Shorter work days are on the way

How many hours a day do you actually work? I don’t mean how many hours per day you must physically be present at your office/desk, but I mean how many hours of actual work do you do during that 8-9 hour work day? Do you work non-stop for 8 hours (aside for lunch)? Be honest. In most cases, people actually work 3-4 hours out of their 8 hour work day during the regular schedules. There are exceptions when deadlines are due, projects are coming, etc., but that does not happen throughout the year for most workers who work regular 9-5s. The rest of the time, they are checking their phones, chatting with colleagues, planning out their activities, and dragging out their actual work. Of course, there are exceptions in some cases where an individual actually does have a ton of work to do each day and is productive the whole work day. However, for most people out there that is not the case. This is mainly due to the fact that companies have policies and rules that everyone must be in attendance during the working hours, even if they have no work to do or they have completed their tasks/goals.
As an employee, you are not as motivated to get your work done in those 3-4 hours because you know you actually have 8 hours to complete your tasks for the day. Therefore, employees drag out their time with other time wasting activities and you almost can’t blame them for it. We have all had or have jobs where this happens. I believe this sort of set up also creates a society of procrastinators and people lacking motivation, among other issues.

This is partly the reason why companies, such as Google and Facebook, are moving into a different kind of work approach. As long as the work is done and there are results, employees can have flexible schedules and they can also choose to work from home office/remote location.

Below, I want to share a great article which provides some great input about benefits of shorter working hours and remembering to live your life!

How much should your life/career coach do for you?

Would you solely trust someone to offer you life or career advice and just go with it? I would not. Why? Because that person is not you and at the end of the day it is not their life. Even the best life coach can offer you great insights and assist you with your goals, but ultimately it is up to you to take that information and use it wisely and making an educated choice/decision. Coaches are there to support you, to provide information and ask valuable questions to get you on the right path towards your goals. Coaches are there to motivate you and keep you accountable for your progress. Coaches are not there to make decisions for you. As a coach, my promise to you is to give you as much support as I can and ensure you stay on track with your goals, etc. It is my promise to assist you in creating a solid action plan to ensure you achieve desired results and to keep you accountable for each step that you take in that direction. It is my promise to provide you with all the tools necessary to be successful in your career change, career transformation, job search, career exploration, branding yourself, and increasing your visibility in the market.

Many clients that I meet automatically assume that I am there to get them a job or that a good CV is all you need to get a job. As much as I would like to get all of my clients jobs or improve their life situations, it is just not realistic. It is not realistic for me to get the job for you or to improve some parts of your life. I can assist you in doing, but it will not happen without effort from your end. It is entirely up to you to do that. I can assist you in networking opportunities and introducing you to like minded individuals.  It is my job to ensure that you have all the tools necessary to make the desired changes and reach positive results. That being said, it is very hard for a coach to do that without your efforts and willingness to make the change.. You, as a client, must be willing to take the necessary steps and be open to change and getting out of your comfort zone. You have to be willing to try new things and be transparent and honest with your coach.

Forbes posted a great article on career coaches and I highly recommend reading it before getting a career coach to understand how a coach can assist you and if you need one: http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/07/09/10-things-you-should-know-about-career-coaching/

4 Things To Do Before the New Year

As the New Year approaches, I can’t help but review what the last year brought and excited about what is going to come next. I am not a fan of New Year Resolutions because I believe we should make resolutions throughout the year, short and long term, and check them off accordingly. I believe we should continuously make small steps each day/week towards improving ourselves and crossing off items from our to-do lists and goals. Start small and never give up and eventually you will achieve your goals. Nonetheless, if you have not practiced this yet, then a New Year is a great time to start!
There are 4 things that I would recommend thinking about as you are enter the New Year this weekend.
  • Be grateful. Whatever 2015 brought for you, good and bad, just be grateful for it all, because it is all pushing you towards the life you are meant to live. You grew from those experiences and today you are stronger as a result.
  • Reflect. Review your year and reflect on what went right, what went wrong, and implement accordingly for the next year. Reflect on the successes and mistakes equally (positively).
  • Write a list. Write a list of goals (short and long term) that you wish to accomplish in the next year. Update your life plan accordingly. Prepare for what is ahead and think positive.
  • Send out some New Year wishes to family, friends, and your overall network.

What are you big plans for the new year? Share them in the comments.

Is it really worth it?

Often, we hear of young adults (as early as in their mid 30’s) who die from heart attacks due to work stress, money problems, societal expectations aka from keeping up with the rat race. Now, I understand that sometimes life happens and you wake up and realize that this is happening, without really understanding how you got here. But, there is always time to make necessary changes. Is it preventable? Absolutely. It starts with planning: planning your life!

Many people fail to stop and think about how they want to live their lives. They fail to understand themselves on a deeper level. They just go with the flow of the society or what culture expects of them. According to many societies, the idea of a successful life is to obtain education, get married, have kids, have a career, get paid well, buy a house and other life necessities/luxuries, etc. So, we just check these things off as we move along through life until one day we wake up and we are 60 years old and we realize that most things that took our years from us don’t matter at this point. Many of us take on jobs we don’t enjoy only because it pays well or because a certain position is prestigious to hold. We aim to earn more money so we can keep up with the society and buy things we don’t need just to impress others.

Life is already too short and natural causes will take us away at some point anyway, so it should be unacceptable for us to bring death onto ourselves by working and stressing ourselves to death! We basically volunteer for death to visit us earlier.

Here are some things you can do to ensure you don’t end up waking up and realizing you are miserable, tired, and your health is failing you:

  • stop and think about what you want out of life. if that means you need to take a vacation alone and spend some time figuring things out, then do it. Everything else can wait. What is important to you in your life, is it money or being happy or living a simple life? Be honest with yourself. What kind of life do you envision for yourself and what will it take to get there? (hint: being rich or wealthy is probably not a healthy life goal, focus on the deeper goals, legacy and how you want to be remembered, etc.)
  • write down your goals and a plan on how you will accomplish them. Check this list on daily or weekly basis to stay on track with your life plan and stay motivated. This will help you avoid burn out and stress because you will take it one step at at time/one day at a time and you will see progress.
  • wake up grateful each day and be thankful for another day on Earth. Gratitude alone will make you happy.
  • meditate and use relaxation techniques daily. Take on yoga and other exercises. This will help you stay on your life plan and help clear your mind of daily cluster of worries and to-do’s. Be mindful of everything and everyone around you. There are plenty of apps that can help you do just that. Make time for this!
  • Check in with yourself from time time and assess where you are and how you are feeling. Did you go off your path? Do you need to make some adjustments in your life? Do you need to move to another location to live the life you want?
Most importantly, maintain happiness and peace. If you are not doing this in your life, then you are doing it wrong. Revisit your plan and adjust accordingly. Do you need more time off? Do you need to spend more time with those you love or relaxing? Nothing is worth sacrificing family or health for.

Don’t wait until you get sick to realize how short and precious life is, and don’t wait until old age to realize you did not live the life you actually hoped for. Take action today!
Life can be really simple if we want it to. It all boils down to one question, do you want to live life the way you want to or do you want society and cultural expectations to dictate the way you live your life?

Are you networking correctly?

Networking is a great way to meet new people, make connections, expand your circle, and ultimately be successful as a result. That being said, networking the right way is important. Networking, in my opinion, is not about quantity but quality. It is more important to gain a selected few solid, beneficial individuals to your networking circle versus hundreds of people with little knowledge of each one and no real connections. Keep these following points in mind when it comes to networking:

-give more than you take (and give first)

-pick 1-3 individuals at each event you attend and make a real connection vs collecting tons of business cards

-follow up/stay in touch

-connect people (part of giving back)

-create relationships

-be genuine

Also, keep in mind, networking is about building relationships with people who can bring new insights into your career/life, offer advice, and at the same someone you can give back to and offer advice in return. Networking is not about looking for someone to help you achieve something, it is about creating meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships which often result in life long friendships, career success, and, sometimes, business ventures. Do not approach a person to ask for something; approach them because you are genuinely interested in the work they have done or you can help them with something or you are interested in the same field, etc. Networking is more about giving than taking. The more you give, the more you receive. It is very simple how this idea works. I am a huge believer of giving back to the community and those around you. Ultimately, you gain and learn more when you give, because when you do good, good comes back to you.

What are your experiences or thoughts on networking?

Below you can see an article from Forbes which offers some additional great advice on networking and slightly a different approach from mine: http://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2014/07/28/how-to-network-the-right-way-eight-tips/

What companies want from you…

Often clients come to me asking me for advice about what employers are looking for in candidates. Working in the UAE, I can touch on the demands of employers in the region; however, you can find this true in other regions as well. When it comes to GCC region one of the most important aspects of the interview is your personality and understanding the culture of the company. Aside from doing your homework about the company, preparing list of strengths, stating why you are a great candidate for the position, preparing excellent questions, and choosing what to wear, showing your personality in a positive light and showing that you understand the culture are on top of the list. When I meet with recruiters and HR teams, they often tell me how many great people don’t get the job because

a) they came unprepared and

b) their personality did not fit the culture of the company.

Understanding the company culture and how you might be a great fit is vital during an interview, so make sure to do your homework. You can even look up people who work at the company; what kind of work and education background they come from? Learn more about your potential, future co-workers. You can get a good general idea about the company culture about the kind of people that work there. Ask your network and friends about the company, they might know someone who works there or have worked there themselves.

Some things you should consider when it comes to company culture:

-does it fit my personality?

-am i going to be happy in this kind of culture?

-do i see myself staying with this company and growing?

-does this company/job fit my personal life and my future goals?

The worst thing you can do is pretend to be someone you are not. Many people have two personalities, one they have for work and one they have once they leave work. Eventually they get burned out and end up breaking down in either their personal life or professional. Now, i don’t mean you should show up at your job and play hard rock in your office and get too comfortable. But, you should be happy in the company and be able to be yourself and enjoy your co-workers and the work that you do. We spend more time at work then with our families and doing anything else, so make sure you are happy at your work. At the end you don’t want to look back and realize you spent all this time away from your family at a job that made you miserable. For example, don’t go into the corporate world if you don’t enjoy it. Don’t join a start up if you don’t like challenges and surprises in your work. Do your homework. Do informational interviews to learn more about the company you are interested in, it might not be what you expect it to be or it might reassure your interest. It is better to find out before you sign that contract. Informational interviews are also great for networking.

You can read more about informational interviews here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/12/11/how-to-land-and-ace-an-informational-interview/

Dress code matters at work

Have you ever heard someone say ” Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”? It is a useful statement, especially if you are looking to get promoted or move up the career ladder in general. However, this also depends on the work that you do and the company that you work in. For example, you will not be wearing a suit and tie to work if you are part of a start-up company. On the other hand, you will not wear jeans and a t-shirt to an investment firm. Be wise about how you choose what to wear. Your appearance does matter. Even if you think it is wrong to judge someone based on their style or general appearance, at the end of the day, what you dress like and how you present yourself does matter. This is especially true if you are in a customer service work or have to interact with clients on daily basis. Dressing for the part is not just about a fashion style, it is about whether or not you spend time preparing your outfit. If you appear in a baggy shirt and out of style jeans, it is like you are saying to the world “I don’t care” and this is not the message you want to send. Preparing your outfit shows people that you take care of yourself and you prepare accordingly for meetings with clients, etc. Would you want to do business with a lawyer who doesn’t care to brush his/her hair and shows up to a meeting wearing jeans and sports shirt? Or would you trust an investment banker who looks like the 80s dressed him? I doubt it. Therefore, dress accordingly to your work and your client base.

Another reason to dress accordingly is promotion. Your colleagues and senior management might not care what you wear for the most part, but when the time comes to fill a managerial position, they will remember your dress code habits. This might stop them from promoting you because as a manager and a leader you have a responsibility to represent the company that you work for and set a good example to others in the workplace. That being said, if you wear ripped jeans to work because it is “in style” on the streets, chances are you will not be considered ready for the managerial role. This varies from company to company, but for most corporate businesses business casual dress code is the minimum. Understand your work culture and dress appropriately. Too many times I see people speak up about how they should be a manager or how they deserve more opportunities to interact with clients, but they can’t even put effort into dressing appropriately for their regular day at work. For insight about your company’s dress code, look at how senior management dresses and how they present themselves in different situations.

work funny

Comfort can be a bad thing

Are you very comfortable in your current company? Can you do your job with your eyes closed? When was the last time you came across a serious challenge? Has work become very routine with no new learning opportunities? These are the questions I want you to ask yourself in order to determine if you are, perhaps, too comfortable in your current job. If you are comfortable and you like it this way, then there is no need for you to keep reading this. Comfort is good IF you enjoy it and there is nothing wrong with being comfortable. However, if you are the kind of person who wants to move up the ladder and be challenged and grow in your career then this message is for you.

I recently made a decision to change companies but it was not an easy decision. I am still staying within the field of career consulting, but I am making an institutional change and will be working with a different group of clients. This new role will absolutely challenge me and it will give me opportunities to grow personally and professionally. I believe this is exactly where my next career move should be. So, why was it so hard for me to make the shift? Because i was too comfortable in my previous role. It was hard to leave colleagues who I grew so close with, a leader who understood me, a work environment where everyone gets along, and other number of conveniences that surrounded my work place. Nonetheless, I took the leap of faith and it is exciting and terrifying at the same time. But, for a person like me, this is exactly where I want to be. I want to learn more, grow stronger professionally and personally, and become an expert in my field. In order to reach my goals, I have to do things that are at first uncomfortable or scary because this is how I will grow, learn, and succeed in my career aspirations. At the end, success does not come from comfort zones!

If you are feeling that you are too comfortable in your current job and you feel you need a challenge, I recommend you start looking at your options and explore which way should be your next career move. Feel free to reach out to me if you want someone to talk this out with, I am happy to listen and provide some suggestions.

I also recommend checking out this article by Forbes about some signs that you might be too comfortable in your job : http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2015/04/Forbe03/4-signs-youre-too-comfortable-in-your-job/

So you started a new job…

Whenever starting a new job, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, of course, the first 90 days on the job are the most critical. This is your time to learn about the company, understand in depth goals of your specific department and position, get to know your colleagues, understand the organizational culture and structure, among other things. All of these are very important aspects of your first 3 months on the job; however, understanding the people and the culture is on top of the list, in my opinion. You must understand who are the key players at your company, by key players I mean people who get things done and have strong connections/power in the organization. These are the people who get all the inside scoop from the top management, understand the upper management better than others, and know how to get things approved/done. These are the people you want in your corner and the people you want to always be on good terms with for a successful growth within the company. Because to be on their bad side is probably not going to help you and, after all, they have the power that they have because they did something right (most of the time) so you can learn a thing or two from them.

You must also recognize the gossipers, the complainers, and the overall negative people in the company; these are the people you stay clear of. These people will always be negative and will talk behind your back the minute they get a chance, so it is better to keep a distance whenever possible. Starting a new job is stressful enough, so you want to keep your environment and people around you positive and optimistic. Next, understand your boss. Here are some things to consider:

  • Understand how your boss/person you report to operates and handles day to day tasks.
  • Is he/she a micromanager or lets you do your own thing?
  • Is he/she a morning meeting person or an afternoon person? Some people prefer to have the important meetings in the morning vs afternoon, so it is important to keep this mind when scheduling appointments with them.
  • Understand when they are under pressure from the management, and learn to give them space that day(s) (save your questions for a later day, if possible in this case)
  • Understand their overall personality, don’t take things personally. For example, some people are workaholics and don’t care much for small talk or being social at lunch; they just want to focus on their work and interact with others only when needed. (is it a good thing? not necessarily, but that’s how some people operate, so don’t take it personally if they are not social with you or discuss the upcoming weekend plans).

There are a great deal of aspects that one must learn and pay attention to the first 90 days on the new job, but I believe understanding the culture and the people around you is vital to your growth and future in the company. By understanding who is who will also give you a peace of mind and ability to interact with everyone on a positive note and staying clear of work dramas and conflicts. It will show you who to go to for certain things and who you can trust and talk to when you need to vent (as we all do at one point or another). I also would like to share with you a helpful article by Forbes which covers other important points about the first 90 days; you can access the article by visiting this link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2014/06/11/how-to-ace-your-new-job-in-the-first-90-days/

I would love to hear what you found helpful for you in the first 90 days on the new job. Write your experiences in the comments.

The Older I get…

The older I get, the more I realize how happiness and health are the most important aspects of life. We all know this, but sometimes we need to stop and think about what that means. Being happy and healthy truly beats any money or success in the world. Money cannot buy happiness, maybe temporarily, but not true happiness. It will not buy the kind of happiness that makes you wake up grateful to be alive and grateful for every little thing on this earth. Money will also not buy you health, it might assist you in living longer with the use of meds and other methods, but at the end, health is not something you can buy. Success is great to have, but at the end it will not matter if you spend all of your days in the office focusing on making money instead of spending time with family and living your life. Yes, we should all work and love what we do, but that should not be a priority. A rich man will not be buried any different than a poor man and we will all receive the same judgement.

As our human nature goes, we are always racing to get a bigger house, a nicer car, a better body, a larger paycheck, and endless success. But, where does it end? It doesn’t. We keep telling ourselves if we have this or that, we will be happy; once we have a house, we will be happy; once I get this job, I will be happy. But, will you? Happiness is not in the things you have or the your career or where you vacation. Happiness is within you, you just have to find it and nurture it. No matter what we get in life, we will always aim for more. Humans are insatiable by nature. I am not saying we shouldn’t be the best that we can be, but do it for the right reasons. Don’t do it for more money or fame or because of societal expectations. Do it because you want to help others, you want to serve your community, you want to create something that will change the world. The moment you rely on money and success to make you happy, that is the moment you get lost. Don’t get to that point. I know more happy poor people than rich people. Most rich people (and I mean really wealth individuals) I have encountered are not happy nor healthy in many cases. They have spend so much of their time chasing the money that they have neglected their families and stress got to their health. If you think being broke is stressful, I promise you being rich can be stressful too. More money more problems, as they say.

I think we should all work and have an income and maintain a healthy financial stability, but I just don’t think we should obsess over making money. There is a way to earn a decent salary and save money and even invest and live a great life. It is all about how you take care of the money you have. If you keep buying things with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like, then you will never be stable. Aside from that, our main goal should be to be happy, not wait to be happy when something happens but to be happy today. Once you start being grateful for every little thing in your life, you will realize how blessed you are. You will realize that you already have everything you need. Happiness will also aid in your health, because you will not stress as much and you will make those around you happy as well. Happiness is contagious, so spend time with people who find happiness in every day.