Your professional online presence before

Your professional online presence before and after taking the LinkedIn Means Business workshop on Jan 24th. #Halifax

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Take time to improve your professional o

Take time to improve your professional opportunities. Next workshop in #Halifax Jan 24th.

Life Strategizing for a Successful New Year

Having a strategy is not just for business. Living your life with intent allows you to plan for uncertainties, accept what comes your way and move forward in health and happiness.

A life without some strategy is like a boat without a rudder. You need to contemplate what’s really important to you. Carefully consider the “who, what, when, where and how” of your life to assess your goals and wants.

You will feel better and approach life more confidently when you have a clear plan with achievable goals. When life throws you curve balls, it is easier to stay on track when you have a plan. Being thoughtful about many areas in your life will help you assess damage and get back to where you need to be.

Don’t be afraid of losing your spontaneity because of planning – it’s quite the opposite! When you have a map of how you would like to live your life, you are able to take unexpected detours without losing your way.

Here are 10 ideas to help you reflect and plan your upcoming year.

1) Look at the data from the previous year. Did you do what you were going to do, or are you still stuck in the same place? Instead of blaming others or circumstance get real about what part you played in both your successes and disappointments this past year.

2) Look closely at your strengths and know where you fall short. There are several books out here that can help you with this.

3) Who do you spend your time with? Ask yourself some tough questions. Are the majority of people in my life people who encourage me and help me work towards my goals. Do I like being around them or do I feel drained and discouraged in their presence. We have a lot of people in our space – family, practitioners, suppliers, colleagues. Make sure we are spending time with those who make regular deposits to our emotions bank accounts and not just withdrawals.

4) Simplify a complicated worldtry the power of three.

  1. If you divided your world into the following areas – career, health, money, recreation/fun, romance/significant other, friends and family, personal growth – what would be your three most important areas for you to focus on in the next year?
  2. What are your top three goals for each of these areas you choose a priority?
  3. What are the first three steps to create an environment for success for each of these goals?

5) Make it concrete. Write it down, do a mind map, create a Pinterest board or a vision board, tell your friends. Create tasks associated with your goals and electronically schedule them.

6) Make it a game. Sit with your partner and write out what is important for you to accomplish in these time lines within one year, two to five years, five to ten years, 10-20 years, before you die.

Set a timer for 2 minutes and write quickly. Share with your partner when the buzzer goes off. Some of these will become family goals and each partnercomes away with a sense of not only what is import to them, but their spouse as well.You now have a timeline to work with.

7) Be flexible. Murphy’s Law applies to life. You may have a meticulously thought out plan about how you see your life progressing, but be prepared to adjust it if things go off the rails.

8) Bring in the professionals. Whether it’s a financial planner or a coach, take advantage of the services available to you to ensure you’re following your best path.

9) Review and Reward. Once you’ve achieved a goal in the timeline you were striving for, treat yourself to a small reward.

Take the time now, as the year comes to a close, to look forward to the upcoming year and make decisions about what is important to you and your family. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve this year with a little forethought.

7 Things NOT To Do When Making a New Year’s Resolution

One in four people will not make it a week with their New Year’s resolution. Here are seven things not to do when creating a New Year’s resolution that will help you go the distance:

1. Don’t keep it to yourself. “I don’t want my friends to know I am trying to quit my bad habit.” Let others know! This gives you leverage and allows others to encourage you along your journey.

2. Don’t leave it in your head. “I don’t need to write it down, I know what I want to do.” Research has shown that those who write down their goals and track them have an increased chance of success.

3. Don’t be vague. “I’m going to lose weight”.  How much? At what rate? By when? Make your goals SMART- specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely and time bound.

4. Don’t be inflexible. “I’m not going to ever do that again” Not all goals happen with the flip of a switch. Sometimes you need to wean yourself off of a bad habit. Sometimes you will backslide or slip up. It’s part of life. Get used to it and get used to being more successful for the long haul by recognizing that people try and try again at their goals before they reach them. Some reports suggest an average of 14 times. Persistence not perfectionism pays.

5. Don’t be unrealistic or harsh. “I’m not going to eat any sweets.”  “I will exercise 2 hours everyday.” It is not always realistic to deny yourself. Life is meant to be celebrated. Think moderation and think about small incremental steps that will advance you toward your goal. It is better to be doing a smaller action for the long term than a larger goal that doesn’t have a chance of lasting a week.

6. Don’t take on too much at once. “I’m going to quit smoking, join a gym, meditate 10 minutes every day, lose 20 lbs, and spend more time with my kids.” This is just setting yourself up for disappointment. Focus on a couple of things and the activities that will take you towards your goals.

7. Don’t take the first step TODAY. “I’ll start next week…”  There always seems to be a better time than right now. You may think you need to wait until after a special date or occasion, or once the holidays are over or start on a Monday…the list goes on. The truth is now is always a good time. Start by visualizing where you want to be and eliminating negative self-talk that will keep you from reaching your goals.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

– Anonymous

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Deconstructing Holiday Decorations

It’s A Holiday Wrap Up

It’s that time again. The holiday festivities are over and we have to put away all of our seasonal stuff. The excitement of our new gifts often is in vast contrast to the daunting challenge of putting away our seasonal décor. You know you have to do it sooner or later, but sometimes in the end you’re just frantically rushing just to get it done.

To take away holiday stress for next year we want to find the right marriage of saving time, keeping our precious ornaments safe, creating easy access and not taking up extra space. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Audit. What did you like this year and what didn’t you like? Takes photos so you can easily replicate vignettes you create like a fireplace mantle or your Christmas tablescaping. Get rid of anything that was damaged and give away items that don’t fit your tastes. No sense packing and unpacking things you haven’t used in years!

2. First things first.
Decide the order of how you will store your decor. Think about the timing of what you use. Know what comes out first and make sure you pack it in last. Some décor also works from Thanksgiving right through to the New Year. Make sure that’s the type of items that are in a place to be easily brought out first.

3. Timing.
  Often our holiday decor is in deep storage like cubbies and crawl spaces. It’s better to put up our outside lights when it’s a little warmer and maybe less snow.  And maybe you can get those cards out to the post office early next year if they are the first thing you see. Advent calendars, Elf on a Shelf and other activities and treats for the kids should be stored within easy reach as well so you’re able to quickly pull them out when the holidays arrive.

4. Know how.
Think about how you pack it up. Consider making a list. Maybe packing room by room/area/vignette will work best for you? For example:IMG_0193
– Foyer: garland, greenery
– Den: blankets, pillows
– Dining room: linens, candles
– Bathrooms: special towels, soaps
– Fireplace: stockings, ornaments
No matter how you pack your decorations, label boxes clearly so you can easily find items on the fly. No one wants to spend more time in the basement/crawl space/attic than they have to!

5. Know what it is. Label containers, create lists, use see through storage bins, photos.

6.  Needs assessment. As you pack, make a list of what you will need for next year. Or, if you are a bargain hunter like me, you may want to run out and buy a few items while the sales are at their peak!

7. Separate. Keep your holiday gift wrap with your holiday items and separate from your other wrapping paper and cards.  I always keep a pair of scissors and tape with holiday wrap so I’m good to go in an instant.

IMG_01928. Pack carefully. Take extra time with fragile keepsakes. You don’t want large bins crushing delicate things. Use soft things to keep ornaments safe – a Christmas table cloth, napkins, pillows, Santa hats, and stockings are all good choices. Using these items to buffer ornaments will also save space. This is extremely important in our age of downsizing and condo living when every inch can count in a storage locker or closet.

9. Safety first. Not only do your ornaments need to be safe, you need to be safe too. Don’t pack bins too heavy – especially if you’re maneuvering them from tight places, like the attic. Don’t rush. Enlisting a friend or family member as a spotter to steady you and to hand things over to is never a bad idea. If you used a ladder to put it up, make sure you are just as careful bringing things down.

10. Let it go. Be careful of the kiddies’ homemade ornaments. They may look sweet with all that food and glitter, but food can attract critters of all sorts. Not to mention, most holidays are sparkling enough without transferring all that gold dust getting through all of your décor into yet another year.

This year, just like the jolly man in red, take the time to make your list and pack it twice. The extra care and attention when putting decorations away will remove so much stress when you prepare your home for the holidays next year.

Stay Fit and Healthy This Holiday Season

Did you gain weight last holiday season?  You’re not alone.  With so many corporate and social gatherings and events in such a short time, it’s hard to resist indulging in the array of seasonal treats they bring. The trick is to find a balance between enjoying yourself and maintaining healthy habits.  So here are a few suggestions that will help you avoid unhealthy weight gain this year.

  • Shift your attitude away from food – Remember that food is not the reason for get-togethers during the holiday season. It’s something extra.  Keep that in mind and focus on having fun.
  • Don’t abstain – Why deny yourself your favourite meals before and during the holiday season? The key is moderation – watch your portions, plan lighter, more nutritional meals and keep up your exercise routine.
  • Stock up on healthy choices – You probably like to buy a few treats for yourself and your guests over the holidays. Why not substitute some of all of those items with more nutritional options such as fruit, whole-grain products or peanut butter?
  • Curb your appetite – Want to cut the calories you consume at a seasonal celebration? Plan a small healthy snack before you go.  Regularly drinking water during the holidays is another great way to keep your appetite in check.
  • Plan your event calendar – With so many events to choose from, and so much temptation, it’s a good idea to take time and plan the events that you want to attend. Set yourself limits, don’t get over exhausted and make sure you are having regular meals.
  • Know your limits – if there are foods that you find irresistible, set yourself limits. That way, you can enjoy them without overindulging.
  • Buddy up – Chances are you have a friend or co-worker who is also watching what they eat. Why not pair up and look out for each other at your next event.
  • Toast to your health – Alternate your alcoholic beverages and seasonal favourites such as eggnog with Water and un-sweetened drinks. Not only will you cut calories, you’ll also avoid the holiday hangover
  • Eat your greens – Look for the veggie tray, a mainstay of any holiday party. For potlucks, plan a nutritious, low-calorie dish, like a fruit tray or shrimp ring.
  • Stay active – It isn’t easy with all of the festivities, but make time for fitness. It not only burns calories, it helps melt away seasonal stress. Consider walking to events, where possible, and arranging a drive home with a friend or by taxi.

Holiday Office Survival Guide

Holiday office parties can be a chance for you to shine in front of your employer and peers. You can take advantage of the casual setting to have some fun and advance your career, or misbehave and cripple your career. Follow these tips to make sure you adhere to the highest standard of office party etiquette:

1) Don’t pass up the opportunity! It’s not every day that you get the chance to have a one-on-one personal conversation with the boss. Even if you can’t stay the whole evening don’t be a no-show. Arrive, mingle, and then make your exit.

2) Always ask before bringing a guest. Bringing your spouse or partner is a great way to meet new people in the office and showcase a bit of your personal life. However, not all office parties are open to families.

3) Don’t overindulge. Just because there’s a buffet or an open bar doesn’t mean that you should help yourself all night. You never know whose eyes are on you.

Businesspeople at Christmas party

Businesspeople at Christmas party

4) Dress appropriately. Dress more festively than you would for a day at the office, but more conservative than you would for a night out on the town.

5) Get involved. Don’t be afraid to take part in activities at the party. You’ll stick out more if you refuse to be a team player and participate.

6) Don’t forget it’s still a business event. Be sure to take the time to chat with your colleagues and superiors. Get to know the people you work with, but maintain your professional image.

7) Be gracious to the hosts, and send a thank you note to management and the personnel who organized the event the next day for inviting you.

Office parties are a great chance to network and have some fun with your co-workers. Enjoy yourself, meet some new people and expand your contacts in the organization. By following our simple do’s and don’ts you’ll avoid making any embarrassing missteps.

Holiday Serving Got You Skittish About Silverware?

Place setting
Don’t be the odd one out at the Christmas staff party! This simple diagram shows you all the different place settings that you’ll see at a sit-down dinner.

Etiquette may seem old fashion to some but it is simply a way to let you and/or your guests feel more comfortable in your environment. Knowing what to do when you sit at a formal dinner will allow you to enjoy yourself and have a good time.

Improve your silverware savvy and learn the knifesytles needed to relax and focus on the celebration. Not sure where to start when dining out? Remember BMW: Bread…Meal…Water

Planning the Perfect Dinner Party

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Hosting a dinner party takes preparation and organization. With everyone’s busy schedules, families and friends don’t often get the chance to sit down and enjoy a special meal together. Here are some suggestions to help make your next gathering easy and memorable.

1) Start by making pre and post checklists of the supplies you will need. As you plan your party, follow your timetable, go over lists and check off each task as it is completed. Make certain to include critical info like date, time, place and reason for the occasion. Ask guests to RSVP by a certain date so you can appropriately prepare.

2) Figure out how big or small a get-together you would like to have so you can plan your budget. Consider how many you can comfortably seat at your table or how you can extend an existing table to accommodate more. Other tables in your home or even an inexpensive fold out rental table can work well when clothed and set. Placing name cards at the dinner table is a nice way to encourage conversation and for people to get to know each other.

3) Consider your china, dishes, flatware and cooking pots you will use. Use your special occasion pieces – this is a party after all. Also consider how well you can work in the size of your kitchen. If you have never done this before start small with some simple dishes and make additions after you have some experience.

4) If you plan on having a party on a specific holiday, be prepared for a fewer number of RSVP’s. People will be less likely to have other plans if the party is scheduled on a date before or after the holiday.

5) Time your invitation for people to come ½ an hour to an hour before you plan to serve dinner. If possible let them know – cocktails at 7:00, dinner at 8:00. The more formal the occasion, the more lead time required. Everything works for invitations – from a phone call, e-mail or handwritten invitation.

6) Ask friends and family members for help as well. Assign tasks or food items for guests to bring to help ease your load. If you are going to serve wine choose after the menu is in place and enlist some help from local wine retailers. Not only can they find a pairing for food but they can also provide amounts required based on your numbers and the size of the wine bottle.

7) An organized house is more attractive and welcoming to your guests. Take the time to tidy up and put your belongings in their proper place. You will feel more comfortable knowing that your guests are seeing your home at its best.

Plan ahead so you have as little to do on the actual day of your party as possible. Take time for yourself before guests begin arriving. Being a relaxed and stress free party host is the best thing to serve your guests

Surviving Holiday Stress

Be realistic. Now is the time to take a step back and look realistically at the time frame you have remaining to get all these things done on top of your regular activities.

Maintain your regular exercise routine. Don’t slip up simply because you have some extra errands to do.

Get to bed at your usual time or earlier. Instead of compromising your sleep time, reevaluate how important an errand or task is in the first place.

Feel pulled in a million directions? Schedule “you” time for at least 15-30 minutes each day doing something that you enjoy. 

Learn to say no. Don’t take something on assuming you will find the time to get it done.

Eat properly. Pick and choose the healthiest foods and indulge on those. Eat smaller portions of your selected treats.

Cut down your gift giving list. Gather for a cookie or gift exchange where each person is only required to bring one item or, send a thoughtful Christmas card instead.

Stick to a budget. Financial woes top of the list of relationship issues. Don’t put an extra strain on yourself and your relationship by running up big bills this season.

Forget about perfection. Perfection isn’t reality. Don’t be so hard on yourself!

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