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Finding the Time to Reach Your Goals

Not having enough time has to be one of the most used excuses for not working toward our goals. I want to show you how you can find time in your schedule to work toward your goals. Before you start carving out time for your goals, I think it is important to know what the goal is that you will be working towards. The goal should be specific. “I want to go back to school” is not a specific goal. “I will finish my degree by summer of 2021. I will do this by taking two classes each semester” is a specific goal that you can work on. Now that you have the specific goal, let’s find out how much time you need each week to achieve your goal. Using the “finishing my degree goal,” you will need to find the time to take the classes and also time that you can use to write papers and study. When you are already feeling overwhelmed by life, adding time to work on a goal can seem like a really bad joke. Know this…you CAN find the time in your schedule. Not every tip is going to work for you, but I cannot imagine a situation where none of these tips will work to find you the time you need, so go for it!

Wake Up an Hour Earlier

Waking up an hour early is especially helpful when you have young children. It is precious time you know you will not be interrupted. Even if you do not have small children, waking up an hour early is a great way to find free time. If you wake up early on three mornings during the week, you just gained three hours. Let me say, once you get a taste for this extra “you time,” you may decide to wake up early every morning! I find once I am actually up and awake, my most productive time of day is early morning.

I am a huge fan of sleep. It is so important for your physical and mental health. There have been times in my life when waking up an hour earlier would not have worked for me. Not that long ago I was commuting to a job that was an hour and a half to two hours away. I had to be up by 4:30 am so I could leave the house no later than 5:30 am. There is no way I could have convinced my already weary self to get up at 3:30 am. I also know this would not have worked for me when I was a new mom. Until your baby is on a reasonable sleep schedule, I would pass on this option and get your sleep while you can!

You are in control of your calendar

Take Control of Your Calendar

You need time to work on your goal, so schedule it. You are the one that is in control of your calendar. By putting in an appointment to work on your goals in your calendar, you are making a promise to yourself that this is your time. If you have committed to training for your first 5K, schedule your run times. If you tell yourself, “Well, I will try to run in the evening after work” you are much less likely to stand firm on your commitment. If you schedule your run from 5:30 pm to 6:15 pm, know that nothing else happens during that time. Those times should be looked at as non-negotiable. That time is spoken for.

You are allowed to say no

Just Say No

This ties into taking control of your calendar and it is a tough one for me. I hate saying no and I hate letting people down. I am learning that you can say no to people and still be a nice person. Often times we bog our schedules down with obligations we have committed to. When asked to commit YOUR time to something, think about the time it is taking away from your goals. I realize there are obligations you feel you need to fulfill, but do you have to spend Saturday afternoon at your third cousin’s daughter’s 6th birthday party? Could you wish her a happy birthday over the phone and send her a card? If you have scheduled your run for that time, let your third cousin know right away that you have an appointment on Saturday afternoon so you will not be able to make it. If you normally do laundry on Saturday afternoon and you know skipping this task will make life hell this week, don’t go.

When your office schedules a potluck and you are already stretched so thin, sign up for the drinks or the plates. Make it easy on yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I have signed up for a main dish in a potluck during a very stressful time in my life and ended up so mad at myself. Sure, there are times when I know I will have the time to make a delicious dish to pass and I will gladly sign up for it, but if life is hectic, I am going for something pre-made or incredibly easy. Another option is to opt out of the potluck all together.

What are your time wasters?

Cut Out the Time Wasters

Ask yourself, “what is the biggest time waster I engage in?” For me, its online window shopping. It starts the same way almost every time. I see that Banana Republic or another favorite store is having an amazing sale so I click on their site. I go through all the pages of clothes and put everything I want (not need) in my cart. I laugh when I see the total. Then I think to myself, I really want a pair of wedges for the summer. I start searching my favorite sites, knowing full well I am not going to buy anything. This can eat up hours of my day! When I find myself online window shopping, I will allow myself a set amount of time…15 or 20 minutes, then I am done. I do think you still need to have a little bit of zone out time, you just don’t need hours and hours of it. Maybe Facebook or Instagram is your time waster. Set a time limit on those sites if you know you are going to get sucked in. The iPhone has a way you can track how much time you are on these apps each week. I have not brought myself to turn that feature on quite yet. I know I would be horrified at how much screen time I use. Maybe your time waster is television. If you are not watching a specific show or movie and just channel surfing, turn the television off. If you are trying to catch up on Game of Thrones on HBO Now like I am, limit yourself to one episode a night. You do not need to binge watch the whole third season on one Saturday….really Hope, you don’t!

Ask for help

Get Help

If you need an hour of uninterrupted time so you can get your word count in on that book you have committed to writing, ask your husband or your sister to watch the kids. You can certainly repay the favor. Maybe having a housekeeper come in to vacuum and clean the bathrooms would free up some time. I sometimes order my groceries online and have them bring the bags out to the car for me. Even better, I signed up for one of those subscription meal boxes. I just had the ingredients all measured out for three meals delivered in a box with instructions on how to make it delivered right to my door. That saved me time on meal planning, a trip to the grocery store, and some of the meal prepping. Plus, they are typically healthier options than pizza or fast food and they taste so good!

It is so important to be working towards your goals. It makes you feel good about yourself and it betters your life. Stop putting it off. Find the time to work on yourself every week. Start putting yourself first once in a while. Before you know it you will be living your best life.

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Five Important Tips When Job Hunting

Whether you are a seasoned professional, a recent college grad, or a skilled tradesperson, looking for a new opportunity takes time and energy. As an insurance professional, I never stop looking for new opportunities. I love my current job, but if a new fortuity presents itself that is in line with my career goals, you better believe I’m going for it. As you continue your career goals, keep these five things in mind. These will ensure you are getting the calls for interviews.

1. Believe in yourself!

The more you believe in yourself, the better your chances for landing interviews and job offers. You have to believe that you are smart and totally capable of doing amazing things. In fact, you should have the mentality that you will be the perfect person for the job you are applying for or are interviewing. The interview is not just to see if you are a good fit for this employer, it is equally to see if this company meets your standards and is a good fit for you. When I say believe in yourself, I’m also encouraging you to apply for the job that you read the posting and think to yourself, “I don’t have every qualification listed, so I am not going to even apply.” What?! Apply for the job, even if you don’t meet all the requirements.

I applied for my current job, even though I didn’t meet all their listed qualifications. I did not lie on my resume. My resume, however, was on point though. After going through a couple of rounds of interviews, I made the cut! Not only was it a significant raise, it was everything I wanted in a position. I would daydream about already having this position. I would picture myself in front of a large audience giving a training. I was so professional and such a great public speaker. Although I needed work on my public speaking skills, my confidence from my daydreams came through in my interview.

2. Update and Proofread Your Resume

Your resume is really the first impression you will make to your potentially future employer. Make sure your resume is up to date. Spend some time putting all your skills and achievements in. Once you have it updated, you need to proofread it. Then, proofread it again, and again, and again.

I once applied for a job I was pretty qualified for. Just before my interview, I looked over the email I had sent with my cover letter and resume. I was horrified when I realized I had sent them my old resume…the one without my most current experience. I still got the interview. I addressed this mistake as soon as I introduced myself to the interview panel. I gave them all updated resumes. My confidence level was not very high. Needless to say, I did not get a job offer.

I have been on the receiving end of resumes. When I read through someone’s resume and see a bunch of typos or poor formatting, I instantly assume that person is lazy or lacks attention to detail. It may or may not be true, but I have already formed an opinion about this person before meeting them.

3. Write a Damn Cover Letter

Cover letters are typically optional when applying for a position. Not for you. You will write a cover letter to every job you apply for. A well written cover letter can go into a little more detail about how your experience fits in with what this employer is seeking. Through this letter, you give them a sneak peak at your personality. It also gives you a chance to let them know you have researched not only the position, but their company.

I have to admit, there have been jobs that I have applied for and not sent in a cover letter. I will also admit, I did not get one interview from a company I did not send in a cover letter.

On a side note, do not attempt to insert humor into your cover letter. I am a huge fan of a well placed joke or movie quote, but a cover letter is not the place to express the comedian in yourself.

4. Research Salaries and Know What You Are Worth

There are plenty of websites you can visit that will give you average salaries of whatever position you are applying for in the area you live. Glassdoor.com is a website I like to use. When I am job searching, I keep a spreadsheet of all the positions I have applied for. I note if it lists a salary range and what others with that job title are being paid in my city. Having this information will prepare you in the job offer process.

5. Follow Up

If you do not hear from a company you have applied for after 10 days, follow up. It may take some research to determine whom you contact to follow up. You may follow up by email, phone call, or in person. Typically, a phone call will yield the best results. Not sure what to say? Something like, “Hello. My name is Hope. I recently submitted my resume for the position of Center Fielder for the Colorado Rockies. I am calling to see if you have received my resume?” Wait for response….”Could you tell me what your time frame is for setting up interviews?” Make sure you sound confident, even if you aren’t feeling it, polite, and professional.

Looking for a job can be quite humbling. The more applications and jobs you apply, for the better you get at job searching. As you fine tune your resume and get comfortable writing cover letters, you will notice you are getting more interviews. In my opinion, getting the interview is the toughest part of the job search.

Five Must-Have Pieces in Your Work Wardrobe

About six months ago I started a capsule wardrobe approach to my clothing and it has changed my life! Seriously. I stumbled upon the Classy but Trendy eBooks by Leanne Blackmon on classyyettrendy.com. I am still learning, but I have figured out that there are definitely key pieces in any wardrobe. I work in an office where we can dress pretty casual, but when we are out meeting clients or if our board of directors are meeting, we must look professional.

Unless you are required to wear a uniform to work, you spend time picking out what to wear to to your job each day. Even if you do wear a uniform, or if you have a relaxed dress code, these five items will come in handy if you need to dress up for an interview or a conference.

1. Classic White Button Down Shirt

This is a timeless piece. It can be dressed up or dressed down. It should coordinate with so many items you already own. I like to pair my white button down shirt with khaki cropped pants or a pencil skirt when I am dressing to look my best. While you can get a white button down shirt almost anywhere, I recommend paying a little more (or waiting for a great sale) to get a quality shirt. My preference, call it laziness or call it practicality, is for a wrinkle resistant shirt. A Tide Pen is always a good call for me when I am wearing anything white!

I recently purchased the Riley Tailored-Fit Super-Stretch Shirt from Banana Republic. It is regularly priced at $68.00. I love it because it is stain resistant and it comes in “Tall” sizes.

2. Pencil Skirt

The pencil skirt is classy. It can come in any color imaginable and it looks good on all shapes and sizes. I recently took a chance on ordering a pencil skirt from Amazon. I felt I needed right away, which I didn’t. For as inexpensive as it was ($17.86), I love it. I ordered the brand Urban CoCo in light grey. The first day I wore it with a white top and a blue knit blazer, and I received many compliments on it. I always feel very put together when I wear a pencil skirt.

3. Comfortable Pumps (or Flats)

I realize that not everyone loves to wear heels as much as I do and that is okay. About six or seven years ago I started wearing heels. I was very cheap and hated to try things on at the store. I had a lot of heels that were cute, but absolutely so uncomfortable. I wore them anyway. After about seven months of wearing ill fitting shoes, I developed a bunionette, which is pretty much the same thing as a bunion, aside from being smaller, having a cuter name, and being on the pinky toe side of your foot. I ended up having to have surgery on my foot. These shoes that I was being so cheap about were literally deforming my foot! After paying my co-pay for the surgery, I decided buying shoes that fit were a better investment. I never wear heels if I am going to be walking much or on my feet the entire day. Even the most comfortable heels will get your dogs barking after a while.

Regardless if you wear pumps or flats, comfort should be a top priority. I have two pair of heels, one black and one nude. I have had these two pair of shoes for four years. I have replaced the heel on each of them. I have got my eyes on a pair of Calvin Klein nude pumps that I tried on at DSW. They run about $79.00 full price. I could settle and just randomly pick a pair from Amazon that may or may not be comfortable, but I am not willing to take the risk.

4. Blazer

I have not wanted to purchase a blazer since I ended my career as an insurance agent. When I recently started my capsule wardrobe for this Spring, the eBook mentioned a navy blue blazer. Yikes! Not wanting to spend a ton of money (blazers are expensive), I ordered an inexpensive knit blazer from Amazon. It was $23.99. I have worn it twice and I have not yet washed it, but so far I really like it. It does not feel constricting the way my suits used to feel and because it is knit material, it looks great dressed up and with a pair of jeans. I actually liked it so much I ordered another in cappuccino. The brand is Auline Collection and after reading the reviews, I did order a size up, which is not my favorite thing to do.

5. Flattering Non-Denim Pants

The time in between being an insurance agent and discovering a capsule wardrobe I wore jeans, yoga pants, and skirts. I may have had one or two pair of pants that I could wear to an interview. In fact, the black slacks I own now, I purchased because I was interviewing for my current job. I decided to go with navy blue as one of my main colors of my spring wardrobe. Since I am in love with the slightly fitted cropped dress pants, I bought a pair in navy blue from Banana Republic. I swear you guys, I do shop at stores other than Banana Republic and ordering off Amazon! These pants are flattering and I can wear them in the Spring, Summer, and Fall! They also wash nicely, although I do not dry them in the dryer.

When looking for a pair of pants to add to your wardrobe, you MUST try them on. This is coming from someone who HATES to try on clothes in the store and hates to return items I ordered online. I have to force myself to go to the store and try them on. Once you have a favorite brand that you wear often, you will be pretty confident when ordering online. My exception to this rule is the yoga dress pants, because as far as I know, you can only order them online. The reviews are fabulous and they look very professional. They are on my list to purchase soon.

There you have it. The five essential items to have in your work wardrobe. These items are classics that won’t go out of style anytime soon. Look at them as investment pieces and take good care of them so you do not have to replace them right away. This gives you more money to purchase accessories or trendy items that pair well with your classic items.

What are your must-haves for a work wardrobe?

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