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When people attack it is usually because they are feeling bad about themselves. DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. If someone tries to bring you down, detach and DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. If people are jealous and make disparaging remarks, DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.
Taking it personally is something that can derail you, because you are using your energy to put out imaginary “fires.”
Keep the focus on yourself, go after things you want, and don't get distracted by people who don't have your best interest at heart.
You have talents and gifts that are needed in the world, don’t allow yourself to get distracted.
Here are some tips to help you refocus:
Know your Priorities
Write down the things you need to do at the beginning of the day, as well as how much time you’ll spend on them. This will be a great reference point for you.
Take a spot-check inventory throughout the day
Know what you are feeling and why. Ask yourself if you are off-track. If so, focus on a task that is on your priority list.
Know you are worthy of a bigger job
You may not feel that way at all times, but know that you are always capable of achieving more.
Today Helene’s guest is Deb Boblitt, senior vice president at State Farm. Deb transitioned from teaching to business, and by trusting her gut and being receptive to feedback from her peers she advanced through the ranks of leadership.
Check out some of the highlights of the program here:
DEB: For the majority of my career with the company, I’ve been in a leadership role. I’ve had 10-12 bosses over that period of time... all of whom were not easy to work with. How I got through those situations was to say, “Am I in a role that I love to do? Despite the style of leadership working with this individual, do I know that my job is what I want to do?”
[On self sabotage…]
Probably one of the biggest [ways women sabotage themselves] is trying to be someone they think they’re supposed to be. No matter what your position is, no matter what company you work for, if you think you’re supposed to act like “x”, that is sabotaging. It gets in your way of becoming the most successful person that you can be with the unique skills that you bring to the table. Everyone has a unique package, and you need
to leverage that.
HELENE: Another way that I see women diminishing themselves, is when they don’t claim their own accomplishments. When I started my career I didn’t know how to claim my accomplishments. I had a male boss and he would do it every time, and I would just shadow him and see what he was doing. I’d go home at night and practice in front of a mirror! Now I feel comfortable saying that I’ve won several Emmys, and that we have millions of people talking about us on Facebook today. I can share my strength. I think it’s very important that women share and step up in that way.
[On getting feedback…]
The way you think you appear and the way people perceive you may be two different things. If we don’t get proper feedback, we may derail ourselves. But you need to look at the source, because not everyone is sincere and wanting to help you. Take the feedback that fits and leave the rest. We need to develop a few relationships that really have our best interests at heart.
To hear more of Helene and Deb's motivating conversation, click here. Show is live today at 12PM!
This program and future shows will also be available on iTunes the day after broadcast. Don't forget to give us a 5 star rating!
I had a client who wanted to leave her stable corporate job to start her own company. Her husband was, let’s just say, ‘not happy!’ And another who proposed to merge the two largest programs in her organization, but her boss refused to buy in.
They started to question themselves, their ideas, and whether they could ever make their vision a reality.
Are you guided to do a next step, but someone whose support you need is a nay-sayer? How can you keep moving forward with confidence?
Feel it strongly inside of you
Sometimes it makes sense to keep your vision to yourself until you have planted the seeds and it’s too late to turn back. But if you must share it, and others don’t support you, keep your passion alive. Emotionalize your vision by seeing it vividly in your minds-eye, and allow yourself to get excited about it. Surround your mind with stories of successful women and unsung heroines in our culture who persisted in the face of lack of support.
Honor that your naysayer’s point of view comes naturally to them, but also know that you are entitled to your point of view. If it’s someone who doesn’t believe in you, then stop believing what they say to you. Remind yourself that what they say to you is a reflection of ‘their own story,’ about THEIR life, not about the possibility that you can create for yours.
And don’t waste your energy being frustrated at other people for their limitations. Rather accept others’ level of evolution, and work on yours!
See if you can find people other than your naysayer to support the idea. For one of the women it was a coaching group of fellow women entrepreneurs. For the other it was peers in her organization – she formed an advisory group to consider strategic directions and the group’s recommendations gave more weight to her proposals. You can even find support in a virtual community.
Frame it in terms of what’s in it for them
People are often motivated by how they will benefit from a situation. Maybe others are threatened that your success will ‘show them up’ or make them feel small? Maybe your boss has a different strategic direction for the group? Figure out what is most important to them and help them understand how your actions will help THEM get more of what they want. Address their concerns head on. Paint the picture of how you will earn more for the family, or how this will make you more happy to be around, or how you will be a good role model for your children. Speak the language of your boss (i.e., use data, financial numbers, or consumer insights) and show how your proposed ideas will help further the objectives of your group. Incorporate the feedback of others who you think have your best interest in mind and are not just naysayers.
Formulate a plan and share it
Make a plan to show what you are going to do to ‘go for’ your dream. For example, one of the women brought her husband a 1 year transition plan with monthly milestone and financial projections so he could be won over by her preparation and could follow along with each milestone that she met. She indicated the benchmarks she would use to evaluate whether her plan was working, and possibly course correct.
For the woman in the organization, she aligned her proposal with restructuring going on in the organization and then it made sense to her boss.
Don’t allow yourself to be brought down to others’ level, instead lift them up with your passion. Confidence is contagious!
So think about what you are here to contribute… and have the confidence to go for it! It’s time for you to launch your own Confidence Revolution!
-Sharon Melnick, PhD, January 2015 Career Coach
Do you know what you should be doing… but don’t do it? If you haven’t taken action on an important task for your business or career, or if you have been talking about (but putting off) a next step in your life, you might tell yourself that you ‘don’t have time’, or you might get down on yourself for being lazy.
We hear a lot of generic advice that tells us to ‘just do it,’ as well as other women’s stories of how they ‘just did it’ – but you may feel that these don’t apply to your situation. If so, you feel even worse about yourself.
If you haven’t taken action on an important task, it’s usually for one reason only – and it’s not because of lack of time or laziness. It’s because you haven’t identified what type of procrastinator you are, and then identified the solution that matches your ‘type’ (or types.)
From training thousands of people, I have identified 12 “types” of procrastinators. Here are 5 of the most common.
For example, are you:
An Avoider? You don’t “feel like doing it.” To you, it’s too complex, too boring, and you believe yourself when you say you will ‘do it tomorrow.’
A Spinner? You are juggling too many projects, are going in too many directions, and try to be all things to all people. You put out a lot of energy but don’t get the results that come from deciding to carry one ball ‘across the finish line’ to success.
A Perfectionist? You are concerned how others will evaluate your efforts so you keep redoing tasks to get all details right… nothing is ever good enough or finished.
A Learner? You always think you ‘need to learn more’ to get started, so you keep yourself in a state of information overload and lack of confidence in your knowledge.
A Dreamer? You have creative ideas and may be a visionary; however, you are ‘all talk, no action.’ It’s hard for you to break down your vision into the first step to get started.
Learning your type can help you get unstuck, because each type has a different solution.
For example, if you are a Spinner, you want to decide which of your exciting projects is the most important to finish first, and then leverage the success you have from that one to finish the others. If you are a Learner, you want start “just in time” (learn only the next skill you need to progress) instead of “just in case” learning (learn everything you think you will need to know ahead of time). If you are a Perfectionist you want to become more objective about when your work has reached a point that it will get the desired result – make it about the purpose of the work not about how people will evaluate you. If you are an Avoider, you want to try the idea of a ‘start by’ rather than a ‘finish by’ deadline. Learn to manage your attention to ‘get yourself in the mood’ to do it – or just delegate the tasks you don’t like to someone who is great at it!
The more you know about yourself the easier it will be to get yourself to take action. Go out and take action today, the world needs your talents!
-Sharon Melnick, PhD, January 2015 Career Coach
What would risk taking look like for you? Would it mean leaving your current job to hunt for another one? Taking a completely different job in the same organization? Starting your own business? Running for local office?
It’s about leaving the world you know (whether you like that world or not) and stepping into unchartered waters. You can’t control or predict whether you will be successful in that new land. But what you can do is prepare well and set yourself up for success.
Try taking a risk by trusting in these different ways:
Trust Yourself – What will decide whether you take a risk or not? That’s right—it all begins with what you tell yourself!
Do you have a vision of you succeeding in your next chapter? “The first sale is always to yourself.” It all starts with you trusting that you can do it. You have to be able to see yourself succeeding on the other side of that risk in order to show your passion to anyone else.
What strengths are you devaluing? We tend to think because we know how to do something, then anyone can. We overlook the capacities that have helped us be successful and will help us take risks moving forward.
Do you have a fixed or a growth mindset? From the work of psychologist Carol Dweck, if you have a fixed mindset then you believe you ‘know what you know’. So the idea of having to learn new skills in order to succeed will threaten you. With a growth mindset, you believe you can learn what you need to know. You feel you can flex your learning muscle – and you are willing to take a risk because you trust that you will learn from people, reports, research, and personal experience in order to be able to succeed.
Trust Others – Often other people will see your talents before you acknowledge them yourself. Are people telling you that you’d be great in this next chapter? Are others trying to recruit you to go for it? They wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t believe you were ready. You might even ask them what you do that gives them confidence in you, so you can see yourself as they do.
Trust a Plan – Do you feel “I can’t afford to have it not work”. If so, that’s real (especially if you are the breadwinner and even if the consequences are damage to your reputation). Put together a transition plan. Start that business on the side while you are still working. Make a plan of what you will need to learn (e.g., a new skill or credential) and calendar when you will do that. Make a plan how to get financing or how you will recoup your investment. In your interviews, or early on in the new venture, ask for the support and resources you will need (but be clear you are saying “yes!”, research indicates women’s asking logistical questions is perceived as lack of interest in the opportunity). Move away from a vague scary idea to a practical plan you can trust yourself to follow. Tell other people your vision so you will have to go through with it!
Trust the Data – We tend to stay vague about our doubts. We tell ourselves “I can’t” or “I’m not smart enough,” but those beliefs are so vague it’s hard to know how to move past them. You want to get specific about what will make you confident to take the risk you are considering. For example, is it you think you are not ready, or you are worried you will make visible mistakes and be judged? You want to assess specifically what your confidence issue is and get practical solutions that will help you build your confidence in the specific way you need it.
I have a friend who teaches women how to play poker as a way of building confidence. She says that men “play to win” and women “play not to lose”. Which defines your life?
What you do in the few minutes before bed aren’t the only what help you get a rejuvenating night of sleep. There are things you can do throughout your whole day that will set you up to relax at bedtime and sleep soundly.
You only experience the kind of stress that keeps you wound up at night when you face situations that feel out of your control. The more control you have, the less stressed you feel. Strive to control what you CAN in any situation.
We can’t really “manage stress.” What we can do is “manage ourselves.” Here are 7 ways you can ‘manage yourself’ throughout your day that will help you sleep well at night.
I’m sure you “know” you should take care of yourself and you are probably saying to yourself: “Who has the time? It’s indulgent to take 3 minutes for myself, in that time I could be making doctor’s appointments for my children, sending my boss an update, or cleaning!” Women are 35% less likely to take breaks and are more likely to have a poor night’s sleep.
An optimal way of going through your day is to have “sprints” (intense focused concentration or mental/physical exertion) followed by brief periods of “recovery” (relaxing and replenishing your energy, even if it’s simply 3 minutes of deep breathing). When you exert energy and then follow it with a brief period of rejuvenation, these intermittent times of relaxation train your body to balance your On and the Off button. Research from the Energy Project shows that you will get more energy and feel more calm from this approach—yet you’ll be even more productive.
Stay Rational not Reactive
If you try and stay focused on facts in interpersonal situations (and not on how you feel personally) it will help you keep calm and not react, otherwise you may regret things you either said or didn’t say. With this in mind, you won’t have to rehash the scenario in the middle of the night!
The average business professional faces 7 interruptions (and up to 35 incoming emails) per hour. You can be in charge of how you respond to these incoming distractions. If you respond only to interruptions that are current priorities, and tell those you work and live with the best times to engage your attention, you will cut out some of the distractions that derail your day. You can end the day feeling satisfied with your accomplishments – and not feel guilty or overwhelmed before bedtime.
Sleep experts advise to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning – even on weekends. A regular sleep routine keeps your biological clock steady so you rest better.
Exercise which includes some vigorous exercise improves the length and quality of your sleep. It stimulates longer periods of the deepest and most restorative stages of sleep. It gets all your stress out! It’s best to exercise in the morning or during the day because aerobic exercise keeps your body temperature elevated (and burning calories and fat) for about 4 hours afterward, and its optimal for sleep when your body is cooled off.
Eat bedtime snacks that promote sleep
Some nighttime noshes help you sleep and decrease mid-sleep waking. Try cherry juice, kiwis, or walnuts—they keep the amino acid tryptophan working longer within your body and are natural sources of sleep promoting hormones. Combine carbohydrates and either calcium or a protein that contains tryptophan (these combos boost serotonin, a naturally occurring brain chemical that helps you feel good and calm). Try eating a banana with a teaspoon of peanut butter, or a half piece of toast and some slices of turkey.
Pre-Sleep Wind Down Ritual
Start your sleep time wind down about an hour before you want to be asleep. Start by finishing up whatever is stimulating you. Do what you must to empty your head to let go of thoughts you might hang on to: Write down any ‘to do’ items for tomorrow to get them out of your head. Write down your worries (and the solutions you are committed to carrying out in the morning).
Once in bed, have a pre-sleep ritual to counter the buildup of stress hormones throughout the day. You might want to consider a brief reflection on what you are grateful for. Doing this will change your energy as it takes you out of your mental exertion and puts you into your heart energy. It will make you think of beautiful images as you fade off into the sleep sunset…
You don’t have to let stress get the best of you. There are SO many things that you can control during stressful days to stay calm and sleep well through the night.
-Sharon Melnick, PhD, January 2015 Career Coach
We're often so pressed for time we wish someone would add a 25th hour to the day! But what if you had a way of having more energy to devote to your projects without needing any extra hours?
We can’t control time, but we can control our thoughts. They are the origin of any result you get and they create the quality of your life. Do you know how many thoughts the average human being has a day? Scientists have done this research and indicate the average person has 60-70,000 thoughts a day.
Every one of those thoughts will take you closer to your goals and the quality of life you want to have, or further away from it. So… how many of your 60,000 thoughts a day (averaged over the past week) are going toward the results you want, and how many are taking you further away?
Of the thousands of people I’ve asked, many estimate half toward, half away (and an even larger number of people say more of their thoughts derail them). Very productive people say about 70% of their thoughts go toward their daily results – yet that still leaves 30% of your thoughts on the table. That’s 20,000 thoughts a day. Over the course of one week that’s 100,000 thoughts.
Even if you had no more time each day, what could you do if you had an extra 100,000 thoughts to devote to it this week?
Start to notice:
What’s the content of your thoughts: Do you have a picture of your bigger game in mind, and do you focus thought after thought on coming up with innovative ideas toward it?
Or are your thoughts thwarted by how you feel about your colleagues? Or are you worried about whether people will judge you or hire you?
What is the tone of your thoughts: Are your thoughts energizing and inspiring or do you pressure yourself with harsh self criticism or guilt?
Every thought has an energetic consciousness. It creates a physiological pattern—a confident thought literally gives you energy to act. Anger and frustration cause a stress response. Thoughts like “I have so much to do I will never get it all done” perpetuate your circuits being overloaded.
What is the quality of your thoughts: Do your thoughts generally focus on the one matter before you, or do you frequently allow your attention to be divided with multitasking?
Yes you have 60,000 opportunities a day to create the experience you want to have in your day and in your life. All you have to do is become more aware of the thoughts you are currently having, and know how to instantly change them.
This self talk you have all day long is like listening to a mental iPod. All you have to do is ask yourself what kind of tunes are playing on your soundtrack? Then take the easy steps to become a better DJ of your own mental iPod!
-Sharon Melnick, PhD, January 2015 Career Coach
Judge Wanda Dallas used to be known as the social worker DA. “I don’t think anyone purposefully sets out to become criminals,” she says, “they fall into this because something is missing in their life. I try to look for what’s missing.” To Wanda being a judge isn’t just a job, it’s a service. “I have to make sure I never have a bad day. I can’t give less than what people deserve to have.”
Here are some insights from Wanda about life, work, and the future.
When did you realize you wanted to be a judge?
I never knew I wanted to be a judge, but I knew I wanted to go into law at a very young age. As a kid I found some law books at the library and couldn’t understand a thing. I never wanted to be something I didn’t understand, so when I was 11 I realized I needed to go to law school.
You did a variety of jobs when you were younger—from delivering papers, to tobacco farms, to factory work. How did these experiences affect you?
I think they made me aware of the importance of working hard. Nothing was ever given to me. Sometimes I think young people who only go to school miss something. That’s only one dimension. When you work hard and get through school too, you have a different perspective on life.
I understand you had a difficult childhood. What would you tell your younger self that you now know?
I would probably tell my younger self “don’t lose hope.” If you lose hope you lose sight of the help that’s out there for you. If you reach out and get support it keeps you grounded and focused.
Did your childhood affect your parenting?
Yes. I wanted my children to have something I felt I didn’t have. I don’t like to talk about my mom and her limitations, but she had them based on the obstacles she faced. I felt like the best service I could give her memory was to be a good mom.
Wanda and her daughters
There are many single mothers out there who are struggling, what would you say to them?
It’s very, very hard. My fourteen-year-old daughter told me she doesn’t want me to be a single mom anymore. She said, “how will I know what a normal relationship looks like, if I don’t see one?” I thought that was so profound. She sees fragments of her mother and father, but I want her to look at one unit and see it can be successful.
As single mothers we have to be there for each other. If we can support each other we can raise successful children. They will not be more challenged, simply by virtue of the fact we’re raising them alone. You can take the best of who you are and the best of what you’ve been given, and give that to your child.
What do you like most about your job?
I love when young people come in my court. I’m always trying to figure out, “what am I supposed to say?” I love finding the right words and seeing something spark inside them. I tell them I want them to go back to school, that I want them to focus on what they’re doing with their life. Everyday they tell me, “wow, I did not expect this.” To me, that’s the biggest compliment.
As working women, we work hard and give to others all day. When we are advised to get eight hours of sleep, but don't, it can make us feel guilty. We wish we knew how to shut off our devices in the evening, how to keep ourselves from trading an hour of productivity for sleep, or how to turn our heads off when we wake up at 2 a.m. anticipating tomorrow’s 'to do' list.
We have the will, but not the way… but we do already have tools—both within ourselves and within easy reach—that can help us have more control to sleep throughout night.
Our response to stress comes from the nervous system, which has two parts to it: an "on button" (your sympathetic system which gives you energy and focuses on solving problems) and an "off button" (your parasympathetic system which gives you calm and replenishment). As human beings, we developed this nervous system apparatus early in our evolution: when approached by a saber toothed tiger, our on button would release a full-blown 'fight or flight' reaction, and when the danger subsided the off button would resume its function of rest and digest. In this way, we were built to have coordination between the two.
Because of the "always on" nature of our professional and personal lives, and our sense of responsibility for others, many of us women are unbalanced. We only use our on button.
Here are three strategies from my book Success Under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive When the Pressure's On to easily press the off button and win over your insomnia. To hit the off button:
Do left nostril breathing. When you wake up in the middle of the night, simply cover your right nostril with your thumb or index finger, and breathe normally through your left nostril only. The reason it works is that this breath activates a nerve that immediately engages the relaxing part of your nervous system. Even for those of you who are busy mothers or Type A achievers, this magic bullet technique will get you back to sleep within three minutes! And you'll wake up feeling more rested. (Make sure to do this technique correctly, if you breathe through the wrong nostril you'll be up for hours and you might as well go to the office at 3 a.m.!)
Balance your On and Off button. Any time you take even 3 minutes out of your day for a deep breathing mental vacation (or even better, when you do something that really detaches you from stress, such as exercise, massage, a walk, etc) it helps your system be more relaxed for sleep time.
Use natural aides to press the Off button. You can create a state of short-term relaxation with Chamomile tea or breathing in essential oils with relaxing aromas such as lavender, vanilla, cinnamon. Also, most of us who are stressed out or live in urban environments are unknowingly deprived of the mineral magnesium, potentially causing insomnia and anxiety. So fill your tank with a magnesium supplement before bedtime. It relaxes your muscles and helps you drift off to sleep easily.
You are the center of your family and your team and your clients, they need you to take good care of yourself. There is so much more that you can control when it comes to getting enough sleep. Know how to access your Off button, and instead of staring at the ceiling feeling guilty, you'll sleep like a baby and wake up rested to start the day right!
-Sharon Melnick, PhD, January 2015 Career Coach
What brings you happiness? Check out our new video and tell us what makes you happy below!
Video Editor: Michelle Purpura
Listen to Helene's new radio show where she sits down with Zhena Muzkya, founder of Zhena's Gypsy Tea. A passionate, resourceful entrepreneur, Zhena went from being struggling single mother to the head of a multimillion dollar business. Her resolve to serve others kept her going no matter what obstacles she faced.
Read an excerpt of the interview here:
Zhena: With a mission to serve, you cannot fail. When I look back on how a college dropout, single mom with $6 to her name was able to build a multimillion dollar business with products in over 20,000 stores… that doesn’t happen unless there is a bigger mission at play. Anytime I work with a company or a woman CEO I say, “Find the mission that’s going to inspire you to work 20 hour days, because that’s what it’s going to look like sometimes.”
Find the beacon that is your daily reminder of that mission. At first it was my son, and then it was the pictures of the kids in the tea fields everywhere. Surround yourself with reminders about why you’re doing it. First you find your mission, then you find your beacon, then you build a context for every single person around you. I went to all my customers and said, 'Listen, this isn’t tea. We’re ending poverty for tea workers.”
Helene: The obstacles are always there. We all go through terror and fear as we tackle something new. But what’s larger than the fear is to be of service, to look outside of yourself and make a difference. It’s very important to align yourself with something that’s meaningful to you and connects with your soul.
Everyone on this planet has a purpose beyond the mundane. We all have a soul purpose and a journey. And if you don’t think you know it-if you spend the time to reflect and really ask yourself, what turns me on? What are other people doing, like Zhena, that I want to do, you'll be guided to your special contribution.
For more of Helene and Zhena's inspiring conversation, check out the full interview here.
This program and future shows will also be available on iTunes the day after broadcast. Don't forget to give us a 5 star rating!
If you disagree with what others are saying in a meeting or have an unpopular idea to bring up, you might start to squirm as you have an inner debate whether to speak up:
On the one hand you want to share information that will be helpful, on the other hand you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and you are worried about the repercussions. Will you receive negative feedback, lose respect, be shunned…or fired? It takes courage to speak your mind, and to speak the truth.
Here are 3 tips that might help you have the courage to speak up in a meeting with an unpopular (but brilliant!) idea:
1. Focus on your Beneficiaries. Instead of thinking about what others’ response to you will be, take yourself out of the equation. Focus on the beneficiaries of the points you raise. As the great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said: “From caring comes courage”.
Who will be helped, or protected, or served by your input? Think about the value you will be doing for them. See yourself a champion for the truth. Be proud of your integrity. Often as women we will negotiate or take courageous action on behalf of others but not out of our own convictions. When necessary, leverage this tendency so you can muster your courage to speak up!
2) Get air cover. When you want to speak up you are often most concerned with the ‘political fallout’ (i.e., what people will think and say about you in the future). If you know you have information or positions that will be difficult to raise, see if you can float the idea ahead of time and get your manager, mentor, peers, or sponsor to back you up. Another helpful strategy is to raise the idea with key opinion leaders before the meeting (whenever possible) to see if they have any suggestions about how to ruffle the fewest feathers.
3) Build rather than Destroy. Even if your point is unpopular try to say it in a way that bridges with what others have said, so that your idea seems more like a build on others ideas rather than a criticism. Be confident in your approach and pleasant in your tone. “I think your idea makes sense if we are thinking for the short term, but if we look at it in terms of the long term impact I would recommend we do it this way instead”
And if you truly disagree in whole with what others are saying, then have the courage of your convictions and say so! Expect that you will be challenged so be prepared to back it up with facts and strong reasoning. Then take a deep breath and go for it! As Anais Nin once famously inspired us to remember: Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
-Sharon Melnick, PhD, January 2015 Career Coach
How many New Year’s resolutions did you make to better your life in 2015? What if you just focused on one thing, and mastered it to help your goals come true?
Consider the questions you ask yourself daily. When you face a challenging situation, the first thing you often do is ask yourself a question—dozens of times a day. And anytime you ask yourself a question, your supercomputer brain begins answering it.
Below are 5 questions that will derail you from having the success you seek—try to shift away from them as soon as they pop into your head. Then I’ll share 5 questions that will make your 2015 fantastic if you make it a habit of asking them.
5 questions that will derail you.
How can I change the other person so they understand what I need?
This is a classic no-no! This question will cause immediate frustration and keep you stressed.
How can I avoid doing something about this situation I’m stuck in?
You may get relief in the moment but will keep your professional life stalled and your life stuck.
I’m exhausted, how can I survive the day?
This may help you get through your short term situation, but it perpetuates a cycle of exhaustion. For example, you may drink an afternoon cup of coffee every afternoon, instead of examining the real causes of your exhaustion and doing something to improve it.
How can I get another job?
This question is too vague and makes it hard to get started. You want to ask questions that will get you information you can act on, such as: What kind of work do I want to do each day? Who is hiring in my area? What skills will I need? These questions are more specific and will get you in action.
What will other people think?
What other people think about you is the thing you can control the least. Trying your best in any situation is the best thing you can do to ensure that people will respect you.
Ask yourself these 5 questions instead.
What does it look like to bring forth my best self in this situation?
This question helps you focus on what you can control. It lifts you out of ‘what is,’ and enables you to see new possibilities that you can immediately act on
What is the single best action I can take right now that will move me closer to what I want in this situation?
It’s always helpful to try to break any big challenge into small steps. For example, if you want to start your own home-based business and don’t know where to start, you might follow these steps: Step 1: Decide what kind of business. Do you have something to sell or know how to do something others don’t? Step 2. Find a way to let other people know what you offer. Start by sending an email to every person you know, or ask what you can do for someone in exchange for letting their network know. When you get more specific it’s easier to get started!
Who is already getting the result I want… and how can I learn from that person?
Hire or get mentored by that person! This is especially true if you are in a situation where you want to make a career move. Start reaching out to people in your network and see if you can be introduced to someone doing that job. Ask them what credentials and experience they needed, how they got it, and for the best piece of advice they could give you. Then do what they say!
What am I doing that is allowing this situation to perpetuate?
If you are unhappy in your current work situation, ask yourself what you might be doing to contribute to it. For example, if you asked for more responsibility or reached out to more people in the organization would you feel more satisfied? If you are ready for a different job, then ask specific questions that will help you take first steps.
What am I grateful for?
Put this question into your heart and let it make you smile. It gives me energy AND calms me down. Suddenly the things I was stressing about seem in perspective. Try doing this one daily!
--Sharon Melnick, PhD, January 2015 Career Coach
Breaking the Rules
Pushing Pass Your Normal Trend
Finding Your Best You this New Year!
I feel so excited about every New Year! It’s the beginning of new things—new jobs/careers for some, maybe new loves for others… it’s the time and opportunity for change. It has been my goal to stretch your comfort zone and grow your enthusiasm and courage in YOUR professional fashion statement. Your professional self and your overall fashion identity should intermingle. Style is mixable in all genres of your life; it’s how you incorporate them that makes you successful or not. This year let’s work on sprinkling your style aesthetic more evenly across your lifestyle as a woman in general; in all aspects of what you do and who you are. If you’re up for that challenge, consider this new trend…
When you think of the winter season, it is so easy to reach for the dark hues in your closet, like navy, black and grey, or autumnal colors, like greens, burgundy and deep orange/sienna. What’s new and fresh about this winter’s trends is the welcoming of BOLDS and BRIGHTS into our wardrobe. It’s not just for the fashionistas on the runway. Fun and vibrant colors in faux fur and real fur (your preference) are en vogue in a huge way. Celebrating the beauty and luxury of furs are synonymous with winter bliss, much like cashmeres and suedes are. The luxury of enjoying fur is for everyone, especially since faux fur is just as fashionable and more cost efficient.
My suggestion is to try this trend in faux furs so it’s not a waste of money when the trend ends. It’s not a core element of your wardrobe by any means, but it’s a fun way to bring some vibrancy in an otherwise “hum drum” time of year. If a full coat or jacket is too much for you, then incorporate this trend into your accessories like multi-colored or solid-yet-bold fur handbags, hats or scarves. Take a peek at a few options here and consider bringing some “bright” into these early evening winter nights.
My duty as a fashion stylist and trend expert is to help you think outside the box and try new things in fashion for the workplace. I want to share a great fashion guide to add to the amazing advice I already give you monthly (smile)!
George Brescia is infamous for working with actresses on Broadway stage and films. He is uber-talented as a stylist to the stars, like myself, but he has put pen to paper and created this book to explain that how you dress affects your life and how you are perceived… which I preach all the time. Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life reveals the true power your clothing/look has on your life and how it impacts your job prospects, your romantic life, your income, and even your deepest sense of self. This book is an easy read. Perfect for yourself or as a gift to anyone who is a little fashion deprived and in need of a boost!
Pamela Watson is an experienced stylist who currently works as the trend expert for Builders of Style, where she prepares A-list clients for red carpet events, music videos, concerts and award shows. Have a question for Pamela? Either ask below or email administrator [at] womenworking [dot] com.
Say you put hours and hours into a project and it comes out great…but you receive no feedback from your boss. Or what if you were really appreciated by your former manager, but because of restructuring you have a new one you have to prove yourself to again. Or maybe your performance is stellar, but because everyone is moving at such a fast pace, your boss isn’t noticing.
How do you keep your confidence when it feels like other people don’t notice your efforts?
Here are 3 strategies that will help you:
Distinguish Your Confidence vs Others’ Conduct
Your confidence is a feeling you have inside and you have control over it. It comes from your beliefs, self talk, and actions that build a sense of power in yourself. In contrast, not being noticed or being criticized is the behavior of others. You have a choice how to respond to it. For example, you can ask for feedback to know objectively where you can improve in your boss’s eyes.
If you are not getting noticed or supported, it doesn’t mean that you are not worthy of it. It means that you are either not effectively influencing that person to notice you, or you are expecting to be noticed and reassured by someone who is unlikely or incapable of noticing you. Make the distinction between your confidence and others’ conduct.
Give it to Yourself!
If you are not able to be validated by someone important to you, you might wonder how you can maintain your confidence. Answer: enjoy the ride! Feel stimulated by what you learned through your work project and get energized by the progress you made. Think of the value your efforts brought to your team members, clients, and community, and feel the reward that comes from knowing you helped other people. The value of your contributions does not come from your boss’s telling you that it was valuable.
Create a Confidence Building World around You
Know that it’s perfectly normal to want to feel valued. You deserve to feel valued, and ideally you should feel that from your work environment. But the question is, what if you don’t right now? First make sure that you are informing your boss of your efforts so it’s not a question of him or her not knowing. Second, branch out and make great relationships with other stakeholders so that you are visible to people who might be more capable than your boss at appreciating you. Start moving toward a boss who will have the same view of you that you do!
There are many factors that may wear down your confidence these days. With so many changes and restructuring going on in organizations, you may need to repeatedly ‘prove’ yourself with new managers and peers. Otherwise resentment may begin to build when you are consistently performing well but are not noticed for advancement due to factors beyond your control—it can wear you down.
So what can you do to stay confident, even if your boss (or spouse, or child, or family member…) doesn’t notice?
--Sharon Melnick, PhD, January 2015 Career Coach
With the new year underway it's time for you to step OUT of your comfort zone!
Video Editor: Michelle Purpura
Mindfulness for the Office
Much of our tension and pain from work is simply due to a lack of regulated breathing. Shallow breathing restricts muscles which leads to tension.
Remember to breathe. Find a touch stone in your office, whether its your water cooler, a little statue, or a picture. Let it remind you every time you see it to pause and take three deep breaths, then resume your work.
In the office we often sit for too many hours and simply get up and walking or other basic movements can help with pain and tension.
Office Walks. If you have to sit at a desk for many hours, have a bottle of water always on hand and aim to drink twice as much as you usually do. This helps keep you hydrated and also gets you up and moving.
Stretching the back of the neck and shoulders
Our trapezius muscles (the tops of our shoulders) are nick-named the "traps" because they "trap" all our tension and stress. Many of us only half engage these muscles, so our body never gets the message they are fully engaged at all. In order to relax them, we need to ENGAGE them fully in order to let our bodies RELAX them.
Shoulder Rolls. Relax your arms, can do this seated or standing (good for the office, the airplane, or anytime you notice you are harboring tension around the neck).
Wringing out the Spine
In the office, we often hunch over and create tension in the spine, causing back pain. Twisting detoxifies the body while creating space between the vertebrae, allowing for motion and openness in the back.
In a twist, think about spiraling towards the ceiling like a barber pole rather than torquing towards the back wall.
Chair Twist. Stand to one side of the chair. Lift one leg onto the seat and hold the back rest with the same hand and twist. This can also be done by reaching behind you and twisting while seated.
Mindfulness for the Car
Feeling the Inner Smile
Send the sensation of smiling throughout your entire body. Even if it feels fabricated, there are still health benefits. This helps loosen your shoulders, balances blood pressure, and boosts your immune system, as well as creates calm during stressful times while driving.
Yellow Light, Red Light Meditation
Whenever you see a yellow light, slow down your breathing and feel a sense of slowing down. When you see a red light, pause, breath, and elevate your world view. Drop inner commentary and be present with the physical world around you.
Before a Hectic Work Day
When you wake up in the morning remind yourself of three things you are grateful for! Internally recite and acknowledge your blessings throughout your busy draining day.
This is proven in the medical field to have significant health boosts!
River has a lifelong study of movement and the body which has guided her 19 years as a teacher. She is the co- director of aspen-tree.org out of Aspen, Colorado where she lives. For more on River and for upcoming retreats visit yogariver.com.
What if while all your friends and family are happily proceeding with their New Year’s Resolutions, you’ve been having a hard time deciding on yours? Use these 3 practices to figure out what you want and start getting it this year!
Your brain has two modes of thinking. You have an “on” button which is always on the hunt for what you can tick off your list, how to run in between meetings or activities, and emotionally reacting to everyone else’s needs. You also have an “off” button which allows relaxation, accesses your intuition, and imagines new possibilities for your future.
Your intuition may come in the form of a picture (you were in a meeting with a woman who started her own business and for a flash you thought, “That could be me”).
It may come in the form of a strong feeling about an experience or an opportunity (such as wanting more energy, or really enjoying the time you volunteered last year).
It may appear as a “voice from within” (a whisper you’ve heard yourself say to yourself, as if you are being called to do it).
If you were always putting your attention into other people in 2014, then you were crowding out your intuition and new ideas about your future. It’s time to build in some “off button” time, even if it’s just a few minutes a day of deep breathing or internal reflection. Try walking part of the way to your office, enjoying a few extra minutes in the bath, or taking a brief mental vacation during busy days.
Notice your Reactions
As you begin listening to your intuition, try imaging your image for the future clearly and notice the energy and conversation in your head.
Become fluent in the language your body uses to tell you you’re excited about something. For example, when I am excited I get a huge smile and positive flutters in my stomach; when I don’t want something, my head becomes very noisy with complaints and resistance.
As you come up with ideas about switching to a new job, taking singing lessons, or volunteering, notice what you tell yourself in your head. Be careful not to talk yourself out of it by saying “oh I’m too old to do that” or “I’m too busy” or “that’s for other people but I could never do that”, etc.
Contrary to what you might think, your head is not the place to figure out what you want! Get out of your head and into the real world where you can start to try things on for size. Let’s get some data!
If you want more responsibility, then ask for an additional piece of work and see how it feels. If you want a different job or want to take up a new hobby, start asking people who have done it what they recommend. Read online about people who practice that skill. Volunteer in that sector. Find a MeetUp group with people who are immersed in that world. Once you are out and about, continue Practice #2 and notice how it feels. Keeping track of your journey in a beautiful notebook is a great way to remember and build on your process. Then you can look back in a short while to appreciate how far you have come.
Bonus Practice: Enjoy!
Here’s a practice you want to do everyday for the rest of your life: Enjoy your own company! When you are enjoying your own company you are naturally doing the practices above!
--Sharon Melnick, January 2015 Career Coach