Don’t let resolutions slip away

January 4, 2015

Visualize and plan ahead to make your New Year’s commitments stick

Q: Every year I set new professional goals as my New Year’s resolutions. However, within weeks I lose traction as other priorities take over. How can I create sticky resolutions?

A: There is a lot riding on New Year’s resolutions when viewed as wiping the slate clean, the salvo to breaking a haunting bad habit, or making a dramatic impact. Big goals that require a change in belief or behaviour need more than a public declaration.

Try these four easy steps to improve your resolution retention:

  • Limit resolutions to three stretch goals which can realistically be accomplished within a year.  The more meaningful and relevant they are to you, the easier it will be to stay on track.
  • Envision their successful completion. After creating your resolutions, invest time imagining the opportunities that would be possible for you and others once you achieve your goal. Like an athlete repeatedly visualizing crossing the finish line, revisiting your vision throughout the year will keep you focused and tethered to your resolutions.
  • Create manageable action plans with clear and specific measures so you will be buoyed by hitting ongoing targets. Share your plan with others to demonstrate your commitment to your resolutions. Ask allies to encourage and hold you accountable to your milestones. Celebrate each deadline you reach.
  • Finally, identify three qualities and characteristics you need to personify to be successful. For example, if you resolve to speak up at every meeting you might commit to being bold, outspoken and well prepared.

You, like many, may lose momentum or fall off course. You can recover any time by acknowledging your success to date and revisiting the four easy steps above.  Readjusting your action steps and timelines as needed can eventually lead you to year-end congratulations.

Originally published in The Province, January 4, 2015

Be honest with career coach

April 6, 2010

Q: I am finally warming to my boss’s recommendation to get coaching. Now how do I choose the best coach for me and get the most value from the experience?

A: You’re already on the road to getting more value by your shift in attitude. An open and willing coachee achieves far greater results than a closed and resistant one.

Request a complimentary coaching session with a few coaches so you can test drive the different ‘models.’ Select a coach who is qualified, has strengths that match your needs, and a style that you can comfortably trust. Follow your gut when making your choice.

Your coach is your ally, be straight with them. Provide your new coach with relevant background about yourself.

I mean the good, the bad and the ugly. The good — your strengths and desired outcomes; the bad — where you get in your own way, your shortcomings; and the ugly — the self-defeating behaviours and habits.

You are responsible for getting value from the coaching. Your coach is your ally and wants you to be successful.

You know what makes you tick. Tell your coach what motivates you. Do you excel when you are pushed hard? Or do you thrive with gentle prodding? Growth in coaching can happen in fits and starts. Be patient, realistic and enjoy the process.

The results from coaching are directly proportionate to what you invest in it. Create three to five significant goals that would make a considerable difference to you at work or in your life by achieving them. Bring a relevant topic to every session. Expect to be amazed by yourself.

Originally printed in The Province April 4, 2010.

Coaches build on your career

February 15, 2010

Q My boss says I need coaching if I want to be promoted. I’m feeling singled out. How is coaching going to help me and what guarantee do I have that what I say won’t be used against me by my boss?

A This is the best possible news. Your boss is actually saying he’s confident in your untapped potential and you’re worth the investment. You’re also in good company. Up to 40 per cent of Fortune 500 companies engage coaches for their high performers.

Coaching is a powerful way of moving you from where you are currently to where you want to be — producing extraordinary results in less time than you could typically accomplish alone.

In two or three focused confidential sessions each month, a coach accelerates progress by asking provocative questions, listening, contributing observations and directing your awareness, choices and actions. Any reporting out to management will come from you, not your coach.

As a client you’ll gain clarity, insight and learning. By building on your strengths, revealing blind spots, developing new competencies and taking effective actions, you’ll be able to replace unproductive outdated strategies.

Results are entirely dependent on your willingness to invest in the coaching. Ninety seven per cent of clients report coaching exceeded their expectations. More than 75 per cent experience improved working relationships, while over 60 per cent experience smarter goal setting, an increase in job satisfaction and less stress. Who doesn’t want that?

Choose a coach you trust and who is certified by the International Coach Federation — the worldwide professional governing body. A full description of the ethical standards is available at

Originally printed in The Province February 14, 2010.

Build on your own success

December 28, 2008

Q: I’m reflecting on the rocky road my company has been following this year. How do I increase my job performance and security in 2009?

A: To continually enhance your performance, it’s always a good practice at year-end to reflect on where you excelled, where you could have been more effective, and to set new targets for the coming year.

Start by acknowledging what you did well to generate momentum and a solid foundation for future successes. Go ahead, brag to yourself. What wins am I celebrating? What did I do to achieve them?

How can I build on these strengths in 2009? What accomplishments were most meaningful for me this year and why? What will I do to create more success next year?

While it’s most rewarding to review the wins, it’s the learning from the year’s deficits that often produces the biggest payoff next year. Plus, employees who demonstrate significant improvement on their shortfalls get the manager’s attention.

Be brutally honest. What disappointments did I have this year? What important lessons did I learn from them? What will I do differently? What do I need to complete or rectify to move forward with a clean slate in 2009?

Finally, create clear realistic targets to focus your energy and attention for the new year. What goals do I want to attain next year? How will I accomplish them? What action steps will support my goals? Where do I want to end the year? What do I want to be remembered for? What do I want to be celebrating a year from now?

Refer to your answers to these questions regularly throughout the year to monitor your progress and keep you on track. Displaying focused direction, proactive initiative, and the ability to adapt and grow in a turbulent economy can distinguish you as invaluable talent well worth retaining.

Originally printed in The Province on December 28, 2008.

Lower sights to return to office

August 24, 2008

Q: I’ve been self-employed for the last 10 years. I’m 55 and I miss working in a traditional business environment and I want to return to the office setting again. Where should I start?

A: After 10 years of self-employment, switching gears may test your resolve. The scope of activities in an organization is typically more limited than in your own business. List your top priorities for returning to work as well as the tasks you are most passionate about doing. Focus on roles that satisfy both.

Next, take stock of where you excel and the results generated during self-employment. Highlight three to five of your biggest successes in your resumé, outlining briefly what it took to accomplish these results. This demonstrates your distinctive brand of creativity, initiative and perseverance for a prospective employer to envision how your skills align with the organization.

Now it’s time to check out the market. Just like starting out in your own business, look for allies who will promote you in new arenas. Contact businesses that link closely to where your unique skills and experience would be most appreciated. Conduct informational interviews with individuals whose job interests you for an inside glimpse without the pressure of a job interview. Scrutinize the daily role. If it seems like a promising fit, request a job interview.

Once there, carve out a role for yourself. Present how your specific combination of skills would benefit the organization — companies do create jobs for an ideal candidate, but it may require patience. 

Finally, don’t be offended if you are temporarily offered a slightly lower position than you expect. If it puts you on a direct path to the role you want, it may be beneficial as you acclimatize to the company. From the inside, it’s easier to design your next move.

Originally printed in The Province on August 24, 2008

BC Business: 10 power moves

May 1, 2008

How many times have you inwardly seethed while a colleague glibly speaks up at a meeting, passing off your brilliant idea as her own? Or felt that inner alarm bell jangle when your boss spells out a plan that you know is doomed to failure?

They don’t teach you how to handle these everyday dilemmas in business school, but knowing how to field them smoothly might just save your bacon if the going gets rough. With the help of some advice from the experts, here are 10 tips that will help you finesse the challenges that might otherwise derail your progress from the bullpen to the corner office.

[read full article]

How to mute those inner critics

September 9, 2007

Q:  When I complete a project, I get rave reviews from my supervisor, team and clients. But while I’m running it, I worry someone will discover I’m out of my league. I know it’s ridiculous. How can I  change my thinking?

A:  Most people get stopped by the Fraud Factor from time to time. The internal voices that  motivate our drive can also beat us down when we’re out of our comfort zone, in unfamiliar territory.

  • Keep the inner critics at bay. Recognize every new engagement has new learning edges — a unique set of challenges, expectations and measures.
  • Give yourself a break. Expecting to be perfect is a sure setup for failure because it is unattainable.  You wouldn’t be put in charge if you weren’t capable. To verify this, record your past successful projects. Document the key skills and abilities you will transfer to the new project. Write down your special qualities and strengths as well as the acknowledgements you’ve heard from others. It’s hard to refute evidence in black and white. Review this often during your project.
  • Don’t wait until the end of the project to receive motivating feedback. Solicit it along the way. Discipline yourself to hear and accept it.
  • Acknowledge yourself and your wins regularly. Allowing them to slide by, ignored, is a tactical error and gives more clout to the unrelenting negative voices that blow every minor slip-up into catastrophic proportions.

The inner critics will persist in wrestling for power over you. Reduce them to an annoying nuisance by magnifying your successes and refocusing your attention on your special value and strengths.

Originally printed in The Province, September 9, 2007.