Archive for March, 2011

Working woman

Go from Dogs Body to Top Dog

Do you ever wonder why everyone else seems to cope except you?  Some sail through life getting things done, having a ball, scoring promotion and being the heart and soul of the party too.

It’s so unfair it’s enough to turn you into the muttering mad person on the bus.  Life’s just not like that for you.  Sometimes it even feels like you don’t exist. People fail to acknowledge or thank you even though you do so much for them.  No one seems to hear you and all your requests and needs fall on deaf ears no matter how many times you repeat yourself.  You’ve give up on shouting.

Some folk, even loved ones, talk to you as though you were, at best, something nasty stuck on their shoe and at worst  a special needs case.  It’s got that you tolerate so much bad behaviour you’re angry enough to go three rounds with Mike Tyson.  Except you’re too busy licking your wounds and doing your “poor me” routine.  Sound like you?

Self pity and occasional resentment maybe your oft-used coping strategies but it’s not going to change this spiral of powerlessness and self disregard.  You may be kind and loving and the sort of person others depend on but unless you start respecting your time, space, body and self, sadly, nobody else will.

The good news is you can seriously change your life by making a few simple but dramatic tweaks.  The best and most powerful way to do this is by putting in a boundary.

Boundaries are an imaginary line of protection you place around yourself which shows others how to behave around you.  Without a strong boundary people feel free to ride rough shod over you and your feelings and just as you tell your child what is acceptable or not, so you have to do that with others in your life too.

So often we think we show love by letting people do what they want around us, never picking them up when they say hurtful things or they fail to acknowledge our generosity.  But in reality it means we let them know we don’t honour ourselves so why should they?

Healthy Boundaries – Happy You

A good starting point is to make a list of areas in your life that are not being respected by others.  What needs to change here?  Now “get” that you deserve better treatment than this and you’re on the road to increased respect, more energy, healthy relationships, less fear, more trust, true friends and less heart ache. Sounds good doesn’t it?

The next step is “educating” others and this is the tricky bit.  If folk have been used to stampeding through your life without a second thought it’s going to take time to get them to understand that you no longer allow this.

But you can do this with care and attention (after all “accommodating” is your middle name, remember?) but most of all you must do it with conviction.

For example sit down with each person and share with them your process.  It might go something like this – “I am happy to drive us all to bingo/work/the pub each week but I think a thank you wouldn’t go amiss and a contribution to the petrol from now on would be great.  Or why don’t we take it in turns?”  Gentle but firm is the key.

No less than demand that every single person in your life is always unconditionally constructive in every comment to you.  No more snide comments, underhand digs, unkind nicknames, deprecating remarks in any situation.  Like, ever!

Tell them what happens for you when they don’t respect your boundary.  “When you don’t comment on what I do I feel unappreciated, hurt and fed up” or “when you talk like that I feel hurt and I’d like it to stop” and they will see the consequences of their behaviour and hopefully change.

Some will get it and others will want to push the boundary because they have had free reign for years they won’t want to tow your boundary line.  But stick with it.  Request they stop, then demand they do if they don’t and then walk away without getting into an argument.  Keep it up and soon they’ll realise you mean business.

Remember to thank those who respect your boundaries as these are people who are acknowledging and helping you in your development.  As your confidence increases the boundaries will become automatic and you will grow as a person, have a great circle of friend and colleagues and you will live life fearlessly and happily.

In short, put in a boundary and you make life limitless.

Your Boundary Tool Kit

  • Say “no” 100 times more than you already do
  • Stop volunteering to get love/respect/notice/friends
  • Shouting or swearing at or around you is strictly forbidden
  • Do not allow anyone to touch you in a way that feels uncomfortable
  • Always build in time for yourself each day
  • Ask people to acknowledge your good deeds
  • Give people the chance to grow with you but never back down on a boundary
  • Don’t use boundaries to get even with others
  • Always put a boundary in with care and grace
  • Remove yourself from the situation if someone consistently abuses your boundaries

Are You Dis-Respecting Me?

Here’s what happens when your boundaries are weak:

  • You often feel hurt by other people’s thoughtlessness
  • People intrude upon your time and space
  • You accept verbal abuse
  • There is a lack of respect in your life
  • You are a dog’s body
  • You often volunteer and are seldom thanked
  • You attract and create needy people
  • You’re often the butt of jokes
  • You get overlooked and feel invisible
  • You find it hard to trust

Author: Carole Ann Rice, one of UK’s leading life coaches,

Image by:, Yuri_Arcurs

Women in boardrooms

Women in boardrooms

Lord Davies report reveals a culture tired of feminism but a world still run by men in suits…essentially, (women) are still standing behind the tea trolley, or sitting neatly crossed-legged next to the chairman, taking the minutes.

Read Joyce McMillan’s blog, posted february 2011

mother at work

Real ways to make money from home

Most of those “work from home” opportunities that you see on TV, in the newspaper, or online are scams or pay you so little for the time you’ve invested that it’s not worth your while.  

Read Julie McCormick’s article, published on Stepcase Ltd.

Identify your transferable skills

Identify your transferable skills

Re-inventing yourself isn’t easy, but it can be fun. It requires re-thinking who you are, what you want and what you are good at. Once you know the answers to these questions, you will have a much better idea of what you want to do. Let’s look at what you are good at. You might even surprise yourself by finding some skills you never knew you had!

A skill is something you can do, something you are good at. It can come from all aspects of your life, including a job.

Are you seriously wondering now whether you have any skills at all? You might be telling yourself you have very few useful skills as you have been out of paid work for many years. Or perhaps you feel you have been trained in a specific role that is either out of date, not applicable for someone your age, or will just not work with family life.

Here’s the good news: people build up skills in life, not just in paid jobs. If you have been living these past years, I know you have got skills. Yes you do! Perhaps you even have a wider variety of skills than others who have continued in the same line of work.

Think for a moment about the skills, talents and qualities you need to be a partner and parent: Multi-tasking, patience, learning new skills quickly, managing details, taking charge, being organised, managing multiple projects, problem-solving, actively building relationships, coping under pressure, showing flexibility, taking initiative and making things happen. Do I need to go on?

Just have a go yourself and start listing your own skills, using the tools below to help you identify what you are good at.

Unlike work-experience, or specific types of qualifications, many skills can be transferred to any occupation or career of your liking, regardless of where you first picked them up, or how long you have had them. These kinds of skills are called transferable skills.

Many of these skills are of great value to today’s employers. Just think about problem-solving, networking or adaptability skills, all of great use in the fast-changing environment of the business world. In order to sound attractive to potential employers you might need to re-word some of the skills you list, so they sound more business-like. For example doing monthly finances becomes ‘budgeting and financial planning”. Reading job advertisements is a good way to find words that resonate with employers in your sector.

Employers also like evidence. Try and find ways of showing how you have developed these skills. You could for instance do a short course and gain a certificate in an area you already have skills in. You could try and get published, on the web or on paper. Perhaps you won a prize or an award, or you could find some people that are willing to write a reference.

Mention these transferable skills on your CV. It shows you are active, take initiative and have continued to develop professionally, even if you have been out of the workplace for many years.

Instead of looking at how to sell yourself to potential employers, you might actually use these transferable skills to build your own business. Look at your key skills, and consider, how you could:

  • Draw it, photograph it
  • Research it
  • Teach it
  • Buy it/Sell it
  • Export/import it
  • Service it
  • Write about it
  • Set it up

Many women have made a successful career out of doing so. Using skills built up as a parent they start selling baby clothes, a catering business, an event management company, a nanny agency or a highly successful cleaning company. Using their own experience in job-hunting they become a life coach, start a job-agency for part-time work or become a business coach for start-ups.

Once you start looking at it, there are so many options, and believe me, one of them is uniquely yours, fitting your unique skills.

Tools to identify your transferable skills

  • The role tree exercise – In each role you have in life, you apply and develop skills. When identifying your skills it helps to reflect on each role separately. The role tree exercise is a great instrument for this.
  • 246 Verbs – A list of 246 verbs and skills, to inspire you further in finding your own skills, the list is by the author of  ‘what color is your parachute?
  • Skills Sheet – Another, more analytical way of listing your skills.

Tips when using the tools

  • Do all of them, rather than choosing one, as you unleash so much more creativity by looking at an issue from various angles.
  • Consider grouping your skills in categories, e.g.: interpersonal skills, technical skills, communication skills, personal development/mental skills and problem-solving skills.
  • Identify 3-5 key skills, things you are very good at, things that are uniquely yours, things that define you
  • Leave some time for reflection, and then get back to it. You can reflect on your own, or discuss your skills with a good friend.
  • Skills x Interests = career options. Do reflect on what you like and enjoy too.

Like to do more of this?

Author: Inge Woudstra

Image attribution: i-stockphoto, s_dsmit

The mayonnaise jar…and coffee

The mayonnaise jar…and coffee

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar. And the coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – your God, your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favourite passions – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
“The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical check-ups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18 holes. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

Suggested by a reader of Mum & Career who felt this hugely helped her one night when she was searching the Internet

Author: Laura Bankston

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