Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Personal Development

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to personal development.

The Easiest Way to Stay Motivated Every Day

Henry Stanley was a famous explorer who mapped out the Congo River. Despite running into a multitude of problems, he stayed motivated by shaving every day. Can doing something so simple really create motivation?

This video by the Improvement Pill suggests creating a cue, which is something that triggers an emotion or habit, is in fact the solution. It’s common to go through times when you feel unmotivated to get your tasks done at work and in your personal life. So, it could be worth a try to find something you do on your successful days and repeat it every day.

Stop Setting Goals and Do This Instead

Fitbits, smart watches and other fitness tracking devices have become popular in the last year. Everyone is determined to hit their daily step goal, but what happens after you hit it? You feel happy and then move on to thinking about the next goal to hit.

The same goes for work. Think of a job in sales, it can be all about hitting a certain number monthly and after you hit it, you just seek out the next number to reach. This small and anticlimactic “high” is the problem according to a video by Big Think. See why they suggest setting a system that will set you in motion to achieving long-term goals instead.

How Busy IT Contractors Can Eat Healthier

How Busy Contractors Can Eat HealthierAn independent contractor’s day is typically jam-packed. You may be jumping from meeting to meeting, reading documents, getting lost in code or any of the hundreds of items required just to run your business. Between all that, it’s not uncommon to have a small lunch break (if any at all) and in that time, you may not be as eating as healthy as you could be.

We shared a post late last year advocating staying in shape and the benefits it can have on your career. In addition to exercise, eating properly is the best and easiest way to get into shape. When you skip lunch, eat quick unhealthy meals, or indulge in the wrong snacks, you’re immediately falling behind in your quest to be healthy.

Eating healthy at work, even in your busiest days, is often just a matter of planning ahead and being prepared. In other cases, it can be a bit more challenging. Here are few simple tips you can take away that will drastically improve your weekday diet:

  • Bring a Healthy Lunch and Snacks. Bringing your own lunch and snacks gives you complete control over what you are going to eat that day. Having it pre-made also means that you won’t grab something unhealthy in a pinch while you’re in a rush.
  • Prepare Before the Workday. Not having a healthy lunch at work is often the result of the busy lifestyle IT contractors lead. But simple things like extending that healthy supper so there are leftovers and doing the proper grocery shopping will ensure you have the right items to bring when you’re not working from home.
  • Only Eat Because You’re Hungry. Often we grab a snack because something smells good or you’re just bored. Instead, resist the temptations, grab a glass of water or go for a walk.
  • Bring Healthy Snacks. If it is a snack you need, then have one but have a healthy one. Fruits, vegetables, smoothies and nuts can all be great snacks that will fill you up.
  • Beware of Meetings. When clients or recruiters invite you to a meeting, either one-on-one or with a team, they often include lunch and the food can be greasy. If you don’t have a say in what is being served, ask if they mind if you bring your own lunch. Or else, you could eat a smaller portion to tie you over and then eat your bagged lunch after the meeting.
  • Share Your Healthy Ideas with Others. When you bring healthy snacks, share them with other people at your client’s site to encourage the behaviour and demonstrate how easy it is to do. They’ll start sharing their ideas and eventually the entire office culture will change.
  • Treat yourself, but carefully. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in something you love, especially when celebrating with your team. But know before hand how much you’re comfortable having and don’t go over that limit.

Staying in shape is not easy for any busy professional. Finding the time to exercise is extremely difficult and sometimes not even possible. While still challenging and requiring some preparation, eating healthy is more within everybody’s reach and the perfect place to start.

Being Stuck in an Office is No Reason to Be Out-of-Shape

We’ve all had that moment where we say we’re going to the gym, but then after work we’re just “too tired.” Maintaining a workout routine can be tough to fit around your work schedule. But sitting at a desk all day isn’t good for you or your health either.

Even doing the simplest of movements can make an improvement. It could be as simple as getting up every hour to move or going for walks on your lunch break. And if that won’t work for you, then TIME2Move has got you covered with 8 easy exercises to get you moving – without even leaving your desk.

Contractor Quick Poll Results: How often are contractors checking social media at work?

One of the biggest productivity killers in offices is social media. Apps are readily available on phones, viral videos are being discussed by co-workers, and the ability to connect with friends is always just a browser tab away.

Fortunately, according to last month’s contractor quick poll, networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t distracting very many IT contractors while they’re working for clients. In fact, nearly half said they never check social media and another 25% said they only check once per day or if they receive a notification. Here are the complete results from our readers:

Quick Poll Results: Checking social media at work

Do You Have the “Winter Blues”? It’s Time to Talk About It

Do You Have the "Winter Blues"? It's Time to Talk About ItLast week, the country’s social media accounts were once again taken over by Bell Let’s Talk, a day encouraging people to discuss mental health issues while raising money for mental health initiatives at the same time. In the spirit of that initiative, let’s talk about one of the most common mental illnesses to hit the workplace this time of year, Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

Year-round, independent contractors are concerned with their health.  Not only is there a health concern but also a financial impact when taking unpaid sick days. Especially in the winter, you do whatever you can to avoid a terrible cold or flu but how much are you doing to treat mental health illnesses like SAD? Surely, this is also something that can lead to decreased productivity or prolonged periods of time off.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), SAD, also sometimes known as the Winter Blues, is a type of clinical depression that can last until Spring and is the result of shortening days with less sunlight that result in people feeling extra gloomy. While it’s common for us to have down days, those affected by SAD feel the symptoms for longer periods of time.  Inc. recently published a post describing 9 of these subtle signs:

  1. You’re irritable and sensitive to stress
  2. You get into little arguments
  3. You have low energy
  4. You dread previously enjoyable social activities
  5. You feel a general sense of apathy towards your goals
  6. You have trouble concentrating
  7. Your appetite changes
  8. You have trouble making decisions
  9. You need more recovery time

If you find you experience these symptoms for long periods of time, the CMHA recommends you schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss options. There are a number of treatments including light therapy, medication and lifestyle changes. Melody Wilding, a social worker and blogger committed to helping women overcome emotional challenges of success, also provides 3 quick and simple ways to stave off the winter blues:  Put effort into getting dressed at work, try a negative detox, and bookend your days.

How do you ensure you remain healthy throughout the Winter?

Surprising Tests that Reveal the Truth About You and Your Co-Workers

It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself and others based simply on the way we perform everyday activities like walking and holding a bag. Being armed with this information is not something you’d put into a resume to differentiate yourself during the job search, but it can help you improve as a person. Both understanding yourself and others makes you more likely to succeed in a team, both as a follower and a leader, and that will make you more in-demand by clients and recruiters.

This interesting video from Bright Side goes through four simple things that can reveal a lot about one’s personality. Check it out and see what you learn. Are there any other small details you pay attention to in your co-workers that helps you work better with them?

Mental Health Should Be an Everyday Conversation

Are there parallels we can draw from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements?  These same hashtags could be used to draw attention to Mental Health. I’m sure we can all say #MeToo to the question, “Have you ever suffered from mental health?” And of those who suffer from mental illness, who wouldn’t say “#TimesUp”? The time is up for discrimination against those with mental health issues, the time is up for hiding at home feeling like a failure because you couldn’t drag yourself out of bed because of a heightened state of anxiety, the time is up for being abused and bullied at school or at work because people see you as ‘different’, and the time is up for silence. It IS time to talk!

Bell Let's TalkAnd while Bell Let’s Talk Day is a super initiative, is it enough to just talk about Mental Health once a year? Hell no, it should be an everyday conversation. We have to change society’s mindset, our mindset, and that takes time which is why we need to talk about it now, and every day. For example, some common exchanges should be like this:

  • You to your boss:Can we change the time of the meeting? I can feel a bipolar episode coming on and I need to get to the doctor asap
    Your boss to you:Sure, that’s no problem; I’ll push the date back. Give me an update when you have time and we can talk through what else you need, I here to help you
  • You to a friendI can’t deal with everything on my plate — I’m really overwhelmed and it is getting to me
    Your friend to you:I can see you are upset, I’m going stay with you. Let’s talk more and see if we can find a way to get you through it. Plus we know there is professional help out there if you need it, so you are not alone

We have legislation in place that protects human rights and punishes those who discriminate both for the workplace and for public services but it is our everyday actions that need to be called out. It is our interactions, biases and perceptions we need to correct. Can we get celebrities to talk more freely about their struggles? Can we come up with a ‘catchy’ phrase in 3 words or less that would propel a ‘movement’? We need the people in power to demonstrate the importance of talking about mental health, that it is OK to have mental illness, and that even with a Mental Illness, you can still be a productive member of society and lead a fulfilling life. It is not shameful or weak, it’s the beautiful DNA that no-one else shares — it’s YOU.

We stopped smoking in bars and restaurants, we upped the ante when it comes to drinking and driving, and we are moving forward on the issue of Workplace Sexual Harassment thanks to a bunch of Hollywood celebs. We’ve got this, we can change the world, bit by bit, we can be that change, just by talking, by caring about people, and yes, even by hashtags.

Inspirational Quotes from 100 Brilliant Minds

We’ve all heard the expression “It takes all kinds of people to run the world” or some variant of it. There is so much truth to it, but unfortunately media frequently focuses on the less intelligent, somewhat shameful minds to showcase to the world. Constantly seeing news reports of people saying dumb things can be deflating to a person, so we were excited when we came across this page on Funding Circle’s website showcasing quotes from 100 of the world’s most brilliant minds. In addition to the website, the infographic below shows all of the top quotes from each of those people.

Inspirational Quotes from 100 Brilliant Minds

Use SMARTer Goals to Boost Your Career in 2018

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Welcome 2018!! Yes, a new year is here! It’s the perfect time to set new and exciting goals. As we all know from experience, making a New Year’s resolution is easy. Sticking with it and actually achieving your goal is hard – very hard. Unfortunately, only about 8 percent of us who set goals achieve them. But the good news is that research shows people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than those who never commit. Why do we find it so difficult to stick our resolutions/goals? It’s probably because the resolution wasn’t S.M.A.R.T. In order for goal setting to be effective you need to understand how to write S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

  • Specific: What specifically do you want to accomplish? For this step you can ask yourself the 5 W’s – who, what, where, when and why.
  • Measurable: What will it look like if you achieve your objective? How will you know when you’ve reached this goal? We need to know where the finish line is and when we have completed the goal. The answer to this goal must be a true or false, a yes or a no or a specific number.
  • Attainable: Can you realistically reach this goal? Remember, the whole point of a goal is to be challenged and set a goal that will push you, but it shouldn’t be impossible.
  • Relevant: The goal must fit into the overall reason you are doing this. This plays along with “why” you are setting this goal or “why” you want to obtain this goal.
  • Timely: What is your deadline? All objectives need a timeline, which will hold accountability to your actions and progress.

Check out this video for a more detailed discussion on setting your S.M.A.R.T. goals…