Tag Archives: career

Procrastination: Tips to Stop Waiting and Start Doing!

Infinity time spiral 15267876“I”ll do it later.” – the anthem of the procrastinator. Too often later never comes around or we wait so long that we have to scramble to get things done. Procrastination can be the monkey on your back that you feel you just can’t shake off. The best thing to do is to understand why you are procrastinating and work from there.

There can be numerous reasons for procrastination. One may feel as though they do not have the skills or tools needed to complete the task, so it is put off. The task could also seem unimportant, thus lacking the motivational qualities for you to start working on it. Another common reason for procrastination is a fear of the outcome. You may have been in the same situation before and things turned out poorly, so, you are avoiding the outcome by avoiding the task. On the other hand, it may be that you have no clue what the end result will be, thus you are steering away from the potentially perilous unknown. What is important here is to note that the act of procrastination varies between tasks and people. We don’t procrastinate on everything and we don’t always procrastinate on the same thing in the same way. So how can you decrease the possibility of procrastination? Know yourself.

One of the best things to do is to NOT label yourself a procrastinator. We tend to act in self-confirming ways. So if you think you’re a procrastinator, you will procrastinate. The second thing to do is to recognize why you are procrastinating and correct the issue. If you think the task is too boring, find meaning in it. Yes, the 12 page essay on cyberbullying may be tedious, but consider all of the information you will gain that will help you keep your future children protected from it. If you feel like you are lacking a skill, see this as an alarm to spring into action and find the proper resources to solve that issue.

By changing your perspective of procrastination so that it is an alert rather that a barrier, you can change your slacker ways into proactive ones.

Achieve Your Goals! Tips for Goal Setting

ladder 1When there is a big enough discrepancy between what a person is and what a person wants to be, we tend to set goals in order to get to that ideal state. Unfortunately, we often don’t know where to start or how to go about setting up a plan that will lead us to attaining those goals.  Here are a few things to think about when goal setting.

We need to consider the level of difficulty and the specificity of our goals.  The difficulty of a goal is what energizes our behaviour. We need to make sure that our goals are difficult enough that we know it will make us exert effort, otherwise, let the procrastination begin.  Nothing worth doing is easy. We also need to be specific in terms of what we have to do and how we will do it. This directs our behaviour and decreases ambiguity. If we know exactly what we have to do, we are more likely to do it because it removes any guessing; like following a recipe.

And like a recipe, we need to follow small steps in order to get to the desired result. Set small goals that will help you get to your final goal. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

We need to remember that this is a dynamic process. Too often we sit down, create a plan, and when things don’t go as we expected, we see it as a failure. This is not the case! Things happen and we have to adjust our plans accordingly, rather than giving up.

Feedback! It is essential to document your actions in order to make goal setting effective.  You can use the record to make sure you are keeping on track. Also, by having something to look at to see your progress, you create emotional importance for yourself in relation to your goals.  If your performance is greater or at par with what you expected, it creates a sense of satisfaction which can lead to you creating new, more difficult goals. If your performance is less than expected, it can motivate you to increase your effort in order for you to reach your goal.

Setting goals is something we all do, but we don’t all do well. By creating small, specific and difficult goals, we can create a ladder that will raise us up to where we want to be. And by taking note of out progress we can properly adjust our plan to make sure we achieve our goal.

Workplace Confict II: Addressing the Problem

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This article is the second in our workplace conflict series. It outlines effective assertion skills that you can use to address problematic behaviour by co-workers, which can be detrimental to your mental and emotional health, and interfere with your ability to do your job. The previous article can help you determine whether asserting yourself is appropriate in a given situation.

There are three rules of thumb to keep in mind when crafting an effective assertion. The first is clarity. Conflict thrives on misunderstanding. Therefore, stick to the situation in question, and do not embellish the details! Give the other person as close of a play-by-play of the situation as possible to minimize room for interpretation.

Next comes the “I statement”. Notice the difference between “when you interrupted me I felt irritated” and “it was very rude of you to interrupt me”. You are the sole expert on your feelings, but it’s very difficult to accurately pinpoint where another person is coming from. So keep your comments about you to ensure that your assertion doesn’t inadvertently put the other person on the defensive.

Thirdly, you want the other person to know how their behaviour has impacted you. This shows them that there are reasonable grounds for your response, and reminds them that there are consequences to their actions. Drawing on the above example, our complete assertion looks like this “when you interrupted me I felt irritated because I didn’t have an opportunity to get my main point across.”

The example we’re using here is a pretty basic one. If you’re dealing with more complex situations, it’s a good idea to also approach the conversation equipped with a possible solution. But just as you are hoping the other person will be open to seeing the situation from your point of view, be prepared to do the same for them if they come up with an alternative solution that seems like a step in the right direction. That said, know what you are and are not willing to compromise. And if an effective solution can’t be reached, don’t be afraid to let the other person know that you will be addressing the matter with your manager.

Follow these easy steps and you’ll be handling workplace conflict like a pro in no time!

By: Kelly Pritchard

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Workplace Conflict I: Assessing the Problem

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At one point or another we all encounter difficult relationships on the job. Taking a proactive approach to on-the-job conflict is essential to our emotional and mental health, in addition to our performance. Due to modern technology and around the clock work demands, today’s workplaces are already stressful enough without having to deal with uninvited conflict. The good news is, there are easy steps anyone can take to nip workplace conflict in the bud.

The number one thing to remember when a co-worker is getting under your skin is not to take it personally. How people show up in one area of their life is usually how they show up in all areas of their life – so you can bet you are not the first to encounter the behaviour in question. By not making the behaviour about you, you will be in a much more balanced state to address the situation than if you were to interpret it as a personal insult.

Next it’s important to keep things in perspective. Is this the first time the person has done something like this? Are one or both of you having a particularly stressful day? Is your preferred outcome a “need-to-have” or is it more of a “nice-to-have”? Or, on the flip side of the equation, is this behaviour that you have already addressed repeatedly, and shows no signs of going away? Egos are at their strongest in the workplace, so it can be difficult not to rush in to correct a perceived injustice. However, the more we can hold off on reacting, the more we can prevent ourselves from getting “hooked” into responding in kind, and saying or doing something we may regret later.

If you’re not sure whether a particular situation requires you to take action, then give yourself some time to reflect on it. Find a way to clear your head – exercise, meditate, or if all else fails, sleep on it. They key is to approach the situation from a balanced frame of mind. And then trust your instincts to point you in the right direction. If you’re still not sure about what to do, then talk to a trusted mentor. And always remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So as hard as it may seem, trust that there is a benefit to taking the time to contemplate your best course of action.

If you are confident that intervention on your part is required, then you’ll likely want to assert yourself. Stay tuned for the next installment in our workplace conflict series, which provides easy tips for how to confront co-workers while maintaining amicable professional relationships.

By: Kelly Pritchard

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How to Make a GREAT First Impression

Handshake“First impressions are everything!”

We’ve all heard this, and although it may be a bit of an exaggeration, it does hit the point that first impressions have a lasting effect on relationships, regardless of their type. We tend to make up our mind about someone within the first 15 seconds of meeting them, meaning how we initially present ourselves can be crucial. Here are a few tips to keep in mind, whether you’re going on a first date or a job interview.

Be aware of yourself.

In first meetings our anxiety can to take over and we can lose ourselves, sometimes not even remembering what we said. Stop and take a breath. Be aware of your body and speech. Make sure you’re sitting up straight and avoid jittering. Also, be sure you’re not talking too fast. Be calm and make eye contact, both of which will radiate confidence.

Don’t forget to ask questions. People love talking about themselves, but remember that this is an opportunity to not only to present yourself, but also to get to know someone else. If at a job interview, make sure you have read up on the company, and have a couple questions ready. Being inquisitive will show initiative.

Be your best self.

A first encounter is an opportunity to put your best self forward and show off what you are, rather than lying or covering up what you’re not. It is all about putting your best foot forward. This is where dressing well plays a role. Dress for the job you want. If you think you shouldn’t wear it, you probably shouldn’t. Also, keep in mind that mood is temporary. So if you are in a bad one, it would be best to set it aside and allow for your best self to shine through!

Remember to relax.

Who knows you better than you? A positive first impression is perfectly attainable if you remember that there is no need to be nervous! At the end of the day you are presenting yourself and you are an expert on you. And if you can’t quiet the butterflies, use them! They just mean that you care about the result, which shows you that you’re in the right place. Just prepare the main points you would like to talk about, and stay cool, calm and collected. If you do feel like you may have been less of yourself, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it! We all have off days, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your first impression seems to be a bit out of your norm.

First impressions are important, but they are not everything.

How to Land Your “Dream Job!”

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 1.28.34 PMBy: Anna Weigt-Bienzle

Finding a job you love is equally as important as finding the right place to live or a partner you want to be with.

You and your job will spend over 8 hours a day together, sometimes up to seven days a week, which is why finding the perfect fit is essential! In order to do that, we’ve outlined four things you need to keep in mind when trying to land your dream job.

Define What You Want and Who You Are:

Before you begin the interview process, it’s important to consider what it is you want from your job. Is culture important to you? Would you like to work with a team as oppose to on your own? What are you expecting when it comes to work-life balance, bonus structure and access to upper management? Being able to articulate what you’re looking or need in order to succeed, from an employer, will save both of you time and energy.

Social Media Matters!:

Building your brand on social media, whether it’s on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+ is important no matter what field you’re going into. Over 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talented candidates and most employers will take the time to examine at least one of your social channels. Both Google+ and Twitter are great ways to develop your professional voice, while incorporating bits and pieces and of your personality. You can start by sharing industry news you’re actually passionate about or information related to your hobbies.

Find Ways to Stand Out:

You are one of millions looking for a job, and your average resume and cover letter aren’t going to cut it anymore. Creativity and going the extra mile are key. Take the time to research the company you’re applying to and the person you’re reaching out to. Everyone has a talent that’s unique to them. It’s your job to make sure you highlight yours in a way that will get noticed.

Flexibility:

Most importantly, you have to remember to be flexible. Your dream job may not be the position you’re in today. In fact, it may not even exist yet. You need to be open-minded and learn to accept what comes. Quick learners with relevant experience and the ability to adapt are going to be the most sought after candidates.

Anna Weigt-BienzleAnna Weigt-Bienzle is a bilingual consultant at a public relations and social media agency in downtown Toronto. Outside of the office, she is known for her love of fashion & pop culture and can often be found practicing at various yoga studios throughout the city.

How to Find Direction When You’re Unhappy at Work

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Most of us spend a significant portion of our days at work so it’s no surprise that a lot of people also find themselves dissatisfied, bored, or in the worst cases, miserable at work.  Of course, there are those who are fortunate to truly love what they do and enjoy every second of it.  While quitting and finding something new is the easiest way to deal with an unpleasant work situation, it’s also not always the most rational choice.

If you find yourself unhappy in the workplace and aren’t sure what to do – here are a few tips to help you better understand what it is that’s bothering you and how to cope with your discontent.

Determine Why you are Unhappy

First and foremost, it’s important to understand what about the job is hard to cope with.  Sometimes it is as clear as a difficult boss, long hours, or unchallenging work.  However, it becomes more complicated if it feels like perhaps you are in the wrong field.  Assess your values when it comes to work and whether or not they are being met in your current position. It’s also important to figure out whether aspects of the problem can be changed.  For example, if you are under or overworked, a simple conversation with your superior may be beneficial. Try to be proactive and take control of things that you have the power to change. If the field itself is feeling uncomfortable, it might be time to explore your other interests and strengths as they apply to work.

Assess Your Work Values

Often, we are unhappy when we are not acting in accordance to our values.  This is true of both our personal and our professional lives.  Clarifying your work values can help you to understand why you are unhappy at work and make better decisions regarding your future career path.  Work values can be both intrinsic, relating to the actual work you do and the meaning you derive from it, as well as extrinsic, which relates more to the rewards or recognition that may be associated with it. Some examples of values are: opportunity for autonomy, helping others, monetary gain, sense of achievement, collaboration, creativity, challenge, and so forth.  Take the time to assess your work values and prioritize them.  Determine which ones are being actualized and which are being neglected in order to better understand your unhappiness and make changes wherever possible.

Be Flexible and Realistic with your Expectations

Remind yourself that no job is permanent if you don’t want it to be.  The stage you’re at in your career may dictate the amount of flexibility you have in your position.  It’s important to keep an open mind if you’re able to see that the position you are in now may lead to better opportunities in the future. Take the time to assess the expectations you have when it comes to work, determine which ones are “deal-breakers”, and which ones you are willing to compromise for the sake of experience and strong connections.

Try to Find (and Maximize) the Positives

Identify the things about your job that you do enjoy and do whatever you can to increase the frequency of them.  Perhaps you like your coworkers.  If that’s the case, try your best to create opportunities to work with them more frequently or plan work-related activities. Or, maybe you’re gaining experience to build your resume and create strong networking connections. It is difficult to find the perfect job but try to focus on the aspects that you do like and it will be easier to get through the day. Remind yourself that whatever the position is, there is something to be gained even if it is only patience and tolerance!

Create a Rich Life Outside of Work

One way to buffer the negative effects of a workplace you aren’t particularly happy with is to create a rich and meaningful life outside of work.  Create balance between your work and personal lives whenever possible so that you aren’t consumed with the negativity of your position. Make time to nourish the different parts of yourself and don’t let a bad day at work taint your evening at home (and vice versa!)

Actively Job Hunt and Seek Professional Help if Necessary

Set job-searching goals for yourself.  Explore interests and possible careers paths that may be enticing and exciting to you.  It’s important to understand the job market and potential options before making any drastic changes.  A career counsellor can be extremely helpful in helping you to explore and understand your career preferences.

A Final Thought

A bad work position can be incredibly overwhelming.  It can be demoralizing and discouraging, but don’t give up! The best way to cope is to have a vision that extends beyond the work day. This means creating plans for your future and figuring out how your current position may help you get there.

 By: Catherine Kamel

counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapy

Kimberly Moffit’s Keynote Speech for the University of Guelph President’s Welcome

Good afternoon President, VPS, Deans and Associate Deans, Distinguished Professors, Alumni and Students!

My name is Kimberly Moffit and I am a proud alumna of the University of Guelph! And Welcome to YOUR first day of being a proud future graduate of the University of Guelph. I am incredibly honoured and excited to be here today. To be back in the place where I started my educational career is nostalgic and humbling, and reminds me of how I began. It brings back lots of fun memories, and also memories of dreaming, inspiration, and hard work. It also is an enormous reminder just how much my life has changed in the 8 years since I graduated from Guelph.

As many of you know, I’ve spent my career dedicated to helping people improve their relationships. University is a time that focuses heavily on relationships: It’s about the relationship you have with your knowledge and philosophies, it’s about the relationships that you’re making right now with your new friends (many of whom will be your friends for life) it’s about the changing relationship with your parents, but most importantly, University is a place to work on and improve the relationship you have with yourself – which is arguably the most important relationship of all.

I’d like to start today by telling you a little bit about my experiences at Guelph, how they shaped my career decisions and outlook on life. Then, I’ll give you my best advice on how you can use your University experience to better yourself, to grow, and to create the most successful and abundant future that you can possibly have.

I wouldn’t have believed if you told me that after graduating in 2006 that only eight years later I would be up here speaking before of all of the incoming students. The truth is, when I started at Guelph I had no idea what my future had in store for me. I changed my major three times before ultimately deciding that I wanted to major in music. Music was the perfect choice for me because I had already been a professional musician for three years so I figured I couldn’t go wrong. AND was a total perfectionist, so I loved the challenge of hearing or reading something unique and then working at absolutely perfecting it. Despite how much I loved to study music, it really bothered me that I didn’t know what the heck I would do after graduation. I was always nervous when people asked me, “What do You plan do with a MUSIC degree?”

The dilemma I had back then was a very similar dilemma to one that many of the young clients I work with now in my therapy practice face. And maybe many of you are wondering about it to. Where will I go from here? How will I use the degree I’ve chosen and how will that translate to a real life job.

So, how did I go from being a bachelor of music student to a psychotherapist, TV guest and the owner of one of Ontario’s largest therapy practices? The answer was this: By focusing on the learning, the growth, and the experience, and using those cues to guide your career. In short? Just start by doing what you love.

Doing what I loved was making beautiful music. That music led to a Masters Degree in Music Therapy, which led to a practicum at CAMH, and ended up leading to a Doctor of Psychology degree. Promise me that you’ll try not to stress about the end result all the time. Do what makes your heart feel joyful. Do lots of it, and be the absolute BEST at what you do. Over time, the answer to how that will translate to the perfect career for you will become the most obvious thing in the world.

I have a few words of advice that have carried me through my university career:

1.     Set goals: Yearly, long term. A recent study at Harvard showed that…. I personally started setting goals…

2.     Get involved and leave your mark in the Guelph community. (and no, I don’t mean just leaving your name on a stall in the Doogie’s bathroom) Guelph is a thriving place that has a multitude of cultural and geographical gems. Through my part time jobs and volunteer work, I saw another side of Guelph, one that wasn’t just in the University ‘bubble’

3.     Feel lucky and blessed to be receiving one of the greatest privileges of all – the opportunity to earn a university degree. The opportunity to immerse yourself in thought, in study, and in creativity. The time and the space to fill your mind with everything you could ever want to know and to do it with passion. Please relish this opportunity, it may be one of the only times in your life you have four full years to focus on your education.

4.     Finally, it’s in all of your best interests to contribute to the University of Guelph’s amazing reputation. After all, the University just turned 50. During your lifetime, it will reach its 100thbirthday, and I’m sure will have reached many more internationally recognized milestones. It’s all of our responsibilities to be ambassadors for our alma mater. That starts today. What can you do today, as a student, to increase the profile of YOUR future alma mater? Well, you can Post, share, and tweet about Guelph – you know that picture you took with the Gryphon? Well your friends and relatives are going to see that on your facebook and maybe they’ll comment on how awesome the University of Guelph is.

I’m also so glad that, in a number of years, you’ll all be joining me in the alumni family – and you’ll also become ambassadors for this amazing school. Being an alumni is for life – it’s not just about getting your degree and getting out. The University of Guelph has consistently been ranked one of the best educational institutions in the country, so when you wear that U of G sweater, it’s an instant connection – to other alumni, to current students, and even to people who recognize the University of Guelph and say wow, you went there! I personally love to wear my U of G sweater at home in Toronto – it’s always a conversation starter.

I would like to conclude this chat with a quote by one of my personal favourite women, Oprah Winfrey.

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.”

I know that all of you are able to envision and create lives for yourself that are fruitful and that you can be proud of.  Enjoy every moment of your career as a university student, don’t forget to dream, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Thank you.

 

By: Kimberly Moffit

Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Mental Health Professional

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters Most

purple_office_by_emorhapsodyWe go to work every day with one objective: to drive results.

We have our individual ways of doing this – we stay focused, we prioritize, we collaborate with others.

As we work hard, we go through the motions of connecting with those we work with.

How often do you stop and think about how your interactions affect others?

It’s an important question and having an awareness on how you connect emotionally is important.

A slippery slope…

I read earlier this year that a prominent executive at Yahoo! was fired not because he was lacking in the results area but because he couldn’t connect with his people.

Leading with emotions has always been a slippery slope. Showing too much and you can appear weak or complicated. Not showing enough emption and you come across as ice cold, robotic, unapproachable.

In today’s workplace, managing your emotional intelligence has become a highly important contributor to success, influencing productivity, efficiency team collaboration and trust. Which, by the way, impact performance and results.

For some, harnessing emotional intelligence comes easy. For others, not so much.

Despite business being all about numbers, it is also about relationships. And when we comfortably tap into our emotions (and help those around us do the same) the numbers will be driven exponentially.

Stuck on how to strengthen your emotional intelligence?

Spend time communicating:

Bring people together and share information. This also provides a great opportunity to listen to what people are thinking or saying. What you’re doing by communicating is building trust and proving you care enough to share.

Demonstrate social awareness:

Spend time figuring out what is happening around you. Listen, observe, ask. This will help you sympathize with others, putting yourself in other people’s shoes. Hard to do, but essential when leading. People need to feel as though you “get them.” Prove you do.

Commit to being more self-aware:

As you encounter situations be mindful and recognize emotions as they happen. This is a vital skill as it helps you better understand your strengths and weaknesses as well as the impact you have on how others feel.

No doubt, emotions are complicated. But important consider and manage at work because our relationships, and business results, depend on it.

By: Elena Iacono

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