Caroline Dowd-Higgins Career Coach • Author • Speaker Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:06:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Give Yourself Two Minutes – Meditate Your Way to Calm Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:06:23 +0000 I’ll admit it…I’m a Type A personality—some might even say Type AA. I move at top speed, doing the work I love—coaching, writing, hosting, managing – however, while this boundless energy has been a blessing in my multi-tasking life, it has, at times, been the source of undue stress as well.

As a career coach, I have always talked a lot about work/life integration, but, about a year ago, I realized that I needed to be practicing more of what I was preaching. While I was regularly working out, eating right (most of the time), and getting eight hours of sleep, I still had an underlying feeling of unrest.

The Oprah/Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Challenge…

Last fall, I decided to rise to Oprah and Deepak’s challenge and find out whether I could actually sit still and “go within”. After a year of meditation, I can report that the answer is an unequivocal Yes! And I’m happily hooked on the practice.

Meditation has allowed me to tap into a place of calm that I didn’t know I had. While this is all still a work-in-progress, a few minutes of meditation a day have helped me get a better handle on my stress – both physical and emotional.

All of this is to say that, if I can do it, you most certainly can too. If you haven’t already discovered the stress-reducing power of meditation, I encourage you to at least dip a toe in—even if just for two minutes a day—to experience the benefits.

Here are the five basic elements of meditation to help you on your way:

Time: Deepak Chopra suggests morning and evening as ideal times to meditate because “they coincide with our body’s quieter rhythms”, but adds that really any time is a good time for the practice. I’ve found that even taking a couple of minutes to meditate at my desk, mid-day, can make a powerful difference.

Body Position. Chopra says that it’s important to be comfortable, and that sitting upright is preferable to keep alert.

Thoughts. Meditation is about letting your thoughts come and go without attaching to them. Focusing on your breath, or on a particular word or “mantra”, helps you stay, as Chopra calls it, “in the space between the thoughts”.

If doing this on your own feels intimidating, I recommend listening to guided meditations. I love them since they take you step-by-step through the process.

Breath: When you feel like you’re getting carried away by those monkey chatter thoughts, focusing on the natural rhythm of your breath bring you back to your center and helps keep you in the present moment.

Duration. The effects of meditation are cumulative, according to Chopra. He says it’s better to spend just a few minutes meditating every day rather than meditating for an hour a week. Whether you can commit 30 minutes, 15, or just two minutes a day, a regular practice can add up to feeling more centered and calm.

You can easily access the Oprah/Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience, free-of-charge, at, or you can try meditating on your own by finding time to sit quietly and follow the rhythm of your breath. Either way, I encourage you to get in touch with the calm within you!

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Your Working Life Podcast with Thelton McMillian Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:03:51 +0000 Thelton McMillian is CEO at Comrade where he provides creative and visionary leadership while fostering a culture of collaboration and excellence.

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Do You Have a Job, a Career, or a Calling? Sat, 13 Dec 2014 19:57:26 +0000 Are you doing something exceptional in your work? Think about how you spend your precious time. It is a job, a career or a calling?

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Your Working Life Podcast with Julie Foucht Sat, 13 Dec 2014 19:51:35 +0000 Julie Foucht, Kickass Biz Coach, empowers super cool women to build passion driven, money making, totally awesome, Kickass businesses.

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7 Ways to Improve Your Mood at Work Sat, 13 Dec 2014 19:50:26 +0000 Jude Bijou, MA, MFT, is a respected psychotherapist, professional educator, and workshop leader who appeared on my show: Your Working Life this season. Her award-winning book is Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life.

I love Jude’s tips about improving your mood at work since we all can relate to needing an attitude adjustment every now and again. Learn more at

Our job is where we spend the majority of our waking hours, and where stress, worry, and frustration can easily impede our performance, productivity, and workplace relationships. Here are 7 easy ways to stay upbeat and positive, and to flip bad moods into good ones quickly and effectively.

1. Stop “what-iffing” and “deadlining.”

“What-iffing” is when your thoughts are fixated on the past–what you did wrong in the meeting, or why you got passed up for the promotion. “Deadlining” is when your thoughts are focused on the future–worrying about the project that has to get done or wondering how the client will react to your presentation. Unhappiness is caused by thinking about the past or the future. When you’re completely “in the now,” you can’t be unhappy. Stop what you’re doing, take some breaths, and just “be.” When you have a past- or future-focused thought, flick it away. Even if you can sustain this activity for literally two minutes, it will help you feel better–especially if you’re under a lot of stress. It will give you a “happiness break.”

2. Drown out negative chatter.

Counteract an unhappy thought with a statement that’s irrefutable and 100% true. The negative chatter that goes on inside our head is untrue and based on false assumptions derived from anger, sadness, and fear. You can interrupt thoughts by finding a statement that’s true and repeating it over and over until you feel better. For example, instead of “I’ll never get all of this done in time,” you can say “I’ll do what I can.” If you can find a contradictory statement to repeat that’s 100% true, it will change your mood.

3. Be grateful, not grumpy.

Think of something you’re grateful for. This simple technique really works wonders. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, depleted, or unhappy at work, simply close your eyes and think hard about one thing that makes you happy. This is the idea behind why pets help people who are in distress. When people focus on how much they love their pet, for example, other issues take a back seat. You can’t think about something you’re grateful for and something you’re unhappy about at the same time.

4. Say NO! to “trash thinking.” 

Trash thinking is like trash talking. It’s putting yourself or someone else down. Most of us are aware of when we’re thinking mean thoughts about a coworker, client, or employee, or when we’re being hypercritical about ourselves. The first step is to be aware. The second step is to say “no.” You can even say it out loud at a good volume: “NO!” Find a private space and stomp around the room and yell it. Pretty soon you’ll be smiling again. Probably even laughing!

5. Be the “happy one” at work.

Moods are contagious, and when you become known at work for being ridiculously, unstoppably upbeat, people will begin to smile before you even open your mouth. You can avoid the common squabbles and doldrums employees and bosses suffer simply by smiling a lot at the beginning of your day and saying out loud, “What a gorgeous day for data entry,” or “Isn’t it nice to be employed?” People will love to work with you because you’re happy. What they don’t know is that you’re making yourself happy too!

6. Just get over it.

Practice accepting what is. When we stop expecting people and situations to be different than they are, we’re instantaneously less frustrated and more able to look within to decide what we want or need to do currently. Remind yourself, “People and things are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.” If you can get over your frustration that things aren’t the way you want them to be, you will enjoy yourself more and maybe even learn a new way of approaching a problem.

7. Wear someone else’s shoes.

Instead of being self-absorbed, it’s a great practice to suspend your own position and just listen in order to understand where someone else is coming from. You don’t have to agree, but listening well is the ultimate in giving and will bring you feelings of connection and love. Happiness at work comes when we have a sense of fellow feeling with our coworkers–that we’re all in this together, and we have each others’ backs.

Want to find out more about the attitudes and emotions that dominate your character and may be sabotaging your business success or happiness at work? Take a quick self-quiz here, and then try the coping strategies designed to address them.


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New on The Job? 5 Strategies to Make a Great First Impression Mon, 08 Dec 2014 13:14:25 +0000 Changing jobs can be a welcome and exciting transition, but it can be a stressful time as well. A year ago, I had the opportunity to step into a newly created position – becoming Director of Professional Enrichment for the Indiana University Alumni Association – experiencing, once again, what it’s like to be “the new girl” in the office. While I was thrilled to be starting this job, I will admit that I was feeling butterflies at the thought of being in a new work environment again.

A year into the job, I can say it’s been a positive time of growth and new challenge – made smoother thanks, in part, to the transitioning strategies I used to help me get acclimated. If you’ve recently started a new job, or anticipate that you’ll be in a new position at some point down the line, I hope these strategies can be helpful to you as well:

#1 – Be an Active Listener

It’s important, especially for new employees, to listen a lot. As a newbie, it’s a good idea to keep your opinions to yourself—unless asked—and, in general, lay low until you get to know your fellow employees and they get to know you. Earning the trust and respect of your new team can take time, so you want to avoid coming across as overly aggressive.

#2 – Get To Know People By Name

Remembering names of your new teammates can go a long way in helping to make a good first impression and get your working relationships off to a solid start. I recommend taking notes to remind you of who’s who and, if you get stuck, you can always say, “Please help me remember your name,” when necessary. Addressing people by name, early on, helps you engage more quickly with new workmates, and shows that you’re making a concerted effort to get to know them.

#3 – Learn the Landscape

The organizational chart from Human Resources is a good point of departure to understand who reports to whom. This will help you avoid stepping on anyone’s toes by inadvertently going over someone’s head. Knowing where to go to get help is also essential – so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

#4 – Play Well With Others

It’s important to be easy-to-get-along-with and a responsible teammate right out the gate in a new position. Authenticity is key, so honor your personality and bring your most positive energy to the table. Greeting people professionally – making eye contact and offering a smile or a firm handshake when appropriate – helps you put your best foot forward.

#5 – Teach People How to Treat You

The beginning of a new job is a great opportunity to help others understand your work and communication styles. Establishing your work ethic, boundaries, and the type of learner you are is key at the get-go, so be cognizant of the professional persona and expectations you’re creating for yourself. You want to create realistic and sustainable work practices that honor you as well as your new organization.

While the first year in a job can be a big adjustment, keeping the above strategies in mind can help you navigate being “the new girl” with more savvy and ease. Applying the five strategies can help you settle in and lay a solid foundation for the new challenges and career adventures ahead.

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Your Working Life Podcast with Kimberley Kasper Mon, 08 Dec 2014 13:13:50 +0000 Kimberley Kasper is the Chief Marketing Officer at Jobvite responsible for all areas of marketing including marketing communications, programs, and operations.


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Make Emotional Bank Deposits at Work Mon, 08 Dec 2014 13:11:03 +0000 Melissa Greewell of Finish Line taught me the power of emotional bank deposits in the workplace. Recognize people for their extraordinary efforts and create a culture of advocacy.

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Don’t Let Sitting Dampen Your Career Creativity at Work Fri, 28 Nov 2014 20:24:58 +0000 Don’t let a sedentary workplace zap your creative energy. Get up and get moving with walking meetings and offsite experiences for a more productive and healthy career.

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7 Tips To You Put Your Best Speech Forward in Your Career Fri, 28 Nov 2014 20:23:04 +0000 Over the years, a number of my coaching clients have expressed a desire to improve their public speaking abilities – especially if they’re being called upon to make presentations at work.

For many, speaking in front of a live audience is a daunting proposition. Some clients have admitted to feeling like “a deer in the headlights” when speaking to groups.

As someone who gives presentations regularly, I can say, from experience, that it’s only natural to feel butterflies before giving a talk. However, if you find that your nerves are a serious impediment when it comes to giving a speech, these seven strategies can help:

#1 – Memorize Concepts Not Content – Carol Roth, contributor at Entrepreneur, recommends using bullet points for the content, stories, data and key takeaways you want to convey in your presentation – then speak naturally about them. I find this method especially helpful – since memorizing can end up sounding over-rehearsed and unnatural. Also, if you forget something, having the lines memorized can throw you off track and into a panic.

#2 – Practice, Practice, Practice! – I find it very helpful to rehearse out loud – incorporating any audio/ video elements I’ll be using as well – when preparing for a talk. It’s also helpful to rehearse in the actual space where you’ll be giving your presentation, if possible. Being well prepared, through practice, demonstrates a true respect for your audience, not to mention, for yourself.

#3 – Know Your Audience – The more you can relate with your audience in terms of their interests or concerns as a whole – the better the connection. Talking with audience members before your speech, and incorporating information gleaned from those conversations, can also add to the connection and intimacy of your presentation.

#4 – Meditate/Visualize – Take time to meditate before giving a presentation by putting creative visualization to work. Imagine the end result of your presentation – seeing in your mind’s eye your audience smiling and applauding.

#5 – Stretch – In her TED Talk, “Your Body Shapes Who You Are”, Harvard researcher, Amy Cuddy discusses the power of “alpha poses” – spreading out the body’s wingspan to its fullest extent– as a proven method to increase confidence during a presentation. Cuddy says that striking power poses (ie: Wonder Woman stance with hands on hips/ legs spread apart or runner’s Victory ‘V’ with arms in the air) for just two minutes before a presentation can help you convey a stronger presence.

#6 – Focus on the Mission – Putting your attention on the objective of your talk, and how it will serve your audience can help take the focus away from any anxiety you may be feeling.

#7 – Be Interactive – The more you can involve the audience in your presentation, the better. Posing a question or two to the group/ asking for a show of hands, using audio and video components, as well as props, can help make your speech a more engaging and entertaining experience.

You can hone your presentation skills by practicing at home, or by joining presentation and leadership organizations such as Toastmasters International. The more speeches you give, the more comfortable you’ll be “taking center stage” and the more you’ll be able to share important information in an exciting and engaging manner.



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