As I recently spent some time exploring the writing of Charles Dickens, I have new thoughts flowing. In the mid-1850s when Dickens was forming a Christmas story, “The Chimes”, he spoke about the New Year being a time to close out any debts, matters or projects to start the next year fresh. Although the term ‘New Year’s Resolution’ and ‘New Year, New You’ are commonplace now, do you actually find yourself finishing projects and making yourself available to begin 2019 with a clean slate?
I do not personally believe in substantial, abrupt changes when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. In order to properly change behaviors and engage in new activities, a specific mindset change in necessary. It is proven incremental adjustments versus a larger one will produce longer term results ultimately leading to a lifetime of change and not just the short term. How can you beat the question of “oh, how long did you stick with it?”.
All the suggestions listed happen with your initiative. They are not reliant upon the actions of others, nor will they benefit others. This strictly falls into your boathouse of responsibilities. As always, I am realistic. I understand there is not always enough time in the day to add on extras, so what is the benefit of laying out changes and executing? As all the effort falls on your plate, so does the benefit. The list of three suggestions above is so small relatively speaking to what you may have in mind to fit your current situation and where you would like to go, but regardless, all these initiatives have one thing in common. They better YOU. It may contribute to your organization, health, time management, professional development and the list goes on.
To relate to my concentration of your professional development journey, I would like to spend a few minutes honing in on your LinkedIn profile, personal portfolio and resume. Many employers require employees to participate in an annual review, including feedback from management and self-assessment. If you are a part of an organization requiring this, great! They have provided a guide in order to get started! If not, it is not a problem, as you will have free reign to decide exactly which categories of your development to highlight. Take the opportunity to review the projects you have led or played a role in and what the results were. You can identify quantitative results tied directly back to your efforts. Another avenue to pursue is featuring educational or learning efforts pursued to further your range of expertise.
The skills or tasks you choose to highlight, will dictate which interfaces to focus on. The end result will remain consistent though in focusing on your development. Little changes to your resume, personal portfolio or LinkedIn profile produce a larger influence in the end
Close out 2018
As we close out the year, my biggest tip is to hold yourself accountable. Don’t waste time saying you will make these changes at the end of 2019. Roll into the year ready to rumble and make a difference for you. Time is and always will be our most valuable asset, so treat it right and focus on your priorities.
The writing of Dickens's presents in an old style, but his thoughts about time are relatable to where we currently stand. “The voice of time cries to man, Advance! Time is for his advancement and improvement; for his greater worth, his greater happiness, his better life; his progress onward to that goal within its knowledge and its view, and set there, in the period when Time and He began.” Let these words linger on your mind and soul until they resonate. Happy New Year, everyone!
As I reflect on what the most important read for my clients could be given the timeline, I am thinking about personally how this time of the year is, and has, affected me. There are a lot of differences throughout the workforce, but certain stressors and deadlines remain the same. When the end of the quarter approaches throughout the year things like budgets, billing, sales and project deadlines become the norm. Now, when it is the end of the year and quarter all in one bucket, it seems as those all these things are amplified. In addition to workplace targets, the influence of the holidays adds another layer of responsibility and organization to an already full plate.
Full disclosure, I am undoubtedly a strong type A personality. The reason I am sharing this is because when the hammer comes to down to make sure all the fine tune details have been handled with care, I naturally develop more stress and anxiety to achieve perfection. With that being said my goal of this article is to expose some of my secrets to keep chugging along and excel through the most stressful days of the year. Admittedly, I am also writing this piece to serve as a reminder to myself how to handle all the joys and obligations the end of the year delivers.
Tip #1: Stay Organized
The most simple and effective tip to cut down on stress is to stay organized. Investing the extra 30 to 60 minutes to develop a plan will save hours on the back end. For myself this is taking the time on Sunday to get ready for the week. Being in sales, I want to know exactly where each one of my stops is going to be and the approximate time each will take in order to be most efficient. Another helpful organization tip is developing an objective with set checkpoints to track progress and keep each milestone meaningful. Even though these will just be small chunks of the big picture, it will help to promote productivity.
Tip #2: Devote time to de-stressing activities
When planning out time and how to fit in each aspect of the 24-hour day we are allotted, devote some to the activity that allows you to take your mind of the work topic at hand. My personal preference is the gym and volleyball. I spend at least an hour each morning sweating out my stress and trying (keyword-trying) to remove my mind from all the chaos. I have to admit this past week meant more sacrifice to my sleep schedule than normal, but I utilize self-awareness to prioritize my workout routine.
Another refreshing activity I take part in to slow down is reading in the evening before hitting the pillow. Not only does reading give my eyes and mind time to adjust away from electronics, I can slow down my heart rate and truly engage solely in the pages in front of me. Friends of mine have mentioned yoga, meditation, pottery, cooking and more to step away from the strain. It all depends on what YOU prefer. What are a couple activities you engage in to de-stress?
Tip #3: Sleep!
Tip #4: Remember the ‘Why’
When you strap on your boots or heels each and every day, it is important to take a moment and reflect on why you do what you do. Some days when tensions are running high and stress gets the best of you, it may seem like an impossible task. We are all human, so this will happen, but it will help to hold yourself accountable to concentrate on your ‘why’ being at the center of your actions. The benefit of being self-aware is even higher during the year-end deadlines we have been discussing. Rediscover your passions and actively spend your energy in this space.
There are many other tips that can help us get through stressful times and I would be happy to hear any other suggestions! I hope these will help alleviate some grind it out moments as 2018 comes to a close! Happy Holidays everyone.
LinkedIn and Professional Development
I am also here to bust the myth of LinkedIn profiles solely being beneficial for job searchers. Utilizing LinkedIn for professional development and networking continues to be overlooked. Whether business growth is your goal or simply learning new skills from others, LinkedIn is the perfect go-to. If you are familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk, this social media platform is one he frequently speaks about regarding the attention being significantly underpriced. The breakdown of this idea is the audience available through LinkedIn is accessible for a very low cost (if any, depending on your goal). Essentially the reach is significant and cost is low to initiate. Another notable feature of the platform is reaching those across the world from your own living room, but that is a completely separate conversation. Let’s stay on task!
Top to Bottom
Starting from top to bottom with your LinkedIn profile, I will begin with Summary at the top. This is your personal and professional introduction to all eyes viewing your profile. Think of it as your initial handshake and meaningful first impression. A noticeable similarity in messaging can be seen on the introduction of your resume. Utilize the space to breakdown your highlighted skills in a one to two sentence format followed by bullet points encompassing other notable details. Two great examples are quantitative statistics or awards won that can be displayed to draw attention to how attractive a candidate you are.
The Summary section is followed by Experience. Similar to what I mentioned earlier, the tone and format here look familiar to your resume and vice versa. Present the information in a well thought out and direct manner showing specific tasks completed or influenced in order to make the largest impact. The use of bullet points again will allow the reader to review your skills and history with ease!
Next, is the Education section, which is fairly straight forward. List each degree with accuracy and specificity. One thing often skipped is if an Associate’s degree was completed at a different school from Bachelor’s, both should be listed. There are endless possibilities with networking or alumni connections that could potentially be missed if only one is listed.
LinkedIn Skills brings another important section! Recruiters are looking to identify key skills in order to fill their positions properly. On top of the manual review, queries are run to locate potential candidates who qualify for openings, so you can see the emphasis necessary. Terms such as customer service, sales, ICD-10, work flow operations, financial analysis and many more can be included depending upon industry.
Recommendations and Endorsements
Last and most certainly not least, are what I refer to as ‘LinkedIn Extras’. The entire profile holds weight, so don’t skip over the last couple sections. You will notice a section for Recommendations and Endorsements where other members can endorse you for particular skills or write a complete recommendation. If you’re a business owner looking to increase credibility, the recommendation section can be an effective ask of your clients to help after delivering a satisfying product or service. Endorsements can simply be sent from other members who believe you excel in particular categories, such as marketing or team building.
The final section is ‘Interests’, which will populate those pages and companies you have followed. It is important to remain specific about what you ‘Follow’ knowing it will show as public.
With all these details wrapped with a bow, you can begin to transform your profile one step and section at a time. Avoid overwhelming yourself, regardless of time of year by making small incremental changes. If you have specific questions relating to your experience and future goals, please drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org! Until next time, Happy Holidays to all!
Rebecca Wagner - I actively find flow through unparalleled focus on propelling the careers of others. These posts will help to share my thought processes about development, self-awareness and growth.