The New Year, The New You

The arrival of a new year often signifies new beginnings for people- a chance to start over again, to refresh, to feel renewed. I feel the same way, although I’ve never really been into New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I tend to focus on certain areas of my life where I feel unsatisfied and make it my goal to work on that throughout the year. The following list contains areas of focus in my life where I have previously found room for improvement as well as some solutions as how to make those changes happen in your own life.

Make Over Your Closet

First, do yourself a favour by getting rid of all of the clothes that don’t do you any favors, and anything else that’s taking up precious wardrobe space. Next. reevaluate the clothes you still have by thinking about them in terms of outfits rather than pieces.

Make Over Your Schedule

Not a morning person? Start here. A great morning routine is key to setting you up for a productive day (even on Mondays) and can save your life when you’re running late. (While you’re at it, taking control of your errands can help cut down on your running-around time.)

Stop Procrastinating

It takes a long time to change a bad habit, so it makes sense to try and embrace your behavior to try and make it work for you. If that doesn’t work, however, you may want to look at what might be the root cause of why you procrastinate and then figure out how you can avoid it in the future.

Start a New Project

What is a project anyway and what is the best way to tackle it? There’s only two simple steps: break down all of the things that you need to do, and then organize them into to-do lists to keep track of project goals and outcomes.

Find Balance

If you’ve gotten to the point where your batteries need a recharge, then it’s time to consider how you juggle all of the different facets of your life. (And if you’re in a crisis this post, this post or this post may help you.) This year, make a vow to build a better relationship with your doctor, practice self-care, get more sleep and learn how to have some fun.

Impress Your Boss

Any boss is impressed with an employee who takes the initiative to improve themselves professionally. If you do decide to take time off this year, make sure you do these things first and you’ll win even more brownie points.

Do Better in Class

If you’re thinking about going back to school in the next year, you may want to read this. But if you’re just looking to go back to school with a new attitude, check out this post for how to take your studying routine more seriously.

What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? Which areas of your life do you hope to improve? Comment below or let’s keep the conversation between ourselves at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

Build a Better Business Wardrobe

One of my friends literally had a job opportunity fall into her lap last week that was an improvement over her previous position in so many ways: better work environment, more responsibility, and a pay raise. (Cha-ching!)

Talking over drinks she confided she was worried more than anything about what she was going to wear to her new workplace. It’s a struggle to find clothes that suit her body-type already; trying to add more professional pieces to her wardrobe while on a budget made it an even bigger challenge than usual. “I don’t want to buy a bunch of new stuff just to wear to work,” she complained.

It made me think about my own wardrobe journey, from the time when I had an overflowing closet (working at a clothing store didn’t help), to the time where I learned to let go of things I was holding onto just because I didn’t love myself. Even now I’m not totally satisfied with my clothing collection, so we ended up having a lot to commiserate about.

The capsule wardrobe is a concept that I’ve been contemplating for sometime now ever since I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The idea is to pair down your wardrobe down to 33 key pieces (minus things like underwear, socks, workout clothes, etc.) that can mix and match with ease. (Although according to this article, most of us are doing it wrong.) The term was originally coined by London fashion boutique owner Susie Faux and has now become popularized through sites such as Project 333, which has a detailed explanation of the whole concept and a step-by-step guide on how to implement it into your own life. There’s even a psychological theory behind it- decision fatigue– which brought more attention to public figures such as Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg for their “uniform dressing”.

Unless you want to spend hours down the Google rabbit hole, I suggest not searching capsule wardrobe examples. (Besides, I did most of the work for you here on Pinterest.)  A lot of it is in the strategy- this breakdown really helped me to visualize how it might look if I tried to design one of my own.

After ransacking some ideas from here and here, my friend and I came up with a few work outfits using the clothes already in her closet- we just stuck to a neutral palette, incorporated some subtle patterns and shots of color, and brainstormed ways to layer pieces for the chillier months to come.

Honestly, most of us just want to get up and go to work with as little hassle as possible. Cutting down on her clothing choices, and leaving her only with outfits that were coordinated and classy is making her leave for work a more confident woman every morning. Creating a capsule wardrobe isn’t really for the faint of heart- it does take time and effort- but for someone looking to create a better business wardrobe it seemed totally worth the effort.

And as for me? Well, I might have gotten a little inspired too. Let’s just say that we all know what I’m going to be doing this weekend, and it’s probably going to have something to do with my closet.

Have you experimented with a capsule wardrobe in your life? Did it make a difference on how you dressed for work? Let us know what worked for you (or if it didn’t!) or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. I could use your advice too!

Or, hey- maybe you’re totally not into this capsule wardrobe thing anyway. This article makes a good argument for how our obsession to minimize our closets is taking away our personality and sense of style. Is she right? You be the judge!

 

 

Professional Development is Your Project

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The problem with high school is that there’s a lot of people telling you what to do, where to be, and how you need to complete x,y and z in order to get your diploma.

Then in university or college you’ve got a little more freedom to decide how and when you do things, but you still have to meet the prerequisites to graduate, and do more schooling, or become a whatever and by then you’ll have totally figured out how to do things for yourself, right?

Unfortunately, I’ve found this isn’t always the case. Sure, each workplace has a certain set of rules you have to follow, and most jobs have a job description that you have to adhere to. But your job is just you job; your workplace is just where you work. That is, for now. Who helps you to decide when it’s time to move on? Who tells you what to do to gain upward mobility in your company? What the prerequisites for getting promotions? For changing careers? For scaling back?

For some, knowing that your career has the ability to head in whatever direction you want is really freeing. Others might be totally cool with finding a good position and sticking with it, providing it meets their lifestyle needs. If you’re one the latter, congratulations- it sounds like you’re already in the place that you need to be.

I think most of us meet somewhere in the middle (myself included). We crave the autonomy to make our own decisions about when, where and what we work at (exciting!); at the same time, we wish there was someone to guide us where we need to go otherwise how else do we find our way of getting there? (Scary!)

It’s kind of brutal, but it’s the truth: professional development is your project.

Don’t panic; it’s actually pretty liberating. Does it require a certain amount of discipline and motivation on your part? Totally. But you’re in change of when, where and how you want to develop yourself professionally.

The most exciting (and challenging) part is deciding the what:

  • What skills do you want to acquire?
  • Which skills do you want to improve?
  • What contacts do you want to make?
  • What experience do you want to gain?
  • What do you want to get certified in?
  • What do you want to learn?

Once you’ve figured out the what, the how comes so much easier: take a workshop, join a club, go back to school, audit a class, attend a conference, get a membership, volunteer, shadow a mentor.

And read, read, read: books related to finding your ideal career or better yet, find the biography of someone who has achieved success at what you want to do. Read magazines, newspapers, blogs and other industry publications to keep your knowledge current.

You may want to map out what of some of these steps look like on a long-term scale. What are some of your goals? What do you want to accomplish? Where do you want to go? Where do you want to end up?

Or maybe you’ve already found yourself in a good place career-wise and you’re looking to keep the momentum going. Your professional development projects might be more along the lines of expanding your target market, developing a new product, or re-branding your company.

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to change it up, or hate challenging the status quo: professional development is definitely a project we have to take on ourselves. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. In a way careers can mimic- they can be ebb and flow and take us to destinations that we never thought were possible.

The beauty of it, is that you have the freedom to choose how you’ll navigate that flow, and hopefully you’ll end up somewhere wonderful.

At the very least, I hope you enjoy the ride.

KBwB-BFlower-50What are some of the professional skills that you’ve been working on? Share your trials and tribulations below, or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

For more advice on navigating careers and the workplace, click here.