionnaire. Their feedback was invaluable and many of them became my first clients!

Connect to Reinvent Your Career:

If you are considering making a career change, knowing the professional backgrounds of other parents is crucial. Your “mom network” is a resource to discover new opportunities and potential contacts that can help you move forward.

Be genuinely interested in what people do in their careers by asking them about their professional life. You may find yourself at a playdate where the kids are happily engaged and your conversation with the other mom leads to careers. Learn what path she took and discuss the commonalities and differences you have in your educational and professional lives. You may even discover people or experiences you have in common, which further cements your bond.

Connect to Help Others (and Yourself!) Advance a Career:

When you are linked into the career backgrounds and ambitions of the parents in your community, you can offer your own guidance, support and connections. The more you help others, the more people will remember to recommend you for a coveted job opening or provide an introduction to a hiring manager you need to meet. I call this “Career Karma” – what goes around, comes around!

So as you get to know more parents, ask about their careers and tell them about your own. You’ll develop confidence in your career story and naturally create new professional opportunities. Don’t forget to connect with your new mom friends on LinkedIn when you get home from that playdate!


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Transitioning Back to Work after Maternity Leave


Used under the Flickr Creative Commons license Photo by: Sal / Wondermonkey2k

Used under the Flickr Creative Commons license Photo by: Sal / Wondermonkey2k

Ah, the emotional roller coaster that comes with a parental leave from work.

Before and during your pregnancy, you feel fully engaged and enthusiastic about progressing your career. The first few months with your baby throws everything into a crazy mess as you get to know your child. For many of my clients, it is difficult to transition from work to being at home with a baby. Not only is your job a big part of your self-esteem and confidence, it is also where you spent the majority of your waking hours. Now you’re awake all the time as a new mom dealing with your infant’s needs. As your maternity leave draws to a close, you feel anxious about what the world of work will look like upon your return and how you’ll cope with leaving your baby with another caregiver.


It is smart to have a loose strategy about how you plan to communicate with work while you’re on maternity leave. Having some informal interactions will keep you in the loop and help reduce anxiety. It’s almost like desensitizing yourself to the shock of going to back. Here are my tips for how soon and how often to touch base and what kind of communication is most appropriate.

When Baby Arrives:

Send an email to your closest work contacts – to your manager, direct reports and significant colleagues. They will want to share your joy! Write a brief message to let them know you made it through your journey. Introduce your child by name and include a photo because they’ll definitely want to see if your baby looks like you!

Show and Tell:

A visit to the workplace can be a nice outing if yours is a safe and welcoming environment for a baby. Arrange a time with anyone you’re close to and make sure your boss is aware you’re coming in. This will be a good time to touch base but keep it light and personal. You don’t need to be dragged into your responsibilities or projects. Simply say hello to your replacement but stop yourself from looking over their shoulder at your old work.

Only go into the office if you are really interested and ready. It may take, 6, 8 or 12 weeks to feel like you have it “together” enough to make an appearance. For me, there happened to be a company holiday party scheduled for about 6 weeks after my twins were born. My husband and I attended with the babies but I felt anxious the entire time. In retrospect it was probably too early for me to feel comfortable attending a big event with my colleagues passing the girls around from person to person.

Staying Connected Online:

Enjoy your maternity leave and if you’d like to, keep in touch via email or social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram with your close friends from work. Make it a social conversation and let them know up front how much office news you want to be made aware of.

Lunch Dates:

Perhaps schedule a lunch or coffee date about halfway through your leave, if you have a close relationship with your co-workers. One of my clients appreciated her invitation to another colleague’s office baby shower. It felt nice to be included and gave her a chance to see her work contacts in a social setting. Otherwise, it is perfectly fine to disengage from work to focus on your new job of being a mom.

Communicating About Returning to Work:

Thinking about when your leave ends or if you choose to go back earlier than one year, contact your manager and/or Human Resources about two months before. Let them know your anticipated Return to Work date and book a meeting to speak to your boss about what you can expect upon your return. Try to find childcare if possible for that meeting so you can focus on the conversation without being distracted. This is your chance to determine what you’ll be coming back to in terms of projects and priorities.

Re-establishing your Professional Status:

As you get back into the swing of things at work, make sure you’re asking smart questions such as:

What are the most important things I can accomplish in my first 6 weeks back?

  • Ask this so you understand what the expectations are and so you can negotiate them to ensure they are realistic before you jump back into work.

Were there any challenges while I was away?

  • Understanding this will give you line of sight to any problems the team or company dealt with over your maternity leave. It shows you’re sensitive to what your colleagues worked on while you were away and gives you a bit of history to help you better tackle those outstanding issues when you’re back.

What new people or initiatives should I be introduced to?

  • Make sure you are aware of what your team’s goals will be in the next year and how you can support them. Also, meeting new employees and stakeholders will be crucial in helping to integrate you back into your work “groove”.

Keeping some contact with work during your one year maternity leave will help you feel loosely connected to what’s going on in your professional life. Knowing some of the office politics and goings-on will reduce anxiety about returning to work. Try to find some appropriate times and ways to keep in contact while you stretch yourself in a completely new way – as a mom dealing with the most unpredictable but joyful experience you’ll ever face!


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Considering a Career Change after Maternity Leave


New Mom - New Career-

Before I had my twins I was 110% engaged and energized by my career. While pregnant I was entirely certain that I’d continue my career in corporate HR after maternity leave. I looked forward to advancing in my company and taking on additional professional challenges.

It was a surprise that I felt completely different once Hillary and Luba were born. I became increasingly anxious about returning to work and I wasn’t as excited about my role or organization as I had been prior to my maternity leave. My husband and I considered the high costs of childcare and decided that I would stay home while the girls were in their early years.

It was such a relief to make that decision! After an exhausting year of caring for newborns, I was finally feeling more at ease as a mother. And, it was just starting to get really fun for me.

Working part-time helped supplement our family’s finances and it felt great to contribute by eliminating childcare expenses while earning some extra income. I revitalized my fitness career by teaching classes where childcare was available and personal training in the evenings and weekends when my husband was home.

So began my journey of career reinvention. Using my Human Resources and recruiting knowledge, I began coaching other moms on their job search strategies and resumes. After two and a half years of staying home with my daughters I officially launched my business, CareerFit Mom.

What Is Next For You?

I’ve worked with many moms who transition their professional lives into something that is a better fit for them and their families. I love uncovering the varying career options my clients have and supporting them while they look for a new position. I often see opportunities for others that they’ve never considered for themselves!

If you think you might want to try a new career direction, begin by identifying what you love to do. I did a video a few years ago to help you start thinking about your transferrable skills.  Brainstorm the tasks you enjoy in your current and previous positions, your day-to-day life and the things you do for fun. Write everything down so you can come back to these skills when researching new job opportunities, writing your resume and discussing your personal brand.

Transferrable Skills

What experiences do you have that will be relevant to another career? Look at some lists of transferrable skills and write down accomplishments you’ve had that demonstrate those skills. For example, accomplishments related to the transferrable skill Verbal Communication could include:

  • public speaking to groups of up to 100
  • establishing buy-in with internal/external stakeholders
  • managing direct reports with clear instructions
  • translating complex financial data into easy to understand concepts

Going through this transferrable skill exercise creates more content for your resume and LinkedIn profile – all tools you’ll need as you launch your new job search.

Talk It Out:

Finding a new job is often a numbers game – the more you speak positively about your search, the more it becomes top of mind for others and the more likely you are to get a crucial referral. So when someone asks, “what’s new?” engage them in your goals by responding, “I’ve recently decided to make a career change and have had great success with networking. Here’s the role I’m considering…do you know anyone who might be able to help me?”

Enjoy The Journey

I meet many mothers who cannot imagine returning to their previous job after maternity leave. For some, the work isn’t interesting enough for them to want to leave their children. Others have terrible commutes or the work hours aren’t family friendly. Whatever your reason for wanting to reinvent your career, know that the journey to finding your next step may be challenging. But it is a process in which you get to really know yourself and create more balance in your life as a working mom.

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My 2016 Goal Setting or Focus on the Journey, not the Destination

Focus on the JourneyI like setting goals.

Right now as we’re fresh into the New Year, there’s lots of information to help you set and achieve goals. This post isn’t about that.

This post is about exploring the personal development that occurs on the way to achieving goals. Being a self-motivated, goal-setting woman (or A-type?!) I’ve never considered what I’m learning as I work towards my goals. My practice has always been Ready, Set, Fire = Success or Failure.

Recent goals from the last year included:

  • Doubling the revenue from my business
  • 8 lb weight loss
  • Getting good at swimming
  • Hiking the Bruce Trail

…So none of those things happened. There are many reasons for it, most likely that the goals weren’t very SMART – specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely. Realistic seems to be an area where I’m not particularly pragmatic.

When I don’t achieve what I set out to, my default reaction is internal disappointment, frustration & self-loathing. Basically a lot of negative self-talk. How harsh is that? I would never want my kids or anyone I care about to beat themselves up like I do!

I rarely look back on all the goals I have achieved. I never give myself a chance to celebrate. It’s just on to the next goal.

What I’m realizing, as I work towards an incredibly challenging goal that is REALLY important to me, is that there is huge value in the process of achieving goals.

So I’ve been studying how the journey towards the end goal is more important than achieving it. I heard a great podcast this week with Josh Shipp that covered this topic extensively.

Here’s my big goal for the next 5 months:

I will grow my group fitness business in a new neighbourhood of Toronto (Hello Junction peeps!) by running at least 4 classes a week with 6 people registered in each by May.

Phew…I launched my group fitness classes in a second location in October and while I’m very excited to be trying this venture, so far it’s not going very well!

I’m finding it’s really hard to start from scratch in a new neighbourhood. I’ve cancelled a lot of classes that have only one person registered. I’m teaching for almost no money. I’ve hired and had to fire new instructors when their classes don’t run because No One Is Signing Up! Gah!

It is incredibly hard to stay positive, yet somehow I am. If this were easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing, right?

Here’s what I’m learning as I go through this:

Take out the ego: it’s not personal that people aren’t signing up for classes in the Junction. It’s not about me. If my offering isn’t meeting their needs at this time, that’s ok.

Persistence: keep trying and don’t give up. If I stop pursuing this without giving it enough time I could be three feet from the gold… 

Networking: I’m getting out of my comfort zone by going up to strangers on the street and in the studio to introduce myself and my offering. This is something I couldn’t do before, but now I feel compelled to. I want to see those classes full!

Getting Creative: I’m developing a mom & baby group in the studio so I can build stronger relationships with local women. I’m trying an April Spring Training Fitness promotion with unlimited classes for a set price.

Recognizing Strengths: I’m way better in person than on Facebook. Getting to know people in person actually feels perfect to me. Plus, this way I get to hold more babies = JOY!

Being Uber Productive & Focused: Now I’m commuting across the city, not just walking down to my local studio. Time is fleeting and there’s a lot to pack in. I don’t even know how I’m finding time to write this post…oh, because I’m running late for picking up the kids at school again (!)

Appreciating Friends and Family: I am SO LUCKY to have a support team who wants me to be successful. Thank you to everyone who is asking me how the expansion is going, offering ideas/advice/contacts and even coming out to the new studio to attend classes with me. I’m very grateful for everyone’s help.

I’ll continue to push on, meeting super cool moms in Toronto’s West End, encouraging them to join my “community of exercisers”. Of course I’ll appreciate the extra income this will bring but more importantly I’ll value how I’ve grown and stretched myself through the previous 9 months.

And if I don’t get there, it’s not failure… It’s feedback. The universe (and the market) will be letting me know that it’s time to reconsider, try something different or try again later. As Napoleon Hill wrote, “Failure is a trickster with a keen sense of irony and cunning. It takes great delight in tripping one when success is almost within reach.”

I will practice self-compassion and reflect back on the person I’ve become through this process. Here’s to a year of wild learning and growth!

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Four Ways for Stay-At-Home Moms to Professionally Develop for FREE

Photo of Books by Ahson WardakBeing home with kids as a primary caregiver means you make different financial decisions. I didn’t return to my corporate HR job after my maternity leave. Upon making that decision my husband and I slashed our household budget. Ok, I can drop the expensive vacations (sob!) and eat less frequently at restaurants, but the biggest cumulative loss was the professional development fees we eliminated. I used to shell out over a thousand dollars annually on courses, certifications, conferences, etc.

I love learning and didn’t want to stagnate. I wasn’t sure when I was going to return to work, but I knew I wasn’t going to stay at home forever. I challenged myself to uncover free professional development and learning opportunities.

When your main job is caregiver to your delicious little kids, you should also carve out time to stretch your mind and enhance your knowledge. Many of my clients who want to return to careers after years spent out of the workforce don’t know what type of job they’re even interested in. Investing time into developing your interests and wisdom will make the career transition process so much easier. You’ll have a better sense of what interests you and will already possess many of the skills required to land a job in that area.

Here are five ideas to get you back into learning – FREE of any costs!

  1. Read books borrowed from the library or from friends.

If you read one book a month on a professional topic that interests you, can you imagine how much knowledge you would gain in a year? My goal in 2016 is to read one health book and one career/business book a month. I recently heard that if you read three books on a topic you will have expert knowledge of that subject!

Check out books from the library or ask friends for their recommendations (and to borrow/exchange books with them). Looking for a good list of personal development books? One of my favourite career coaches, Dan Miller, has a very comprehensive list.

Another idea to enhance your understanding is to meet up with friends to discuss a book you’ve all read. A more professional take on your traditional book club (or as we call ours, “Snack Club”), you will benefit from what others got out of the reading. One of my clients started a book club where the members took turns reading and summarizing a book for the other members each month. This might work for you if you’re finding it challenging to get through even reading the newspaper. I know that was my situation when I was caring for my toddler twins!

  1. Listen to Podcasts

I discovered podcasts a year ago and fell in love with the amazing free content I could find everyday. I use the Apple Podcast App but there are others for Android  and iPhone.

Download an episode for when you’re out of the house – I play them via Bluetooth while driving or listen on headphones when I’m walking to pick the kids up from school. I also stream podcasts during my “dead” time: when I’m folding laundry, cleaning the kitchen and working out. It makes those tasks more bearable!

Not one episode goes by where I don’t pick up:

  • another book to add to my reading list
  • a productivity hack like a new app or online resource
  • an inspiring idea to take action on

Listening to podcasts has really changed my perspective on a lot of things. I love the thinking time I get while absorbing the information and much of what I’ve learned I’ve been able to share with clients. We all benefit!

My Favourite Personal Development Podcasts:

  1. Read blogs

There is so much content available online and following blogs gives you an efficient way of capturing great information. Feedly is a good app that organizes the online content you’re following so you can quickly scroll through and share on your social channels. If reading a whole book is too much to fit into your busy schedule, try reading blog posts instead.

LinkedIn “Pulse” offers news and blog posts that you can customize to your industry so you stay on top of what’s happening. You can also follow what your connections have posted within LinkedIn and ‘Like/Comment/Share’ on the LinkedIn platform – another easy way to nurture your network.

My Favourite Bloggers:

  • Doris Clark – she writes about personal branding
  • William Arruda – another personal branding “guru”
  • Fit is a Feminist Issue 
  • Phil Brown – my father-in-law: a talented writer and overall cool guy
  • Jenny Ellison – a client – Jenny is really smart! She brings historical context to women’s sports, body image and health in Canada. I wish she could have been my prof at Trent University but our decades didn’t align!
  1. Create a Mastermind Group

Barbara Sher, the author of I Could Do Anything if I Only Knew What it Was calls these groups your “Success Team”. Find a group of likeminded moms with a similar schedule and arrange to rotate a meeting at each other’s homes once a month. Discuss your goals, ask for resources and help. These ladies will keep you accountable to your goals, ask you the tough questions you need to consider and push you to be better.

I developed really strong friendships with a number of women I met at a mom’s group and we’d meet regularly at parks or each other’s homes for playdates. It’s because of Brenda and Melissa that I actually started my CareerFit Mom business! (Thank you ladies!) They saw the skills I had and the potential to turn them into an entrepreneurial venture. They brainstormed the name of my business and tag lines, helped me choose my logo and promoted me endlessly. I’m forever grateful.

I have participated in other Mastermind groups with some very talented colleagues: Joanne Collins and Isabelle Moreau. I just hope I offer as much value-added insight to them as they provide me!

Surrounding yourself with positive people is key to your success. Find women who will help you not only with your parenting dilemmas but the ways in which you can self-improve. It feels good to support others in their goals and play a part in someone else’s achievements.

If finding “real” people is tough based on your schedule or location, try finding a Facebook group that you can join and interact with. Or join Groups within LinkedIn. There are thousands available and you can search for them by industry or job function. Recruiters also troll Groups to find suitable candidates for positions they are filling. It’s a great way to profile yourself, as long as you’re adding value. Start a conversation or contribute to one. Read the discussion threads to learn about a new sector you’re interested in.

More tips on starting a mastermind…

Continuing to learn will help you stay current for when and if you do return to work. You won’t feel out of the loop, you’ll have more knowledge and you’ll be more credible. Choose one of my four ideas and take action on it right away. In less than a month I guarantee you’ll have advanced your understanding of a subject and you’ll feel more ready for a career transition when the time is right.

To get the most out of your content check out these tips on how to absorb and utilize your learning

Happy learning!

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Sink or Swim? I’ll swim thank you…

I’m a terrible swimmer but I really, really want to be good (and not scared!)

I’ve been fearful of water since my mum took me to Mommy & Me Swim Lessons as a pre-schooler. My poor vision, low endurance in the water and inability to breath naturally leave me sputtering and wanting to quit.

I tell my clients, when you want to improve a skill or an outcome, you need to spend time practicing it to get better. I tell my daughters Hillary and Luba this as well as they’re taking their lessons. I’ve never told them how afraid of the water I am (especially lakes!), I just fake it so I don’t pass on my irrational fears to them!

Swim This Summer_imageSo after years of avoiding swimming I’m finally taking time this summer to actually practice.  My friend Cat set me and some other girlfriends up with a good stroke improvement and breathing routine back in June (thanks Cat!). Now that my twins are at sleep away camp, I’ve gone to the pool (on my own, crazy!) to practice.

I’m putting my desire to be a stronger swimmer into a new 90-day goal setting program which I will later apply to my business and use with clients.  After hearing a podcast with coach Todd Herman and reading more about why 90-day goals are better than year-long goals, I’m feeling optimistic about actually seeing success this time. (I’ve tried adult swim lessons before and stopped when we got to the diving section…but that’s a goal for another time!)

My outcome goal:

  • In 90 days I will be able to swim four laps of front crawl without drowning. (Oct. 27th, 2015)

Next I break that down into 2-week long performance goals or “sprints”:

  • Between July 27th & Aug. 9th I will swim for 20 minutes 3x/week (including in scary lakes because we’re going on vacation to Thunder Bay, ON and Chippewa Falls WS …eeeeks!)
  • Between Aug. 10th & Aug. 23rd I will research front crawl improvement techniques and implement them during my 20 minute swims 3x/week.
  • …and so on, building on time in the pool, skill improvement, anti-anxiety tools (!) etc. These are measurable goals so I’m confident I’ll see improvement as I count off my 3 weekly swim sessions per week.

Finally I follow this equation to figure out the process goal:

  • 4W = C + M
  • Or who is going to do What, When and Where…that equals Clarity and Momentum
  • So Beth will swim at the City of Toronto pools or vacation lakes (Superior and Wissota, brrr) on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
  • I know what I need to do in order to meet my goal (clarity) and seeing improvement because of the practice time will built even more momentum! Hooray!

Thanks to Todd Herman for laying this out so well.  I’ll keep everyone posted on my success.  Who else is taking a 90 day goal challenge with me?  I’d love to hear your ideas and we can keep each other accountable and motivated on the CareerFit Mom Facebook page.

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Branding Your Best Self

Personal Branding Tree

In early May I organized a social networking night for Toronto-based career women with my new friend, and personal stylist superstar, Erin Nadler.  The theme of our event was “Branding Your Best Self” from both a career development (me) and wardrobing (Erin) perspective.  I promised to share the resources I discussed that night, so here is the first of a multi-installment blog on how to create your personal brand.

What is personal branding and why does it matter?

I have a client who hasn’t updated her resume in over 10 years.  She’s a VP of Finance with a major organization so she’s regularly called by recruiters.  She has nothing documented to show all she’s accomplished.  Her LinkedIn profile is but a shell.  She says she feels “naked” without a proper resume and that feeling comes across when she’s talking to recruiters.  She sheepishly tells them she doesn’t have anything to send them that accurately chronicles her career history and the rest of the call falls flat.  Prior to working with me, my client hadn’t taken the time to reflect on her recent professional wins and therefore she couldn’t even explain them during a conversation with a recruiter.

This is why personal branding is important…

Essentially your personal brand is your reputation and how you convey yourself.  In order to cultivate your personal brand you need to find the language and the actions that showcase your unique, authentic self.  Through my upcoming blog posts I’m going to share ideas of how to convey your personal brand on your resume, LinkedIn profile and during your in-person conversations.

Determining your personal brand gives you the language you need make a positive impression on others and open doors to new opportunities all while increasing your confidence and positivity.  (Yay!)

There are three sources that you can draw upon to help find that language that describes brand.

1 – Your Strengths

2 – Your Values

3 – And What Motivates You

When you have a good understanding of what those things are, you’ll be able to explain not only your accomplishments but the kind of person you are.  Ta-Da!  Personal Branding in action!

Stay tuned for more tips and resources to help you uncover your strengths, values and motivators in my upcoming blog posts.

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360 Degree You: Positive Feedback to Jumpstart Your Career Transition

Career Mom Typing on a Laptop.

I’ve been using this simple exercise with clients to help them gain confidence as they go through a career transition. It is a more personalized (and positive!) take on a 360-degree review, which is a common practice for managers and senior executives in the corporate world.  Only good stuff, people!  Nice.  (I will touch on your developmental needs in a future post)

Take the time to go through this activity and you will:

  • Gain new perspectives on how others see you
  • Determine what else you might be good at (new job ideas!)
  • See synergies between your best features and how those characteristics can be of value to employers
  • Collect language to weave into your elevator pitch, LinkedIn profile, interview responses and resume/cover letter
  • Boost your confidence! This feedback may be just the push you need to take action to find that new, fabulous job

You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the responses you collect. Ok, I realize the exercise is biased to collect only positive feedback, but there are times in our lives when we really need to hear how wonderful we are.  Career transition is hard work so fortify yourself with the lovingly authentic comments from the people who know and love you.

Seven Steps to Tap Into What Others See in You:

Step 1: List the three top professional skills that you believe you possess.

Step 2: Ask a colleague or manager to list what he or she believes to be your top three skills.

Step 3: Ask a direct report or close friend/family member to also share the top three skills he or she feels you possess.

Step 4: Review the three lists.

Step 5: Make a master list of the key points.

Step 6: Answer this question with language from your list: “What are my most valuable contributions?” in a sentence or two. This becomes the beginnings of how you describe yourself or your “personal brand”.

Step 7: Continue to tweak your brand with each professional interaction.  Check in with your response from time to time – is it getting the response you’re looking for? Does it feel genuine and from the heart?

I’m helping a client who’s been a stay-at-home mom for about seven years to move back into the workforce. When she went through this feedback exercise, she was astounded by how quickly her network responded. It confirmed for her the skills she knew she possessed and enjoyed using. Through the process she also discovered things about herself that she’d never thought of before. We used the responses to create a winning elevator pitch and she’s now putting herself “out there” in the job market with renewed confidence.

While my client was understandably uncomfortable asking people to compliment her, when she wrote her email request to her contacts she indicated that her career coach was “making” her do this work. Feel free to reference me in your own “ask” if it makes you feel better, for example:

As I’m going through a career transition I’m taking steps to better understand my qualifications and myself. I read a blog post from CareerFit Mom who suggested I ask a few special members of my network for some feedback to help formulate the valuable contributions I make at work. Would you kindly support me in this exercise by letting me know what you feel are my top three professional skills?

Enjoy the process of asking others about your top skills.  You deserve the recognition.  Now create career karma by offering up some unsolicited feedback to someone who needs it too.

Image originally from U.S. Mission Geneva / Eric Bridiers  

Also posted in Career Assessments & Exercises, Career Transitions | 2 Comments

Work/Life Integration is Kicking Balance to the Curb

It’s well known that work/life balance is unattainable.  The concept totally sucks. How can “living the good life” mean that half the time I’m focused on my job while the other half I am taken up by everything else?

I can’t live in a compartmentalized life.

As an entrepreneur, mom of twins, wife, friend, volunteer and engaged community member, I wouldn’t be able to split “work” from “life” if I even tried! I know many of my clients feel the same. When I started thinking of work/life “balance” more like work/life “integration” the many facets that connect and overlap in my world felt more manageable.

Everything in our lives is connected and the way in which we feel about the various parts of our lives connects back to our self-image…good or bad.

For example…

When you’re nailing an important project at work you feel empowered, intelligent and confident. When you hate your toxic work environment and unfulfilling job you feel defeated, sad and hopeless.

When you’ve built a consistent workout routine you feel strong, fit and beautiful. When you put exercise on the backburner you feel sluggish, lazy and uncomfortable with your body.

Those feelings from just two parts of your life connect with how you carry yourself in the world. They contribute to how you handle things with your kids, partner and friends.

Fitness / Career / Parenting / Relationships all integrate into the communities I am part of – made up of my family, friends, my business, my kids’ school, my neighbourhood, etc. The super cool thing is all of those communities intersect too! That’s what I love about work/life integration as a practice, methodology or mantra…whatever you might call it.

What do you think? Does the concept of work/life “integration” resonate with you? I’d love to hear your comments.

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