Staying Focused on Your Career During the Holidays

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It’s that time of year again! Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks are churning out their specialty eggnog drinks and candy cane-topped donuts…Holiday commercials have started, and you are sitting at work listening to everyone talk about holiday plans.

Maybe you love the holidays and can’t wait to eat Aunt Tina’s green bean casserole.  But many other people despise the holidays for a variety of reasons: financial issues, divorce, shared custody of children,  or recent deaths in the family, just to name a few… For many people, the holidays and commitments they entail create a time management nightmare.

The difficulty becomes when you have issues during the holidays and realize that yes, you have to keep working.  It may become difficult to put aside these problems and focus on work.  Maybe you are a nurse or doctor and have to work during the holidays and hate it; or, maybe your status as “essential personnel” is a fabulous excuse to let you avoid family gatherings.  Be mindful that everyone has different stressors and experiences during the holiday season and all of that can spill over into the workplace.

Ignore the Chaos Around You At Work: Focus on Your Career Goals

Maybe Sally your boss has been particularly harsh.  The truth is, you have no idea what people might be dealing with during the holidays. Maybe her husband is hoping to get a promotion and was just told he wasn’t getting one.  Your co-worker who seems so annoyingly chipper may actually be overcompensating for some tough family issues she is going through at home.

So how do you manage? Focus on your goals and don’t get distracted.  Make a list of your work goals for the months of November and December.  Maybe you work in sales and need to achieve a certain quota for the final quarter.  Perhaps you are an executive and are working out end of the year bonuses.  Take a look at what YOU need to achieve for the next two months in order to meet your work goals.

Next, ignore everything else.  Maybe you are having a difficult time financially and can’t afford a lot of presents.  That’s ok, we have all been there.  Turn your focus on other things and get creative.  Instead of giving gifts, plan to make cookies for everyone on your gift list.

Make Your Career List and Check it Twice

Make a list of what you can do that is career-related to ease the financial stress.  Maybe you can pick up extra shifts or approach your supervisor about that pay increase.

This time of the year is often a time to prepare for upcoming performance evaluations.  One of my clients recently said that he was happy to be working on his resume now because his year-end evaluation was coming and he needed to work on self-promotion.  One tip is to make a list of your strengths and weaknesses.  Be prepared to address work areas you need to focus on with your supervisor.  If you are sensitive to criticism, remind yourself this is an opportunity to improve.

Revise Your Resume

Take time out to revise your resume.  When was it last updated? Have you added your most recent job? Review your resume to see if you have listed all of your achievements at your current job.  Have you received special recognition at work? Did you increase revenue by a remarkable amount? Land a large and sought after account?

Make sure all of these accomplishments are listed on your resume. You never know when the perfect job might come along so you should always be prepared with an updated resume.

~J.O.

Reinventing Yourself: “I Hate My Job”…Now What?

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One day you find yourself sitting at your desk, staring at the computer, realizing just how miserable you truly are. You can hear your co-worker cackling like a hyena from her cube, and from across the room you smell your other co-worker’s fresh microwaved fish wafting through the air. You might be asking yourself, am I truly happy in my current job and what can I do to change it?

Are You Passionate About Your Job?

When my clients come to me for resume writing, often they want to change careers as well. While I most definitely can NOT tell you what you should do with your life, I can tell you that if you are not passionate about your job, you might not be reaching your full potential. The issue though, is to decide how much of a risk you want to take and how practical changing careers might be.

Questions to Ask Yourself About Changing Careers

One of the questions to consider is, “Am I financially able to just quit my job?” The answer for most of us is probably no.  Another question might be, what do I really want to do? Is it the thing I think I should be doing or the thing that sets my mind and soul on fire? There is a huge difference between the two.

You have to ask yourself, is what you do every day just a job, or a career?

Case in point: Me. I have wanted to go to medical school for years, but I just can’t seem to sit myself down and take the MCAT. Would I make a good physician? Probably. But something is stopping me from taking that silly test. I’ve been running my business for a few years now, and something interesting has happened.

Once upon a time, before I wanted to pursue medicine, I wanted to be a freelance writer…And, ladies and gentleman, look what has happened? By developing my business and taking action instead of banging my head against the wall going, “What should I do? What should I do?” (Can you hear Goofy’s voice?)…Well, I am doing what makes me happy and not what my brain thinks I should be doing.

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

But I digress…What did you want to be when you were 10 years old? A concert pianist? A teacher? Do you still think about it? What steps do you need to take to make it happen? I often work with clients who have the skills listed on their resumes to do something else, but they need to sit down, make a list of their skills, experiences, etc. and match those things up with what their dream job is.  Often, it’s a lightbulb moment.  Oooo THAT? I never thought of that!

Take a look at your current resume. What skills do you have? There are probably things you do every day that you don’t even realize you are doing.

Take Inventory of the Job Skills You Already Have

When I wrote my own resume, I forgot about how much goes into running a business. For example, look at all the skills that go into marketing: designing ads for Google, leveraging social media such as Facebook ads or posts, knowing what days of the week to run ads, or paying attention to when people are visiting my website. While I have no interest in marketing, these skills might lay the groundwork for another career if I wanted to pursue it.

That is why reviewing your daily job duties is so important. If you are interested in changing jobs or reinventing yourself, it is important to understand what skills you have that might make you, say, an excellent river rafting guide. Maybe you love public speaking, the outdoors, and teaching others new skills. Those skills might be your ticket to finding your new passion. ~J.O.