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Overworked and Underpaid? 9 Free Apps to the Rescue

overworked-and -underpaid

Are you overwhelmed and routinely pulled under by day-to-day tasks?  Perhaps you are drowning in a sea of expenses too.  Well then, you have come to the right place.  Most of us can certainly identify with these struggles.  Let me throw you a life preserver of sorts by revealing a few of the tools I’ve found to reduce chaos and keep my budget afloat.  Stop feeling overworked and underpaid.  Here are 9 free apps to the rescue:

 

Hey, Money Bags – Earning & Saving

1. Wagespot – Salary Searcher, Wage Calculator, Job Finder

Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android

Maybe it’s time to cast a wider net and bring home a bigger catch.  This real-time app allows users to anonymously or publicly share their salary and compensation package for their current position. The data provided will empower you to negotiate a fair wage or ask for a raise.  No more wondering what you’re worth or if you’re undervalued as an employee.  The newest feature offers lists of job openings to browse and analyze.

 

2. Money Lover – Money Manager, Bill Reminder, Budget App

Compatible with: iOS, iPone, iPad, Android

You won’t go belly up if you utilize this expense tracker to manage your personal finances.  Easily customize spending categories and generate reports to get the big picture.  The bill reminder feature will keep your payments up to date and on time.  Upgrade to Money Lover Plus for $4.99 to obtain access to premium options.  Control your money.  Don’t let it control you.

 

3. RetailMeNot – Coupons, Discounts, Deals

Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android

After you have organized or created a budget, you’ll want to cut expenses where possible.  I use this app every time I head out shopping.  It has saved me hundreds of dollars.  Offers and deals are available from over 50,000 retailers and food chains.  No more clipping or forgetting coupons or digging through your purse to find them.  It’s as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

Business As Usual – Productivity

4. Wunderlist: To-Do Lists, Reminders, Errands

Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows

Do you have the sinking feeling you are forgetting something?  This amazing app will put your mind at ease as you create a shareable list or organize your work projects.  Set reminders, assign tasks or delegate household chores to family members.  You can access Wunderlist from anywhere, as the app syncs between your computer, tablet, and phone.

 

5. Forest App – Improve Focus, Avoid Distraction, Increase Productivity

Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android, Chrome, Firefox

This nifty little program puts me back on course and allows me to work uninterrupted for twenty-five minute periods.  I set a timer and the app plants a virtual seed.  If I manage to work on my assignment for the entire time, the plant will grow into a tree.  If I leave my task, the tree will wither and die.  The goal is to create a larger forest each week.  It may sound silly, but it works.  The phone app is $1.99, but I use the browser extension on my laptop for free.

 

6. Waze: GPS Navigation, Maps, Traffic Alerts

Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android

When I forget to open this tool during my commute, I usually regret it by waiting impatiently in a sea of cars.  Waze is a real-time traffic and navigation app that provides the best routes with community-edited maps.  You can avoid construction, speed traps, accidents, red light cameras and other obstacles as you journey around town.  Also, as a Waze driver, you’ll save money on gas by navigating to the cheapest pumps reported on your route.

The Daily Grind – Errands & Honey-Dos

7. Big Oven: Recipes, Grocery Lists, Menus

Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android, web

Do you hear the theme song from Jaws when your family members start to circle the kitchen and ask, “What’s for dinner?”  This fantastic app is packed with over 350,000 recipes from which to choose.  Save your favorites, make grocery lists, and create meal planners too.  The paid version allows you to follow friends and your favorite food bloggers as well.

Related Reading: 5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Tech Savviness

 

8. Daily Workouts: Exercise Routines, Instructional Videos

Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, Windows

Daily Workouts is stuffed to the gills with full-body and targeted exercise routines. Instructional videos guide you through unfamiliar moves as you tone, tighten, and break a sweat.  Now you have the convenience of your own personal trainer wherever you go.  The upgraded version offers a greater variety of exercises and is ad-free.

 

9. TaskRabbit: Chores, Cleaning, Home Repair

Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android, web

You probably have a tsunami-sized lineup of improvements, repairs, and household duties to be done.  If you can spare the money, use TaskRabbit to lighten the load.  Hire a pre-screened Tasker to walk your dog, mount a TV, deliver a package or anything else you desire.  There’s no need for cash because you pay through the app when the assignment is complete.

 

What do you think of my list of tools to rescue the overworked and underpaid?  I know you have a few helping to keep your chin above water.  Don’t keep those programs a secret.  Share them with the rest of us below.

Life is better when we lift each other up.

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15 Motivational Podcasts For Women Who Love Business

Truth be told, I’m a wee bit of a podcast junkie.  Nothing’s better for me than listening to tricks of the trade or inspiring stories from people I identify with and trust.  Playing an episode gives me the feeling of being a valued member of an exclusive group.  I usually indulge this mild addiction when working out or walking my dog or running errands.  Uplifting and efficient, no?

A majority of the shows I support are hosted by females because, as in most media, we are seriously underrepresented.  A recent article in Forbes claims, “an estimated 70 percent of podcasts are hosted by men, and the male/female disparity overall is probably even greater.”  So, in an effort to level the playing field, let’s give a little love to the ladies.  Consider subscribing to these 15 motivational podcasts for women who love business:

1. Lose The Cape with Alexa Bigwarfe & Aubrey Mathis

This entertaining pair makes me laugh out loud while dishing up valuable advice and business tips.  The show features busy career moms sharing strategies for survival in their hectic daily lives.

Outstanding Episode: How to Not Be an Icky Salesperson

2. Raise Your Hand. Say Yes. with Tiffany Han

Tiffany is a business coach to creative entrepreneurs and she may give you a verbal kick in the pants from time to time.  She uses storytelling and interviews to inform and inspire you on your professional journey.

Outstanding Episode: Michelle Bablo on Going All In

 

3. Systems Saved Me with Jordan Gill

As an organization and productivity geek, I am compelled to tune into this show on a regular basis.  Jordan produces new content weekly to help us overwhelmed entrepreneurs find success with tried and true methods.

Outstanding Episode: The Process to Kill the Perfectionism Trap

 

Related reading: 7 Deadliest Sins of the Struggling Career Woman

 

4. The Big Payoff with Rachel Bellow & Suzanne Muchin

This dynamic duo has launched and sold six companies together while maintaining a close friendship.  They are uniquely qualified to give epic career and business advice.  “So get a tumbler of vodka, a cup of coffee, or juice cleanse and let’s get started.”

Outstanding Episode: Fatal Distraction

5. The Introvert Entrepreneur with Beth Buelow

This show has been named one of the “Top 25 business podcasts for entrepreneurs” by Entrepreneur.com.  Beth discusses business life from an introvert’s perspective. She offers resources and advice to build self-confidence and reduce fear.

Outstanding Episode: Confessions of an Untraumatized 40-Something Happily Married Woman

6. Happier with Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen is the bestselling author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before.  Although I would not consider it a business podcast, her thought-provoking show provides advice to improve your outlook and overall attitude.  That’s bound to help improve your professional life.  Don’t you think?

Outstanding Episode: Do what You Love, and Then Your Friends Hire You

7. Why Not Now? with Amy Jo Martin

Amy Jo interviews famous and not so famous people and asks them how they changed from a why notter to an action taker.  She is no slouch in business either.  She wrote the NY Times best-seller Renegades Write the Rules and was named the third most powerful woman on Twitter by Forbes.  Yeah, not bad.

Outstanding Episode: Julie Foudy – Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable 

8. Midlife Schmidlife with Liz Applegate

Liz calls herself “your second-chance enthusiast and positive change facilitator.”  I call her inspiring.  She interviews women over forty who are transforming their middle years and pursuing their dreams.  I can certainly relate!

Outstanding Episode: Being Brave and Learning New Things with Cathy Lawdanski

9. The Daily Meditation Podcast with Mary Meckley

I don’t know about you, but I’m more productive when I’m calm and collected.  Mary helps me get there with her daily meditations.  When I need a few mindful minutes, she is there to guide and enlighten me.

Outstanding Episode: Release Negative Thoughts

10. Social Sidekick Podcast with Laurie Solgon

Laurie created this show to inspire and encourage side-hustlers and fledgling entrepreneurs.  In weekly interviews, she speaks with dynamic businesspeople about their strategies, successes, and how they escaped the 9 to 5 rat race.

Outstanding Episode: Jen Monks, Life Wise Lady Blog (shameless plug alert) 

11. Less Than Or Equal with Aleen Simms

Aleen celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of women and minorities in technology.  Her guests discuss news in S.T.E.M. as it pertains to groups who struggle to be heard and often face inequality in their fields.

Outstanding Episode: Karen Catlin – Advocacy and Mentorship in Tech

12. Jump Start Your Joy with Paula Jenkins

 Paula finds guests with inspirational stories who followed their dreams.  The discussions often cover the adversity these people overcame to ultimately create a joyful life.

Outstanding Episode: The Astonishing Power of Choosing Joy When You Feel Stuck

13. The CourageMakers Podcast with Meg Kissack

 This show was designed to motivate creatives to pursue their passions and overcome their fears.  Every Monday a new courage maker shares her experiences and offers advice on how to get beyond the things that scare you.

Outstanding Episode: Depression, Feeling Worthy, & Finding Hope with Meaghan Gallant

14. Positive Productivity with Kim Sutton

As a mompreneur of five children (whoa), Kim has learned a few things about productivity and squeezing the most out of each moment.  Her guests give you tips and strategies to set and achieve goals without feeling overwhelmed.

Outstanding Episode: Oops! I Burnt MYSELF Out!

15. She Did It Her Way Podcast with Amanda Boleyn

Amanda “is on a mission to help more women succeed and break into the entrepreneurial world.” Her guests give you the woman’s perspective on what it’s like to launch and nurture a business. With a new show each Monday, topics range from product creation to online marketing to mindset training.

Outstanding Episode: Forget the Haters with Ariel Hyatt

 

Well, that’s my list of 15 Motivational Podcasts For Women Who Love Business.  I’ve included some bigger names and a few lesser-known ladies from which to choose. What do you think?  Did I forget to mention one of your favorite shows?  Please let me know in the comment section below.

Life is better when we lift each other up.

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5 Powerful Ways Of Combating Loneliness On The Job

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you.

It’s striking that you’re not alone when you withstand periods of profound isolation.  Recent surveys show a dramatic increase in feelings of chronic loneliness in adults over the last few decades.  Researchers now claim levels range between twenty-five and forty percent of the population. That means as many as seventy-eight million people in the United States crave more social contact than they currently experience.

These feelings are not reserved for the socially awkward or shy.  You can be popular, in a romantic relationship, or occupy an office with fifty coworkers and still grapple with a sense of isolation.  People of all personality types suffer mentally and physically because they are starved for meaningful contact.  Those who are persistently lonely often exhibit signs of depression, anxiety, and early cognitive decline.  In fact, studies reveal they have lowered immune and cardiovascular systems and a higher mortality rate than obese people.

 Related: Overcoming Shyness After 40; Why Now Is The Right Time

Most experts point to technological advancements as the primary reason we are combating loneliness in record numbers.  After all, cell phones, cable, and social media make it possible for us to live in a virtual bubble.  These tools help us communicate, but interfere with intimacy.  In her book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, MIT professor Sheryl Turkle describes how our relationships are being damaged by daily online interactions.

 

 

Even work has evolved into a solitary endeavor where we email and text our way through projects and problems until the day is done.  While on break, we check our Facebook or Twitter accounts or shop online.  It’s no wonder we experience feelings of detachment from time to time.  The struggle lies in our unwillingness to change routines and become part of to the office community.  If you’re open to forming or improving your human connections, here are 5 powerful ways of combating loneliness on the job:

1. Exercise: Work It, Girl!

Why not be extra efficient and combine social bonding with physical activity?  Talk about killing two birds with one stone!  Ask a few peers if they’d like to jog or bike or go to the gym before or after work.  You could even get together on the weekend for tennis, golf or a yoga class.  These face-to-face interactions could lead to additional get-togethers and develop casual friendships.

If you can’t find a willing office mate or you work from home, you’ll have to be more resourceful.  Consider using apps to pair you with exercise or sports partners in your area.  While this approach won’t add to your work connections, it will expand your network and get you talking.  Here are a few options to investigate:

 

2. Midday: Are You Free For Lunch?

Has an endless parade of sandwiches and leftovers made you tired of brown-bagging it every day?  If your answer to that question is yes, then get out of the office and bring someone with you.  According to the Food Marketing Institute, forty-five percent of adults now eat lunch alone.  So, make a promise to yourself to ask a coworker to lunch once a week or as often as you can afford.  At first, this may be uncomfortable, but after a few successful outings, you may look forward to it.

If you simply can’t bring yourself to ask in person or you work alone, there are websites that make it easy to arrange a lunch date that is either friendly or romantic.  Remember, when combating loneliness; you must increase your opportunities for social interaction.  So, don’t forget to include your love life.  If you work anywhere near your partner, an occasional lunch date may reduce feelings of alienation. Others may find it necessary to use sites like these to find a mealtime companion:

 

 

3. Charitable Acts: Any Volunteers?

Volunteering makes you feel good.  It also puts you in close proximity to other do-gooders and those who desperately need assistance.  Many companies encourage employees to participate in existing volunteer programs on and off the clock.  This could be a fantastic opportunity to join your peers and make a difference in your community while getting to know them.

When working for a smaller business, it’s more likely you’ll have to take the initiative and start a donation or volunteer program yourself.  While this may be socially awkward, you’ll have a vote on which organizations benefit from the collective generosity.  You could ask peers to donate non-perishables to a local food bank or blankets to an animal shelter or supplies to a school in a poorer community.  The possibilities and needs are endless.  For more options, try:

 

4. Technology: Fighting Fire With Fire

Whether you’re chained to a desk or your office is located remotely, your smartphone and computer will likely be the tools used for combating loneliness.  In this case, your only alternative may be to utilize video calling apps to engage with friends and colleagues and get the face-to-face contact you need.  Fortunately, there’s a wide array of choices depending upon the devices at your disposal.  Here are a few to mull over:

 

5. Support: Time To Get Serious

Perhaps you’ve noticed your mood or mental state have been drifting toward the dark side for a while.  Feelings of isolation often lead to depression and anxiety.  It may be time to cut this off at the pass by participating in a support group or seeking therapy. Just click on the links below to get the process started.

  • Loneliness.SupportGroups.com has over 45,000 members who join discussions, create posts, and send private messages to each other.  There are dozens of other support groups on the site to help you through the rough patches in life.

  • GoodTherapy.org reaches an estimated seven million people per month.  It’s one of the largest therapist directories on the internet and has an informative blog with articles on various topics to inform and support you.

  •  Theravive.com is a network of licensed clinical therapists and psychologists dedicated to getting you the assistance you need.  You can find workshops, seminars, and therapists in your area.  The best feature may be the online and phone counselor listings that allow you to conduct sessions via webcam, phone, email, and instant messenger if you live in a rural area.

Combating loneliness on the job isn’t trivial, it’s an epidemic affecting millions of people.  Perhaps one of these approaches will ease your pain when you experience a sense of isolation.  There are, of course, other methods of staving off feelings of profound isolation.  What tools and techniques do you use to stay connected at work?  Let us know in the comment section below.

Life is better when we lift each other up.

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11 Breathtaking Cindy Gallop Quotes About Equality

Cindy Gallop is an outspoken champion of women in the workforce.  When she speaks, people in the corporate world sit up, take notice, and often cringe.  She doesn’t care.  As the chair of the U.S. branch of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, a global advertising agency, she was known to make waves in the male-dominated industry.

She has since utilized her considerable influence and experience to found the startups IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn.  She also wrote a book on the latter, Make Love Not Porn: Technology’s Hardcore Impact On Human Behavior.  Her 2009 TED talk on the topic has received almost two million views on YouTube.  Here are 11 breathtaking Cindy Gallop quotes about equality that helped catapult her to celebrity status and become the business crush of thousands.  

“I deplore the shying away that can go on, within women, from the term ‘feminist.’  I am, absolutely, all about being a feminist.”

“I like to describe myself as a proudly visible member of the most invisible segment of our society – older women.”

“Women who play it the way the men do, play by the men’s rules, are seen as domineering, aggressive bitches.”

 

 

“I am all for the Lean In movement.  But the Lean In movement is all about how women can win while working within the existing corporate structure and the existing system and the existing world of business.  I don’t want you to do that.  I want you to redesign it.”

“You’ll never own the future if you care what other people think.”

“I realized I was an attractive older woman who never wanted to settle down.”

“If I ran the world, I would find a way to bring the wealth of human good intentions and corporate good intentions together – to activate them collectively into shared action against shared objectives that produces shared hard, tangible results.”

 

“My personal cause and platform, if you like, is women’s rights and women’s issues.”

“Women challenge the status quo because we are never it.”

“Do you have a different point of view from the men?  Say so!  Do you see an all male environment in your agency?  Call it out and do something about it!”

“I idolize every woman who has ever fought to make equality happen for all of us.”

Related Reading: 17 Powerful Quotes by Pioneering Businesswomen

So, what do you think of these provocative Cindy Gallop quotes?  Does she go over the top or is she right on the money?  I wrote an extensive post on the struggles of career women, including a bit of advice from her.  Check it out here.   Whether you like her or not, Cindy is here to stay.  Is she your business crush or do you have someone else in mind?  Leave a comment below and let’s keep this conversation going.

Photo: Eva Blue

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Why A Physical Attractiveness Stereotype Crushes Opportunities

Nearly everyone understands by the time they’re adolescents that appearances matter.  You see beauty and sexuality emphasized consistently in ads, movies, television shows, and social media.  Dating services portray people on their sites as attractive and eager to meet you.  Anti-aging products are hocked to women by twenty-something-year-old models with no spots or wrinkles.  Viagra ads suggest to men if they take the pill they’ll be able to bed a gorgeous woman, just like the one in the commercial.  We’re barraged with messages that reinforce the notion looks trump substance.

The pressure to be attractive extends to your professional life as well. But, landing a job you’re qualified for or getting the promotion you’ve earned shouldn’t depend on the size of your waistline or the prominence of your nose.  After all, you don’t comb your hair with a fork or require a formal introduction to dental floss!  However, growing evidence supports the theory that looks play a significant role in your career development and income.  Therefore, it’s imperative to learn why a physical attractiveness stereotype crushes opportunities for most people.

Who’s The Fairest Of Them All?

Let’s say you’re in the market for a new job.  You get your resume reviewed and edited by a professional and eagerly apply for several positions.  This, along with a snazzy cover letter ought to secure you a few interviews.  Beauty isn’t a consideration at this point, right?  Alas, most companies have been using ‘social screening’ for years to evaluate applicants.  It’s a process where hiring managers use your social media accounts to determine if you’re a viable candidate.  And unless you have picture-free profiles, your appearance is part of the package.  According to a recent poll conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder, sixty percent of employers surveyed used social networking platforms for hiring purposes.  Maybe this is old news to you.  No biggie.

Well, there is an abundance of research that emphasize the advantages of being good looking.  In a field experiment conducted by the University of Buenos Aires, researchers found that resumes submitted with photos of attractive applicants were 36 percent more likely to be given a callback.  If that’s not discouraging enough, studies by economist Daniel S. Hamermesh found that beautiful people are often offered higher salaries.  In fact, Hamermesh wrote a fascinating, yet disturbing book on the topic, Beauty Pays.  In it, he explains how companies can justify and afford to pay a premium for attractive employees.

 

 

Eyes Without A Face

Obviously, hiring based on a person’s looks is wrong.  The practice squanders human resources and reinforces stereotypes.  We can only wonder how often brilliant applicants are passed over for eye-catching mediocrity.  You also have to wonder how it affects office morale.  How can we reduce this type of discrimination?

Both businesses and governments have shown increasing interest in implementing blind or anonymous processes to review applicants.  This means more companies are attempting to reduce cues for conscious or unconscious bias in hopes of hiring more women and minorities.  It stands to reason this approach will also benefit older and less attractive prospects as well.  Current trends and strategies used include:

  • Omitting name, gender, and photos from resumes

  • Offering online questionnaires

  • Conducting telephone interviews

  • Positioning a candidate behind a screen during an interview

  • Eliminating social screening from the hiring process

Perhaps these tactics bring more diversity to the workforce and result in better positions and more money to those who have previously been discriminated against based on their looks.  However, instituting these procedures is purely voluntary on behalf of companies.  There are currently no laws mandating blind or anonymous hiring practices in the United States.  Also, businesses may be reluctant to change existing systems based on the added expense.  As a result, progress in the area is bound to be slow.

Related Reading: 11 Breathtaking Cindy Gallop Quotes About Equality

It’s easy to see why a physical attractiveness stereotype crushes opportunities for job seekers.  Pretty people continue to have the upper hand for now.  Perhaps in time, the statistics will change.  In the meantime, we’ll have to continue keeping up appearances to receive the highest pay possible.  Just like Mom always said, “Life isn’t fair.”

What are your thoughts?  Should companies be legally obligated to use blind interviewing to reduce stereotyping and increase fairness in hiring practices?  Share your experiences.

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Overcoming Shyness After 40; Why Now Is The Right Time

Have you ever scheduled an interview, a date, or a meeting and needed to give yourself a pep talk before the big moment?  You took a deep breath and swallowed hard, telling yourself, “I can do this.”  Suddenly a wave of nervous energy crashed over you, and a familiar voice flooded your mind with doubt.  “What if they don’t like me?  I’m going to make a fool of myself.  I can’t do this.”  Then reluctantly, yet with a sense of relief, you canceled the event.  By not overcoming shyness you have missed out on countless life experiences as well as business opportunities.  You are not alone.

According to Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci, P.h.D., head of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast, about 40% of adults worldwide believe they are shy.  And as a result, they are less likely to advance in their careers and not surprisingly, have fewer social connections.  Does this scenario sound familiar?

 

Don’t Play Coy With Me!

At this point, you might be asking, “Was I born this way?”  That’s a good question.  While Scientists debate whether there’s a gene that causes shyness, Carducci does not believe people are born with it.  He writes, “shyness is characterized by three major features: excessive self-consciousness, excessive negative self-evaluation, and excessive negative self-preoccupation.  All three characteristic features of shyness involve a sense of self.  And the sense of self does not develop until approximately 18 months of age.”  And there doesn’t appear to be one single cause for this affliction either.  Perhaps your shyness stems from your temperament, personality, upbringing or a combination of all three.

Keep in mind; I am not referring to a social anxiety disorder.  That’s significantly more serious than being bashful.  If you hyperventilate or need to make a pitstop for adult diapers at the thought of attending a social or networking event, you should probably get some professional help.  I battled both shyness and panic attacks in my life.  And I assure you, they are completely different.  You can read about my struggles here. 

I’m not talking about introverts either.  They feel comfortable spending time alone and prefer solitary activities.  Timid people, however, long to interact and participate in activities and gatherings, but don’t feel capable.  So, what’s the secret to overcoming shyness as a mature adult?  You have probably tried to conquer it in the past or hoped to outgrow it by now, but shyness isn’t going away on its own.  Perhaps the time is right to consider a few new resources.

 

Podcasts: Keep Calm And Listen On

I listen to several podcasts on varying topics each week.  I find them to be educational and entertaining.  Whether in my car, on the treadmill, or cleaning the house, hitting the play button on my phone makes these mundane tasks seem more enjoyable.  Here are three highly rated podcasts that may help in overcoming shyness.  You can find them on iTunes.

 

Shyness.com: Plant Food For Shrinking Violets

Shyness.com is a comprehensive catalog of resources for those seeking treatment for this problem.  Sponsored by The Shyness Institute in Berkely, California, this website is packed with helpful information.  You can find suggested books, research, therapists, training programs, meditations, and more.  Dr. Lynne Henderson, P.h.D., is the director of this research facility.  Listen her speak about shyness in the workplace in a fascinating radio interview here.

 

Hypnosis: You Are Getting Very Sleepy-

The fair-minded part of you may be intrigued by this potential remedy while your skeptical side may have a few doubts.  As it turns out, clinical hypnosis, self-hypnosis, and sleep hypnosis have been used successfully to treat everything from shyness and anxiety to asthma and irritable bowel syndrome.  Famous athletes and top business people have used this focused, guided imagery for years to enhance performance.

The British Medical Association has concluded that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for phobias and anxiety-related issues.  While it does not work for everyone, it may well be worth a try.  The National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists can help you locate a professional near you.

 

 

Related Reading: Midlife Reinvention; Is it Time for a Professional Pivot?

 It’s never too late.  You don’t have to live your remaining years on the sideline and continue to miss out on social experiences and business opportunities.  What have you got to lose?  Overcoming shyness after age 40 is possible if you are willing to be open-minded and consider trying new techniques.  Or, perhaps you have already conquered this demon.  If you have, please help us all and share your secret in the comment section below.

Life is better when we lift each other up.

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How Delaying Gratification Results In Remarkable Success

Is waiting for something I want worth it?  That’s a question you ask yourself daily.  If you overeat, the jeans may not fit later.  Although you don’t have enough money saved, that new laptop could go on the credit card.  Your family wants to go on vacation, but that money could go toward business classes to improve your resume.  These are uncomfortable choices for most of us.  However, you probably know people who are quite adept at using their willpower.  They seem to turn off desire like a light switch.  And, as a result, they are successful in nearly all facets of life.  Those perfect jerks!  You want this power, don’t you?  Yeah, me too.  Why are some people better at delaying gratification and how does it help them become successful?

Like Giving Candy To A Baby

Standford professor, Walter Mischel published the marshmallow experiment in 1972.  His team tested hundreds of small children for self-control.  A researcher sat each kid in a private room and placed a marshmallow in front of her.  The child was then offered a choice.  She could eat the candy after the assistant left the room for several minutes or wait until the assistant returned to give her a second marshmallow.  As you can imagine, most of the children fidgeted and pondered and quickly gave into temptation.  But one-third of the kids held out for the bigger prize.

The research team conducted follow-up studies for decades.  They found the children who used willpower and waited for the second candy grew up to demonstrate more tolerance for stress, earn higher SAT scores, and exhibit greater social competence than those who gobbled down the first candy.  In 1989, the study concluded, “To function effectively, individuals must voluntarily postpone immediate gratification and persist in goal-directed behavior for the sake of later outcomes.”  Those who were capable of putting more value on the greater reward were effective at delaying gratification and benefitted academically and socially because of it.

To be truthful, I don’t know that I would have held out for the second marshmallow as a child.  But only because I hate marshmallows and wouldn’t have wanted another one.  I have my weaknesses, though.  Offer me a nice glass of wine or some dark chocolate, and I’ll squirm like one of the kids in the experiment.  My point is, people are more complicated than any study will show.

Perhaps you’re a dedicated worker, but you are a compulsive eater.  Maybe you exercise like a champ, then follow it up by blowing your monthly budget on clothes.  Professor Mischel refers to these reoccurring weaknesses as “hot spots,” and he believes we all have them.  If your hot spot is spending money, click here to find out how I paid off 40k in debt within two years.

 

It’s All In Your Head

I won’t get all textbook-y on you here, but it’s important to understand how the willpower process works.  The ventral striatum is the pleasure center of the brain.  It is the part of your mind that responds to the potential for immediate reward.  To bypass impulses from this area, the prefrontal cortex (in charge of rational thought), must be active.  As a person grows, the reasoning portion of the brain matures, and he or she learns how to deal with or avoid temptations.  This is why adults are better at self-control than children and adolescents.

However, we are all born into different environments.  If you were raised by people who frequently broke promises, you might have realized waiting for a fictional reward was useless.  Additionally, if you grew up poor, scarcity may have prompted you to choose immediate gratification.  One in the hand is better than two in the bush!  But that kind of thinking won’t help you reach your goals or overcome your indulgences now.

What’s She Got That I Haven’t Got?

It’s amazing to me how some people command incredible control over their desires.  They save money, exercise daily, eat right, and never make impulse purchases.  What’s the secret?  It’s all about the way they look at temptation.  People who successfully delay gratification believe they’ll be rewarded for sacrifice.  In addition, they’re able to put more emphasis on future pleasures than immediate ones.  Well, YIPPY for them!  I know what you’re asking; How does that help me?

According to Professor Mischel, both our biology and our psychology contribute to our overall self-control.  It’s not all predetermined by our DNA.  That means there’s hope for all of us.  We can learn how to increase our willpower and train it like a muscle.  However, this muscle can be fatigued.  According to the American Psychological Association, people who are subjected to repeated temptation are less likely to continue resisting the temptation.  They are “willpower-depleted.”  None of us make good decisions when we’re tired.

Can You Spare Some Change?

There are many different strategies to boost self-control.  You have probably tried several.  I’ll list the more common tactics I’ve used over the years that resulted in moderate success in delaying gratification:

  • Writing down both long-term and short-term goals

  • Having a daily schedule and routine

  • Eliminating exposure to temptations

“Been there, done that,” you say, “What else ya got?”  Those are great approaches, but you need more to get the ball rolling.  I know I feel the same way.  Here are some actions that you may not have tried yet:

  • Get an app to assist you.  There are numerous software programs designed to make it easier to reach goals and resist temptations.  Gympact rewards you with cash as an incentive to achieve your fitness objectives.   Level alerts you when you are overspending.  Quit That helps reinforce healthy habits and banish unhealthy ones by tracking your progress and updating you on how much money you’ve saved from quitting smoking or drinking coffee or alcohol, etc.   

  • Read The Willpower Instinct, by psychologist Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.  In the book, I found useful advice and exercises to help me make better choices through nutrition, fitness, and sleep.  Buy this one for yourself or a close friend.  I’m not so sure gifting this one to your boss or mother is such a great idea if you know what I mean.  It is a great read, though.

  • Get some help already!  If you’ve tried everything else, why not seek outside assistance?  Enough with the stigma about seeing a mental health professional in order to tackle this or any other recurring problems in your life.  The American Psychological Association can assist you in locating a qualified psychologist in your area.

At this point, I hope you are inspired to increase your impulse control and willpower.  It’s not just a talent given to some at birth.  Delaying gratification is possible if you understand and change how you think about temptations.  If you begin to choose anticipation over immediate reward, you’ll strengthen this ‘muscle’ and perhaps conquer a bad habit or two.

Do you have any tips or advice to overcome chronic indulgences?  If so, let me know in the comments section below.

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11 Midlife Career Change Ideas That Don’t Suck

Want to know what’s wrong with most lists of midlife career change ideas?  They SUCK!  That’s right; I said it.  That is unless you inherited a large sum of money, don’t need to rely on a realistic income or you relish the idea of starting a four-year degree program in your forties or fifties.

Many similar lists describe great, high paying positions requiring a bachelor’s or master’s degree or are full of jobs that almost anyone can qualify for, but the pay is lousy.  My guess is, you have a pile of bills to pay.  I understand.  There’s a mortgage, car payment, food, medical insurance, and cell phone plan to contend with every month.  Some midlifers are also footing the bill for their kids’ college tuition.  Ouch!

So, let’s get real.  In order for the majority of midlife career changes to be possible, they have to be long on financial rewards and short on educational requirements.  Face it, if you’re reading this post, you’re no spring chicken.  Sorry.  Yet you still might be looking at over twenty years of full-time employment.

How do you make the most of the time you have left in the workforce and still make a decent wage?  By choosing a new profession that pays at least $40,000 annually and won’t take more than two years of additional education to qualify for.  That’s a tall order, but not impossible to fill.  So, without further delay, here are my 11 midlife career change ideas:

1. Surgical Technologist:

Scrub techs, as they are sometimes called, prep patients and operating rooms for surgery.  In addition, they sterilize instruments and supplies and hand them to surgeons during procedures.  Obviously, to be a good candidate, the sight of blood shouldn’t make you light-headed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for this position is a surprising $44,330 and the job outlook for the next several years is good.  Training programs of one or two years are available at community colleges and vocational schools. Learn more from the Association of Surgical Technologists.

2. Wind Turbine Service Technician:

You weren’t expecting that one, were you?  With the expansion of the green energy industry, job openings for this position are on the rise.  If you don’t mind working several hundred feet in the air in tight spaces, this could be the career for you.  There are even offshore wind turbines to be fixed and maintained if that tickles your fancy.  The typical annual salary for technicians is $51,050.  An associate’s degree from a tech school or community college is required.  Most companies will offer and require additional on-the-job training.  For further information, go to WindTurbineTechnicians.net.

 3. Paralegal Assistant:

No, you won’t get to make objections in court or make an emotional closing argument to a jury as a PA.  They work behind the scenes conducting interviews, drafting documents and verifying information for lawyers in their firm.  While the legal field is not as glamorous or dramatic as shows like Law & Order would have you believe, this is a respectable position with a median pay of $48,810 .  An associate’s degree or certificate in paralegal studies is required.  ParalegalEDU.org has additional details on the courses and training you may need.

4. Licensed Practical Nurse:

LPNs usually work in hospitals and are supervised by registered nurses.  Duties include taking vital signs, administering medications, changing dressings, and performing CPR in emergencies.  Is it just me, or does this sound remarkably similar to the job description of a parent?  Yes, but the pay is better.  The median salary for an LPN is $43,170 per year but varies by region.  Training programs at colleges take one or two years to complete and most states require licensure.  Due to shortages in certain locations, employers may even offer a signing bonus, tuition reimbursement or other incentives.  Get additional facts from the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses.

 5. Computer User Support Specialist:

That title is a mouth full, don’t you think?  Otherwise known as help desk technicians (HDTs), they troubleshoot and provide assistance to computer users, usually via phone or email.  These specialists identify and solve hardware, software, and operating system problems for people within their company, clients or end users.  HDTs are the techy super-heroes you call after banging your head on your keyboard in frustration.  They make a good median salary of $51,470 per year.  Education requirements vary widely.  Many employers ask for a bachelor’s degree in computer science while others only require a two-year degree.  For information on how to become a computer user support specialist, click here.

6. Social Media Manager:

Yes, you can earn a decent living by becoming media and tech savvy.  That will be handy when you want to spy on your kid’s Instagram account.  A thorough understanding of programs like PhotoShop and social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest is a must.  Larger companies will require a bachelor’s degree in marketing or communications.  However, some smaller businesses will accept a two-year degree.  Classes can be taken to fill in any skills gaps you have.  For a list of several certification courses, click here.  Candidates with little experience or education should not expect to make the median salary of $47,190.

 7. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer:

This might be my favorite of the health-related jobs on this list because it pays well and involves almost no handling of body fluids.  Yay!   A medical sonographer operates equipment that creates images through the use of sound waves.  The images are recorded and given to a physician to aid in the diagnostic process.  This field requires at least an associate’s degree and certification or licensing from your state.  The median salary is a whopping $63,630 per year.  Learn more through the American Registry for  Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

8. Court Reporter:

Stenographers or Stenotype operators, as they are often called, produce transcripts of court proceedings using voice writing equipment or machine shorthand.  The 2015 median pay for this position is decent at $49,500.  Great listening skills are a must.  In other words, chatterboxes need not apply.  Candidates must complete a court reporting program at a community college or dedicated court reporter school.  CourtReporterEDU.org can answer any additional questions you may have.

 9. Occupational Therapy Assistant:

OTAs work under the supervision of an occupational therapist.  Duties include guiding patients through exercises and making them cry.  Or, perhaps that was just my own personal experience.  In any case, they provide treatments to clients, monitor progress, and report the results to the therapist in charge.  OTAs earn an impressive median salary of $54,520 and need only an associate’s degree in occupational therapy assisting and state licensing.  Not a bad return on investment.  The American Occupational Therapy Association has more details.

Related Reading: 25 Fantastic Facebook Groups for Midlifers and Boomers

10. Criminal Investigator:

Remember the campy detective shows you grew up with like Magnum P.I. or Charlie’s Angels?  Well, this career rarely involves car chases, black-tie events, or bathing suits.  Bummer.  Private investigators gather information through interviews, court records, surveillance, and the internet.  They report their findings to law enforcement, corporations or the individuals who hire them.  The median pay for this job is $45,610 per year.  The education needed can vary from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.  Professional Investigator Magazine lists the license requirements for each state.

11. Dental Hygienist:

I personally get the heebie-jeebies when I think about reaching into someone else’s mouth, but maybe you are mentally tougher than me.  If you are on the fence about this one, know that the median pay is an eye-popping $72,330.  That might get you to say, “Open wide!”  Hygienists clean teeth, make dental impressions, remove orthodontic appliances and perform a host of other tasks.  You will need to complete a two-year degree in dental hygiene and get a state license.  Learn more through the American Dental Hygienists Association.

Well, there you have it, my list of 11 midlife career change ideas that don’t suck. What do you think?  Did I leave off any well-paying jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree or more?  Let me know in the comment section below.

Remember, life is better when we lift each other up.

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7 Deadliest Sins of the Struggling Career Woman

I can be a decent listener, capable of encouragement and guidance.  But, sometimes, it becomes evident that my role in a conversation is not that of a problem solver, but of a sounding board.  Uh-oh!  That’s when my thoughts drift, and I must mentally resist the urge to retreat to my ‘happy place.’  It’s not a lack of compassion that compels me to disengage, but an unclear understanding of the other person’s expectations.  What’s my role in this situation?  Admittedly, I’m more comfortable rolling up my sleeves and finding a solution than offering comfort or lending an ear.  I’d have made a lousy bartender.

This familiar scenario played out for me recently.  A young career woman confided to me her professional woes, and I began to cringe mentally.  As she spoke of office politics and dilemmas, I realized she was committing the same work-related sins I had in years past.  Her penance will likely be fewer opportunities for advancement and less money than her peers.  Was I supposed to offer counsel or merely listen?  Perhaps I should have posed that question, but I didn’t.  She didn’t solicit input and I didn’t volunteer it.

Now I can’t help but wonder if I let her down.  As a more mature person, I could have offered to mentor her.  I certainly don’t have all the answers, but it was clear she needed assistance and might have learned from my years in business.  Although, in my defense, nothing is more eye-roll worthy than unsolicited advice.  I didn’t want to be that person.

Still, I do want to pass on what I have learned through experience, research, and advice from the older career women in my life.  Missteps can be avoided if a person is made aware of sins that can halt her career or trap her in the purgatory of middle management.  By the way, my use of the word sins is soaked in sarcasm, if you hadn’t noticed.  I don’t believe women are behaving immorally or poorly at work!  Saying that, it’s time to get on with it.  These are, in my judgment, 7 of the deadliest sins of the struggling career woman:

1. Perfectionism: Can I Have Another Eraser?

Ah, my Achilles’ heel.  I regularly fight the overwhelming temptation to commit this sin.  You can read more about my epic struggles with perfection and anxiety here.  I am a master at consistently tweaking or delaying projects because they need to be precise.

I used to consider this trait a virtue.  As if it were noble and I should highlight it on my resume as one of my top skills.  More often, it has worn me down and stressed me out.  You can’t receive a negative review if your work is flawless, right?  Exhausting.

Perfectionism is ultimately a productivity killer and results in procrastination.  Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, says, “Trying to do it all and expecting that it can be done exactly right is a recipe for disappointment.  Perfection is the enemy.”  Accept your flaws and move forward in spite of them.

 

2. Humility: Aw, Shucks

Let’s face it; females are taught to be nurturing and supportive from the time they can crawl.  Society encourages cooperation and teamwork from little girls while flaunting and exhibitionism are discouraged.  As a result, women have difficulty boasting or taking credit for achievements.

For example, the college diploma I worked so hard to attain is mounted, not so prominently, on the wall behind my office door.  Why?  I didn’t want to seem like a braggart.  Palm meet forehead!  Maybe it’s time to display that diploma on my front door with flashing arrows pointing to it.  Okay, maybe I’ll hang it above my desk where everyone can see it.  Yeah, I earned that.

Not surprisingly, women often claim to have been lucky in their careers rather than duly rewarded for performance.  This is the exact opposite of how men feel about their success.  Recently, the American Political Science Association released the results of a study called Gender Inequality and Deliberative Participation.  In it, the authors asserted, “Women, who tend not to be as self-promoting or even as boastful as men will, are often promoted for past and proven experience rather than the belief in their potential.”

That makes climbing the corporate ladder tougher for us.  If you are going to successfully compete for the top jobs, be bold.  Get comfy with tooting your own horn.

3. Immobility: Your Tree Roots are Showing

Nobody expects to work for an employer for decades anymore.  Corporations are sold, layoffs happen, companies move.  Some people do manage to keep their jobs in spite of all the changes. But what are they sacrificing?

The reluctance to leave a stable position for a new one every few years could be hurting women in certain work environments.  If you look up after thirty-six months on the job and there aren’t more women in middle and upper management than the day you started, it might be time to exit, stage left.

According to a LinkedIn survey of over 4,000 women who recently changed jobs, their top reasons for leaving were “concern for the lack of advancement opportunity” and “dissatisfaction with the work environment/culture.”  These women were demanding opportunity and voting with their feet.  Don’t be afraid to move on.

4. Inauthenticity: You Big Phony!

This sin drives me crazy.  Are we supposed to be real or fake it till we make it?  Either way, many of us frequently feel like frauds and fear we will be found out at any moment.  I can just picture the blogger police barging in and seizing my laptop right now.

This prevalent anxiety has a name.  Back in the late 70s, it was dubbed the Imposter Phenomenon by psychology Professor Pauline Rose Clance.  The premise was that women suffered from this so-called syndrome because they could not easily accept praise or compliments and thought themselves unworthy of status and position.

It may offer some comfort to know, recent studies have shown that men often endure this same insecurity.  They simply don’t talk about it as frequently.  Women seem far more likely to acknowledge and discuss their feelings of self-doubt.  But, just how much that openness damages women’s careers in comparison to men’s is not yet known.  As a precaution, be careful who you confess your fears to at work.  They could be seen as weaknesses.

 

 5. Autonomy: I’ll Do it Myself, Thank You

What has feminism taught us over the years?  I’m not talking about bra burning. That’s a bad thing.  I’m referring to self-reliance.  That’s a good thing.  We are every bit as capable as men, after all.  But, are we sacrificing the critical skills of asking for help and delegating tasks all for the sake of independence?

Martine Van den Poel, executive coach at INSEAD Global Leadership Centre, surveyed fifty-one certified executive coaches to determine if women had a more difficult time delegating than men.  She also asked what ‘blocking factors’ kept women from assigning responsibilities to subordinates.

While 51% of these coaches felt men and women had similar challenges with delegating, 41% felt women had a ‘bigger’ or even ‘much bigger’ struggle with appointing duties to others.  Based on their experiences, the experts determined men and women had different reasons for resisting the task.  A high sense of personal responsibility and a fear of failure were the top two blocking factors for women.  A need for control and the feeling they could perform a task more quickly were the leading reasons men avoided delegation.

The bottom line is, poor leaders micromanage.  Great leaders reduce overload and empower others by entrusting important duties to them.  Learn to let go.

Related Reading: 15 Motivational Podcasts for Women Who Love Business

6. Apprehensiveness: Wallflower Syndrome

Even when women are involved in high-level decision making, we don’t speak up enough.  In part, because we are often outnumbered by men.  Researchers at BYU and Princeton found women speak 25% less than men do when they are in a collaborative group assigned to solving a problem.  Interestingly, this divide was virtually eliminated when the group was instructed to vote on a solution based on a unanimous decision rather than majority rule.

Companies could change how they come to big decisions by making it a consensus-building process and not an up or down vote.  I’ll just drop in a reference to ‘when pigs fly’ or ‘a snowball’s chance’ on that happening soon.  Cindy Gallop, a former ad exec and brazen advocate for women in business points out, “You can’t be satisfied with just a seat at the table; you have to actively participate in the conversation.”  You must be willing to speak up, even when you are in the minority.

7. Complacency:  Curb Your Enthusiasm, Please

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.  Women are not complacent!  How can I suggest otherwise?  While it’s true they typically start a new position with the same level of excitement and career expectations as men; women can experience a drop in aspirations by more than sixty percent in as little as two years.

According to a study of over 1000 men and women conducted by Bain & Company, the professional ambition of males examined held steady after twenty-four months while it plummeted for females.  Why the erosion of enthusiasm?  The ladies questioned didn’t feel their bosses supported or were aware of their goals.

The solution to this problem is two-fold.  First, management must make more of an effort to engage female employees and acknowledge their ambitions.  Honestly, though, no woman in her right mind would expect corporate change to come quick enough.  By the time your boss gets around to asking you where you see yourself in five years, your answer might be “In a retirement village in Miami.”

Second, and more importantly, you must be vocal about your short and long-term goals.  Schedule a sit down with a supervisor or discuss your aspirations during an annual review.  It could open new doors.

 

So, that’s my list of the 7 deadliest sins of the struggling career woman.  Obviously, corporate America has to implement major changes to level the playing field for us.  However, my hope is that these tips compel you to evaluate your work situation and perhaps, alter the behaviors that could be holding you back from an amazing professional life.  What sins did I leave off the list?  Let me know in the comment section below.

Life is better when we lift each other up.