Category: Human Resources

Prioritizing What’s Important During the Holidays – And All Year Long

The holiday season is upon us and consumer culture is out in full force – think Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Christmas Eve rush for last minute gifts. Whether it’s trying to score the hot new toy for your child or finding the perfect gift for your spouse, it can feel like our holidays (and even the rest of the year) are more about “stuff” and less about what’s truly important in life. Compared to 50+ years ago, Americans today have more cars, bigger homes, and eat out far more frequently. But are we happier because of it? Or is it a case of more money, more problems?

It’s said that if you take a look at someone’s checkbook, you will know what his or her priorities are. Is it true that where your money goes, so goes your priorities? What better time than the holidays and before the beginning of a new year to take a look at what’s really important in your life. Here are 5 ways to help:

  • Determine what you value most about your life: Try choosing five things you value most as a starting part. By consciously making these choices, it’s a reminder of what things in your life you can’t – and won’t – do without. Consider it the backbone of your life.
  • Assess the way you use your time: After determining the five areas you value most in life, take a look at how you spend your time and evaluate which things are absolutely necessary for these areas. Assess how much time you spend emailing, texting, and staring at a screen. How can you cut back?
  • Cut the clutter in every area of your life: Do you really need everything you have or does it feel like too many possessions are wearing you down? This also goes for emotional clutter! Reevaluate what’s truly necessary in your life for where you are now.
  • Spend more time with people that matter: Assess how much time you actually spend with family and close friends. Is it quality time where you’re truly interacting?
  • Make time to be alone: Do you tend to put yourself at the end of your priority list? If the answer is ‘yes’, take some time to reconnect with a hobby or activity you’re passionate about. There is nothing selfish about spending time recharging alone – it could be the healthiest gift you can give to yourself.

By determining what’s most important in your life and breaking free from the clutter, you will not only see changes in your everyday life, but in your work life as well. An increase in prioritizing and productivity are just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy! Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to learn more about how we can help you start the new year happier.

 

Keeping Your “To Do” List Manageable During The Holidays

While the holidays promise fun, parties, and time with loved ones, more often than not, the result is mounding credit card debt and exhaustion. Vowing to do better next year, we make a resolution on New Year’s Day not to repeat the same mistakes. But why wait until the New Year? Here are a few ways to ease the stress of the holidays and evaluate what’s truly important. And they don’t involve heavy spending and acquiring more possessions!

Delegate: The holidays are not about perfection and adding more items to your “to-do list”. Let someone else bring a dish to the party. Share the shopping, wrapping, and decorating.

Think Outside the Box: Gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful. Give your time instead of gifts and use your imagination. And above all, make a budget for gift giving and stick to it! There is no joy in being in debt.

Pay It Forward: Each of us can touch another person’s life in a profound manner. Random acts of kindness go a long way! Take baked goods, magazines and /or toiletries to a senior community. Often residents don’t have family to visit them. Many of them are on a fixed income.

Show Yourself Some Compassion: Keeping your body, mind, and spirit relaxed goes a long way in making the holidays fun. Stressing over gift giving does not.

We can help your organization and employees focus on what’s truly important and a top priority and help weed out what’s not. Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to discuss your organization’s needs.

Worrying More? Enjoying Life Less?

With all the advancements in our world today, life should be a breeze, right? After all, we can have dinner delivered to our door, order anything with a click of a button, and even bring up movies and television shows whenever we’d like. We seem to have so much these days, both in terms of material possessions and conveniences. Then, why are we more worried and stressed than ever? And what are some signs that we’re headed down the path of too much worry in our life?

According to the 2016 “Worry Less Report” conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance, 38% of people worry every day, mainly in the early morning or late evening. For some, worry can help inspire problem solving. But for many others, it can be paralyzing, hinder productivity, and produce feelings of helplessness. Chronic worrying can erode our ability to function well at home and at work. Here are a few signs that worrying is becoming a problem and steps you can take to help:

  1. You’re always thinking about future “threats”: When you start to interpret everything as a potential problem and constantly look for potential threats, worrying becomes a default pattern in life.
    The Remedy: Try to separate emotion from what’s actually happening and don’t confuse feeling anxious with actual worry. Ask yourself: is this a worst-case scenario or am I catastrophizing?
  2. You can’t sleep: Poor sleep creates a vicious cycle of poor emotional functioning – which ultimately leads to more stress and worry.
    The Remedy: Remember that sleep in not expendable. Turn your room into a restful haven away from the stressors or life, including technology! You might even want to try moving your bedtime up 60 minutes.
  3. You can’t seem to “shake it off”: No one enjoys confrontation or an unpleasant encounter. But worry starts when you continue to relive it in your mind, wondering what you could’ve done differently, and second-guessing your response.
    The Remedy: If you’re trapped in replay mode, get up and move. A change of scenery can help you return to your desk refreshed and able to make better decisions. Once you’ve hit your reset button, ask yourself: Was the situation as bad as I thought and is it worth getting this upset about? Often the answer is “no”.

Sometimes it can feel like it’s impossible to break the worrying cycle and find your way back to what’s really important in life. For more help, read our article on Tips For Dealing With Worry – How to Stay Focused and On Task. If you’re interested in engaging your organization in Professional and/or Personal Development to discuss how to decrease worry and increase productivity in the workplace, call Leah M. Joppy & Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com. We’re ready to help!

Tips For Dealing With Worry – How To Stay Focused and On Task

Will Rogers once said, “Worrying is like paying on a debt that may never come due.” We all know that chronic worrying can get in the way of what’s really important both in our work and home lives. It can impact our productivity, health, and happiness. But once the cycle starts, it’s often difficult to break the pattern and get back on task. Here are a few tips to help you prioritize, clear your mind, and stay focused:

  • Stop trying to do a million things at once (multi-tasking!) and tackle one task at a time.
  • Specifically block out time in your day to spend on a project and set a timer to hold yourself accountable for that time.
  • Turn off your phone and computer and get some exercise – preferably outside in the fresh air! Make the most of workday breaks to refresh and recharge.
  • Use technology to your advantage by trying options like Cold Turkey, Freedom, and Self Control. They block out the Internet to keep you off social media and other distractions.
  • Try a yoga or meditation class. There are online apps such as Headspace and Calm that help promote mindfulness if you want to try meditation in the comfort of home.
  • Find better ways to streamline your communication and break free from the endless chain of message. Ask yourself how the conversation would be most effective – email, on the phone, or in person?
  • Make sure to set reasonable standards for yourself and others. The pursuit of perfection can lead to increased worry and paralyze productivity.

Interested in stopping the cycle of worry and get back to a happier, more productive work life? Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to discuss your organization’s needs.

Finding and Doing What Makes You Happy

You’ve probably heard the Confucius quote, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” It sounds like a tall order, particularly when you feel a lack of passion and enthusiasm for your job. Of course, work isn’t the only thing that influences happiness, but it is where you spend the majority of your time. Can it really make you happy? Many factors come into play, such as the way you’re managed, how much you like your co-workers, and your role within an organization. But work that also matches your interests and maintains your motivation is much more likely to keep you absorbed and content. Not exactly a surprise! Then why does it feel so elusive?

What Are The Characteristics Of A Fulfilling Career?

When it comes to career fulfillment, there’s a combination of factors that come into play. For starters, you have to believe in what you’re doing and it has to matter to you. Your work needs to have a purpose and positive impact – not necessarily on the entire world, but perhaps just one person. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your life for the work you do. “Work-life balance” is a popular term these days, but it certainly means different things to different people. Autonomy and freedom are also important. If you think you have to be somewhere for X amount of time just to put in “face time,” that usually leads to dissatisfaction. And last but not least, it’s important to get compensated for the work you do, so you don’t feel like you’re struggling to make ends meet.

Which Jobs Would Make You Happiest?

Studies abound about job satisfaction and occupations that rank high and low on the happiness scale. But whatever the averages say, you are probably going to be happiest in a job for which you are better suited. Consider personal factors and start by asking yourself the following five questions. They may seem simple, but when you really sit down and map out the answers, you may discover something you never thought about previously:

  1. What am I good at? And is there a job where I can do it?
  2. What do I like to do? And is there a job which involves that activity?
  3. When have I felt happiest? Is there a job that replicates that situation?
  4. Which jobs am I qualified for based on past experience?
  5. Which jobs meet the criteria above and provide enough income?

Feeling “stuck” in your current job? Read our article on Tips For Dealing With A Work Slump. If you’re interested in engaging your organization in Professional and/or Personal Development to increase job satisfaction, call Leah M. Joppy & Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com. We’d love to discuss your objectives!

Tips For Dealing With A Work Slump

Even people who love their jobs experience a slump from time to time. It’s not uncommon and fortunately, it’s something you can fix. It’s easy to blame your manager, co-workers, company culture or industry for your feelings, but taking personal responsibility for your slump and taking action puts you in control and increases overall motivation. Here are a few tips to put that slump behind you:

  • Determine why you’re struggling: Are you bored with your project and know that it’s short term? Problems with your boss or colleagues? Or would you rather be working in another field? Start with the basics and spend some time getting to know what is causing the slump.
  • Identify what matters to you: We discussed this in our previous article on Finding and Doing What Makes You Happy, but think about what interests and values you place above everything else. Is your current job supporting them?
  • Focus on what’s working and going well: When you’re in a slump, it can be easy to focus on what’s going wrong. Take a few minutes each day to think about what went “right” and what you’re grateful for. It can improve your health and overall life too!
  • Stop comparing yourself to everyone else: Step away from social media and stop obsessing over who just received a promotion. Social comparison is a huge barrier to overall happiness and motivation. Redirect your attention to your own standards of accomplishment and happiness.

Interested in creating personal or career development goals that can lead to a happier, more fulfilling work life? Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to discuss your organization’s needs.

Self-Awareness In Career Development

Learn from experience. There’s nothing wrong with failure. There’s nothing wrong in recognizing your strengths and weaknesses. How often do you hear people 50 or older say that they wish they had the wisdom they have now, when they were in their twenties. When we are aware of ourselves, we are most likely aware of others. And that ability to know how people will react is critical to good leadership. We can maximize the potential of our teams if we are able to reduce conflict, use competitive advantage and drive organizational effectiveness.

Take time to know who you are. Objectively, can you identify your strengths and weaknesses? It’s essential for a company to perform its own SWOT – identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Performing your own personal SWOT is essential for identifying your self-awareness. Think about your trigger points – what sets you off and completely derails any other thoughts? How do you deal with criticism? And on the other hand, what inspires you?

STOP normal behaviors. If you’ve always “taken the bull by its horns” and barreled forward – without regard to the team or to other suggestions, put on the brakes. Instead, look around. Seek information from others who will be part of the development of the plan going forward. Indeed, surrender control and seek cooperation. The end result can be a more collaborative effort – one that is far more likely to succeed and one that you are more likely to enjoy.

Don’t wait. More often than not, individuals tend to think about self-awareness during periods of transition. During a career change, personal crisis or family emergencies, we often experience the need to re-evaluate our lives. But in truth, it’s important to be sensitive of our own changes, and the environment around us, even when life seems to be running smoothly. These ongoing assessments of ourselves help us become more fluid and flexible as our career and environment change.

Collect data. To develop an accurate self-assessment, we must collect data. We have to answer questions about our own personal qualities. Create a list for yourself that includes:

  1. Interests – both career-wise and personal.
  2. Values – make a list of what’s important to you, both in your career and in your personal life.
  3. Talents – objectively list your talents, not just hard skills learned through education, but soft skills learned through experience.
  4. Abilities – these are different from talents in that these are usually innate. You have natural abilities that make you suitable to different jobs and relationships.
  5. Lifestyle preferences – these are different for all of us. Some prefer to live in the suburbs; others would rather live in the city. What are your preferences?

Taking the time for self-exploration is key to adding value and control in your own life – regardless of age or organizational environment.

Personal development, including self-assessment and self-esteem, is an attainable goal for any organization. These skills are particularly important in today’s workplace as organizations demand flexible work environments. Leah M. Joppy and Associates offers various seminars on Personal Development. Please give us a call at (301) 670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to discuss the needs of your organization.

What Are the Barriers to Self-Assessment?

As noted in our previous article on Self-Awareness In Career Development, building self-awareness involves collecting data on your values, skills, talents and other personal qualities. Because environments are continually changing and issues may be complex, self-assessments may be inaccurate if certain problems exist. Here are some categories of problems that should be considered in every self-assessment.

  1. Too Much, or Too Little Data. Too much or too little information leads to a distorted self-awareness. This is especially true when data is collected during a time of transition.
  2. The Threat of Anxiety. Because we are collecting information on ourselves, an anxious person may perceive the results as a threat to self-esteem. When this happens, an individual will focus on their anxious feelings, rather than the data itself.
  3. Self-esteem. Individuals with low self-esteem tend to interpret data that is consistent with their low self-esteem. When thinking more about their own self-image rather than an accurate assessment of self, inaccuracies are bound to happen.

Because self-assessments can serves as guides for career actions, if one of the barriers exist above, individuals may make hasty career decisions or neglect to change their behaviors as needed. In that case, an outside observer should be consulted before determining the accuracy of the self-assessment.

Need help with creating personal or career development goals? Both are the keys to a successful Individual Development Plan. Please give us a call at (301) 670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to discuss the needs of your organization.

Traits Of Our Best Leaders

We listed the strengths that are most often sought in the leaders of an organization in our article “Do You Have The Right Leaders?” But leadership is more than skills and intellect. Leaders also must have the right traits to lead effectively. Here is our list of the most effective qualities in a leader.

  1. Leaders must inspire action. If inspired, we find ways to clear roadblocks.
  2. Leaders must be optimistic. Lift up our spirits and we’ll work even harder.
  3. Leaders must have integrity. If we believe our leader is fair, we have faith in him or her and move forward confidently.
  4. Leaders must be supportive. If we feel supported, we are more apt to take risks and seek challenges.
  5. Leaders must be confident. A confident leader inspires us to accomplish more.

Are there other traits that you think are important for a leader? Send us an email at leadership@lmja.com and tell us why the trait is important to you. We’ll add it to the list!

It’s My Co-workers Fault!

Your co-workers may have their own habits and preferences. Sometimes these work habits will clash with yours. In this article, we give tips on how to make it work for all.

I once had an assistant that worked hard to get 90% of the project done, but couldn’t seem to wrap it up. It was frustrating. A project could end up on the to-do list for months, when really, it would only take an hour to put it to bed! I finally figured out the problem. She insisted on doing things her way.

How we work is personal. Some of us create to-do lists religiously. Others work on what’s urgent and forget the rest. A lengthy meeting where the project strategy is presented in detail is perfect for some workers, whereas others would prefer to read a long memo. A CEO might be the big thinker – willing to publish his/her ideas to the company – expecting others to figure out the details. We are all different. Figuring out the best way to work with others can significantly increase your chance for success.

Making changes for the benefit of the team. How we work may depend on our age, culture, experience and geographic location. But at work, we’re all on the same team. The success of that team may depend on how we work with each other and what changes we make in consideration of others. Here are some tips for working with people who have developed habits that are different from yours.

  1. Build a common understanding, trust and commitment. Easier said than done, right? To build a common purpose, it’s imperative that we consider what is important to people, what is below the each person’s surface (what you cannot see), and the inner layers of values and beliefs. As a team, when we create common ground rules we help build trust and commitment in our purpose.
  2. Instead of lamenting our differences, focus on the strengths everyone brings to the table. The truth is, the more opinions, and the more variety of ideas around the table, the more likely we will be more creative and innovative in the solutions we develop.
  3. Celebrate collaboration. If you always have a habit of wanting to do things on your own, think differently. While independence is good in some situations, generally people who are team players experience more success at work.
  4. Listen, and be empathetic. Being respectful builds trust. Knowing how you work, and understanding how others work, strengthens the communication among all team members.

As for my assistant mentioned in the beginning of this article, she insisted on closing the loops in projects through email. It was her preferred method of communication. But many of the people she needed to communicate with were either very busy, or travelled frequently. By adjusting her habit and putting aside an hour to either walk to each office (we were all in the same building), or talk to them on the phone, solved the problem. A simple changed proved successful.