September Career-o-Scope

Posted by Amina AlTai on

As we head into Autumn here in the northern hemisphere we are being asked to go deeper, to bring radical truth-telling and new ways of doing things to our work and relationships.  The world is asking for more "out there" ideas—are you ready to share yours?

Message from the Universe: Overall message from spirit—Underworld

I laughed a little when I pulled this card because #scorpio and I always happen to pull something a little dark or connected to transformation.  This card is asking us to either go inward and tend to the uncomfortable, or it’s acting as a GPS to show you where you are right now.  If you don’t find yourself in the “underworld” in this moment (bless you!) this card is asking you to pause and consider what needs to fall away. If you are in the underworld (uff, I’m right there with you) it can feel a bit like trial after trial, or loss after loss.  But this is where we are reborn and transform.  As we head into Q4, and journey towards nearly two years of a global pandemic, how are you transformed?  How can you sit with the discomfort that is, and surrender a little more? This one felt so spot on as I recently described myself as “Bambi learning to walk for the first time.”  Anyone else feel me?

Myself: What you need to know for internal work—The Seeker

 It’s time for a major energy and vitality boost.  I know we’ve all be languishing (thanks for naming it, NYTimes) and The Seeker is inviting us to infuse our lives with our natural vigor.  The essence of The Seeker is a childlike sense of love and wonder—a feeling that the world is a beautiful place.  For many of us, it feels as if life has robbed us of that lately.  The Seeker is asking you to put your stake in the ground for a reclamation around this idea.  It’s not so much that we need to put an end to all stressors (hello, reality!) but this card is asking us to slowly and lovingly nurture our sense of wonder.  You're being urged to swap “what if everything goes wrong?” to “everything unfolds in highest service to me.”

 My work: What you need to know in regard to your work in the world—The Revolutionary

I love this card! The revolutionary in the context of your work is asking you to challenge the status quo.  At work, are you trudging along and flowing with the way things are?  If so, it might be time to bring in the energy of the revolutionary and build a new world with your work.  Revolutionaries are natural leaders but often ahead of their time.  The ideas can be considered “out there.” But never in human herstory have we needed more “out there” ideas.  How can you get on the court with your more revolutionary ideas at work?  What new and divergent concepts want to be birthed?  If you’ve been waiting for permission to go renegade—permission granted. 

Relationships: What you need to know in regards to your relationships—The Magi

The Magi represents an invitation to look and go deeper.  It asks you to examine what you think you know about your relationships—and then go further.  In this context, I think of this card as an opportunity to unearth any limiting beliefs around your relationships.  The Magi sees through illusion so this card in the space of relationships is asking you to move past the smoke and mirrors or the surface level of relationships, and mine for what is really there and what you believe CAN BE there. Do you feel worthy of a powerful, supportive group of humans that take you and your work to the next level?  Do you have your league of champions that rally and cheerlead for you every step of the way?  If not, it’s time to ask yourself, “why?” 

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Boundaries Can Mean Avoiding Burnout or Asking for a Promotion. Here's How to Do Both.

Posted by Amina AlTai on

 Burnout is at an all-time high. Indeed, the job aggregator, conducted a survey of 1500 employees across several categories and concluded that over half (52%) of survey respondents are experiencing burnout in 2021—up from the 43% in their pre-COVID survey.

For the first time, the World Health Organization (WHO) now recognizes burnout as a real workplace phenomenon. I characterize burnout as extreme stress to the point that our mind or our bodies give out or demonstrate extreme fatigue and resistance. This can manifest as lethargy that is so severe, that we’re unable to complete normal tasks. When we’re experiencing burnout, we may struggle to feel connected to workplace challenges because we simply don’t have enough energy or enthusiasm to move through them. Our brains and bodies become so exhausted that it impacts our ability to problem solve, be creative, and sometimes even get through the work week.

Burnout doesn’t just impact our work life, though. When we are so depleted to the point that we have difficulty carrying out everyday tasks, it can also wreak havoc on our home lives. I have many clients who were not only suffering in their careers but were carrying home that extreme exhaustion which intercepted their ability to show up fully for their loved ones as well.

How can we avoid it?

Take a break. According to a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Americans lengthened their workday by one full hour during the pandemic. We also saw a rise in unused time off as up to 92% of Americans cancelled, postponed or didn’t book a vacation due to the global pandemic. We simply aren’t using our PTO but it’s vital to our physical and mental wellbeing that we take breaks to refresh our bodies, our minds and our perspectives.

Many of us feel like we can’t afford to fully disconnect and take a vacation. Even taking a summer Friday, an extended lunch break, or eating lunch away from your desk can help. I recommend a 90/10 rule for my clients. For every 90 minutes of focused activity, allow your brain and body 10 minutes to decompress and recuperate.

Get support. Many organizations offer career and wellness coaching as part of their employee perks. Ask your HR department what resources are in place to support your wellbeing and help you move through or avoid burnout.

Set boundaries. Oftentimes, we reach burnout because we’ve been doing too much for too long without any respite. Occasionally, that can be due to a lack of boundaries. If your managers consistently ask you to do more without the opportunity to pause and refill your metaphorical cup, it’s time to reinforce stronger boundaries. A lot of my coachees have suffered from burnout and have been afraid to advocate for better boundaries for fear that it will impact their growth trajectory at work. I believe we can’t afford not to have good boundaries, because if we burnout, and it expresses itself as illness or disease, that can be very challenging to recover from and impact us in an even bigger way. Stronger boundaries might not necessarily mean less work. But it might mean less work that is zapping your energy and keeping you away from the work you really want to do. Which brings me to my next point on self-advocacy.

We know, from the aforementioned data, that most of us are working harder than ever and some of us may feel ready to ask for a well-earned promotion. However, is the pandemic the right time to ask? I have met with countless coaching clients over the course of the last year asking themselves the same questions. The answer is a little complicated.

We want to bring the highest degree of consciousness to the conversation as this has been a challenging time for so many. We’ve seen lay-offs, furloughs and hiring freezes that have complicated the job marketing and promotion track—but that doesn’t diminish your contribution or mean it’s not time to ask for a promotion. I simply invite you to do so strategically and thoughtfully. When thinking about asking for a promotion, consider the overall company performance, your individual contribution and the timing.

Before you schedule your promotion conversation with your manager be prepared with data and business cases to support your rise in the company. Ask yourself, how is the company performing? Is the business viable from the information you can gather? If they’re downsizing, have a hiring freeze, or going through layoffs, you may want to pause your ask. If the company is performing well and growing, this could be a good time to make your case.

As you prepare for your conversation with your manager, ready your unique business case. Get clear on what you have contributed to the business over your tenure, and particularly during the challenges of the last eighteen months. How have you supported company growth, your coworkers, and cross-functional teams to be successful in this time. Outline both qualitative and quantitative examples, if you can.

Lastly, before you have your conversation, consider the timing. Most organizations follow promotion cycles that land at particular times in the calendar year. If you’re asking for an off-cycle promotion, gather any data from employee handbooks, past emails or HR to see if this is common practice. Having examples to point to of previous off-cycle promotions will only strengthen your case.

Now that you’ve done some of the prep work and are ready to make the ask, I invite you to follow the STARS format outlined below.

S—Set the context

As you’re scheduling this conversation with your manager, you’re going to want to give them context to the meeting. Very few people respond well to surprises, so you want to make sure they know what they’re walking into. Choose logistics thoughtfully so they feel comfortable and open. Before you walk into the meeting, check your own intentions. Are you intending to demand a promotion because you’re long overdue for one? Are you intending to demonstrate how wrong they were for passing over you in the last promotion cycle? You want to clear out any negativity before you go into the conversation, so it doesn’t cloud your ask.

T—Tell them your why

This is where you prove the business case for your promotion. Since you did prior research, you’ll have examples for how you added value to your work, your teams and the business overall. A promotion is often about alignment and leaving a space you’ve outgrown to develop your

abilities in a new space. Demonstrate what you’ve outgrown and what you can contribute to that new space and why this growth is so important for you and the business.

A—Ask with confidence

Be direct and clear about your ask. If your manager is unclear on what you’re really asking for, they can’t support you, so directness and transparency go a long way in conversations like these. Do not sidestep the tough stuff because you feel uncomfortable. Be direct, but kind and empathetic and make the ask with confidence. If you don’t feel confident in what you’re asking for, your manager will pick up on that. Remember your why as you make the ask to bolster your confidence.

R—Reinforce your why

Once you’ve made the ask, reinforce your why. I caution you not to overdo this, you’ve already made your case—you’re just underscoring why it’s in the best interest of everyone involved.

S—Send a follow up to emphasize your why and next steps

As you bring the conversation to a close, express gratitude for their time and how they have supported you. Agree on next steps and timing and then send a follow up email to reinforce the ask, the why, the timing and the next steps that have been agreed upon. Follow up as often as it makes sense to both of you. If there is no progress made, establish next steps.

 

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August Career-O-Scope with Anna Toonk

Posted by Amina AlTai on

 

I have good news and bad news. 


The good news is that it's all in your head. The bad news is that it's all in your head. 

The first card I pulled when I asked, ‘what does the collective need to know about career right now?’ was the 8 of Swords. It's a good time to tread lightly. We have all been through a lot. That’s a huge understatement, but it seems to be something we all keep forgetting. We are at a point where I wouldn’t say ‘ I wonder if your mental health has been affected?’ but instead assume it. So, what does that mean? The 8 of Swords is a lot about pinning ourselves in with our fears and anxieties. It's contracting out of the feelings. That’s okay, it happens. We can’t expand without contraction, but the important thing is building the awareness that you’re there so that you can get out of it. 


The biggest thing to ask yourself in regard to your career right now is, ‘where am I making it harder than it needs to be?’ Can you delegate? If you can’t bring in reinforcements, can you bolster your own support? The big thing here is not getting stuck in the mud and knowing what your particular brand of mud is. It’s year 700 of a pandemic, who has energy for fighting where you’re at? We are all so restless. We want clarity, direction and a pathway forward. All reasonable requests and we’re all pretty sure that pathway forward exists outside ourselves. Terrible news….remember how I started this off? The call is coming from inside the house. While it feels impossible for any of us to turn FURTHER inward, that’s the invitation. I’m not saying whatever is going on in your career is your fault. Nope. I am, however, saying that you have the answer. It’s in rearranging the existing pieces. It's accepting where there is dead energy and when it’s best to conserve your own. It's knowing your strengths and weaknesses and not collapsing in shame. Create a plan with self-acceptance.


The 5 of Swords or the ‘how do we lean into the 8 of Swords?’ energy tells me all of this. We have the ability to work differently with a pattern that has traditionally brought us down. There’s a crack in it and we can wiggle through. This is not a license to be mean to yourself, it is encouragement to notice if there’s a pattern that you’re just so over, that tends to make your career tricky. Open yourself up, maybe throw in a scoop of humility, and ask ‘okay, I give, what is it? What am I missing? How do I grow beyond this limitation?’ The answer can be enticed towards you. 


To round out this, I dunno, maybe not infuriating energy but definitely not sexy energy (because let's be real it’s always way more fun when someone else is the problem), we have the Moon. Oh the Moon, I love its energy. It can bring us so much, but man, we’re all like a trapped wild animal when we're in it. If we can be calm and go, ‘you know what? I don’t really know which way is up right now, but I am NOT GOING TO PANIC. I trust my inner compass and guidance to make choices as they come,’ we are taken from night to day into the energy of The Sun. If you are not where you want to be, or things are not flourishing the way you desire, feel your feelings but do not make decisions from them until you’ve run it by your intuition. 


For a lot of people, the best advice right now might be to sit tight and take care of yourself in that discomfort versus making a mess just to have done something. We’ve all done it. Who wants to feel impotent? Not I. I want BDE in all aspects of life. However, it takes a lot of confidence, trust and wisdom to just sit tight sometimes. To trust you’re not lost right now, you’re just somewhere you haven’t been before. 


It's okay if you’re not an expert. In fact, take that pressure off, it's how knowledge comes in. 

To know and trust in a deep, deep way that your time will come is a lifetime lesson, not a monthly one. We’re just being reminded of it right now. Whatever you desire, whatever is your birthright, cannot miss you. You just can’t spin yourself into such a tizzy that you’re exhausted when it arrives.

If you're looking for deeper support around your career and want to start unearthing your purpose, schedule a time to connect with Amina right here.  

 

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About Anna Toonk

Anna Toonk is an intuitive guide, tarot reader and co-founder of a virtual healing space The SoulUnity. She enjoys using her intuitive gifts, and cards to connect you to your deeper truth acting as spiritual support in the pursuit of growth and clarity. A big believer in feelings, intuition as our superpowers and the keys to directing our lives she loves making sense of these for others to help them chart their paths to what they desire. Based in NYC she can be found at annatoonk.comthesoulunity.com and being a wise clown on Instagram at @annatoonk. 

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The Art of Feedback (In a COVID world)

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Create a Safe (Virtual) Container

Just the thought of feedback can activate our brains threat response and make us less receptive and more reactive.  Create a safe container by checking your own intent as well as choosing logistics thoughtfully.  Don’t give feedback if you are upset—allow yourself to cool down first.  When you’re ready, assume your own positive intent reminding yourself that feedback allows you and them to both grow, support the team and the organization. 

Once you’ve checked your intention, choose logistics thoughtfully.  Do not give constructive feedback in front of others (not on a group zoom call, please!).  Create a container that allows them to feel safe (like ordering them their favorite seamless meal and asking that they set time aside in a quiet place for a feedback conversation.)

Be Clear and Kind

Directness and transparency go a long way in feedback conversations. Do not sidestep the tough stuff because you feel uncomfortable and do not save difficult feedback for a future conversation.  That can undermine psychological safety.

Be direct, but kind and empathetic—considering the other persons feelings.  Do not talk about this feedback with others (unless it warrants other managers or departments) and do not, in any circumstances, gossip

Give Actionable Feedback

To keep us on track, use the following format to guide your feedback.  Context, action, impact, solution. Describe the context—the where and when of the challenge.  Then, share specifics on the action that lead to the breakdown or challenge. It’s important to share the impact of that action—what happened as a result? And then finally, what is the solution or next steps?  Feedback without a solution attached is simply complaining so ensure you have some ideas on-hand as to next steps or solutions.

Talk it Out

Now that we’ve shared the feedback in the most constructive way, we want to open it up for a dialogue.  Ask a few open-ended questions such as “how do you see this challenge?” or “does this makes sense to you?” and even “what’s your reaction?”  Allow them to speak to freely and check in on their body language and listen for what isn’t being said (so important in a virtual space).  Hold space with kindness and don’t avoid the hard stuff.

Make Agreements

Reaffirm your intentions for moving forward + your own role in the initial breakdown.  Identify with them how you more effectively support them moving forward.  Restate what you will do moving forward to ensure they have the support they need to achieve the desired outcome. 

 Write down your agreements and next steps.  Follow up as often as it makes sense to both of you.  If there is no progress made, establish next steps.

Check in With Yourself

Afterwards, self-assess and see how you did.  Did you create a safe container?  Were you open and empathetic?  What was your intention? Were you receptive and kind in the dialogue? Were you clear on your role in the breakdown and on the agreements? What can you improve for next time?

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2020 Holiday Gift Guide from BIPOC Companies

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Hi, my sweets!


Can you believe we’re in December already?! How is this happening?!  


I have lots of fun things in store for you this month, including my annual Reflect & Manifest exercise (but with a 2020 spin on it!) coming to your inbox soon!


But, meanwhile, I wanted to pop into your inbox to share my holiday gift guide spotlighting BIPOC founders with some pretty incredible offerings for you all.  


Here’s what some of my loved ones can expect in the mail this year ;) 


This “I’m Speaking” Sweatshirt from Phenomenal Women. 

 

This stunning “Hope” necklace from ByChari (spoiler alert, ByChari created Michelle Obama’s famous “vote” necklace).

 

This Maelove Anti-oxidant Serum. It’s a way more affordable version of C, E, and Ferulic acid and it seriously makes you GLOW! 

 

A Promised Land by Barack Obama from Cafe Con Libros book store.

 

I kind of want everything from Oui the People, but these F#ckFlawless Socks are amaze as is this patriarchy candle

 

This Breaking Racial Bias course with my beloved Anu Gupta. I took the course live and it’s seriously phenomenal.  

 

This amazing coconut bath soak from Chloe & Chad.

 

This Ode to Self Clarifying and Hydrating Face Oil


And, of course, for anyone on your list who needs a little extra nourishment, The Nourishment Journal is the gift that keeps on giving (but I may be biased!).


To great gifts and an even greater 2021!


Amina xx

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