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  • 0 Take Yourself to the Next Level by Discovering and Developing Your Strengths

    Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? The chances are that you do not. Some of our talents and strengths go untapped. We tend to devote more time addressing our shortcomings than developing our strengths. It has become all too easy to fall into a weakness-fixing model. Throughout our education and career, too much attention is paid to our weaknesses, to our “opportunities for personal growth,” or whatever popular euphemisms we want to use. We may have noticed from time to time that it’s our bosses, managers, coworkers, teachers and even parents who seem to be experts at spotting weaknesses. In fact, most of them consider it their responsibility to point out our flaws and help us correct them. We ourselves have become experts on our own weaknesses and spend our lives trying to repair them while our strengths lie hidden or ignored. The research, however, is clear: we grow and develop by emphasizing our strengths rather than beating ourselves up over our weaknesses. Understanding our strengths can help us flourish by focusing more on what we naturally do best and by increasing our potential. The goal is to maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. Here are three benefits of focusing on your strengths, discovering who you really are, and becoming who you are meant to be: Benefits of Improving Personal Strengths Builds Self-Awareness When developing a new skill, you will find out more about yourself. You will discover your abilities and strengths and learn how to use them to your advantage. Doing so increases your self-awareness and teaches you new ways to apply your strengths. It can help you understand your personality, values and motivators and recognize how they influence your behavior and decisions. By increasing your self-awareness, you can make better choices that align with your strengths so you can avoid situations that are not a good fit. You will have a better grasp of what makes you unique and how that impacts you, your team members, your boss, and your organization. Builds Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem Discovering and developing your strengths can boost your confidence and self-esteem and positively influence your professional and personal life. You need self-confidence and self-esteem to overcome challenges. Confidence and self-esteem don’t come from just one action; they persist despite bad moments. Just acknowledge that you make mistakes, and your increased self-confidence and self-esteem will help you bounce back faster. You’ll accept that you’ve done your best and can chalk it up to a learning opportunity. Improves Communication Skills Strength development allows you to understand yourself better, helping you set clear boundaries with others. Additionally, acquiring skills such as interpersonal and leadership helps you find ways to communicate effectively with others, allowing you to create seamless streams of communication so everyone remains on the same page. For example, in the workplace, effective communication handles conflicts better and strengthens organizational culture. This ensures business success and looks great to recruiters looking for work environments with high job satisfaction and employee engagement. When we improve our communication skills, our relationships become stronger and more meaningful, and our collaboration and teamwork become more efficient. We all have unique talents we use in different ways to bring out the best in ourselves and others. Development is the key to succeeding with our strengths. It is those “Aha!” moments we experience when exposed to new ways that allow us to understand and describe to others what makes us uniquely powerful. As long as we work, grow relationships, strategize, complete goals (big and small) and influence those around us, we will have the chance to deepen our awareness of our strengths. Here are four “Cs” that may help you discover and develop your strengths, taking you to the next level. First, be curious. Perhaps you think you are strong in one area, but you are unsure. This is where you need to discover which activities or projects interest you or that you might be good at. Research available resources and see what it would take to commit to developing your strengths. There are many online self-assessments available to help. Perhaps take a strength-finding assessment. This is an effective tool to help you learn about your talents and strengths. These types of assessments help determine your greatest talents and give you a detailed list of actions you can take to develop them. Once you identify your five top strengths, you can examine how they show up in your life. Another resource you can use to discover your unique talents, abilities and ways of thinking is getting a mentor. Leveraging the expertise of a mentor can help you determine how to take advantage of your strengths by integrating them into your ongoing discussions and goals. Second, be creative. Think outside the box. Each day, find a new way to use your strengths for your benefit, but do not overwhelm yourself by overanalyzing your behavior. For example, rather than trying to figure out what strengths you may have to match a particular organization, take the reverse approach and perhaps think about what organization most needs and then figure out how you might best contribute. This helps you focus on developing skills that are beneficial to the people around you, which is key to finding a career that is both meaningful and personally rewarding. Third, be confident. Confidence is one of your greatest strengths. When trying to improve yourself in any capacity, you have won half the battle if you believe you can accomplish almost anything. Self-confidence comes from knowing you have the ability to succeed. Without it, you will be less likely to try new things, seize opportunities, take risks, or go for the things you really want in life. Your struggle with your own mind is often greater than any other challenge you may face. You may have tough days when you are unsure of yourself, but you will build momentum as long as you get back on track quickly. The more tasks you complete, the more you can convince yourself that you are capable. Fourth, create a plan that focuses on developing your biggest strengths by setting goals. People are more successful when they set goals. Write down what you would like to accomplish and by what date you would like to accomplish it. Remember to be realistic and review your goals frequently to keep yourself on track. Post your goals in places where you will see them throughout the day (e.g., your refrigerator, bathroom mirror or computer monitor). This will keep you on track and motivate you to reach these goals quickly. If you have trouble creating a plan, reflect on ways you can apply your core strengths to help you in a potentially stressful situation. Final Thoughts Discovering your true strengths is the path toward improvement and success. When you pay attention only to your weaknesses and try to overcome them, you are placing emphasis on becoming what you are not. When you focus on your strengths, you are true to yourself by becoming more of who you really are. You cannot be anything and everything you wish you could be, but you can be the best of who you already are the real you.  

  • 0 The Power of Loving Your Job

    Is it realistic to think we can wake up every morning saying, “MAN!! I cannot wait to get to the office and start this day!”? Probably not. Would it be cool if on Friday, we got a little bummed because we were going to be away from our job for 2 whole days! Away from this “work thing” that gives us so much joy, purpose, and validation? Probably so. Imagine all the benefits for our societal culture, our economy, our personal health, and the overall human condition if we loved every minute of every day at our jobs. Musicians or artists might feel that way, although I did once hear a performer complain that “…keeping a guitar in tune in the summer is so hard!” So even my “dream job” has its drawbacks, Iguess. For the record, her tuning grievance received very little empathy from the audience.   It should come as no surprise to anyone who has some work experience that companies andorganizations that have higher job satisfaction in their workforce are more profitable and moreproductive than those that rate lower in this statistic. Also, individuals who have more jobsatisfaction tend to be healthier and have an overall happier personal life… duh!   In researching this article, my team (okay, just me) found that statistics for this subject aresomewhat varied. However, digging deeper into the available data we (me) found someconsistencies.. Here are some things you might find interesting: A little more than half of the U.S. work force is “satisfied” with their job. Only about 20% are “passionate” about their job. Roughly 4 in 10 workers say their job is important to their overall identity. Relationships with coworkers was a big part of overall job satisfaction. About 12% of U.S. workers are “extremely” dissatisfied or unhappy with their job. Paid time off benefits were considered the best contribution to job satisfaction, whilehealth care benefits were considered the most important. Almost half (47%) of the workforce who have paid time off benefits said they did not use alltheir allotted paid time off. One study showed that 74% of employees in the U.S. believe that company culture is one ofthe biggest contributing factors to job satisfaction. And finally… Companies with high worker satisfaction outperform low satisfaction companiesby (as much as) 202% Most of the surveys stated that the statistics were consistent with government, non-profit, privatesector, and self-employed workers. In every study, workers aged 54 – 65 were the most satisfiedwith their jobs, and having just turned 64, this gave me a little validation… a small dopamineshot. But the same studies showed workers in their 20s were by and large the least satisfied.Since I have 2 children in their twenties, both freshly out of academia and in the workforce, thiscertainly gave me some pause. I firmly believe we all owe it to ourselves to put forth our best efforts toa t least find someenjoyment in our workday. We spend almost half of our waking life,o n the job, shouldn’t we tryand squeeze as much joy out of that time as we can? That enjoyment can come from manypossibilities; the comradery of our co-workers, the responsibility of an important project, thevalidation of doing things well, the personal reward of knowing your work has meaning, or ishelping others. Sometimes that enjoyment can lead to passion, and when your occupation, yourday job, becomes your passion, you can’t really call it work anymore. It becomes somethingbigger. Several years ago, I ran into a high school friend who I hadn’t seen in years. He was a guy Ialways looked up to; great social skills, hilarious sense of humor, and just a joy to be around. Asour conversation turned to the “what have you been up to” portion, I asked him, “Where are youworking these days?” His reply was something that has stuck with me since: “I don’t work, man.” “Really? Must be nice! How do you pay the bills?” I replied, being a bit nosey. “Oh, I have a job. I’m a flight attendant. I ame mployed by a small airline based in D.C.,but it doesn’t feel like work. The hours are crazy, and the days are brutally long, and I loveevery minute of it!” This was a revelation to my 20-something-year old brain, "...a nd I love every minute of it!" Thisguy was talking about his job, not his softball team or his golf league. His JOB! A job with longdays & crazy hours. For my friend, it was the social aspect of working with the high energy people in his peer group,working with the public and meeting new people every day. Traveling, and seeing the countrywith people he enjoyed being around, was his occupation. He found joy in that culture, and thatjoy became a passion. Up until that meeting, it hadn’t occurred to me that a job, one’s vocation, could be enjoyable. Ididn’t like my job at the time. In fact, the culture where I worked was such that not liking yourjob was kind of part of the job…the expectation. While I did not know this at the time, “culture” iseveryone’s responsibility. The chance meeting with my friend created something of an epiphany for me. I was working in awarehouse for a municipality at the time, and I shared the experience with my coworkers. It tooksome convincing and some inspired persuasion, but I talked the team into creating somethinglike a swear jar. But instead of depositing a quarter in a jar for bad words, we had to pay up percomplaint. Every gripe, every whine, every non-constructive utterance was accompanied by amonetary fine. We had fun with it, we charted it when we could; the first couple of months itadded up quickly. We used the money for an end of the month lunch or happy hour, but morethan anything we used the constant reminder of our bad attitudes to change the way weapproached the day. We were lucky in that there were 5 of us who all bought into the exercise. Wechanged the culture, simply because we were sick and tired of being sick and tired, 8 to 10 hoursa day, 5 or 6 days a week. We found a way to make the best of a situation, that really wasn’t as badas we were making it out to be. It was just a small change, and we all took accountability formaking the change. It can be done… and you can do it. While that was a great learning experience, the job still wasn’t what I thought would befulfilling in the long term. So, I searched for something more. It took a few years to find avocation that would become my passion, but I did. Early in my sales career, I read everybook I could find, attended every seminar, and took every workshop made available to me.None of that stuff felt like work, or “have to” tasks. I found it fascinating. Later in mycareer, largely based on the influence of my mentor, I found real joy in being a salestrainer and a leadership coach. Today, that’s where I find fulfillment when I’m on theclock. I love my job. In my mentoring work, I try to drive this home anytime I have the opportunity: There isreal power, and amazing mental and physical health benefits in enjoying your job. Intoday’s world, it’s NOT just forty hours a week. Consider your commute, consider the timethinking about it on the weekend, especially if you are dissatisfied. If you are not happy inyour job, first, look within. Decide as to whether you can fix it, or at least make it better. I’llbet you, with a little effort, you can. Choosing to make a change is half the battle!

  • 0 How to Remove the Ugh from Performance Reviews

    It’s October! And October just might be the most glorious month of the year. Work is good, the outside air is becoming cooler, the leaves are displaying those beautiful autumn colors, and we’re “knee deep” in football season (even if you don’t like football, the snacks are great!!). But there is an ugh in the air, in the hallways, and around the virtual water cooler, because it’s also annual performance review time. Thus, the ugh. For some reason, even in the best of circumstances, nobody seems to like the task of performance reviews. Why? For the reviewer/manager/supervisor: It often creates uncomfortable conversations. In many cases they are not prepared. They scramble to find equal amounts of “positives” and “needs improvement” points. For the reviewee: Again… it often creates uncomfortable conversations. Sometimes… they wonder why they didn’t know about these things sooner. It can be difficult to respond to your manager on points where you disagree. We need to rewrite the script on Annual Performance Reviews! Why can’t we make this a positive experience? The first thing we need to do is remove the word “annual” from the title, or at least the process. When the “annual” is done, there should be no surprises, that alone could remove a lot of the anxiety and apprehension that comes with this process. As I did the research for this newsletter, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that many of the managers I interviewed agreed that this shouldn’t be a once-a-year discussion. When the labor market is as tight as it is today (The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the national unemployment rate is 3.8%), good employees are difficult to find, and even harder to keep. Good, and frequent, job performance dialog and coaching are critical to maintaining a happy and productive work environment. I can tell you as a manager, employee retention has been the biggest challenge in the post pandemic world, and it effects all segments of the global workforce. There are all kinds of reasons people seek new employment. While many of those reasons can be out of our control, communication and feedback are 100% in everyone’s control. This applies to your staff, your manager, and your peers!   The content or information in an Annual Performance Review should never be a surprise to the reviewee. Let’s look at some ways to take the ugh out!! Timing is Everything If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, the closer to the incident you can address it is (almost) always better. We don’t want feedback to be a surprise, so if there is an issue, the person getting feedback or coaching should be expecting it. In some situations, though, if there is an incident that is highly emotional, it is sometimes better to let everyone take a beat, or a breath. You will most likely deliver a more thoughtful message after emotions settle, and your recipient is more likely to hear what you have to say after they have calmed down. Make it Part of the Culture Feedback is a process that requires deliberate and constant attention. If it needs to be said, then say it. Then, your team will know where they stand, they will know what needs to be done to improve. In this culture, problems don’t get out of hand, or become bigger than they should. Consistency is the key. Be Specific Tell the person exactly what needs to be done to improve their performance. Mention only the facts, and try to avoid vague, or blanket type statements: Instead of: “You always forget to log the mileage charts and this creates extra work for everyone.” It's better stated like this: “Beauregard, you didn’t log the mileage charts yesterday. Now Rebecca will have to go to the motor pool, find the truck and record the mileage. We need to make sure that’s done moving forward. Okay? Try not to exaggerate to make a point. Avoid words like “never”, “always”, “all” and the like. They water down the point, or make it look bigger than it really is. Positives Count Too If feedback is part of the culture, swing that pendulum both ways! (I love the pendulum metaphor! It works in so many examples.) If we only notice, and comment on, the “needs improvement” aspects of the job, and the people we are managing, we’re going to create a lousy culture. If we are only coaching on the negatives, when review time comes, and the reviewee gets a bunch of positive feedback that comes as a surprise, they are likely to think, “Well that would have been nice to know!” High performance by your staff and your co-workers should be an expectation. When those lofty expectations are met, it should be noted… loudly. The ripple effects of this are amazing to the culture of a workplace. If Beauregard sees Rebecca getting constant praise for the outstanding work she’s doing, it might make him want to step up his game to get some of that kind of attention too. Always Remember While public praise is always appreciated, public criticism is not. I’ve written this in so many articles, I should probably make it my tag line: Praise loudly and publicly, criticize quietly, thoughtfully, and privately. Finally… The feedback highway runs both ways. You need to know how to give it effectively, and you need to know how to receive it constructively. If you’re not sure where you stand, or how you are doing, ask. Avoiding job performance dialog does not change facts, it only creates uncertainty. It’s in everyone’s best interest to keep those lines of communication open, active and consistent. When we avoid constructive critique or sweep issues that need some coaching under the rug, performance and productivity suffer. The issues don’t go away, the facts remain, and now we also have a lumpy rug. Equally, when we get too busy to deliver positive feedback, we run the risk of creating a joyless atmosphere… and a joyless atmosphere creates employee turnover. (Remember that 3.8% unemployment rate!!)

  • 0 Go Before You’re Ready

    The content of this month’s newsletter is harvested from a diverse crop of inspiration; a keynote speaker, two recent college grads, and one great tag line.   I attended an industry event last month, and “Go before you’re ready” … was on a slide in the keynote presentation by USAF, Lt. Colonel Dan Rooney.  Dan Rooney, call sign, “Noonan”, is a USAF fighter pilot, a golf pro, a man of devout faith, a dedicated patriot & philanthropist, and the founder of Folds of Honor. Folds of Honor is a foundation that gives scholarships to the children of fallen and disabled veterans and first responders.   While I picked up lots useful and thought-provoking content, being the parent of two recent college graduates, and a mentor to a handful of young work associates, “Go before you’re ready”, struck a chord that still resonates a month later. The soul of the Lt. Colonel’s presentation was about chasing dreams, how we can help people chase their dreams, and the importance of not waiting. He spoke about living a full life, finding purpose for yourself and for others, and chasing that purpose, those dreams, and that fulfillment. The message is one that I truly believe applies to anyone who is starting their career, thinking about changing careers, or even for someone looking to make any kind of positive change in their life.   The message I hope to convey to my children, my mentees, and all of you who took the time to read this newsletter, is that I truly believe our vocational and personal possibilities are practically endless. As fluffy and perhaps naïve as it may sound, you need to believe that in today’s world, you can be anything you want to be.   The key word in that last sentence is want. It’s not easy to be anything you want to be. It’s actually pretty difficult. Because we live in a world where anything is possible, sometimes the most difficult part is figuring out the what. What is your potential? What are you good at? What do you want to be good at? What do you love to do? What is your dream? What is stopping you? When you figure out what your dream is, what your want is, you start to get clarity on how you’re going to chase it and achieve it. When that want becomes stronger than your discomfort, you figure out the how. It’s important to understand that there will be some discomfort along the way. In most cases, if the personal journey were easy, the destination is probably not going to be that great. It takes courage, it takes patience, it takes belief, and it takes a little bit of caution… but just a little!! Another great line from Dan Rooney’s presentation is, “Courage and comfort can almost never co-exist”.   Allow yourself the freedom to change your mind, but don’t change your mind, or give up because it’s too hard.   When Gina Davis’ character (A League of Their Own) wanted to leave the team, because things were becoming “too hard”, Tom Hanks’ character says, “Yeah, it is hard. But it’s the hard that makes it good.”   Chasing dreams, fulfilling passions, reaching your best potential, would not be nearly as fulfilling if it was easy. The only awesome thing in life that’s easy is a hot fudge sundae… even then, you have to heat the fudge.   Figure out your dream. Discover what you’re passionate about and turn that dream into your reality.   Okay, now let’s say you found that dream, that want … that passion. Is it realistic? Not to the rest of the world, is it realistic to you? The check list is short: Is it your dream? Is it someone else’s dream for you? If it’s someone else’s, does it come from a place of love, support and caring? If so, does that dream fit? Do you believe it makes you better, happier, fulfilled? If the dream fits, chart your course!! Better put, chart your own course! Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do, but it never hurts to listen to the advice and counsel from people who you trust have your best interests at heart. This is where great mentors come in.   It’s important to realize that there will be doubters and naysayers along the way, even from family and friends. It’s sometimes just human nature to ridicule or try to downplay someone trying to improve their situation. Maybe they’re jealous, maybe they’re afraid of being passed up, or left behind… maybe they just don’t understand. When you are chasing YOUR dream, you must find a way to block that out. It’s important to consider any advice that comes from a positive place, and to weed out the junk. You owe it to yourself to chase the dream, you owe it to the people who believe in you to chase it as well. You owe the naysayers nothing.   There is a great quote by James Baldwin: “Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by those who are doing it.”   When I started writing my blog page, ‘The Large Man Chronicles’, a lot of people asked why I thought I could do something like that. It was as if I didn’t have the right to write! (See what I did there?) My only answer was that it was just something I wanted to do. I travel a lot, I see funny, beautiful, and interesting things along the way, and I thought people would enjoy reading about it. I believed I had stories to tell. I believed I had something to say about the human condition, and I believed that I would find an audience of readers who could relate… and so I did. My want to tell a story, and to explore my creative side, was greater than the discomfort that came with the criticism I received. Maybe I wasn’t ready to be a good writer, but I wanted to tell stories, so I wrote them anyway.   If you are chasing a dream, reaching for the stars, trying to reach your full potential, and you wait until everything is just right; the right time, the right place, the perfect financial situation, you’re likely to spend the whole journey just waiting. Please, don’t do that! Very rarely do the stars perfectly align. “Go before you’re ready” doesn’t apply to skydiving, but it fits your personal and professional goals and dreams like a tailor-made suit.  Of course, you need to be responsible, you need to own your stumbles and mistakes, but go before you are ready!   Ask a mentor: There are stories told every single day about amazing people who chased a dream and accomplish remarkable and awesome things against incredible odds. Make one of those stories about you. Share your story with your mentor: What are your goals, dreams and aspirations? Talk about your strengths and how your vision might be a potential benefit to the organization. Share any fears or obstacles that are holding you back. Ask your mentor about their experiences: What are/were your dreams?  Did you see them through? Can you tell me about the journey? What roadblocks did you encounter?  

  • 0 Reenergizing your Career

    Recently a friend was telling me about how disappointed he had become in his work. Over the last few years, he had watched his department dwindle due to several reorganizations, layoffs, and resignations. On top of it, there was a sense of isolation after working remotely through the pandemic. He had interviewed for other jobs, but each presented its own obstacles like taking on a long commute or even requiring relocation. My friend was feeling stuck. Any of us can find ourselves in situations where we need to re-energize our careers.   The pandemic years locked us in and gave us new flexibility in how we do our jobs.  It changed the way people approached their jobs. It made some people even leave their jobs. After three years of these ups and downs, it’s not surprising that so many of us are sitting back and rethinking how to bring joy and meaning in our work. If what you are craving is a deeper connection to your work and firmer boundaries between your job and the rest of your life, consider the following: Energize your career goals. Enrolling in a mentoring program is one of the best ways to do that. Also, connecting with your supervisor about goals- which can, but don’t need to involve actively pursuing a promotion. You might be looking for opportunities to leverage a certain strength or improve daily tasks such as email communication and agenda planning. Goals give you momentum whether you’re hoping to get an advanced degree or a promotion. Having established goals also gives you the opportunity to check in with yourself periodically to know if things are on track or you need to make a change. Retool your work routine. Whether you’re still working from home, back in the office, or trying out a hybrid schedule, adding or taking away a small element to your work routine can be energizing. Some ideas: Create a new morning routine (walk, stretch exercises, inspirational reading). Do a quick inversion pose. If you take yoga, you already know about headstands and downward-facing dog. But have you tried the “legs-up-against the wall” move? This restorative pose allows your body to circulate in a different direction. Switch up the order that you complete administrative tasks. Schedule “focus” time into your day. Personalize your workspace (bring in live plants, artwork, family photos, etc.) Mediate for 5 minutes before lunch. Put a quote a day calendar on your desk for inspiration. Eat a healthy breakfast. Drink one full glass of water before your cup of coffee. Find a podcast that interests you. Isolate your motivators. If you are excited about what you are doing and why you are doing it, your enthusiasm will be the key to your competitive edge. What makes you feel most engaged during your workday? What do you find enjoyable about your organization? When do you feel most proud of your work? What opportunities or working groups exist in your organization that lean into these areas? Can you set up a reward system for yourself? Plan your boundaries with intention. Know your boundaries because otherwise, during busy times, everything that comes your way will feel like too much. If you find yourself feeling grouchy or anxious whenever someone approaches you with a question, you might have allowed people to breach your boundaries too many times. Don’t hesitate to say when you feel overextended and have some templated excuses for when you just can’t take on anything extra. Consider developing a new skill. Is there something you’ve been wanting to tackle that would be a helpful contribution to your team? You might consider learning a new spreadsheet platform or scheduling app. Even shadowing another team managers’ staff meetings would be good training for leading meetings in your own department. Seek a situational mentor or even peruse online certification programs. Ask a mentor: Your mentor has probably had times when they struggled with engagement at their job. Ask them about how they navigated it: What have you done to energize your commitment to work when feeling sluggish? How often or do you ever re-evaluate your career goals? What are your favorite daily work routines? How do you set personal and professional boundaries?

  • 0 Embrace the Vision

    With every new year comes the opportunity to reflect and anticipate what you want the next year (and beyond) to look like. You may even create a list of lofty goals and brace yourself for the looming sacrifices that will have to be made to achieve those milestones. This process can, however, be much more pleasant if you shift and redirect your thinking. Instead of thinking about what you have to give up, you should instead visualize those achievements actually coming to fruition. Envisioning can be a powerful tool in turning your dreams into reality. Sound silly? Not really. According to a study conducted by TD Bank,…/survey-shows-visualizing-success…/…visualizing success (often through a Vision Board) does in fact work. Imagining attainment of the things you want most in life will quickly turn into reality when it becomes a part of your awareness, and the best way to do that is to create a visual reminder that helps keep your eyes on the prize. Creating a Vision Board is one of the most effective (and fun) ways to manifest your vision as it serves as a constant reminder of the goals you want and plan to achieve. Meaningful images and mantras in your daily line of vision gradually become an energy source and ultimately evolve to become part of your subconscious awareness. When this happens, you will find yourself focusing on the specific things that you want to attract and will begin to take the actions needed to attain them. The trick of course is to stay positive as negative thoughts can often derail your plans. Your Vision Board is your creation and there is no “perfect” way to create one. There are a few steps however that can help you to design the one that is most meaningful to you. Start envisioning. Begin to list all of the things that you would most like to achieve and acquire in all areas of your life and keep in mind that the sky is the limit! For example, you may ask yourself, “What position do I want next in my career?” What does my dream home look like?” “What types of relationships do I want to nurture?” “How do I want my body to look and perform?” What places do I want to travel?” These are the first steps in the envisioning process. Be sure to focus on the things or places that you want most in your life – not on the things you don’t. You attract what you think so again, only positive thoughts please! Find your visual inspirations. This is the fun part. Refer to your vision list and find those images that best represent what you want. The sources can be from any medium. Pursue through magazines or online images and stock photos. Websites like Pinterest and Google images are loaded with ideas. Be sure to include meaningful words or inspiring quotes. Compile visual prompts that speak directly and powerfully to you. Create your own custom Vision Board. Decide the size of your board (some may like a giant easel of images while others may prefer a smaller 8x11 framed version.) Some may be ultra creative and turn theirs into their tablet’s wallpaper. This should be your personal preference and should include any aesthetic that will have you looking at it daily. Arrange the images in a way that is pleasing to your eyes. Be sure to add a mantra of your best self and place that squarely in the middle. For example, if you want to supervise your team, physically document the following affirmation: “I am managing my team with great success and positive energy.” Documenting these goals is the best way to affirm them as you are creating a contract with yourself to move toward these changes and outcomes. Formulate a plan of action. While envisioning is a great way to galvanize your goals, it is equally important to map out a plan that outlines the stages that will culminate toward your final goals. By strategically planning your next steps, you are in effect getting closer to making your goals a reality. For example, if your dream is to rise to the next level of management, you must first research what the prerequisites are to get you in the running. If it involves taking a class or working on a special project, then map out that plan and take the first steps to tackle it. Be in a state of constant gratitude. Always be grateful for the things that come your way. Every material and non-material success we achieve is a gift. Expressing gratitude for these gifts energizes the Universe and strengthens our vibrations to receive more of the same. Be sure to share your good fortune with others. It doesn’t need to be material and some of the most rewarding gifts are time, support and a listening ear. ASK A MENTOR Let this be the year of the positive promise! At your next mentoring meeting, share with your mentor the goals that you have for yourself and ask them what they envisioned for their own success and how they achieved their vision. You will also want to see if they have any ideas on how you canmove forward with yours. In the areas that you find yourself feeling stuck, ask your mentor if they have any strategies to help you stay positive and stay the course. Here a few questions to get you started but feel free to add to the list: What are my ultimate goals and/or vision? If I don’t already have a clear vision, am I working toward creating one? What would make me the most satisfied professionally? Personally? Financially? Do I have a clear sense of my ultimate goal? Do I run it through my mind on a continual basis? Do I actually envision myself living my dream? What am I doing to achieve my ultimate goals? Does it seem to be working? If not, how can I redirect? Do I seem to be moving in the right direction? Or do I experience reoccurring setbacks? What are some approaches to stay positive? How have I assisted others with their goals and dreams and how has this helped me? Am I grateful of where I am thus far? How do I express this gratitude?

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