Caroline Dowd-Higgins Career Coach • Author • Speaker Sat, 21 Feb 2015 23:11:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Know Your Career Blind Spots Sat, 21 Feb 2015 23:11:51 +0000 Know your career blinds spots so you can delegate those tasks and spend more time on what you are really great at!

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Your Working Life with Ashley Tappan and Bonnie Wingate Sat, 21 Feb 2015 23:06:36 +0000 Ashley Tappan and Bonnie Wingate are Indiana University alumnae who work at Insigniam in Philadelphia. On this show podcast they share women’s wisdom about leadership and navigating a corporate career journey.

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Sitting Is The New Smoking and A Hazard to Your Career Health Sat, 21 Feb 2015 23:02:09 +0000 You’ve heard it before, we spend most of our waking hours at work and many spend the majority of their time at a desk in front of a computer. Not to mention the hours we commute to work in a car, plane, train, or bus – sitting. The sedentary lifestyle is a hazard to our health and can also squelch our career advancement.

According to a WebMD feature by Lisa Fields there is a price to sitting too much:

“A growing body of research shows that long periods of physical inactivity raise your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.”

There are easy ways to become more active at work, which will increase your productivity and your heart rate on the job. I’m still a fan of my Fitbit device, which tracks my daily steps and provides me with mobility accountability. This has also given me a new lens through which I consider my career strengths.

Fitness is a Competitive Advantage

Ashley Tappan is a 16-year business consultant and triathlon athlete who co-founded the Fit to Lead program at her company, Insigniam. She blogs about the mounting evidence that fitness leads to career success and transformational leadership. She asserts that fitness (at all levels) creates a business advantage in the workplace.

Tappan believes that fitness is no longer “nice to have” and only for athletes. Fitness confers an advantage and may increasingly be a requirement for leaders in business. From developing stamina and a strong work ethic to taking on new challenges and pushing yourself beyond your perceived limitations. Fitness translates directly from your wellbeing to your career.

Holistic Career Advancement

You need not be a triathlon athlete to tap your career fitness benefits. Getting into the game is what counts most. Treating your body, since it’s the only one you have, with dignity and respect and the movement it requires to stay healthy.

The phrase sitting is the new smoking reinforced my awareness that I’m in control of how I treat my body at work and beyond. As we approach the New Year, many will enlist in elaborate weight loss and exercise regimen plans. If that works for you – go for it. But I urge you to start now by simply getting up and walking around more during your workday.

Tap Your Creative Juices

I’ve recently become a devotee of walking meetings, and I join an ever-growing contingent dedicated to getting up and out of the office to meet on the move. Feet First, a website that promotes walk- able communities, traces the walking meeting back to Ancient Greece and Aristotle’s peripatetic teaching-while-walking methodology.

A recent Stanford University study found that a person’s creative output increased by an average of 60 percent while walking – regardless of whether it was indoors or outdoors. So, not only is the walking meeting advantageous to your health – it promotes new ideas and problem-solving as well.

Here are five good reasons to incorporate walking meetings into your workday from Ronnie Citron-Fink of Planet Green:

  • Walking and talking side-by-side cuts through hierarchical work distinctions and sets people at ease – enhancing a positive working spirit.
  • Getting out of the office offers more confidentiality and fewer interruptions.
  • Different environments inspire new ideas and stimulate creativity.
  • Walking burns calories and stimulates oxygen flow around the body. This increases brain function and the ability to solve problems faster.
  • Connecting with nature – getting fresh air and light – improves overall well being.

As a self-proclaimed high heel lover and wearer, I keep an extra pair of sneakers in my office so I am always ready for a walking meeting. Staying active at work does not have to cramp my career style or my wardrobe.

Death by Meetings

Chip Conley, renowned speaker, author, thought leader, and head of global hospitality for Airbnb talks about the importance of the setting an ambiance for meetings, workshops and company retreats. The stale conference room with fluorescent lighting can stagnate creativity, energy, and outcomes. Consider getting out of the office and going to a new location off site to energize your team and get them moving. You need not spend a fortune. Get creative, consider swaps with local business owners and invest in the creativity of your employees by providing a meeting environment that empowers them to shine. If you are really clever, you will choose a location they can walk to!

My mantra: Enjoy Your Career. Love Your Life! - rings true now more than ever. Get up and get moving during your career day and beyond. Life is short enough and you deserve to honor your body at work and beyond. One step at a time, you can move towards a more active lifestyle and a more productive career. Get moving!


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Learn to Delegate and Trust Sun, 15 Feb 2015 15:34:37 +0000 Learn why delegation and trust are essential as you climb the career ladder.

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Your Working Life with Hayley Barna Sun, 15 Feb 2015 15:23:08 +0000 Hayley Barna is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Birchbox; a leading beauty and grooming ecommerce company.

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5 Reasons to Think About a Career Change Sun, 15 Feb 2015 15:22:40 +0000 I’m delighted to share this guest blog post by Michael Davis who runs a website and blog called www.resume which is a great resource you may find helpful on your career development journey. Thank you for sharing your career change wisdom, Michael!

Lots of people eventually realize that they’re stuck in a job that just isn’t right for them. Whether it’s because they’re not getting promoted, or they just aren’t getting paid enough to keep the lights on, at some point these people realize that something has to give. That usually serves as a good indication that it’s time to either start sprucing up the old resume and looking for something new, or it’s time to start signing up for some classes. Here are five signs that it’s time to start looking for a new career.

No opportunities for growth
Is there room for growth in your current job? Are there promotions you can be evaluated for on a regular basis, or is it a dead end job with no potential for anything better? If you’re stuck in a job with no room to grow, it may be time to start looking for a new career. Just be sure your next job has growth opportunities.

Too much stress
Is your job extremely stressful? Some people experience physical and emotional health problems related to stress at work. If you are in a job that causes you more stress than you can handle, it might be time to start thinking about making a career change in the future.

Problems with co-workers
While minor problems with co-workers are going to arise occasionally, ongoing problems may be indication of a larger problem. Because so much time is spent at work, it’s important to get along with co-workers. When that just isn’t possible, things can get pretty bad. Depending on what the problem is, sometimes, interpersonal conflicts that involve people at work means someone needs to go. If the conflict can’t be solved, it may be time to change jobs to work in a place where there isn’t so much drama.

Too much competition
Is there so much competition in your field that you can’t find a job using your degree? Sometimes too many people opt for particular jobs, and many of them have to find work in other fields. Too much competition can also mean being forced out of a job before retirement. Lots of companies replace established workers with new hires to perform the same work for less money. If concerns about competition in the job market have you thinking about starting a new career, it might not be a bad idea to look at some other options.

Low job satisfaction
Many people don’t like their jobs and others really despise their jobs. Having a job that is actually gratifying is a reality for many other people. If you’re not satisfied with your job to the point where it’s causing you to feel generally dissatisfied in life, it may be time to start checking out other life paths. Most Americans spend one third of their lives at work, and spending that much time on something that is extremely dissatisfying isn’t healthy.

Low pay
Are you working all the time, but can’t afford to pay your bills when they arrive? Many people complain about the pay at their jobs, but some jobs really just don’t pay enough. If you need significantly more income in order to easily afford your current lifestyle, it might not be a bad idea to look for one that starts out in that pay range.

While all jobs are going to have their upsides and their downsides, understanding what to expect in various careers can lead to more fitting choices the next time around. Waking up and going to a job you like is much easier than going to one you hate. If something about your current job makes life seem hopeless or unbearable, it’s probably time to think about making that career change sooner rather than later.



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Be Your Own Valentine Thu, 12 Feb 2015 21:57:35 +0000 It’s the time of year for cards with red hearts, chocolates, and flowers as Valentine’s Day approaches. It causes anxiety for some who are seeking affection and bliss for others who are celebrating their love with someone special.

This Valentine’s Day I encourage you to see it through a different lens. By all means celebrate your beloved but designate time to honor yourself as well on the holiday when we focus on love. When was the last time you really concentrated on yourself without guilt or concern for everybody else in your world?

Prioritizing yourself is not selfish or greedy but an act of self-preservation and gratitude that allows you to be a better, spouse, partner, parent, sibling, friend or colleague. These actions steps will give you techniques if paying attention to yourself is difficult.

Say, “I Love You” To Yourself – declaring your love for another is the ultimate confirmation of affection – but have you ever said “I love you!” to yourself? Loving yourself is essential to boost self-confidence and self-acceptance and you deserve to love yourself just as you give your love to others.

We spend a lot of time beating ourselves up about body image, what we lack, and what we have yet to accomplish. Take a moment and look at yourself in the mirror and declare your love for yourself. This self-recognition will actually help you to ignore the obnoxious roommate in your head that can lead your mojo astray. Start the day with the beautiful ritual of declaring your love for yourself and honor your body since it’s the only one you’ve got.

Heighten Your Senses – in a time-starved world with the constant struggle of integrating the personal and professional, we often miss the joy of our senses. Taste, smell, and enjoy the look of your food, for example. If you are wolfing down your lunch at your desk, you are not loving and honoring yourself or your food.

Enjoy the quiet moments as well as the cacophony of noise and sense your world on a deeper level. A friend gave me a bear hug the other day, which was the perfect antidote to the stress I was feeling. Open your senses wide and experience the little things that make life extraordinary – like the sense of touch.

Embrace Failure – I believe in the power of failure and in my fourth decade of life, I have finally given up guilt. I have learned to fail forward, fast, and often and I embrace change and see risk taking as a new opportunity ready to be discovered.

Give yourself permission to fail. Love yourself for trying new things and expanding your comfort zone. If it doesn’t work out – move in a different direction. Self -forgiveness opens up room for gratitude, growth, and bliss.

Define Yourself by Your Potential – many practice self-loathing because they undervalue their efforts and only focus on achievement. Love yourself for trying and celebrate your determination, not just your results.

Advocate for Yourself – as a career and executive coach, I witness many who will go to bat for others. I see professionals who sing the praises of their colleagues yet they often lack the ability to promote themselves. Keep helping others because it’s the right thing to do and it will make you a better person and a better leader. But, don’t sell yourself short. If you can’t stand up for yourself and show the world what you have to offer – nobody else will.

Write a Love Note to Yourself – my husband often leaves me little notes with loving and humorous sentiments. I cherish these and save them in a box. I know parents who send their kids to school with a pick me up message in a lunch box. Why not write yourself a love note and remind yourself how amazing you are? Leave it in a place you will discover unexpectedly and celebrate yourself. There is enough negative talk in the world – we need more love notes, even if you write your own.

Do Something for Yourself – it’s common to spend much of your time caring and doing for others – both at home and at work. A dear friend just lost her husband after his multi-year battle with a terminal illness. She has been a caregiver for over a decade and is struggling with creating her new identity and the opportunity to focus on herself since she had prioritized her husband and her kids for so long.

Make a point to schedule things jus for you. Whether it’s a walk in nature, a special getaway or a quiet evening to read or catch up on your favorite TV programs – take the time to focus on you.

Do What You Love – bad jobs, bad bosses and bad organizations happen but suffering is optional. Develop a plan to find your bliss vocationally in your career and avocationally in your hobbies and free time.

Remember that laughter is the best remedy for stress and if you are doing what you love – laugher and smiling will be part of your daily ritual.

Diane von Furstenberg, fashion icon and creator of her signature wrap dress shared in a recent appearance on CBS This Morning, “The most important relationship in life is the one you have with yourself. And if you have that, any other relationship is a plus and not a must.”

Be open to love from others and know that you alone are in control of loving yourself first. This Valentine’s Day – say, “I love you!” and celebrate yourself in addition to the others you love. You deserve it!

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Tell Your Remarkable Career Story Fri, 06 Feb 2015 19:59:35 +0000 Be ready to tell your remarkable story so you can answer the question “What do you do?” with a compelling and unforgettable response.

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Perfectionism Part II: 5 Strategies To Overcome It in Life and Career Fri, 06 Feb 2015 19:42:46 +0000 If you’ve ever struggled with perfectionism, you’re not alone. I’ve talked to countless women, through my coaching and travels, who’ve set the bar so high, in terms of their goals and aspirations, that they’re afraid to make any move at all. Author, Elizabeth Gilbert, calls perfectionism “…fear in really good shoes”.

This fear that is perfectionism can often be traced back to early childhood messages – being valued purely for achievements such as: good manners, good grades, following rules, or for keeping up a certain appearance. It can also be traced to the messages we’re constantly bombarded with from the media and society as a whole (ie: images of the perfect body, home, lifestyle, etc.).

In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, author Brené Brown sums up this often debilitating state of mind:

“Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame. It’s a shield. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking that it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.”

In my previous post on the topic, I discussed the telltale signs of perfectionism. Here, I offer 5 strategies that can help you overcome it:

Take Action/ Release Results - Perfectionism can kill a great idea before it’s had time to develop. “Rome wasn’t built in a day” as the saying goes. Neutralize the harsh inner judge that demands perfection right out the gate and go for “good enough” with each step. The merits of taking action far outweigh the importance of doing it right.

Be Aware of Self-Talk – I encourage my clients to monitor their inner dialogue, and when the voice of the inner critic relentlessly chides, “You’ll never amount to anything”, or “There’s no way you can do that!” – simply thank him or her for sharing and continue forward. Acknowledging the inner perfectionist – calling it out to say, “Hello, I see you”…even naming it (“Is that you again, Delores?”) can disarm its power.

Compare Yourself To Yourself/ Follow Your Gut – There will always be someone you perceive to have more than you. Focus on your accomplishments as they relate to your values rather than those of “the Jones” next door. Make your decisions based on what’s right for you as opposed to the opinions of others.

Be Flexible. Perfectionists can come across as micromanagers or over-controlling –which can be difficult when working with others. Rigid thinking coupled with unrealistic expectations can lead to broken relationships, isolation/depression – even premature death due to stress. Everyone is human, and that means everyone makes mistakes. The more flexible and tolerant you can be with yourself and others in light of these imperfections, the happier, more stress-free life you can lead.

Prioritize Importance – It can be easy for perfectionists to get caught up in the minutia of a task, so taking time out to look at the bigger picture, asking “Will this make a difference in the long run?”, can help keep projects on track and completed in a timely manner.

Overcoming perfectionism is about taking action and continuously moving forward on a goal, no matter how small. It’s also about giving it your best, and allowing your best to be “good enough” – without harsh judgment. In the end, perfectionism is about surrendering control so that you can go with the flow and enjoy the journey.



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Your Working Life with Dr. Natasha Withers Fri, 06 Feb 2015 19:40:46 +0000 Dr. Natasha Withers is an accomplished physician at One Medical Group who uses the biopsychosocial model for health and wellness to treat each patient as a whole individual.

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