Crazy: A Review of April

May 16, 2013 by

April was…crazy. Personally, professionally, in all ways absolutely crazy. It seems like every month this year has been crazy, which makes it doubly hard to focus on maintaining peace in mind. Nevertheless I’ll continue working on it.

April’s review

Here are a few key things that happened this month:

  • I went out eating, dancing and drinking with a couple of my best girlfriends on a weekend when Dan was out of town. We ended up closing down a bar at 2:30am which hasn’t happened in a long time. Even though I was really tired the next day it was so much fun! I really love to dance and often forget how important it is to me.My_neighborhood_in_bloom.
  • Dan’s birthday was this month so I took him out for a Caps game and a night on the town. Again, we had so much fun. Hockey is absolutely my favorite sport to watch in person and it was a great game. As always, spending dedicated time with my hubs was the best part of this trip.
  • I presented at a conference on supervisory skills (and then wrote a blog post about it). I haven’t presented to this audience before, so it was a great opportunity to get to know some new people and continue building my business.
  • We hosted our housewarming party – finally! It was great to see so many old friends and meet/play with their little ones. There are more and more kids among my group of friends so our parties have changed quite a bit since the old days ūüôā
  • I attended and participated in several meetings for my usual transportation groups and commissions as well as the short-term parking group I’m on.

All in all, it was an exhausting month, especially because work was very busy as well. The biggest personal milestone that happened this month was the housewarming party and finally “opening” the house up for visitors. Several people hadn’t seen our place yet, so it was great to show off the new kitchen and all the work that went into making the house ours.Farragut_Square__dreaming_in_the_sun_while__zachsmith_101_and_I_grab_lunch_at_the_food_trucks.

The biggest business milestone I accomplished was to get my new website design and header launched (after far more hours of work than I originally intended to put into it). Getting that launched was sometimes an exhausting and frustrating process, so you can bet I won’t be doing it again soon! But it did allow me a chance to more clearly highlight the coaching work I can do with people (you maybe?) and the great content already on the blog.

The most valuable lesson I learned this month is that I need to take advantage of mental downtime whenever and where ever I can. There were, quite literally, almost no hours of any day in April when I wasn’t working, traveling somewhere, reading in preparation for something, cleaning, cooking or any number of other things. So when I had a chance to walk slowly home a couple of times through the beautiful spring foliage in my neighborhood or just stare out the window during my bus ride instead of doing work, it was a real balm to my mind and soul.

Next month

For the rest of May, I’m going to focus on taking time to relax whenever I can. I’m also going to work on trying to parcel out my time carefully so that I can try to preserve some of it for relaxation while still getting my work done.

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Peace: My Preview of 2013

Jan 14, 2013 by

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a review post of 2012, based on Rosetta Thurman’s excellent guide. Today, I’m looking forward with a preview of 2013, also with the help of her suggestions.

After thinking through these questions (a lot – it took me over a week to finish this post), I’ve decided that my guiding principle for 2013 is PEACE. Peace in mind, body and spirit. While my work and travel schedule shows no signs of lightening anytime soon, my internal world needs to lighten up quite a bit. I’m going to work on remaining focused but also taking it easy on myself in 2013. Happy New Year!

 

What I Want to Bring Into My Life in 2013

What do you deserve more of next year? What do you deserve less of next year?

I deserve fun and some adventure this year. My nose has been to the proverbial grindstone for a long time and that has led to a lot of sitting around on my butt when I have down time or visiting the same old places (i.e., lack of motivation to explore). This year, I want to expand my horizons just a bit and eat at new restaurants, see some shows and visit new places.

I deserve less stress this year. I deserve less self-imposed stress and less stress placed on me by others (whether¬†intentionally¬†or not). I don’t deserve it and I’m going to stop owning it.peace

What personal milestone(s) do you most want to reach in your relationships, health, family, finances, education and/or lifestyle?

I want our house to be ‘done’ – even though I’m not quite sure how to define that. I figure that it’s like Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: I can’t define it, but I’ll know it when I see it. We’ve been painting, renovating, decorating, hanging pictures, etc. for so long that it feels like it will never be done. But it will. Oh yes, it will.

What professional accomplishments (at work or in your business) do you want to see for yourself next year?

I want to build and grow my career coaching business significantly this year. I want to work with more clients, do more speaking engagements and make more money. If you read this blog regularly, you won’t be surprised that I’ve already developed a plan to grow it and the next step is to implement that plan.

What do you want to learn in 2013?

I want to learn the best, most efficient ways to earn money through my side business; essentially, what is the most lucrative line of work I can do and still help the most people? Part of my business plan is to test various methods out to identify the top earners.

What do you want to cross off of your bucket list in 2013?

While I won’t quite be able to knock it off my bucket list in 2013, I’m already aiming to visit Europe in 2014 (which is a bucket list item). My husband and I have already starting thinking about general dates and locations and by the summer of 2014, we will have crossed it off our list!

 

What I Want My Life to Look Like in 2013

What part of your life do you want to pay more attention to in 2013?

My internal, emotional life. I want to pay more attention to what is happening internally and why. I seem to spend a lot of energy expressing,¬†suppressing, thinking about, talking about and worrying about my own responses to things, but not necessarily in a productive way. This year, I want to spend time consciously interrogating my own emotions with the goal of learning how to move through them in a way that acknowledges them but doesn’t allow them to constantly dominate my thinking.

Who do you want to spend more time with in 2013?

My good friends, especially those whose time is more limited (largely because they have young kids). While I certainly have important time commitments, my time is still more flexible than those with young children. I want to spend more time with them in a way that is comfortable to them/for them.

Who do you want to spend less time with in 2013?

Toxic people who are so-called ‘friends’. I’ve already started the process of separating myself from these people, but in 2013 want to disengage entirely. I’m done wasting my time with people who aren’t fun and just bring me down.

Which activities, habits or behaviors, if any, do you want to stop doing in 2013 because they no longer serve you?

I want to stop talking about/gossiping about/complaining about people so much. While I won’t try to pretend that I’m going to stop completely, I want to continue to reduce the amount of time I spend being vocally negative. I started working on that in 2012 and I found that trying harder to be positive had a effect on my emotional state overall (in a good way). I want to keep up that work in 2013.

Which activities do you want to start and/or continue doing in 2013?

I want to schedule – and stick to the schedule – of working on my business regularly in 2013. I did this sporadically throughout 2012, but lots of other things got in the way. This year, I want to be realistic about my time, stay focused and use the time as effectively as possible to grow my business.

What will your ideal day look like next year?

I will wake up, work out, eat a healthy breakfast and head to my full-time job. Then I’ll work a highly productive 8 hour day and come home. Once I get home I’ll make/eat dinner with my husband and then either spend a couple of hours on my business or spend time with him. I’ll then go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. I’m excited already!

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Moving on with gratitude

Aug 6, 2012 by

After two great years, I’m wrapping up my YNPNdc leadership position. It’s time to pass the torch onto others who can help lead YNPNdc to even greater things.¬†But just like a lot of transitions, this one is bitter-sweet.

I’ve learned so much since I started with YNPNdc: organizational operations, board operations, maximizing content across multiple communications channels, working with others (especially when you have no power or authority over them), and so much more. I’ve made so many great friends that I know will be there for me in the years ahead; these same people are outstanding professionals in their own right and having them in my professional network will be valuable in the future as we all move into leadership positions in our organizations.¬†I know that I’ve grown as a person and a nonprofit professional from this experience and I believe I’ve been able to help others grow as well.

On the other hand, I’m excited to reclaim a large chunk of time to use in different ways. I’m happy that my email volume will be reduced (by a lot) and that I’ll be able to really focus on other things that matter to me. And my husband is happy that I’ll be home more :).

So what’s next?

For a while, I think I’ll take advantage of the extra time by reading and catching up on some of the household and life chores that I’ve been putting off (for instance: the nearly one-year-old pile of stuff to put in my wedding scrapbook). Then I want to follow my own advice and develop a plan for growing my career coaching business significantly in terms of number of clients, type of work and financial gain.

And in a year or two I would like to join a board again; this time, I’d like a position on a strategic/advisory board as opposed to a working board (which is what YNPNdc’s is). There are so many great nonprofits in the DC metro area and I can’t wait to work with one or more of them!

I can’t express enough how grateful I am to the other leaders of YNPNdc – especially the communications committee – for welcoming me into the fold two years ago and letting me grow and learn with them. It’s been such a fun and rewarding experience and I can’t recommend it more highly to all of you out there.

Thanks for the memories YNPNdc!

 

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Tips for a great cover letter

Jul 2, 2012 by

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post with tips for making your resume better, so I thought I’d add the obvious companion piece and talk about cover letters.

Let’s be clear: as someone who hires staff, I understand the utility of a cover letter. But as someone who has spent a large part of her adult life hunting for a job, I kind of hate them. If you do them right, they take up a tremendous amount of time and can leave you feeling emotionally drained. That’s why it takes me so damn long to write them. On the other hand, if you do them really well, you’ll definitely get an interview. Plus, you can’t NOT do them, so might as well write the best cover letters you can.¬†

Here’s how:

  • Keep it shortI talked about this in the resume post as well, but it bears repeating. In this instance, no matter how much experience you have, your cover letter should NEVER go over 1 page. Hiring managers don’t have the time to read more than a page and may throw your application out if you ask them to (I’ve done it before). Keeping it short saves you time and effort as well.
  • Use examples – When you read a job description, it should be pretty obvious what the employer wants you to do. Your job is to provide an example or three of how you’ve done one or more of those tasks, ideally in a way to describes how you overcame a challenge to accomplishing that task or how you did it on time and under budget. Employers are inherently selfish so explaining how you’ve jumped hurdles and still kicked butt makes them salivate.
  • Explain why you care about the organization and the job – If you’ve been applying to jobs for a while, this can seem difficult. How can you possibly explain yet again why you care about the mission of an organization? If that’s the case then do what I do: clear your mind and think about why you want to work there. (And no, needing a job to pay your bills is not a reason – at least not for someone hiring.) Have you been reading about the organization’s work lately? Do you have friends who have worked there? Is it your dream job? If so, put that into your cover letter in a clear but not overly-effusive way.

Do you have other tips and tricks? If so, I’d love to read them in the comments!

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Tips for making your resume better

Jun 4, 2012 by

A couple of years ago, I started a side hustle focused on career coaching – resumes, cover letters, and guidance for young professionals seeking to move up in their careers. It’s been a great experience as I’ve gotten to meet new people, learn about fields I knew nothing about and do what I love most, which is helping people.¬†

In that time, I’ve seen a number of resumes come across my desk, many with the same types of problems. Here are a few tips to help you avoid those problems (and if you want a personalized resume and/or cover letter review, contact me):

  • Make your resume as specific as possible – Include quantitative measures of your work if possible (i.e., amount of money raised, number of partners worked with, etc.). If you can’t get quantitative, at least get precise. I’ve read too many resumes where I’ve come away with no real idea of what the person actually DOES. Do you write grant reports? Do you make phone calls? Do you attend meetings? This may seem mundane, but employers want to know that you can actually do basic job-related tasks.
  • Create a long form resume that you use as a template – Unless you have 20+ years of directly relevant experience, your resume should NEVER go over one page. Period, end of story. The resume you submit to employers is not meant to encapsulate your entire career – just those parts most relevant to the job you’re applying for. So, keep a long form resume where you have everything from every job you’ve ever had and then drag and drop as needed based on the job description.
  • Use key words – Every job description has certain key words that appear over and over again. If you’re having trouble finding those key words, paste the text into Wordle and it will identify the words that show up the most. Then, use those words. Everywhere. Replace words you use with the words the description uses (assuming they mean almost the same thing); this provides a helpful visual cue to the person reviewing your resume and may propel you further along the path to getting that job.

Any other resume tips that have worked for you? Share them in the comments!

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