Goals 101 · Professional Development

When the writing is on the wall at work

As I am in totally envy of my parents as they talk about their impending retirement, and seeing that their full time working days are numbered, I have started reflecting on my own career as I hope I am nearing the midway point of my working days. Granted, most of my retirement savings is tied up in the State of Illinois retirement system, but that’s a blog for a different day…

Throughout the course of my career I have always kept a few things in mind as my  golden work rules to live by:

  • Make time for professional development opportunities, when/if they arise.
  • Maintain open communication with your colleagues and managers.
  • Choose a job for the career and not for the money/benefits.
  • If you’re unhappy with your work situation, change it.
  • Know when the writing is on the wall.

The last point is a little more challenging for some people to see, especially when they are too comfortable at their current company which, in my opinion, one should NEVER be too comfortable. Becoming too comfortable allows people to let their guard down, blinding them to potentially new, challenging opportunities, either within their current company or outside the corporate walls.  When you become too complacent and take a blasé attitude towards your work, it shows, and this attitude will not help in finding your next opportunity.

Manage Up: If you’re keeping one of the golden rules of having open communication with your manager, you should be able to have honest conversations about the current status of your career path.  You should maintain this through regular meetings and not just at an annual review.  Your professional development is most important to you – so you must make it your duty to seek out those conversations with your manager.  If you feel you are in need to fulfill a new skill set that you currently don’t have, but see it listed on all similar job postings, see if you can obtain that skill while at your current employer.  For example, in my career path, many director-level and above positions in alumni relations required some form of fundraising experience.  I was able to have a conversation with my boss stating that I wanted the opportunity to take on a project in higher education fundraising where I could gain those skills, and I was able to accomplish this.

If you have a manager who is a little more standoffish, try to schedule a 30 minute meeting to be a quick professional development check-in with your boss.  The agenda for this meeting is set by you – not your manger.  This meeting should not be used to discuss your current projects and daily duties but rather your professional growth within the company.  Having these regular, open conversations about you and your career path are paramount to making your future opportunities happen, especially if your are investing in the company you’re working for and want to stay there for awhile.  Many times we feel like our company takes us for granted; that we are just numbers on the payroll and can be easily replaced.  My first post-college job was working at a post-production house in Chicago editing commercials.  I was being trained by a not-so-friendly guy who seemed really bitter that he was asked to train me.  On my first day of work he told me, “just remember – you’re replaceable”.  That statement has always stuck in my head and, while jaded advice for a fresh-faced professional, is sadly true.  As I’ve posted before, many companies don’t have the loyalty they once did toward their workforce.  While this is much easier said than done, it cannot be overstated: creating the opportunity to have those conversations is your responsibility, not on your manger’s.

When your professional development conversation is halted, then you know the writing is on the wall to gear up your job search.

When you finally have an “ah-ha ” moment at work and recognize that it’s time to start job searching, here are a few things to keep in mind to maintain your professionalism at work and to answer the question, “How do I not let my current boss know that I’m starting to look for new employment?”

Embrace LinkedIn: You have to start believing that you are always the only one who’s in control of your career path – you must decide!  Start by beefing up your LinkedIn profile page.  Many people are afraid that their current employers will see a LinkedIn page and question why they have one.  But that’s not the case anymore!  LinkedIn is used for as much job searching and professional development as it is for networking with old colleagues and keep up on latest trends in your profession.  In a 2014 Forbes.com article written by Liz Ryan, Ten Ways To Use LinkedIn In Your Job Search, Ryan addresses this very topic.

“Using LinkedIn, you can see who your friends know, where people have been and what they’re interested in, what people are talking about and who’s gone from Company A to Company B. If you’re paying attention, LinkedIn can absorb at least thirty percent of your job-search-related research load. LinkedIn can save you hours that you used to have to spend at the library or on some corporate database, researching who’s who and who’s where. It’s a new day! LinkedIn is a job-seeker’s best friend.”

Be Courageous: Recognizing the position you’re in with your company and having the courage to make changes that will effect your career path is key.  Many people stay at a position for a long time (nowadays, that is anywhere between 3-5 years without a title change) complaining about their boss, the company or the lack of opportunity to grow.  You have the power to change your situation at any time.  You need to start getting your resume and LinkedIn profile in order so you can start letting your network (both personal and professional) know that you’re seriously looking for a new opportunity.

Stay Open Minded: No opportunity is too small to not interview for, especially if you haven’t interviewed in a while – you need to get back on that horse.  Also, stay open-minded to all offers.  As I said, the ball is in your court as you still have a job and you’re job searching to see what else is out there. Maybe the pay is $10K less, but it’s a part-time position and you can work from home, but depending on your commute, family dynamic and future plans, that might be the best fit for you.  You never know what awaits you until you look.


Goals 101

Christmas Future- Resolutions for 2016

In the third and final part of my Christmas lists- let’s focus on Christmas future as I’m looking forward to 2016

“So – what are your resolutions for 2016?”  A question that many people start asking themselves somewhere between December 26th & December 31st.  What should I resolve to do in 2016?  Do?! I do stuff all the time!  As if I have time in my day to resolve to do one more thing!  As busy as I am, I wonder, where did this resolution thing come from?
According to a posting on the History Channel’s website, “The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.)”

I wanted to make realistic resolutions that I can keep but also ones that have an impact on not just me but others. Here are my top five resolutions for 2016.

5. Read More.  I have about ten books on my ipad that I am dying to read, but I just don’t make the time in my day to do so.  I would like to resolve in 2016 to read one new book a month.  The accountability I’m going to have for this is that I’m going to post the book I’m reading each month on my blog, in the efforts to potentially start a virtual book club with my readers.  More new info on this to come, but for now – let the reading begin!  January’s book, “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler.

4. Purging our home.  For a long time I was pretty good at donating two times a year, when seasonally switching clothes, to charitable organizations or selling my old handbags on Ebay.  Somewhere along the way, between getting married and having my son, I stopped donating old items and stopped selling on Ebay (which is ironic because you usually need MORE money once you have a child).  This year I vow to start purging our household of items we no longer want or need and making sure to sell the good ones on Ebay and to donate items we no longer use (like the old CFD shirts in the basement for the past two years, dear).

3. Bring my lunch – I have fallen (again) in to the trap of the downtown restaurant scene! I have failed to bring my lunch to work more times that I would actually like to admit, probably spending more money on food than necessary.  This year, I’d like to scale back the number of times I go out to lunch to two twice a month (on pay day).  This way I can still schedule meetings and lunch dates with friends during the week, without having to constantly go out to lunch because I’m too lazy to make a sandwich and chop up some veggies at home the night before.

2. Working on the Need vs. Want.  While cartoons show an angel and a devil on the main character’s shoulders while contemplating a task, I have the constant “Need” and “Want” characters on my shoulders.  I really need new work shoes, but I’d really like the tall boots that I’ll only wear a few times.  I would like to continue to work on balancing out my needs and wants to help create good habits in our home for our son.

1. Pay off all my “minor” debts each month.  As we are trying to be more fiscally responsible in our home, we have been working on paying off all our credit card debt each month back down to a zero balance.  While this is not a new philosophy for some, it is for our household.  Minus a trip to Ireland and a new deck on our home, we have been able to pay off our credit cards each month so far and I would like to continue this good habit into 2016.

What are your promises for 2016? And are they realistic and attainable goals which can benefit you now and throughout 2016?



Goals 101

So let’s get started!

I’m proud to say I’ve made the first big steps to get my blog, “The 2 Minute Mom,” commercialized; I opened a Facebook page and a Twitter account in the blog’s name. While the bulk of the content will be housed on the blog, utilizing social media will allow me to distribute new posts. Let’s face it, the RSS feeds really never got the traction they deserved.
With it being Crain’s Small Business Week and Women’s Entrepreneurial Month, it seems to be the most logical time to start a new initiative. So I’ve made a point to start talking about my blog for networking opportunities. Through these causal conversations I’ve already had a few good ideas I hope to implement in the coming months, (i.e. Interviews with C-Level Moms).
As I’m making a commitment to myself to start blogging on topics when they come to mind (and not just when I have time to blog), I’d also like to make a commitment to you, the readers. What topics do you want to see where, in two minutes, you can feel a little more informed on a subject you may have been pondering? No topic is off limits…okay, that’s a lie. There are a few things that I won’t be blogging about as I have a really big extended family (who will be a majority of my readership- thank you in advance) and they don’t care to know all the details of my life. When these topics arise it will be up to author’s discretion. I mean, who knows, my dreams of becoming an alderwoman in this city may come true one day and I don’t want to tarnish my “pure” reputation with dirty little secrets. 🙂