Category Archives: Belle’s Guide to Work & Life

BELLE’S GUIDE: Advice from Career Coach Julie Cohen

Welcome to Belle’s Guide to Work & Life, a biweekly column written by Belle Rose. The column will run every other Thursday and cover topics like how to behave in the workplace. You can follow Belle by visiting her blog or adding her on Facebook.


For many of us, the month of August signals the end of a carefree summer and a transition into the school year. Whether you are a teacher like myself, a student, or have students at home, this month is usually full of excitement and nervousness. Although there are still a few beautiful days left to be enjoyed, most of us are spending them preparing to go back to the grind. The days become shorter, to-do lists get longer, and there is less time for rest and relaxation. It’s a continuous conundrum. How do we live enjoyable, fulfilling lives with so many other responsibilities needing our attention?

To answer this question, I enlisted the help of Professional Career Coach Julie Cohen. She is the author of Your Work, Your Life… Your Way and has helped hundreds of clients on the road to successful, balanced lives.

When surveying her clients’ needs, Cohen found that most professionals regardless of age worried about the topic. “No matter what they came to me for, mostly everyone had issues with work-life balance,” she says. So, what is work-life balance and how do we know if we’re achieving a healthy proportion?

“There isn’t one definition of work-life balance,” Cohen begins. “It’s critical that the individual defines what that means to them. It’s very unique.”

According to Cohen, there are two myths: one, that there is a concrete definition of work-life balance, and second, that there is a uniform way to evaluate your progress.

“What I want for everyone is an overall feeling of personal and professional satisfaction,” Cohen says. “So, if we’re aware of our preferences and challenges that we might have, we can make deliberate choices that can move us toward that more balanced state.”

You must have a clear vision of what balanced means to you. Maybe this means spending more time with friends, getting to the gym three times a week, or eating a healthy diet. “When they have that vision, that’s where we start looking at the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. Then in the coaching process we look at what’s preventing them from moving in that direction,” Cohen says.

In her book, Cohen discusses what she calls the “7 Keys to Work-Life Balance.” They include things like being clear in your priorities, setting boundaries, and engaging in self care. One thing you can do to have a healthier work-life balance today is to look at how you take care of yourself, Cohen says. If exercising, eating healthy, or seeing friends is essential to your work-life balance, make it a priority.

“We need to be well in order to do all that we need to do,” she says. Many assume that pouring everything into your work without taking care of yourself will lead to better work when in fact, the opposite is usually true. Becoming a better you always leads to better work.

As the summer is winding down and football season is just around the corner, I challenge you all to think about your definition of a balanced life. What is your vision? I also recommend you pick up Julie Cohen’s book Your Work, Your Life… Your Way to find more tips to enhance your own work-life balance. As for me, I’ll be soaking up the last of the sunshine and setting my own goals for the upcoming school year.

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BELLE’S GUIDE: Try These 5-Minute Mood Boosters!

Welcome to Belle’s Guide to Work & Life, a biweekly column written by Belle Rose. The column will run every other Thursday and cover topics like how to behave in the workplace. You can follow Belle by adding her on Facebook.

One of my favorite mantras goes like this: “Do something valuable today. You are exchanging one day of your life for it.”

Last Tuesday morning I was awakened by a mind-numbing, eye-torturing migraine. Everything hurt: my head, my neck, even my teeth. My only motivation for getting myself up was to wash the pain away with a strong cup of coffee, but when I removed the pot to fill it with water I realized that the $9 machine I purchased from Target was broken. In hindsight I’m not surprised even though I had bragged about my bargain, but I was certainly angry in the moment. Determined not to let this ruin my day, I took two Excedrin Migraine, showered, and drove myself through Dunkin Donuts for a quick fix. The day was looking up. As the bell rang to signal first period and students would soon be entering my classroom, I noticed beads of sweat forming on my forehead. The air conditioning was broken.

Ever have mornings like these? It seems as if everything goes wrong. Every time you see a little light at the end of the tunnel, it’s crushed by an oncoming train. By the end of that day, I wanted to hit stop, rewind, and do it all over again no matter what the butterfly effect would be. Everything about that morning was just off. I didn’t want to do anything valuable. I wanted a complete redo. Unfortunately, the nature of most of our jobs leaves little time to regroup when we’re feeling frazzled. Most of us are expected to be bright-eyed and smiling all day. In my case, one hint at a bad mood evokes a chorus of thirty students asking, “What’s wrong?!”

Here are a few ideas to brighten your mood when you only have five minutes.

  1. Pour yourself a cup of hot tea. Spend five uninterrupted minutes breathing in the aroma and allowing the warm liquid to soothe your soul.
  2. On a sheet of paper, list five things you are grateful for or five things you are looking forward to. If you have time, do both. A simple exercise in gratitude will help your brain to fire feel-good chemicals and reduce the stress-producing ones.
  3. Turn on one of your favorite upbeat songs. Sing and dance the stress away! If you can’t manage this due to space or sound restraints, a good pair of headphones and visualization goes a long way. It truly is the thought that counts.
  4. Close your eyes. Acknowledge the fact that you had a bad morning and then gently remind yourself that you are more than capable of making the rest of the day productive. Give yourself three reasons why you are competent and three ways in which the day is going to get better. Speak to yourself as you would a good friend. Do not bash yourself. Sometimes a refreshing pep talk is all you need and often you have to be the one to deliver it.
  5. If the above fails, visit Pinterest and view the ‘Animals’ category.

After completing one of these five things, you should be good as new. Remember, your day is too valuable to spend the entire thing in a bad mood. Migraines happen, coffee pots break, but that doesn’t mean you have to exchange an entire day of your life for it.

Your turn! What do you do when you have only five minutes to modify your mood?

BELLE’S GUIDE: Tying on That Pink, Sparkly Cape

Welcome to Belle’s Guide to Work & Life, a biweekly column written by Belle Rose. The column will run every other Thursday and cover topics like how to behave in the workplace. This is Belle’s first post.

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Women have come a long way since the days of baking pies and picketing. Some still love to bake and some continue to fight for the causes they believe in. The wonderful thing about the evolution of the modern woman is that you have the ability to choose. Women are no longer restricted to the kitchen. We have our own voices. We make our own rules.

Times have changed drastically since the days of Alice Paul. While she was looked upon as an anomaly for not marrying or having children, it is now far more common that women are choosing to delay these milestones- if they decide to indulge them at all. I am a 27-year old inner-city school teacher. I’m not married, nor do I have children, but I do have a career. Do I want those things someday? Absolutely! But in these trying times, simply wanting to be a homemaker does not make it a reality. Women who choose to marry and have children are not always afforded the opportunity to stay at home to raise them. These are the challenges we face as women of the twenty-first century. So while I won’t be able to tell you the best brands of baby formula or where to take your honeymoon, right now I can share with you what I do know: how to navigate the workplace.

I began my working life at 12, when I got a job as a paper girl. After that, I held a regular series of part-time, dues-paying jobs until I finished my degree and began my career five years ago. Although I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs, it has been a great experience. I have met so many positive, motivated women who have guided me along my journey. Their wisdom and dedication inspire me daily.

Being a young woman in the work force can be difficult. You must walk a fine line between delicate and demanding. If you’re too delicate, you’re seen as weak and if you’re too demanding, you’re seen as masculine. It is an unfortunate double-standard which most of us have faced, but it is one that can be successfully overcome. I believe most of us have the innate desire to please those around us. In my large Italian family, we do that with food. The more you mangia, the more you care. In the workplace, many women fall into that trap by accepting extra responsibilities. We tie on our pink, sparkly capes and dive into the workforce head on. The truth is, this behavior only leads to burnout.

This feature will serve as a bridge between those of you who are desperately trying to get your foot in the door and my own experiences which will always make sure your feet are firmly planted before trying to enter. I will draw upon my knowledge and others to help all of you motivated young women ease your way into the work place. Please feel free to ask questions, suggest topics, or just chat with me if you’d like by leaving comments, adding me on my Facebook account, or sending me an e-mail. I look forward to all of the things we will learn from each other.