Your best New Year’s resolution

According to statistics, one third to one half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions every year. We vow to eat healthier, exercise more, and save more money, but some important considerations may be overlooked in the process. Today’s Women in Business Wednesday blog post takes a look at making personal policies.

A recent article published in the Wall Street Journal explained the concept of personal policy further:

“In one experiment, 30 women, ages 22 to 53, undertook a 10-day wellness challenge involving goals like exercising more and eating more healthily. The women were divided into three groups: One was asked to use the “I don’t” strategy, another the “I can’t” strategy, and a third (the control group) was simply told to say no to temptation.

While only 10% of the “I can’t” group stuck with their goal, 80% of the “I don’t” group were still using the strategy successfully 10 days later. Lead researcher Vanessa Patrick, professor of marketing at the University of Houston, suggests that when a refusal and a policy involve someone’s personal identity—”I’m someone who doesn’t skip the gym”—it can improve self-control and encourage you to stick to a goal.”

New YearYour best New Year’s resolution could be to create your own policies that state “I don’t‘ instead of “I can’t” or “I really shouldn’t“, but that’s not always easy.

Because many of us grow up to be people pleasers, we’ll do almost anything to be agreeable and keep others happy. Underneath it all, we believe that saying “no” will cost us, says Albany Med Cardiologist Dr. Suzie Mookherjee.

To help WBC members start the year on the right foot, she will discuss the topic at her upcoming luncheon presentation, Speaking the Truth: The Power of Authenticity (click here for more info). We look forward to seeing you at the event.

Here’s to you and a happy, healthy new year!

 

How to make your holidays…happy

With Christmas and New Year just around the corner, today’s Women in Business Wednesday blog post takes a closer look at holiday stress.

.Holiday stress has a particular impact on women, who take charge of many of the holiday celebrations, particularly the tasks related to preparing meals and decorating the home. Women are more likely than men to report an increase of stress during the holiday season.” (2006 study on holiday stress factors)

The leading stress factors of the end=-of-year holiday period include money, time and commercialism. To enjoy the season with minimal stress, women can take specific steps in these areas for a more peaceful and harmonious feast. This blog talked about money last week, but what to do if the ubiquitous jingling and caroling is beginning to wear you down?

Christine Carter has some helpful advice in “How to Say No (Nicely) to Holiday Stress.”

Snow man

The Women in Business Wednesday blog caught up with Albany-based clinical psychologist and transformational leadership coach, Louise Finlayson, Ph.D. to ask for advice on the holiday blues.

“Practice gratitude.  It can be easy for us to focus on what we feel we don’t have, while we live in abundance,” Dr. Finlayson says.

Finlayson’s specific advice for reducing holiday stress and enjoying the holidays more was this:

  • Look at your to-do list.  Commit to doing only things on it that you can do with love and joy in your heart.  Cross out anything on the list that you will do with resentment or negatively.
  • If you are feeling down, be of service to someone in need.  Perhaps spend time with an elderly person who doesn’t have family nearby, or help a struggling single mom by offering to babysit or giving her a ride.
  • Perform random acts of kindness with love in your heart.  Giving feels good, especially when it isn’t attached to any expectation of getting.  Look for opportunities to be kind for no reason.  Some examples include: put money in someone’s expired parking meter, anonymously give a stranger a gift, shovel someone’s driveway, put an inspirational note on someone’s windshield.

Here is to you, with best wishes to you and yours for enjoyable holidays!

 

Speaking of…money

As promised in last week’s post, this blog will explore a number of issues for women as consumers, employees, and business owners in December. Today’s Women in Business Wednesday blog post examines the question of money and financial planning. With the holidays around the corner, December can be a pricey month for many of us. At the same time, it is easy to get so “wrapped up” (literally!) that there is little time to plan ahead for the coming year.

What comes next when the gift-buying is all done (How much to spend? – Real Simple has some timely advice) and the new year approaches?  What are some of the points women should consider for financial planning, at all income levels?

“One of the biggest challenges for women [with regard to finances…] is meeting competing needs,” writes local financial planner Olivia Mussett in her must-read presentation 7 Things Every Woman Should Do to Get Her Finances in Order.

Year-end calculation
Now is a perfect time to start your financial planning for 2016

Amanda Goyer, Foundation & Public Relations Administrator at CAP COM Federal Credit Union, agrees: “As women, one of our greatest strengths is giving to others before ourselves,” she notes.

Asked about specific resolutions women can make to improve their finances in 2016, Goyer advises:

  • Pay yourself first so that you can in fact better take care of others. Find a financial advisor you trust to  help you outline your financial goals and understand the impact of key financial decisions such as saving for your children’s education, your retirement or even your parent’s long-term care.
  • Start your year on the right foot by setting up payroll deduction so that a portion of every paycheck you get in 2016 is distributed into a “DNT” or “Do Not Touch” account. This small step will help you build a savings stash for unexpected expenses and emergencies. Consider carefully what has you dipping into your DNT account – there are only a few instances when buying a new pair of shoes counts as an emergency!

Here’s to you and a financially healthy new year!

 

Here’s Looking at You

As we get ready to review the past year and think about our intentions for the coming year, this blog will explore a number of issues for women as consumers, employees, and business owners in December. Today’s Women in Business Wednesday blog examines the question of media images.

Given that it is the year 2015, the representation of business women in magazines or social media sites is still astonishingly uniform. To give just one example, a recent discussion of startup lessons in “Entrepreneur” showed a managing director with bare shoulders in skimpy clothing. Would the editors have chosen to depict a young male entrepreneur in the same attire? Pictures of business women typically do not reflect reality and have actually led to Internet ridicule such as the hilarious Women Laughing Alone with Salad collection. Given the abundance of images in modern media, how does this stereotypical representation of women in media and marketing affect us?

Last year, the non-profit organization LeanIn.org announced an initiative to come up with more diverse stock photos for use in marketing and content management. Sheryl Sandberg, the initiative’s founder, envisioned an image collection that would “represent women and families in more empowering ways.”  The result of this effort is the inspiring LeanIn Collection at Getty Images.

The new library of photos shows professional women as surgeons, painters, bakers, soldiers and hunters. There are girls riding skateboards, women lifting weights and fathers changing babies’ diapers. Women in offices wear contemporary clothes and hairstyles and hold tablets or smartphones — a far cry from the typical stock photos of women in 1980s power suits with a briefcase. (NY Times Feb 9, 2014)

The blogger Hilary Topper recently wrote on the aging artist Patti Smith.  Here are some thoughts on embracing age and diversity in images to better reflect our working reality:

  • If you have any influence on image selection in your position, point out examples where a more diverse image would be a good fit
  • Try to share more diverse images in your company’s or private social media feed
  • Give positive feedback to companies that use diverse images in their marketing

 

This doctor thought my mother was imagining her breast cancer. She wasn’t.

Women in the U.S have a 1 in 8 (or about 12%) lifetime risk of getting breast cancer.

I actually thought the statistic would be higher based on the number of women I personally know who have survived breast cancer, and, sadly, the people I have known who have not. My mother was a breast cancer survivor, and I will never forget the day she called me to tell me that she had it. She found her lump and was told by her doctor that she was imagining it. After further examination, it was confirmed that she had it. She was lucky because she caught it early. She went on to live for more than 25 years cancer free. My message has three points. First, do not take self-examination lightly; second, be your own advocate. You know your body better than anybody. Make sure your voice is heard when you know something is not right. Third, advances in treatment mean that many women today can expect to beat the disease. For more information about breast cancer and what you can to to protect yourself and others, click here.

‘The Power of Vulnerability’

 

Last week was our awesome Women of Excellence Unplugged event. If you were unable to make it, we heard Trudy Hall, Head of School for the Emma Willard School, speak as one of the Women of Excellence. All of the women had rich stories, but Trudy mentioned a TED Talk that we as women should all probably watch. (We’d embed it, but TED won’t seem to let us.) (Watch the follow up talk, “Listening to Shame,” too.) We think you’re going to love it.