So, you quit your job before finding a new one. Now what?

So, you quit your job before finding a new one. Now what?

What do you do when you quit your job without another lined up?

I don’t mean a reckless, spur of the moment hissy fit that ends in you walking off the job to never return. Although, that could describe your situation. If so, no judgement.

What I’m referring to is the type of resignation that you mulled over for months, hoping to find a replacement job, until you couldn’t manage to delay the inevitable any longer.

What would you do if you found yourself with no job to go to when you wake up in the morning? How would you spend your time?

I never thought I would have to answer these questions. I didn’t think I would be the type of person to quit my job before finding a new job. I became that person the moment I decided I wanted something more fulfilling yet wasn’t sure what that looked like.

I had no plan. No particular prospects in mind. All I had was a vision, deep-set desires and emergency savings to live off as I figured out what to do with my life.

What I had previously thought would be an anxiety-inducing decision, ended up being the most freeing decision I have ever made in my career!

Now, I’m not writing this to encourage you to quit your 9 to 5 this minute and run off with the gypsies to live a life of no restrictions. If you do, I wish you all the best and yet can’t say I condone the pick-pocketing ways of the typical gypsy!

If leaving your job is something you’ve been considering for a while but put off due to fear of the unknown or, you’re currently without work, I’m writing this for you.

In the current uncertainty of a global pandemic, quitting your job without a plan may not be the wisest decision. If your finances are accented with a question mark or you have dependants who rely on you for provision, you may want to rethink that decision.

However, this pandemic won’t last forever. When it does, will that desire still be there?

 

Blog graphic for Pinterest

 

The benefits of no back-up plan

Making a shift in your career isn’t easy. It’s especially difficult to move on from a job you’ve had for many years. Over the years, you grow comfortable and familiar. Breaking up with “comfortable” and “familiar” is a tough task. Perhaps the “it’s not you, it’s me” line would work for this break-up!

All jokes aside, kudos to the people who know exactly what they want from their career and make it happen. They move on from one job to another with minimal hiccups and little time in between.

That wasn’t me. After leaving my secure job of 7.5 years, I needed some space and time. Can you relate?

The benefit of having no back-up plan, no “safe” option, is that it gives you space. It allows you to dream and remove the limits from your thinking. You’re not constrained to thinking about your future at the end of the workday or on the weekend, with the issues at work still weighing on your mind.

This career gap is an opportunity to learn more about yourself, what you want and what you don’t want. Grab a journal and take note of what stirs you, what motivates you. This could give you an indication of the direction in which you’re heading.

 

Use this time wisely

I’ll be honest with you, I spent most of my first few weeks of freedom napping, snacking and binge-watching Netflix! I quickly realised that it would soon become a habit if I wasn’t intentional about how to spend my days during this transition.

So, how do you ensure you’re spending your time wisely during a career transition? Do at least one of these 5 activities each day to remedy the guilt that comes with time-wasting.

 

1. Rest

There’s no better time to get much needed rest than now! Make the most of this additional time you have on your hands to rest properly and reset for what lies ahead.

When I say rest, I don’t mean just napping on the sofa (although a good power nap can be life-changing!). Try to engage in other activities that fill your tank such as reading a book, going for a walk or relaxing by the pool.

 

2. Connect with loved ones

You can now say “let’s catch up soon” and know it will happen! No more playing Tetris between calendars, struggling to find a mutually beneficial time for a coffee catch up with your shift worker friend.

I took this up avidly during my career transition and became quite the Lady of Leisure! Enjoy socialising while you can.

 

3. Brainstorm the day ahead

If you’re someone who often ends up being idle for lack of a plan, develop a go-to list of things to do when you’re bored. This list may include things like spring cleaning, life admin, gardening, creating something new or volunteering at a local charity.

Use this time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do more of but never seemed to have the time.

 

4. Refresh your resume

If you’re anything like me, you probably haven’t updated your resume in years, letting it collect dust like an old trophy on a shelf reminding you of your glory days. Well, pick up that trophy and dust it off my friend!

Your resume is your ticket back into the world of employment, so get it ready for when you’re ready. Start by giving it a new look. If your resume looks aesthetically pleasing, you’re more likely to want to update its contents. For new and fresh designs, try Canva, a design tool which includes a range of professional resume templates.

This is also the perfect opportunity to reflect on your most recent employment as you summarise your experiences and achievements in writing. What did you value most from this experience? What key skills did you learn? How did you grow?

 

5. Don’t stop networking

Networking isn’t only for the employed. In my opinion, it’s probably more beneficial for the unemployed! Maintaining your connections and continuing to build these relationships even after leaving your job, will help you eventually ease your way back into the workforce.

Even if you intend to move on to a completely unrelated role or start your own business, you never know what seeds you have planted by having conversations with people in your network.

 

Summary Infographic for Social Sharing

A career transition without known next steps can be scary and full of uncertainty. Though you may not have to answer to anyone, there is one big question worth answering for yourself – what do you want your life to look like?

Once you can answer that question, even at a high level, you’ll have a better idea of the actions you can take today to move toward that life.

Are you or have you been in a career transition without a plan? How did you spend that time? Leave a comment and please share with your social networks!

 

5 Practical Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Burnout

5 Practical Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Burnout

I thought I could do it all. I couldn’t. 

I thought I was invincible. I wasn’t. 

It’s a mindset that all too many of us get caught up in. We watch others experience emotional and mental breakdown and think we’re the exception. So, we take on another commitment, knowing that we’re already at full capacity.  

We tell ourselves “this is an opportunity I can’t say no too, I’ll make time for it!” Sound familiar? 

You might work in an environment where admitting your weaknesses means giving power to someone else. Or maybe pushing back when you know you can’t take on any more is interpreted as though you aren’t capable enough. 

As much as it’s hard to admit, no person is immune from stress and its harmful impacts on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. 

 

Crippling consequences

Burnout is real. It’s not a cop-out or an excuse used to pass up responsibilities. Just ask that colleague who couldn’t get out of bed for weeks for fear of not living up to the expectations of the day ahead. Or that friend who ended up in hospital after being crippled with stress-induced anxiety.  

I wish I had asked. I wish I had taken the measures to prevent burnout from becoming a personal anecdote. I thought I had but it was too little too late. I was working late nights, mentoring a university student, volunteering in two departments at church, volunteering on an industry committee and actively seeking opportunities in not-for-profit.  

Years of overextending myself caught up with me after stepping away from a stressful environment. I slept through the weeks to follow thinking that would be enough. It wasn’t. 

A few months later, burnout showed up at my front door in the form of a chronic illness commonly known to be triggered by stress (plus other factors). I didn’t see THAT coming! 

A thief in the night

Burnout sneaks in like a thief in the night. It can be concealed by “coping strategies” you convince yourself are enough, ignoring the fact that you’re running at over capacity. The warning signs are there but you fail to see them or even worse, normalise them as behaviours that come with a busy life. 

How can we avoid burnout at work and in life? It starts with recognising the warning signs for what they are – bright orange lights flashing for you to slow down! 

Common warning signs of being overloaded might include: 

  • You repeatedly double book (or even triple) book yourself 
  • You find it difficult to be present in the moment, always thinking of the mountain of things you need to do 
  • You stop enjoying the things you once loved to do 
  • You tend to frequently skip meals
  • No matter how much sleep you get, you constantly feel fatigued 
  • You don’t have enough time in the day to get your recommended 6-8 hours of sleep each night 
  • You plan days off but keep overriding them with other commitments 

Burnout can present itself in a variety of ways and the list above is by no means an exhaustive list. If you identify with any of the above warning signs, start using these simple strategies today to reduce your risk of experiencing the unbearable weight of burnout. 

 

How to avoid burnout_blog graphic for Pinterest

 

How to avoid burnout

It’s important to note that even though many of us are now working from home, burnout is still possible. As the lines between work and play become more blurred, it’s crucial now more than ever to put practices in place to avoid burnout while working from home.

1. Set clear boundaries and communicate them 

In all areas of life, especially work, boundaries are your best friend. Start by defining the boundaries needed for your personal health and well-being. Is it being uncontactable outside of work hours? Not working on weekends? Only going to one after-hours work event per week? 

Within reason, communicate these boundaries with the people you work with. This lessens the awkwardness of saying no to someone, because you’ve already expressed your personal boundaries to them. You can’t argue with that! 

 

2. Show yourself grace and compassion 

Be kind to yourself. There’s no shame in passing on a networking event to go home early and have a bath or watch your favourite movie. Listen to your body and give it what it needs. If it’s crying out for rest, give it rest. There will always be another networking event but there’s only one you. 

 

3. Ask for help 

It doesn’t matter who you are, no one is completely self-sufficient! Asking for help might be a blow to your ego but what’s more valuable, your ego or your time? Two are better than one. Cut down the time it takes you to do a task by reaching out to a colleague or friend for help.  

 

4. Schedule non-negotiable rest days ahead of time 

This one became a game-changer for me. When planning the month ahead, block out a rest day that is absolutely non-negotiable. Make sure this day appears as otherwise occupied in all your calendars – personal, work, shared.  

When you schedule rest days ahead of time rather than on a whim, you’ll find it a lot easier to follow through. My “Saturdays of Solitude” during my busiest seasons were treated as almost sacred! 

 

5. Don’t be afraid to say “no” 

We’re told that if we want to get ahead in life, we need to say “yes” to the opportunities that come our way, to expand our horizons. What they don’t tell us, is that saying “yes” to every opportunity becomes a liability to our health.  

So, instead of saying “yes” to everything, learn to say “no” every now and then. Figure out what your “yeses” are (the things that are aligned with your personal goals) and your “no’s” will be a lot easier. 

 

How to avoid burnout_Infographic for social sharing

Have you personally experienced burnout before? If so, how did you recover from your burnout and what strategies do you use today to prevent burnout? Leave a comment and share your wisdom! 

If you found these tips helpful, please spread the love and share with your social networks! 

How To Keep Your Work Emails Professional

How To Keep Your Work Emails Professional

If you’ve been working in any type of office environment or have been a business owner for any number of years, it’s likely that you’ve sent thousands of work emails or business emails in your lifetime.

In fact, some say that the average worker sends around 40 emails per day! In my opinion, that’s overkill but certainly not unbelievable. In an effort to CYA (you can look up the acronym) and keep a paper trail in this sue-or-be-sued world, emails have become a necessary evil in the average work day. So we may as well get our work email etiquette right.

After sending and receiving countless emails as a consultant in professional services (where CYA is crucial to survival!), I can confidently say I’m now well versed in proper work email etiquette. Now, I don’t fall for the “knowledge is power” mantra, so I’m going to share my knowledge with you today and save us all the pain of receiving emails that make us what to hit “delete” before even reading the second line!

From my experience, I’ve encountered five no no’s that people (including myself) make in writing professional emails at work and learned some effective strategies to keep your email etiquette on point:

#1: Not including a greeting

Or worse yet, including a greeting and leaving off the receiver’s name!

I’ve received business emails from people opening with a “Hi” and then they get straight to business. You know I have a name, right? It’s even in my email address if you need a clue! I’ll admit, it creates a degree of distance in my language in future emails to that person.

Try this instead:

Open the email with both a greeting and the name of the person receiving the email. Including the recipient’s name personalises the email and makes them feel like they’re being seen. They’re also more likely to give you a favourable response.

I get that there are times where email correspondence with a colleague continues to the point where it resembles a text message trail. No judgement at all. At least make the effort to include a greeting and name in the first email and the subsequent 1-2 replies. It only takes an extra 2 seconds, you can do it.

#2: Beginning the email with “Hey guys” or “Hey girls”

This may fly in a less corporate work environment but please, before you send a work email with this greeting, consider your audience.

Maybe there is one male among 10 females receiving the email. In that case, “hey girls” may not be so appropriate. Trust me, I’ve seen this done before, multiple times! Or perhaps the 50 year old mother of adult children on the other end of your email doesn’t appreciate being called a “girl” when in fact, she’s a grown woman.

Try this instead:

Use a collective gender-neutral greeting. If you’re sending the email to 3 or less people, include each of their emails, make them feel valued. If you’re sending to more than 3 people, here are some other greeting options:

  • “Hi team”
  • “Hi all”
  • “Hi everyone”
  • “Good morning/afternoon/evening”

You could even open with a creative or witty greeting to catch their attention, if you’re that way inclined.

 

#3: Writing “URGENT” in the subject line

There’s nothing that deters me more from opening a work email than when I see the word “urgent” in all upper case letters. Call it cheeky, but my immediate inclination is to make them sweat and keep the person waiting just a little bit longer before they receive a response from me.

Including “urgent” in the subject line sends the message that your needs take priority over that of the person on the other end of your email. That’s not likely to go over well.

Try this instead:

If the person you’re emailing is a mere few feet away, get up and walk over to speak to them in person. You can easily convey the urgency of the matter through conversation. Plus, the chances of them actioning your request are higher if you personally deliver that request.

Give them a call if walking over to their desk is not an option. Similar to speaking in person, this is likely to get you better results than an email subject line beginning with “urgent”

If the above two approaches are not an option for you, then try marking the email as urgent using the email tools available rather than actually writing the word itself. This indicates the urgency of the matter within the email, without you having to explicitly say it.

#4: Sending a detailed email without subheadings or not enough line spacing

My body temperature is rising and an overwhelming feeling washed over me just thinking about it! Chances are, the person on the other end of your email also feels this way. If you want your business email to actually be read…

Try this instead:

Any designer would agree with me in saying that white space is your friend. So are bold (or underlined) sub-headings! Setting out an email packed with information in sections makes it easier for the reader to digest it bit by bit. Insert a line space between each key point and you’ve got yourself an email that is (almost) guaranteed to be read.

Think of your email as a pizza. Who would want to tackle an entire pizza as a single chunk of flat bread? I sure wouldn’t! But when I see that delicious, cheesy, carbohydrate-rich goodness (before my dairy & gluten free life) cut up in easy to bite slices, I’m ready to eat it all down to the very last bite.

You know what would make your email even better than sub-headings and line spacing? Shortening it. Before sending, read over the email. Or better yet, ask a colleague to proofread it. Are there any sentences which don’t add value? Maybe what is currently an entire paragraph could be said in one sentence. Trust me, the other person will thank you for it.

And, if you’re sending a company-wide email and feel a little intimidated by the task in front of you, not to worry. Send me a note so we can chat about how I can help you write that all important business email.

#5: Treating your email correspondence like text messages

Contrary to the belief that using shortened words and slang equals “staying relevant”, work emails are not the place for them. No matter how much actual substance your email contains, using words like “ur” or “brb” can devalue your message as it comes across as unprofessional.

Try this instead:

To keep your business email professional, use complete words, words that one will find in the Oxford Dictionary. This is especially important when emailing clients! Keep the shortened words and slang to text messages with friends and instant messaging with colleagues.

There you have it. With your now heightened awareness of these 5 “no no’s” and ways to avoid them, your work emails are sure to be more tolerable in the future! If you’ve skipped the content and scrolled to the bottom of the page for a summary – hello, your summary awaits below (you can Pin it for later):

Infographic summarising blog post

Have you found yourself doing any of these 5 things when writing emails? Maybe you think I’m being pedantic. Let me know by leaving a comment.

Don’t forget to share with your social networks too!

How To Conquer Online Networking As An Introvert

How To Conquer Online Networking As An Introvert

When you hear the word “networking” what emotions does it provoke? Anxiety? Dread? Nervousness? If you’re an extrovert or even just an all-round “people person”, it could evoke a sense of thrill or excitement at the thought of meeting someone new. Someone who previously wasn’t a part of your world. The endless possibilities that may arise stirs up within you the urge to make the first introduction.

Well, that’s not me. As a writer, I may have the ability to enter the mind of an extrovert and express their emotions through an accurate choice of words, but, networking? Sweat beads form along my brow line and upper lip merely at the thought of it!

 

A necessary evil

Working in professional services as a consultant, there was no escaping the activity of networking. It was a necessary evil to perform my role effectively.

Perhaps you can relate? Maybe you have a list of strategies tucked into your back pocket that you pull out the moment you’re about to step into a crowded room. You’ve mastered that self-talk to convince yourself the benefits outweigh the discomfort you experience. At least for the next few hours or so.

 

The new world

Then came the Covid-19 global pandemic and the concept of networking was turned on its head. You were just getting good at in-person networking, now you have to figure out how to network online?! From social media algorithms to LinkedIn stories and Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting, the inevitability of change only seems to push us to keep learning and growing.

If you’re an introvert (like me), look at it as an opportunity. For now, your fidgeting fingers and buckling knees will go unnoticed by the person you’re interacting with. Win! Body language becomes less of an issue and words and tone become the focus. Finally, things you’re good at!

While online networking may be familiar to social media influencers, it’s unfamiliar territory to those of use who are used to conducting our business in a physical environment. So, how do we conquer networking online, especially for us introverts who hold negative associations with the activity?

How to network online_blog graphic for Pinterest

 

How to network online

1. Find your kindred spirits

If the fear of not knowing what to say or saying the wrong thing to the person on the other side of the screen keeps you up at night, start by finding kindred spirits. Find like-minded people who have similar interests as you and you’ll have much to talk about!

This builds your confidence to eventually reach out to others who may be out of your comfort zone. That’s where you discover the unexpected opportunities.

 

2. Build over time

I could think of nothing worse than small talk. Talking about the weather, what I did on the weekend, the latest news story – not my idea of an enjoyable conversation. But when the conversation begins to venture into something deeper, I’m all in! Yes, I’m that person who will willingly share what drives me and gives me a sense of purpose with someone I just met. Or didn’t you notice by the name I gave my business?

What I’m saying is, it’s okay to prioritise making a meaningful connection with one person over a surface level connection with ten people. Online networking shouldn’t be merely a numbers game. Build the relationship over time and see where it takes you.

 

3. Be the first

Step out of your comfort zone and start a new conversation. Be the first to reach out to the other person. This positions you to steer the conversation in a direction you’re comfortable with.

In networking, there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a conversation about your most hated topic (politics?!). Don’t get yourself trapped inside that jail cell waiting for the guard to let you out, though it might not be your style, lead the conversation and create a positive networking experience.

 

4. Ask questions

Season the conversation by asking the other person questions about them. It tastes better in their mouth. Keep the focus on them and watch their face light up.

People generally love talking about themselves. It also takes the pressure off you having to think about what to say next or ways to keep the conversation interesting. You showing interest is all it takes.

 

5. Actually listen

Listening is like a superpower for introverts. Naturally, we tend to be better at active listening, that is, giving our full attention to the person speaking. Maybe it’s because we’re more comfortable when we’re not the one speaking.

Whatever the reason, this is a priceless skill in a world where everyone wants their voice heard but no one wants to listen. Use your superpower and build valuable connections!

How to network online_Infographic for social sharing

That’s it. Five super easy ways to conquer online networking, written by an introvert to introverts. Not saying if you’re an extrovert, that you didn’t get a thing or two out of reading. I hope you did. I know I still have a lot to learn about online networking and I’m ready to take on the challenge!

If you made it this far through the post, why not take another minute to leave a comment and let me in on your networking insights. Do you have any other tips or strategies you can share for how to network online successfully?