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Tag Archives: Margaret Smith business coach

“If you’re trying to break a habit, don’t say ‘this is the last time I’m doing it’ to yourself. Instead, say ‘this is the first time I’m NOT doing it.”


Many of us have had to adjust to new ways of living, working, and existing during the recent pandemic. Now, people are slowly returning to work, and children are either back in school or poised to return this coming fall. With so many things in flux, we’ve had to adapt to and create new routines and habits.

Whether you’re adjusting to life changes OR trying to buck an old habit, I have a few different tips for doing so. Feel free to experiment and do what works best for YOU and your situation. And remember: developing a new habit takes time and patience. You’ve got this.

1. Enlist an Accountability Partner/Role Model

Telling one or more people about your goal is a powerful action for developing new habits. Not only can that person/people act as support, they can also apply a little bit of healthy peer pressure. If you cheat on a goal, what will your accountability partner/role model think??

You may also consider having regular check-ins with your accountability partner to keep you on track. Don’t forget to thank your partner in some way OR offer to return the favor if they are also seeking to develop a new habit.

2. Act Daily

It’s crucial to be consistent when developing a new habit. Make a commitment to act every day to help your new habit stick.

3. Keep a Calendar

Buy an old-fashioned paper calendar and make a mark on it (or apply a sticker!) every time you practice your new habit. A calendar is a great visual reminder of everything you’ve achieved and it can help keep your habit top-of-mind.

4. Be Kind to Yourself

You may not be a natural at keeping up your habit at first. Whether you’re attempting to quit smoking, going to the gym every morning, or committing to reading more books, the early stages of your habit might not come easily. Be gentle with yourself and understand that things WILL get easier as you go along.

5. Visualize

Visualization is a technique used by professional athletes and entrepreneurs alike. There are neurological reasons for visualizing your success. Your brain begins to recognize pathways to success and sees success as the norm. Take the time to envision yourself participating in your new habit and thriving.

6. Reward Yourself!

There’s nothing wrong with bribing yourself to achieve your goals! Set a few incremental milestones on your calendar (one successful week, month, six weeks) and reward yourself when you reach those milestones. You might treat yourself to a dessert, go out for a nice dinner, or take a mini vacation (an outing at a lake, perhaps, or an extended weekend trip). Do whatever you’d like, as long as the rewards match the achievements.

Creating a new habit can be difficult at first, but with time, commitment, patience, and faith in yourself, you can do just about anything. If you’re aspiring to a career-related habit and want to talk, I’m here. Best of luck with developing your new habit!


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People talking around a table

As a professional, there are times when your integrity and values will be put to the test. Though it’s usually a good idea to be agreeable and go with the flow, there are moments when you should stand your ground and dare to have a differing opinion than others. These moments can be challenging (or downright frightening), but they are worth it.

If you feel strongly about something, it doesn’t pay to keep quiet. You’ll end up stewing about the situation, losing focus, and respecting yourself a little less for remaining silent.

I encourage you to speak up.

Keep in mind, it’s possible the rest of the group has simply glossed over something you find important. Maybe you have a different perspective than everyone else due to your age, race, gender, or background. Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation in the past, and the outcome was less-than-optimal. Whatever the case, it’s best to speak up and voice your concerns. Your perspective will help open others’ eyes to something potentially problematic and, at the very least, will establish that consent is not unanimous.

You might choose to voice your concerns in a group setting (at a team meeting or conference, for instance) or privately (to a team leader, co-worker, or other decision-maker). Though expressing yourself right away can serve to immediately add another perspective to the conversation, you may not always feel comfortable doing so. Sometimes it’s better to clarify your thoughts, write out what you’d like to say, and schedule a one-on-one meeting with the person/people in charge of the initiative. Try to make your case with both emotional and logical appeals (“I feel______ about the initiative because_____).

It may be uncomfortable to disagree with the majority of the room, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary. If you perceive something to be offensive (regardless if others realize it or not), if it violates your code of ethics, or if you are simply seeing a flaw that others are failing to notice, SPEAK UP. Be bold and dare to be the lone dissenter. If, for some reason, you get in trouble for speaking out, it’s entirely possible that your core worldviews do not align with your company’s, in which case it might be time to talk with a career coach…


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two people talking in a waiting room

It’s no surprise that many of us tend to avoid difficult conversations. Why would we want to make ourselves uncomfortable or become the subject of someone’s wrath? Why would we want to potentially open a can of worms?

Though difficult conversations are just that—difficult—they are also sometimes necessary for improving the present climate or paving the way to a better future. Though you may be reluctant, or even a little scared, to engage in difficult conversations, oftentimes they are necessary and can actually improve things, going forward.

Here are 4 reasons to dare to hold difficult conversations:

[NOTE: In past blog posts I’ve talked about how to prepare for difficult conversations. See this post about the D4 Model and this newsletter about the 5 P’s of Courage for more…]

1. They can set the record straight

In many workplaces, rumors fly and reality can get twisted or obscured. If you’re in a situation where you’re uncertain of the truth, it’s best to sit down with the people involved and get to the bottom of it. It might be as simple as figuring out who was in charge of a certain report or who neglected to contact a client when that needed to happen. The purpose of this conversation isn’t to place blame, but rather to uncover the truth and begin to problem solve.

This type of conversation can also help you put safeguards in place so that the same unfortunate situation doesn’t happen again. It’s possible that it’s no one’s “fault” and the system simply needs a bit of an overhaul.

2. They can provide forward motion

Sometimes when we fail to confront a difficult situation, that can lead to stagnation. The office might be so hung up or distracted by a single person’s (or a group of people’s) actions that it becomes their primary focus. To get the wagon wheel out of the rut, you need to face the situation head-on and engage in a potentially difficult conversation(s).

EXAMPLE: Let’s say Kim hasn’t been turning in her reports on time, which, in turn affects the rest of her team’s progress. Everyone is upset and productivity is down. To get past this rut, you’ll have to bite the bullet and have a conversation with Kim. It could be that Kim was unaware of her responsibilities or didn’t understand the dominoes affect her tardiness was having. It’s possible Kim has felt unsupported or unmotivated lately (in which case, maybe she’s in the wrong role). Regardless, having this conversation can help move your entire team from a place of stagnation to forward movement and problem-solving.

3. They can start dialogues

You may not truly understand someone’s actions, or what is going on in their head, until you speak with them. It’s possible a situation is more complex than you realized (for instance, maybe someone is constantly late for their 8 a.m. Zoom meetings because they have to drop their kids off at daycare). It’s also possible that the other person hasn’t understood the consequences of their recent actions. Sitting down and having a conversation can help create a bridge of understanding. It can open dialogues and help both sides understand what is broken and how to go about fixing things.

4. They can earn you respect, as a leader

Effective leaders have to make hard decisions and engage in difficult conversations regularly. That’s the reality. If you gain a reputation as someone who avoids problems and lets things “work themselves out,” you won’t gain much respect. If, however, you are known to tackle problems head-on and address issues as soon as you notice them, you’ll be seen as a proactive leader who has a real stake in the wellbeing of your team. What’s more, people will come to understand that you will hold others accountable for their actions and you will act in the best interest of the team. Your people will know you have their backs.

Instead of shying away from difficult conversations, embrace them! Start seeing them as opportunities to have fruitful conversations that move your team forward. Tough conversations can be uncomfortable or daunting, but the rewards are ultimately worth it. This comes with the territory when you’re a leader, and it’s a good idea to make lemonade with whatever lemons the workplace throws at you.


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