Read the latest articles from the brilliant women of the Ms Career Girl team. This is a career blog for ambitions young professional women. Find women's career building tips, motivational advice, and more.
There’s something you need to know about who you are and who you will be. More importantly, there’s something you need to know about who you will never be.
It might sting at first, but give me a minute and that will change. Actually, everything might change.
I begin by saying…
I used to want to do great things.
I mean REALLY great things. I wanted to be at the MLK level. The Mother Teresa level. The Oprah level.
I wanted to lead something evolutionary (or revolutionary, as the case may be). To achieve the highest honors, win the toughest challenges, advance humankind to some super-duper nth degree. To be known for this super-duper, nth degree kind of achievement.
So many of us do this:
We don’t just want to do excellent work, but to over-perform in everything we do…and to be recognized for our greatness. By everyone, all the time.
We don’t just want to play a sport, but to win every time…and to be recognized for our greatness. By everyone, all the time.
We don’t just strive to be a good parent, but to have our kids be the brightest and best students there are…and to be recognized for our greatness. By everyone, all the time.
And then what happens?
For me, as I aged and despite my best efforts, it soon became clear I wasn’t quite reaching the level I envisioned. The pressure was on and time was ticking and I wasn’t amazingly amazing yet. Which, to me, meant I was a failure.
Until the day I saw Oprah.
The Oprah Offense
When I say I saw Oprah, I mean I really saw her…me and thousands of other people lucky enough to snag tickets when she came to town.
On that fateful day, Oprah talked about her show and about the difference she’s been able to make because of her fame. She talked about changing people’s lives all over the world…about helping women in Africa and increasing safety for children here in America.
And then Oprah Winfrey looked at all of us and said the following…
“You know, chances are you’ll never get to do what I have done.”
My first response was to be totally offended. My first thought, the not-super-mature…
Screw you, Oprah.
But then my ego took a second to breathe, and I thought about what she was actually saying. And that she was right.
Odds were, I wasn’t going to become a wildly famous, perpetually obsessed-about, astoundingly wealthy woman who uses her unlimited dollars and celebrity to make a difference all over the world. All the time.
After all, Oprah status doesn’t just happen…and it certainly doesn’t happen to most of us. It’s very, very rare.
Which isn’t just nonsense, but also a pretty terrible thing to do to ourselves.
Let’s face it. In addition to her incredible vision, hard work and grit, Oprah was also incredibly lucky. Her efforts were made in the right places at the right time, when people were ready for what she had to offer. Even she said this that day.
It’s this luck factor that we need to think about when we aim for Oprah status. Her level of achievement is a huge exception to a much, much more common rule.
As I finally got what Oprah was saying, I felt a bunch of pressure lift from my shoulders.
Because Oprah gave me permission to not be Oprah.
Now, let me stop here to clarify what I am not saying:
What I am not saying is that we shouldn’t try to achieve amazing things in our lives
What I am not saying is that we shouldn’t aim high and exit our very comfy comfort zone in order to try new things
And what I am really not saying is that we shouldn’t try to make a difference in some way
Now…what I am saying:
That every achievement we make is an achievement to be celebrated…even if nobody knows about it but us
That making a difference for just one person (or animal or tree or what have you) needs to be honored
That, even if our efforts fail sometimes, we are still good people
That, as long as we’re trying to make our lives meaningful in some way…to do well at work and in our sport and with our kids…that what we are doing is enough. No, it’s great. And so are we.
That, chances are, we will never be Oprah. That we shouldn’t even try to be.
That, instead, we should just try to be our best us.
In the end, it turns out our best us is the greatest thing of all.
This guest post was authored by Deirdre Maloney
Deirdre Maloney helps people exceed their goals and sleep better at night. She does this as an international trainer, facilitator, writer and coach. Her writings have been featured in Forbes, Inc. and Entrepreneur, and her books include Bogus Balance, The Mission Myth and the Tough Truths series. For more information visit www.makemomentum.com
Success looks different for everyone, and we all get there via different routes. When we look at our idols, we normally see that they have tapped into their natural strengths to get to where they want to be, and that’s a lesson worth paying attention to. Success can be achieved in many ways and it’s best to work with our natural talents rather than trying to work with someone else’s formula.
Preparing your definition of success is the first step toward achieving it. Maybe it’s plenty of time with family and friends, a financial goal, home ownership, selling a book, reaching a certain position in your career or starting your own business. Once you have a clear picture of what success looks like for you, setting micro goals can help you stay on track. But perhaps the most important element—one that we don’t talk about that often—is the overall approach to success. What will your unique approach be?
This has a lot to do with your personality. Are you a heads down worker or a super social networker? Do you envision your journey to success full of long working nights or plenty of laughter and relationships built? Keep in mind your personality type and what truly satisfies you in your day-to-day life. Then consider what makes you unique. What will your attitude be like as you make strides toward success? What’s your recipe?
Professional chefs are some of the most tenacious and creative folks out there. Succeeding as a chef takes being truly unique, vulnerable, and true to one’s vision. This visual from Kitchen Cabinet Kings presents eight unique recipes for success from the world’s most successful chefs.
From Anthony Bourdain’s undeniable energy to Ina Garten’s calm warmth, these chefs did things their own ways and became wildly successful and beloved by doing so.
Everyone you know gets giddy at the thought of a grownups-only pool party or taking off work for a day at the beach. For you, though, just hearing about a summertime BBQ with the rest of the office or an outdoor music festival makes you anxious. You don’t enjoy the summer or even look forward to it arriving – which makes you different from everyone you know. You feel like there’s something wrong with you for not loving the summertime. What gives?
Your summer blues may be Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression that’s triggered by the change in seasons. While it’s most commonly associated with the wintertime, some people experience SAD during the summer. Since most people love the summertime and feel blue when it’s over, it can sound out-of-the-ordinary to experience depression when the sun is shining and the weather’s warm. That assumption is partly to blame, though – people with the summer blues version of SAD feel guilty for not enjoying such a phenomenal season, which only worsens their depression. Feeling this way can make it difficult to enjoy the activities you normally love and can get in the way of work and your relationships.
3 Signs of the Summer Blues
Wondering if you have SAD? Here are three common symptoms of the disorder. They may be signs that it’s time to talk to a professional who can help, and you may also want to discuss what you’re going through with your boss so he or she can provide support.
The Sunnier the Day, the More Zapped Your Energy
You’re not imagining it – sun exposure can affect your body’s melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate mood (and how well you sleep at night). If it increases or decreases more than normal, it could cause depression and sleepless nights. You don’t have to stay inside all season long just to avoid the sun, though. Head out on overcast days when the sun isn’t as strong. If you have to go out when it’s sunny, wear a hat with a wide brim and a pair of sunglasses. When indoors, either at home or at work, pull down the blinds or the shade to filter the sunlight.
Heat and Humidity Leave You Moody
You’re not alone in that! Plenty of people can’t stand being hot and sweaty when they’re trying to work, run errands or keep their home in order, and it’s especially problematic when you’re trying to enjoy your day with friends. Stay cool as much as possible. Carry cold water and a portable fan, shop for lighter clothing and spend time in places with AC. If your office always seems hot and it’s impacting your ability to work, ask your boss if you can work from home a couple of days a week.
You Never Feel Hungry
If you’re anxious about all the things you don’t like about summer, it’s likely that your appetite will decrease as your stress rises. You still need to eat, though – you’ll feel even worse if you don’t get the nutrition you need. Aim to eat small amounts of healthy food at specific times during the day. Even if you don’t feel hungry at the moment, you may feel better once you have some nutrients in you.
One more thing: maybe you just don’t like summer! If you’re not feeling depressed but you’re not ecstatic about the season, either, it could be that you simply prefer different types of weather. There’s nothing wrong with that! Embrace it and look forward to the fall, which will be here before you know it.
How to Work Through the Summer Blues
Whether you have SAD or you’re just sad that the summer’s here, there are ways to cope and get through the next few weeks:
Make a plan in advance:
You know that you start feeling crummy around June, right? Before it gets here, start preparing. Book a trip somewhere that’s not as hot or humid. For example, the West Coast has dry heat, which may feel easier to deal with than humidity. Plan indoor projects that will make you feel accomplished while you enjoy the AC. Take time off of work to have a staycation where you turn your blissfully chilled home into a luxury spa. You may even want to talk to your HR department to find out if you qualify for disability due to your depression.
Continue to prioritize exercise:
Exercise is like medicine for depression. If you want to exercise outside but don’t want to get overwhelmed by the heat, plan your workouts for the mornings or evenings when it’s cooler. You can also set up a home gym so that you can exercise where you’re most comfortable. If you have a gym at work, exercising for half an hour during your lunch break may improve your mood and help you return to work refreshed.
Surround yourself with comfort and things you love:
If you find that your mood dips more during certain times or days, figure out how to provide yourself with extra support to counteract those symptoms. For example, if your depression worsens during the work day, you may want to add family photos to your desk, stash your favorite snacks in a drawer or adjust your workspace so it’s more ergonomic.
Get plenty of sleep:
Few things make depression rear its ugly head as much as a sleepless night or several in a row. If you’re rested, you’ll start the day in a better mood. It’s also common for workplaces to offer flex time during the summer months – find out if you can come in late and work a little later than normal to ensure you get enough sleep.
Banish guilty thoughts:
The worst thing you can do is feel bad about feeling bad. Instead of punishing yourself for not being “like everyone else,” simply observe and accept how you feel, and then discover ways to help yourself.
Even if your depression has more to do with the 90-degree weather than a deeply ingrained issue, it may still be worthwhile to seek out professional help. Even summer blues that lasts for a few weeks from June through August is worth treating. You don’t have to suffer for one-quarter of every year. When you know SAD is around the bend, you can work on preventive healthcare with your doctor and work with your job’s HR department for any accommodations you may need.
There’s no rule that says you have to love the summertime. Heavy heat, sweaty bodies everywhere you go, and unforgiving sun rays can make it difficult to enjoy this time of year. If you think you’re struggling with depression, there are holistic and medical ways to treat it and start feeling better. If you just don’t like the summer, though, stop beating yourself up for feeling that way! Make the most of the season on your terms as you patiently wait for the temperature to drop.
This guest post was authored by Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner is a writer, mom and adventurer in the Pacific Northwest. She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader. And then dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons, without getting groans and eye rolls in response.
There’s always a lot of competition for good job openings. So it’s quite average to have to endure several companies interviewing you before you finally get an offer. But what if you’re not getting a job offer after even 15 or 20 interviews? If you’re in that unenviable position, it’s passed time to dive deep into the causes, evaluate them, and correct as necessary.
Here are ten of the most likely reasons you’re not getting a job offer. When you have all of them under control, there’s sure to be an offer coming in short order.
Want to work with a specific company? Reach out to their hiring manager or better yet your would-be boss and inquire about possible future positions. If you’ve already had the interview, be sure to connect afterwards with a thank you note. And if you’re not hired for the current opening, let them know how impressed with the company you are and that you’ll be staying in touch for upcoming positions.
Not Enthusiastic in The Interview
Okay, so it’s not your dream job. If you come across as less than enthusiastic, you won’t get the offer. Don’t think of this position as the ultimate goal, think of it as a stepping stone and get excited. And heads up – they’ll remember their impressions down the road should you want to apply for some other position later.
You Don’t Sell Yourself
Yes, I remember that you said you hate sales. Get over it. From the times of childhood, life is about getting what you want and that’s always about selling your ideas, needs, and self to someone else. If need be, take a class or read a book on basic sales skills. Get comfortable with the notion of selling being nothing more than convincing someone else to do what you want. In this case, it’s offering you the job!
You have a long list of skills. You’ve got a degree and respectable experience. And it’s more than likely that none of that is directly related to creating a really good resume. While you no doubt know more about yourself than anyone, there are professionals out there who do nothing but build resumes that get results. Consider that the resume is actually your first interview with the company. It’s definitely worth considering having your resume professionally written to ace that. The key is to find a reputable firm to do it, so check for references and ratings before wasting your time and money.
I get it. You’re awesome. The best at what you do. While you want to communicate your greatness, you don’t want to come off as thinking you’re on a pedestal. As always, balance is key. Tell them about your accomplishments, your accolades. But be sure to keep the ego in check so your potential employer doesn’t put your application in the “primadonna” file.
You’re Over- or Under-qualified
This is a tough one. If you’ve never found yourself rejected because of being either under- or over-qualified, let me tell you it’s frustrating. So if you’re targeting a position that’s outside your present perceived occupational fit, you’re going to have to work hard to justify why. Clearly, your best bet is to interview for positions that are a good fit if not best fit.
You’re Not Well Connected
It’s well documented that the vast majority of jobs are never advertised. You’re making your quest for a job offer a ton more difficult if you rely on just the advertised positions. In today’s world, that means you’re going to have to get on and engage in LinkedIn. That’s not essential, it’s critical. Check out this article on Ms Career Girl about revving up your LinkedIn experience.
The Compatibility Factor
This can be among the most difficult aspects of failure to get an offer. Whether it’s the first impression, going either direction, or simply a growing dislike, when the interviewer and the applicant don’t click, that job seeking journey is dead in the water. So from the second you enter the interview room, engage your best social skills to the max. You don’t have to marry this person, just get them to put a “best applicant” on your resume.
You’re Desperate – And It Shows
The fridge is empty. Your rent was due last week. And there’s not enough money in your bank account to buy a loaf of bread. Yup, you’re desperate for a job. All that stress shows up in the interview and can often derail your efforts. Before going in, try a little self talk or meditation. Remind yourself that this, too, shall pass, that you do have resources to fall back on, even if it might take a bit of humility to seek them out. Breathe. You’ve got this.
LinkedIn is one of the most widely used social media networks worldwide. It has more than 610 million members with more than 303 million active users each month, rivaling platforms like Twitter and Instagram.
And it’s no surprise why LinkedIn is so popular – if you’ve used it recently, you already know how useful it can be to connect with clients, team members, and employees. It’s also a great tool to find jobs.
But did you know LinkedIn can be a popular marketing tool?
That’s right – LinkedIn is a social media network, after all!
Just as you can market your brand on Facebook and Twitter, you can attract new leads and customers on LinkedIn – you just need the right strategy.
In this guide, you’ll learn what makes LinkedIn an effective marketing tool. We’ll teach you powerful ways to reach new audiences with LinkedIn marketing and use it to grow brand awareness for your small business.
Or did you know that LinkedIn is responsible for 80% of B2B leads from social media? And 46% of social media leads for B2B websites come from LinkedIn?
As a small business owner or digital marketer, that means you’re missing out on a huge audience if you aren’t using LinkedIn as part of your social media marketing campaigns.
Another key thing to note about LinkedIn: for a social media platform, a relatively small percentage of the user base posts on their page. Out of the 303 million active users on LinkedIn each month, only 3 million share content. What does this mean for you?
It means you aren’t competing with as many people for traction. If fewer people are posting, you have less of a crowd to wade through for recognition.
Ultimately, LinkedIn is one of the best social media platforms for digital marketing – period. If you aren’t using it as part of your lead generation and outreach strategies, you’re missing out on a substantial portion of your potential audience.
How to Use Linkedin for Your Success
To be successful on LinkedIn, you need to follow a few simple strategies. Your goal is to make as many meaningful connections as possible, create a professional profile that represents your brand’s image, and post content you care about.
Let’s take a look at a few basic principles if you want to succeed on LinkedIn.
Complete Your Profile
Your company’s LinkedIn profile should tell leads everything they need to know about your brand. It should represent your vision and your personality.
To do this, you need to fill out your profile completely. This includes a professional profile image and an in-depth description of what your company does.
Remember: your profile is your first impression. Treat it like a job interview or a sales meeting. How do you want to present your brand to potential business connections and customers?
Connect, Connect, Connect!
Listen – there’s no rule that says you should only connect with people you know on LinkedIn. In fact, cold-connecting with people can be one of the best ways to connect on Linkedin to generate awareness for your brand.
If you only add connections to people you know closely, you won’t benefit much from your interactions on LinkedIn. Sure – they may send you a post they like or forward an employee recommendation, but they don’t benefit your marketing campaign.
We’re not saying you can’t add people who are affiliated with your brand – by all means, connect with everyone you know on LinkedIn, too.
But if you only limit it to people you know, you’re missing out on a potential audience.
Optimize Your Profile for LinkedIn’s Search Engine
People are always searching for others on LinkedIn. Like Google, LinkedIn uses an algorithm to determine the rank of websites on its search engine results index.
How can you use this to your advantage?
Create a list of keywords that relate to your brand and include them on your page. For example, a digital marketing agency might feature words like ‘content marketing’ and ‘growth hacking’ in their profile to show up when someone searches for those phrases.
Advanced Tactics for LinkedIn Lead Generation
Once you get the basics of LinkedIn marketing, you can apply more advanced tactics to reach a larger audience and improve your conversions.
Use LinkedIn to Get Email Subscribers
Remember what we said above about connecting with everyone? If you follow that advice, this tip can be highly profitable.
For every person, you connect with, send them a message thanking them for the connect. Then respectfully ask them to check out your content and sign up for your email list – it’s that simple!
This method is free and effective. Don’t let your hesitation for cold-messaging hold you back – worst case scenario, your leads don’t sign up!
Post Exceptional Content
Did you just publish your best blog post? Share it on LinkedIn! Your connections and followers will see it and it can generate traffic to your site.
As we mentioned above, a relatively small proportion of LinkedIn users quality post content. Take advantage of this and post your best content as often as possible.
Claim Your Custom LinkedIn URL
By default, LinkedIn will assign you a generic, randomly generated URL. Make it easier for your customers to find you by claiming your custom URL and using it to represent your brand.
LinkedIn is one of the most effective marketing tools on the web but it’s often overlooked by marketers and small business owners. With goal-driven strategies and consistent effort, you can use LinkedIn as a powerful tool to generate brand awareness and increase your audience throughout organic reach.
This guest post was authored by Marsha Kelly
Marsha Kelly sold her first business for more than a million dollars. She has shared hard-won experiences as a successful serial entrepreneur on her Best4Businesses blog, where she also regularly posts business tips, ideas, and suggestions, as well as product reviews, for business readers. As a serial entrepreneur, Marsha has done “time” in corporate America. Marsha has learned what products and services really work well in business today. You can learn from her experiences to build your business.
Are you looking for side hustle options that can produce a reliable bit of extra income? If that’s the case, it likely means that your “day job” either –
Doesn’t have a future.
Has little potential for providing financial security.
Simply isn’t satisfying.
Why Do A Side Hustle?
Most people who start and grow a side hustle do so for the extra income. That’s not always the case, but if that describes you, it’s important you examine your motivations and needs.
Surely, you don’t want to simply increase the frequency and number of work characteristics you don’t like. So you’ll want to create something that might include some or all of the following:
Dependable cash flow.
Flexible to your changing needs.
That might sound like the elusive dream job. And in a way, it is. But it’s not an elusive side hustle. There are several kinds of side hustles that have those benefits, including some you may not have considered. Here’s a couple you shouldn’t dismiss out of hand.
Getting Paid For Surveys
Yes, it’s actually a legitimate option. Marketing research firms pay for consumers to take surveys, or perhaps be part of focus groups, to gain insights into product development, advertising, and placement. One of the top rated companies that has this option is Swagbucks. Why? Because it offers some of the higher payout opportunities, and has a wide variety of survey options, or you can watch videos, shop, discover deals, or even play games.
While there are a lot of survey sites out there, many are less reputable. If doing surveys sounds of interest, I’d suggest using Swagbucks as your standard.
Editing and Proofreading
Every minute of every day, there are roughly 400 new websites launched on the internet. That’s a lot of written material! With all that volume, there’s an increasing demand for editorial and proofreading help. As of this writing, job site Indeed listed almost 1,800 openings in this area. Many are part time or one-off jobs.
If reading is your thing, this may be a good side hustle option to consider.
Side Hustle Income Expectations
Just as in any other venture, you shouldn’t expect to get rich overnight from your new side hustle. In fact, it’s important to evaluate your own motivations for considering side hustles as a way to increase your income.
Do you need/want money now?
If you’ve got a budget crunch and need to create some income pretty quickly, temporary gigs and work that payout reliably and quickly, like those above, are probably best. You have the freedom to pick these up, and put them down, as your time and budget allow.
Are you in it for the long term?
If you’re more of the entrepreneurial type and have dreams of creating something really big, be prepared for a period of austerity, or even starvation, up front. But it’s quite possible to begin in your garage what ultimately becomes a household name. Just read the history of Microsoft and Apple.
Does the money always matter?
Absolutely not! Maybe your reason for doing a side hustle isn’t about the money. Maybe it’s just about doing something more constructive that watching television. So the money might be just a nice extra, or not required at all. This would also be the case if your “side hustle” is more about simply following your passions. Have artistic talent? Go for it. There’s a ton of ways to use all kinds of artistic talent in a side hustle. Check out this video from Entrepreneur for some tips!
One of the great things about a side hustle, or any kind of self employment, is that you own 100% of the results of your efforts. So whether it’s for a boost to your income, exploring your passions, or building the next big thing, the results you get will be commensurate with the efforts and determination you put it. Get your side hustle on!
When we begin to define how we can show support for someone, the first word that may come to mind is allyship. Allyship focuses on the ways we use our voice, our power, and our influence to stand in solidarity with women who are marginalized or silenced in our spaces. But what’s important to know — and this may be a little hard to swallow — is that ally is a title that is given, not claimed. Someone needs to name you as an ally before you name yourself as one.
We want to make sure we don’t just assert ourselves as allies. That’s not for us to determine on our own. Think about it this way: If a man says, “I’m your ally,” but his actions might prove otherwise, then do you want him to continue telling everyone he is your ally? It’s not enough to label yourself an ally. To truly be an ally involves giving evidence of your work in defense for, in support of, and for the uplifting of the group for which you are claiming allyship.
Being an ally is work. At times it can be ugly and/or hurtful, and it can be exhausting. But it’s key to truly supporting women in the workplace. Here are three key steps for embodying allyship:
Start with Self-Awareness.
Moving to a place of support begins with our own self-awareness. Let’s look at microaggressions in the workplace, where they tend to be common. If given the opportunity to
correct your behavior, how might you recast a microaggression that either happened to you or that you perpetuated? How can you be more mindful of the impact your words can have on others?
Self-Correct your Behavior.
Joy experienced a colleague’s behavior that speaks volumes about the need to self-correct. While they were in the elevator, the colleague remarked on how “huge” Joy used to be, placing her arms out in front of her in a “this big” gesture. Joy didn’t know the woman that well and they had never discussed weight. While it was clear to Joy that her colleague was beginning to realize she was speaking out of bounds, the woman never said anything about it to Joy again. Never did she approach Joy to say anything that acknowledged the inappropriateness of her words, such as, “I realized I might have insulted you with my comments about your weight. I’m so sorry about that.” Without that gesture, they could never be allies.
Take These Self-Reflective Actions
Here are a few additional tips for self-correcting behavior:
Reflect on your language and behavior.
If you think you may be sending a negative or biased message, pause, and take a breath.
Reflect on why you think a certain thing about someone — what’s the history behind that thought?
Internally reflect and change your words and actions.
Check in with the other person to get their interpretation.
Apologize and continue to check in with how you can change the thoughts and actions behind the behavior.
Ask the person how you might move forward in solidarity with them.
This may seem overwhelming or “too much” for you. But the truth is that these behaviors are what constructs allies. Are you willing to take these self-reflective actions to correct behaviors in your workplace? Are you willing to help others do the same? This type of support in the workplace can allow the space for women to be more authentic, and show up in their fullness without fear of judgment or retaliation.
This guest post was authored by Joy Wiggins and Kami Anderson
Joy L. Wiggins, PhD, is the founder and executive director of Joy Wiggins, PhD, LLC, a consulting company that focuses on equity, inclusion, and racial and gender justice. She received her doctorate from the Ohio State University in multicultural education. She teaches Culture, Equity and Advocacy in Woodring College of Education at Western Washington University.
Kami J. Anderson, PhD, is the founder and executive director of Bilingual Brown Babies, a company that focuses on fostering bilingualism in black families. She received her doctorate from Howard University in intercultural communication and culture. She is the author of Language, Identity, and Choice.
In today’s fast-paced society, the constant stress and anxiety of juggling demands in our personal and professional lives can take a toll on physical and psychological health. To maintain a mentally healthy work-life-balance, it’s crucial to take a break and disconnect on vacation.
The problem we often have on vacation is disconnecting and leaving the office and work behind to enjoy themselves. Ultimately, this behavior could result in returning from your time off still feeling tired and not refreshed,
Research studies have shown that our brain function is negatively impacted by the flow of our stress hormone, cortisol. Chronic stress can lead to many medical ailments, including blood pressure, glucose regulation disorders, sleep disturbance and cardiovascular disease.
A proper vacation can allow individuals to relax long enough for the cortisol levels to decrease, which, in turn, increases mental energy, happiness and life satisfaction, improves interpersonal skills, and decreases burnout. In fact, simply planning a vacation can have a significant positive impact on an individual’s happiness. The actual vacation then further assists with de-stressing, rejuvenating, and healing the mind and body
However, while vacations can be helpful in creating a happy employee and work environment, many employees are hesitant to take vacation time. Often, they wrongly assume that their supervisor would not appreciate them taking time away from work or that their work will be overwhelming once they return. Conversely, most employersactually appreciate the benefitsthat time off provides their organization by the way of increased productivity, creativity, engagement, and morale boost.
Side Effects of Burnout
As a licensed mental health professional, I have counseled individuals and couples for more than a decade. Often observing directly the side-effects of burnout either intrapersonally or interpersonally. Individuals who place pressure on their work performance, never taking time off, often experience higher levels of anxiety, lower self-confidence, and suffer from many different physiological conditions.
My suggestion is to always take your vacation time and use that time to improve your mental wellness by disconnecting. However, for many of us disconnecting while on vacation is easier said than done. Are you running late to every activity because you have to return just one more work email? Do you find yourself distracted on vacation because you are posting and reading comments on social media? If this sounds familiar, you may not be getting all the health benefits of vacation.
Here are four tips to make your next vacation more enjoyable for you and your travel companions.
Determine the proper vacation length
The question always arises, “How long should I take off?” It is important to determine the right length that will help you effectively disconnect and rejuvenate. Typically, the first day of vacation is focused on travel and settling in, and the last day on preparing to get back. The true value lies in the days in between. Some people report that vacations lasting five to eight days seem to produce the best health and wellness outcomes. Others prefer two weeks. However, longer vacations can create a sense of anxiety for some vacation goers. Consider your budget, responsibilities and preferences when you are planning the length of your vacation.
Prepare for your vacation state of mind
Vacations can take a lot of preparation time, but prepare yourself mentally, too, to ensure that you take a proper vacation. Recognize your mind and body need a break, so you can fully engage in activities that bring you happiness. Make a checklist to prepare your home before you leave. Meet with your work team and delegate priorities before you leave. Then let it go. Work both at home and on the job is ongoing, but vacation time is limited. Make the most of it.
Live in the moment of your present surroundings
Ideally, you want to leave your work computer at home, uninstall any work apps and turn off your notifications. If you absolutely cannot do that, commit yourself to only working a short time once a day and having at least one or two tech-free days on vacation. Limit your social media posts as well, so you are not missing little moments. Constantly worrying about Wi-Fi strength or connectivity takes away from your enjoyment and the enjoyment of others around you.
Be less reliant on tech tools
Vacations are a great time to try new things and meet new people. Turn off your GPS and ask for recommendations from locals rather than relying on online reviews. Often, the best part of vacation is discoveries that were never on your itinerary. Keep an old school travel journal to unwind at the end of the day and to capture your thoughts and feelings. When you return home, do not forget to print out and frame a few photos. Often, vacationers take photos on their phone and never look at them again. Looking at a physical picture can help remind you of those stress-free times long after your vacation ends.
Before your next vacation, consider these tips to determine the best way to disconnect so your time away brings you joy. Ultimately, disconnecting on vacation can you help improve your overall physical and mental wellness.
This guest post was authored by Dean Aslinia
Dean Aslinia, Ph.D., LPC-S, NCC, is a licensed mental health expert and counseling department chair for the CACREP-accredited counseling/mental health counseling program at University of Phoenix.
Since 2007, Dr. Aslinia has been engaged in professional trainings, clinical mental health practice, graduate higher education teaching, psychological assessments, research, writing, and advocacy for greater mental health access for all Americans. He joined University of Phoenix in July 2018, where he oversees the University’s CACREP-accredited counseling/mental health counseling program, preparing students with the skills needed to become confident, competent and reflective clinical mental health counselors.
Dr. Aslinia’s educational background includes a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology from the University of Houston, and a second master’s and doctoral degree from Texas A&M University-Commerce. His doctoral specialization was in marriage and family issues. Post-graduation, he obtained additional training and certifications in grief counseling and sex therapy.
So, you graduated from college. Four years, a whole lot of hard work and a little bit of fun, too. What’s next? Sure, you could get a job, and start the rat race but there is another path available and that entails going back to school. No matter what your major is, there are huge benefits to gaining an MBA degree. Not only will a wealth of opportunities open up for you, but you will gain some valuable skills along the way. These skills are not only useful professionally, but can be used in your personal life, too.
As you work through your MBA, you will develop leadership skills that are important to your success. Successful businesses depend on strong leaders. Whether you are going to be an executive for a company or become an entrepreneur and run your own business, these leadership skills will put you a step ahead of your competition. You will learn how to inspire those you lead. A good leader is one that doesn’t micromanage, berate, or overwork those he leads. A good leader will inspire you to do your best. Leaders must be willing to do the same tasks as those being led. You’ll learn how to lead others in this way throughout your MBA courses.
A successful business makes money. When you obtain your MBA, you will have knowledge about wealth, money and finances. Knowing how to properly manage the financial books can make the difference between success and failure of a company, no matter the size. A strong knowledge of business finances will prepare you to be successful. Even if maths or finances are not your thing, gaining basic financial skills will help you a lot.
Critical thinking is a big part of being able to make sound decisions. As you study for your MBA, you will be given the tools you need to critically analyse a situation. You will be able to make a well-informed decision based on all the facts available. Methods on how to identify potential pitfalls and outcomes of a decision will be taught. You will learn how to take steps to mitigate the risks associated with a decision. A successful decision maker is able to take all the facts, gather information and use the experiences and opinions of others to make the best business decision. You’ll learn how to do that during your MBA courses.
Get your MBA
I got my MBA several years ago, and I don’t regret it one bit. The leadership, financial, and analytical skills I learned are invaluable. These are life skills, not just business skills. I encourage you to commit today – you won’t regret it.
Job hunters go to great lengths to stand out to prospective employers. We’ve heard of people using everything from a singing telegram to helium balloon delivery to make sure their name gets remembered and their resume doesn’t end up in the trash. But none of these stunts would make an impression like telling a hiring manager, literally, “I wrote the book on this.”
There’s nothing like a high-quality book you’ve written and published to demonstrate your skills, credibility, commitment, knowledge, and vision for your field.
Can I write a book?
At this point, many readers may assume this doesn’t apply to them, that they lack either the experience, expertise, or capability to write a book. Or perhaps, that this only applies to high-level professionals like a doctor or psychologist. But you don’t need to have letters after your name to write a book that will boost your career goals.
You might not realize you’re an expert in your field until you talk to someone outside that field and realize how much knowledge you really have. You just have to get in touch with, and take an inventory of, your own expertise—which many people take for granted.
I worked as a credit card fraud analyst, back when this was a new idea for most people. There were all sorts of myths floating around, like the idea that you’re liable for charges when a credit card is stolen. I could have written a book on how to prevent, or even commit, credit card fraud.
Your book doesn’t have to cover your groundbreaking innovations in a cutting-edge field. It may require some introspection, but you’ll find that your experience has given you plenty to offer a new employer. It can show off your personal and professional development, how you’ve built leadership or teamwork skills, lessons that have come with experience, and hurdles you’ve overcome.
How would a book boost my career?
In this sense, a book serves double or triple duty in a job interview. The simple act of showing up with a relevant book will help you stand out from other candidates. It ensures you’ll be remembered. Simply having a book published shows you committed to, and followed through on, a significant project. It shows confidence, initiative, a readiness to invest in your own development. It also shows an ability to build a team, since you’ll likely need an editor, designer, and others to publish a quality book. Not to mention communication skills.
The content of the book will give you the chance to show off what you want them to know, outside the more limited structure of a resume and job interview. You’ll have the chance to plan this out in advance instead of figuring out answers on the fly during an interview.
On another level, the act itself of writing your book prepares you for the interview before you even apply. You’ll go in with a mental outline on your background that you know intimately, and you’ll have answers ready when facing common interview questions like “tell me about a time when you” solved a problem, dealt with a difficult employee, or went above and beyond to satisfy a customer. Writing a book will help you verbally communicate what you already know about yourself and your industry.
Publishing a book also brings reviews that will build credibility, in much the same way as a job reference or recommendation.
Getting your book written
Even once you’ve realized what you have to say with a book, you might be worried about whether you have enough content. But to serve our purpose, shorter is better in many respects. We see people who want to get across something very specific, coming to us with book ideas that total as little as 30 to 50 pages.
And if you don’t have the time or know-how to sit down and write the book yourself, you can still use your experience and expertise to put one together. Ghostwriters provide their services to those that want to showcase their content, but lack the time or writing skills to tell their story the way they want it to be told. Ghostwriters will know what sells and know how to write a high-quality book.
But there are a few things to keep in mind when you decide to use a ghostwriter. You’d be investing as much as $10,000 or more in getting your book written, which means you’ll also want to invest in marketing efforts to actually sell books and earn back that investment. But this isn’t a bad idea either—selling books and getting good reviews just adds to the credibility boost in the eyes of employers. What could be better than telling employers you wrote the book on your industry? Telling them you wrote the book on it, and that it became a bestseller.
Ghostwriters can be hard to track down, since they often sign non-disclosure and non-compete contracts. Your best bet is to ask someone in the industry for a recommendation.
Communicate your vision
In addition to experience, knowledge, and credibility, demonstrating a vision for the future of your industry is a great direction for your book. You’re not a fortune teller, and you won’t be right about every idea for the future—but show you have a plan, substantiate it with facts, and people will be willing to listen.
Showing that you have that vision, plus credibility and experience, will benefit your career in both the short and long term. Writing a book allows you to get these ideas across without having to recite them quickly and on-the-spot in an interview setting. And it will speak that much louder that you’ve gathered those ideas ahead of time to publish a high-quality book. In any case, it’s much easier to get rid of a business card than a book, and that alone will work in your favor.
This guest post was authored by Tim McConnehey
Tim McConnehey is the Founder of Izzard Ink, a publishing firm and one-stop-shop for authors that provides services including editing, cover design, layout and illustrations, printing, audiobook recording, ghost writing and more. McConnehey is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association and he’s the author of 10 Secrets to a Bestseller: An Author’s Guide to Self-Publishing as well as it’s accompanying workbook.