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

A Visual Approach to Setting SMART Goals

How frequently do you set goals? Monthly, quarterly, annually… ever? Setting goals is the first step to moving forward, getting to where you want to be, and ensuring you are not stuck in a rut. At the start of 2018, Crystal Nicol provided some tips to set goals and boost your career. Towards the end of the year, Alison Turnbull echoed her advice and advocated reflecting on the previous months to set more goals for 2019.

In both cases, the authors referenced SMART goals and how following that method will increase the likelihood your goals get accomplished. For those of you who are visual learners, we found this infographic put together by Professional Academy. Between its visuals, explanations and examples, you’re certain to walk away with some clear goals to advance your career!

A Visual Approach to Setting SMART Goals

From Side Hustle to Full-Time Contractor

From Side Hustle to Full-Time ContractorThe term “side hustle” refers to “… any type of employment undertaken in addition to one’s full time job. A side hustle is generally freelance or piecework in nature, providing a supplemental income.” What the definition doesn’t tell you is how to find, create, and maintain a side hustle. This can be particularly advantageous for a full-time technology employee considering jumping into the Gig Economy as an IT contractor.  The internet and social media has hundreds of suggestions about this type of transition, but here are some general ideas to consider:

Picking the focus of your side hustle:

When it comes to picking a side hustle, a lot of people instantly search or try ones that will earn them the most money off the bat. However, this may not be the smartest move, as our friends at buffer mention in their article. To sum up arguably one of their most important facts, a successful side hustle brings your creativity or passion to life. Picking a side hustle based on these two factors has dual benefits as it increases your productivity at work and allows the other half of your brain to work on a daily/consistent basis. If you’re unsure about what the most creative/passionate fit for your side hustle might be, do not be afraid to try several small projects (consistently) to test them out. When looking at becoming a full-time IT contractor the same theory applies, but the application differs a little bit. If there is one, or two, IT roles that you prefer doing above everything else, get the certifications to ensure that you can apply for as many positions as possible, and begin taking on small side hustles that allow you to gain experience in that particular role.

End-Goals:

When picking the end goal of your side hustle it is important to remember that this is a 100% FLUID step. You could begin a side hustle and realize you want it to stay that way, or you could embark on this journey with the intent of turning it into a full-time occupation. Regardless of what you choose, you must start small. Pick one or two small contracts/projects that you can fit into your schedule easily and work your way up from there. As time goes on and you do more projects, you could very well feel that becoming a full-time IT contractor is what you want to do. If that is the case, start to slowly take on more projects with your side hustle, to create a stable income, and then bite the bullet and quit your 9-5 position; because sooner or later, you won’t be able to juggle both. There are hundreds of websites and articles that contradict each other on this point but remember, this side hustle is all about what YOU want to develop/encourage in your life.

Scheduling:

Perhaps one of the most daunting facets of beginning a side hustle is re-organizing your life to accommodate all the new items on your to-do list. When you’re at this phase, there are several things you must remember to succeed: the first is that there will be days where your iron-clad schedule will have to bend to meet life’s demands (i.e. appointments, unscheduled work days/extra shifts, your side hustle may need more time one week, etc.); second, pick one or two times a week that are just for your side hustle…start with an hour or two, and then increase it when your schedule allows or when you have to; and third, remember that a side hustle, like anything else, is a commitment. Therefore, you may have to forego some things to make it happen (i.e. that extra show on Netflix, time in the gym, your longer lunch breaks, etc.). This ties nicely into the first point of picking something that you’re passionate about, or love doing. If your side hustle is pleasurable to you (i.e. not a daily grind), then spending these extra hours or foregoing that extra gym night will not be a big deal. Remember that as you slowly transition into becoming an IT contractor, the strain of maintaining your full-time position and your side projects, will wear off once you’re at the stage where you’re comfortable to become a full-time contractor.

Priorities:

When thinking and beginning to plan your side hustle, remember that this should begin by working ON THE SIDE meaning that it should not be done at your work. This is stressed for several reasons. The first is that you still have an employer who hired you to be present AT your work for a certain time period, certain days of the week, until a certain date. Essentially, remember that while your project is exciting, and may have deadlines, your regular job comes first. If you don’t put it first, it could come back to haunt you through potential law suits, non-compete clauses, or even tax problems. The second reason, as previously hinted, is money and hours. Double billing clients for the same time-period is never a smart option, and it can get confusing around tax season. So, to keep life simple, try to do one thing at a time, no matter how tight your deadlines become.

As you transition from a full-time employee to a full-time contractor, your priorities should reflect that. But it’s important to also be respectful and mindful of your boss/workplace. If you’ve gotten to a point in time where your side contracts are bringing in enough income; do not hesitate (or wait), to cut the cord with your permanent employer. If you overload your schedule with side contracts, they will notice eventually. In these instances, it is best to leave with as much grace, dignity, and goodwill as possible.

Money:

Money is often the main reason people get side hustles. That extra income can add up after a while, and if it’s put straight into savings it’s amazing how you’re suddenly able to make that payment, afford that down-payment, afford that trip, etc. BUT there are two hitches: the first is budgeting and setting goals to see how many projects you need to take on to meet that goal; the second is figuring out how much you’re going to charge for your time. Let’s face it, you WILL be giving up parts of your life for this – none of us can do it all. So how much is it worth it to you? There is no harm in making sure you’re getting paid what you’re worth (but remember to be reasonable – experience will dictate how much you are worth to many people’s eyes). Additionally, paying attention to how many hours you take to earn a certain amount becomes paramount for transitioning into a full-time contractor position. In order to break down your daily/hourly rate and know what type of projects you want/need to sustain the lifestyle you want, you’ll have to look over your past records and do some serious time/math crunching. It is more than possible, but your due diligence along the way will make that initial decision/breakdown easier to create.

All in all, turning a side hustle into a full-time career is a daunting task, but entirely doable if you’re up to the challenge. These five basic steps are the beginning of that journey but remember, transitioning from a side hustle to becoming a full-time contractor takes time, patience, and due-diligence. Neglecting it or your current 9-5 job is not the answer.

“New Year, New Job” — 5 Steps to Get Started in 2019

Kelly Benson By Kelly Benson,
Branch Manager at Eagle

"New Year, New Job" -- 5 Steps to Get Started in 2019 January.  A fresh start for the New Year.  The month where we set goals, commit to self-improvement and kick bad habits.

The New Year also often brings thoughts of new jobs and new career challenges – why wouldn’t we apply that same mentality to our careers?  Much like getting results from hitting the gym and eating more greens, a successful career also requires focus, commitment and hard work.  If New Year, New Job resonates with you, here is a quick guide to setting yourself up for a successful job search:

Step 1:  Get Your Resume Job Search Ready

Priority number one is to update your resume.  There are a lot great tips available online and many offer different opinions (our favourite tips can be found here).  Your resume is often your first chance to make a first impression, so be sure to check it for accuracy.  The devil really is in the details.

It is also a good idea to take stock of where you are today and put some thought in to where you want to get to.  From there, set some annual career goals.

Step 2:  Get Social, Network & Apply!

These days, having a current, online presence is just as important as having a great resume.  Make sure you have a professional online persona and that you are connected to everyone you know.  Think of your online profile as a personal brochure, but DO NOT hide behind it.  Step away from screens and get out in front of people.  Meet everyone you can – your contacts, industry events, meet-ups, contacts of contacts and reputable recruiters.

While you are networking, find the right jobs to apply for.  We believe in quality over quantity.  Your time is much better spent on a few great applications that are a good fit for your experience rather than blasting your resume to every posting you see.

Step 3:  Get Job Interview Ready

The job interview is your time to shine, but it can be stressful if you aren’t prepared.  Do your homework and read these tips and tricks to help you calm your nerves and bring your “A” game to the interview.

Step 4:  Master the Marketplace:  Learn & Grow

One of the realities of being a successful IT professional is that you always need to stay on top of trends.  Change is constant in this industry and – as technology advances – so must your knowledge and skills.

The most successful people we know are always broadening their knowledge and one of the most effective ways to open up new career opportunities is to develop new skills.

Step 5:  Stay on Track

We all know that the easiest thing to do with a New Year resolution is to simply forget about it or to give up when things start to get tough.  Don’t take the easy way out!  Stick with the job search process and you will have something new before you know it.

It’s Time to Reflect on 2018 so You Can Set SMART Goals for 2019

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

As another year winds down and we look forward to enjoying some ‘downtime’ over the holidays, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the past year, and think about what you would like to achieve in the upcoming year. From a career perspective, it’s important to set goals to ensure that you keep moving forward. Perhaps you have a long-term goal you are working towards but are struggling to identify how to get there. It’s extremely important to set smaller annual goals that will assist you in moving towards that larger goal.

As a consultant/contractor, it might help to reflect on the past year to help you determine what goals would be important for you. Was there an opportunity that you missed out on because you didn’t have the required certification or designation? Will achieving that in 2019 help you to land that contract that will help your career to move forward?

Perhaps you had a gap between contracts in 2018 while you tried to find your next opportunity. Setting a goal to increase your network, to connect with a mentor who is currently fulfilling the role you strive for, or to break into a new industry are all goals that can help you work towards that long-term career goal. You can also speak with a recruiter to ask for their input on what might make you more marketable. Recruiters see multiple opportunities every day and have a wealth of knowledge and insight that they are likely happy to share.

When setting goals, it’s important to ensure that they are ‘SMART’:

  • Is your goal Specific,
  • Is your goal Measurable
  • Is your goal Attainable
  • Is it Relevant (to your long term career goals)
  • And is it Time-based?

Be sure to set clear goals, to write them down, and to set timelines to hold yourself accountable.

All the best for a safe and happy holiday season, and here’s to a productive and goal oriented 2019!

The Hardest Person to Motivate is Yourself — Here’s What to Do About It

The Hardest Person to Motivate is Yourself -- Here's What to Do About ItIf you’ve ever led a team, then you’re all too familiar with the challenges in motivating others who just aren’t feeling it. If you’ve ever had to search for a job, then you’re all too familiar with the challenges in motivating yourself!

Self-motivation is no easy task. Some days you wake up and you can take on the world and be the most productive person ever. Other days, you’d prefer to watch Netflix or play video games rather than to continue with the job search, complete the grid or do your accounting. Lack of self-motivation isn’t just limited to tasks you dislike. You could be working on the most interesting project for your client and getting paid a fair rate, but some days, you’d still rather chat with your colleagues.

Motivating yourself extends beyond time management. Even the most organized and productive IT contractors fall into a slump. That’s because motivation is emotional. It ignores rational thinking and if you’re not in the proper headspace, it’s just not there. So how can you overcome your temporary lack of drive and push yourself to do what needs to be done? Here are a few hacks to get you started:

Get Yourself in a Positive Mindset

You’re more likely to procrastinate when you’re in a bad mood, so the logical first step is to make sure you’re in a good mood. There are various ways to do that, including:

  • Remaining optimistic by tracking your progress and celebrating success
  • Setting the right environment with a clean workspace and happy music
  • Getting plenty of sleep and exercise
  • Taking breaks as necessary

Set Meaningful Goals

Obviously you have goals: “Update my resume by the end of today”, “Complete the project on time and on budget”, “Do my taxes before the deadline”. Now you need to take those goals and make them more meaningful:

  • Make your goals mean something to you that’s deeper than “If I don’t succeed I’ll get fired.”
  • Keep reminding yourself of that goal AND its benefits and why you’re truly trying to achieve it
  • Don’t punish yourself for not achieving a goal, rather be constructive to understand what happened and move on.

Don’t Go It Alone

Even if you prefer to work alone, it still helps to have somebody on the sidelines who knows your goals. This will help to keep you motivated. When there are other people involved, you make yourself accountable and suddenly there’s extra pressure to get the work done.

  • Find others who are as motivated as you are (or more) and bring them into your circle
  • Expand your network with other IT contractors to share challenges and mentor each other
  • Don’t be afraid to get a little competitive to help drive your motivation
  • In times you really need motivation, try a commitment device. Give a friend (or even better, a foe) $100. If you don’t succeed, they keep the money. stickK will help you create a commitment contract, set stakes and manage the entire process online.

Get Moving

At some point you might have to fake it ’til you make them. If it takes a cold shower or jolt of coffee to wake you up so be it, but if you don’t start somewhere, you’ll never start at all.

  • Reduce all possible distractions so you have no choice but to work
  • Set routines that will let you know where to start — and change up those routines occasionally to keep it interesting.
  • Take baby steps with small simple tasks. Often just working 5 minutes will get you into the flow.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, everybody falls into unmotivated slumps. The most successful people are those that know how to deal with it. How do you motivate yourself to get moving? Are there are any specific tasks you find are harder to get started than others?

It’s Alright to Quit and You Need to Know When

It’s healthy to set complex goals that are a stretch but will force you to step outside your comfort zone and work extra hard to accomplish that goal. Sometimes those goals are personal and sometimes they’re professional. Sometimes they’re attainable and sometimes… they’re never going to get completed. So, is it alright to quit? According to this video from Med School Insiders, it’s not just alright, it’s encouraged!

An important step to working on any project is knowing when to evaluate and know when you need to keep pushing through or when it’s time to quit. As the video explains, the decision is not easy and requires many considerations, but it’s an important question to ask yourself in order to maintain maximum productivity and, more importantly, your health.

As Kenny Rogers says “You gotta know when to hold’em, and know when to fold’em.”

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.

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…

Do You Have a Plan?

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on April 1st, 2017

Goals quote by NightingaleGoals can make a big difference in your life.

If you have no real plan for your life then here are a few thoughts for you.

  1. If you don’t know where you are going, then you might not like where you end up.
  2. If you have trouble defining where that end point should be, or what it looks like, then pick a point along the way! e.g. If you don’t know what your career will look like in 10 years, then decide where you would like to be in a year.
  3. Aim big. If you shoot for the stars you might not get there, but you will go a long way towards them. If you aim for the roof, you might not even get there!

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”   Bruce Lee

  1. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! So … plan your strategy for success in small bits, it will make it easier to achieve.
  2. Review your plans regularly, make sure you are tracking to plan and adjust accordingly.
  3. Get help! Find a mentor/mentors, people that will help you.
  4. Treat your life seriously … you only get one shot! So, make sure you do what you want with it … and make sure you enjoy it!
  5. Fact: Hard work and good planning will get you a LONG way! If you apply some smarts to that formula you will rock the world!

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  Nelson Mandela

  1. Its not all about you! Sometimes you get more by giving. You will need to figure this out for yourselves, but my advice is to “give” as much as you can.
  2. Every day is the start of the rest of your life, if you are late starting on your journey that’s OK. Just start!

“I do know that when I am 60, I should be attempting to achieve different personal goals than those which had priority at age 20.”  Warren Buffett

Goals don’t have to be hard … but you really should have some.

“To live a fulfilled life, we need to keep creating the “what is next”, of our lives. Without dreams and goals there is no living, only merely existing, and that is not why we are here.”  Mark Twain

Are You Achieving Your Potential?

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
CEO at Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on July 27, 2015

Are You Achieving Your Potential?We are all born with certain talents.

We all have the ability to improve those talents through education, practice and effort … and we can do

Some people will take full advantage of those talents and others will not.

Robert Schuller asked the question, “What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”

The intent of that question was to make us think about why we are not chasing our dreams or reaching for goals.  If the fear of failure were eliminated then would we have some goal in mind?  If so, then why not go for it?

Here are a few thoughts on this subject:

  1. When humans are forced into situations they can accomplish incredible feats. Think about the stories of people who survived great hardships, or the heroic stories we hear about people who found themselves in tough situations.
  2. When we decide to “go for it” we are proven to be able to achieve great things too … think about professional athletes or even very successful entrepreneurs.
  3. Failure is not a terrible thing. Through failure we learn invaluable lessons. Each new attempt will bring us closer to our goal.  There are many people who have achieved great things, before which they had many failures … think Abraham Lincoln.
  4. We can fake ourselves out easily … by focusing on all the things that can go wrong and the possibility of failure. OR we can focus on making it happen.
  5. Why do you need to be forced? Why do you need circumstance to push you?

We all get one go around at life.

Why not take our talents and make the most of them?

Why not give ourselves goals, and go for them?

Why not achieve our potential?

What is stopping you?