Dear Vulnerability,

June 7, 2018

 

Dear Vulnerability,

Your rare appearance the other day was actually a welcome sight. I have spent years avoiding meetings with you even taking a longer path or avoiding a journey entirely at just the slight chance we may have briefly interacted.

I’ve grown over the years though. I’ve learned from heartache, forgiven my wrongs and those of others and grown confident despite my insecurities. Through these lessons I have realized just how beautiful you are.

Without knowing you, learning from you and sharing that knowledge with others there is no way to truly discover love. Without your insights I don’t think I’d truly know myself which is key in letting others know me.

Your teachings are valued beyond what my words can express. Thank you for the enlightenment. I believe we will be seeing a lot more of one another, my dear friend.

 Respectfully,

Dana

 

More information about me on my ABOUT ME Page!

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Journal Club – You’re invited!

I’m excited to announce the launch of the Success Encourager’s Journal Club!! I want to invite you to join me. Whether you are an experienced and active journaler / letter writer or simply looking for tips and want to get started I invite you to join the club! It’s easy, simply connect with me on Instagram (successencourager), follow this WordPress blog or read updates and posts on my website (www.danabuchanan.com). Feel free to email me with questions! successencourager@gmail.com

Why a club? I have shared my love and enthusiasm for journaling and letter writing in past posts and typically find a creative way to bring it up in most conversations…some would say I get overly giddy or even obsessive about them. OK, I may see their point, but isn’t holding your favorite journal or stationary and handwriting a recap of your day or jotting down your dreams for the future you foresee yourself living or writing warm wishes to a dear friend and mailing them off almost magical? I know I am not the only one that feels this way!

I journal professionally and personally. I have shared my journaling methods and my love for letter writing with others. I greatly appreciate every opportunity to share this ‘obsession’ with! More details about this are on my website.

So what does this club do or offer? I’m so glad you asked! The club is a creative outlet, not stressful, no deadlines or membership fees, it’s simply a fun way for me and other members to connect with others that share our love of journaling and letter writing or connect with those wanting to learn more! I will post prompts and ideas, I welcome shared journal and letter photos on Instagram (#sejournalclub) and encourage comments to blogposts.

I’m even working on a monthly letter giveaway…more details soon, but here is a hint – it’ll include a personalized hand-written encouraging letter from me and a blank card or stationary to be ‘paid forward’ to someone you want to encourage and may even include a journal and/or book giveaway (if you have published a book with a journaling or letter writing theme or journal and want to donate a copy for a future giveaway, email me!!!!). 

I’m so excited (giddy even) about this and looking forward to seeing how it will evolve!! Comment below if you’re interested in joining or email me and look for future updates and announcements coming soon!!!

A couple of tips and ideas to get us started

  • Create a list journal; travel, goals, ideas, books, recipes, events, concerts, etc. that you want to participate in, attend, read, cook, etc. Focus on one list and create a few steps toward making it a reality. For example if you want to cook more or experiment with new recipes, choose three or four to start, make an ingredient list, set aside time to create this culinary masterpiece and record what you liked about it, who you enjoyed it with, what you would change, etc. Recording your accomplishments encourages confidence and future goals…anything is possible with the right steps, action and accomplishment tracking!
  • Create a journal for the next generation. Whether it’s your child, grandchild, friend’s children, nephew, niece, sister or brother…start a journal that records details of family gatherings, milestones, quotes from family and friends, and those days that would otherwise seem routine yet are so special. Include a pocket for ticket stubs, notes, photos, etc. and give it all to the child on a special birthday.

What are you journaling right now? Who was the last recipient of a letter or card you sent via ‘snail mail’?

Check out my ABOUT ME page for additional information!

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Professional Development Value

Professional development is key to not only successfully performing your career choice but also for enjoying the position! Continuing to learn new skills and enhance the ones you have helps you be more productive but it also brings about a sense of pride and creativity. There are several professional development opportunities available through articles, books, webinars, online courses, conferences and peer to peer communication and sharing resources.

Some resources are free or very low costs while conferences or online training can seem costly and require justification. When talking with other assistants, from a variety of industries, the cost is always a concern.

A simple justification is that the best way to find relevant resources is by attending a conference. Last year, when I attend the Accelerated Assistant conference by Office Dynamics I learned so many great tips over those four short days from the professional speakers and during the team activities. Joan Burge shared her experience and resources with the group daily. The learning did not stop there though! After returning to work, I followed up with subscribing to a few of the newsletters from the speakers and read their blog posts, which offered time-saving and organizational tips and highlighted apps and programs. I shared those sites and posts with my coworkers which offered several additional communication and learning opportunities.

So, how do you justify travel and conference fees? I did a lot of research before attending the conference including costs, speaker topics, and experience, balanced with team and networking opportunities and chose the best conference for my needs and learning expectations. I typed up a justification form to present to my manager. I highlighted several topics of interests and the speaker’s credentials and experience, relating the topics to several of my yearly performance goals.

I also detailed the costs; hotel, registration, and flight. Breaking down the total cost of an average conference which is about $2600.

  • $217 a month
  • $50 a week
  • $7.12 a day

That is a bargain for continued education that would provide resources for me to be even more productive!

Luckily, I have a professional and respected working relationship with my manager. When we met and went over the document and talked more about the conference and what was offered his only additional request was that I present my experience with coworkers after I returned. About two months after the conference I completed a presentation to about 20 of my coworkers. I shared my experience, discussed the temporary support team I had worked with daily at table 28, shared websites of the speakers, newsletter links, and books that were suggested.

Most conferences detail the agenda and speaker information while providing justification letter templates or suggested content for meeting with managers to help you through the process. Office Dynamics offers this information as well. I highly recommend attending a conference to open resource doors, to continue your education about your industry and position and to learn time-saving tips that will benefit you long after you return to work!

Almost six months after attending the conference I still utilize resources and relationships I formed during that training. I continue to share tips with my team that I receive via weekly newsletter subscriptions, blog post readings, etc. I’m also looking forward to attending this year’s conference – The Stellar Assistant. With all new speakers, additional content, learning labs and unlimited online access to the videos, participant guide, and bonus materials. I’m anxious to share even more reading suggestions, tips and speaker websites with my team!

What are some of your favorite professional development resources? What books do you suggest?

A few of my favorite reads are; Tribes by Seth Godin, just about anything from Wallace Wattles, Permission to live the Big Life by Joan Burge, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, A Beautiful Questions by Frank Wilczek, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, there are too many to name!

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions about a sample justification letter or how to talk with your manager about professional development opportunities please contact me and I’d be happy to share more of my experience!

 

Read more about me and the professional services I offer on the ABOUT ME Page.

Turning resolutions into lifestyle

Even if you work full-time and average 8 hours of sleep each night you have about 6 hours each day to dedicate to your goals and passions. I’m going to share a schedule that I personally use to create a lifestyle I choose, I feel excited about and can help me achieve any goal! I have a lot to share so I will break it down over the next few article posts.

There are several popular articles with great tips on keeping resolutions and setting personal and professional goals. A simple google search will provide several!

First, I want to share my categories that help me stay focused when planning my day. I ‘assign’ a category to each part of my daily schedule to keep me focused. If I can’t find a category to fit it in, then most likely it isn’t necessary. For example, excuses and complaining do not have a category in my life (something I’m working on!). And all four categories are intertwined, so they can and should overlap, but separating them out helps me focus (which is what I personally need!)

My nourishment categories:

  • Well-being – Mental and physical health; stretching, walking, meditation, conscious eating, plenty of water. Ask yourself – What are my health goals, what are my limits?
  • Spirit – Self-care, gratitude journaling, positive affirmations, create, hobbies. Ask yourself – What brings joy and peace? What nourishes me?
  • Circle – Mutual relationships that allow you to give and receive support; family, friends, work friendships, recovery groups, clubs or hobby groups. Ask yourself – Who balances with me? Who supports me and invites my support?
  • Productivity – Daily routine; work, volunteering, care giver, budgeting, learning. Ask yourself – What is my current daily schedule (define it). What do I want my future schedule or routine to look like and consist of?

Once your categories are defined you can create a ‘schedule’ and fit it into a category. Seeing your schedule written out helps not only see how time is spent, but also provide accountability opportunities. You are the only one you need to be accountable to. This is your life, your future and remember your passion is worth your time!

Here is my schedule/routine and how my hours are spent. As you can see I have no excuses that should start with ‘but I don’t have time’. It’s right here in writing. Yes, I have time for me and my passions and goals. Excuses have no category!

Typical Monday through Friday:

  • 6:00 am – Wake up and shower
  • 6:30 am – Coffee in hand, reflection time begins, meditation (just 5 minutes), positive reading and quiet time with hubby
  • 7:00 am – Get ready for work (Makeup, hair, dressed, gather work meals to go)
  • 7:30 am – Start commute
  • 8:00 am – Clock in and begin morning work routine
  • 11:30 am – Lunch (eat, reflect, 1 minute breathing exercise via Headspace app)
  • 12:00 to 4:30 pm – Afternoon work routine
  • 4:30 pm – Start commute back home
  • 5:00 to 10:00 pm – Five evening hours. These hours include various activities such as appointments, errands and time with my mom, errands for my aunt, one on one with my husband, dinner/cooking, reading, writing, research, library events, creating lists, reviewing research and outlines, article writing and research, learning and anything unexpected that can pop up
    • between my hour or so in the morning before getting ready for work, my 30 minute lunch break and my five hours before bed, I have 6.5 hours a day I can plan just about any way I want
  • 10:00 pm (sometimes 10:30) – Bedtime

Typical Saturday (16 hour day, after 8 hours of sleep) :

  • 7:30 am – Coffee, reflection, couple time, positive reading
  • 8:30 to 10:30 am – Cook breakfast with hubby, conversations, reading
  • 10:30 am – Shower, dressed, prepare for day
  • 11:30 am – Review and/or create weekend lists, write out outlines for articles
  • 12:30 pm – Errands and drive time
  • 1:30 pm to 7:30 pm – Family time with my sister and nephew (and 45 minutes driving each way)
  • 7:30 to 11:30 pm – Couple dinner/cooking, conversation, reading, writing, research
  • 11:30 (ish) pm – Bedtime

Typical Sunday (about 15 hours after 8 hours of sleep):

  • 7:30 am – Coffee, reflection, couple time, positive reading
  • 8:30 am to 1:30 pm – Cook breakfast together, write outlines, writing research, read
  • 1:30 pm – Shower, dressed, etc.
  • 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm – Errands, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.
  • 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm – Cook dinner together, cleanup, conversations, lists for upcoming week
  • 8:00 to 10:30 pm – prepare work lunches/snacks, read, write, outlines, research, learn

I can easily fit each item into a category. For example reading and writing are spirit and productivity for me since my writing is a main focus and will continue to be (I like owning my future and goals..writing it  out helps me a lot!)

Obviously, some hours are not as flexible as others. If you work and have set hours to work or care for someone those hours are typically always the same, but several hours a day are flexible for me once I’m done at work and on the weekends. Seeing this written out helps me focus on accomplishments, not just goal setting!

I have a lot more to share, but this post is long enough! I appreciate your time reading it and I hope this encourages you to write out your current schedule/routine, so we can travel this journey together.

I encourage you to document how your spend your hours and think about how you want to spend them…If you have any questions please ask! Any additional tips? Please share!

Thanks again for reading!

 

Self-nourishment

All of us are deserving of nourishment, but many find it difficult to discover and even more difficult to give oneself permission. Life can be so fast paced that comfort can become acceptable in chaos. At times, I find comfort in routine, even in hectic chaotic routines; projects, appointments, errands, chores, traffic, crowds, deadlines, unexpected situations…

How can we expect to keep finding solutions to those routine tasks if we are not taking time to nourish ourselves? I give myself permission to stop and focus on me once in awhile. It’s not selfish, it’s mandatory. Some days I blend my self nourishment and deadlines rather well…other days the whirlwind of chaos wraps me up and takes control. After a few consistent whirlwind days I know I have to self nourish.

I have read many articles, books, daily affirmations, and more to discover what works best for me…but I know it will always a work in progress. And I find that exciting.

I’ve been asked about my own routine and I’m happy to share it! No two people follow the same self nourishment journey. Everyone is unique with a unique daily routine. I have put together my personal top four main topics with a few suggestions; keeping it open to interpretation so you can find your own routine, goal focus or self nourishment regimen.

The topics can be part of a daily routine, focused on weekly or whatever works best for you! I feel each topic is a compliment of the next and work side by side with one another; they play well together.

Whether you have discovered a routine or new to the entire process I hope you find this helpful and encouraging!

  • Well-being: Mental and physical nourishment. Ask yourself ‘what are my health focused goals and what are my limits?‘ Suggestions – stretching, walking, exercise, yoga, meditation, nutritional supplements, healthy conscience eating, ensuring you drink enough water, get outside as often as you can. No matter what level you are at, movement and mental focus are important…there are some great online resources for various stages of exercise plans and the same for meditation and yoga. Personally, I’m still utilizing beginner videos and charts and find it very refreshing, renewing and nourishing. I linked a few above, but I’m happy to share more of my personal favs, if anyone is interested, just ask!
  • Spirit: Solitude and feeding your spirit/soul. Ask yourself ‘what do I want to do to feel more joy or how can I increase my self growth and love?’ Create, gratitude through journaling, making time for one or more hobbies, positive self-affirmations (I am…healthy, worthy, resilient, strong, enough, etc.) and reading/studying topics that bring you joy.
  • Support Circle: Mutual relationships; the balance and completeness of a circle. Ask yourself ‘who balances with me and provides a balanced mutually supportive relationship…who completes your circle and welcomes you into theirs?’ Give and receive support and encouragement, humor and care, sharing laughter and listening. This is a balance of family, friends, coworkers or other like minded groups (parenting, craft, recovery, book club, etc.). Provide positive praise, show kindness, feel safe and comfortable being yourself.
  • Productivity: Daily routine. Ask yourself ‘what is my current routine/schedule and what changes do I want for my future routine/schedule?’ This includes your career or the way you spend the majority of your days. If you are retired, focusing on your health, stay at home parent, homemaker…this could be focused on volunteering, implementing processes at home or work to ensure you find time for self nourishment and caring for yourself. Learn a new hobby or possible career change or supplemental income to help balance your budget. Focus on creating a daily routine that brings you joy, peace and steps to accomplish your personal specific goals. Setting goals helps with this process, both daily goals and long term focused ones.

One quote/affirmation I repeat to myself often is ‘I am exactly where I need to be, if not I’d be somewhere else.’ It makes me smile, it is simple…yet oh so true. It helps remind me I have control. I can focus on steps toward my bigger goal or I can re-evaluate my goals and take steps to learn something new. It’s all about what feeds me, where I find nourishment and giving myself permission to discover all of my unique interests.

We are all unique…embrace it through your self-discovery to a personalized nourishment journey.

I’d love to hear how others nourish themselves or answer any questions you have!

Thank you for reading. Have a great day!

For additional information and my professional services visit my ABOUT ME page!

Personal goals from a professional conference

This week I attended the Accelerated Assistant Conference by Office Dynamics.  The conference was created by an amazing woman, Joan Burge. I highly recommend reading more about her and the conference if you have not already! The conference was focused on the administrative professional career, I learned several tips to take back to my office. I also walked away learning so much about myself and my personal goals. I was reminded what I am passionate about; writing. As I listened to the amazing speakers, especially Peggy Vasquez and Lisa Olsen, I felt my desire to focus more on my writing stir inside me and scream at me – “Hey remember me?! Hey, I’m right here…listen to me…Acknowledge me!” 

I can’t remember a time I did not love writing. I would fill Big Chief writing pads from the time I could write. In middle school and high school I wrote story after story and even wrote a one ‘girl’ play in high school. In my early 20s I continued my fiction writing and filling notebook after notebook. As life went on, I had less and less time to focus on my fiction writing. I still fed my inner writer by creating short articles, newsletters, volunteering for non-profit programs, etc. But my professional life demanded more of my time. My mind always drifted to my writing and I would have spurts of writing energy and write in my notebooks or type up my ideas in a special folder on my computer or laptop. But, I didn’t allow it to be front and center as it once was as a child and young adult.

As I listened to Peggy and the other enthusiastic speakers I felt that excitement again. I love my day job and those I work with. I enjoy the challenges and projects I am a part of. I am grateful to have a voice and years of experience to offer my team and manager. But I also realize for my own wellbeing I must write. It’s my gift. Even if I am not the best writer, I was reminded during the ongoing sessions that I am a unique voice, as we all are. My desire grew each day, each session! I would call my husband…”Honey, this conference is amazing…I’m a writer!” His response each call would be, “of course you are I’ve always known that.” Says the man I grew up with, have dated since high school, celebrating a 20 year wedding anniversary in December with and has helped me organize those book bags filled with my writings over the past 27 years (or more!) He knows this…he has told me this for years…Why has my inner writer been hibernating?!

I had the privilege of meeting Peggy Vasquez in the hall after her key note talk and during my sprint to my hotel room to check out in time to catch my flight home. I felt like a school girl; a rambling excited school girl on a sugar/ice cream high running into my hero on the playground. I tried to calm myself, I took a deep breath…I walked up to her…introduced myself, thanked her for her inspiring talk and encouraging words. I handed her a little business card I had printed myself about me being a ‘success encourager’. I rambled by intertwining a number of thoughts running through my head that went something like, “I want to be a writer, I am a writer, my husband says so. I can’t fail with that kind of support, right? I have notebooks full of proof. You make speaking look so…easy.” As I rambled my eyes started to tear up. I apologized. She was so kind and professional…she smiled at me, was so humble…she mentioned a speaking engagement she had with thousands and mentioned her nerves, she assured me my watery eyes were no reason to apologize…she looked at me intently and said, “You are being spoken to here; listen.”

I wanted to hug her, but not frighten her. I smiled. I thanked her again, I felt like I was on a cloud, a cloud that allowed me to own and accept my passion; my passion for writing. Why can’t I excel at my job and write my career articles, finish the children’s book my nephew has inspired and (yes AND) finish my novel? Why not?

Sure I am more tired some days than I am others. Sure I have other responsibilities in life than work that keep me running a race some days. Sure my body aches some days, sure I can make excuses, sure I can….Sure I can do this.

I took “As a Man Thinketh”, by James Allen with me on my trip. This book (if you are not familiar with it) is an inspiring read and it was written in 1903! Despite being over 110 years old, it is a very relevant read, in my opinion. The reading seemed to tie in perfectly with the ongoing conference message of focus, positive thoughts, etc. A couple of my favorite quotes from the book are:

  • “When we begin to reflect upon our condition and to search diligently for the law upon which our being is established, we then will become wise masters, directing our energies with intelligence and fashioning our thoughts to fruitful issues. Such is the conscious master, and we can only thus become by discovering within ourselves the laws of thought – which discovery is totally a matter of application, self-analysis, and experience.”
  • “The human mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild. But whether cultivated or neglected, it must and will bring forth.”

Not only did I learn a few new things during my trip, both at the conference and during self-reflection time, but each speaker had something to say that I related to and each reminded me of a few goals or daily tasks that I ‘use to do’. I’ve made a goal list. Some goals have been on and off lists for years. Some are new, some are even things I do ‘most or some of the time’, but this is now, not goals belonging to the grade school girl, or 20-something me, today I am renewed, I have experience and skills…I have new goals even if they are familiar…I make a commitment to my inner writer...I vow to listen to you, to embrace you, to thank you for your patience, to show gratitude for you never giving up on me, to allow your light to shine bright and become my focus, to blend our professional and personal talents into one inspired and inspirational being! And hopefully….encourage a few others along our journey.

My new goal list, that will be ever-evolving, but always writing focused:

  • Not walk pass my ‘banner’ hanging on my vision board that reminds me to wake up with a grateful heart, to be thankful, to welcome the offerings and blessings of today….Instead of walking by sleepy eyed, I will stop and read the reminder and take a moment to follow my own advice!
  • Sign up for an ongoing yoga class
  • Continue my health focused goal by eating healthy, moving more and stressing less
  • Write in my gratitude journal daily
  • Schedule time daily to write; finish and publish my children’s book; treat it like a class or scheduled event
  • Contact the local library and reserve a small room (which they offer for FREE!) and make no more excuses for not writing. Go to my ‘classroom’ at the library, focus and write!
  • Create the outline to the ‘grown up’ version of my children’s book about politeness
  • Write the entire ‘grown up’ version and share it!
  • Create my weekly schedule by breaking down each day; I have five to six hours each evening between work ending and bedtime! Utilize that time more wisely and productively. Maintain my two to three evenings a week spending time with my mom, sister and nephew! And all of the amazing adventures and daily routines with my husband!
  • Follow through and focus….FOCUS!

Thank you so much for reading this. If you have any tips or would like to share an accomplishment, please comment below or email me. Questions? Please do not hesitate to ask.

Thank you to Joan, Peggy and all of the speakers and event coordinators for making it possible for me to attend and gain so much insight!

Thank you!

 

Read more about me and the professional services I offer on the ABOUT ME page!

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Making your life experience pay off

Recently, I have worked with some amazing job seekers by providing them with a free career counseling session, resume edits and cover letters. One question that came up a few times was how to handle career gaps.

I want to thank each of the job seekers for opportunity to travel their career seeking journey with them. It’s been such a pleasure working with them that I would like to offer two more FREE  sessions during the month of June! What’s that about? Click here to check out the details.

OK, so how to deal with career gaps? First, define the reason. Basically there are two types of career gaps:

  • Intentional gap? Did you intentionally take time off work to care for a loved one, start a business, go to school, illness, travel, volunteering, etc.?
  • Unintentional gap? Laid off, company went out of business, could not find a job after school, could not find employment in your field, etc.?

Either gap can seem positive or negative at the time. But even the unintentional lay off or other job loss can have a positive outcome; provide time to add to your skill list or provide time to mentally focus, etc. The important thing is to focus on that positivity for your own well being and when talking to potential employers.

Next explain why. Both types of gaps offer explanations that employers are open to hearing about. Why? is the big question, but can be easily answered and even provide additional experience that the employer may be looking for. For example if you had a child and wanted to take a few years off that is not only understandable, but you also gained certain skills such as time management. And possibly additional experience by joining parenting groups (PTA, coaching, managing a charity drive, etc.), taking some classes during your time off, focusing on advancing your current skills, etc.

Maybe you took time off to start your own business or help someone else start one. There are skills learned with any business start up. Even if the business was not as successful as you had hoped or you found out you didn’t like the hours or type of work, you still have valuable skills to add to your resume. Examples of skills depending on the type of business could include;  budgeting, inventory, scheduling employees, customer service, hiring, meeting deadlines, organizational skills, computer programs, writing, labor skills, and more.

Unintentional gap examples include being laid off or unable to find work in your field. Both are self explanatory and more common than you may think, but you can discuss HOW you handled this time off, how you turned a possible negative time into a positive situation. Did you learn new skills, enhance your current ones, etc.? Did you volunteer, take any classes, teach yourself a valuable skill, find a mentor, realize the career change you wanted, etc.?

A brief statement on your resume with the career goal you have now is an excellent way to highlight your gap. The cover letter will allow you to go into more detail and turn the gap into a positive opportunity to discuss your skills and experiences. Explaining the positive impact the gap had on you will help the employer focus on your skills, positive attitude and how your experiences will fit into the position you are applying for.

Whatever the reason a career gap can be presented as a valuable experience by highlighting your current skills and experiences while explaining your gap in a positive manner. Remember, the main focus of any interview is to discuss how you are the best fit for the current position you are applying for!

Questions about career gaps or other career topics? Please do not hesitate to reach out to me!

Thank you so much for reading! Please share any tips or questions you  may have below or email me at successencourager@gmail.com

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