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12 Months Of Wellness

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If your job feels like a prison where you serve time every day, maybe it's time to set some new work goals, update your resumé, and change career paths.

September Between Monday and Friday, approximately half of our waking lives are spent working. If you are generally satisfied with your job—as 81 percent of Canadians are—this hefty chunk of time can provide you with a sense of fulfillment, accomplishment, and pride. If not, then it might be time to reconsider your current career path. Alan Kearns, founder of CareerJoy, a Canadian career coaching organization, knows all about changing career paths, as he was once a trained optician. Today he is helping people realize their potential and change their trajectories, and he’s recognized as a leader in his field. The secret? His passion. “We do our best work doing what we’re interested in,” he says. Whether you love your job or are ready for a change, there are always areas in our working lives that could use a little attention. Connect with us Have you been following alive’s 12 Months of Wellness? Tell us how it’s going with a tweet (@aliveHealth) using the hashtag #2013alive. And remember to check us out on Facebook ( and for ongoing updates about the 12 Months of Wellness!

Week 1: September 1 to 7 Create balance: Promote work-life integration Over the past two decades, we’ve seen huge leaps in technology, allowing us to stay connected with distant friends and family via email, Skype, and even FaceTime. However, for all the benefits of technology, there are downsides too, such as making it more difficult to disconnect from our work, even hours after our shift ends. Kearns recognizes that we no longer live in a nine-to-five world, so it’s more difficult to keep work and the rest of our lives separate. Instead he promotes work-life integration, whereby we may work a few hours in the evening, but make certain we set aside other time in the day for our families. “The danger is,” Kearns says, “when you get good at something, you get consumed by it.” The solution? Get good at other things: take up a hobby, volunteer for a cause you believe in, or join a sports team. Having many things that are important to us helps to round us out as individuals, and keeps us from obsessing over a single area in our lives. Tips for going offline Having trouble promoting work-life integration in your schedule? The following tips may help.
  • Allow yourself a buffer period after work and before you begin your evening routine: listen to a podcast, audio book, or some soothing music; read or do a crossword; or exercise.
  • If your job allows it, set a time each day when you shut off your work phone, power down your work laptop, and refrain from checking your work email.
  • Schedule downtime: plan a date for you and your partner, take your family for a picnic, or get a massage. By including these and other personal activities in your schedule, you are making them a priority in your life, just as you would an important business meeting.
  • Take one from Kearns’ books and go offline for the weekend. “I have a digital boundary Friday to Saturday,” he says. “I don’t go online. I don’t go on Twitter … I live totally analog.”

Week 2: September 8 to 14 Pave a path: Review your work goals and set new ones It’s easy to get wrapped up in our daily routine: wake up, have breakfast, commute, work, commute home, make dinner, eat, clean up, go to bed, and repeat. But every once in a while it’s important to step back from this cycle to re-evaluate where we are in our careers and where we want to be. Regularly reviewing and adjusting our goals ensures we keep moving forward and living our lives consciously. When reviewing your goals, take some time alone to figure out what it is you really want. Ask yourself the following questions—they may help to clarify what’s important to you.
  • What are your workplace values? Do they align with your current employer’s?
  • What have you achieved in your current employment? Do you want to achieve more? Is it possible where you are, or have you hit a ceiling?
  • If you could do anything for work, and money was of no concern, what would it be?
  • Where would you like to be, career-wise, in five, 10, and even 15 years?
If you find, after asking yourself these questions, that perhaps you’re not in the right job, Kearns suggests first making a comprehensive list of your skills, talents, and interests, and then determining a range of job options that might apply to you. This practice will provide you with a better sense of what you might be good at, allowing you to set your trajectory in another direction with intention and confidence. Should you find this task overwhelming, career coaches, life coaches, and career counsellors are available to help. A quick online search will bring up a myriad of resources for career support, whether you need help developing your resumé, searching for a job, upgrading your skills, or transitioning into a whole new career. If, on the other hand, answering these questions makes you realize you are exactly where you need to be, take some time to figure out what you want your career path in your current employment to look like and how you will get there. You might consider talking to co-workers in positions you find interesting, finding a mentor, or taking advantage of company-funded education options. Doing these things will not only make you a more valuable and knowledgeable employee, but it will also show your employer that you are keen to learn and move forward with the company.  

Week 3: September 15 to 21 Freshen up: Update your portfolio and resumé Keeping our resumés and portfolios up to date is a good habit to get into even when we’re not actively seeking a new job. After all, if you come across some grand potential position, would you rather be prepared or be frantically organizing all of your important documents? Keeping an up-to-date resumé and portfolio can also serve as a reminder of what you have accomplished recently and the extent of your responsibilities, offering you leverage power when asking for a raise or a promotion. Don’t wait until you need it to upgrade your resumé and portfolio; do it often to keep things current. Here’s where to start:
  • Collect all of your important documents, such as certificates, awards, and samples.
  • Go through your current resumé and highlight what could be scrapped if necessary.
  • Update your current achievements and then purge what is no longer relevant.
To make things easier in future, keep a running file of all the new things you take on and accomplish in your current position. When it’s time to update your resumé again, simply copy and paste what you’ve already recorded. Kearns recommends thinking beyond the resumé and looking at yourself as a brand. Once again, go back to the drawing board and hone in on what you’re good at—then own it. If you haven’t already, get with the digital times: create Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts for yourself, and update them on a regular basis. Also, consider creating a website or starting a blog, if it applies to your particular niche. Finally, network, network, network; attend professional association events and other events in your industry or an industry you are interested in.

Week 4: September 22 to 28 Upgrade: Consider upgrading your skills by taking a course The world is changing at such a fast pace that often the skills we acquired during our post-secondary studies become outdated quickly. Kearns emphasizes the importance of continual upgrading, whether you’re a multi-billion dollar company or fresh out of college. “What did RIM [Research] do wrong?” he asks. “It stopped growing.” Professional development has many benefits, including
  • making yourself more marketable to prospective employers
  • increasing your value to your current employer
  • keeping yourself up-to-date on the latest trends
  • meeting like-minded professionals in your current industry or an industry that you take an interest in
  • gaining a renewed sense of excitement about your job and your ability to drive change and innovation in the workplace
There are a number of outlets we can take advantage of to upgrade our skills, including courses, seminars, conferences, and networking events. Because many people upgrading their skills are employed, most programs offer courses in the evenings or weekends. And with more and more courses being offered partly or fully online as well, upgrading our skills is more convenient than ever. Check out college and university continuing education departments, as well as professional organizations, which may recommend specific courses and programs. Further, discuss continuing education with your supervisor or human resources representative, as many employers offer incentives for employees continuing their education, such as coverage of tuition costs and time off work.


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