3 Reasons to Pursue Higher Education

You may think you’re too old to pursue higher education, but sometimes this is the only way to achieve your career goals.

For many adults, going back to college can feel like a far-fetched fantasy. Once you have a family and a job, going back to school seems beyond your reach.

It’s true that it’s much easier to study when you have no responsibilities other than taking care of yourself, but life doesn’t always work like that. Perhaps when you were younger you didn’t know what you were passionate about, or you took some courses in a community college but did not complete a degree. Regardless of how you arrived at this point in your career, there are three major reasons to consider advancing your education.

3 Reasons for Adults to Go Back to School

Pursue higher education for the right reasons!

 You’re interested in a different field

If the work you do is no longer fulfilling and you frequently feel disengaged – you dread Mondays and can’t wait to get out at 5:00 PM – you may want to consider a different field.

One quick way to discover your area of interest is to browse through the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a directory published by the federal government that lists every single occupation, its projected growth, how much it pays, and the education required. Spend a few hours browsing the directory and discover which field attracts you the most. Then start planning your next step: Getting a certification, a degree, or the experience you need to apply for a job. Keep in mind that entering any new field will require some intense networking.

You’d like to make more money

If you’ve reached a compensation cap, or if you often hear: “I can’t promote you to manager because you don’t have a bachelor’s degree,” or any variation of this argument, it may be time to go back to school.

Want to grow in your career? Sometimes the only solution is to go back to college.

As an adult, sometimes going back to college is the only way to grow in your career.

I recently met a refugee from the Ugandan genocide, a thirty-two-year-old woman who had arrived in the U.S. many years before, having just graduated from high school. She started working right away and never had a chance to go to college. “I cry every night,” she told me, “because I don’t have a college degree and nobody wants to hire me as a manager even though I have the experience.” It was so sad. Almost her entire family had been massacred. She had suffered so much that it made no sense for her to continue suffering over something that had a simple solution.

What I told her then might help you when that little voice in your head tries to talk you out of going back to school: “Can you imagine spending the next 40 years crying every day for something you could fix in two to four years? Use this weekend to review potential colleges and enroll somewhere on Monday.” She did! I cried when she called me a few days later to tell me she had enrolled in an online college.

As a matter of fact, online universities (some of which have physical campuses as well) are a great option for adults pursuing higher education. Not only have they developed programs to fit market demands, but they also offer options suited to the realities of the adult learner. Some of these schools even offer free trials and consultations to help you find the program that best fits your needs.

You want to feel empowered

Fulfilling your highest educational dreams will give you an incomparable self-confidence boost

Pursuing higher education is a great confidence boost!

Nothing will give you a self-esteem boost like fulfilling your highest educational dreams. It’s an achievement that you can take anywhere, regardless of what life throws at you. It will give you a sense of power like you’ve never felt before. And it will help you shake off any old insecurity.

We live in an ever-increasingly competitive world. With the wide range of options available for adults who want to go back to school, there are no excuses. Choose the alternative that best fits your needs and you’ll reach the next career level in no time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Never shared secrets on how to prepare for a job interview

There are tons of generic tips on how to prepare for the job interview out there. But very little that is this insightful, and particularly addressed to diverse women.

Lily Benjamin

Tips to ace the job interview form Lily Benjamin, one of the top talent management experts

In a room full of people, you may first notice her because of her physical appearance. Tall (5.8 without heels) attractive and vivacious, she looks much younger than her age. But don’t be fooled, her wisdom goes beyond her years. Her young energy coupled with her insights, attracts all types of generations, including Gen Ys, among other diverse groups. Yes, this is Lily Benjamin, one of the most insightful and successful Talent Management and Organization Development executives I’ve met in recent years. Her depth of knowledge and her ability to convert it into concrete advice makes her the ideal person to discuss little known secrets on how to prepare for a job interview, among other subjects.

Lily has over 20 years’ experience in Organization Development, Talent Management, and Diversity and Inclusion. Throughout her career, she has traveled all over the world acquiring a rich international experience while working in multiple industries: health, pharmaceutical, finance, and consumer goods. These experiences have fed her passion for cross cultural leadership development and for building inclusive environments that foster meaningful contributions to the business.

Make sure to check out: 3 Sure-Fire Negotiating tips for Women

What are the three most important things women should keep in mind when they prepare for a job interview?

Ready yourself to bust stereotypes

It is important to recognize that all human beings have biases, some of them are conscious, and others are not. They just need to be effectively managed. As an interviewee, it is important that you are aware of this and anticipate which unconscious biases may pertain to you, and be ready to bust any stereotypes. The way in which you bust those stereotypes is to intentionally bring your uniqueness into the conversation as an asset and discuss how it complements the work you do. For example: “As a woman, I tend to be cautious, yet committed, which makes me reliable…” If it’s a global company and you are Latina, and the job could grow into the Latino market, you can say, “As a Latina I bring the perspective and richness of the Latino market into consideration to help broaden our perspectives…” The ‘busting of stereotypes’ has to be subtle. Do not overdo it, as it could come across as disingenuous and hurt your credibility. A personal example I use to bust whatever stereotype is out there regarding my accent is to directly talk about it. I do so by referencing how speaking several languages has given me insights into the nuances of different cultures. Busting the stereotype of accents is valuable and gives me a competitive advantage in a world where our clients are increasingly more multicultural.

At a job interview bust all stereotypes

Be ready to bust stereotypes that may play against you

Know your audience and prepare for them

Leverage any social media to learn about the interviewer that you will be meeting, the leadership of the company, and the history of the job (if it is public.) Align your examples in a way that is relatable to the person who is interviewing you; that references past experiences of that person as captured in social media, or that are relevant for their generational group, cultural background, and so on. For example, you should read about the communication styles of Baby Boomers, Gen X or Gen Y and be prepared to flex into the uniqueness of their respective styles. The caveat here is that a lot of what you read are generalizations. Don’t forget that each person is an individual. So stay alert to adapt as you deem necessary in case your interviewer does not meet the generalizations that you researched. Always avoid putting everyone in one box.

Promote your personal brand and competitive advantage, tastefully

At the interview you have to ‘sell a product’, and that product is YOU. You must sell your brand and competitive advantage. Be clear on how to communicate both in good taste, without turning people off.

Promoting your personal brand and competitive advantage plays a really big part in preparing for an interview. Could you speak to this?

Your competitive advantage is what makes you unique and the reason why someone should hire you over any other candidate. One of the tools that have been very useful to me is the StrengthFinder from Gallup. Take the test online and identify your strengths. They constitute your competitive advantage. Then consider how that strength can be value added for the job you are interviewing for.

Your brand is the image you want to project in a consistent basis. How do you want people to refer to you when they speak about you? Do they think of you as a trouble-shooter, as a thought partner, as indispensable? Then you need to make sure that you project that image. During the interview you can give clear examples that reinforce your personal brand, and how you want the interviewer to remember you. Ensure the communication of your brand is done with taste, which is what we call ‘healthy self-promotion.’ For example, if they are looking for a trouble-shooter, you may say, “My teams know me as being resourceful and good at trouble-shooting. Whenever there are issues around technology, people tend to reach out to me. I can usually help them resolve the situation, and if I can’t, I find the way to partner with them and sort things out.”

In preparing for an interview remember that you are your own agent.

If you don’t do some healthy self-promotion, no one will do it for you. Generally speaking, it is something hard to do for women and for certain cultures. But remember, potential employers are calling you in to talk about you, provide context, examples, and so on.

From a recruiter’s point of view, what is the one thing women do much more often than men at the interview stage which loses them opportunities to get hired?

In some cultures more than others, women can come across as tentative, apologetic, or not able to effectively balance assertiveness vs aggressiveness. And no one wants to hire an ‘insecure, aggressive’ person. This is an opportunity to bust that stereotype, by not coming across as such. Aim for balance, by reading the impact you are having on your audience and recalibrating accordingly.

Let’s talk about this. Can you share how women can come across as assertive and not be considered aggressive?

Unfortunately, being a woman, even if you are not being aggressive you may be stereotyped as aggressive if you speak up. But don’t panic, this label is also bustable. You just need to be aware of this fact and be intentional with your actions.

Understanding the fine line that distinguishes assertiveness and aggressiveness is a big step towards a successful job interview

Understanding the fine line that distinguishes assertiveness and aggressiveness is a big step towards a successful job interview

First know the difference between the two. Aggressiveness shows up declarative, individualistic, and close minded. In essence, it looks as though a person is pushing their perspective on others. Assertiveness shows up self-assured and confident, yet open and not threatening others’ points of views. In order to do that, you need to be very aware of how you convey your opinion, how it is received, and how people react to it.

I refer to it as you being ‘part of and apart’ from the conversation. That means that while you are confidently communicating your perspective, you are being part of the conversation. When you separate yourself from your perspective to see how others are receiving your words and how they are reacting to you, you take yourself apart. You distance yourself from your perspective and get closer to the perspective of others. So be prepared to share your experience, while reading your environment and checking frequently how you and your stories are been received. Be mindful that when it comes to communication your words only account for 7% of the message, 38% is your tone, while 55% is body language. Be in the look out for how you are received, as well as assess the tone and body language of your interviewer. For example, as Latinas, we can be passionate and extremely expressive, which can be misconstrued as being aggressive. If you are aware of that, it is easier to effectively manage a stereotype by articulating your intend, or what I call “flashing your intention.”

Here’s an example of how to flash your intentions to erase any gaps between them and the impact your communication produces:  “As a Latina I am very passionate about ‘this’, so if you see my expressions changing and my voice raising, is all good. This topic is very close to my heart…”   By articulating your intention, you are preparing the interviewer not to unfavorably jump too quickly to conclusions.

Although the interviewer asks about your past experience, they really want to assess your potential. How do you let them know what you’d be able to do for them and justify it with your past experience?

Organizations that recognize great talent and hire well, value experience yet look for potential. Interviewers look for both. When they choose to recommend you to the next step in the process, their credibility is on the line. Be a good partner from the beginning and support them by representing yourself accurately and demonstrating what you do, as well as what you can do in support of the shared goals. Start by preparing yourself for the process. Have your story organized around what you have done (experience) and what you can do (potential.)

An interviewer asks about your experience but is assessing your potential

To ace the job interview, make sure you address not only your experience but your potential

Demonstrate depth and breadth with examples.

For instance, Marisa, a woman I recently coached, had been part of different teams in her previous job. She had a specialized role in each team, but she understood well the roles of every person as well. The job Marisa applied for required for her to actually do the jobs of all the team members. So during the interview process she shared what she actually did (experience) and put the focus on discussing what she knew of the roles of others, which illustrated to the interviewer what she could do (potential.) She spoke with confidence and authenticity, and she got a job that had responsibilities beyond what she had done before. Due to her successful performance, just recently, her responsibilities have been expanded even further. The caveat here is that you must do your research and know all of those roles you’re speaking about to demonstrate your interest and knowledge on the subject. That’s how you show potential.

What’s the best way to prepare for an interview?

Prepare, prepare, prepare, prepare, and once you are ready, PREPARE!

How to dress

  • Dress on par with expectations, don’t be afraid to dress better than what the job requires.
  • Be conscious of body odors: have fresh breath; smell good but stay away from overwhelming perfumes.
  • Heels are ok, but don’t overdo it; do not wear shoes you will wear to a club.
  • Keep jewelry to basics, don’t have your attire be memorable or compete with what you bring to the organization.

How to present yourself

  • Be on time and mindful of time.
  • Show up organized, with your questions ready for them – have questions categorized on strategy, industry, people, job, structure, cultures, etc.
  • Be the expert of your subject, and show both experience and potential.
  • Read your audience and adjust accordingly to the clues you are picking up.
  • Share relevant names or contacts if they can strengthen your credibility, but don’t come across as a ‘name dropper.’

How to follow up

  • Send personalized, brief, thoughtful thank you notes, one or two days after your interview so you have time to organize your thoughts. 

How to ace the job interview with amazing research

What kind of research will help people ace the job interview?

In order to ace the job interview you must seek to understand the job description, know the industry, know the business, know about their competitors, and learn about the company’s culture.

You are the best at being you. You're powerful. You are strong. You can do anything. Never forget that!

Forget about trying to be someone or something you are not. Interviewers can easily detect your lack of authenticity. You are best at being you.

One of the many ways to learn about the culture is by researching their history, vision, mission, and values; all of this is available online. Leaders set the tone of a corporate culture. So learn about the organization’s leadership and any relevant information that can connect the interview conversation to them. This means, look up the leaders’ career path, where have they been before, what kind of culture those companies have.

If the leaders you are meeting with published something, read it. Then, only if appropriate, mention it to your interviewer and connect it to the job you are going after. This gives you an opportunity to relate to the company and to show you have done your homework, something all interviewers like to see.   In addition, seek to network with people that do the job you are interviewing for in other organizations and ask them questions to help you understand better what the job entails. This practice will help you show your potential by speaking about specifics and possibilities.

What other considerations are critical when preparing for the job interview?

Preparation is essential. Most interviews are behavioral interviews. What that means is that the interviewer is looking for specific examples. The best way to use your time with them effectively and memorably is to come with your examples ready and organized; put them in a CAR. That stands for C = Challenge (situation), A = Actions taken, and R = Results accomplished. And make sure that you stress your role and contributions in the examples.   The interviewer doesn’t necessary need the details, unless he or she asks for them. Be mindful of how you are sharing your CAR, communicate it as an engaging story with a clear ending. For example:

Question: “Give me an example of how you conducted a project you are proud of.

Answer:

  • Challenge: “We needed to establish a Corporate University.”
  • Actions: “It takes a village for this type of projects, so I used my relationship building skills (promoting your personal brand) to create strategic alliances with senior leadership, put in place business cases, put a team together, found a sponsor and budget, created the strategy, and led its implementation.”
  • Results: “Consequently, we created learning opportunities for all segments of the organization— senior leaders, managers, and individual contributors. These increased engagement scores as seen in the Associate Engagement Survey, as well as retention levels. My responsibility was to spearhead and lead the initiative.” (If you have numbers, offer them.)

In this example you have promoted your personal brand with confidence, and succinctly provided a description of the impact that you made in the organization. Have the interviewer ask for details if they need them. Emotions are contagious. Your preparation and ease on how you present yourself will fill you with confidence, which will in turn make the recruiter feel confident about you and more eager to promote you with the hiring manager. Ensure that before you are done, you clearly and succinctly ask about the next steps in the process. Then send a personalized, brief but substantial thank-you note. You have one to two days to do so. Take your time to be thoughtful.

Many people think that to ace the job interview they must only focus on the interviewer but there are many other people involved, right?

 The process starts with the receptionist at the door, and it includes everyone you cross paths with in the hallway, the parking lot attendant, and security personnel as well. Be poised through the entire process and promote your brand with good taste by leaving positive and memorable experiences of you. Be thoughtful when you speak with people or connect with them. All of these considerations are important because the hiring manager will ask others what they think of you. Even if they don’t ask others, and people’s experience of you were either good or bad – in a memorable way – they might volunteer their opinion of you. Once you pass the screening process with the hiring recruiter, find out with whom you are interviewing next. Be mindful that the interviewing process is not only with the people you are scheduled to meet with. In addition, we are talking about your personal brand, so make sure that after you are hired you keep that image of you to strengthen your reputation and grow in your career.

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly- By Robert F.Kennedy

Dare to take risks and you’ll see amazing rewards!

When speaking with the hiring manager or others, it is good practice to ask the interviewer how ‘this role’ (don’t say job, you don’t have the job yet) will interact and support their role. You will be showing partnership and collaboration.

When gathering your thoughts to write the thank you note. Make sure that you took good notes during the interviews on topics or conversations that you feel were important to the interviewer and relevant to the job. Go back home and do some research about those topics. If you find a brief yet relevant article on that particular subject, share the link and make the connection with its relevancy regarding the position in your thank you note. That will demonstrate thoughtfulness, partnership, and resourcefulness. It will show your interest in learning and demonstrate healthy levels of ambition; this combination is inspiring and welcomed.

If you need coaching to get you ready for the job interview, consider signing up for our RSM Step Up Program. We'll help you be you. Amplified!

Any final words?

You are the expert on YOU and know the value that you add to teams and organizations. They are looking to learn more about you, from you. So don’t be nervous, be confident.

Remember that while the interviewers are making their assessments, you too have the opportunity to assess if the organization is a good fit for you. Take every job interviewing opportunity seriously; the interviewing process is a job that you must excel at. If you are not selected, having had a good experience will further prepare you for the dream job that is awaiting you. So be positive and welcome each opportunity. This perspective should strengthen your confidence so you can be at your best.

You are the one who makes your future happen. Go for it! Best of luck!

You can connect with Lily Benjamin on LinkedIn

How Latina Speakers Are Born – The Mariela Dabbah story

I frequently get asked how I became a speaker. There aren’t that many Latina speakers out there so I understand that regardless of the topic of my presentation, my audience is curious.

A Latina speaker is born

I came to the U.S. 25 years ago with two suitcases, a Master’s Degree in Philosophy and Literature and a new husband. The first job I landed, as secretary at a bilingual book distributor, sealed my future. It was such a small business that I got to do everything and develop a whole array of skills. Four years later, when the owner decided to retire, my now ex-husband and I bought the company in monthly installments.

Mariela Dabbah Latina speaker presents at high school in Texas

Mariela Dabbah, Latina speaker, presents at high school in Texas

As we distributed books to schools we quickly realized immigrant parents needed to be made aware of the importance of being involved in their kids’ education. We developed a series of workshops to teach parents a wide range of topics from how the education system worked to how to encourage their children to do homework. And everything in between.

Observing how easily parents shared their struggles with me, I discovered that I had a knack for connecting with my audience. And the best part: I enjoyed speaking in public. And that’s how I became one of the few Latina speakers in the country.

Mariela Dabbah’s path to become one of a few Latina speakers was full of twists and turns

I spent several years presenting parent workshops across the country. My most defining moment as a speaker was a training I did for the Yup-ik community in Alaska. I did a ton of research before I ventured across the continent to a little community called Napaskiak whose inhabitants still survive on fishing and hunting.

Latina speaker elicits reaction from audience at Tesoro Corporation | Audience reaction to keynote presentation at Tesoro Corporation, event organized by NSHMBA

Latina speaker elicits reaction from audience at Tesoro Corporation

Librarians and parents flew in from all over a school district the size of the state of Ohio. They came to hear me, a Hispanic speaker who didn’t have any children, speak about parent involvement. I spoke in English with a Spanish accent and we had interpreters translate everything into Yup-ik. It was during that trip that I fully grasped that I was able to reach any audience regardless of culture, language or background.

And for the first time I also realized that I wanted to have a career as a speaker.

Mariela Dabbah: From writing to public speaking

The reality is that it’s not easy to make a living as a public speaker. Much less so if you are one of few Latina speakers with a narrow focus. So I needed to expand the topics I covered and gain credibility in the space. I began teaching a course at a local college on how to get a job in the U.S. and soon realized that, much like with education, there was a need out there for immigrants to connect the dots. To understand how the system worked.

Mariela Dabbah Latina Speaker

Mariela Dabbah Latina Speaker

It was easy to see that writing a book on the subject would give me the credibility I needed. I developed the right connections until I was offered the chance to write such book: How to Get a Job in the U.S., Guide for Latinos.

As soon as the book was published I started doing workshops and presentations at community colleges and libraries, which helped me shape and refine my public speaking skills. Simultaneously, I began contributing media segments on CNN, Univision, Telemundo and other media to continue raising my profile as a speaker.

Shortly after, my publisher asked me to write a book to help parents understand the education system and I wrote: How to Help Your Children Succeed in School. After that came, Help Your Children Succeed in High School and Go to College and Latinos in College: Your Guide to Success.

Mariela Dabbah motivational speaker presents to parents with McDonald RMHC HACER scholarship

Mariela Dabbah motivational speaker presents to parents with McDonald RMHC HACER scholarship

By then, I was such a familiar face in Hispanic media that McDonald’s hired me as their spokesperson for their RMHC /HACER scholarships. I traveled the country doing parent outreach presentations in Spanish and English in front of hundreds of parents. That work helped me raise my profile as a Latina speaker to the next level.

Read about how motivational speakers make money

Hispanic speaker who speaks to anyone who will listen

Every one of my books opened up an entire new world of possibilities. Each one provided an additional layer of understanding and empathy towards yet another audience. From jobseekers to immigrant parents trying to help their kids, to students as young as third grade all the way up to graduate school, to Latinos who worked in large corporations (The Latino Advantage in the Workplace) to women looking to succeed in their careers (Find Your Inner Red Shoes.)

Mariela Dabbah, Hispanic Motivational Speaker, signs books at Harvard Business Club

Mariela Dabbah, Hispanic Motivational Speaker, signs books at Harvard Business Club

Learning about the experiences of different people is the most fascinating aspect of my work. On the one hand it forces me to be a lifelong learner and on the other it enables me to easily connect the dots. Because I’ve researched and worked with people at such a wide range of life-stages I can see the larger picture.

Since the launch of the Red Shoe Movement most of my work as a speaker is in corporations around women’s career advancement and success. The topics include networking, branding, women empowerment, career advancement, negotiation, executive presence and work-life integration. And of course, I continue to speak to college students, professional organizations and parents.

Public speaking at Vital Voices El Salvador

Public speaking at Vital Voices El Salvador

Being a Hispanic Motivational speaker

My goal is to inspire my audience to fulfill their dreams. I do it by provoking “aha” moments and by sharing subtle insights, concrete tools and resources. I’ve never called myself a Hispanic motivational speaker even though I get excited when people feel motivated by my presentations. I believe that if you call yourself a Hispanic motivational speaker you set up the expectation that you will only get people hyped up, a feeling that tends to be short-lived. I prefer to offer actionable tools to help people move to the next level of their lives and careers.

Reaching all audiences as a motivational speaker

Reaching all audiences as a motivational speaker

Are you looking to become a public speaker?

If you’re reading this because you’re considering a career as a public speaker — or to be one of the few Latina speakers to boot— I have a few suggestions for you:

  • Think of an area you’re passionate about, like health, finances, love, or beauty.
  • Identify a few topics within the area that really interest you. In health, for example, it could be exercise, or natural foods.
  • Learn as much as you can about your chosen topics.
  • Decide how you will raise your profile and gain credibility as an expert in the topic. It could be by offering a podcast, webinars, publishing a book, writing for highly reputable media, etc.
  • Join your local Toastmasters to develop your skills.
Mariela Dabbah Keynote speaker at Hispanic Retail 360

Mariela Dabbah Keynote speaker at Hispanic Retail 360

  • Start small and practice. As you gain confidence you can venture in front of larger and larger groups. The biggest mistake I ever made was to do my first parent workshop in front of a large audience. I was new to public speaking and freaked out because I didn’t know how to speak while holding a microphone. I spoke so fast, people couldn’t understand a word I was saying so they got up and left. The more people I lost, the faster I spoke until there were only three or four parents left. I was devastated.
  • Talk to colleagues to get an idea of how much you should charge every step of the way. Latina speakers particularly need to consult with white men because they command the highest fees. Develop a group of trusted colleagues with whom you can share this sensitive information.
 Here's an article about How to become a motivational speaker that you might enjoy.

Granted, public speaking is not for the faint of heart. But if you have a powerful message to share and love to be up there connecting with an audience, it’s an adrenaline rush like few others. Prepare for it and you’ll do great!

 

2 Insights to Be Happier at Work

Considering that only 13% of the world’s workforce feels engaged, chances are you could use a boost to be happier at work.

In 2013, a Gallup global survey revealed that with only 29% of engaged employees, North America was the region with the highest employee satisfaction. That means that over 70% of people spend at least 8 hours a day feeling unhappy! If you are one of them, wouldn’t you love to learn how to get excited about going to work?

Celebrating career success

Celebrating career success

Factors that contribute to a feeling of disengagement

According to the American Employee Study (and my own experience), there are several main reasons why you may not be happy at work:

  • Not feeling heard. You don’t have an opportunity to speak your mind or, when you do, no action is taken.
  • Having no sense of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • Sensing that your bosses don’t know your career goals.
  • Not receiving training for your role.
  • Unfair compensation.
  • Not being recognized for your accomplishments.

How to get excited about going to work

If you checked off a few of the bullet points above, you’re not alone. Here are two amazingly simple things you can do to feel more engaged at work almost immediately.

  1. Align your career goals with your life purpose

Quite frequently, people have roles that don’t align with their life purpose, their interests or their passions. When this happens, it’s hard to stay engaged. Even when you receive a promotion, you don’t feel like putting in the effort for the higher position in an area of no interest to you. Say your passion is sales but you are in an administrative position. Even if they make you an executive administrator, you’re unlikely to feel more engaged.

You owe it to yourself to discover your interests and align them with your career goals

Look inside to figure out what interests you!

If you sense that this is the reason for your lack of engagement, take some time to find your passion, to figure out what your interests are, to discover what I call your inner red shoe/tie. That exploration may help you realize that you need a career track change, which may entail going back to school to get the right degree or certification.

Considering how much longer our productive life is, you can easily have several careers. Don’t let the lack of a degree stop you from feeling happier at work. There are tools out there, such as the Phoenix Career Guidance System, that can help you figure out what might be the perfect career track for you.

Once you have clarity around this, you’ll be better able to adjust your career path and, consequently, your daily work will be aligned with your interests.

  1. Take back control

There are times when you might feel you have very few options. For example, either you stay in a role that doesn’t fit your long-term goals, or you need to quit your job (something you can’t afford right now). This feeling of lack of control over your circumstances creates a lot of anxiety.

Not too long ago, a colleague of mine was about to resign from a job she loved after 10 wonderful years. She felt she had no other option. Why? A new boss had been hired to replace her admired retiring leader, and he wasn’t a good match for the position. He wasn’t interested in developing his team or in the initiatives they had been working on. He offered no recognition for a job well done.

Even when you think there are no options you can always make a decision to take back control

You can always make a different decision even when the options are limited.

Then my colleague decided that rather than accepting passively the new boss’s lack of leadership she would demonstrate her own leadership skills whenever she had the chance. She started organizing meetings with her team rather than expecting the boss to do so. She developed several new strategic partnerships for her company and became a mentor for a few junior colleagues. As a result, she re-engaged and was happy to go to work again.

So keep in mind that even in the face of limited options, you frequently have the ability to make a decision that enables you to take back control of your circumstances. As I mentioned above, that decision may involve furthering your education so that you are free to pursue a position where you are happier. It’s worth remembering that whenever you feel in control, you feel more engaged, and therefore more fulfilled at work.

You deserve to be happy. Explore your passions

There’s nothing like exploring what you love to be happier at work

Spending as much time as we do at work, we owe it to ourselves to be happy. Don’t let one more day go by without reviewing your situation and putting into practice these two suggestions. They will help you feel more engaged at work sooner than you think.

 

I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Going back to school – A Balancing Act!

If you’re an adult going back to school, achieving any sort of work-life integration may sound like an uphill battle. But trust me, any temporary adjustment is worth the expanded opportunities you will have.

Most women (and some men) have been conditioned to think that we should strive to find a perfect balance between our work and personal lives. Well, spoiler alert, that’s a myth! It’s time we admit that a perfect balance is an illusion. This is never truer than when you have a job, a family and are going back to school.

Going back to school as an adult is always a balancing act. But it's well worth it!

Going back to school as an adult is always a balancing act. But it’s well worth it!

The moment you give up hope of an unrealistically perfect work-life balance you can create opportunities to integrate the four key aspects of your life work, family, community, self with less stress. The first principle you must accept is that you can’t do everything at the same time. You need to set priorities and understand that they will change at the different stages of your life, throughout the year and even day to day. Your job is to start the day by looking at what is the most important thing that day and make it your priority, adjusting the other areas accordingly.

Going back to school as an adult: Work

Technology has made it easier to be on 24/7 and harder to not be tempted to answer emails during your child’s soccer game. Start by setting some boundaries for yourself. Turn off your electronics when you’re with the family or when you are studying, and establish specific times to check for urgent messages.

You're never too old to go back to school as an adult. Never forget that!

You’re never too old to go back to school as an adult. Never forget that!

Practice bartering with your boss, colleagues and family. If you need to leave right at 5:00 every evening, offer to connect after your kids are asleep so you can be part of an important project. If you need your husband to cook every night for a week in order to finish a paper, offer to prepare the snacks for the team he coaches on weekends. And so on. Show flexibility and creativity and you’ll think of many potential bartering opportunities.

Going Back to School As an Adult: Family

As you learn to prioritize and re-prioritize constantly, you will also learn to commit time and energy to what’s most important at any given moment. Being present, and always valuing quality over quantity, is the best recipe to get rid of the guilt many parents feel.

Practice my version of “crowdsourcing” by leveraging the power of several people in a similar situation to make an unaffordable convenience, affordable. For example: Agree with four moms of your kids’ schoolmates that each of you will pay a babysitter for all five kids once a week. You’ll all take turns hosting the group at home after school. That way, you’ll not only pay a fifth of the cost for babysitting, but you’ll only have to get home early once a week. You can do the same with tutors!

Going Back to School As an Adult: Community

We feel better when we contribute to something larger than ourselves. However, when your time is constrained by work, family and going back to school, this is an area that you may want to consider putting on the back burner for a while. Unless you can be part of a community effort undertaken by your employer, it may be wise to step aside until you finish your studies.

Forget trying to reach the perfect work-life balance. It doesn't exist! And much less when you go back to school as an adult. Read this article to discover more about it!

Forget trying to reach the perfect work-life balance. It doesn’t exist! And much less when you go back to school as an adult.

Going Back to School As an Adult: Self

As an adult, one of the best things you can do to honor yourself and your dreams is to pursue a higher education degree. So if that’s what you’re doing, you may have to temporarily forgo the Friday happy hour with your co-workers in order to spend that quality time with your family. But don’t forget that you still need to take time to nurture yourself: Take a walk, have a cup of coffee with a good friend, listen to your favorite music, anything that enables you to decompress regularly.

Going Back to School As an Adult: As you learn to prioritize you learn to invest time and energy in what's important at this moment

Learning to prioritize everyday helps with work-life integration during this challenging time!

These four aspects of your life are all part of who you are. It’s unrealistic to think a perfect balance is possible. But you can easily integrate them and live a happy life if you are willing to review your priorities every day and put your energy where it belongs.

Lastly, keep in mind that one of the best ways to achieve work-life integration is to learn to say no to things that are not your number one priority in the short and long term.

 

I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.