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Breathing is something we do without thinking from the time we’re born until the time we die, but breathing can serve a much greater purpose in our lives if we let it.
Learning to control your breathing through breathing exercises can have significant physical impacts. Controlling your breathing helps relieve stress by focusing your mind so that you can better concentrate on what’s most important. In the same way, it also helps reduce anxiety by slowing down the mind’s processes to help you better focus on the things that are causing the anxiety.
Some studies have even shown that controlling your breathing can increase longevity in the long run. High stress can lead to an early onset of many diseases, and even early death in some people, but through controlled breathing you can relax more, which over time will have a positive impact on your life and overall life expectancy.
Also, breathing slowly and intentionally before bed has been shown to reduce the effects of insomnia. If you learn to slow your breathing before bed, you can fall asleep without even knowing that you're trying to fall asleep, thus avoiding the sleepless nights of insomnia.
Controlling your breathing takes a lot of focus, so in doing so, you leave yourself little room to focus on anything else, thus pushing all other ailments or worries away from your mind. Along with controlled breathing, one can try also meditation in any of its forms. Meditation relies heavily on controlled breathing, which is why it has many of the same positives as controlled breathing.
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If you’ve scrolled through Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram in the last couple of years, you’re probably familiar with the term hygge. This Danish concept of embracing warmth, coziness, and joy is a form of self-care that can help you find productivity and contentment during cold, dark days…and draining days spent under fluorescent lights.
If you search hygge on Pinterest right now, you’ll see a lot of candles, cozy blankets, mugs of tea, and fireplaces…but unless you work from home, I’m not sure those are the best ways to bring this practice to work with you. Instead, check out these 8 ways to practice hygge in the workplace.
Nothing softens a room and brings a little life to it quite like…well, life! Bring some plants to the office for some fresh air and some green. Are you in a cubicle mid-office without a window to be found? Check out some of the beautiful lowlight options! Snake plants are gorgeous, easy to care for, and bring some much-needed interest to most sterile office environments.
First and foremost is the “break” part of this. Your brain needs to disconnect and take a real break to be able to perform at its best. I know I’m guilty, like most of you, of taking a “break” by switching to another task, but that isn’t actually what our brains need. Creativity, ideas, inspiration – they all come from quiet time and even boredom. Drink a cup of tea or coffee while you stare at a blank wall. Don’t listen to a podcast. Don’t watch a show. Let your brain relax.
Do you ever go through an entire workweek, surrounded by colleagues, but completely isolated in your cubicle? Gathering around the watercooler has been frowned for so long, but human interaction and community is what will energize you and get you through the day productively, not to mention it will make you more excited to come back the next day! The key is balance. Build some community in the workplace by organizing monthly potluck lunches. Invite your colleagues to bring in their favorite dishes, put out a spread, and take a break to socialize. Side benefit: eating real food for lunch instead of scarfing fast food because you forgot to pack your lunch…again.
Music can affect your mood more than almost anything, so put together a playlist that will keep your spirits high during the workday, put on your headphones, and relax. Most streaming services already have “hygge” playlists running, so pick one that you enjoy and find relaxing.
5.Art/Photos/Things You Love
What is on the walls of your workspace, or on your desk? Plain, white walls with only work stuff? A beige or gray desk? Is it completely barren of any personality? Bring yourself smiles throughout the day by decorating your workspace with things you love: art, photos of loved ones, goofy bobbleheads. Whatever makes you smile, surround yourself with it! Just don’t go overboard so your area is cluttered and you can’t work easily.
Turning into a mushroom growing from your chair won’t benefit your mood. Get moving and you can reduce stress and boost your mood within 10 minutes. You don’t have to break a sweat, just get up and walk. Walk in silence just observing nature or grab a friend and have a quick visit walking around the building. Just move.
Harsh fluorescent lighting never did anything for anyone’s headaches or mood. Natural light can improve mood and productivity among many other benefits. If possible, try to work in more natural light – open the blinds, sit near the window if you can. If you’re stuck in the middle of an office, consider a desk lamp with a daylight bulb.
And perhaps the most important, practice random acts of kindness. There is no quicker way to spread joy than being kind, and random acts of kindness tend to spread like wildfire. Best of all – nothing is standing in your way. Cubicle in the center of a giant room? Corner office? Work from home? You can be kind in every single one of these environments and see how you change someone’s day. Bring someone a coffee, give a sincere compliment, hold a door, bring donuts. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. It just needs to be heartfelt.
Unfortunately, not every personality type will work well with every company. It’s important to know what your personality type is, so you can figure out which jobs would be best for you.
The most common way to figure out your personality type is through the Myers-Briggs personality test. There are 16 different personality types, based upon a combination of four different categories:
1. Introversion (focuses more on the inner world) vs. Extroversion (focuses more on the outer world),
2. Sensing (focuses on basic information as it’s taken in) vs. Intuition (interpreting and adding to the information as it’s taken in),
3. Thinking (uses logic more in decision making) vs. Feeling (focuses more on people and special circumstances in decision making),
4. Judging (prefers to make decisions quickly) vs. Perceiving (prefers being open to new information).
Based on one’s individualized personality type, they may be better fit for a management position in a company, while someone with a different personality type may be better fit for a groundskeeping position.
Forbes writer, Ashley Stahl, breaks down each of the 16 personality types and their ideal careers in her article: What Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type Means for Your Career.
People with this personality type are practical, factual, organized, and logical. They’re great problem-solvers who thrive in careers that are heavy with facts, numbers, and data. They make excellent accountants, engineers, air traffic controllers, and security guards.
ISFJ’s are warm and sympathetic, but also detailed, organized, and thorough. They are natural protectors, so they tend to thrive as health care professionals or working with children, but because they are so detail-oriented, they also do well in positions that work closely with money, like bookkeeping.
Sensitive, creative, and intense. They thrive with language and symbols. They long for meaning in their careers, and because they are adept at reading people, they do best in the arts, medicine, education, and science.
Decisive, innovative, insightful, and logical. They’re able to apply their big-picture thinking along with their problem-solving skills, which makes them best-suited for work in very technical careers like architecture, science, and engineering.
People with this personality type are very hands-on and are analytical, practical, and exacting. They are natural troubleshooters and problem-solvers, so they do very well in careers with computers, electronics, and technology, but they also thrive in the outdoors so are well-suited for farming and ranching as well.
This personality type is gentle, adaptable, observant, and loyal. They’re sympathetic and reflective and love to help others, so they are natural-born teachers, nurses, and coaches.
INFP’s are creative, empathic, and inquisitive. They’re natural helpers and are deeply caring. They tend to have excellent communication skills, so they make great writers, and they thrive in other artistic positions as well such as musicians, graphic designers, and in language arts.
Individuals with this personality type are intellectually curious but also analytical, objective, and conceptual. They thrive as architects and engineers, as well as in various scientific fields and in construction.
Smart and energetic, they make great entrepreneurs. They’re realistic, analytical, and efficient. They have solid people skills, so they’re awesome in sales, and they’re best-suited for careers that don’t require a lot of routine.
Energetic, caring, resourceful, and adaptable. Hands-on. They’re enthusiastic and seek excitement, so they make fantastic performers. They thrive when helping others and working closely with people, so ideal career paths include hospitality, health care professionals, and food service.
Individuals with this personality type are imaginative, creative, insightful, and caring. They’re very service-oriented and have great communication skills. They do best in careers where they are helping others and/or being creative, so they’re great as counselors, fitness trainers, and therapists, as well as artists, actors, dancers, and musicians.
This personality type tends to be energetic, analytical, enthusiastic, and theoretical. They are adept at solving problems creatively. Because they work so well with others, they make great leaders—they thrive as executives and can function well in a variety of different fields, including business, the arts, and even sports and media.
People with this personality type are logical, assertive, decisive, and results-oriented. They’re critical and tend to take charge, so they’re natural-born leaders. They make excellent executives and are diverse enough to be successful in a wide variety of industries.
ESFJ’s are sociable, caring, and very people-oriented. They’re most successful in roles that enable them to serve others and fulfill their needs—nurses, doctors, childcare workers, and teachers, to name a few.
ENFJ’s are passionate and charismatic. They’re sociable, warm, empathetic, and imaginative. Born leaders, they have strong humanitarian values and do best in positions that allow them to help and support others. They’re great communicators and enjoy working with people, so they are great teachers and counselors, but they also thrive in the arts.
Individuals with this personality type are organized, critical, and logical. Organizers and planners, they’re strong leaders and very career-driven, so they thrive in the corporate world. They’re exceptionally hard workers and do very well in the following industries: legal, engineering, scientific, sports, and even the arts.
Not everyone is meant to do everything; each personality type is unique, as are the jobs that they're suited for. Figuring out your personality type and where you fit in the workforce can be extremely helpful in the long run.
Was a change in your career part of your 2020 plans? Maybe you dove right in, scouring the job boards the first two weeks of January, but now the excitement and drive have faded away because you didn’t see the results?
A job search isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. It takes dedication, careful planning, and is best with consistent effort. Slow and steady…and a cheering section helps! Here are three steps to a successful job search that won’t drain your soul.
Figure Out What You Want
First and foremost, you can’t conduct an efficient search if you don’t know what you’re searching for. It’s not enough to know that you’re unhappy in your current position, you need to know why and what will be fulfilling for you. Do some soul searching, take a personality test or two (like Myers-Briggs or Enneagram, not which Hogwarts House you belong to) for some clarity and inspiration, or just sit down with pen and paper and list out everything you dislike about your current role, what you love, and how you could love what you don’t.
There’s more to it than just the role, though. What kind of a commute are you willing to make every day? Don’t just consider distance – think about traffic and road quality, too. How much travel are you up for? Do you have a family that you want to see every night or are you okay living out of a suitcase? These things can make or break the fit as well.
Plan Your Search
As a parent of young children, I am quite familiar with trying to get things done during spare minutes, and some things can limp by just like that. Your job search is not one of them. You need to schedule and commit time to all the different areas of your search (not just the easy ones!) and stick to it.
Be sure you aren’t setting yourself up for disappointment though! Examine your schedule and make realistic commitments to yourself. If Wednesdays are beyond hectic, don’t expect yourself to accomplish anything that day. You don’t want to constantly feel as though you are failing because you set unrealistic expectations.
Set aside 30-60min at a time for resume/cover letter tweaks, research, applying, and networking, and stay focused! This can be the same week-to-week (Mondays are for networking, Tuesdays are for applying, etc) or can change based on your availability and what is going on in your search. Have a plan for each block of time so you can be productive for the full time allotted.
Career changes can be exhausting and land some serious blows to your self-esteem when you don’t get a callback or an offer. Let your biggest cheerleaders in life know what’s going on (this can help jumpstart your networking, too!) so they can encourage you along the way.
This team will also be a great resource for mock interviews, proofreading, insight, and plenty of other little things along the way. Just remember to show them your appreciation throughout the process. Surprise coffees and baked goods can go a long way toward showing your thanks!
Job searches can be stressful and wearing, so make sure you are doing everything you can to maintain your stamina and increase your efficacy. If you have the ability, a career coach can be an excellent investment to help you determine the best next step, lay out a plan, and master the skills necessary to get to your dream career.
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Let me start by answering this question straightaway: it depends. The floor plan of an office needs to reflect the organizational culture and management style of that office.
At one end, is the culture typified by a stable business model and mature market. The company itself has been around with improvements, but no radical change for many years, possibly decades. It probably has developed an office migration strategy as part of its informal compensation plan where privacy has value based on old military models. At the bottom are the soldiers: well trained to do their job and they are typically in an open configuration with little privacy. Everyone can overhear their conversations and walk around seeing what is on their screens. This is a command and control environment. Supervisors and low-level managers get a tiny bit more privacy, perhaps with a glass-walled office, to reflect the need to do a private conversation with employees, but strategic direction and client relationships are not really part of the job. Their task is to ensure the troops follow the battle plan laid out by the generals. Upper management gets to have the ego-stroking separate floor and conference rooms so they can do bigger thinking and bigger conversations with clients who need to feel special. There really is nothing wrong with this model, and many people thrive in it. It may stifle innovation, but in a mature business that is not really as important as following the process with perfection.
At the other end of the spectrum, and most organizations are not at either end of this pendulum, is the type of company described by Richard Sheridan in “Joy Inc.”. This advertises an open room with no fixed interior walls where everyone sits and that includes the CEO and HR/Payroll. There is no privacy at all for anyone, but somehow the group mentally motivates and encourages everyone such that production is high, and innovation is constant. This business model is one of constant new projects where the communication pace of the standard hierarchy would be too slow and inefficient.
As stated above, most companies are in-between the extremes, but careful self-reflection on company culture will reveal how much togetherness makes sense for your situation.
February. Is it STILL winter? It really is, so now is a great time to rekindle the fire of your professional passion.
Get Out and Network
Whenever someone mentions networking, many of us automatically think of networking events and cringe inside (or outside, if we’re being real). I know a lot of extroverts who just love these events, while introverts (like me) would rather be anywhere else. Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to network!
Bridge Maintenance: Reconnect with Who You Already Know
Effective networking is about relationships. Real, genuine relationships. Step one should always be to nurture our existing relationships, especially connections we don’t interact with regularly.
Take a few minutes to scroll through your contacts and send personal messages to those you haven’t talked to in a while. Ask about their lives, offer genuine help where you can, and/or see if you can grab a coffee to catch up! Just remember, you’re here because you care about this person…not just what they can do for you.
Build New Bridges: Expand Your Network
Hopefully your network will grow organically, with your current connections introducing you to new ones. Sometimes, however, we have to help it along. If there’s someone, in particular, you’d love to know better or who you think would be instrumental in helping your career, don’t be afraid to take the first step!
When you make your initial contact, try to find any existing connection to build from. Did you work for the same company? Did you go to the same school or grow up in the same town? Do you share a passion for hang gliding? We don’t always have an existing connection, but often it’s there if you just look for it.
Once you’ve determined if you have a connection (and what it is), it’s not a bad idea to embrace sincere flattery. Did they write an article that resonated with you? Did their keynote address inspire you in some way? What are they doing that makes you interested in them? We all love to hear that what we are doing is making an impact, and who doesn’t love to talk to new people about our passions? Just be sure to take an interest in them and their story, not just what they can do for yours!
And when you take the step to make the connection, make sure you’re buying the coffee!
Everyone has heard of the infamous “elevator pitch” in which you are supposed to justify your importance to the organization in the time it takes you and the Big Boss/ Important Client to ride the elevator. There are many guides for how to put together this short but powerful message and how you need to prepare, memorize, and practice it. Essentially, these all offer some variation on how to state, who you are, what you do, and why it is of value in 30 seconds or less. In addition to your short pitch, you will probably want to prepare a longer version, between 3 to 5 minutes, in case you are asked that question at a social gathering and have a little longer to introduce yourself.
Let’s go back to that 30 second pitch and the last part of it; specifically, let’s discuss the part that is least likely to be remembered by you, but the most important to that career influencer in the elevator: why. Why do you do what you do? It is a statement of value. Why do you get paid? What does the organization really get from you that counts? If you can answer that question, then you have justification for being part of the team. If the answer is purely procedural and administrative, then try again. Here are some examples:
Good: I help customers by (insert action). I increase profits by (insert action). I control costs by (insert action). I help with customer retention by (insert action).
Bad: I answer calls from customers. I manage product margins. I search out waste. I try to talk customers into not leaving.
Take note of the first set, they are all starting with a short but very business value-oriented statement. The second set is really just the action you take, although several could be a little more carefully worded. The action alone is not enough; you need to explain the value too, but do not assume it is obvious. On an elevator, with other things on their mind, the career influencer with whom you converse may also be thinking, “Do you know why you matter?”
January is full of goals, resolutions, clearing out, planning…but no one ever thinks to do this one simple task that will repay you tenfold down the road!
UPDATE YOUR RESUME!!
Think back on the past year and make detailed note of your accomplishments, the details of your large projects (scope, measurable results, etc), and any training you’ve taken. Keep the full details in your notes and add the highlights to your resume now, before you forget the details! Numbers fade from our memory quickly but they are incredibly valuable when telling the story of the impact you’ve made, so make sure you jot down all those relevant figures like budgets, team size, cost savings, ROI, growth, etc.
We’re also right around the time that annual reviews are wrapping. Most people dread this process, but this information can be extremely valuable for you during a job search. Use the feedback from your manager as a way to “prove” your unquantifiable accomplishments on your resume (Not sure how to do that? Stay tuned – a post on that is coming in the future!). Always keep a copy of your performance review at home in your personal files.
Another good idea is just to read through your resume and give it a little spruce. Are there any points in it that are a little vague or confusing and could use some clarification? Is there any jargon that needs to be updated? Do you see any responsibilities that you forgot to turn into accomplishments?
An annual 10-15 min check and update when you don’t need the resume can save you hours of headache when you urgently need a world-class resume. Go ahead and put a recurring reminder on your calendar for every January to make sure you take a few minutes to update your resume and save your review!