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To be human is to change.

As we go through life, we experience countless changes—some physical (our health, our appearance), some professional (transitioning careers, changing professional goals or roles), some relational (friends moving away, relationships ending). We might not notice the changes day to day, but over the years most of us change quite a bit.

How often have you heard someone remark on how “naïve they were in their twenties” or “how much energy they used to have”? Or, maybe you’ve heard someone remark on their appearance (“When did I get so many wrinkles!”) or comment on how their industry has changed throughout the years.

Here’s the bottom line: Change is inevitable, and it’s a good idea to make peace with it. In fact, it’s an even better idea to plan for it.

Of course, you can’t plan everything. Sometimes, all we can do is go with the flow and adapt as best we can. However, we can pave the way for our “future selves” in some ways.

Take your career aspirations, for instance. How often do you pause, examine your current state, and ask yourself what you’d like for yourself in the future? Do you think much about the next steps in your career? Or are you typically so bogged down with daily tasks, that you rarely look ahead to the future?

I challenge you to set aside some time this week to simply examine where you are now and think about where you’d like to go. Spend time reflecting, jotting down a few notes, and truly digging in to your current state of mind. Are you relatively content, or itching for a change? Is your path clear, or is it a bit murky? Is there anything that’s been weighing you down lately?

These moments of examination and reflect are vital for both professional success and overall happiness. Sure, you might be making progress every day…but are you heading down the right path?

During this reflection time, spend some time visualizing “future me.” What does your future self look like? What are you doing? What are you accomplishing? How did you get to this ideal future state? Visualization is a powerful tool (used by everyone from professional athletes to Oprah) and can help you to begin seeing your future success as a reality.

So, block off some time on your calendar (even half an hour!) and commit to reflecting on your current circumstances, your goals, and your “future me.” You, and your career, are worth making this time investment. It could make all the difference.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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It wasn’t long ago that networking meant going to a physical location—an event center, a restaurant/bar, a clubhouse—and hobnobbing with strangers. You made small talk, you asked about others’ expertise, you asked for and handed out business cards.

For some, this experience was energizing and exciting—a chance to meet and mingle with potential clients or collaborators. For others, it was uncomfortable or downright terrifying. Regardless of which camp you fell into, the reality is, networking is changing (and has been for years).

Today, more than ever, our communication happens in a virtual space. We log into meetings on Zoom, Hangouts, or Skype. We send information through email. We chat with co-workers through platforms such as Slack or Discord. As this has become the new normal, so too has networking shifted into a virtual space.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to this virtual shift.

One huge advantage is that virtual networking is more accessible for more people. In the past, it was difficult for many groups of people to attend an in-person networking session—parents with small children, people who are unable to drive, those with a demanding work schedule, those who live far from typical networking locations. So, even though we may be sacrificing the “in-person feel,” we open the door for a whole new set of people.

Today, networking may lean more towards online presentations or programs than a “let’s mingle and get to know each other” session. So…how do you get to know others and make valuable connections?

Hopefully, the program monitor will facilitate some icebreaker activities or small group break-out sessions. If that’s the case, be sure to be personable and make yourself memorable. Tell others a quirky fact about yourself or slip in a relevant achievement. You could even wear colorful clothing or accessories to make yourself stand out a bit more.

Another thing you can do during online sessions is to ask thoughtful questions. I am a huge proponent of asking questions, whether they are clarifying questions, questions that expound/expand upon the topic, or questions that invite a dialogue. Being engaged, in general, is always a good idea.

Toward the end of the session, if the monitor hasn’t mentioned anything about exchanging contact information, be sure to (politely) ask about it. You might even ask others for their contact info if you’re in a small break-out session. Don’t force it, but if you’ve established a good connection with others and it seems natural to ask for contact info, go ahead! It doesn’t hurt to ask.

As with any other kind of networking, it’s a good idea to follow up with potential connections afterwards. Add them on LinkedIn and send out an email to anyone who might be a valuable connection. You might even discuss meeting up in the “real world,” or you might plan to attend a similar virtual program together in the future.

The future of networking is virtual, so we might as well learn to adapt and embrace it!

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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It’s never fun to feel completely zapped of energy and willpower. It’s a state of being that makes you feel lethargic and less than productive. And, unfortunately, it’s a state that’s easy to slip into with so many of us still working from home or trying to social distance.

How can you break the lethargy and boost your willpower? How can you escape the cycle of procrastination and drudgery? As tempting as they are, distractions are not the answer. You’ll end up tuning in to the fun/entertaining/relaxing distraction and putting off what you should be doing.

Instead, try one of these five tips:

1. Focus on outcomes

The more you focus on the time beyond your procrastination, the easier it will be to move forward. Think about the positive outcomes that will occur when you do whatever it is you’re putting off. If you’re not looking forward to going to the gym, think about how nice it will be to have a healthy, toned body. If you’re dreading filling out a particular report, think about how happy you’ll be once it’s complete. Focusing on outcomes or positive results can give you the willpower you need to do the task at hand.

2. Set bite-sized goals

If you’re sitting on the brink of a large project and you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and set a few bite-sized goals. Every big task can be broken down into smaller parts. If you need to clean your entire garage, for instance, begin by focusing on one particular section (organizing garden tools, for instance, or sweeping the floor). If you have to write a lengthy report, challenge yourself to write a single page or fill out one section. Once you dig in, it will be easier to keep going.

3. Set a reward

Once you’ve determined a few goals, think about how you might reward yourself once they are complete. For smaller goals, you might buy yourself a pint of ice cream or enjoy a glass of wine. For larger goals, you might treat yourself to a nice dinner or a professional massage. Is it bribery? Sure, but it’s bribery with a purpose! Setting rewards will give you something to look forward to and will help give you a jolt of energy and focus.

4. Pinpoint the reason for your reluctance

It’s possible that you’re putting something off because you simply do NOT like it. In some cases, that’s just the way it is; you have to fill out that annual review or write that report, whether you like it or not. In other cases, however, you can change your tasks so they are more enjoyable. For instance, if you do not like running on a treadmill to get in shape, you might switch to a rowing machine or elliptical. If you don’t like cleaning up after dinner, perhaps you could cook, while someone else cleans. At work, you might bring up your likes and dislikes to your boss and see if it’s possible to do more of X and less of Y. Maybe one of your co-workers hates X and loves Y, in which case, you might discuss shuffling responsibilities.

5. Try the 5-minute challenge

What can you do right now, within about 5 minutes? Challenge yourself to set a timer and DO IT. Completing one small task can give you motivation to complete others.

It’s never easy to have low motivation and low willpower, but it is possible to pull yourself out of your slump. Try one (or several) of these 5 tips and see how you feel. Chances are, you just need some forward motion in your life to give you the momentum to keep going.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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