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How To Change Your Life During Your Lunch Break

How To Change Your Life During Your Lunch Break

For many of us, the average weekday goes something like this: fight traffic or mass transit delays to get into work, make small-talk with co-workers, settle in for a few hours of productivity, grab a quick lunch out of the office (or eat solo at your desk while watching YouTube), work some more, leave work, and repeat until you retire or die at your desk.

Okay, maybe that’s a little grim. Hopefully, you’re actually really kicking butt and taking names in your career, while endearing yourself to your co-workers with hilarious anecdotes about your weekend adventures. However, if you’re not taking full advantage of your midday hour-long break, you’re missing out.

Lunchtime is truly your best time to make meaningful progress in any area of your life because it offers some flexibility in your daily routine. By the end of the day, people generally have important plans to spend time with friends or family, hit the gym, or binge-watch Netflix. While those are all important parts of life that help us maintain balance, there’s little room left for self-improvement.

Your lunch break is your opportunity to fit a little something extra into your life. Here are a few ways to take control of your life, one lunch hour at a time.

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1. Hone an interesting skill.

Have you always wanted to learn to code or speak Spanish? What if you spent 45 minutes, 5 days a week, working on that new skill? Imagine the progress you could make.

Even better, send out an email inviting co-workers to start a learning group together. Commit to a “brown bag” lunch where each of you brings your lunch and signs up for a course. There are free and paid online courses to teach almost every skill imaginable, and learning with others keeps you accountable.

If you get stuck, co-workers can be a great resource as guest experts. For instance, if you’re trying to learn code, invite the IT person (or programmer) over one day to help your group get over a hump. If you want to learn Spanish, invite a Spanish-speaking co-worker to chat for an hour and correct the group’s pronunciation errors. This will allow you to socialize with co-workers and maybe even develop skills that can boost your career trajectory.

2. Reconnect with old friends.

For many of us, when we get busy or stressed out, the first thing to fall to the wayside are our relationships. We say to ourselves, “I can give them a call next week”, or “I’ll answer that email later.” However, more often than not, time keeps speeding by and it’s been too long since we’ve seen or talked with our non-work friends.

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Your lunch hour is the perfect time to catch up with people you care about, be it your college roommate or your mother who’s left you seven messages this week alone. Talking to people outside of the office will remind you that you’re more than an employee. Not to mention, it will ensure your relationships remain strong and you have the support you need during tough times.

Plus, it’s just fun to laugh about old times with friends. Laughter will always make your day better.

3. Develop a 30-minute exercise routine.

No matter what shape you are in, a little midday workout can really impact your day. The exercise can range from a brisk walk to a full strength-training routine (depending on the availability of a nearby gym). If there’s nothing close-by, ask your supervisor if you can use the conference room or another vacant space.

Terrific free resources, such as Fitness Blender videos, exist to help you fit in a great short workout with zero equipment. Just 30 minutes a day allows you to accomplish the entire 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity recommended each week (5×30=150). Plus, it still leaves you time to freshen up before heading back to work.

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4. Create something. Anything.

These days, there is so much to consume that we often forego the thrill of creating. Why cook when we can eat out? Why write when we can scroll through Buzzfeed or the New York Times? However, the act of crafting something can boost your ability to think outside the box and inject more positivity and originality into your life as a whole.

The act can be purposeful (following a specific pattern to knit a scarf), or meandering (doodling on a napkin). It can be ambitious (write the first few pages of a novel!), or smaller in scale (keep one of the increasingly popular adult coloring books in your desk drawer).

Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. No one expects you to recreate the Sistine Chapel at your desk. Doing something creative is just an exercise to help you relax and clear out any cobwebs that might be building in parts of your brain you’re not used to using.

5. Nap.

Never underestimate the power of a cat nap, especially if a particularly stressful week has left you sleep-deprived or overworked. A quick lunchtime snooze might be the best thing you can do with your time.

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Research shows that a 45 to 60 minute nap boosts brain power in areas like memory and learning ability. What’s more, the ideal time period to take a nap is between 1-3PM (a.k.a. lunchtime). You might be surprised how well this shut-eye prepares you for the rest of your day. While everyone else is pouring their third cup of coffee in the mid-afternoon, you’ll be rejuvenated and ready to go.

Depending on how easily you can fall asleep in strange places, it might take a while for you to be comfortable using your keyboard as a pillow. Follow these 7 steps to take a perfect nap every day. If your boss protests, explain that napping is proven to improve concentration, alertness, and productivity. It also eliminates afternoon lethargy and gets your whole day back on track. If they would still prefer you to not sleep in the office, you can always take a nap in your car.

Conclusion

Simple changes to your routine can do amazing things for your mind, body, and soul. Just remember, your actual job productivity should not suffer. After all, the purpose of these activities is to make you better, not hold you back. You might have to give up eating at your favorite diner and switch to bagged lunches to make everything fit in your hour, but the rewards are well worth it!

What are some easy, but life-changing activities you can do during your lunch hour? Share in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: pascalmwiemers via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

How to Know if You Need a Career Change?

The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

Physical Signs

Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

Mental Signs

One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

  • The tension in your neck
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Unable to concentrate
  • High anxiety
  • Depression

If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

Desire for an Increase of Salary

The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.

Overnight Decision

Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.

Rejected for a Promotion

I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.

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Bored at Work

Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

  • How long have you worked in your career?
  • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
  • Do you receive recognition?
  • Can you consider working in a new department?

If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations can help, then it’s time to make a career change.

How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

  • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
  • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
  • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

How to Make a Career Change Successfully

The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

1. Write a Career Plan

A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

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You can learn how to set your career plan here.

2. Weigh Your Options

If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[3]

  • Economic factors
  • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
  • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
  • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
  • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

    A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

    4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

    A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

    • What is required to be successful in the role?
    • What certification or educational development is needed?
    • What are the challenges of the role?
    • Is there potential for career advancement?

    A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

    Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

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    5. Research Salary

    Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

    It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

    6. Be Realistic

    If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

    For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

    Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

    7. Volunteer First

    A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

    Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

    Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

    8. Prepare Your Career Tools

    I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

    • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
    • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
    • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.
    • Cover letter: A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

    Bottom Line

    It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover the role in a career field that is the best fit with your skillsets.

    Master these action steps and changing career paths will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

    More About Career Change

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

    [1] Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
    [2] MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan
    [3] Creately: Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and Improve Yourself

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