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Archive for August, 2010

The Value of a Mentor & How to Find One

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 30, 2010

Invest in your professional future by building a relationship with someone who is more experienced than you and who is willing to share that experience – a mentor.

Mentors can offer advice, ideas and contacts, and they can help you create a roadmap to your dreams.

How do you find a mentor, and how do you maintain that relationship? Read on to find out.

How to find a mentor?

Before embarking on a search for a mentor, ask yourself what you want to learn from him/her. Perhaps you want to learn a specific skill, get assistance in implementing a project, or get guidance on how to expand your network, balance your career and personal life, etc.

Once you’ve determined your goals, it’s time to find the right mentor. Check with your employer’s human resources office to find out if your employer offers a formal mentor program. If not, your alma mater may provide a mentor program – particularly in your area of study. There are also websites that offer mentoring matching, like

* MicroMentor
* Menttium
* Small Business Mentoring and Training
* FORTUNE/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership
* WOMEN Unlimited

And don’t underestimate the value of networking. Consider attending events in the field of your interest – meeting people, and following up with those who seem like they might be able to and interested in mentoring you.

Similarly, you can make a list of companies/organizations that you respect. Compile a list of the key executives; these are usually found on the “About Us” section of the establishment’s website, or you can search by company on LinkedIn. Do your research by reading any available bio on your prospective mentor and information on their employer prior to contacting them. When you contact your prospective mentor, introduce yourself and state your interest in their company and position. Ask if they could talk briefly over lunch, a quick office visit or call.

Once you’ve found a potential mentor, you need to gauge if it’s a good match. Are they a good listener? Do they have valuable knowledge and act with integrity? Are they positive, supportive, accessible, empathetic and willing to share their wisdom with you? Another observation to make is if your communication styles match. If yes to the questions above, explain your professional ambitions, challenges and desires – and ask if they are interested in working with you to navigate these issues – would they be open to being your mentor?

In this meeting, you might go so far as to establish the goals of the relationship, the duration of the program and how often and how (in person, by phone, by email) you will communicate. Try to establish clear objectives and evaluation measures. Make sure that trustworthiness and confidentiality are part of the agreement.

How to nurture the relationship?

Mentors are there to develop talent, teach valuable skills, and provide tools and resources. Other benefits include assistance with strategic planning, building your contact base, and increasing your knowledge and your opportunities to strengthen your professional standing. Keep in mind that your meetings or conversations can be brainstorming sessions for professional development that is mutually beneficial, as well.

It is important to nurture the relationship, to be accountable and to be realistic with your expectations. Your mentor may have more experience than you, but you can still contribute to their quality of life. Take time to show your appreciation by showing your gratitude — send a thank you card, treat them to a meal, send them information that is beneficial to their business/profession, write a note of praise to their boss on how valuable your mentor is, or volunteer to help them with a project.

Whether your mentor relationship is short or long-term, try to stay connected with them as you progress in your career. After the mentorship program, the mentor can serve as a reference. Above all, show your gratitude for your mentor’s insights and efforts. Perhaps one day, you will pay it forward and be a beacon of hope, yourself. As Oprah Winfrey said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”

Reena De Asis is a MarCom professional with experience in the corporate, agency and non-profit sectors. When she’s not initiating a corporate volunteer program or organizing a renovation mural project, Reena immerses herself in live music or savoring chocolate nuggets of wisdom. Words to live by: “My life is my message,” by Mohandas Gandhi. Her passion is http://www.laworks.com


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What’s Holding Back Your Success? Make the Decision to Move Forward!

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 30, 2010

If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, or have been working for a while at getting a business started, you know that this is not easy. There’s no immediate success without very hard work. You have to really want to have your own business, and want it badly.

You need to be totally committed to doing what’s necessary to make your business work. It also may mean you have to make some sacrifices, making certain that your business comes first and that you set boundaries for family, friends, and clients.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, if you want to make a good income and eventually have more time for family and fun, you will have to start by making some hard decisions about what you’ll need to do to succeed.

Having a business means no excuses, and no complaints. Either you have the drive and motivation or you don’t.

Make the decision now to take the steps to grow your business with the knowledge that you will need to immerse yourself into making this a top priority, and doing things that may now be ‘outside the box’ for you.

Talk to other successful business owners and change something to take your business where you may not have considering going. Try a new marketing plan; put together a system to reach past clients as well as prospective clients. Drag yourself away from something that’s taking too much of your time and not producing results, and make the decision to move forward.

Jeannine Clontz, is a successful entrepreneur, author, speaker,and trainer. Clontz teaches a 7-week business start-up class in conjunction with Connections to Success and the St. Charles Community College, as well as a 10-week Teleclass for start-up and established Virtual Assistants. Learn more about Time Management for Virtual Assistants by downloading her FREE report “A Fresh Look at Time Management for Virtual Assistants”, or request her FREE audio CD “What’s Holding Back my Business Success?”, and more by visiting: http://www.VAbizcoach.com; or contact her at: coach@VAbizcoach.com.

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Dressing for Your Success

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 29, 2010

Congratulations on your new job. Head to  your closet. If you don’t have any thing contact Dress for Success Midwest or your local Dress for Success affiliate. Your boss should have told you what the appropriate clothing is , and now you have a responsibility to wear that type of clothing. Before your first paycheck arrives local thrift stores and second-hand clothing stores are affordable places  to shop.

There is no doubt that choosing what to wear to the workplace is a source of anxiety but determining what you should and should not wear will only a take a visit to your closet.

The solution to any outfit is to KISS it! Keep It Simple and Sophisticated!

When selecting a outfit for the workplace, keep in mind the following colors: black , navy blue, charcoal gray, khaki, and white. While a different  color can look great, these basic and workplace friendly colors are a sure hit. Check off  the following general workplace wardrobe basic that will get you dressed for your first day on the job:

  • Dark unpatterned suit
  • Black or brown belt
  • Black or brown leather dress shoes (heels no higher than 2 inches or flats)
  • Knee – length skirts ( or longer)
  • Black, brown, navy, and khaki pants
  • Dress shirts and blouses
  • Skin tone and black hosiery
  • Trench coat
  • Dark colored winter gloves
  • Dark colored umbrella
  • Watch with black leather or metal ( sliver or gold tome) band
  • Briefcase/professional handbag
  • Accessory scarves
  • Simple jewelry- nothing too outlandish

When planning your workplace wardrobe, try to avoid these fashion mistakes:

  • Too tight, too short and low cut tops and pants
  • Excessive use of bright colors and wild patterns
  • Noisy jewelry that signals your arrival with clinking sounds
  • Spiky, strappy sandals- these are not appropriate for the workplace
  • Overly trendy styles- when they fall out of fashion, will give you a ‘ dated” appearance

No matter what you chose to wear , you have a responsibility to present yourself with confidence and professionalism. Remember, neatness always counts!

You and your clothes should be clean everyday. If you are in doubt whether you should wear something to be office, ask first, or leave it at home. A sage approach is to see how your boss or boss’ boss are dressed when you arrive at the workplace, or ask your supervisor when he or she offers  you the job. if you want to impress. Your boss will notice!

Reprinted from Steps to Success A Guide to Success in the workplace

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5 Knock Out Factors That Could Cost You the Job

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 28, 2010

These 5 things are reasons the interviewer could decide not to hire you without you even saying a word. Actions speak louder than words.  If you display these wrong actions at an interview, you are telling the interviewer not to hire you.

Poor or inappropriate appearance– Can prevent you from getting the job you want. Look professional at your interview remove any body jewelry( No piercings). Don’t wear too much cologne or perfume. Don’t show up to the interview drunk or high. Most employers have policies that prohibit drug use of their employees.  Men should wear a shirt and tie with dress slacks. Women have a few more choices if your wear a dress or skirt wear pantyhose. Your shoes should be polished. Get a good night’s rest don’t show up looking sleepy or tired. Wear a smile when you greet people at the company.

Weak or ” wet fish” handshake- This gesture is important because it officially signals the beginning of the interview. You want your handshake to be firm and not over powering.

Being late for the interview- You should always arrive at an interview 10-15 minutes before time. There are a lot of things you can do to avoid this from happening. Drive the route the day before, so you will know how long it takes to get.  Getting lost is no excuse, print out the directions from yahoo or google driving directions. You can even send the directions to your cell phone depending you your carrier. Buy a GPS or call ahead and ask for directions.

Failure to look directly at the interviewer- If you do not maintain eye contact with the interview it could be perceived as you  are not interested in the job or dishonest. Good eye contact shows that you are actively listening to what is said.

Lack of Maturity– Failure to be prepared for the interview demonstrates a  lack of maturity, simply meaning you are not ready for the job you applied for. Failure to be ready is being late for the interview.  Not researching the company culture and showing up for the interview with poor or inappropriate appearance,  displays a lack of maturity.

Based on the List for “Why Qualified Applicants Don’t Get Hired – Knock Out Factors” from SLATE Missouri Career Center, Career Success Strategies

Reprinted from The People’s Employment Journal

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The Basics: Advice on getting the Interview

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 27, 2010

Getting an interview for a position you have applied for is not as easy as it sounds. Below are a few basics to increase your chances of getting a call back from the company you would like to work for

Courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn

.1) Keep your CV updated and concise. Mention the critical learning’s from each job and how long the position was held for.

2) Spelling and Grammar are important. Use spell check, proof read your CV, get a second opinion. Make your first impression a lasting one and increase your chances of getting that interview.

3) Resume formatting does not have to be stayed. You can keep your individuality and still make your CV look professional. The norm is to keep it chronological, informative without being too drawn out.

4) Do not embellish your CV. You can elaborate on your experiences but you must be able to substantiate your experiences and skills.

5) When sending your CV to apply for a position, personalize the company and contact name for each application you send through. The employer will not look kindly on generic blanket applications.

6) The reality is that you can be under or over qualified for a position. If you are under qualified do not feel offended if the company does not want to spend resources on training you, there will be another opportunity down the road. Be realistic about your skill set and target positions where there could be a potential match. Being overqualified also has it challenges. A company could be concerned with whether you will be satisfied with the position and stay for a long term. Be honest with yourself. Jumping around on your CV makes employers nervous.

7) Follow up. Make the call; companies could not be getting back to you because they have been sidetracked. There is nothing wrong following up and finding out additional information on the position.

8) Be patient, finding a job takes time in the current market. Do not get despondent.

9) Register your CV updated on job portals. Agency and companies use this resource to find candidates from the current talent pool.

10) Use a litmus test in the back of your mind when applying for a position, is this a position you could really see yourself in day in and day out? Be true to yourself.

Good Luck with you Job Search, hopefully the above puts you ahead of the game.

Lianne du Toit

TalentFusion is a partnership fused together by the desire to develop a platform for businesses to find top talent and candidates to cement their career paths.

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My Checklist To Financial Freedom

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 27, 2010

I love checklists. Especially when I want to make progress in a particular area but don’t exactly know what steps to take. This is a personal financial checklist that covers all the steps I have taken over last 5-7 years that have helped me move from being a financial mess to having a little bit of an idea of what’s going on.

Some of the listed items are bigger and will take a long time, and some of them are simple tasks that you can accomplish in a day. Some will be relevant to your situation and some will not – that is why it is called “personal” finance – everyone’s situation is unique.

personal financial checklistBut, if you are just starting out and are trying to get yourself into a better position financially, I would suggest spending the next couple months and checking off as many things on this list as possible. If you do that you will be on your way to financial freedom!

This is not a chronological step-by-step process, but like the title suggests it is just a checklist. Some of the items can be done simeultaneously, while others will require another item to be checked off first. Other than the first couple items, they are not listed in any particular order. If you are looking for a step-by-step process, I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover.

My Personal Checklist To Financial Freedom

Start giving regularly.

Something. Anything. If you don’t have money, give your time.  Just get the sowing and reaping process started. The Bible says as long as the earth remains there will always be seedtime and harvest and you can’t reap what you don’t sow. So just like a farmer wouldn’t expect crops without planting seed, we too must start sowing in the area that we want to reap.

Make a lifelong promise to yourself to spend less money than you earn.

We could end this checklist right here and it would suffice. Just about everything listed below falls into this category. Spending less than you earn is the key to wealth building, and is the most important lesson when it comes to personal finance. You can do everything else right, but if you spend more money than you earn – you will not be in a good financial position.

This is the simple rule that allows families living on a $40,000/year salary to retire with millions and that causes millionaires to go bankrupt. You have to decide that you will not spend more money than you earn.

Pay off all consumer debts

Proverbs 22:7 says that the borrower is slave to the lender. Having been a slave and a free man in this area, I much prefer being free. A wonderful second benefit is that you have a lot more financial peace and can build wealth faster when you are out of debt.  For paying off debts, I recommend the Debt Snowball Method and these are a few other tools and resources to cut your debt.

Negotiate a better rate with credit card companies

While I was working to pay down my debt, I spent some time on the phone negotiating with my credit card companies to get a better interest rate. It isn’t a guarantee, but I consistently would get off the phone with a better interest rate than when I called.

Create a budget

Creating a budget can be as simple or as difficult as you make it. I love having a budget in place – contrary to what I thought before I tried it, it doesn’t feel like we are in handcuffs, but rather that we are more free to spend money in the areas we want to.

There are lots of budgeting software options and other budgeting tools to help you. Having a budget has helped my marriage, saved us thousands of dollars, and given us so much more peace with our money.

Get the employer match on your 401k

If your employer has a matching program in your 401k or 403b (many of them do) you should try to take advantage of that if at all possible. My former employer had a 100% matching program. So if I put in $500, they put in $500. That is a 100% return on my investment. This is the easiest way to boost your retirement dollars.

Start an emergency fund

This was another thing that we did to give us a lot more peace with our finances. It can be expected that unexpected things will happen. Creating an emergency fund is just proof that you are expecting them. We have since used our emergency fund to save us even more money.

Sell your junk

Way too many of us have way too much stuff. A lot of it would never be missed if we got rid of it. I have sold a lot of stuff on Ebay & Amazon and it helped provide some extra cash to pay down my debt.

Start learning what the Bible says about Money

The Bible really has a lot to say about our money. I wrote an article called 5 Bible Verses about Money that every Christian should know and if that isn’t enough here are 250 Bible Verses about Money.

Create a balance sheet

A balance sheet is a snapshot of your financial position. I like to update it every 6 months and it is a fun and helpful way to gauge your progress.

Create a FLOP

Since I handle the finances in our family, I know a little more about whats going on than Linda does. I created this file, which I call our Financial Life on One Page (FLOP), as something that she could go to if I died prematurely. I combined it with our balance sheet to make it one file that covers all the financial details that she would need if I were gone.

Start giving 10%

Giving 10% of your income to your local church is an important milestone. God was the original giver and we were created by Him to be givers as well. I have witnessed miracles in our life in the area of giving and it also happens to be the only place in the Bible where God says it is okay to test him – See Malachi 3:10.

Organize your bank accounts

I discovered that having more than one checking account allowed us to manage our money much cleaner and with more efficiency. Here is a little on how we organize our bank accounts.

Cut Your Expenses

If you are really trying to save money or get out of debt, you need to thoroughly examine each of your monthly expenses. I wrote about 15 ways to cut expenses which will get you started, but always be asking yourself, “Is _______ really necessary?” or “Can I get ______ cheaper somewhere?”

Simplify your bill paying process

I created a simple system for paying my bills each month. It made my life a lot easier and eliminated a lot of stress. Read more: How to Pay Monthly Bills.

Figure out your true hourly wage

This is a fantastic exercise to help you more accurately know what your time is worth and whether or not that job you have is worth it. Try it here: How much are you really getting paid?

Set Career Goals

Following up on the previous task, is the current job worth it? It is going to help you reach your career goals?  If you continue doing what you are doing, where will you be in 5 years – or 20 years? Are you doing what you love? If not, find someone doing what you want to do, take them out to lunch, and ask them how they did it.

Create A Will

Save your loved ones a headache and just do it. You can do it at LegalZoom.com in less than 30 minutes for $69 and be done with it.

Evaluate your car situation

I am convinced that the one of the biggest things that keeps the middle class Americans in the middle class is their insistence on spending way too much of their income on cars. I used to believe that I would always have a car payment. I was wrong and now I intend to never have a car payment because I will save up cash for whatever car I buy. Watch this video for inspiration. For more read How cars affect your financial freedom.

Start saving for Kid’s college

If you have kids you might want to start saving for their college education. Personally, I wouldn’t do this until I had my debt paid off and had a head start on saving for retirement. Your kids can take a loan out for college, but the only loan you can get for retirement is on a credit card and that seems a bit foolish to me – don’t you think? Some argue that the 529 is the best college saving plan, but the Education Savings Account is a good option as well.

Get Life Insurance

I believe in buying Term Insurance over whole life. There are some cases where there could be an argument for choosing whole life, but generally Term seems to be a better purchase for most people. I recently signed up for my first life insurance policy. I used Zander to get a term life insurance quote and was happy with the process. You can read more in my Zander Term Life Insurance Review.

Pay off your house early

As part of getting out of debt, I want to live without a mortgage as well. Here are 4 ways to pay off your house early. Just imagine your electric bill being the most expensive bill each month. I can’t wait!

Give more than 10%

The more I understand stewardship, the more I realize that every dollar that is in my bank account isn’t mine – it is all God’s. A big part of being a good steward is understanding this and never letting money get a hold on us. I am convinced that the most fulfilled people in the world are those who always looking for ways to give of themselves. Time, energy, or money – it is in our DNA to be givers and like the parable of the talents teaches us, if we are faithful with small amounts we will be entrusted with more.

Any other items you have on your personal financial checklist that should be added?

Article by Bob

Bob enjoys dark chocolate, paying off debt, giving, Foosball, loose-leaf tea, helping people succeed, learning, anything God created, playing guitar, doing things the “long” way, Philippians, excellence, Chick-Fil-A, and making his wife smile. He started ChristianPF in 2007 and has been having a blast ever since. Find him on Facebook & Twitter.

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Signs of Hope

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 27, 2010

Picking up the Pieces

Our work together was abruptly interrupted by the earthquake that struck her country on January 12. Knowing someone who lives in Haiti made the news headlines all the more real. I was relieved and grateful the day I received her email letting me know she was okay. After taking a few months to regroup, Vanessa was ready to resume coaching. On our first call, she explained that her neighborhood in Port-au-Prince had been spared, her home was intact, and the office where she works was still operational.

Vanessa told me that she didn’t like the feeling of no longer trusting herself or trusting life. She felt powerless and extremely stressed. We decided that the first priority was to make a plan to address her stress level. She was already implementing a program for her physical health and was also taking advantage of the crisis counseling that was available.

Vanessa told me that intellectually she knew there was hope, yet emotionally, she didn’t feel it. I asked her, “What are the signs of hope?” We acknowledged our own connection as one sign that she was not alone. Did she see any other signs? “Yes,” Vanessa said, “people’s resilience.” She saw resilience in the faces of people who had lost so much and were still going on. At the end of our conversation, Vanessa made “noticing signs of hope” part of her coaching assignment. She also decided to start the OASIS in the Overwhelm 28 Day program.

One Week Later

The next time we spoke, Vanessa reported two more signs of hope. “The first is that I’ve been able to move out of a low vibration. The second is that a friend made me laugh… that I can still laugh is a sign of hope.” What a wonderful sign indeed, and we laughed together for much of that call, even as we worked. Her next update came in the form of telling me that, now on Day 7 of the OASIS 28 Day Guide, she was amazed at the impact of such simple changes. She noticed that the first OASIS strategy, the 4-D (four directions), was helping her to be more aware of her environment and more connected with her body. When I taught her the second strategy, the 3-B-C (three breath countdown), she said, “I felt my heart open.” Signs of hope come in many forms.

Another week later (Day 14 in the OASIS Guide), Vanessa reported that she was looking at things differently and without drama. She was more aware of when she was “making a story” and could be more objective now. Also clear to Vanessa was that it is time to do something different, something that involves fun, creativity, and expressing herself. We are beginning to explore those possibilities now and that, most definitely, is a sign of hope.

Where Do You See Hope?

While the scale can vary greatly, as humans, we all experience devastation of some kind over the course of our lives. I recently spoke to a woman who was at Ground Zero in New York on 9/11. Flying on an airplane triggers her PTSD and so it is something she avoids. Yet when her elderly aunt was in need, she booked a flight to Florida and, tranquilizers in hand, got herself on a plane. I told her how awesome it is that her love is apparently bigger than her fear. She said that getting on the plane is a sign of hope for her because it means her life is now expanded to include the possibility of air travel and vacations to new places with her husband.

What periods of devastation have you come through in your life? Is there any rubble you are sorting through now? Look for signs of hope in the eyes of others and be the sign of hope for those around you.

Article by Virginia Kravitz, Career & Life Coach, Copyright ©2010, www.inthecurrent.com . All rights reserved.  Ginny founded In the Current® to serve accomplished professionals who want to move boldly in new directions and start living with a greater sense of joy and abandon. 

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Handle yourself on an job interview like you would if you were on TV

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 25, 2010

If you were on a guest on a television talk show you would want to present yourself as intelligent, articulate,  and seem enthusiastic.  You want to display those same characters for a job interview.

On television interviews, it matters what you wear. People have been known to undress  for both television and job interviews. You want to wear what’s appropriate for your job. Do your research find out  what is  right for that company’s culture. If you are a man wear a dark  suit or at least a tie and slacks. If you are a woman  you can wear a dress or pants suit. It’s important that you feel like yourself, and not feel as though you’re  wearing a costume.

Women should be careful with accessories, select accessories that allow for a statement of personal style, but don’t overwhelm the interviewer. Don’t wear piercings, expect earrings.  Be careful with applying make up, for television more make up is better.  For a job interview less is best.

The secret to success with television  and job interviews is  not to get too comfortable. Being in an interview situation can drain your energy. You have to counter that by being less relaxed and more animated. Body language and good posture are important.  Become less comfortable  by sitting straight on the edge of  the chair with your hands placed loosely in your lap and not leaning back in the chair, draping your arms over the arms. Smile as you extend your hand to shake the interviewers hand. Provide a firm 3 second handshake.

Use the interview’s name. Do not use their first name unless they suggest it. Do not talk too fast, it will make you seem nervous. It’s hard for the interviewer to concentrate on what you are saying when you are talking too fast. Speak clearly and use a friendly conversational tone.

Keep your responses brief while saying what you need to say. Avoid one word answers such as yes or no. Give elaborate answers.   Never share personal information. Unlike being  a guest on the television show it is okay and encouraged to use industry jargon so you can show your expertise.

Help the interviewer understand what is  the most important point by saying so. Use the” tell me about yourself” question to do just that.  Sell yourself, share your skills and strengths with the interviewer. Do ask questions about the job and / or the company.

Never go off the record. Do not say anything you wouldn’t want to see in print or hear on the news. Speak with the understanding that what you are saying will be used. Do not chew gum or bring food to the interview. No background noise. Never use profanity. Don’t talk bad about your former employer or managers. That will give the interviewer a bad impression. Do not talk about salary or benefits.

Correct inaccuracies or mis- perceptions. Always be polite and use good manners. Do not interrupt the interviewer while they are talking. Do express appreciation for the the interviewer’s time. Do not answer illegal questions, politely re-direct.  The interviewer is prohibited by law to ask about your age, sex, ethnic background, marital status, and religion.

When the interviewer ask if you’d like to add anything, provide additional important information, use this opportunity to express your interest in the job. Summarize your strengths and skills again. Thank the interview again for their time.

Reprinted From The People’s Employment Journal

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The Battles Within

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 25, 2010

The biggest battles a person who has suffered through abuse will ever fight are the battles that rage within. Those endless questions that plague victims of abuse can literally suck the life right out of them. What did I do to deserve this? Why did this happen to me? I’m not a bad person, am I? What if it happens again? Why couldn’t I defend myself? If there is a God, why did he let this happen? This doesn’t happen to normal people, does it?

We have to realize the first thing that must be rebuilt is self-esteem and we win these inner battles by realizing the abuse is over. We arm ourselves with knowledge, get the help we need without feeling ashamed of that need, and we love ourselves again. It is not required that others love and/or respect us for us to love and respect ourselves. Bad things happen to undeserving people all the time. Everything is not something we can control, but we can control how much of our life is affected by the stuff that enters it.

Be strong and know that you have the power to win any battle you face. You’ve survived the abuse. Now, conquer it!

Lacresha Hayes is the author of bestseller, The Rape of Innocence: Taking Captivity Captive. She is also a consultant to churches and businesses, as well as a grant writer. She works tirelessly with victims of sexual and physical abuse and is a speaker on the RAINN Speaker’s bureau.

For more information, visit her website,http://lacreshatheauthor.weebly.com

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Setting Attainable Goals

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 23, 2010

I was looking through a magazine and stumbled upon something I hadn’t seen in years, a glass piggybank.  I recall the first such bank I received as a child when I opened my first savings account.  It forced me to continue to save because I didn’t want to ‘break’ it until it was completely full, or I had enough to purchase something I really wanted.  My eyes were always on the prize.

By the ‘80’s piggybanks had changed; they had stoppers in the bottom to remove money whenever you wanted. By not having to keep adding to your savings until you’d reached your goal, many times they were never met.  The bank became a place to gather loose change and such, but it took away the demand, if you will, that you reach a goal or lose it all, by having to ‘break the bank’.

It makes me think about my business goals in somewhat the same way.  I have to find ways of making myself accountable to reaching the goals I’ve set.  Last year, I setup several reminders to check in on my 2010 goals. When I got the first reminder, I realized, – YIKES, now where did I put those goals?   I was not focused on reaching them.

It’s difficult when you’re the boss, isn’t it?  How can we set goals and make ourselves accountable for the goals we need to keep our businesses afloat in these challenging times?  

First, take a look at what types of goals you might want to set for yourself.  Some to consider might include:

  • Sales/income
  • Number of new clients
  • New equipment/software
  • Knowledge-based achievements (certifications; classes)
  • Adding staff or sub-contractors

As you can see, there are many types of goals you can set for your business.  I usually try and have three to four of these areas covered in my yearly goals; that way, if one seems to be lacking, I can transition more time and effort into making that particular goal a priority, or adjust it to give myself a clearer way to achieve it.

I think the next most important thing is to put it in writing – something about memorializing it makes it seem more attainable, and real.  You might even consider sharing your yearly goals with a colleague or peer and ask them to check in with you several times a year to make sure you’re on track to achieving them.

Equally as important is making sure that you don’t beat yourself up if you don’t attain a particular goal.  Goals are something you are aspiring to achieve; they should help you be accountable for where you want your business to go.

2008 was a perfect example of that for me.  I was right on track with my sales/income and new client goals for 2008, right until the stock market crashed in October.  Suddenly, everything changed.  By the end of the year, several goals had not been met.

I rewarded myself for those goals I did achieve, took stock of those I didn’t, and tried to understand why; then I realigned my goals for 2009 and again for 2010, to offset these changes, and added several new categories of goals that will help me keep my business on track and growing.

Goals are meant to inspire you and invoke you into taking action.  Don’t let them bring you down if you don’t achieve them; re-adjust them. Find a cheerleader, someone who will help you stay on track with your goals, but will also encourage you and help you see the positive changes and growth you have experienced.

Re-invent yourself and keep making deposits in your unbreakable piggybank of growth.  Stay positive and watch what happens.

Jeannine Clontz, is a successful entrepreneur, author, speaker, and trainer. Clontz teaches a 7-week business start-up class in conjunction with Connections to Success and the St. Charles Community College, as well as a 10-week Teleclass for start-up and established Virtual Assistants. Learn more about Time Management for Virtual Assistants by downloading her FREE report “A Fresh Look at Time Management for Virtual Assistants”, or request her FREE audio CD “What’s Holding Back my Business Success?”,  and more by visiting:  http://www.VAbizcoach.com; or contact her at: coach@VAbizcoach.com.

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