Where do you want to be in five years?

Where do you want to be in five years in your life and career? It’s a good time to answer that question.

Where do you want to be in five years in your life and career? It’s a good time to answer that question.

It’s Jan 10, 2019.

Our New Year celebrations are already fading from memory and we’ve already broken at least two of our new diet rules for the year. It’s cold, It’s rainy and snowy and we would really just like to settle in with a cozy blanket and binge watch our latest Netflix obsession. 

But it is a new year and perhaps, now that we’ve made our quick resolutions to exercise more and lose some weight, we need to look a little more deeply at our life.

For many of us, 2018 was a year of ups and downs. Some good. Some bad. Some uplifting joy. Some devastating heartbreak. We had some successes and experienced some things we couldn’t control. As we begin a new year, It’s worth hitting pause on Netflix and asking ourselves some deeper questions about what we want from our life and career in 2019. 

Where do you want to be in five years?

It’s a good question to start with. We often make our New Years resolutions and set new goals thinking of our immediate future.

To lose a few pounds.

To eat more vegetables.

To finally run that 10K.

But, an even better exercise is to stop and take stock of where we are right now  - not just the address - but where are you in your career? in your personal life? in your relationships? in your finances? in your dreaming and hoping? 

Stop for a few minutes and just take stock. Write down your current situation. You can simply jot down some notes or take your time and map it out in detail. Where are you right now - on this cold day in January?

And then ask yourself the next questions.

  • Where do you want to be in five years? How old will you be?

  • What will be different in your personal life?

  • What can you imagine that you will be doing? What do you want to be doing?

  • What dreams do you have for your five year older self?

  • What hopes are you excited about?

  • Where will you be living? Where would you like to be living?

  • What dreams have you put on the back burner to take care of other things?

  • What do you imagine for yourself financially, personally? professionally?

Write it all down and date it. Take time to ponder and think about what’s most important. What really matters?

Five years will go by in a flash. It’s time to make a plan to get headed at least in the right general direction.

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What are three small steps you can take this month to move closer to those dreams?

Write them down and then break them down again.

What is one even smaller thing you can do in the next week to get started on your dreams?

What can you do today?

It’s time to take a small step forward. You can get there. One step at at time.


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Anita Flowers is a board certified life and career coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. You can read more about her here. And while you’re making your five year plan, check out the LifeWork Project® which begin February 11. It’s a 21 day e-course designed to help you create a life and career that you love. Learn more and sign up at The LifeWork Project® or contact Anita for more information.

Give the Gift of Possibility this Christmas!

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Looking for a last minute, clutter free gift with life changing value?

It’s a great time to give someone you love the gift of possibility!

Is there someone in your life who is feeling a little lost?

Is there someone on your gift giving list who needs a little help figuring out what to do next - whether looking for a career or making a change? Maybe a university student or recent grad?

Is there someone you love who has hopes and dreams but need some help bringing them to reality?

Maybe it's you. Maybe it's a friend or family member.

Give that someone the gift of new possibilities and a better, more hopeful 2019. Now is the time for a fresh start  - a positive change that will open new and exciting doors to the future.

If you are ready to explore new possibilities for your life and career, why not start here? 

Gift certificates available

for holiday gift giving.

Check out these options for gifts:


Professional Resume Update and LinkedIn Review. Update and refresh your resume and get tips for creating an exceptional LinkedIn profile.

The LifeWork Project® begins January 14, 2019. It's a 21 day e-course designed to help you find a life and career you love. Explore your personality and values. Create an action plan for making positive changes in your life.  Also available as an add-on to individual coaching.

Try the Career Jumpstart - a 90 minute career consultation by phone for basic career advice. Discuss your current and future options, brainstorm possibilities and find solutions. Ask questions about resumes, LInkedIn or the job search process.
It's a great place to start!

 4 Sessions of Career or Life Coaching. It's time to make that change you've been dreaming about. Contact Anita to design an individualized coaching program to fit your specific needs or for more information.


Check out bluesagecareers.com for more services and information.

Contact Anita for more information or purchase a gift card here.

All Blue Sage services are conducted by phone or video chat so you can take advantage of this offer from literally anywhere in the world. Services can be purchased this week and scheduled at your convenience beginning in January.


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Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, Anita’s background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love.   Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

7 Essential Steps to Take Before You Begin the Job Hunt

7 Essential Steps to Take Before you Begin the Job Hunt

7 Essential Steps to Take Before you Begin the Job Hunt

You’ve decided it’s time to find a new job. Whether you’re a new college graduate or just ready for a change, it’s tempting to slap a resume together and start hitting apply on every job position you see on Indeed. But there are a few essential steps you need to take before hitting that SUBMIT button. Completing these basic steps will make your job search go more smoothly and will greatly improve your chances of landing the job you’ve always wanted

  1. Google yourself. Type your name in several combinations, for example, Anita Flowers. Flowers Anita. Anita Fraley Flowers. etc. (You can guess that I get a lot of florist shops!) Recruiters and prospective employers will definitely google you, so you want to get everything cleaned up before that pic of your drunken self at your cousin’s wedding shows up on the screen of the hiring manager. Even if you’ve been pretty innocuous online, it’s best to check it out. Have a friend google you to see what shows up on a computer not linked to your accounts. Delete inappropriate tweets and posts, tighten your privacy settings, untag yourself in photos. Check all your social media profiles. Ask yourself “What kind of image do I project online?” You may want to change your profile pictures. Go for something clean, upbeat and respectable.

  2. Update and proofread your resume.The best resumes are clean and simple. Fancy fonts and colors are often off-putting and won’t make it through the computer robots in HR. Most companies now use computers to scan resumes for keywords. If the computer can’t read the version of Word or whatever you’re using, it will kick your resume out before a human even sees it. Check the website to see what format is recommended (PDF, Word, ASCII). Have 2 friends with great spelling and grammar chops proofread your resume. 57% of HR managers will immediately toss any resume with typos or misspelled words. If you’re not careful with the details of your resume, the assumption will be that you won’t be careful with details on the job. Find out 12 things to never include on your resume here. And read the three part series on building an excellent resume here.

  3. Link yourself in. Linked In is the professional version of Facebook and recruiters and HR managers use it. I've been contacted by recruiters on Linked In and even landed a job interview. Create a clean, up-to-date profile with your work history and education. Add memberships of organizations and groups. Upload a professional picture. (Have a new one taken if necessary). This is your first impression for many employers. Make it a good one. To read more about getting started on LInkedIn, click here.

  4. Make a network list. Write down everyone you can think of who might know someone who knows someone who can help you get a job and start contacting them. The reality is that more and more jobs are never advertised but are filled by word of mouth or personal recommendations. For more about networking, check out our blog post on how to network here.

  5. Get clear about your finances. Take a good hard look at your expenses, student loans, living needs and come up with a specific income range that will be your target. What kind of salary will you need? What salary can you accept and still make ends meet? Be realistic. If you’re not sure about salary ranges for particular jobs, use the salary finder at CareerOneStop or a site like Glass Door to research your location.

  6. Order a copy of your college and graduate school transcripts to have on hand. You never know when they will be needed and it can take up to 2 weeks to receive them. When an employer says, “Can you forward a copy of your resume and transcripts?” you will be three steps ahead of your competition if you can do that immediately- even if you’re sending an “issued to student” copy. You can always follow up with the official copy if needed.

  7. Look in your closet and put together a professional looking outfit for an interview. Make sure your clothes are clean, in good repair and fit well. Clean and shine your shoes. You don’t need to rush out and buy new clothes - unless the only things in your closet are jeans and t-shirts - but be prepared. When the recruiter says, “Can you be here by 2 this afternoon?” you want to be ready.

Go ahead and get started. You'll be 7 steps ahead of your competition and on your way to a great new job! 

This post has been updated and republished. Original blog post appeared in August of 2016.

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Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, Anita’s background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love.   Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

Eight Tips to De-stress Your Holiday Season

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Welcome to the season of stress! It’s time to buy the gifts and prepare the feasts. There are cookies to bake, a house to clean and decorate, and even more invitations and obligations. We have to roast the turkey and hang the lighted icicles. From late November all the way through to New Years Day, our to-do lists are completely out of control. All of us, especially women who are often called on to be the managers of this busy holiday season, feel overwhelmed, stressed and not particularly joyful. But how do you slow down and enjoy the beauty of the season when there is soooo much to do?

Here are eight tips to help you take care of yourself and actually enjoy the beauty of the season.  Unlike some writers, I don’t suggest that you “simplify by choosing just one color to decorate the whole house” or “make holiday decorations from old pallets, straws and fresh cranberries you picked yourself. ” Who has time for that?  Instead consider these questions and make intentional choices about what you and your family will say yes to this holiday season.

1. Take a moment to consider what task/event/activity/person in your holiday is the most crazy-making. What (or who) is guaranteed to send you right over the edge?  Baking four different pies so everyone has their favorite?  (Been there. Done that.) Spending days at the crowded shopping mall or hours online looking for the best deal? Listening to the political rants of Uncle Ernie at the dinner table?  Figure out that crazy maker and ditch it this year. Plan ahead and choose not to participate in the crazy. Buy the pies at a local bakery. Shop minimally or not at all (see #3). Head for the kid’s table or help in the kitchen when Uncle holds forth. The holiday will go on.

2.  Ask what matters. Ask yourself. Ask your family what they enjoy. What are the events you love attending – that touch your heart and soul?  What small touches matter more than the time consuming search for perfection?  What matters – and even more – what doesn’t?  Be satisfied with good enough. Years ago, my family stated that they actually liked the canned cranberry sauce better than homemade and that frozen rolls were just as good under the gravy.  And that way I had time to join in – watching the parade on Thanksgiving and joining in the family board games. That’s what matters.

3. If money is a stressor - and for most people it is one of the biggest - have the talk now. Talk to your spouse, your family, yourself. Set a real budget and create a game plan. Find local freebies – a walk through a decorated downtown, a hike to find holly for decorating. Declare it a $10 Christmas with no presents that cost more than ten dollars. Or a “presents for children only” Christmas. Or a shopping free holiday. One year, because of some difficult circumstances, a friend arrived at our home on Christmas Eve to spend a couple of nights with us. Obviously, there was no time for shopping, so I wrapped a couple of my favorite books and re-gifted a scarf that wasn’t my style or color but would look wonderful on my friend. Be creative. Give time instead of gifts. Most of us have something we are good at (baking, gardening, plumbing, wood working, cleaning, music). Make up a ticket and offer your services for a present or even better offer to teach someone a new skill. You could have a lot of fun and end up without the holiday debt hangover.

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4. Say no. Get a big red “NO” button and keep it on your desk.  Just because it’s happening doesn’t mean that you have to go. Be intentional. Make choices about where you choose to spend your time and money. Give yourself permission or power or whatever you need to say no to the things you don’t enjoy. Sometimes you even need to say no to something you usually enjoy – if it’s the fifth event of the week and you’re just plain tired. It’s okay to say no, stay home, have a cup of cocoa and put your feet up.  

5.  Ask for help. Let someone else do the work. Counter intuitive to #2 but if Uncle Joe has to have the triple layer chocolate cake for your holiday dinner, find a local bakery and just buy the thing.  You don’t even have to tell him!  Find a friend and swap chores. You like to clean up the yard and hang outdoor lights. She likes to bake. Offer a trade. Enlist family members.  Shared work usually ends in shared joy and laughter.

6.  Make like REI and #OptOutside. There’s nothing like a walk outdoors, whether it’s a hike in the mountains or a walk to see the neighborhood lights, to help you breathe and de-stress. Plan some outdoor activities to disconnect from the commercial overload and find the peace nature provides. Get outside and play.

7.  Practice gratitude. Remember that much of the stress of our holidays comes from abundance – something many people in our world do not know. As we painfully watch and worry over the difficulties in our global world, remember that we have so much to be grateful for. Most of us live in homes with heat and plenty of hot clean running water. Our refrigerators are full to overflowing with more than we need. Be grateful for each moment, for each shared joy, for each simple cup of tea.

8. Practice authentic giving. Not just for your family but for the world. Instead of giving another wool sweater as a gift, contribute to a cause your loved one cares about. Give to a local food bank and then take some time to educate yourself on the causes and culture of poverty in your area. Spend an hour with your children picking up litter and trash in your neighborhood. Take your old towels to an animal shelter Assess what changes you can make to be part of the solution to the problems our world faces.

Make self-care and authentic giving a priority this year and allow yourself to experience the full joy of the holiday season. What other tips would you offer to de-stress and de-commercialize this holiday season? Share them with us here or on our facebook page.


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Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, Anita’s background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love.   Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

 

Give the Gift of Possibility! 30% off extended through Dec 3.

Give the gift of possibility with a Blue Sage Gift Card

Give the gift of possibility with a Blue Sage Gift Card

It’s a great time to give someone you love the gift of possibility!

Is there someone in your life who is feeling a little lost? Who is looking for a change but doesn't know where to start? Maybe it's you. Maybe it's a friend or family member. Give that someone the gift of new possibilities. Now is the time for a fresh start  - a positive change that will open new and exciting doors to the future.

If you are ready to explore new possibilities for your life and career, why not start here? 



For this week only,
all Blue Sage Career Services are 30% off. 

Gift cards available. 

All prices in US Dollars. Contact Anita for Canadian pricing.

Save $54 on a Professional Resume Update and LInkedIn Review. This week only $126 (Regular price $179).

The LifeWork Project® begins January 14, 2019. It's a 21 day e-course designed to help you find a life and career you love. Explore your personality and values. Create an action plan for making positive changes in your life. 
This week only $63. (Regular price $89.95)
Also available as an add-on to individual coaching.

Try the Career Jumpstart - a 90 minute career consultation by phone for basic career advice. Discuss your current and future options, brainstorm possibilities and find solutions. Ask questions about resumes, LInkedIn or the job search process.
It's a great place to start!
This week only $102. (Regular price $145)
 

All career and life coaching packages are also discounted 30%. It's time to make that change you've been dreaming about. Contact Anita to design an individualized coaching program to fit your specific needs or for more information.


Check out bluesagecareers.com for more services and savings.  Contact Anita  for more information or purchase a gift card here.

All Blue Sage services are conducted by phone or video chat so you can take advantage of this offer from literally anywhere in the world. All services can be purchased this week and scheduled at your convenience in December or January.

Remember this discounted offer ends November 30!  

30% off offer extended through Monday Dec 3


Best wishes to you and your families this holiday season!

Anita


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Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, Anita’s background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love.   Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

Congrats to our October Giveaway Winner!

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Congratulations to Rachel Hart from Ohio, winner of the October Giveaway - a free MBTI® Career Report and Blue Sage coaching session!

(Rachel’s name is being used with her full permission).

The MBTI® Career Report and Expanded Blue Sage Career Report helps your unlock your personality type and to discover how you process information, make decisions, and structure and interact with the world around you. It identifies career possibilities and work-related strengths. It’s helpful for anyone who wants to understand more about their personality and begin the process of finding a fulfilling career. Whether you are a student, a recent grad, a first time job seeker or a mid life career changer, this assessment can help you take the first steps on your journey to a career that makes you happy to get out of bed in the morning.

For the month of November, we are offering 20% off the cost of all MBTI® assessments on the Blue Sage Online Assessment Site. Just type in the code NOV20. The Career Report described above is one option. You can also take the basic MBTI® Step I Profile or the in-depth MBTI® STEP II Profile. With each assessment, you will received a detailed report by email plus a coaching feedback session with Anita. Read more about each assessment here or contact Anita for more information and how to sign up. You can also give the gift of coaching to a family member or friend. Just contact Anita for details.


Anita is an experienced MBTI practitioner and has over two decades of experience teaching the concepts of the Myers Briggs and working with people to unlock their full potential. The LifeWork Project™ can help you discover your strengths, make career decisions and simply understand yourself a whole lot better. Career and life coaching based on your personality type is also available through Blue Sage Career Strategies.

15 Questions to Ask Yourself on November 1st.

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Today is November 1st. 2018 is coming to a close. In the corporate world, we are well into the fourth quarter. It’s that time of year when businesses begin to analyze how the year has gone, to review wins and losses, to note what goals have been accomplished and what lingers undone.

This year-end review can be helpful for individuals as well. Many people wait until late December or New Year’s before beginning this piece of introspection but a bit of analysis in November has some distinct advantages. You can get a jump on making needed changes before the holiday season. By taking a look at your life and goals now, you might actually finish a few more things and check them off as completed for 2018. 

Don’t be discouraged if you have more missed opportunities than accomplishments or if your list of things undone makes you want to give up and eat the entire basket of leftover Halloween candy. Remember the best way forward is often with baby steps. You can make small, positive changes right now and end the year on a much happier note. Give yourself the gift of grace and forgiveness for the things you missed and make sure to celebrate the good things about the year.

So before the holiday madness sets in, take some time to ask yourself some questions about this year of 2018. Here are 15 questions to get you started. Feel free to add your own more specific questions.

  • How well did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions?

  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?

  • What are you proud of from 2018?

  • What career goals did you accomplish?

  • What projects have you completed?

  • What was your greatest failure of the year?

  • Where are you feeling stuck?

  • Where did most of your money go? What do your finances look like at this time of the year?

  • When did you feel the most alive?

  • What was the best book you read?

  • How well did you take care of your body, mind and soul?

  • What is one thing you would change about this year if you could?

  • What do you need to let go of?

  • What life lessons did you learn this year?

  • What one thing would make your year more satisfying? What small action steps can you take to make it happen?

We’ll revisit many of these questions at the end of December but try a little early November analysis. Remember to practice self-forgiveness and grace. This is not about beating yourself up for what you didn’t do - but giving yourself a chance to make some changes and create a beautiful ending for 2018.


Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, Anita’s background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love.   Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

Are you Team Pumpkin Spice Latte or Team Apple Cider?

Here’s the latest newsletter that went out to all my Blue Sage subscriber friends. Send me your email if you would like to be included on the email list so you don’t miss any news… or freebies!

October is almost over! 

Are you Team Pumpkin Spice Latte or Team Apple Cider?

Are you Team Pumpkin Spice Latte or Team Apple Cider?

What’s better than a pumpkin spice latte in October? Well, I’m not really a pumpkin spice person - I’m on Team Apple Cider, but one thing that’s even better than hot apple cider on a chilly fall evening is a morning email from a client telling me all about the new job he just landed. 

We had been working together for a couple of months, updating and polishing his resume, developing and connecting with his network, even doing some practice interviewing and BOOM! He got the job he wanted - the dream job he had dared to write down as part of his career discovery journey. He worked the career search process… and it worked! 

It’s one of the things I say to clients all the time. There are good jobs out there. But it’s going to take time and work to find them. 

It’s been a busy month here at Blue Sage Career and Life Strategies. We have some new services to help you find that dream job and even bigger plans for 2019. (Hint: Read all the way to the end for the big plans!) 

  • First up, if you’re stuck somewhere on the job search track, check out our new 30 minute Career Q&A. Maybe you’re not ready for a full career coaching package, but need to ask a seasoned career coach some specific questions. Ask just the questions you need answered - about networking, interviewing, job search sites, what works and what doesn’t. It’s an affordable 30 minute phone call that will jumpstart your career search and get you out of the job search blues.

  • If your resume needs updating and you’re just not sure where to start, Blue Sage is now offering a Resume and LinkedIn Review. Sign up and send in your latest resume (Don’t be embarrassed - I’ve seen it all!) and connect with me on Linked In. Then, we’ll get together with a 45 minute phone call to review and update both your resume and LinkedIn profile. And if you don’t know why a LinkedIn profile is important in a job search, then you really need to talk to me. 

  • And you have one day left to sign up for the October Giveaway. It's not a pumpkin spice latte but it is a free Career Report from Blue Sage. You'll take the full-length MBTI® (not an online knockoff) and receive a career report that details your personality, career options and job search strategies. Sign up here to win! 


Someone recently asked if I work with people who are not actively job hunting, but who are struggling to solve a problem at work or in life. The answer is yes! I do life coaching.

Most of you know I spent many years of my career as a individual and family therapist. I now use all my training in psychology and counseling as a life coach to help people solve problems, get un-stuck, and figure out what to do next. Life coaching is not counseling. In life coaching, the focus is not on what went wrong in the past, but how to move positively into the future. I've worked with mothers who are struggling to manage a demanding career and still feel like a good mom who gets things done at home. Another client had been passed over for promotion due to his tendency to procrastinate and the fact that he was always running late. Yet another client needed help learning to practice self care and to set boundaries with intrusive family members. In each case, we looked at patterns, habits, personality and values to create new strategies for creating balance, reducing stress and worked to solve the problems that were holding them back.

Sign up here to find out if life coaching is right for you. You can sign up for a single 90 minute problem-solving session or a series of sessions to make real changes in your life.

All coaching is done by phone or video chat so you can talk with me from literally anywhere in the world. I’ve worked with clients in Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America - so I really mean anywhere in the world. 

And last, as I mentioned, there are bigger plans out there for 2019.

Blue Sage Career and Life Strategies is growing! I will be adding new Blue Sage Coaches and Team Members in the early part of 2019. I’m still in the early planning stages, but stay tuned for new developments. The popular LifeWork Project® is being revamped and will be available as a downloadable workbook as well as a weekend workshop and who knows - maybe a webinar! It's already available in two forms - the Basic LifeWork Project and The LifeWork Project for Mid-Life and Beyond. All updates will be posted on the website.

So which team are you on? Team Pumpkin Spice Latte or Team Apple Cider? or just Team Coffee? Let me know if you want to get together for a virtual cup of something hot and chat about careers and life! 


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Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, Anita’s background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love.   Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

Book Review: In 'When Breath Becomes Air', Paul Kalanithi Offers Lessons in Life and Vocation

when breath becomes air book cover

It’s not a book most people would reach for when pondering vocational questions. I’m sure it’s not in the career section at the local bookstore. But if you are looking for a book that will help you delve into the deeper questions of work and life, you won’t find anything better.

Paul Kalanithi, on the verge of entering his professional life as a neurosurgeon and beginning a family with his wife Lucy, is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. After training for almost a decade, he faces his own terminal illness and a profound identity crisis. Instead of a becoming a practicing doctor, he finds himself instead in the role of a patient. The book begins with this realization.

“I flipped through the CT scan images, the diagnosis obvious: the lungs were matted with innumerable tumors, the spine deformed, a full lobe of the liver obliterated. Cancer, widely disseminated. I was a neurosurgical resident entering my final year of training. Over the last six years, I’d examined scores of such scans, on the off chance that some procedure might benefit the patient. But this scan was different: it was my own.“

Written in achingly beautiful prose, Kalanithi begins his story in the desert town of Kingman, Arizona where his mother, worried that the poor school system would “hobble” her children’s education acquires a college prep reading list for Paul and his siblings and sets Paul’s love of literature aflame. A doctor’s son, Kalanithi “knew with certainty” that he would never be a doctor. He “knew medicine only by its absence - specifically the absence of a father growing up, one who went to work before dawn and returned in the dark to a plate of reheated dinner.” He is accepted to Stanford and completes degrees in English literature and human biology and then a master’s degree in English literature. He ponders the questions of life with T.S Eliot, Sir Thomas Browne, Samuel Beckett and Augustine, to name just a few, and their words and writings are scattered throughout the book. 

And so, as we watch a young man prepare to die, we also hear the story of his career choices. Kalanithi chooses his education and career based on his personal values and philosophy. He writes

“I was driven less by achievement than by trying to understand, in earnest: What makes human life meaningful? I still felt literature provided the best account of the life of the mind, while neuroscience laid down the most elegant rules of the brain. Meaning, while a slippery concept, seemed inextricable from human relationships and moral values.” 

Kalanithi realized that his interest in neuroscience and the physiological-spiritual didn’t quite fit in an English department. He couldn’t let go of the question: “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?”  He writes

“Walking home from a football game one afternoon, the autumn breeze blowing, I let my mind wander. Augustine’s voice in the garden commanded, “Take up and read,” but the voice I heard commanded the opposite.”Set aside the books and practice medicine.” Suddenly it all seemed obvious. Although - perhaps because - my father, my uncle and my elder brother were all doctors, medicine had never occurred to me as a serious possibility.”

In medicine, Paul continues to ponder the metaphysical questions he had struggled with in his studies of literature and philosophy. In his fourth year, he is puzzled when many of his classmates decided to specialize in “less demanding areas, (radiology or dermatology for example) which promised “more humane hours, higher salaries and lower pressures.” He writes “This is how 99 percent of people select their jobs: pay, work environment, hours. But that’s the point. Putting lifestyle first is how you find a job – not a calling.”

After observing a pediatric neurosurgeon talk a set of parents through the devastating news that their child has brain cancer, Kalanithi chooses neurosurgery as his speciality.

“While all doctors treat diseases, neurosurgeons work in the crucible of identity: every operation on the brain is, by necessity a manipulation of the substance of our selves…  Because the brain mediates our experience of the world, any neurosurgical problem forces a patient and family, ideally with a doctor as a guide, to answer this question: What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?”

In one of the most poignant moments of the book, Kalanithi’s mentor is diagnosed with cancer. Kalanithi describes V as unlike most of the other scientists he knew.  “One could count on V to always choose the honest (and, often, self-effacing) way forward…V maintained that our only obligation was to be authentic to the scientific story and tell it uncompromisingly.  I’d never met someone so successful who was also so committed to goodness.” V asks Kalanithi to put on his doctor hat and tells him his dismal news.  V pauses and then worries aloud. "Paul," he said, “do you think my life has meaning? Did I make the right choices?” Kalanithi is stunned. Even this man with such moral and professional integrity had these questions in the face of his own mortality.

Those are the questions we all struggle with in our relationships, in our career choices, in our lives. In a book saturated with questions of philosophy and meaning, Kalanithi tells his own story of living out his life and his death with integrity, grit and deep thought. He worries about the time he has left.

“The way forward would seem obvious, if only I knew how many months or years I had left. Tell me three months, I'd spend time with family. Tell me one year, I'd write a book. Give me ten years, I'd get back to treating diseases.” 

In reality, he had only 22 months left. But in that time, he wrote a book that will continue to influence lives and haunt its readers with questions of life, vocation and meaning. In the foreword to the book, Abraham Verghese writes

“Be ready. Be seated. See what courage sounds like. See how brave it is to reveal yourself in this way. But above all, see what it is to still live, to profoundly influence the lives of others after you are gone… Listen to Paul. In the silences between his words, listen to what you have to say back.”

That’s some of the best advice - for a career or simply for life -  that can be offered.

This review was originally posted in September 2016. Updated and reposted.



Anita Flowers
 is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, Her background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love.       Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

"So...tell me about yourself." 4 simple steps to a great answer.

A simple formula to nail the “tell me about yourself” question.

A simple formula to nail the “tell me about yourself” question.

So…tell me about yourself.

It’s often the first question you’ll face in an interview. Despite knowing this, many candidates head into a job interview without a clue as to their answer. Many struggle with a good answer and bobble around a bit as they try to think of something smart to say. Trust me, your interviewer knows when you’re not prepared for this question and is probably rolling his or her eyes internally as you blunder and wobble through your answer.

Some version of this question is almost a certainty in any interview. You can count on it so it’s worth taking some time to polish up an answer. It’s often one of the first questions you will be asked so it’s a perfect opportunity to make a positive first impression. 

Here are some examples of the WRONG way to answer “So tell me about yourself.”


I was born in Richmond, Virginia and have an older sister and a younger brother. I grew up in a great family. My dad was an electrician and my mom stayed home and volunteered at our school in the library. I played on the tennis team in high school and was vice president of student council. I graduated from Richmond High School and then went to Virginia Tech…”

What’s wrong with this answer? The interviewer doesn’t want an autobiography. You’re giving way too much information and your interviewer is probably bored already. And most importantly, you’ve given no reason that you’re a good fit for the job you’re applying for.

“Well, I have 2 dogs and a cat named Whiskers. My dogs are Rover and Buster. I really like hiking on the weekends. The dogs love it.”

What’s wrong with this answer? This is very random information and tells the interviewer nothing about how you will do the job. Plus, nobody cares!

“Well, uhh, I saw your ad online and uhhh, well, I thought “Why not, I could do that!”

What’s wrong with this answer? This answer screams UNPREPARED. Enough said.

How to answer so…tell me about yourself.

So how do you prep a good answer to this question? The good news is that, with just a little time and thought, you can create a natural but polished answer that will create a great first impression and get your interview off to a great start.

Step one: Review the job description.

What experience and credentials are needed? What job skills are listed? Check out the company website and learn as much as you can about the company mission and goals. Write it all down.

Step Two: Match your best qualifications to the job description and company mission.

What skills do you have that are mentioned in the job description? How do your goals align with the company mission? Focus on your top three qualifications and accomplishments that are relevant to the job. Ask yourself “If I could only share 3 things about myself that would show them I’m a good fit for this job, what would I want to tell them?”

Step Three: Organize your answer with a really simple, but powerful, formula: Present - Past - Future.

So, first, start with the present - where you are right now. Then, talk a little about the past and your previous experience and skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Finally, finish with the future - why you are excited about using your specific skills and experience in this new position. 

Here are a couple of examples:

This candidate is applying for a brand manager position with Brand Strategies Inc.

“Well, right now, I’m the account manager at Magic Ad Sales Inc where I developed brand strategies for our top clients. Before that, I was a team leader at an agency where my team specialized in creating unique brands for each of our clients. I have extensive experience in Specific Name branding software as well Net X, Microsoft Office and BrandFactor.  I enjoy this kind of work and I’m excited to have the chance to work in more depth with the clients at Brand Strategy.”

Recent grads often have trouble with this question. Here’s a sample for a recent university grad for a marketing position. 

“Right now, I’m finishing up my final semester at State University with a degree in marketing.I really enjoyed my classes in marketing analytics, strategic internet marketing and media communications. As part of my program, I worked with a local pet business start-up to create a cost-effective marketing campaign using social media as well as offline techniques to build their new customer base. They really liked my knowledge of social media marketing platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and such and I won second place in State’s business marketing competition. I’m really excited to put my skills to work with your company to build your customer base. I’m also proficient in Spanish so I can expand your marketing reach into that market as well”. 

Step Four: Write a first draft of your answer and then polish it down to 1-2 minutes.

Write it out and time yourself. Practice it so you’re comfortable with it - but don’t make it sound memorized. Practice it in front of your friends or family so that it sounds conversational. 

That’s it. Keep it simple. All you need is 2 minutes of telling them what you do best, organized with the Present - Past - Future formula. Obviously, you’ll need to create a variation for each job you interview for - but with a little effort and practice, you’ll be ready to nail the answer to this very predictable question.

Good luck out there!


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Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, Her background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love.       Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

Win a free Blue Sage Career Report!

It’s the Great Pumpkin Giveaway!

Sign up by October 31, 2018 to win a free Blue Sage Career Report. Take the MBTI® assessment (not an online knockoff), discover your personality type and identify career possibilities as well as job search strategies. Winner will be selected on Halloween!

Choosing a job or changing careers can be a major life transition - one that requires careful thought, planning and work. If you are exploring new options, you will need to ask yourself 2 questions:

What do I want to do?

How do I get there from here?

The MBTI® Career Report can help you answer both of those questions. The MBTI® assessment will help you identify your personality type and understand who you are! The Career Report will help you identify your work related strengths and your preferred work environment and will outline action steps to help your personality type navigate the changes you need to make to get to the career that is right for you.

The MBTI® helps you unlock the secrets of personality type - how you process information, make decisions and interact with the world around you. Knowing your type will help you identify resume ready strengths and shape your career exploration and job search. It’s a great tool for high school or college students or anyone ready to make a change!

You will take the MBTI® on the Blue Sage Career Strategies Assessment site online and receive your profile and career report via email. Anita will be available with email support for questions and best fit analysis.


Anita is a fully certified MBTI practitioner and has over two decades of experience teaching the concepts of the Myers Briggs and working with people to unlock their full potential. The LifeWork Project™ can help you discover your strengths, make career decisions and simply understand yourself a whole lot better. Career and life coaching based on your personality type is also available through Blue Sage Career Strategies.


4 Ways the Myers Briggs Personality Test Can Help you Find a Career You Love...plus 3 things it can't do

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Almost every college and university uses the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in their career guidance office. A quick google search will turn up a list of career possibilities for each of the 16 personality types. Scores of books have been written about the type indicator and the Jungian theory it is based upon. It has been loved, and scorned, for 70 years since it’s creation by the American mother-daughter team, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers.

So is it worth it? How can the MBTI help you find a career and a life you love?

For all the type novices out there, here’s a brief intro. The assessment is based on 4 dimensions of personality type and includes your energy style, thinking style, values style, and life style.

Each dimension can be pictured as a continuum between opposite extremes. Everyone’s personality falls onto one side of the midpoint or the other on each of these four scales.

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We call the opposite ends of the scales preferences. If you fall on the extraverted side of the scale, you are said to have a preference for Extraversion. You’re an E. In reality, you use both sides of each scale in daily life, but you have an innate preference for one or the other - kind of like being right or left handed.

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Based on your responses in the assessment, you are “sorted” into one preference or the other and end up with four letters that determine your personality type. ISTJ, ENFP, ISFP and so on. These are the sixteen types of the MBTI.

So how can knowing these four letters help you find a career you love?

Here’s what the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator CAN and CAN’T tell you…

First, the type indicator can help you identify your natural strengths and give you a language to talk about them. For example, an ISTJ may have work-related strengths that include the ability to work alone (and love it) and a thorough and close attention to the specifics: facts and details. On the other hand, the work-related strengths of an ENFP might include the courage to take risks, consider new possibilities and adapt quickly to changing situations.

Second, the MBTI can help you identify possible weaknesses, what you might think of as your “growing edge.” The ISTJ listed above may find they are uncomfortable and inflexible in adapting to change and are reluctant to embrace new, untested ideas or procedures. The ENFP may have a tendency to become bored or sidetracked and have difficulty setting priorities and getting organized. Type development theory can help you create a plan to strengthen these weak areas and create a sense of wholeness in your life.

In this way, the MBTI can help you capitalize on your strengths and compensate or improve upon your weaknesses. Learning to do this can make the difference between loving or hating your work and between succeeding and failing!

Third, knowing and understanding personality type can help you understand the differences in people around you. If your boss is a J type, it is very probable that being on time and staying on schedule will be important to him or her. If your co-worker is an F type, she or he will work to create a harmonious environment where everyone gets along. That kind of understanding can help immensely in working as a team and even getting yourself promoted! Work teams (and families!) can use each other’s innate strengths to enhance and improve everything from the work process to decision making.

And fourth, that list of career possibilities for each type can give you a jumping off point - a place to start in your career search. Your feedback report can help you begin thinking about possible career matches and may lead you in directions that you had not even considered.

However, here’s some of the what the type indicator CAN’T do…

The MBTI can’t tell you which career to choose. No career test can - or should do that. Life is far too complex for that. Finding a career you love will also require considering the work environment, family needs and concerns, geographical location, and many other factors. Use the career suggestions as just that… suggestions and a starting point for your career search.

The MBTI also can’t tell you everything about yourself or explain all the differences in how people behave. Again, life is complex. No assessment can explain everything that makes you unique as a human being. It can’t account for your personal and family history, your environment, life circumstances, cultural influences and all the many factors that impact and shape you.

And last, the MBTI can’t diagnose you. The MBTI doesn’t consider depression, anxiety, ADHD, addiction or any other mental health concern. It wasn’t designed to do that. Those are factors that often play into career satisfaction and should be considered, but again, one personality test can’t do everything. Check in with a mental health professional if these are personal concerns. Getting your depression treated and your anxiety under control can do wonders in improving not only your career satisfaction, but also your satisfaction with your whole life!

Remember, a single assessment can’t define you or choose a career or life path for you. It’s a tool, a guide to help you think about your style of functioning in the world, where you get your energy, how you make decisions. It’s not about putting yourself in a box - but opening yourself up to a greater understanding of yourself and those around you.

The full length MBTI® questionnaire is available online through Blue Sage Career Strategies and is used as part of the LifeWork Project™. The LifeWork Project™ helps you unlock your personality and goes even further to help you explore all the factors that can help you find a career and life you love. Sign up for the LifeWork Project™ here.

The MBTI® Step II is also available through Blue Sage Career Strategies. This expanded version of the MBTI® results in a four page personality profile and breaks each personality dimension into 5 facets, offering an even deeper understanding of your personality. Read more about the MBTI Step II here.


Anita is a fully certified MBTI practitioner and has over two decades of experience teaching the concepts of the Myers Briggs and working with people to unlock their full potential. The LifeWork Project™ can help you discover your strengths, make career decisions and simply understand yourself a whole lot better. Career and life coaching based on your personality type is also available through Blue Sage Career Strategies.

Uncover the DNA of your personality! 

3 Quick Tips to Jumpstart your Job Search on LinkedIn

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I have to admit I was a skeptic early on. As a counselor and career coach who’s been around a while, I understood the value of building a network to help in your job search but I wasn’t sure about the real value of an online networking site. I was so wrong!

Depending on which data you look at, between 75-90% of all recruiters use LinkedIn to find and vet job candidates. I’ve worked with clients who have found jobs or made connections that helped them find jobs through LinkedIn. I myself been contacted by recruiters with job possibilities and even landed a job interview. Yeah, I have to say it’s worth it! But it does take some time and a little work on your part to make those job connections and possibilities happen. Here are 3 quick tips to get you started.

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First, complete your basic profile. LinkedIn makes it easy for you with a meter that lets you know what percentage you have completed. The more complete your profile, the more likely recruiters are to find it so make sure you fill out every section as fully as possible. Choose a great professional photo that’s not too formal. If you’re not sure what to wear, check out photos of others in your field. Have a new photo taken if necessary. Write a headline that showcases your speciality or best skills. Write a great summary of yourself - take 2-3 paragraphs if you need it or use bullet points to highlight your skill set. Don’t just copy your resume - but use it as a starting point to build a dynamic headline and summary.

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Next, let recruiters know you are open to new jobs. Click on the tab that says ME and then View Profile. Scroll down to your dashboard and click ON under Career Interests to “let recruiters know you’re open.” This information is hidden from your current company but let’s recruiters know you are open to new job possibilities.


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Third, spend some time on LinkedIn. Connect with people you know and send them a message to let them know that you’re open to new job possibilities. Share articles in your field. You don’t have to write them (although you can write your own using the LinkedIn “Write an article” button). Just find an interesting professional article and share it with a comment of your own. Comment on the articles or posts others have shared. Join groups and make connections. It’s a social network - so make some friends! Keep your profile alive and engaged. You can start by connecting with me!


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Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, Her background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love.       Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

8 Things to Do To Land a Great Job When You Graduate

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It’s that time of year! Everyone is headed back to college and university. It’s time for pumpkin spice everything... and for new books and a fresh roster of classes.

For all you university students, here are a few things to do to make the most of those four years. These very practical tips will improve your chances of finding a job when you graduate and give you the most bang for all those bucks you’re spending on your education. I wish I had done more of these! 

  1. Lernen Sie eine zweite Sprache. Learn a second language. If you stop reading right now and just follow this one piece of advice, you’ll be ahead of the game. Study abroad if possible and do language immersion. Don’t just take the intro class and quit. Join the Spanish Immersion Club or the Mandarin Group. Become fluent in another language. That ability alone can put you miles ahead of other job applicants. In Canada, many jobs require fluency in both English and French. You’re already paying for the classes. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn a real skill that will make you stand out in the job market. 
  2. Get to know your professors. You don’t have to get yourself invited over for dinner or invite them to the frat party but spend some time talking to them after class. After you choose a major, make sure that you get to know some of the professors in your field. Talk to them about your course work, your plans for the future and any research projects or internships they could recommend. Professors can be cool people and the pay off can be personal letters of recommendation and introductions to internship opportunities and even employers. 
  3. Take advantage of the university career office. It’s FREE. Your university career office will offer personality and career assessments to help you choose a career that’s right for you. They can teach you how to write a resume and cover letter. Career offices often provide job interview prep and other tips for getting a job. But the most important reason to connect with the school career office is the alumni database. That’s a network of alumni from your university who work in different fields. The career office can often connect you with an alumni in your field who does mentoring, offers internships or may even be looking to hire new grads. That is a NETWORK! And that’s how you get a job. Remember, all this is FREE. Take advantage of it. Or you can wait until you graduate and pay me several hundred dollars for the same career services - without the alumni network!
  4. Do research. Volunteer to work with your professors on research studies and papers. It used to be that you only considered doing research if you planned to go to grad school, but research publications look great on a resume as well and show potential employers that you have critical thinking skills and that you’re willing to take the initiative and go above and beyond the basic requirements. 
  5. Take a personal finance class. Too often, students graduate with a superior knowledge of psychological theories but no understanding of the real world of 401K’s, investments and basic personal accounting. Again, you’re already paying for the classes. Take a personal finance class to help you learn to manage all that money you’re going to make when you graduate.
  6. Upgrade your computer skills. Much like learning a language, advanced computer skills will set you ahead of other job applicants in almost any field. Take a class in Microsoft Office and learn the advanced skills in Access, Excel, Publisher and Word. Take it a step further and begin learning basic macros like Excel VBA. Learn to type proficiently. Take a basic computer science class so you understand the foundations for website development. Almost every office uses these programs. If you have advanced skills, they will think you are a wizard.
  7. Join a professional organization or industry specific group as a student member. Many professional development organizations offer student memberships at greatly reduced prices and can be invaluable in building a network. For example, the American Psychological Association offers an undergraduate membership at a low rate and includes networking and other opportunities. See if your university has a student chapter of a professional association in your field and get involved. 
  8. Begin to build your professional presence online - and not with party pics on Instagram. Start a niche blog in your field. Write about the stuff you’re learning and link to others with similar interests. Create a LinkedIn profile. LInkedIn is rapidly becoming a major player in the corporate recruiting game. Build a profile and post articles in your field. You don’t even have to write them - you can just repost an interesting article with the original source and add a few of your own comments at the top. Connect with other professionals in your area of interest. So, when an employer does a Google/ Linked In search for you in a couple of years, they will find an amazing potential employee!

And don’t forget to have fun! Study hard and learn a lot. Take time to make friends and even more make memories. Have a great year! 

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This now updated post was originally published in June of 2017. 

Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, Her background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love.       Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

10 Do's and Don'ts to Impress a Hiring Manager

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I recently spoke with two hiring managers who regularly interview and assess job applicants. One was the communications director and hiring manager for a large international business company. Another was a store manager for a large big box retailer. Both offered insight into what they look for in an applicant.  Every hiring manager is different but here are some of the things that would impress these two managers and help you land the job. 

How to Impress the Hiring Manager and Land a Job

  1. DO submit a short, impactful resume where your experience and abilities shine. One manager looks for a one page resume that highlights only the last 10 years of professional experience. Managers have limited time to scan resumes for the skills and experience needed for the job. In fact, in most cases, your resume has less than 10 seconds to impress the hiring manager. Bullet points that highlight your specific accomplishments and related experience make it easy for a manager to see the value in calling you in for an interview.

  2. DON’T use a functional resume. A functional resume focuses on skills and experience, rather than on a chronological work history. It is often used by job seekers who are changing careers, who have gaps in their employment history, or whose work history is not directly related to the job. While these have become popular in recent years, the managers I spoke with felt they were being misled by these resumes and immediately assumed the applicant was trying to hide something. Their sage advice was to go with a more traditional chronological resume, highlight transferable skills and be prepared to explain any gaps in employment.

  3. DO spend time crafting a well written cover letter. Don’t just repeat your resume but impress the manager with why they should hire you. What is your motivation for applying for this job? Why are you a good fit for the job? Write a customized cover letter for every job application. It takes time, but a one size fits all letter will not impress a hiring manager. Focus on your skills and abilities that fit the needs of each particular organization. Keep it short, less than 3 paragraphs, and use 3-5 bullet points to highlight your skills and experience that are most relevant to the position.

  4. DON’T forget to proofread. Always, always proofread. One manager immediately tosses any resume and cover letter with grammatical errors or typos into the trash bin. If you aren’t careful with details in your resume, it will be assumed that you won’t be careful with details on the job. Have another person proofread your cover letter and resume to make sure you haven’t overlooked a typo. And don’t forget to include your contact information on the letter as well as your resume.

  5. DO clean up your online profile. Both managers noted that they ALWAYS checked people out on line and have eliminated people from the list of possibilities because of what they found online. Sign out of google (or even better, use a library computer or borrow someone’s laptop) and google yourself. See what shows up and begin the process of removing anything related to drug or alcohol use or any profanity in your online comments. Delete comments in which you bad mouth or speak negatively about former employers. Update your LinkedIn profile- you do have one, right? - and work on your connections and accomplishments. One manager noted that he looked for mutual connections on LinkedIn and then contacted them as a way to check out potential employees.

  6. DON’T BE LATE. Let me say it again. DON’T BE LATE. Be on time for the interview and on time means 15 minutes early. Allow for traffic delays, parking difficulties, apocalyptic zombies and any other obstacle that might prevent you from arriving on time. If you don’t show up on time for the interview, how can a manager expect you to get to work on time each day? You will not be hired if you arrive late. Enough said.

  7. DO dress to impress. Research the company culture and dress appropriately. It’s always better to over-dress than to miss the mark completely. Wear a tie. Make sure your clothes are clean and well pressed. Shine your shoes. Carry a professional purse or work bag. Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what you’re wearing. Spend some time creating a polished, professional appearance. First impressions count.

  8. DON’T be rude to the administrative assistants, custodial staff, or anyone else you meet along the way. It’s all part of the interview process. Make sure you are positive and professional in all encounters. If lunch is suggested as part of the process, treat the wait staff in a respectful manner. Use good manners. It’s ALL part of the interview. The manager is watching how you handle other people in every situation.

  9. DO research the company and be ready to ask questions that show you have done your homework. You are more likely to be hired because you asked good, insightful questions that show you are interested and excited about the job than by simply answering questions you are asked. Come prepared with a couple of questions about the company. Think through your answers to regularly asked interview questions. When the interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself”, have a rehearsed answer that highlights your skills and relevant experience. Don’t babble on about where you grew up or your college years. Be ready to tell your career story in a way that showcases your fit for the potential job at hand.

  10. DON’T forget to send a thank you note or email immediately following the interview. A handwritten note will help you stand out from the crowd because they are rarely used these days but even a well-worded email is better than nothing. It gets your name in front of the manager once more and demonstrates your interest in the job and your ability to follow up on details.

All hiring managers are different and may focus on different aspects of the interview process, but these tips will get you started on the way to a great new job. 

This post has been updated. Original post September 2017.

Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, her background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Anita works with people literally all over the world to help them discover a life and career they love.       Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

Is your job making you depressed?

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Is your job making you depressed?

You’re having trouble focusing at work. You avoid chatty co-workers and struggle to finish your daily projects. You feel distracted and dread going to work each day. You find yourself hiding out in the bathroom or fighting off crying jags or panic attacks in your car before you walk in the door.

Are you depressed? Or is it the job? Can your job actually make you depressed?

Well, it’s complicated.

Most psychologists will note that while workplace issues can certainly trigger depression, it’s difficult to prove that they actually “cause” depression. The root causes of depression are complex. Clinical depression is often the result of combination of factors -  biological or genetic vulnerabilities, life stressors, personal history, circumstantial factors, and even medications you may be taking. It’s complicated, but, yes issues at work can be a significant factor in developing depression. 

For several years, I worked as a EAP (Employee Assistance Program) counselor for a large group of business and manufacturing companies. I listened to the stories of employees struggling to get themselves to work and to stay focused on the job while battling clinical depression. I listened to managers and HR professionals as they worked with those employees suffering from mental health issues. To be truthful, some managers did it well. Others, well, were not helpful, and at times, really made things worse. But it was clear that both internal and external factors related to work and the workplace contributed to the mental health struggles employees were facing. 

Think about it - we spend 40-80 hours a week at work. That’s over 2000 hours a year - or more! It makes sense to realize that when things are difficult at work, it can affect our mental health.

So -  is your job making you depressed? Here are some of the factors I have recognized that can contribute to a serious bout of depression. Are you struggling with any of these?

Internal or personal factors that can make you feel depressed

You feel like you are trapped. You hate your job and know that it is not a healthy environment for you; however, you can’t see a way out or forward. This is a big one. A study published in the journal Human Relations found that feeling trapped in a job and seeing no job alternatives made people more likely to experience emotional exhaustion or burn out, two conditions that can easily lead to depression.

Your job doesn’t fit. Your passion is making music or art or working with your hands crafting furniture but you’re spending 8-10 hours a day sitting in a cubicle working on spreadsheets. Perhaps you thrive in an outdoor setting but you spend every day in a windowless office. Your job doesn’t fit you  - your interests, your personality, your talents.

Your personal values and the values of your company aren’t a match. This can create an ethical discomfort that makes you wonder if you are selling your very soul for a paycheck. You may have a deep commitment to protecting the natural environment; but your company has no interest in recycling the reams of paper and plastic which it produces. 

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You’re a working parent. Working parents struggle with an often frantic schedule of keeping up with daycare pickup times, child care worries, school trips, and over-scheduled lives, not to mention the guilt over missing precious time with their children. While a job is crucial for financial security, buying groceries and, for many, a sense of personal accomplishment and fulfillment, it’s hard not to feel like you’re missing out on a large part of your child’s life. And when a sick child creates child care chaos, this parental guilt is amplified by the struggle to meet the needs of both your child and your employer. This chronic stress can contribute to feelings that you’re not doing a good job - as a parent or an employee - and can set you up for a depressive episode. 

Your balance is off - work life balance, that is. 60-80 hour work weeks are not uncommon in many professions. It’s hard to practice good self care, not to mention family care, when the demands of your job are continually increasing. How do you take time out for a healthy walk or exercise class when you’re at the office from dawn to dusk? How do you create healthy, supportive relationships when all your time is taken up with reports and spreadsheets?

You’re an introvert in an extroverted job. Or vice versa. Perhaps you’re a real extrovert who loves to spend time talking and working with people but your job consists of spending hours alone in front of a computer screen cranking out data. Or you’re an introvert who craves quiet time and solitude, but your desk is in a vast cubicle farm where you have no personal space or privacy. This mismatch of personality and work role creates a level of chronic stress that can lead you straight down the path to depression if not resolved or if other self care opportunities are not possible.

You’re worried about money. Money worries create more stress and often keep you awake at night, interrupting sleep patterns and making you more tired in general. Increasingly often, we are asked to do more work for less pay leading to time stress and $$ stress. 

External Factors:  Sometimes the job or company culture can create job environments that are unhealthy and can lead to burnout or depression. 

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Company policies and procedures are rigid and tightly monitored so that you feel like you have no control at work. You have no ability to make decisions or to change rules or procedures that seem senseless, time consuming, or just plain stupid. You have no sense of empowerment to improve work conditions or to create innovative solutions to problems. You’re just stuck following the rules and procedures as cited by the company manual. This is a front running cause of job burnout and, yes, can lead to depression.

Company policies and procedures are unclear. It sounds like the opposite of the above but can also create a stressful work environment. It’s hard to feel like you’re doing a good job when the procedures and expectations are unclear and not appropriately communicated. You’re not sure what is expected of you or expectations change daily - leaving you feeling confused and stressed. 

Your work load is unreasonable. As mentioned above, employees are continually expected to do more with less - and for less. You may find yourself in a job in which it is simply impossible to keep up - even with overtime and skipping break time. There really is only so much you can do in one day - no matter what the company expects. 

You never know when the next round of layoffs will happen. Job insecurity is a source of chronic stress and downsizing is becoming a routine part of company culture. I once spent an entire day, waiting at home for the phone call that would tell me if I was being downsized out of a job - or if I got to keep my job but would be picking up the responsibilities of another team member. Talk about a stressor!

There’s a bully in your workplace. You experience sexual or other harassment at work. An experience with harassment can trigger symptoms of depressions and anxiety and even PTSD. Employees often feel guilty or ashamed and worry that they somehow caused this harassment to happen. This is another big trigger for depression - but remember you do have legal protections from harassment at work. Contact a trusted supervisor or HR professional or contact a legal support agency in your community. 

You never know when the next round of layoffs will happen. Job insecurity is a source of chronic stress and downsizing is becoming a routine part of company culture. I once spent an entire day, waiting at home for the phone call that would tell me if I was being downsized out of a job - or if I got to keep my job but would be picking up the responsibilities of another team member. Talk about a stressor! 

Any or all of these factors can set you up for a bout of depression. I’ll be writing more about symptoms of depression, what to do if you’re feeling depressed and if and how to talk to your boss about your depression in future blogs, but if you identify with the factors on this list, here are three things to do now.

  1. Talk to someone. Find a friend, family member, therapist, minister - someone you can share your feelings with. I know this can be hard when you’re feeling depressed but it’s a first step toward a better future. Even when it feels impossible right now, there are options for changing your job and improving your life. Call me if you can’t find anyone else. 
  2. Call your doctor. There are excellent medications for depression that can help you think more clearly and feel better so you are able to begin making changes to your situation. You may have to try a couple of different meds to find the one that works best for you. Don’t give up - and if you don’t like your doctor, give yourself permission to find a new one! 
  3. Do one thing you enjoy - something that makes you feel good. Take your dog for a short walk. Watch your favorite Netflix show. Take a long nap. Don’t feel guilty for eating the ice cream. Find one thing you enjoy. Do it. 

That’s a good start. Stay tuned for more. 


Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, her background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take the MBTI Step II and Be Your Best YOU

Are you an MBTI junkie? You know your four basic letters but have you taken the MBTI Step Two? Do you ever wonder why you don’t exactly fit your type? Want to learn more?

Or - Are you wondering what is the MBTI? How it can help you understand the DNA of your personality?

Keep reading…

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What is the MBTI? For the uninitiated, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the world’s most popular personality tools. It’s simple, yet powerful, and provides a common language for discussing and understanding personality differences that are critical for making good choices about careers and life. The MBTI assessment and its process of self discovery gives you a framework for understanding your personality and appreciating differences in others. The MBTI identifies your preferred way of doing things in 4 key areas: your energy source, how you gather information, your decision making style and your lifestyle and work orientation. 

The MBTI Step II is a relatively recent addition to this powerful tool. This expanded version of the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory offers a more richly textured picture of your type and personality. 

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The MBTI Step I is very effective at illustrating the fundamental ways in which we differ and experience the world. The MBTI Step II takes this understanding a step beyond basic. The MBTI Step II takes each of the 8 scales from Step I and breaks them down into 5 sub-scales known as facets. This gives us not 4 ways in which we differ but 40! The MBTI Step II provides compelling information related to your communication and decision making styles, as well as insight into how you deal with change and with conflict.

Are you a methodical or emergent personality? Systematic or casual? What is your general organizational style and approach to planning? How do you connect with others? What kind of knowledge do you trust?  I find Step II particularly helpful in understanding the Sensing/Intuitive differences we find in ourselves and others. 

The MBTI Step II can help you uncover the DNA of your personality. It’s a fascinating, in-depth look into your personality and gives you critical insights for career decisions and professional development as well as enhanced emotional intelligence and self awareness.  It’s a great way to discover who you really are! 

Here’s a Sneak Preview! Take the MBTI Step II online now! 

In the next month, Blue Sage Career Strategies will begin offering clients the opportunity to take both the MBTI Steps I and II, as well as the CPI 260, at our unique, confidential online website. These personality tests are used by corporate trainers and psychologists in coaching leadership skills and career success so take advantage of this option to get ahead in your career and life. You can get a sneak preview and take the personality tests early by contacting Anita here. Each personality test includes an individual feedback session by phone with Anita to explore your results, confirm your personality type, and answer any questions you might have.

You will receive:

  • Step II Interpretive Report,

  • Blue Sage Career Interest Report

  • Plus a 30 minute individual Best Fit analysis and feedback session with Anita

Total Introductory Cost $115 (All charges in US Dollars. Contact Anita for Canadian pricing.)

The MBTI Step 1 is also available at a cost of $75 (includes Step I Basic Report and a 30 minute feedback session with Anita). 

 

Anita is a fully certified MBTI practitioner and has over two decades of experience teaching the concepts of the Myers Briggs and working with people to unlock their full potential. The MBTI Step II can help you discover your strengths, make career decisions and simply understand yourself a whole lot better.

Uncover the DNA of your personality! 

Need a career coach? Blue Sage is back!

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Many of you know that my husband and I recently opened our lives up to a big new adventure and moved to Nova Scotia. After wild ideas about moving somewhere "different" and looking at several options, we made the leap, well, the long drive, to Canada in December of 2017. It is different! Snow and cold replaced the mild winters of Charleston - even though winters in Nova Scotia are more temperate than much of the rest of Canada. We're enjoying a new culture and learning new things everyday - like curling and crokinole. If you're interested in hearing about our adventure, you can follow my blog, Ordinary Wandering.

And now, after consulting with cross border attorneys and accountants, Blue Sage Career Strategies is back in business. I will continue doing career coaching and consulting, resume assistance, and life coaching for anyone who feels stuck and needs some help finding their way into a new adventure. I work with everyone by phone or video chat so location is not an issue. I've worked with people in Europe and southeast Asia, as well as the US and Canada.

The blog is back and I'll be talking and writing about anything and everything career related.  Stay tuned for some new things coming. I'm working on a webinar with tips and strategies for using LinkedIn to power up your job search

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I have 2 new services that may be helpful for some of you. First, my new e-course "The LifeWork Project™ for Mid-Life and Beyond" begins April 16.  An adaptation of the popular LifeWork Project™, it's designed for those of us with a little life experience under our belt, but who are feeling bored or dissatisfied with our current life or career. It's a 40 day e-course that's available as a stand alone course - or with individual coaching to enhance the LifeWork you'll be doing thoughout the course.

If you're ready to start a new adventure, begin a new career, or even tweak your current life into something that feels new and exciting, give The LifeWork Project™ a try. You can find more information here - or give me a call and we can talk about what changes you want to make.

The second new thing at Blue Sage is a new structured coaching program for adults and college students with ADHD or those who simply struggle with chronic disorganization and procrastination. If lack of organization is slowing you down at work and in your career, this structured coaching program can help you get organized, beat the procrastination demon and get those projects finished on time at work and at home. I'll be writing more about that in a future blog post. For more info now, contact me and I'll be happy to answer your questions and get you started on a more organized, productive life. 

Where do you want to be in five years? What changes would you like to see in your life and career? Do you have a five year plan? a one year plan? It's almost spring time - a great time for new beginnings. Set some goals and make it happen!

 

 

 

Want to upgrade your career in 2018?

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Are you ready to make big changes in your life in 2018?

Want to upgrade your career?

Start something new?

Create work that is authentic and meaningful? 

This is your chance. The LifeWork Project™ is back! The next class begins January 8, 2018 and for the week of CyberMonday is available at 20% off. (No other discounts will be offered.) Sign up before December 3. You can sign up for the e-course alone or along with discounted coaching from Anita. Use the code CYBER20.  Keep reading to find out more...

If you’re ready to take some real steps to figure out what’s next for you, take a look at The LifeWork Project™. This e-course will include weekday emails delivered straight to your inbox with a LifeWork discovery reading and a question of the day to ponder. Each week you will be guided through a series of exercises, journal writing prompts, and other activities to assist you in discovering your personality, identifying your strengths and transferable skills, clarifying your values and creating a career design plan with action steps for moving forward. You will complete the full length Myers Briggs Personality Inventory (MBTI®) and receive a personality profile plus career information tailored to your personality type. You will spend time looking back and learning lessons from your past plus taking time to complete a frank and honest assessment of  your current situation. Finally you will design a plan for moving forward toward the career you’ve always wanted.

From a previous participant: 

I really enjoyed the LifeWork Project! It enabled me to unlock bits of truth that I'd been holding captive, mostly out of fear, thereby confirming the significance of those hidden bits of self and forcing them into the light. This was a great way for me to remind myself how well I know myself and to stop denying the significance of simple pleasures and passion, which are so key to long-term sustainability and overall life satisfaction. I understand and appreciate myself better -strengths, weaknesses, energy drainers AND gainers- and all. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who is feeling stuck, bored, restless, or who has goals and some idea about what one wants to do but needs a confidence boost and a bit of confirmation, and/or is struggling to formulate a plan to forge one's dreams into reality. ~ Katie W., Charleston, SC

Here's what's included: 

  • Daily emails (Mon-Fri) with a LifeWork Discovery reading and a question of the day
  • Weekly exercises, writing prompts and other LifeWork Discovery activities plus a weekend LifeWork Challenge.
  • MBTI Personality Profile, Best Fit analysis, and Career Information based on your type
  • The LifeWork Values Matrix 
  • The LifeWork Career Design Plan

Options for individual coaching throughout the process with Blue Sage Career Coach, Anita Flowers  are available at a discounted rate for LifeWork Project™ participants. Coaching can be done in person or by phone so the entire LifeWork Project™ is available to anyone anywhere.

For more information, check out The LifeWork Project™ here. 

Sign up today or contact Anita at 843-224-2025 or anita@bluesagecareers for more information or for a free consultation. 

   

10 Do's and Don'ts to Impress a Hiring Manager

Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash.com

Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash.com

I recently spoke with two hiring managers who regularly interview and assess job applicants. One was the communications director and hiring manager for a large international business company. Another was a store manager for a large big box retailer. Both offered insight into what they look for in an applicant.  Every hiring manager is different but here are some of the things that would impress these two managers and help you land the job. 

How to Impress the Hiring Manager and Land a Job

  1. DO submit a short, impactful resume where your experience and abilities shine. One manager looks for a one page resume that highlights only the last 10 years of professional experience. Managers have limited time to scan resumes for the skills and experience needed for the job. In fact, in most cases, your resume has less than 10 seconds to impress the hiring manager. Bullet points that highlight your specific accomplishments and related experience make it easy for a manager to see the value in calling you in for an interview.

  2. DON’T use a functional resume. A functional resume focuses on skills and experience, rather than on a chronological work history. It is often used by job seekers who are changing careers, who have gaps in their employment history, or whose work history is not directly related to the job. While these have become popular in recent years, the managers I spoke with felt they were being misled by these resumes and immediately assumed the applicant was trying to hide something. Their sage advice was to go with a more traditional chronological resume, highlight transferable skills and be prepared to explain any gaps in employment.

  3. DO spend time crafting a well written cover letter. Don’t just repeat your resume but impress the manager with why they should hire you. What is your motivation for applying for this job? Why are you a good fit for the job? Write a customized cover letter for every job application. It takes time, but a one size fits all letter will not impress a hiring manager. Focus on your skills and abilities that fit the needs of each particular organization. Keep it short, less than 3 paragraphs, and use 3-5 bullet points to highlight your skills and experience that are most relevant to the position.

  4. DON’T forget to proofread. Always, always proofread. One manager immediately tosses any resume and cover letter with grammatical errors or typos into the trash bin. If you aren’t careful with details in your resume, it will be assumed that you won’t be careful with details on the job. Have another person proofread your cover letter and resume to make sure you haven’t overlooked a typo. And don’t forget to include your contact information on the letter as well as your resume.

  5. DO clean up your online profile. Both managers noted that they ALWAYS checked people out on line and have eliminated people from the list of possibilities because of what they found online. Sign out of google (or even better, use a library computer or borrow someone’s laptop) and google yourself. See what shows up and begin the process of removing anything related to drug or alcohol use or any profanity in your online comments. Delete comments in which you bad mouth or speak negatively about former employers. Update your LinkedIn profile- you do have one, right? - and work on your connections and accomplishments. One manager noted that he looked for mutual connections on LinkedIn and then contacted them as a way to check out potential employees.

  6. DON’T BE LATE. Let me say it again. DON’T BE LATE. Be on time for the interview and on time means 15 minutes early. Allow for traffic delays, parking difficulties, apocalyptic zombies and any other obstacle that might prevent you from arriving on time. If you don’t show up on time for the interview, how can a manager expect you to get to work on time each day? You will not be hired if you arrive late. Enough said.

  7. DO dress to impress. Research the company culture and dress appropriately. It’s always better to over-dress than to miss the mark completely. Wear a tie. Make sure your clothes are clean and well pressed. Shine your shoes. Carry a professional purse or work bag. Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what you’re wearing. Spend some time creating a polished, professional appearance. First impressions count.

  8. DON’T be rude to the administrative assistants, custodial staff, or anyone else you meet along the way. It’s all part of the interview process. Make sure you are positive and professional in all encounters. If lunch is suggested as part of the process, treat the wait staff in a respectful manner. Use good manners. It’s ALL part of the interview. The manager is watching how you handle other people in every situation.

  9. DO research the company and be ready to ask questions that show you have done your homework. You are more likely to be hired because you asked good, insightful questions that show you are interested and excited about the job than by simply answering questions you are asked. Come prepared with a couple of questions about the company. Think through your answers to regularly asked interview questions. When the interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself”, have a rehearsed answer that highlights your skills and relevant experience. Don’t babble on about where you grew up or your college years. Be ready to tell your career story in a way that showcases your fit for the potential job at hand.

  10. DON’T forget to send a thank you note or email immediately following the interview. A handwritten note will help you stand out from the crowd because they are rarely used these days but even a well-worded email is better than nothing. It gets your name in front of the manager once more and demonstrates your interest in the job and your ability to follow up on details.

All hiring managers are different and may focus on different aspects of the interview process, but these tips will get you started on the way to a great new job. 

For more help with interview prep, contact Anita for coaching and resume help at 843-224-2025 or click here.