Office Attire

The attack of the glums seems to have passed. Thank heavens. I was at the point where I wanted nothing more than to move to Tórshavn with Gary Oldman in his Nil by Mouth days, wear itchy black sweaters, and eat nothing but lutefisk.

Part of the gloom was inspired by me trying to figure out what I wanted to do career-wise. Now that both kids are in full-time school, the days are very boring. I need to take on something more full-time as  I do not believe it is realistic to spend one’s days checking out the sales at Eric Bompard and eating one’s body weight in smoky applewood cheddar and french pastry (it’s not reasonable, is it? If it is, do let me know and I can stop stressing…)

After an ill-fated foray into the world of design and decorating (I’m calling this stage PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Decorating), I can hear the siren song of the business world once again. I’ve written a business book that seems to be going places and I’m thinking of putting a formal process around some of the coaching I’ve been doing over the past few years. This should not be hard: my whole life has prepared me for this type of work. It feels more daunting this time, however, as I’ve taking a few hits on the chin over the past few years.

I’ve decided to create my own little onboarding program to restore my confidence levels. (I did one of those onboarding programs for moms at the university and it was most dispiriting. It seems to be biased towards companies who wanted to tap into an undervalued potential work force. At one point, one of the career coaches, upon seeing my resume dropped his voice and whispered, “What are you doing here? You don’t want this. Go start up your own thing.”) Here are my back to work preparedness tips (unlike the other program, I won’t tell you to cut your hair, promise!)

Surround yourself with reminders of your past successes. I still keep the tombstones from my two largest banking deals in my home office as evidence that I was once entrusted with billion dollar transactions. I also keep the emails people wrote to me back when I was a mommy blogger a decade ago. I remind myself of my various successes because it’s so easy to lose sight of them otherwise.

Surround yourself with great people. I have a friend who I worked with 20 years ago. I always feel like a competent professional whenever we get together. Occasionally she asks me to do work for her and I always do it as working for her builds up my ego and reminds me that people used to pay me well for my skills. I have another new acquaintance who is going through something similar to me. We act as cheerleaders for one another. It’s awesome.

Have decent work tools. My children need a computer now for school so I’ve had to get another computer for work. There is nothing worse than having a critical Skype call cut short because there is spilled chocolate milk messing up your keyboard. Even if you are looking for a job outside the home, it’s nice to have an organized command centre from which to send out job inquiries and update your LinkedIn profile.

Have a vision. Even though my resume is filled with hard skills, I have a soft skill approach to life in general. I’m not the type to plan my life using Project or iCalendar. I’ve already done a vision board (though sadly, I missed my friend’s annual vision board party) so I can see what I’d like my personal and professional life to reflect in 2014.

This vision will keep me focused on what I want and hold me through the tough times (like when I’m doing my year-end book keeping.) I also love Lara Casey’s Power Sheets as a planning tool for work and life.

Now that I’m no longer booking passage to the Faroe Islands, I will be working on my plan for the rest of 2014 tomorrow. Hopefully it will keep my mind off cherry cheese danish and the get-10%-back-in-gift-cards sale at Holt Renfrew.

Dress for success. Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life recently did a lovely post on Regina Brett’s fabulous book God Never Blinks. One of my favourite quotes in the book is “no matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.” I suspect that very few moments of greatness were started in sweatpants. Today, I did a bunch of filing in my home office and went to Staples for a new external hard drive. But I decided to dress up a little in a J Crew, Eric Bompard, Brora combo.

While I was running errands, I bumped into a woman I know from the club. Surveying my outfit, she asked if I was back at work and it gave me a chance to tell her about my book. Start as you mean to go on, as they say.

Set up a life that supports work. I used get up 15 minutes before the kids’ school started, drop them off and then drive to work out at the club. I would not be done and showered and fed until after 10:30am. I wondered what type of job I could take on that would start at 11:00am (answer: “Would you like fries with that?”) I also liked to go out for a croissant and a latte. Now, I get up at 6:30am and do yoga. I shower and eat my plain yogurt with walnuts and cacao sweet nibs and flax oil before I take the kids to school. Even if I need to get groceries (I’m a daily shopper: another routine that will shift I imagine) I can be home and ready to work by 8:30am. If I can see I life where I can work and still practice self-care, I’m a lot more motivated.

Well those are my tips so far. For those who have made a career shift, what did you do to prepare for work?


  1. I like to get up early in the morning, before everyone else, drink my coffee and read something inspirational. I don't feel rushed and can enjoy some peace and solitude before my day truly begins.


  2. I was laughing away and pulling faces at lutefisk, then relieved when I found the yoghurt with cacao nibs flax and nuts – that is my favourite food, it really is.Well you have been very successful in the past and you are very determined, it's easy for me to see from a distance that you are a go getter and that whatever you decide to do you will achieve your goal.


  3. I do hope so. I had the wind knocked out of my sails last year but come from a stubborn line of Scandanavians, Scots and Brits who keep on keeping on.The cacao nibs are amazing and if they are in any way the Mayan superfood the package promises, then clever us! (I never quite trust delicious healthy things. Your kale piece made me chuckle as that's more typical healthy fare.)


  4. I really think the “get up, dress up, and show up” is half the battle. You sound like you're getting back in the groove.I'm definitely going to try the yoghurt/cacao nibs/flax/nuts thing you & Tabs are doing.


  5. I got suckered in at the Whole Foods cash register temptation rack as usual but they are fantastic in yoghurt and if they are even a smidgen as healthy as they promise, it's a miracle food!


  6. Jen – you are hilarious – this is got to the classic opening line for a blog- “The attack of the glums seems to have passed. Thank heavens. I was at the point where I wanted nothing more than to move to Tórshavn with Gary Oldman in his Nil by Mouth days, wear itchy black sweaters, and eat nothing but lutefisk.” Hall of fame stuff there! Wonderful tips and I totally agree. in fact i need to put on make-up more and do my hair. I've become a complete slob beccause iwork from home, Sadly I don't have a resume and I think my hard and soft skills are getting themselves confused but I do know to turn up to an interview being professional and without unloading my personal woes – you would not believe how many people I meet in my job who tell me way too much about their day and their lives. Do you get the same? You look so pretty in that outfit.


  7. You are too kind. I once worked in recruiting (with the pal I referenced, in fact) and I remember the overshare quite well. We will have to swap stories! I'd be more casual if 1) I lived in a more civilized climate and 2) had not eaten my weight in french pastry. I need layers and corsetry until the yoghurt diet kicks in!


  8. These are all great tips Jen. You're bound to be a huge success at whatever you set your mind to!! I especially like reminding ourselves of our past successes. I haven't seen those power sheets before, but they look interesting. I must find myself some of those cocao nibs. They sound wonderful. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


  9. Jennifer, very useful tips, thank you! And I especially like the 'get up, dress up, and show up' ~ I always feel more professional and productive when I take the time to dress properly for my day. Sometimes I think making the choice and committing to your next step is half the battle ~ so your road to success has already begun! I look forward to bearing witness as your business launches.


  10. Eee, so I am late to this (I've been rationing my access to the interwebs in quest of a new job) … and having found a new job (and a whole change of lifestyle, I imagine) I don't feel prepared for it at all!I will definitely be in need of a new wardrobe, so I'll watch this space!


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