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Dollars on My Mind

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

Let’s continue our walk through The Get Real Guide to Your Career. We’ve been very busy in the last seven blogs taking inventory of who we are today. We’ve looked at skills we want to use, our values, the natural talents that make us who we are, and of course, we’ve even looked at the themes that are the foundation for our accomplishments and have established our career path.

No Running Away!

Now…it’s time to look at the one area people normally run away from screaming – the dreaded financial conversation. I can already hear you all saying “I’ll wait till Karen’s next blog. I’m cool with money; I don’t need to look any closer.” And…I can even hear “has she gone completely nuts? Why do we have to discuss money? I was having so much fun rediscovering who I am.” Yep…I’ve heard it all…and…I doubt there will be much that will surprise me. So, here’s a thought…just keep reading for a minute and see whether you can power through without shutting down.

The Financial Conversation with yourself…

I know that the financial conversation can bring up emotions we don’t want to deal with. The financial conversation can remind us of our upbringing, it can remind of us what we haven’t achieved and it can remind us of how incredibly lucky we are to be where we are today. My vote, let’s go with the last one and be very grateful for where we are today. Remember…success is defined by each of us individually, and we have to judge our success on ‘our terms.’ Our financial situation don’t define our success, and it is only one component of our life. As we look back at all we have learned so far, maybe we can take the “charge” out of the money conversation and realize our life is made up of multiple successes and experiences, and that darn money part is just a piece of the entire picture.

You’ve got to SEE it to internalize it!

So…let’s go for it. You might as well get out your paper and pencil because you know what’s coming. Ya gotta write it down. Ya gotta see it to internalize it and make some shifts.

As we begin thinking about what’s next, and the financial rewards we want with our new career role, we also have to think about our financial requirements today – what we will need to sustain our lifestyle while we look for that next opportunity. The first part should be fairly easy for us to define. What are your current fixed expenses? Those bills that you know have to be paid each month: mortgage/rent; auto and health insurance; car payment; child care. Well, you get it. We all have our fixed expenses, so really think that through and get it down on paper and total the amount. See that wasn’t so painful, was it?

Now let’s think about our variable expenses: groceries; gasoline; credit cards; eating out; entertainment; clothing; shoes (a girl’s gotta have a new pair of shoes – maybe that should be in the fixed category!) Again, you get the idea. Write down the approximate amount you spend in each category and get your total.

How about those savings? What amount of accessible funds do you have available (just in case you need them): savings; stocks/bonds; IRAs; change in the piggy bank; money stuffed in the mattress. Get it down on paper. I am in no way suggesting you use your accessible funds; however, it is always good to understand the amount of money you have, where it is and how to get it if necessary.

Remember, this is all so we can truly understand how much money we need/want to make in our next position. Some people will be thrilled with their current financial situation and will not want to take big risks for big rewards. Other people might want to take some bigger risks so there is a bigger payment in the end. All of this is an individual decision and needs to be based on what is best for you.

Time to do some discovery work on what you are looking for from a total compensation perspective. It is important that you understand your salary/income requirements prior to your search. This will be based on your target market – including geographic location, industry or type of organization, position/function (all coming in future blogs). Look at your requirements in the following five categories. List what you: a) would like, and b) what you are willing to take in each category. Be realistic. Or…maybe you can dream a little bit and have two lists. Why not? One that is realistic, and one that is completely out there in dreamland. You are going to write that book you know is in you, get on Oprah and become a zillionaire!!

  1. Base salary

  2. Commission

  3. Bonus

  4. Benefits

  5. Other (stock, signing bonus, extra vacation time, etc.)

See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? The salary conversation is often the hardest one to have and you need to really think it through. That is why it is so important to be clear about your requirements and be able to clearly articulate them. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be for you to answer the question “what are your salary requirements?” You don’t want to hesitate…you want to be sure of yourself…and say exactly what you want. Remember…if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.

Hope this helped, and you don’t have knots in your stomach. In fact, I hope this exercise took the knots away. You are now clear about fixed and variable expenses. You are clear about your compensation requirements, and you are very, very proud of where you are today.

Your success is defined by you and for you!

Remember…your success is defined by you and for you. Don’t let anyone else place their values on you and tell you what success looks like for you and your life!

Here’s to the greenbacks coming your way!!!

Till the next time…Karen

Bruce springsteen, Career, Jersey shore, New jersey, Performance Reviews with The Get Real Guide to your Career, Professional and team leadership

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October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

It’s time to brag a little bit. What are the chances you can do that? Of course, we all know people who brag a tad too much (so annoying)…and then there are those who don’t brag at all (even if they should)…As my Dad used to say to us growing up, “No one likes a show off.” Needless to say, that has wreaked havoc in my life over the years. Yes, another story completely! I will spare you the details!

We’re now at the point in our adventure through The Get Real Guide where we begin thinking about the (Triumphs) we have had in our work life. No matter what age we are, no matter what we do for a living, we have all had accomplishments that we need to be proud of, and be able to articulate clearly and concisely. When we are successful, it is often because we are applying our skills, natural talents and experience to achieve significant results. Analyzing your key accomplishments will help you understand the skills and natural talents that helped you achieve them.

Remember when I wrote about our Natural Talents and how important it is to understand what they are, and how important they are to our success? As we get ready to do our Triumphs exercise, we want to be certain we are acknowledging what those Natural Talents are. Let me explain.

Yeppers…it is time for some work. I know, I just can’t help myself, can I? I guess it’s the coach and/or nag (you decide your term) in me. As we walk through The Get Real Guide, we need to do some work along the way. Here goes:

Think back through your work life and your many accomplishments. List 5 of your most significant accomplishments. Now here is the important part – list the 5 significant accomplishments that you really loved achieving. We have all had accomplishments that –for many reasons-we do not want to repeat. Today let’s focus on those accomplishments you just nailed and loved doing. Think about them. Take a walk down memory lane. Smile a bit…remember who you were working with, the project, the environment, what were the deliverables? Why was it a Triumph?

Now, get your list and next to each accomplishment, write the skill/natural talent/trait required to achieve that item. Be very clear and concise. Take a look – what are the recurring patterns or themes? What are the skills and natural talents that are helping you be successful? Once you determine those…bingo…you’ve got the language you will need as you begin thinking about a job promotion or a new job. When you can articulate those skills and natural talents, the person you are talking to will be able to see and hear in your delivery the excitement, the energy, the confidence you have. People want to surround themselves with positive people. When you are talking about your Triumphs it is hard not to be positive.

Isn’t it fun just thinking about the good work you have done in the past? Go ahead…brag a little bit…just don’t tell my Dad!

Till the next time… Don’t Stop Believing!!!

Career, Performance Reviews with The Get Real Guide to your Career, Professional and team leadership

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Show Stoppers

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

As I sit here trying to write my blog about Show Stoppers – those things that stop us in our tracks and keep us one step from achieving what we want to achieve – I think…what is stopping me from writing this blog? Oh…that’s right…I have to be creative, provide substance and most of all give the reader a reason to read. Just a little bit of pressure, wouldn’t you say? At this moment, my preference would be to stop thinking and do almost anything else instead of sitting at my computer. Maybe I’ll go do laundry. Now, that is a sad state of affairs! With that said, the important element is to “push through” the negative self-talk and write something meaningful. I’ll try my best.

Yes, we all have that little person sitting on our shoulder that says to us “are you crazy, you can’t do that” or “you do not have the guts to pull that one off” or “you’ve never done that before, what makes you think you can do it now?” There is not a human being alive who does not have doubts about something they want to achieve. For some, those doubts will fuel us. For others, those voices will stop us in our tracks and paralyze us. It is easier to go do the wash. Yes, indeed this is true.

Stand tall, be confident, provide the reasons you are the right fit and candidate for the position and push through that F-E-A-R. Own it, make it yours and get that new job.

Fear is an overwhelming emotion. Susan Jeffers says – “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Well, that’s very easy to say; however, making it a reality is taking it to another level. What we have to do is really think through what our personal Show Stoppers are. What stops us in our tracks and prevents us from getting that next work assignment? What stops us in our tracks and prevents us from taking the leap and becoming an entrepreneur, going back to school for something we’ve always wanted to learn – doing whatever will help us fulfill our dreams? It’s that darn four letter word – F-E-A-R.

As I began to write The Get Real Guide, I realized that in a lot of my personal career development work the focus was on accomplishments, skills, etc. No one was asking me, “what is preventing you from doing what you want to do?” Now, I did all types of work around what I wanted; however, I wasn’t answering that dreaded question – What gets in your way? I realized that I was very similar to others, yes, I was confident, yes, I wanted more and yes, I had “stuff” that kept messing with my head. I had to address that “stuff.” UGH…is just about all I had to say.

So, yep, if you have read or worked with me, you know what is coming next…ya gotta get stuff down on paper. If you can see it, you can own it and then you can do something about it. So, what’s on your list? Write down 5 Show Stoppers that have gotten in your way in the past. The reason I say 5 is because we don’t want you to get carried away and then completely get overwhelmed by what you think you have to “fix.” Five is plenty. This can be tough because you have to own what you don’t do well. Here are some Show Stoppers from The Get Real Guide. Do any of these resonate for you – argumentative; arrogant; closed-minded; defensive; fear of success (it ain’t just failure some of us are afraid of); insecure, lack of goal setting; perfectionist (yep, I said it – are you a perfectionist?); timid.

Now, take a look at your list. As you look at your list of Show Stoppers, think about specific times when they have impacted your life, your decisions, your career. Why and how did they make an impact? As you look at each one, write down next to it what you are going to do the next time it rears its ugly little head. An example – fear of success. As crazy at it sounds, a lot of people are afraid of success. If this is on your list, how are you going to overcome it? What success are you afraid of? When did it impact you? What do you want next for yourself where you believe it will show up? What measures are you going to take to squash it? You want to be thinking about this prior to ‘it’ showing up. If you have an opportunity for a job promotion, or you have an opportunity to interview for a new job in a new company, be prepared and show ‘em what you are made of. Stand tall, be confident, provide the reasons you are the right fit and candidate for the position and push through that F-E-A-R. Own it, make it yours and get that new job.

Doesn’t that all sound so easy? Hardly! It takes work. It takes confidence in yourself and it takes a plan. And, you know what, you are worth it!

Till the next time… Don’t Stop Believing!!!

The Good The Bad and the Ugly

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

Where have we all heard this term before? Hmmm…is it a movie… …is it a book title…oh no…is it your life? When I created The Get Real Guide to Your Career, I really wanted to appeal to people who needed some levity as they looked at their life and their career. I wanted to inspire people to want to do the work, and to open The Get Real Guide and go on a “career journey” with me. I know..I know…it’s tough sometimes. With that said, time is going to be passing anyway, so you might as well take the time to set up your life to do what you want to do, and be as planful as possible. Heck, next year at this time wouldn’t you rather have done some work and set yourself up for success, than be complaining and cranky and blaming the world for your not being what you wanted to be when you grew up? Nope, being cranky isn’t a good idea. So, let’s get planning.

We have all made some really good decisions, and, on the flip side, we have made some not-so-good decisions. No matter what, all of these decisions have accumulated, and we are now at a place in our life where we wouldn’t be, without those decisions. I know…DUH…well, of course, that is true. As you continue to plan for your next career move, it is a good idea to reflect on your past career choices and continue to get clear about what you don’t want to do.

In my last blog, “I’ve Got a New Aptitude,” I discussed the importance of understanding what skills you would like to use and, just as important, what skills you do not want to use. This next exercise is set on the same premise. Let’s see what the heck I am talking about.

Think about your past work experiences. What factors led each of those experiences to be either a great experience, or one you would not want to repeat? Describe as fully as possible those factors that made your work situations especially exciting or rewarding (The Good), those that made them boring or frustrating (The Bad) and those factors that you want to avoid at all costs (The Ugly). Write a list of at least 5 Good, 5 Bad and 5 Ugly. Be as specific and honest as possible. Take a look at them and I bet you will laugh thinking about those Ugly ones. We all have them, and once they are behind us, we can say, “What was I thinking?” What is more important is that you don’t repeat those Ugly work situations. Once you have them down on paper and can see them with your very own eyes, you know you will say “nope…not me…ya can’t make me do that again.”

Now…take a look at those Good work situations. What was it about them that got them listed in the Good column? My guess, they were work environments that were aligned to the skills you want to use, your natural talents and your values. Take a minute and check back on your work. Everything I am talking about and all the work you are doing is building your foundation and helping you get clearer about who you are today, and who you want to be tomorrow. As we keep moving through The Get Real Guide to Your Career you will see how each exercise is a piece of the pie. The more work you do, the bigger the piece of pie. And, who doesn’t like pie???

Thanks for coming along on your career adventure with me. Whatever you do…Don’t Stop Believing!!!

Till the next time…

Career, Performance Reviews with The Get Real Guide to your Career, Professional and team leadership

I Am What I Am – NO shoulda-woulda-coulda!

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

I Am What I Am

As long as you are hangin’ with me during our walk through The Get Real Guide, I will make one requirement. There will be NO shoulda-woulda-coulda in your vocabulary. Let’s not deny that every single one of us has played the shoulda-woulda-coulda card at some point in our lives. Heck, some of us like it so much that we use it all the time. I shoulda gone on that job interview 15 years ago. I woulda been a millionaire by now and wouldn’t have to work another day in my life. If only I coulda gotten that promotion, I’d be the big boss now and tell these people exactly the right way to do things around here. Yes, you can laugh because it is rather amusing. It is human nature to relive our decisions and actually believe they “coulda” been better. Well the fact is, you made the decisions you made. It’s time to move beyond them now, and make some new decisions.

My point is, we have to take the negativity out of our vocabulary. What we say is what we believe, and what we believe becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. I can’t look for a new work opportunity, there are too many bills to pay. What if I don’t get the job, then what? I can’t spend time working on myself, I have a family I have to take care of. They need me. I am depressed just writing these statements.

How about flipping those statements around a bit? Let’s try. I am so excited to be looking for a new work opportunity. I have bills to pay and I will be able to pay them off because I will make more money. Heck, I will be able to go on vacation, too. Let’s try the next one. Wow, I am going to get that job and begin the next chapter in my career. Things are looking up and I am thrilled. Oh…now don’t they sound a tad more worthwhile and uplifting? Let’s try the last one…I love being able to spend time thinking through what I want to do next in my career. My family is so supportive. They keep commenting on how my moods have changed, how I have more energy and I am just more fun to be around. WOW. Now, which set of sentences sound/feel better to you? The energy surrounding the last three is so positive, so filled with possibilities and life. Which person would you rather be around – Negative Nelly or Positive Penelope?

Enough said…NO shoulda-woulda-coulda…

As long as you are going to be looking for new work, why not find work that maps directly to your natural talents? What are natural talents? you ask. Natural talents are those abilities that are so much a part of you that you often forget about them until someone points them out. These are the innate skills that evoke such comments as you make that look so easy, you’re a natural, or, how did you do that? None come to mind? Oh, come on! What if I were to say to you, I’ll give you one million dollars if you do not use for the rest of your life. What could you not give up for one million dollars?

I know what you are thinking. Is she crazy? I could give up anything for one million dollars. Really, I say? Let me explain.

One of my core values in life is to laugh often and laugh very loud. If I have one day that goes by where I don’t have a really good belly laugh, I am cranky. And, I promise you that is not a very nice sight. Just ask my husband! What I have realized through the course of my life, is that not only is humor a core value of mine, it is also a natural talent. I bring my humor to every aspect of my life. Whether I am in work-mode, or play-mode, I use my humor. It is just natural to who I am. I use it in so many ways – to break the silence, to bring up a difficult subject, to crack a joke. I just flat out can’t help myself. Humor is what keeps me alive!! If someone came to me and said I will give you one million dollars to no longer use your humor, I would not be able to accept the money. In fact, there is no number I can put on it. I just know that as long as I am living I will use humor in my life. That, my friends, is a natural talent. Take a moment, think about what you would not give up at any price. List 3-5 natural talents. Come on, you can do it. If you are still stuck, ask someone close to you what they think your natural talents are. I’ll bet they will tell you about talents you never realized you had. Think back over your career and life accomplishments. What are the natural talents that helped you succeed? Maybe you have a natural talent of inspiring others, or teaching, or managing. Come up with your own list of natural talents.

Do you see why it is so important for you to pay attention to your natural talents while in job search mode? If you do what is core to your being, it will be effortless. You won’t have to work so hard at it. You will do it no matter what is required of you. Look around you. Those people who are using their natural talents in their work are often the ones who are most happy and successful. Take Steve Jobs. His natural talent is to create. He cannot help himself. And I am truly grateful for his natural talent as I am using my iPod right now to help inspire me while writing this blog. Thank you, Steve. And, thank you, Bruce, for the inspirational music. Bruce is another one who uses his natural talents every, single day and can’t not use them. Where’s my guitar?

Till the next time…

Career, Performance Reviews with The Get Real Guide to your Career, Professional and team leadership