Recipe Corner:Healthy Eats for Career Change Treats

I know, I know, it’s a weird blog post title, but I think it pretty much sums it up. When we’re trying to keep up with our 9-5 (or 8-6, or 8-7, or whichever time frame you fall into) AND make major career change moves, health and wellness are often the first things that fly out the window. Hence, this edition of recipe corner gives you some ideas for how to automate things in your favor to be able to get your ish done, while feeling good about yourself.

“I don’t have time to make or buy healthy food!” “It’s too much work!” “I’m lazy and have no recipes!” These are the things my clients say to me when we’re going through their Life Design work at the beginning of our sessions.

Now, I’m not a trained wellness professional, but you don’t have to be to know that what you’re putting in your body makes a HUGE difference regarding how you feel. Which then eventually.. you guessed it- gives you more energy to tackle your day while making time for the career change in your spare time. Consider adopting a version of this recipe corner idea to help you out here.

And you don’t have to be Giada de Laurentis to make this happen. In honor of Cinco De Mayo, here is my step by step recipe guide to eating healthily without breaking the bank or taking up lots of valuable time:

  1. Invest in a simple slow cooker. One with a high, low and warm setting is fine. 4-6 quart is best (and 6 quarts for sure if you’re cooking for 2+)
  2. Download the Wunderlist app. Forget about paper grocery lists- make a groceries list in your new app and add to it as you think of things you need or a recipe you want to make. My grocery list is done by Friday for my weekend shopping without a whole lot of effort.
  3. It’s all about the Google search, baby: Put in search terms like, “easy vegetarian Mexican slow cooker meals” or “easy vegetarian slow cooker enchiladas”. A ton of results will come up, so resist the urge to go down the rabbit hole and go with a site you trust or a recipe with lots of reviews. I like allrecipes.com, food.com, skinnyms.com realsimple.com and epicurious.com. I usually make sure the word “easy” is in there, so it pretty much is dump it in, set and forget.
  4. In honor of Cinco (!!) I made this recipe this week. Because I don’t understand making it in the shell (gooey and slopping in my mind), I just make the filling and don’t worry about all the toppings. I set it, forget it and then store it for the week. I’ll then warm up enchilada shells to go with it for lunch. Easy, quick, healthy (Hint: II limit or remove the cheese, don’t add salt, buy whole wheat tortillas or eat it bare and buy all low sodium ingredients- adapt it to make it even healthier!). BOOM. Done. Grab and go lunches.

    recipe corner

    Courtesy of www.realsimple.com

  5. Pin it! Or if you’re me, just save it somewhere. As you go, you’ll build up options that make it easy to just go in and pick one or two to make for the week.

Staying Sane Job Search Style as We Enter the Holidays

Around the holidays, our to-do lists often get longer. There are things to finish at work before the New Year, making our days a little longer on the job. There are more family get-togethers and planning for the holidays. And, if you’re in the thick of your job search, that might feel like the thing to fall off the ol to-do list. Amirite?

If you’re in the throes of your career change and/or job search, resist the urge to wait til January. I know it may sound counterintuitive, but this is JUST the time to go full speed ahead toward what you want. For example, people often say to me that there’s no point in submitting applications between Thanksgiving in January 1st because no one’s around. Well, if ‘no one is applying’ and HR managers and hiring managers are playing catchup in this time frame, isn’t it EXACTLY the time to apply?!

So, what are some other quick tips to maintain momentum throughout the end of the year?

Balance. Holiday obligations are a thing, and can be time consuming (but fun!), and for many people, exhausting. Make sure you fuel yourself and don’t feel like you have to do it all. Take a night (or 6) off, go to that pilates class and get what you need to keep the job hunt top of mind without being overwhelming.

Plan. Pick the times you will work on the job stuff. Have a reasonable goal (picking 6 days/nights to work on job stuff is probably not reasonable) and see how it goes. Maybe start with one weekend morning and 2 weeknights a week and schedule it in your calendar. Amend as needed, no judgments if what you set out to do wasn’t ideal. You’ll get there.

Set Yourself Up for Success. Research networking events for Nov-Jan and put some in your calendar. Maybe even sign up for some this month! Note that in December, these may be ‘disguised’ as holiday parties for networking groups or associations. Don’t be deceived- you can get out there and meet new people in the holiday season. Also, people *could* be slower at work, depending on their company’s year-end, so they may be able to duck out for a coffee more easily than, say, September, so one-on-one networking could be amped up in these last two months. Reach out to 2-4 people you want to catch up with (and who could also help you with your job search) and send ’em a note! Make sure when you meet that you find out what they’re up to, in case you’re able to help them!

What are some other ways you stay sane and balanced with your job search in general and during the more hectic holiday period? Leave comments below!

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What is 100% Effort?: Changing Careers Edition

I was working with a client today, and she said something that really stuck with me: “What is 100% Effort?” She was talking about work, of course, rather than say, training for a marathon, although I suppose the same conversation could be had about any of it.

What she was driving at was the notion that she doesn’t know when to stop. She’s looking to drastically change her career, but just because she’s made that decision doesn’t mean she immediately stops caring about her current company, company mission or her professional reputation.

I grappled with this when I left my job and life as a financial services event professional at the end of 2011. I had been with the company for nearly 6 years and essentially ‘grew up’ there. I worked hard, earned some great opportunities and learned a ton. So just because I decided that wasn’t the life for me didn’t mean I stopped caring overnight! And given my more central role in the company/division, I wasn’t about to leave anyone high and dry.

evnt planning

Me as a Financial Services event planner back in 2009 at our pension fund football event. Yes, really. 

So what my client said this morning to me really took me back and put me back in those shoes- of caring for many reasons but wanting to move on. How do you go at a pace that allows you to straddle current responsibilities and frankly caring about something with moving on to a better opportunity for where you are in your life now?

Obviously everyone’s blueprint to work through this will differ based on company culture, function in the organization, etc, but the point is that all of ya’ll working through this- this notion of ‘what is 100%? and where do I stop?” should be thought of in a way that supports both your long terms goals (MOVE ON!) and short term goals (DO THE TEAM A SOLID!) And the other point I’ll make is that coming up with a plan – and WRITING IT DOWN- will be key. A lot of times we just ‘think about it vaguely’ or don’t put intention behind it and then we walk into the office and get railroaded by requests or demands, leaving us drained and unable to focus on our next move or next phase once the workday ends.

Here are some approaches – a combo of ideas I used in my transition and things my clients have used in theirs:

1. Boundaries & Mindset: This is huge, and is absolutely the place where everyone must start when considering a plan like this. Questions like:

  • When does my workday begin and end?
  • What will I do if there’s yet another firedrill ‘demanding’ I stay longer or log in at night?
  • Which meetings are absolutely necessary and which am I invited to but have no real impact? (That happens SO much!)
  • How will I communicate I will not attend in those ‘unnecessary meetings’ situations?
  • If I work in an environment where everything is urgent, how will I prioritize and most importantly, communicate to the person bringing the urgency my plan for addressing the urgency? (e.g. delegate, give a time when you’ll get back to them, etc)
  • Can I work from home or remotely one day per week to cut out commute time?
  • If I feel overwhelmed by requests or uncertainty, what practice will I put in place to right myself? (e.g. go for a walk, use a meditation app, get out of the office, go to the nearby coffee shop and get a cookie (that’s what I used to do!))
  • What is my intention for the beginning of the day? Can I write that down in a notebook and review it each day?
  • How can I set myself up for success for the next work day? (e.g. physical space cleaned up, to-do list set, etc?)

2. Priorities: List out the various projects you’re on or the various things you’re responsible for. Keep it broad buckets/broad brushstrokes. Now pick the top 3 and put a proverbial stake in the ground or line in the sand. An example would be, “I’m going to spend 90% of my time and energy on the top 3 priorities.” Then, you have some time left over for the rest of the lesser important things. If you have a boss or manager who is constantly moving the needle, try and have a frank talk with them about this. Don’t make it about you and your time, though, but instead think about it in terms of the impact you’ll have if you’re able to focus on x, y and z rather than a,b,c,d,z,y,x. Put it in terms of the biz when you talk to your manager and come to the table with solutions for how the remainder of the lesser important stuff will be handled.

3. Track It. So just because you’d spend 90% of your time on those TPS reports doesn’t mean it magically happens You gotta put the intention out there and the work toward it. But if you don’t have a stopwatch in your head, use something like Toggl that will help you easily track your time.

4. Weekly (or Bi-weekly) Check Ins. Look at your tracking reports (maybe from Toggl if you choose) and how you’ve done getting the top x priorities handled. Did it work? What needs to be recalibrated? How did you feel doing it this way?

5. Openness: This one depends on your work environment. I’m not about to tell you to march in somewhere and let them know the real deal. The client I mentioned at the beginning has a very open environment where they encourage open dialogue about moving on and finding new opportunities- and they mean it. If this sounds like your company, you can always approach your manager and give ’em the skinny. Then come up with an exit plan or a racheting down plan that works for you AND them.

Bottom line: whatever you take from the above perspective, know that having any plan at all is the key point I want you to take away from this. When you just go into the workday or work week willy nilly, you can tend be eaten up by the tidal wave that is the workday at many companies and in many industries. Having the right mindset and setting boundaries and checking in on your plan can go a long way to keeping you sane while you straddle the two worlds of keeping up with your current work while finding work that feeds your soul long term.

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Totally Doable Job Tip of the Week: Getting Through the 3pm Hour

We all have that time of the day. It may not be 3pm, but it’s sure as heck sometime of the day, and you know it: it’s characterized by lethargy, maybe a headache/head explosion feeling or if it’s hot in my office, a lethal combination of the lethargic sweats. (TMI?) Also, with my pesky lil back issue, I sometimes feel like the C3PO, or another robot of your choice.

In other words, it ain’t pretty. And it ain’t really that healthy either.

So, what are ways you can take control of your least favorite or least productive working hour?

What’s included here is not some magic elixir I whipped up- although, LGS, wouldn’t that be nice?- but instead most likely some reminders for the brain-stretched among us:

Block out your calendar: Seriously, I do not allow calls or meetings at specific times of the day. It’s not selfish- it’s for the common good of those also involved in the meeting. If we wanna make the big moves like Jermaine Dupri in 1998, then it’d be a disservice to my peeps to show up and half-arse something.

Know your body: Is it hungry? Is it tired? Is your mind buzzing a million miles a minute? Get into the practice of checking in with yourself. My Alexander Technique and Mindfulness teacher, among other people, talks about a full body scan. Just now, I was nauseous and realized I had had too much coffee and not enough food, so I ate part of my healthy snacky stash. And that motivated me to write this blog. Since I needed a reminder and maybe some new ideas, I figured others might as well. Real time, Jill, at your service!

Go Away. Hopefully you work for a company that isn’t tracking your every move, or you work for yourself or you work from home or you work for a sane company. My point being, we’re not robots, so our break times and work flow is all different from one another. Go for a walk, get some frozen yogurt, go get some errands done, call your momma…these are all things I did during a brief 15 minute break during my 3pm slowdown time at my contract job I worked at while I was building my business. I came back refreshed and was more alert/able to contribute. Boom.

Boost Ya Brain: Is there a crossword that’s been in your bag for forever? Or a magazine article you almost finished on the train. Take it out and get your brain working in a different way than the ‘work way’. This was huge for me as I transitioned from my contract job working on events during the day to my evenings of building my biz (TOTTTTALLLY different mindset/skillset and my brain often hurt). Or, combine brain boosting with connectivity. Maybe you’re playing Words with Friends with your sister- get a dose of friendly banter and competition along with connectivity and brain fodder.

Take a Nap: Ok this one’s not always possible for many of us. But if you work at one of the increasing numbers of companies that have nap rooms or couches and the culture encourages it, do it. 15 minutes alone can boost how you feel for the rest of the day. I ran a morning workshop recently at 8am-10am, meaning I had to disrupt my normal sleep pattern to get my morning routine in there AND get to the place. So what did I do when I finished? I took a 25 minute nap and then had some of the most productive and sharp 2 hours of work in my life. It’s not lazy, it’s life changing.

What other tactics do you use to get through your toughest hour? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Leave some comments!

Totally Doable Job Tip of the Week: Meeting Management

Dude(ettes), how often do you look back on your day and notice that your meetings got out of control and that you got absolutely nothing done? And worse, the meeting was the talk about the meeting in advance of the other meeting?

Oh boy, I know. I know all too well that rising sense of panic as morning mooshes (an official term) into afternoon and then the light begins to fade in the evening and you’ve STILL.GOTTEN.NOTHING.DONE!!!

If you’re tired of falling further and further behind due to meetings, it’s time for you to have a meeting management plan, my friend.

Some ideas worth considering/implementing:

  • Sticking to a start and end time to every meeting. It may be hard to shut it down, especially if the team is onto something, but if you start managing the expectation that the meeting will end at the appointed time, then people will act accordingly to fit it all in the appointed time. The reason they’re sucking up more time is because you’re letting them.
  • Send a recap. After the meeting send the meeting notes with the to-dos and the ‘owner’ of each to-do, if applicable. Send the recap before the next meeting (24 hours+) so you don’t spend any of the meeting recapping the last one.
  • If people don’t read/prep: This one can be tough for people (read: me), but if you have people that come unprepared, refer them to the meeting notes and continue the meeting (or insert your personal way of handling that).
  • Put an aggressive lens on whether the meeting needs to happen and who needs to be involved. Can it be a driveby the ol’ cubicle impromptu chat? Can it be a quick phone call? How many key stakeholders are there, really? If someone is needed for one thing only, ask them for their input before the meeting happens.

What other meeting management tips have you used? What’s been the winner? Share in the comments below!

Time it takes to complete: Varied, but if you try to implement it for your next meeting, ~30 minutes of thought + the time of the meeting (which should never be over 1 hour).