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Tag Archives: Empowerment

5 Critical Ways To Unplug On Your Vacation

Photo by Elliot Lipner

As summer is that wonderful time for so many to take off for vacation and detach from their job stresses and strains, it’s time now to think about exactly how you’ll plan your exit.

Throughout my career, I’ve had every manner of work situation and crisis emerge while I was on vacation, and sometimes I handled it well, but other times not so well.  If you want to truly unplug, relax and get away with your family and friends, here are 5 critical ways to unplug and make it work:

1)  Make a firm commitment to yourself and your family about how much work you’ll do, and guard that commitment fiercely.

For example, decide up front how many times you’ll check your devices , and stick to it. If you check your phone and email every fifteen minutes, you won’t be able to unplug and detox from the stresses of your job and professional life. Your mind can’t disengage sufficiently to focus on your vacation, your family and friends, and your new surroundings.   If you have to check in, do it in a limited way, perhaps three times in a week, and make it after work hours if you can.

2) Communicate to your colleagues and supervisors about your vacation well beforehand, to inform everyone who needs to know.

Well in advance of your vacation, make it clear when you’ll be gone and that you will have limited access to email on vacation. Clarify that if they need something from you, they’ll need to ask for it and get it before you leave. Don’t set up the expectation that they can bother you day and night and that you’ll be responsive to those requests.

3) Build a clear boundary – set your vacation reply on your email.

This will inform everyone who contacts you that will have limited access to email and will respond as soon as you can after your return.

4)  Assign someone you trust as your key point person.

If you can, assign someone reliable and who knows you well as the key point person for you when you’re gone. This individual — be it your assistant or a colleague or manager in your department – can field questions and issues effectively, and will reach out to you only in true emergencies or situations that truly require your attention.

5)  Decide up front what issues you WILL deal with at work if they arise, and what you won’t.

Prioritize in your mind what constitutes a true emergency, or work issue that you wouldn’t want to miss out on, and what you DO want to leave behind. For example, once when I was on vacation in Cape Cod I received a request for an interview from the Wall Street Journal to comment about a hot news item about pregnant women’s rights in the workplace. You bet I took that call, and was happy to!

* * * * * *

I know that many will read this and say, “No way, Kathy. This can’t work for me.  I’m too needed at work! They won’t leave me alone.”

To that, I say it’s up to you to build a strong and clear boundary around your private, personal time. If you fail to make it crystal clear what your requirements are for unplugging, then people can’t help but intrude on your private time, because you’ve communicated – either consciously or unconsciously – that it’s acceptable for them to do it.

Be bold, unplug, and enjoy your vacation!

What strategies have you used to successfully unplug, relax and restore on vacation? Please share!

(To build a happier, more rewarding career, visit kathycaprino.com and The Amazing Career Project.)

Why You Don’t Invest In Yourself, and 4 Critical Ways to Start – Work You Love Episode 13

WYLBlogImage

Greetings, and welcome to Work You Love – Episode 13!

My Forbes post this week on The Top 5 Reasons Women Resist Investing In Themselves and How It Hurts Them generated so many powerful comments, emails, questions and reactions (including a radio interview with Charles Adler in Canada!) that I wanted to share my thoughts via video with you on what holds women back from saying YES! to investing in their own growth, and what we can do about it starting today.

Here’s my take:

I’d love your candid feedback. Do you resist spending both time and money on your own development? Why? And what outcomes are you denying yourself because of it?

Please share your candid thoughts and comments below, and most importantly, PLEASE – make an investment in yourself today.

Why Investing In Yourself Is Critical and Why So Many Women Don’t

As a women’s career coach and consultant, I deliver scores of training series, teleclasses and career coaching programs each year helping women build more success and reward in their careers. In the seven years I’ve offered these types of programs, I’ve been truly shocked at the number of women (hundreds upon hundreds) who indicate they want to join a program (whether it’s $10, $100, or $1,000), but never pull the trigger.  I can tell you categorically that this is different behavior from what I see in the men who come to me for help. And this reluctance relates to all forms of development –  classes, certification, joining industry associations, attending networking functions, asking for funding, getting help with business plans, and much more.

Typically, men hear me speak, or read my website and blog, talk to me, and then say “Yes” very quickly to working together. No hemming and hawing, no “Let me have a few days to think about this,” and certainly not “I have to check in with my spouse about the investment.” Ever.  Even when the woman is the primary breadwinner, she often doesn’t feel she has the power or authority to say yes to investing in herself without checking with her husband first. I believe that a part of this behavior is a lack of confidence women experience in investing in their own growth.

There’s been a great deal of research and writing about this confidence gap in women, and the root causes, and I have my own theories and beliefs about what contributes to it today (including cultural training, rigid gender roles, role modeling, etc.). But as a career coach who spent years as a therapist and a corporate director focused on advancing women, I’m less interested in the causes and much more interested in the solutions.  I’ve come to see that this is not a myth – women often do, in fact, let their doubts and insecurities about themselves stop them, whereas men tend to push forward despite their doubts. For example, in Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, she references an internal report at Hewlett-Packard that revealed that women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100 percent of the criteria listed; men apply if they think they meet 60 percent of the requirements. I share this not to be unsupportive to women, but to help us all gain awareness of what’s holding us back to achieve what we long for.  After all, greater awareness equals greater choice.

Do a check-in and see if you’re suffering from this condition I call “intractable resistance to growth.” Here are what I’ve found to be top five reasons why women won’t invest in their own growth when they should, and why it hurts them. Do these sounds familiar?

They need to check with someone else.

When it comes to personal and professional development (or anything in life for that matter), you need to make yourself the highest authority of your life, not your spouse, your sister, your boss, your partner.  You need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what you need, want and what you deserve, and go out and get it.  It’s not up to your spouse or anyone else to tell you if you should make this investment – it’s up to you. (I know you’ll say that you and your husband need to agree on your budgeting, etc. To that, I say you need to know what’s necessary, and find a way to get it.)

They’re not sure this is the “right” time.

Here’s a harsh reality: we’re all over –the-top busy and over-committed, and it’s never going to feel like the “right time” to invest in yourself.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the best time.  You’ll always be able to make excuse after excuse as to why you don’t have time to do something critical that will help you. But people who create great success, happiness and reward in their lives carve out the necessary time and money.  They don’t get lost in all the reasons why later would be better.

They’re not clear about the return on investment.

Women worry, “Will I get enough out of this?” and “Will this be a mistake?” Ensuring that your investment offers a healthy return is a choice – it’s based on your actions and decisions, not some random act or chance occurrence. It requires thorough research and due diligence to know if an investment will pay off, but more than that, it requires confidence and commitment that you’ll make sure the money you spend on yourself will be well worth it in the long run.

CLICK HERE to read the complete article on the top 5 reasons women resist investing in themselves.

Do you resist investing in your own growth?  Do you chronically put yourself last?  What can you do to push forward and step up to say “YES!” to supporting your own development, and contributing to the world in bigger ways.  I’d love your thoughts.

How To Move From Self-Rejection To Self-Love In a Day (And How a Photo Shoot Can Help)

SelfLove

In my work as a career success coach, I work with women of all ages, sizes, and styles, and one theme has become very apparent – women are incredibly tough on themselves, full of self-rejection, shame, humiliation and doubt, particularly about their looks, their weight, intelligence and their worthiness.

I can count on one hand the number of women I’ve spoken with who feel “just great” about themselves.  The vast majority of women I interact with are indeed brilliant, accomplished, talented and creative – in short, amazing — but feel somehow that they are not good or worthy enough.  I call these women “perfectionistic overfunctioners” – doing everything for everyone around them, and striving so hard to get an “A” in every single endeavor and aspect of their lives.  I should know – I’m a recovering one.

Since “getting an A” is not possible in every activity or area, women then fall short of their unrealistic expectations, and feel even worse, seeing their “failure” as validation that they have to work harder and be better.

Know that I’m not judging here.  I feel deep love and compassion in my heart for all these women, because I can empathize fully.  I’ve done a lot of internal work around this, and I’m proud to say that I now know how liberating it is to free oneself from needing to get an A, and how fabulous it feels to jump off of the never-ending hamster wheel of doing more than is healthy, more than is appropriate, more than is necessary.

I’ve seen first-hand that once you power up, build appropriate boundaries, and start speaking up and honoring what you want and who you are, you begin to operate very differently in the world, and grow happier and more accepting of yourself and everyone around you. You begin to embrace your “imperfect, just-right” functioning rather than striving for an impossible goal of perfection.  But I’m not always there – I fall down and forget to love and accept myself.

I experienced a wake-up call on this several weeks ago, when I spent a day at a photo shoot in Connecticut, for my new website.  The day’s experiences took me from self-rejecting, shameful and worried (once again) about my looks, my weight, etc., to loving it all – embracing myself, my foibles and flaws, my talents, and who I am at my core.  I saw how the right kind of experience (with the right kind of people who align closely with your values, your heart, and your worldview), can help you move from self-rejection to self-acceptance in a few short hours (or in an instant).

I realized there are 5 key stages of transformation from self-rejection to self-love, and if we gain awareness of these stages, and have the courage to move through them, we can accelerate our own growth.

The 5 stages of transformation from self-hate to self-acceptance are:

Stage 1: “I don’t rate – I’m just not good enough.”

I started the day of my photo shoot afraid – afraid to share my wardrobe choices, reluctant to express what I really liked in terms of style, color, makeup, hair, jewelry, inhibited in my movements and physical presence.  I compared myself in my mind to the thousands of other women my wonderful photographer Jacklyn Greenberg had shot before – young and old men and women who I thought were beautiful and charismatic (so it seemed to me).  Along with headshots, weddings, and national events, Jacklyn does “risqué” photography as well, all of it stunning.  Some clients are naked or are only partially dressed and from Jacklyn’s website, all of them seemed gorgeous, vibrant, and unabashedly free.

I thought, “Oh, no – this is going to be a very long day.”

Stage 2: “Wait, maybe I’m not so bad.”

As the first hour progressed, with the help of the fabulous Jacklyn and wonderful make-up artist D.D. Nickel, things changed and I changed. I moved from fearing everything about me was wrong and inferior, to remembering that what I am – inside and out – is not terrible — far from it. I started to see how my fears– about my looks, weight, age, clothes, wrinkles, skin, tummy, etc. – are universal and the only thing keeping me stuck in my insecurity was me. Interestingly, it wasn’t the make-up that made me feel better – it was the understanding that — unadorned — I was just fine.

Stage 3: “Hmmm…I guess I do have some unique, valuable qualities.”

Then, midway through, something interesting happened.  I saw through their eyes that — as I let out who I really am — sharing my authentic personality, what I care about, my quirks, how I’m different –  the shoot went much better, and the day became raucously fun. I forgot I was being photographed.  We talked, shared, probed, guffawed, and as I connected more deeply with Jacklyn and D.D., I saw how my qualities could be seen as unique and valuable – to the experience at hand, but also in relationship with these great new folks I was partnering with, and even in helping spread the word about their work and the stunning property (Winvian) we were lucky enough to be shooting on.

Stage 4: “It’s ridiculous (and a sheer waste of time) to hide – I’m going let it all out.”

Towards the end, the idea of hiding was long gone.  I wasn’t afraid, shy, or reluctant – I was excited, energized, and inspired to be even more of myself.  I saw clearly how stepping up and powering up to share myself in the most authentic, vulnerable way possible was the ONLY way this whole thing would work (in a photo shoot and in life ).

Stage 5: “Ok, I can honestly say – I love and accept myself.”

Finally, at the end of the day as I was driving home, tired but exhilarated, I felt a flush of self-acceptance (dare I say self-love).  I had done something that was scary and challenging for me.  I had stepped up to a very high vision for where I want to go – in my life, in my career, in my professional pursuits — I held out high hopes for I wanted for and the outcomes I’d dreamed of, and I pushed myself to be real enough, and courageous enough, to make this happen.  Not just because I went to a cool photo shoot, but because I believed in myself and the idea that I’m worthy of putting myself out there in the world in a bigger way.

At the end of the day, I was able to utter to myself exactly what my spiritual therapist years ago implored me to state as an affirmation every day – “I thoroughly love and accept myself.”   In the past, I coughed up a hair ball every time I said that.  Now, with each day, it’s much easier.

*  *  * *  *  *

Some women might read this and think, “Wow, what a narcissist Kathy is!” because we’re culturally trained to think that if we love ourselves (and dare to whisper that we love ourselves), we’ll be self-involved, selfish, and self-absorbed.  I challenge that idea.  Self-love is desperately, vitally important and needed in the world today. You simply can’t have a wonderful, rewarding and happy life and career – and you can’t be of service to others fully — if you don’t love and accept yourself – flaws, gaps, foibles and all.

We’re imperfect as humans – that’s undeniable.  But can’t we love our imperfections, embrace our uniqueness and our authentic selves, instead of exhausting ourselves spending so much time, money, and energy hiding our true selves from the world?

Do you have the courage to walk through the five stages of self-hate to self-love today?  Are you ready?

How Carving Out Time For What Matters Most To You Changes Your Life

Kathy at UN Women for Peace March

Kathy at UN Women for Peace March to end violence against women

I’m sure that you, like me, struggle each day to juggle your important conflicting priorities. From dedicating precious time to family and friends, to doing your work well,  to focusing on your health and well-being, to using your creativity, to helping others, to getting enough sleep – there are an unlimited number of important areas in our lives that we attend to daily.  But amidst all of this, are you dedicating time for the things that matter MOST – that make you feel alive, inspired and ready to be more?

In my coaching work with women, we speak daily about the importance of identifying your highest priorities, and honoring them. But in reality – DOING this is far more challenging than talking about doing it.  But when we do – when we say YES! to making the time to pursue what matters most to us – it dramatically changes the shape and direction of our lives for the better.

I had an experience of this yesterday – a deeply humbling, inspiring and moving day that made me realize suddenly that I want to do and be so much more.

I was invited to attend the U.N. Women for Peace annual awards luncheon, and then join a hundred others in a march in NYC to support ending violence against women.  As a person in the media, I’m grateful to receive many invitations to exciting events, and I have to turn many down each month.  But when I learned of this event, in honor of International Women’s Day, something inside me knew I had to make the trip to New York City, and participate.  I had a feeling it would be a game-changer for me, and it was.

I listened with awe and humility as I learned more about the UN Women for Peace (UNWFP).  Founded in 2008, under the patronage of H.E. Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, UNWFP promotes and advances the goals of UN agencies whose missions are to provide opportunities for women through social, cultural, educational and empowerment programs while partaking in a global peace building process. UNWFP focuses on supporting and funding UN humanitarian programs for women in developing countries and countries in conflict, and by providing scholarships to benefit underprivileged women to study at the University for Peace in Costa Rica.

UN Women for Peace also supports the UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women. The Trust Fund, established by the UN General Assembly in 1996, assists efforts to prevent violence against women and girls, provides services to those affected by violence and strengthens the implementation of laws and policies on violence against women and girls. The Trust Fund is particularly concerned with ending violence against women in developing countries and countries in conflict. The Trust Fund invests, through its partners, in long term solutions for a world free of violence. UN Women for Peace’s contributions to the Trust Fund directly fund these efforts.

During the awards luncheon, we heard from Trudie Styler -  winner of the 2014 UN Women for Peace Humanitarian Award – speak of her important work for the environment and human rights, through her role as UNICEF Ambassador, her fundraising efforts and documentary film work, and through her and her husband Sting’s Rainforest Fund, an organization devoted to protecting rainforests and their indigenous peoples.  We heard too from Dina Powell, representing Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative, the 2014 UNWFP Achievement Award winner. 10,000 Women is a five-year, $100 million global initiative to help grow local economies and bring about greater shared prosperity by providing 10,000 underserved women entrepreneurs with a business and management education, access to mentors and networks and links to capital.

I share this experience with you because it was deeply inspiring to me, and it spurred me to want to figure out “how can I help in a deeper way?” In that three-hour experience, I met scores of women who are 100 steps ahead of me in how they are using their talents, gifts and passions to make an enormous difference in the world.  They aren’t wasting time – they’ve figured out exactly what matters most to them, and they’re putting their time, money, energy, passion and commitment into to it, full-throttle.  No excuses, no doubts, no confusion, no waffling – they are clear, focused, and passionate about their causes.  As Trudie Styler has so aptly shared, “If I’m connected to an idea, it just doesn’t let me go.”

I left with new resolve to find new ways to help women globally – not just those in the U.S. and abroad who want better careers and lives, but those who don’t have the advantages we have, who desperately need a supporting hand and beacon of light to help them build new lives for their children, their families and their communities.  I’m ready to do more.

Are you?

Do you know what matters most to you, and are you carving out time in your life to pour yourself into those issues and endeavors that make you feel most alive? My dear friend Charles Decker wrote on my Facebook page – “People find time for things that matter to them.”  I love this idea, but sadly, in reality, I see every day that it’s not the case.  So often, we stay stuck in our small worlds and our small spheres of influence, thinking we can’t do more.

In honor of International Women’s Day, I hope you’ll take today to stop your normal routine, step out of your box, and stretch yourself into new endeavors and causes that help remind you of why are on this planet, today.

Are you ready to carve out time and energy for what you care about deeply?

(For more about UN Women for Peace, visit www.unwomenforpeace.org)

 (To learn more about building a career that makes you feel alive and of great use in the world, visit The Amazing Career Project, Ellia Communications and Breakdown, Breakthrough.)

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