0

Three “Rs” in Job Seeking: Reflect, Research and Relay

Career Coaching

With one click, you can submit your resume and cover letter for a job opening. It is so simple when compared to the old days. For example, when I applied to my first job I needed to print out my resume (the printer was in the computer lab at my school) and then print out the envelope (making sure to put the envelope into the printer in just the right way), attach the stamp and then lick the envelope shut.

While the old way was tedious, the current way has a downside as well. The ability to apply to a job without much effort can result in a mindless approach to job seeking. When applying to a job took more effort, we made Life Coachingsure to only apply to places we really liked. Now things move much more quickly. However, slowing down and thinking about where you are applying not only increases your chance of getting noticed by the recruiter but it can increase your likelihood of landing a job you will actually like.

  1. Reflect

When looking for a job, it is important to seek the right environment and cultural fit. Take a moment to think about a few times where you were at your best. Ask yourself why you succeeded in those situations? Who were you working with? Where were you working? What were the surroundings like? Your work environment can impact your productivity, effectiveness and ultimately your overall happiness. Before you click “send” on a resume or cover letter, take the time to get to know the company you are applying to.

Luckily, there are websites that provide us with an opportunity to get the inside scoop on work environments – allowing you to mindfully choose where you want to apply.

  1. Research

Websites like The Muse, Glassdoor and WorkClear allow potential applicants to peek behind the curtain at a potential employer. These websites enrich your job search by providing insights into Life Coachthe environments where you will be working. Below are descriptions of three websites as a starting point for you. I encourage you to check out these websites to see if any of them would help you.

  • “WorkClear was founded to provide insight into the work-life balance cultures of employers around the world. Members of the WorkClear community anonymously post actual work hours, vacation time, and other work-life metrics.” (Quotation from WorkClear’s website)
  • Glassdoor offers a variety of career-oriented services including the opportunity to read reviews from employees where employees can tell you the real deal about the company.
  • The Muse allows you to learn more about a companies culture. As they state on their website “We think company culture is pretty important. We show you inside offices before you apply to make sure you’ll love working there.” While these summaries are not anonymous reviews like the other two websites, the descriptions are written in a very clear way focusing primarily on the working culture at the organization.

These websites support the idea that the culture in the company is a huge contributor to happiness. Posting actual work hours? That is fantastic! Seeing pictures of the physical space you will be working? Ideal! These websites are gifts for the job seeker.

Connect Your Reflections to Your Research

When you research potential employers, be sure they have some of the qualities you identified above when I asked you to reflect on where and how you do your best work. For instance, which of the descriptions below appeal to you:

-Is a down-to-earth environment a top requirement for you? Then this company that was reviewed on Glassdoor may be a match for you: “Incredibly supportive culture with an incredible focus on learning and mentoring, Highly intelligent, down-to-earth and fun people, Focused on making a real impact for our clients”

-Are you willing to work long hours but need flexibility? Then this company’s review on Workclear’s website may be of interest: “While my lunch break is non existent and days are long, I have the flexibility to work around my business commitments, including flexible work schedule. This flexibility allows me to start work early in the morning so I can step out for my daughter’s game / practice / etc., and this sometimes means I need to catch up on work over the weekend.”

-Do you like autonomy and the freedom to utilize and develop your expertise? Then this career coachcompany reviewed by an employee on the Muse website may be for you: “One of the best aspects of [our company’s] management style is that individuals hired are considered experts in their respective fields. We’re encouraged to do our own thing and really excel.” (Note that the Muse website is different from the two above. While this quote is by an actual employee it is not anonymous and is part of an overall work overview that was provided by the company itself.)

  1. Relay your Connections with Your Potential Employer

These pieces of information the websites offer, while not the complete story, can give you some insight about a company and determine if it is worth your time applying. If the reviews are exciting to you, you can address that in your cover letter, interview and beyond. Rather than sending dozens of resumes into a black hole, take the time to determine why you are applying to a particular job and customize your resume and cover letter accordingly. Show the emplCareer Coachingoyer that you take this process seriously, you have done your homework and you have SELECTED this particular company. Ensuring that the company where you work is the right fit for you is a benefit for everyone involved. The company benefits because you will do your best work there and you will benefit because prioritizing your happiness at work is a step in the right direction to cultivating your overall happiness.

 

If you are interested in speaking with me about career coaching, please contact me at amyalpertlifecoach@gmail.com.

 

1

10 Things I Have Learned as a Yoga Instructor

images-58

I have taught yoga for over five years and upon reflection I have learned a lot in the process. The lessons I have outlined below are not unique to yoga or to teaching yoga. These are lessons that can apply to all aspects of our life. I hope sharing these lessons will allow others to learn not only about how to choose an exercise program but also how to live a happier life. Most importantly I share these lessons with my loyal students. My gratitude to them is profound and these lessons I have learned are a tribute to my students and their awesomeness.

1. Positive Energy in a room is contagious

I recently was at a one-hour workshop led by an energy healer. She was amazing. She was like a magician– except her magic was real, not illusion. She demonstrated how people become physically stronger or weaker depending Wellness coachingon the energy of the people around them. Miraculously, my yoga students give me energy and they give each other energy too.

2. Authenticity matters

For a long time I struggled with the fact that I do not look like a yoga instructor (at least not the ones on Yoga Journal) and when I teach a class, I tend to need the blocks and other props more than many of my students. Lots of poses elude me. But I can still teach. My goal in my class is to help people get out of their heads and into their bodies, to connect with their core self and take that connection out of the yoga room and into the world. You don’t need to be able to do any pose to the max to be able to do that. Being true to myself as a teacher and not pretending, gives my students permission to be their authentic selves as well.

3. Location, Location, Location

I teach out of a Synagogue as well as out of a Wellness center and I am certain this has helped me create a class that is consistent with my values. When you walk into the Wellness center, the scent of lavender greets you at the door. This immediately creates a mindset of self-care rather than competition. When entering the Synagogue you are reminded of community and spirituality. My yoga class is more than an exercise class, it is a mind body experience that reminds us of the universality of the human experience and of the many ways there are to care for ourselves; physically, emotionally and spiritually.

4. Laughter makes everything better

I have laughed during every single one of my classes. My students are hilarious. We laugh at ourselves and at the ridiculous things that happen in our lives. We laugh at the craziness of a pose, we laugh about my inability to ever remember which side we are on. Cracking up in class is definitely one reason I leave class feeling so much healthier and happier.

5. Being imperfect is empowering

Yoga is not about achieving a perfect form in a pose. That is not to say I don’t care about alignment because I do. Alignment can keep you safe and help you experience the pose more effectively. But let’s not confuse alignment with perfection. Too much focus on doing the pose “right” can be distracting. We use a growth mindset in class. How can you move forward? How can you work with your challenges? My students are not obsessed with accomplishing a pose, they just want to move, feel good and connect.

6. Someone needs to go into business offering places to nap 

We are all way too tired! My mom, who very much values her daily nap, says she is going to start a business napping for people who don’t have time. If only that were possible! At the end of every yoga class we lie Wellness coachingdown in shavasana or corpse pose for five minutes. The time is meant to allow the work of the class to absorb into your body and it is an effective way to make the transition from class to the world. The only problem is no one wants to wake up! Insomniacs unite! There is apparently no better way to fall asleep than on the hard floor of a yoga class.

7. The teacher gets as much out of the class as the student

There have been many times over the past five years where I have not been “in the mood” to teach. I am tired, stressed, distracted etc. In order to get to class we all need to jump through many hoops. But I can say with 100% certainty that my students dissolve my negative feelings the minute they walk into the room. Students come ready to share, learn and experience. Not only do my students feel more integrated and settled after a class, I do too.

8. Leave Your Ego at the Door

There is no better way to ruin an exercise streak than getting injured and as we age this seems to happen more frequently. My biggest concern is my students’ safety. A common refrain in my class is to pay attention to how you feel and adjust accordingly. Getting to know your body better is a secret gift of exercise and yoga in particular. My students know their limits and are more than willing to adapt to the pose as necessary. It is not always easy to resist our urge to push through the pain, but paying attention to our body allows us to maintain a fitness program for the long haul.

9. Flexibility is a state of mind

When I became a yoga instructor, one of the first “rules” I had was that there would be no rules. Come late, leave early, have your cell phone near you.  Life is crazy, why do we need to put more restraints on ourselves? Of course my class can’t be first priority if you have a sick kid, if you have to attend a meeting or if you have to care for an elderly relative. I was eager to create an environment where life was acknowledged and career coachingembraced. And guess what? People do not take advantage. Although I allow students to come late, they often come on time. Even though students can have their phones, they keep them on silent. My students care about the class as a whole and are considerate of others. Students, who might not otherwise come because they were going to be late, come anyway. And I am thrilled to have them. My class is for people with a life. My students are full of energy, responsibilities and passion and for that I say “bring it on”.

10. Dedication is magical

Several of my students come every single week. I struggle with such dedication to an exercise routine and I am so inspired by these students. Their dedication is what fuels me. Knowing they will be there motivates me to do my best, to come prepared, to give it my all. I do not want to disappoint my students who make my class a priority. I have learned that dedication has rewards and prioritizing your self-care is a privilege that pays you back tenfold.

But most importantly I have learned Gratitude. I would not be a yoga teacher if it were not for my loyal students. To my yoga students, I want to give a heartfelt THANK YOU. I hope you know how much I love all of you.  And if you are not my student, these 10 points are helpful to anyone looking to incorporate exercise into their life. Take note of what is important to you and go out and find it. There is no one size fits all solution, so take your time and play the field. Find the place that fits your personality and goals. Once you do, the dedication and gratitude will follow.

 

 

 

0

What Habit Will You Choose?

Wellness Coaching

“I have so many habits I need to introduce into my life, how do I choose?” This is a question I hear from participants in the various Habits Workshops that I have led. Ultimately, each participant has been able to narrow their focus to one habit. Habits have included exercising, having more fun, clearing clutter, making time for friendships, and more.

Identifying the right habit for your life is one of the most challenging aspects of habit formation. It requires us to be intentional and to take a step back to see what we need most in our life. Habits allow for proactivity. When we live our life filled with activities based on internal choices rather than external “shoulds”, we live our life with integrity and authenticity.

Each workshop begins with a self-reflection where participants evaluate: What do I need to do to career coachingmake my life better? What is important to me? What do I value? A habit can be an effective vehicle for forward motion; so choosing a destination is helpful to selecting the right habit to get there. I have been inspired by the thoughtfulness and creativity Workshop participants have brought to selecting their habit. Below are a few examples.

  1. “Emotion leads to Motion” Tal Ben-Shahar

One working mom came to the Workshop frustrated by her unsuccessful attempts to set aside 15 minutes a day to do homework with her middle school daughter and high school son. Her kids had been resisting her efforts and she was unable to push past their resistance.

Fortunately, the reflection exercise in the first session of the Workshop reminded her why she wanted to implement this habit. She felt she needed to be more involved with her kids work habits and to provide them with direction and guidance. Knowing the underlying reason for her involvement allowed her the ability to push forward and overcome their resistance.

Surprisingly, after only one week in the habit, her kids were fighting over who got to work with her first! And after only four weeks in the habit, her daughter’s teacher sent home a note praising her daughter’s improved work product. Connecting emotionally was the engine that propelled this action.

2. Trial and Error–A Flexible Approach to Habit Selection

Sometimes selecting the right habit requires trial and error before the right habit becomes clear.  One Workshop participant first decided that she wanted to be “on time” more often; however, she then decided to change her habit later in the Workshop to be more proactive with her scheduling. By the end of the Workshop, she concluded that neither habit seemed to be what she needed, yet she was still committed to finding that right habit.

A week later, she emailed me saying that she found the perfect habit. She was going to start Life Coachingmeditating every day. I was thrilled with her choice. I believe that through meditation, she will be able to calm her mind and connect with herself and that will ultimately positively impact all aspects of her life.

The first habit you select may not be the magic bullet you need but through trial and error you will hopefully determine a habit worthy of your time and effort. Stick with it when you know that your life needs something!

3. Remember the Forest from the Trees

Remembering the root reasons for our habits is also essential to habit formation. Connecting with why we created a habit is not only a powerful motivator but it is also a reliable reference point when molding our habit.

One of my participants wanted to read more in order to have some quiet time.  Reading was  the vehicle for time alone. During the WorkshWellness Coachingop, she figured out that multi-tasking while reading may increase the number of books she read, it did not contribute to her ultimate goal of quiet time and therefore should not “count” towards her habit. In order to fulfill her desire for quiet time, she needed to set aside time to read without distraction, single tasking rather than multi-tasking her habit.

Clarity of purpose can ensure that we stay focused on the goal of our habit rather than the habit itself.

4. Take Small Steps– Gretchen Rubin

Another participant, who had recently started working full time, was starved for time alone. She discovered that the only way she could have alone time was to wake up earlier. Since she is a night Life Coachingowl, waking up early was very difficult for her.

When forming the habit to wake up early, we decided that she should focus on doing something enjoyable. It is much easier to get out of bed at 5:30 am when you are getting up to do something you like. Ultimately, she may like to exercise at this time, but for now she is going to work on the habit of getting up early and enjoying the morning before the kids wake up and the chaos of her day begins. Where her habit goes from there will be up to her, but celebrating the victory of getting up earlier is a step in the right direction.

In summary, when choosing a habit, be sure to:

  • Connect emotionally with your habit. Remember emotion leads to motion.
  • Take the time to experiment with your habit until you find one that fits.
  • Focus on the underlying reason you choose the habit and stay true to that purpose.
  • If the habit is tough to start, take bite size chunks and celebrate those small victories.

If you are interested in learning about how coaching can help you move forward with a positive habit or about my Habits Workshops, please contact me at amyalpertlifecoach@gmail.com or visit my website www.amyalpert.com.

 

 

0

Double Standards Hurt Men Too

Life and work balance

Over 15 years ago, I helped write the paternity leave policy for Goldman Sachs. We offered fathers two weeks of paid leave and provided flexibility as to when they could take this leave. Perhaps fathers wanted to use the leave for the first two weeks after the child is born, maybe they wanted to supplement their spouse’s leave, or maybe they preferred to use it a little at a time to fill in the gaps at home. By providing flexibility, we were acknowledging that every family is different. Our intention was for the policy to make sense to our employees and to assist a family adjusting to a new baby at home. Did I think two-week paternity leave was adequate? No. But it was a start, especially at a firm that made no apologies for its face-time oriented, workaholic culture.

I helped write this paternity leave policy when I was newly married and did not have kids of my own. At the time, one of our male friends expressed a strong negative reaction to the idea of paternity leave. He teased me (in a loving way of course) about the ridiculousness of paternity leave and said he would lose respect for any man who took advantage of it. Fortunately, our friend changed his tune after he married, started his own successful business and had children of his own. Not only did he establish a paternity leave within his organization, he also was a role model by utilizing in the paternity leave himself when he became a father. Over time his definition of masculinity was expanded to include caregiving. This change in our friend exemplifies the larger change that is going on all around us. Men are realizing the benefits of caregiving and men, women and children, stand to benefit from this modern definition of what it is to be a man.

ReadiStock_000017967210_Largeing Unfinished Business, by Anne-Marie Slaughter, I was reminded of the power of men in the women’s movement. As Slaughter points out in her book, girls have more choices than boys do today. Girls can choose to stay home, work part time, work full time etc. while boys are typically given a more singular option of providing financially for the family. Of course we are constantly seeing exceptions to this rule and the hope is that these exceptions continue to flourish. Giving men a broader definition of masculinity benefits men and women. The opportunity to provide care for our children and elderly relatives is a gift both for the caregiver as well as the one receiving care. In addition, providing opportunities for men to be caregivers will elevate the value we place on care in our society..

Leading The Way Towards a Paradigm Shift

Same-Sex marriage: Heterosexual couples can learn from same-sex couples regarding how to define their roles within their marriage. Same-sex couples have the freedom to design their own marriage (p. 78). They can ask the following questions to guide their choices: Whose job pays more or has the best income prospects down the road? Who enjoys work more? Who has a more supportive employer? Who prefers to be the primary parent? Wouldn’t it be incredible if heterosexual couples evaluated their division of labor with the same openness? Perhaps in the near future heterosexual couples will make their choices in the same way same sex couples make their decisions rather than relying on predetermined, outdated gender roles. This would open up opportunities for men and women to evaluate their unique hopes and dreams for themselves and for their families.

Women’s increase in income

“40% of American women are the primary breadwinners in their families. That includes single mothers, but it still tracks a major trend.” (p. 49) With this fact, it makes sense for many families to revisit traditional roles. When a woman earns more than her husband, it confuses the traditional model of fathers being the breadwinners due to a higher salary. Of course this does not automatically reverse the roles because there are many factors that determine who does what within a couple, but it opens up the opportunity for a more thoughtful conversation.


What Can Women Do to Help the Men’s Movement?

“Let it Go” in the Home

Ok, this is a really big deal and I love how Slaughter captures this in her book. We women need to Let it Go at home. We need to let our husbands handle parenting and housework in their own way. If we micromanage our husbands, we are denying them the opportunity to make a unique contribution. Slaughter talks about how women have a tendency to give men step-by-step instructions on how to handle the house when they are not home (p.150). Our husbands may do things differently, but that does not make it wrong. In the same way women want to contribute to their workplace in their own way without having to “act like a man”, men need to be able to contribute at home without micromanagement. If we want men to contribute equally at home, we must make room for them to express themselves their way and allow them to learn from their mistakes just as women are making their own unique mark in the workplace.

Support Young Men

career coachingWhat are the messages we are giving our sons? Do we tell them they can do anything like we tell our daughters? We need to make sure we tell our son’s (just like we tell our daughters) that they can be whoever they want to be. They can choose to be primary caregiver whether it is for their children’s entire childhood or seesawing career opportunities with their spouse, or they can choose to be the primary breadwinner. As mentors, we need to ask young men to think about what work and family means for them. Women are asked constantly about how they plan to manage work and family. Men also need the opportunity to reflect on this and to ask themselves the questions about their values and priorities (p. 180). Women and men need to live lives with authenticity and integrity, but the only way to do that is to search your own soul and determine what will make you truly happy. We have worked very hard over the years to expand women’s choices; men also deserve more choices and an expanded definition of masculinity to provide freedoms and opportunities for all.

If you are interested in learning more about life coaching, please visit my worklife coaching page or email me at amyalpertlifecoach@gmail.com.

1

How a Week Retreat Helped Me, My family and My Dog

life coaching

As part of my 10-month certificate in Positive Psychology program, I spent one week at an in-house immersion at Kripalu in the Berkshires. As I packed for the event (mostly yoga pants, comfy tops and slip on shoes easy for taking on and off), I realized I had not been on my own for a full week since 1999 when I took a business trip by myself to Tokyo. I know this is a very long time ago, because my sister (God bless her heart) made me a mix tape (yes, tape) of enough music to get me through the 14- hour flight. Fortunately, my immersion was only 3 hours away and I listened to a book on tape that I downloaded onto my kindle and used blue tooth connection to listen to during the car-ride—wow things have changed in 16 years!

My kids are 14 and 12, good ages for a mom to leave for a week. They can now stay in the house alone. They can do their homework without assistance. They can get ready for school every morning without help. But a week without their mom reminded all of us of how capable they really are. My kids were either very respectful of my need for retreat or they really did not miss me all that much. I heard very little from them. Aside from my daughter’s tooth ache, need for credit card to purchase a shirt and sharing an idea through email about a summer travel program, my kids left me pretty much alone. Maybe they needed a break from me as much as I needed a break from them?

My husband also left me alone—but that may be because he was too busy to communicate. He took over my duties along with his own and ran the house seamlessly. I was not surprised at all. In fact, I imagine when I get home tomorrow the house is going to be much neater than it usually is when I am in charge.

Spending a week away from home has allowed me to recharge in a way that I could never have done life coachingat home with all the distractions that brings. In addition, being in an immersion environment, I am working hard learning about Positive Psychology and getting to know myself better. I am someone who is very connected with myself. I regularly journal, I do yoga, I see an amazing therapist and I take long walks with my dog where I think about my life. I read tons of books on personal growth and think about how they apply to my life. But nothing is as powerful as a week-long immersion.

Some aha moments for me were:

-I need to become a more active listener

-I need to assert myself more

-I need to dream big and not fear failure (or success for that matter)

-I need to reconnect with my yoga practice

-I want to find more opportunities to teach

-I am full of love and gratitude

-My constant effort to resist the lure of “busy-ness” is a by-product of my efforts to stay true to myself and to my values.

There were two wonderful results of my week immersion on my family.

life coachingFirst, my family now knows that I give our dog Ivy water every day. Yes, it is hard to believe, but my family did not know that I give the dog water every day. And can I blame them? I did it invisibly for three years. If we want our family to know things, we must inform them, we must teach them. Thank goodness my family now knows about this life-affirming chore—dogs (and all living things) need water every day!

Second: My husband lit the Chanukah candles with the kids since I was away during Chanukah. This felt like a miracle to me almost as much as the oil that lasted for eight days. While Gideon and I do not fall into traditional roles in every way around the house (Gideon is obsessed with running the dishwasher and I am the only one who knows how to fix our computer printer) we have established fairly rigid roles in the family after being married for 17 years. So religion has been assigned to me. Anything Jewish is mine. Yet, during Chanukah, Gideon took out wellness coachingthe menorah, said the prayers with the kids and provided them with an awesome gift (so typical of him to totally outdo me on the gift!—tickets to a Nets game while I had given out books on the day I left). I don’t know how Gideon felt about leading Chanukah and I am not going to ask him because I know that will totally annoy him, but I am deeply grateful that he got out of his comfort zone and continued something important to me without my even asking. When we choose our life partner, isn’t this what we hope for?

I am filled with gratitude for my life and I did not necessarily need a week away to realize that, but some time alone never hurts. I go home tomorrow and I am feeling ready to reenter my home life with renewed vigor, purpose and love and appreciation for the life I have created with my family.

Email me to learn more about Positive Psychology Coaching and set up a free consultation!

 

 

 

2

Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out” and Positive Psychology

Inside-Out-Official-Trailer-Inside-Out-series-Inside-Out-IMDB-Inside-Out-Pixar-3

I truly enjoyed watching the movie Inside Out with my family. In fact we enjoyed it so much that we watched it again the next day. The movie includes characters who personify (and are named after) the emotions of Anger, Fear, Joy, Sadness and Disgust in clever characters working in “headquarters” in an 11 year old girl, Riley’s, brain. When Riley’s family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco, Joy is no longer able to run the show. Riley misses her old house and her friends from Minnesota. Joy works overtime to tryimages-29 to make Riley happy, but Sadness can’t seem to control herself and keeps getting in the way. Joy goes to great lengths to control Sadness and goes so far as to draw a circle for Sadness to remain in.

When Sadness manages to interfere despite Joy’s attempts to contain her, my 14-year-old proclaimed “I hate Sadness!”. She of course did not realize the profundity of what she exclaimed. She was just talking about the character Sadness in the movie. But in the end, she is right, so many of us hate sadness that we will go to great lengths to avoid it. Just like in the movie, locking away sadness makes our emotional environment ripe for anger, disgust and fear to take over.

Positive Psychology

Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, regrets the name of the psychology he founded. It is feared that Positive Psychology sounds pollyannish, suggesting only positive emotions are allowed—much like what the movie is trying to reveal about human nature. In fact, Positive Psychology embraces the spectrum of emotions. Positive Psychology was created in reaction to the one-sided focus on mental illness in the field of psychology. However, in the end, the goal of Positive Psychology is to round out the field of psychology by also focusing on people’s strengths, what is working and how to be solutions-focused. Moving forward is a priority, but not at the expense of acknowledging all of our emotions. We need to utilize the spectrum emotions in order to flourish.

Permission to be Human

As a Positive Psychology life coach, I encourage the range of emotions in my sessions. There have been times when clients have cried; uncovering images-31sadness is instructive. One of the tenants of Positive Psychology is the “Permission to be Human”. By virtue of being human, we are going to experience a range of emotions. Embracing them and learning from them so we can move forward is what Positive Psychology is about.

Relationships

In the movie Inside Out, there is a revealing moment where Joy looks back at one of Riley’s memories from when she was in Minnesota. In this memory, Riley was sad about making a mistake at a hockey game and losing the game. Riley is alone in the backyard feeling sad and her parents find her and comfort her. What Joy realizes when reflecting on that memory, is that expressing sadness allows our community to know we need them. Only then can they know to offer support. When Riley is unable to show her sadness in San Francisco, there is no way for her family to know how to help her. In order to benefit from the help of our family and friends, we need to reveal the truth of what we are feeling to ourselves and to our support network.

Benefit Finder

But let’s not condemn Joy just because she was focused on happiness. We can all learn a lot from Joy. The character Joy in the movie is the ultimate benefit finder. She can find the good in everything. And she wants to teach Sadness to do the same. For example, when Riley walks into her new completely empty bedroom (the moving van had not arrived yet), she becomes sad. Joy quickly helps her imagine the room full of her furniture and gets her excited about the possibility of what her room will look like when the furniture arrives. When Riley’s parents are feeling stressed with all that moving requires, Joy provides the idea for Riley to take a crumpled piece of paper and use it as a puck to play hockey in the empty living room, bringing a moment of levity to the situation. Joy is providing Riley with excellent skills to turn lemons into lemonade and that certainly is worthwhile.

Positive Psychology teaches us that we do have control over our thoughts and actions and we can Life coachinginfluence the happiness in our lives. According to Sonja Lybomirsky’s book The How of Happiness, 10% of
happiness is based on circumstances, 50% of happiness is based
on genetics and 40% of our happiness is based on our choices. So Joy has the right idea. Looking on the bright side is not a bad idea if we want to live happier lives. Seeing the good in things is not a sign of being simple-minded, rather it is a sign of being strong, brave and taking control of our own happiness.

In the end, Joy and Sadness are both important and cannot live without the other. In the movie, Sadness teaches Joy to take the time to let people experience their emotions and Joy teaches Sadness how to find the joy in life even when things are tough.

Click here for more information on the benefits of Life Coaching.

1

Confidence Booster Toolkit

career coaching

I recently attended a Parent Book Group at my daughter’s school where we were discussed The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self–Assurance—What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. The book revealed the many ways girls and women lack confidence and how a lack of confidence negatively impacts success. I, along with the women in the book group, could absolutely relate to the findings in the book.

We were fortunate enough to have the head of school facilitate the discussion. We reflected on how the data from the book resonated with us as women and as mothers of daughters. Then we took the discussion one step further by brainstorming ways to use the information in the book to improve our own confidence as well as that of our daughters’. As I left the discussion bursting with enthusiasm, I thought about how I could integrate the information I had learned in a way that boosted confidence in my daughter and myself, which could potentially be useful to other girls and women. Alas, the Confidence Booster Toolkit was born. Below are some of the items I would put in a Confidence Booster Toolkit based on what I learned from reading and discussing The Confidence Code.

Wasted Worry Jar: Worry and doubt are confidence-killers. They not only make you appear less confident, but can interfere with the ability to act and make things happen. In order to demonstrate to my family the uselessness of worrying, I created a Wasted Worry Jar. The concept is wellness coachingsimple, if you have a worry that turns out to be fine, you must put a quarter in the worry jar. For example, if you are worried that you will fail the math test, and then you don’t, you owe the jar a quarter. As the quarters add up, there is a visible testament to the amount of time we spend needlessly worrying. We don’t want to get rich off of our worries!

Memory Journal: As a positive psychology coach, I make sure to ask my clients to remember times when things did work and pay attention to the positive things in their lives. The reason I do this is because what we think can affect how we feel. By keeping track of our successes and our efforts, we can utilize these memories to give us the confidence to take on the next challenge. “Our memories, conscious or not, are informing what we decide to do next.” (p. 81) Therefore, keeping a journal of our successes is a great way to embed these experiences into our subconscious, which will help us take on new challenges later.

“Let it Go” Cellphone Ringtone– Overthinking, whether it is ruminating about a future decision or dwelling on a past experience, adversely impacts confidence. As Mike Thibault, a WNBA coach who also spent years coaching men, finds “The propensity to dwell on failure and mistakes, and an inability to shut out the outside world are in his mind the biggest psychological impediments for his female players and they directly affect performance and confidence on the court” (p, 204). Ruminating is as debilitating. “Thinking harder and harder and harder won’t solve our issues” (p. 144). If a Disney princess can “Let it Go” (and let’s face it she had some tough things to deal with like turning everything she touched into ice), then we can find a way to let it go and move on as well. And if the “Let It Go” ringtone is not enough, then pull out your memory journal and remind yourself how awesome you are!

life coachingPosture Zapper: Apparently there are now devices that we can wear on ourselves that connect to our smart phones that not only inform us when we slouch but also monitor it to reveal to us how bad our posture really is throughout a day! Why is posture so important for girls and women? A lack of confidence can be manifested physically. Not only can good posture make someone look more confident, it can also make a person feel more confident. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy has one of the most-viewed TED talks where she talks about “power posing”. When women take up physical space, their testosterone increases and their cortisol decreases (a stress hormone), thus temporarily boosting their confidence level. Cuddy encourages taking on a power pose before an interview or an important meeting to create the physical benefits to confidence. To be clear, when I talk about posture, I am not talking about walking like a model, but rather to take up space, stand up straight and show your strength!

Meditation App: Failure is a critical part to learning. In fact there is a new term Failing Fast that promotes the idea that we need to continuously put ourselves out there and learn from our mistakes (p. 139). The world moves too quickly to wait for perfection. Sharon Salzberg, author and cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS), teaches a wonderful phrase when teaching meditation—“Begin Again”. If your mind wanders while meditating, simply “Begin Again”. This is such a non -threatening way to look at our failures. Meditation is an amazing way to practice this concept and certainly is a wonderful confidence-boosting tool on its own — “a calm brain is the ultimate confidence tool” (p. 162). Utilizing a meditation app can help develop a meditation practice.

Sneakers: Another way to experiment with this Fail Fast/Begin Again concept is by participating in DSCF0420athletics. Strike out in softball? You’ll be up to bat again soon. Miss a lay-up? You have plenty of other chances to get it right. Play sports, meditate, or join the debate team… Do whatever it takes where you live the motto “Begin Again”.

Just Do it paraphernalia: Nike was clearly onto something when they created their catchphrase Just Do It. Girls’ and women’s lack of confidence can get in the way of action. “Confidence is linked to doing.” (p. 49). Stop thinking and start doing. When Hillary Clinton was uncertain about running for Senate in 2000, a high school women’s basketball coach told her, “Sure you might lose. So what? Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton. Dare to compete.” (p. 8) When in doubt, Just Do It!

Hopefully this confidence booster kit will help the women and girls who receive it. Women and girls need to get out there and do things without worrying, overthinking and fearing failure. What would you put in your toolkit? Together we can develop a confidence toolkit database for girls and women to improve their confidence; the ramifications are too high not to.

0

Caution, Stumbling Block Ahead!

Risk of stumbling

“You shall not place a stumbling block in front of a blind person” (Leviticus 19:14). I love how this phrase is so obvious when taken literally. Of course we would never literally put a stumbling block in front of the blind (that would be downright mean), but figuratively we do it all the time. We set ourselves up to
stumble. Why do we make things harder for ourselves? The short answer is that removing stumbling blocks involves two critical things: 1. Knowing what your stumbling blocks are (i.e., knowing yourself) and 2. Taking the time to be proactive to move the blocks out of the way.

Removing stumbling blocks requires time and attention. This is the good and bad news. Since I am working on being more optimistic, I am going to take the approach that this is good news. But just to be safe, I am going to provide the wisdom of three experts below:

Parenting

The first time I really thought about this concept was when I read Wendy Mogel’s Blessing of a Skinned Knee (my parenting bible). Mogel discusses the challenge of the stumbling block as it relates to parenting. In her section on the Blessing of Self-Control, she introduces the idea of the stumblingLife Coaching block: “If you keep running into trouble with your child at specific times—getting ready for school, mealtime, homework, bedtime—it may be that you are inadvertently placing a stumbling block before him.” (p. 195).

To remove parenting stumbling blocks, we need to notice where our children struggle and how we can respect those challenges and not exacerbate them. For instance, if you know your teenager is slow in the morning, do not ask them to do all their chores first thing when they wake up. If you

Career Coachingknow your toddler gets cranky at 2:00, try not to plan a doctor’s appointment for that time. In other words, don’t make life harder! This is more difficult than it seems for two reasons. 1. You need to know your child. You need to pay attention to his or her idiosyncrasies 2. You need to plan ahead. Being proactive and not reactive is key to avoiding stumbling blocks. Parenting is a tough and busy job, so taking the time to reflect, notice and plan is challenging. In the end, removing stumbling blocks is worth the effort and will save time and aggravation in the future.

Habit Formation

Not only does this idea of stumbling blocks help with parenting, it also helps with our own personal management. I recently read the book Better Than Before: Managing the Habits of Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin. This book is full of strategies and tools regarding how to make habits stick. As Rubin points out, “Habits are the invisible architecture of our everyday life”. One of the strategies she discusses is the strategy of “safeguarding”. When establishing a habit, we need to pay attention to what interferes with our ability to stick with it—in other words “know yourself”. Then she suggests we anticipate potential stumbles and prepare for them—“be proactive”. Some common stumbling blocks with habit formation are “tension with other people, social pressure, loneliness or boredom or anxiety and –perhaps surprisingly—positive emotions such as joy or excitement” (p. 165).

Boredom and anxiety are big stumbling blocks for me especially when I am trying to get something done that requires concentration. I am currently working on developing a writing habit. One of my stumbling blocks to keeping this habit is to say to myself, “oh, I will just check Facebook for ten minutes and then I will get right to work”. Yea right! 45 minutes later I come up for air and realize Career Coachingthat I just missed out on a golden opportunity to actually get work done. Both boredom and anxiety contributed to that stumble. Sitting down to write can be fraught with anxiety because I want to do a good job and I worry I may not have anything meaningful to say. Also, let’s face it, work can be boring – at least compared to the absorbing world of Facebook. Therefore, my safeguard against the stumbling block of procrastination is to shut down Facebook while I write and wait until after I am finished to check it. Keep in mind, I continue to stumble, but I stumble less because of this safeguard.

Rubin is also points out that a stumble, while dangerous, is not the same as a fall. If you stumble, reflect on why it happened and build in more safeguards. How you react to a stumble is equally important in the success of building good habits. Learn (know yourself even better), build in more safeguards (be more proactive) and move forward. Habit development is a process not a destination.

Staying True to Ourselves

I am currently taking a course in Positive Psychology. In one of my lessons, Tal Ben-Shahar (one of the leading experts in Positive Psychology) talks about knowing your “nature”. Essentially, know when you thrive and know when you struggle. This is part of growing up—we all need to know who we are and how to best support our nature. For instance, I have a limit to how much time I can be social or in groups. I am very careful when I put together my calendar to only schedule one or two social activities in a day. This is my safeguard.

However, I cannot always control how much time I need to be social and there are times I have to act outside my nature. In these instances, I acknowledge the challenge and I do what I can to minimize the consequences. For instance, I will be sure to build in quiet time as soon as I can if I a need to be social for an extended period of time. On the other hand, my husband is more of an extravert, so he needs to build social time into his workday in order to feel energized. If you are a morning person, schedule your morning activities with that in mind. Don’t waste your morning in front of the TV; instead utilize that time to be productive and get things out of the way. If you are a night owl, figure out how to maximize that time. By knowing ourselves and knowing our nature, we can be proactive rather than reactive as we schedule our days. We can also show ourselves self-compassion when we are forced to act out of our nature.

Think about yourself and think about your relationships. Are there stumbling blocks you are unknowingly putting out? Can you, with a little attention and planning, remove them? Remember, this is a 3,400 year-old problem so be kind and generous to yourself as you figure this out – but don’t give up, I know you can do it!

Click here for more information on the benefits of Life Coaching.

 

 

0

Hurricanes and Snowstorms Oh My: The Business Case for Telecommuting

It has become common knowledge that Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) help individuals manage their work-life needs, but to my surprise there are some employers who continue to question the business benefits of FWAs. The Agile Workforce and Workplace: Flex Primer for the New Future of Work (2011) by Karol Rose and Lori Sokol, PhD enumerates the many ways FWAs help employees: control over workload, ability to handle work-life demands, promotes health and well being, reduces stress, etc. In addition, the book also points out the clear-cut and compelling ways FWAs help employers, including Business Continuity Planning and Facilities Planning.

Business Continuity Planning

When weather events like Hurricane Joaquin occur, employers who have embraced FWAs and telework arrangements have an advantage. These companies can feel assured that employees will continue to produce even if the office is closed. Technology makes working from home a reality for many employees. However, this was not always the case. During the terrorist attacks on 9/11, I was working downtown at Goldman Sachs. Our office was closed for several days following the attacks. Since I managed Goldman’s Employee Assistance Program and arranged for the emotional care of our employees, I worked incredibly hard during those few days. Given the limited technology we had at that time, the work was slow and frustrating. Not only were we emotional and traumatized ourselves, we had to work harder than ever without the technological support to do so.

Thankfully, today, we have the technology to support workers if there is an emergency. Events like the Swine Flu, hurcareer coaching west orange njricanes, snowstorms and even a visit from the Pope are among the multiple events that prompt the need for employees to work offsite. Companies that have embraced telecommuting as part of their corporate culture are better able to handle unexpected events. If employees already have technology that allow them to work from home and managers already have the skills to handle remote employees, then they can make a seamless transition when an emergency arises.

By having employees telework on a more regular basis—not just when there are big events, employees can create a work space at home that is conducive to working from home. They can also work out any kinks with their technology. Finally, when employees work from home, managers and employees develop skills to work together remotely. Competitively speaking, the better able employees can continue to work when there is a crisis, the better a company’s competitive edge.

Facilities Planning

Another fascinating trend that was highlighted in The Agile Workforce and Workplace is facilities planning and design. There is so much creativity with designing the modern workspace. Developing a flexible workforce contributes to this trend. Today, facility design can be more creative with space dedicated to collaborative meeting spaces in addition to individual workspaces. Embracing telework supports this opportunity.

Companies spend a ton of money on real estate. According to The Agile Workforce and Workplace, it costs approximately $8,000-$14,000 a year for a workspace per employee. If companies can reduce office space by supporting employees who wish to work from home or leveraging an emplcareer coaching west orange njoyee’s hectic travel schedule, there are many benefits. Companies save money on space, reduce energy costs, and can design a more fluid and adaptable workspace. “Hoteling” is a brilliant way to address the real estate realities of a modern workforce.   Since many employees are not in their office all the time due to travel schedules or telework arrangements, hoteling is a way to create shared workspaces and save money.

Hoteling involves creating workspace that can be utilized by multiple employees. By having employees work from home and then reserve office space at work when they need to come into the office, companies reduce the 1:1 ratio of employee to workspace. Not to mention the fact that employees save on gas by not having to drive to and from work each day and employers save on energy costs by reducing the amount of space they need for workspaces. Employers who reduce energy output can also receive carbon-offset credits.career coaching west orange nj

Encouraging employees who prefer to work from home the opportunity to focus on their work there and then come into work for collaborative opportunities, is an enterprising way to give employees control over how work gets done. Supporting employees’ unique needs without sacrificing productivity is the crux of the flexible work culture.

Employers can prepare for the inevitable emergencies by embracing telework and can save money on real estate costs. Having a more fluid approach to how and where work gets done is a win/win for employers and employees. For more information about The Agile Workforce and Workplace: Flex Primer for the New Future of Work, visit Karol Rose’s website at  http://www.klrandassociates.com.

Click here for more information on the benefits of Career Coaching in West Orange NJ & Surrounding areas.

2

What I Learned Chanting Torah on Rosh Hashanah

Chanting Torah is kind of a big deal. It requires an ability to read Hebrew, the willingness to sing in public, the ability to learn a special melody unique to Torah and the tenacity to practically memorize the portion because in the Torah there are no vowels. What makes it even more intimidating is that there can be no mistakes while chanting. Each word must be chanted correctly. In fact, there is someone there whose primary job is to make sure there are no mistakes and to correct you on the spot if something is said incorrectly.

The first time I chanted Torah I was 13 years old at my Bat Mitzvah (quite a few years ago!) and I may have read a few more times in my childhood. In March 2014 my daughter had her Bat Mitzvah and I had the opportunity to read again and I loved it! It offered me the opportunity to relate to what my daughter was doing as she studied and reminded me that this is about more than invitations and DJs. Connecting to this ancient practice is powerful.

An attainable challenge

For some reason I really enjoy chanting Torah. For me it hits the sweet spot between boredom and stress. I know that if I put my mind to it I can learn it, so I have confidence for mastery. However, it is not easy for me so I have to practice and commit. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has researched this idea of balance between ability and challenge and has discovered it is a strong predictor for success and happiness. It is recommended that people find activities in their life that hit that sweet spot. So career coaching west orange nj
everyday for four weeks I practiced my Torah portion.

Allowed for a pause each day

Preparing for the high holidays has always been a goal of mine. I would start reading Alan Lew’s This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation, or writing up New Year’s resolutions, but I would rarely commit. When preparing to read Torah, I had a deadline and a motivation—not to embarrass myself. Therefore, I stuck to it and practiced every morning and sometimes at night. I would listen to my Cantor’s voice chanting and then I would try to “copy” her (ha!). I loved hearing her beautiful voice fill my kitchen as I practiced and I really loved that my kids would hear her voice too. Perhaps this was helping them prepare for the high holidays too?

In the past, I have dabbled in maintaining a meditation and yoga practice, but this practice was just as meditative and fulfilling. I connected to the music and the upcoming events. I was able to experience the Rosh Hashanah service before there was a hint of chill in the air. It was peaceful, spiritual and satisfying because each day I learned more of the portion. I was able to observe my progress in a tangible way.

Mental Preparation for High Holiday Services

This preparation benefited me greatly during Rosh Hashanah. As someone who has introverted tendencies, I find High Holiday services overwhelming. There is the constant socializing in the hallways, and when I finally find my seat I find myself replaying various conversations to make sure I said the right thing or I worry that I did not go up to someone to say hello in an effort to career coaching west orange njfinally enter the sanctuary. For me, I find it difficult to just sit, pray and enjoy. This time, however, it was different. I was ok with the social element because I had already had a nice fill of Hebrew, Torah and chanting. I didn’t feel like I had to try to connect with the service as much and without that pressure, I actually was able to connect in a way I have not before. It was like I had been working a muscle ahead of time so I was able to jump into the game.

Reading Torah Involves Teamwork

My synagogue places the Torah reader in the front of the room; however, the reader faces the ark rather than the congregation. This arrangement diminishes the feeling that the reader is performing. The reader is leading and the congregation is following – it is a group effort. In addition, our Bima is on the floor-it is not on a stage above the congregation. This contributes to the team vibe since I was on the same level with the congregation.

career coaching west orange njWhile I was reading Torah, several congregants surrounded me. Standing around the Torah with me was the person who read the Aliya (the introduction to my portion) and the individual who was there to help me if I made a mistake as well as a gabbai who is in charge of the logistics for the reading—he or she calls up the participants as they are needed. My reading was a little less smooth than in the past. I fumbled a bit in the beginning trying to remember the tune, I got back on track and then needed a correction in the end. It was the first time I had to be corrected while reading the Torah. Surprisingly, I actually found it comforting to know that someone is there to help me if I ran into trouble. Even as he corrected me, he did it in the most supportive and kind way. He was not trying to embarrass me instead we were in it together.

This was what I liked most about the experience. Everyone knows it is tough to get up there and read and you get the sense that everyone wants you to do well. The fact that you are up there doing something challenging while connecting with Judaism is what is important. Being a gifted Torah chanter is great, but not necessary thankfully, because we need people to read the Torah constantly in synagogue and we cannot just rely on the most talented. We need subs as well as starters.

Later in the service our Rabbi had a wonderful sermon where he talked about how connection is often more important than being right. I feel like this is what is taught with chanting the Torah portion. There is no shame in making mistakes, it is considered part of the experience. If you make a mistake, you are corrected, you fix your mistake, and then you move on. Wouldn’t it be good if we could all live life that way?