Stop Being a Creature of Habit – 3 Ideas

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…Every year the majority of us reflect in December, telling ourselves next year we really need to lose weight, exercise more, look for a new job, do more of this or that. As you reviewed your resolutions/goals for 2014 and mentally prepared to take this list on like a steam train rolling down the tracks at 80 miles per hour – it’s full steam ahead on January 1st.

At this point you are focused on good intentions and a positive outlook for the year to come. Unfortunately like the many of us, by January 8th, you’ve lost all your steam and moved on from your ambitious goals to settling back into your normal pattern of life. Here are 3 tips for breaking the code of being a “Creature of Habit”, and getting back on track:

1. Goal setting is one thing, but actually following through on a consistent basis is another. Start by making realistic goals for yourself. Write your goals down and at the same time, write down an action for each goal you’ve set. For example, if you really want to lose weight and say you want to drop 20, 30 or more pounds, make that your year-end goal. Then be practical about it and set an action item on how you plan to accomplish that goal. Start with a small goal to drop 1 to 5 pounds per month. Your action item should include what you will do differently i.e. stop eating after 8 pm, or exercise every day for 10 minutes, etc. Setting a long term goal, accompanied by small action items will ultimately deliver success. Guess what? When you accomplish this first level goal, it will inspire you to keep going.

2. Share your goals/resolutions with your friends and pick just one friend to be your coach. By telling people what you want to accomplish, you subliminally make a commitment. If you have a friend who shares in your goal for weight loss, buddy up with him/her and suggest you both check in once a week to see how you’re doing.

3. Look for a job or make your job better as a goal? We are all enjoying the benefits of our economy picking up, and with a booming economy comes the opportunity to find a better job and/or career growth in your current company. Either choice could be the right one for you and understanding that both choices are in your control, not someone else’s, will make attaining your goal more realistic.

Start by reflecting on what you like and don’t like about your current position/company/executive and ask yourself, what can I do to improve this situation? Write it down with an “A” / “B” list. On the “A” side write down what you like about your current position.

On the “B” side write down what you don’t like. By understanding your likes and dislikes, it will also help you find the next “right” job if you chose this as a goal. As in the above tips, write down your long term goal, then break the goal down to action items along the way. For the items you don’t like, perhaps there is a way to make them a positive, and your goal can focus on what action items are needed to make things change. Best case, if you see there are huge negatives that can’t be changed, it will guide you to the right decision for yourself.

Whether you are an experienced administrative professional with 15 plus years of experience, or new to the position of executive assistant, the Star Achievement Series® programs authored by Joan Burge, and taught by me, will help you realize your goals, making an immediate impact on your career and in your workplace. The next workshop for Level l, is now enrolling for the February 26th workshop series.

Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!


Blog Joanne 200 pixJoanne Linden, CAP, CEAP
Founder, Master Trainer and Author

So God Made an Executive Assistant

It’s Administrative Professionals week 2015, and with over 6,000 views since I first posted my rendition of “So God Made a farmer,” I thought it worth re-posting for your enjoyment. This idea started after I watched the Superbowl 2013, and if you are like myself and family, we enjoy watching the commercials almost as much as the game.

One of the few commercials that shined that year was the one from Dodge, featuring Paul Harvey’s famous 1978 speech “So God made a farmer.” I was quite moved by Mr. Harvey’s words and thought to myself, “I wonder how it might sound if I springboard off of his concept and craft a version just for us executive assistants?” In honor of Administrative Professionals Week, here is my take on the soon to be infamous “So God made an executive assistant.”

And on the 2nd day, God looked down on her planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.”
So God made an executive assistant.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, answer my emails, work all day in the office, answer my emails again, skip dinner to attend to the board of director’s offsite and stay past midnight.”
So God made an executive assistant.

“I need somebody with hands strong enough to protect my gate and yet gentle enough to deliver her own management style. Somebody to call other employees, vendors and tame cantankerous customers, come to work hungry, have to eat lunch at her desk until all my appointments are set, and tell a board member ‘of course, I’ll be happy to change your flight at the last minute.’ Then say ‘Is there anything else I can do for you?’ — and mean it.”
So God made an executive assistant.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a smart phone waiting for me to call from the other side of the world. And watch it till the battery dies. Then rub her eyes and say, ‘Maybe she’ll call tomorrow.’ I need somebody who can shape a glorious letter from unreadable hand-written cryptic notes, create a spreadsheet that captures all of my expenses from bits of wadded up receipts months old, who can make a to do list that includes my husband’s birthday, our anniversary, then be sure to send flowers, crafting so diligently my signature. And who, at quarters-end, will finish her forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then suffering from the pain of ‘computer back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.”
So God made an executive assistant.

“I need to have somebody willing to ride the waves of office politics, work double speed to get the board package assembled, copied and ready to go before the 4:00 p.m. pick-up, and yet stop mid-project and race to help when she sees the first smoke from a co-workers melt down.”
So God made an executive assistant.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear schedules and get past customer’s impassable walls for a meeting with their CEO, yet gentle enough to tame sales VP’s and wean tender new employees. Somebody who will stop watching her favorite TV show on a Sunday night to confirm my flight arrangement from Taiwan to San Francisco, all the while remembering there is a time change. It has to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight in organizing my life and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed and nurture our business relationship, and finish a hard week’s work with a twenty-five mile commute home.”
So God made an executive assistant.

“Someone who would bundle a corporate team together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when her daughter says she wants to spend her life doing what Mom does.”
So God made an executive assistant.

I hope you enjoyed my version of Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer.”

Wishing you all – a week full of glorious recognition for all the work you do!

Honoring Mom for Administrative Professionals Week

It’s Administrative Professionals Week and I can’t help but reflect on how fortunate I was to find a career that I truly love and I am so very passionate about.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a professional administrator? Or possibly circumstances made the choice for you. I’ve asked this question of many administrators over the years and the answers are all over the board. Some knew that was their career of choice from the get go and trained accordingly. Others were in between jobs and needed work and decided to accept a receptionist or assistant position temporarily. But a funny thing happened, after being in this “temporary” position, they realized that they loved being an administrator and were actually pretty good at it.

My story is one that will stay with me forever, because I owe my career and my success to my 93 year old mother. It’s uncanny how our lives paralleled each other. As a mother of five, she took a job as a secretary to support the family while my father followed his dream of owning his own restaurant. Following in my mother’s footsteps, I also have been the stable one in our family, working as an administrative professional providing financial support while my husband followed his dream of owning his own marketing company. My mother had a creative side and wrote a book that unfortunately was never published. I was more fortunate and wrote a book that was published. Here is an excerpt from that book, “Sitting on a File Cabinet, Naked, With a Gun,” that pays tribute to my mother, Helen.

Excerpt from Sitting on a File Cabinet, Naked with a Gun. © 2009 – 2012 Authors Linda McFarland and Joanne Linden, published by Authorhouse® .

From the story: “What was I thinking.” Joanne Linden knew from an early age that she wanted to be an administrative assistant, but it took a twist of fate to land her role of executive assistant to a CEO.

“I remember as if it were yesterday going to work once with my mother when I was nine years old. It was summer break, and on that day, none of my older brothers and sisters could take care of me. My mom had no choice but to drag me along with her and hope that I wouldn’t be too much of a nuisance. (Little did she know that she was decades ahead of the nation’s future “Take Your Daughter to Work Day.”)

Mom was the only secretary at a small tool-and-die company in Cleveland. While I watched, a constant stream of people came to her desk, from the president to the receptionist, each one asking for her expertise in some matter. Until that day, I had no idea that she ran that company! She certainly had to be the most important person there, because no one seemed capable of doing their jobs without her.

That was the day I knew I wanted to be a secretary, just like my mom. (Or maybe it was because they had free donuts.)”

Thanks, Mom!