What’s a Career Retreat?

Starting the year with more than a list of goals, more than good intentions is important, it is putting your head in the game of life.  This year I am adding a layer to my paper goals, and I’m telling you all about how going on a “career retreat” has prepared me to  tackle 2019.

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This time of year always seems to bring on a sense of hope and belonging.  Surrounded by family and friends you become renewed and refreshed for what the next year presents (well for some of us anyway).  I use this time of year to reflect back on the intentions I had set for the current year, the goals that I hoped I would achieve, the big dream I hoped I would tackle.  Every year starts with a piece of paper.  On this piece of paper I write down everything I can think of that I want to accomplish in the year. Sometimes they are big dreams and sometimes it’s something small like stop using sticky notes (seriously stop).  But every year starts the same for me and when I sat down this month to look at the list I had created for 2018 I was blown away.

I had accomplished everything.  This is not bragging, this is me in disbelief, honestly.  I had set some big goals that I wasn’t sure were even possible.  The biggest goal was buying my first home.  This was a scary goal, this was a huge financial risk that I wasn’t even sure I could take on, but I did.  Every step was a learning experience and in the end it gave me some fierce confidence that I could do this on my own and that’s all I needed.

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Proving to myself that I could finish a graduate certificate at Texas A&M was another huge win for me.  Going back to school felt like standing at the bottom of a mountain and looking up at the top thinking “no way.”  Working full time, ending a relationship and processing a breakup, buying a home and all the other things that life throws at you – how could I complete this task – and not just complete it – but knock it out of the park.  I learned so much about myself during this process, unlike purchasing a home this was a different feeling.  It was about proving that even when I was at my lowest I could still achieve great things.  It was about pushing through when my tank was empty.  The exhaustion and the fear of failure had to be completely blocked out, it was a mind game. I learned discipline, I learned to rely on others and I learned to believe in myself.

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When I started looking at 2019 I reached out to a friend of mine, Blair, who is actually more a sister than a friend, she is brilliant when it comes to career goals and setting big goals.  She is fearless and I look to her for advice on any big decision in my life because I know she will shoot me straight and talk me off the ledge.  If you don’t have this person in your life, find one, it’s essential to being successful.

As my blog continues to grow and we approach a one year anniversary in February, I really needed to evaluate what year two, year five, and beyond looks like for the blog brand.  But even before I could do that, I needed to go back and review over the last nine months to help drive the direction for 2019.  Blair asked me, “Have you ever considered a Career Retreat?”

A little confused I started to think about the answer, I mean I’ve been to work retreats, so I kind of understood what she was saying.  But in my head I was thinking how could I go on a retreat, after all the blog is just me, it’s not like I have a dozen employees working behind the scenes (not yet anyway).  That’s when Blair directed me to career coach Darcy Eikenburg, owner of Red Cape Revolution, who has put together an awesome guide on how to DIY your own Career Retreat.  Step by step I answered simple questions that will have a huge impact on my blog in 2019.  Focusing on where are you now, where do I  even want to be and what’s it going to take to get me there in 2019, kicked off my career retreat.

One of my biggest takeaways from the career retreat was carving out the time and sticking to it… planning a time and not just the time but where, where are you going to physically be to start your planning.  This meant I needed to completely disconnect from all social media, text messages and basically go silent for the time I set aside to focus on my career, focus on my goals and set my intentions for 2019.  Leaving the retreat I had essentially created a road map for my 2019 and set some of those big – scary goals that I know I will achieve because they are written down.

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I encourage you to start planning your 2019 now, while you are reflecting on this last year and planning for your career future.  For a full link to the Career Retreat Guide and a look at coaching with Darcy click the link below!

Source:  How to plan your career retreat by Darcy Eikenburg

Finish What You Started

A little over a year ago I started something that I never dreamed I would… or could finish.  It wasn’t an easy decision to start something new… this was something that I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to finish.  I was taking a risk – mentally, financially and emotionally.  I sacrificed time with family and friends, sleep — oh y’all how I love to sleep, and juggling a relatively new full-time job.  These were all challenges that I overcame when I made the decision to go back to school and pursue a graduate certificate in non-profit management.

When I made the decision to go back to school, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  I’m a goal driven person, high achiever, competitive – and failure just couldn’t even be on the table… shoot it couldn’t even be in the same room y’all.

Has the fear of failure ever held you back?  For me, it was about to… but then my friends stepped in … then my family and a few colleagues who all believed in me turned it all around.  They gave me the best advice, I mean y’all they really put things in perspective.  So I thought today I would share with you how I made the decision to go back to school, share the advice from my friends and family, and the lessons I learned from the experience.

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First step.  Pray.  Seriously, get down on your knees and ask God for his direction.  Without the first step I firmly believe that the following can not apply.

Second, seek out input and support from trusted friends and family.  I caution you though, choose your friends who know you better than you know yourself, the ones who have their stuff together, ya’ll know what I mean.  This gave me encouragement and the push I needed to take the next step towards submitting my admissions application.  I was asked the simple questions “why do you want to go back to school?”, “how can you use this in all areas of your life?”  These seem like really simple questions, but believe it or they were really hard questions that got me to dig deep and look at the big picture.

Next, go talk to the experts… what ever decision you are trying to make go to the experts.  In my case it was a combination of University faculty members and colleagues of mine who had either completed the nonprofit graduate certificate program or were in the process of completing it.  This helped me gain clarity on the requirements to apply for admission and also on the time management side of the actual course work load after admission.

After I gathered all of the information I needed, I took a step back and thought about it.  I think it’s always a good idea before making a major decision, especially one that will effect every area of your life, to pause and take a breath.  During this time, I started to think about the impact that earning this certificate meant to me, but ultimately it was so much bigger than that… it really wasn’t about me at all.  What I concluded and what made me take a leap of faith was the thought of all the people that I will better serve now that I have not only proven my dedication to the nonprofit sector, but the knowledge I can bring to the table to strengthen nonprofits who will better serve their clients.

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Graduation day!  Shaking the hand of the Dean, while channeling my inner Barbara Bush.  P.S. Y’all, I had no idea that Barbara and I would be twinzies, that was not planned… but I’m also super Beyonce hair-flipping excited about it too.

During this process of deciding the right thing to do, through every late night I stayed up vigorously typing at 1 AM to finish a paper assignment due the next day –  I learned so many things about taking a risk, starting something new and a little about myself too…

  1. There’s never a good time – I used every excuse under the sun and found all the reasons why I shouldn’t or couldn’t go back to school.  Time can be our friend or it can hold us back.  There will never be a good time to start something new, so just start.  The best thing about starting is that you are so much closer to finishing than you were yesterday.
  2. Self doubt is the devil – The greatest lies I told myself were that I wasn’t good enough, I would fail, I wasn’t smart enough.  Wow was I wrong and wow why would I even tell myself these lies?  After I finished the first semester with a 4.0 I quickly realized that self doubt was the devil and it needed to get out of my way.
  3. Time is valuable and I’m a bad@$$ – Ok I kind of knew that already (in my overly confident voice) but it didn’t really sink in until I put myself in the situation of making sacrifices.  What is a sacrifice?  I think it varies to everyone, but I think of it as giving up something.  In my case it was time – such as not going out with friends when I really really wanted to, staying up all hours of the night to turn in case studies the next day only having to turn around and work a 15 hour day.  It was amazing to see myself dig deep when I thought I had nothing left to give.  I saw this actually spill into other areas of my life such as in workouts, projects at work, it made me value the time I spent with friends and family.  This experience conditioned me to value time.
  4. Sleep is overrated and coffee is your friend –  During this time I started drinking black coffee, which I never ever ever thought would happen.  There were days that were fueled by caffeine
  5. Start.  – This is my biggest takeaway, just starting something that you don’t know what the outcome will be.  If you don’t take the first step forward, you will sit around and play the what if game, I hate that game.

Ok y’all,  I’ve done the leg work for you.  What are you stalling for?  Start.  Start today.  Start now.  Just start.  Promise me if you won’t start for yourself, then do it for someone else.  Just ask yourself, who will you impact by your greatness and courage to start?

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Rock Your Work Life… TA-DA

Last week I started the new blog series, Rock Your Work Life.  Don’t worry, if you missed it, click here for the FREE download and blog post, Rock Your Work Life in 4 Easy Steps. The Rock Your Work Life download outlines your daily to-do’s in 4 easy steps:

  1. Get it Done!… Write down you’re top 4 must-get-it-done priorities
  2. Daily Affirmation … this is where you say something nice about yourself
  3. My Weekly Goal … this is your inner rock star speaking
  4. Bright Ideas… when those little ideas actually turn into BIG ideas, you should totally right that down

This week, I’m focusing on your WINS!  That’s right, what have you done that deserves a pat on the back, a confetti parade, a pop-the-champagne kind of win.  What can you write down that makes you want to say TA-DA!!!

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Getting through the work week is tough, so let’s write down your victories for the week on your TA-DA List!  Friday’s are the best time to reflect as you are winding down your week and prepare to take a much needed break.  If you’ve been using the Daily To-Do download, that I shared with you last week, then this exercise will be super simple to complete.

Ok, so how do you create a TA-DA List?  The first step is to simply pick your top 4 wins for the week. (P.S. it’s ok to have one win, don’t feel like you have to stretch to find all 4).  Second step, think about who has helped you out this week.  Did you collaborate with someone on a project or did a friend or colleague really help you out when you were in a bind?  Think about one person (or more) who you can write a handwritten gratitude letter to, telling him or her what a rockstar they are for helping you out.  If you need help with a few prompts check out my Gratitude Challenge blog post to help you get your thoughts going.

After you have written down your big wins and shown a little gratitude to your friends and colleagues let’s look forward.  The third step is setting your intentions and goals for the next week.  What’s the one thing you want to accomplish over anything else?  And finally, the fourth step, what are your next steps on your bright ideas?  If you have a good idea, what are the steps it will take to make it a reality?

The TA-DA List is a great tool to stay positive, recap your week and to move your big ideas forward.  And guess what… I’ve made it easy with another FREE download Rock Your Work Life- TA-DA List.

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xx Jennifer

Rock Your Work Life

Is it me, or can your to-do list start to control and ruin your entire day??  Sometimes after I write down everything I need to accomplish in one day I get so overwhelmed that it becomes paralyzing, really making it difficult to think clearly and achieve my goals for the week.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a true believer in the brain dump… where you just take 5 to 10 minutes and write down as many things that you have to do just to get them out of your head.  I like to do that and then I take a bright pink highlighter and pick 4.  That’s right, I said 4.  And here’s why…

There are a lot of tips out there on how to organize your to-do list to maximize every single minute in your day.  But I am a true believer of picking your top 4 things … your I have to get this done today or I’m fired things.  Ok maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point, they need to be your top 4 priorities.  I don’t mean things like, “oh I need to email Paul back” or “I need to call Sarah for a coffee date.” (And just to be clear I don’t know a Paul and I don’t owe him an email either).  Your top 4 priorities are the things that will move-you-forward.

“If you were able to believe in Santa for 8 years, you can believe in yourself for 5 minutes.”  Well fire up the t-shirt press y’all!  That has got to be the funniest quote I’ve ever read and also the truest thing all in one hilarious Santa package.  I have to be honest here, I can truly be my own worst critic when it comes to being kind to myself.  As much as I think daily goals are important I am an even bigger supporter of a daily affirmation.  Believe in yourself for 5 minutes and write down something kind about yourself.
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One of my favorite things about yoga is at the beginning of each class the instructor asks you to set your intentions for the class… translation – what is your goal, what do you want to accomplish?  I think this can easily be carried over as a weekly part of your to-do list.  What is the one thing if you finished by Friday that would make you feel like a rock star?

BIG ideas… I swear I have them every 5 minutes, but this is not saying much from the girl who can’t find her car keys… that are already in her hand (y’all don’t judge, you know that happened to you last week, haha).  Ok but seriously you need a place to write those million dollar ideas down.  Well spoiler alert I’ve got you work babes… Here’s what I created for you… for FREE…

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Remember this is about YOU.  This is about what you want to accomplish this week, it’s about achieving your goals, finding a landing spot for your big ideas… and for the best reason I can think of… it’s about being kind to yourself along the way.

I’ve made it so easy you’ll want to pinch yourself… download this template and keep it on your desk!

Rock Your Work Life outlines your daily to-do’s in 4 easy steps:

  1. Get it Done!… Write down you’re top 4 must-get-it-done priorities
  2. Daily Affirmation … this is where you say something nice about yourself
  3. My Weekly Goal … this is your inner rock star speaking
  4. Bright Ideas… when those little ideas actually turn into BIG ideas, you should totally right that down

And here it is y’all just waiting for you… click on the link to make your work life a whole lot easier!  Rock Your Work Life – Daily To-Do List Download

xx Jennifer