Thursday, June 11, 2015

Six Essential Strategies for Gaining Clarity in Your Career from Certified Life Coach, Nadine Bernard

Thank you to Nadine Bernard for this guest post! Nadine is a Board Certified Life Coach, a published playwright and an acting teacher located in Montclair, NJ. You can learn more at her website, Personal Plays Life Coaching.

How is your job satisfaction? Are you frustrated, down in the dumps, or feeling stuck? You're not alone.

As time goes by, sometimes roles morph into something we didn't sign up for. For others, responsibilities don’t keep up with skill sets. When complacency, annoyance, or anger sets in, not only does it make the days drag on, but sometimes we change into a person we never wanted to be. If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. Women of all ages face situations like these throughout their careers.

Career or job confusion can be draining. It can distract you from other areas of your life. Women often talk to their friends about it and then they find they stop for fear of sounding like a broken record and pushing away their social support. With the ever-changing responsibilities and priorities in their lives, women are especially susceptible to becoming confused about their careers.

Some common causes of career confusion are:

  1. You choose a career path based on what your parents or people in your life thought you “should” do or what gave you security, but you find that you aren’t really being true to the purpose or passion within you.
  2. The career you have has been fulfilling, but you find yourself in your 30s questioning whether your situation will be fulfilling for the years to come. You may actually hear your “biological clock” ticking and wonder if your male colleagues are feeling the confusion and pressure you are experiencing.
  3. You like what you do, but you find the politics of your work environment draining, and you’re not sure it makes your job worthwhile. Also, you might not be compensated fairly or given the job title you deserve, and this is making you doubt your line of work.
  4. You are returning to work after time home with a baby or young children, and you don’t think your previous career will offer enough work/life balance for you to attend to your new priorities at home.
  5. You are reentering the workforce as your kids leave for college, and you worry that your job skills won’t measure up in the current job market. You’re considering classes but you don’t know which direction to go.

When discussing these issues with clients, here are some things I urge them to consider:

  1. Become very clear about what your mission is, what type of work gives you a sense of purpose. Write about it, talk to friends, or work with a coach or counselor. Don’t jump to a new path without first making sure that it fits you well. Once you become clear, it will help you evaluate your current job so you can see if it actually does fall under these parameters, or it will help direct you in a new way.
  2. Look at your life holistically. It is okay to admit that what served you in the past no longer serves your needs. You may be called upon to take care of people in your life, so try to find work that energizes rather than exhausts you.
  3. Before deciding on a new career, do your research and test the waters! This will reduce some of the fear associated with the new areas and possible dream jobs.
  4. Don’t let the need for training scare you away. There are often ways to get the skills or training you need without going back to school full time.
  5. Assert yourself! If it turns out you are in the right setting, but your needs just aren’t being met by your boss or colleagues, make sure your voice is heard. You won’t know if this is the right job for you until your needs or demands are clearly articulated.
  6. If your current job isn’t offering the flexibility you need for the best work/life balance, consider looking for a new company with more flexibility or opportunities to work from home. Or consider working for yourself.

The most important thing I can emphasize to clients is to value yourself and the gifts you have to offer. If you find yourself confused about your career and you feel stuck or discouraged, this is an ideal time to work with a coach who can support you in defining and addressing the underlying issues.

As a Board Certified Coach, I help my clients steer their ship toward fulfillment. Together, we can determine the most rewarding career choices for your unique situation and devise a plan to reach goals.

Nadine Bernard is a Board Certified Life Coach, a published playwright, and acting teacher located in Montclair, NJ. She holds a BA in English and Psychology and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She meets with clients over the phone, on Skype, or in the Montclair area. You can reach her at or visit her website, Personal Plays Life Coaching.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I love the Earth but I Don't Love Earth Day

This originally ran on In the Powder Room in 2013. I'm re-running it here because two years later and I'm still in favor of more tree-hugging, less green-washing.

While the origins of Earth Day are admirable and pure – a day dedicated to environmental awareness and education  – Earth Day in 2015 is no longer really about those founding values. I suggest we all do Mother Nature a favor and not celebrate Earth Day.

While hippies and wannabe hippies everywhere have been busy adjusting their solar panels and building rain barrels in an ongoing pursuit of an eco-fabulous lifestyle, it seems just about every big company has re-branded Earth Day as its own totally amazing marketing opportunity.

There are tons of Earth Day-themed children’s shows, because if encouraging kids to sit on the couch and waste electricity watching TV doesn’t honor the earth, I don’t know what does. Disney gives us a new episode of Handy MannyThe Earth Day Challenge, and PBS and Scholastic present the video WordGirl: Earth Day Girl ($14.99). Yay for sedentary indoor lifestyles! Totes eco-friendly!

Scholastic further earns my ire by having its Earth Day school unit sponsored by Keep America Beautiful, an organization that can appear as eco-friendly on the outside as it wants, but can’t change the fact that it’s funded largely by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle Waters. Oh, and by Altria – which despite the benign sounding name owns Philip Morris, and even the most skilled advertiser can't convince me cigarettes keep America even a little bit beautiful. These corporations are Mother Nature’s frenemies at best, and yet somehow they’re the ones throwing her party.

My earth-loving heart also holds a special place of scorn for Oriental Trading Company. While I do not begrudge their right to sell mass-produced items of questionable quality that have a pretty straight trajectory from birthday party goodie bag to landfill, I do condemn them for selling that same crap in the name of Earth Day.

A few items from Oriental Trading’s Earth Day offerings include “I love the earth” stickers ($2.50 per 100 sticker roll) and latex balloons ($4.50 per dozen), which are described as “a fun way to start your Earth Day activities.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually start save-the-earth activities by destroying the planet. But maybe that’s just me.  

Corporations aren’t the only ones dissing Mama Earth on her big day. Government agencies are getting in on the Earth Day “celebrating” too. In fact, the State of Utah’s Oil, Gas & Mining Agency is hosting an Earth Day poster contest that asks kids to answer this environmental conundrum: “Where would WE be without oil, gas & mining?” That’s right, an ode to the destruction of the planet was created not just for any holiday, but specifically in honor of EarthDay.

This year, let's celebrate Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22, the way the original Earth Day organizers intended -- by encouraging conservation through awareness and education, not consumption. Let’s tell the companies we’re literally not buying any of their Earth Day crap.

You won't find me in line at the Disney store’s Earth Day celebration waiting for a cast member to give me my 327th “eco-friendly” tote bag, but I will take a hike with my kids. And while we’re in the woods, we just might hug a tree and whisper, “Happy Earth Day.”

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