Caroline Dowd-Higgins Career Coach • Author • Speaker Sat, 19 Jul 2014 17:54:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid? Sat, 19 Jul 2014 17:54:21 +0000 Expand your comfort zone and try news things. By stating your fears out loud you can create strategies to overcome them and move towards your goals.

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Your Working Life Podcast with Brad Karsh Sat, 19 Jul 2014 17:43:19 +0000 Brad Karsh’s book: “Manager 3.0: A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management” is a must read for those in a multi-generational work setting.

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Habits for Success: How To Work Smarter Sat, 19 Jul 2014 17:37:21 +0000 I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing over 400 women from around the world about work and career for my book: ‘This Is Not The Career I Ordered’ and my forthcoming book: ‘Thrive Where You Are’.

Whether entrepreneurial in spirit or working in more corporate environments, many of the women I spoke with had similar ‘habits for success’.  Here are five that rose to the top – helping these successful women work smarter and achieve their career goals.

Network before you need it.  Successful professional women know the power of positive relationships when it comes to generating new business, gathering information, and building a supportive community. Regular networking, whether you have a job or not, sharpens your communication skills and keeps you visible and accessible. It also gives you the chance to ‘pay-it-forward’ by acting as a connection for others.

Cultivate your organizational skills to achieve your goals. Writing To-Do lists, and keeping work and living spaces (including the car) organized and clutter free, are common practices for the successful women I interviewed. Choose an organizational system that’s right for you – that can help manage the many facets of your life. The more organized you are, the more you can get done, and the more you can spend your non-working hours doing the things that really matter to you.

Keep learning. Take advantage of certificates, online classes, webinars, and short-term courses that can expand your knowledge and can give you a competitive edge in your field. Professional development can be an enjoyable pursuit that keeps you sharp and marketable for years to come.

Use Your Creativity.  Creativity and innovation are among the most desirable skills in the workplace. Many of us take the creative problem-solving strategies we use at home for granted, but being innovative is valuable on the job as well. Adapting to change and dealing with unexpected challenges with a level head can help you stand out in the professional arena – so get those creative juices flowing on the job.

Relax and reflect to gain perspective and improve productivity. A ‘time out’ in the form of a lunchtime walk, an off-site coffee break or a weekend away may be exactly what’s needed to ‘reboot’ and gain insight into any challenges you may face at work.

Giving yourself a structure in the form of these ‘habits for success’ can help you find more balance, control and greater fulfillment in your work – as they did for many of the women I interviewed. Cheers to you!

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Don’t Be a Vacation Loser Sat, 12 Jul 2014 15:34:08 +0000 It’s vacation season and the time of year to step away from work to recharge and refresh. Sadly, many people don’t take all the vacation days they earn. Others who take vacation end up working during their time off which defeats the purpose entirely.

According to a Glassdoor survey, only 25% of employees with paid time off took all of their allotted vacation time. I am part of the 75% with copious amounts of unused vacation days – shame on me!

This is not a badge of honor I wear proudly – it’s a waste of precious time I should be enjoying that I earned by working very hard. You may remember from a previous blog that I am a recovering workaholic and I’ll admit – it’s a daily struggle. Some days are great and others I slide backwards down a slippery slope of overworking madness. My most immediate challenge is to unplug for an upcoming week away from work so I don’t become a vacation loser.

I have deputized several accountability masters to hold me to the task of truly unplugging during my summer vacation. Life is too precious for all work and no play so here are some step-by-step instructions for those like me who need a primer on how to take a vacation and not work.

Digital Detox – I am tethered to my smart phone at least 14 hours a day. Like a Pavlovian response, my heart speeds up when I hear the audible sound of each new email or text message ping on my phone. I plan to leave my phone on for social calls but I vow not to conduct business by phone during my vacation. My goal is to not check email for a 7-day span – the thought of which makes me twitch even as I write this. It would be great if I was going to a remote tropical island with no cell reception but I’ll be visiting family in New Jersey so the temptation will be great and the bandwidth is plentiful. I aspire to reconnect with myself as I disconnect from technology.

Try Doing Nothing – my meditation practice is slow but steady and sitting still and quieting my mind for 10 minutes a day seems like an Olympic effort for this self proclaimed Type A Energizer Bunny. I know in my gut that occasionally doing nothing – some call it relaxing – is good for your mind and your body. I plan to put this into practice during my week off and lounge around with a good book for at least some of the time. I’m tired of glorifying being busy and ready to relax. Wish me luck!

Clarity of Expectations – I’ve been really good at telling my friends and colleagues to unplug during their vacations and I honor their time away. At least I write: “Don’t read this email until you get back from vacation.” when I send messages to their crowded inboxes. I know it’s my responsibility to teach others how to treat meat work and at home. I must lead by example and tell my colleagues that I’m really unplugging during my week away. I’ll break down and turn on my out of office email message so my absence won’t cause alarm for the masses.

Give Up The Guilt – I was raised Catholic so I’m really good at guilt. My people have made it a professional sport. On New Year’s Eve four years ago, I gave up guilt when I finally realized it was a useless emotion that was never used for anything positive. Don’t ever succumb to feeling guilty about taking a vacation. You work really hard and vacation time is a form of payment which should be valued as part of your overall compensation package. It’s always going to be a crazy time at work and there is rarely a good time to leave since something important always needs to be done. If you don’t prioritize yourself, neither will anybody else. Enough said.

Live in The Moment – whether you arestaying put to do some home improvement projects or embracing on an exotic destination during your well-deserved time off, consider how you embrace each day. Breathe in the flexible schedule you can keep. Be aware of how your body relaxes differently when you don’t have to commute. Enjoy the freedom to make choices based on what you want, not what you must accomplish in a given workday. Even if you stay at home, vacation should be paradise.

A Remedy for Burnout – Enjoy the opportunity to sleep longer and replenish your body with nourishing rest. Arianna Huffington shared this tip in a piece about 10 things she wished she had known in her 20’s.

 “Not only is there no tradeoff between living a well-rounded life and high performance, your performance will actually improve when your life includes time for renewal, wisdom, wonder and giving. Taking this advice will save you a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout, and exhaustion!”

Back to The Grind – I’ll admit, thinking about the re-entry back to planet work makes me anxious and I haven’t even taken my vacation yet. But I am not going to let that ruin my forthcoming time away. I know that I will have hundreds of emails and voice mails to answer and my schedule will fill up with meetings before I can post my vacation photos to Shutterfly. The work will always be there and I actually love my career so going back won’t be all that bad. I need to give myself permission not to expect that everything will be back up to speed on my first day.

I just might get used to this vacation concept and take some random days to burn some banked vacation time for wellness breaks and “just because” days. Time off is meant to restore your mind and your body so you can come back to work refreshed and rejuvenated. Take it from a former vacation loser – enjoy your career and love your life! And please – don’t contact me during the next week since I’ll be on vacation.

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Your Working Life Podcast with Lauren Berger Sat, 12 Jul 2014 15:32:13 +0000 Lauren Berger is the CEO & Founder of, a FREE internship destination for young people attracting thousands of ambitious young professionals every month. Her new book “Welcome to The Real World” is essential for every workplace rookie.

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Continue Your Lifelong Learning Sat, 12 Jul 2014 15:28:53 +0000 Continue your lifelong learning – from micro credentials to conferences, continue to sharpen your competitive edge and stay fresh in your career field with professional development.

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Assess Your Career VIPS: Getting to Know YOU Sun, 06 Jul 2014 14:55:00 +0000 For many of us, asking the question ‘What do I want to be when I grow up’ doesn’t stop at age 22, or even at 42. While I have coaching clients right out of college who feel at sea because they’re unsure of their career direction, I also have clients who are looking to transition into career number two or three at mid-life who don’t know where to begin.

To help put structure around the job-hunting process, I ask my clients to do an inventory of their priorities by looking at their values, interests, personality, and skills – VIPS in career development jargon – and I encourage you to do the same.

Values – What qualities do you value in your work and overall lifestyle? What motivates you and why? Some people want variety, autonomy, and flexibility, while others need security and prestige. There are no right or wrong answers here, so think of your ideal scenario. You can value any number of combinations.

Interests – Zeroing in on your interests can help you figure out what you’re most passionate about before you make a career move.

  • Think about the activities you like best.
  • Is there something you can do for hours and feel like no time has passed?
  • If money were no object, what would you naturally do?

The Strong Interest Inventory, administered by a certified career professional, is an effective tool that can help, and Gallup’s StrengthsFinder is one of my favorites since you can easily obtain the book and do it on your own.

Personality –Your unique patterns of mental, emotional, physical, and behavioral characteristics are reflected in your personality. The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) is an assessment that breaks personality down into four preferences:

  • How you draw your energy: Are you more energized being alone or around other people? (I – Introvert or E – Extrovert)
  • How you understand the world: Do you focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? (S – Sensing or N – Intuitive)
  • How you make decisions: More thinking or more feeling? (T – Thinking or F – Feeling)
  • Your need for structure/ order: Planner or more spontaneous? (J – Judging or P – Perceiving)

There are online versions of MBTI, but I recommend having it administered by a certified professional who is experienced and can interpret the finer points of the results.

Skills – Think about the unique abilities and specialized knowledge you possess. If it’s hard to do a self-analysis, query friends and relatives. They can often point out skills you hadn’t even considered. An outside perspective can often provide helpful insight.

A career search is as much about self-discovery as it is about finding the right job match, so inventory your VIPS, and make use of the various career assessment tools available. The better you know yourself and your priorities in life – your likes, dislikes and what makes you tick – the better you can determine the best career fit for you.

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Your Working Life Podcast with Rita Allen Sun, 06 Jul 2014 14:51:07 +0000 Rita Allen discusses how to manage your mind & body for a more successful career.

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The Power of a Random Act of Kindness Sun, 06 Jul 2014 14:48:39 +0000 Consider how you can authentically make the day for someone else with a random act of kindness. Positivity is infectious!

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Get Zen About Your Workload Sun, 29 Jun 2014 22:51:37 +0000 Learn how to work smarter, not longer and set realistic expectations to be more productive at work and at home.

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