Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Don't Burn OUT!

This past weekend was one of the best that I’ve had in a long time. It wasn’t because I did anything spectacular or just was vegging out on the couch (which is one of my favorite things to do). I simply took the time to do a variety of things that I wanted to do. My boyfriend had asked to go to Austin for a “boys” weekend. I immediately told him yes, even though I was kind of bummed that I didn’t have lots of plans and foresaw my weekend to consist of cleaning the apartment and watching Lifetime movies. I just knew that if I asked him for a “girls” weekend, I’d want him to let me go. I’m not trying to say that you need to cast off your significant other for a good time, but it was nice to do things without having to be considerate of your “honey.”

Though it doesn’t matter what I chose to do, I’ll at least fill you in! I had the opportunity to attend an UT Dallas Homecoming Alumni event in which I got to see the plans that I had worked on through my undergraduate career actually materialize and see where the school is going from this point forward. I also got to “tour” the newer areas that I haven’t had a chance to. I also got a last minute invitation to the Dallas MargaritaSociety’s annual Margarita Ball and toy drive. It was a black tie event, so I got to play dress up and meet a ton of people. I was so excited to do both of these things and grateful that I had taken the time to do them! Sunday was a much needed relaxation and cleaning day after all to excitement of Saturday. This weekend I got to do my favorite things. I got to go places, meet people, hang out and talk to longtime friends, see places that were nostalgic for me, recharge and relax all in two days. 

Personally, I need at least one day a week to do the relaxing and recharging, but if I indulge in that too much, I’m not internally happy. This weekend was an example of what works best for me to recharge after a stressful work week. I had considered writing about it, but an article on MSNBC told me that I had to. According to the article, many young professional women are “burned out” on their jobs, careers and professions before the age of 30. The article chalked that up to that women are much less likely than men to take relaxation periods. Even little things like going for a walk, taking a short break or going out to lunch. The rationale behind why women do not do these things is that we are taught to be as involved and “well-rounded” as we can starting at a very early age. Maybe we just never had time to relax? 

I was very involved in a lot of things growing up and I am really glad that I was. I DID make it a point (and my parents too) to give myself a day a week to relax and recharge as well as doing fun things like going to the movies or dinner with friends. That doesn’t mean that you have to do things like me and clean and lay on the couch (that is just what works for me). Find out what works for you. It could be doing a day of fun activities like I did on Saturday. It could be going to a dance, art or yoga class. It could just be working out and letting your mind wander. Whatever it is, take the time to yourself and DO IT.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Who Is Your Support System?

This past week has been pretty crazy for me. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but mostly downs. Now, if you know me or have read my blogs, I am a pretty happy person. I enjoy everything in my life and make it a point to do things that I want/like to do. I love my job, friends, family, boyfriend, hobbies I choose to pursue, etc. Ever since one of my very young and close friends passed away unexpectedly, I have decided not to waste my time doing things that don’t give me some sort of joy. Quite frankly, life is far too short for that. 

Getting back to this week: I was blind sighted with a new change. I HATE transitions and changes, especially when I have not mentally prepared myself for them. My company was acquisitioned by the biggest talent management/human resource related company in the world. A flood of feelings and thoughts came over me when the news was announced. I was excited to try something new (I’ve wanted to work for this other company), sad to see that this company is no longer a single entity (they have taught me how to be a professional and actually cared about my well-being), and scared. 

Scared of the uncertainty that accompanies these types of situations. Scared of the changes. Scared to lose working relationships with people. While I always fight through these situations, this time, I really needed help coping (and fast) so that I can dive right in. I needed help understanding what was going on (because I’ve never been in this situation), help dealing with the sense of loss and excitement at the same time, and help understanding the next steps that I needed to take. 

I will tell you that without a well-laid support structure, I would have been lost. I had several mentors and individuals that have been in these situations offer various advice. Some are totally against working for the organization that has acquired you, due to bad previous experiences. Some said that this was a positive thing for me and my career. I also consulted with people who knew what steps I should take in understanding the decisions that I needed to make. I also had individuals help me deal with the stress. Whether it was going to dinner or a movie with me, continually texting me to check on my situation, or just being an open ear, those people really helped. 

I may be seen as a pessimist, but I didn’t expect the outpouring of information and genuine support. My friends and family are awesome, but they have their own lives and problems. But I felt that they stopped everything to help me, and for that, I am truly grateful (and will pay it forward). I challenge all of you to do the same. To my friends, it may just be one phone conversation or one movie, but to me it was something to hold on to while dealing with a tough situation. 

I’ll update all of my devoted readers on what happens next and definitely expect some insight into my experience in this situation. I know that many young professionals may have felt similar things if they ever have to go through a situation like this, and I want to give you every thought, decision and hindsight that I can to help you through. 

I’m GOING to have a good week this week and I hope you do the same!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Business Advice - GO TO CONFERENCES!

This past week was full of new things that I learned and experienced that I feel that I should share with other aspiring professionals. I weaseled my way into attending two conferences with my company. Normally, they don’t like to send such young “inexperienced” people to represent their company and brand, but I got student level prices, so it was hard to argue against it. That’s the first thing I learned, push the issue if you really think that you attending a function can be beneficial for the company and for you as a professional. Now, I don’t mean stomp your feet and demand it. Create an argument that they simply cannot say no to.

So anyway, I was able to attend these conferences! One was HR Southwest (#HRSW) whose primary function is to highlight current and emerging trends and explain how they have changed in the past year. I learned a ton about many varied aspects of HR. As a vendor (I do mostly selection and development consulting), sometimes it is hard to see the struggles that internal HR professionals face and how my tools can help to alleviate some of those struggles. I will go over a few things I learned, just because I find them so cool!

The coolest thing I learned concerned flexible competency modeling. Typically, competency modeling is done while only examining the job itself and maybe bringing in some of the organizational culture. Flexible competency modeling also takes the overall business strategy into consideration for competency model development. While the culture hits on the strategy a bit, understanding the positioning of the business is integral to selecting individuals who can realize the vision. I digress a little bit, but I did learn at least one thing that is not only super cool, but can be applied to my company’s best practices to make them even more competitive. This brings me to my second piece of advice: make sure that if you do attend a function on behalf of your company that you can demonstrate that you learned something (s) that they can use in the future.

The other conference I attended was the People Report Best Practices Conference. People Report is an organization powered by Black Box Intelligence who offers various data trends to organizations that sign up as members. They typically focus on the restaurant/service industry, but the attendees varied across industries. I got to go to that conference for a few reasons. One, I helped the marketing director to come up with an awesome “theme” for our presence. Two, my company hosts a dinner at the closing of the conference and is known for dancing or putting on some type of show. Right up my alley, right?! 

I used my talents (haha) and outside work experience to head up teaching my coworkers a series of dances that tied into our overall “theme.” It was a huge success, and really fun for me to do, as I will always have a passion for dance, even if it is cutesy and fun. In addition, my sorority recruitment days helped me to work a booth, design buttons and T-Shirts, organize an event and keep an outward positive attitude. That is my last piece of advice: understand your talents and strengths and apply them to something that will not only help you succeed as an individual, but that will also benefit the business. 

I’d love to hear any other stories of anyone doing those three pieces of advice or simply some suggestions on conferences or events that are awesome! Have a great week!