The Value of Purpose

I normally consider myself a go-getter. I like to stay busy both in my personal and professional life, accomplishing as many goals and getting as much done as I can. But certain tasks – whether it be outside my comfort zone, time consuming, or just plain boring will go to the back of my list, rarely to be addressed. I work most effectively with a deadline but without, it tends to go to the back of the list. Jeph Maystruck read Parkinson’s Law, “work expands so as to fill the time available for completion”, at our annual retreat this summer as my to-do list started piling up, so it hit home at the time. There were many things that I had been putting off that ran through my head, all of which had loose deadlines. I needed to adjust my way of thinking about these tasks instead of procrastinating as they were starting to build up and so was the overwhelming feeling that came along with it. I knew I had to find a way to take the first step, even though I wasn’t sure what that step was, nor did I really feel like it.

So I decided to brush up on my time management skills by reading books, watching TED talks, and listening to various speakers. All of which had useful information on time management and productivity. But I quickly realized it wasn’t my time management skills that needed improvement, it’s that I was only focused on one thing – crossing the task off my to-do list. Sure there are certain times in the day where I’m most productive, having my phone on silent helps me avoid distractions (let’s be honest my phone is permanently on silent), and taking small breaks helps improve productivity, but being productive is only so useful if there’s no purpose.

When I get really busy life tends to turn into more of a task list and my main focus is generally moving from one task to the next. But when I take a step back and think about it, what’s the point if I’m not enjoying the process? Sometimes, when our task list piles up it’s hard to see the big picture around the why, instead we’re focused on deadlines and stressing until all the tasks are complete. It’s important that when I feel overwhelmed with all my ‘to do’s’ that I take a step back and ask myself ‘does this work contribute to my end goal?’, ‘will I be closer to accomplishing my goals after I complete this task list?’ and, ‘do these tasks align to my core values?’. Once I take the time to ask myself these things I feel less stressed and it becomes clearer to me which items on my list are important. I think we all fall victim to saying yes more than we should, we all inherently want to do our best and the most we can to help others. However, sometimes this comes at the cost of burning ourselves out. This past summer I committed to running my first half marathon. Initially I thought my biggest challenge would be the physical aspects of training. To my surprise it was prioritization – I no longer had time to do it all, which took a big toll on me. It takes some work, but once you are clear on your personal core values, you can let this guide your decision-making process. This helps me to determine if the things I say yes to really align with where I want to be and if they are in alignment with my values. How do you let your values guide your actions?

Positively Productive

I recently watched a Ted Talk by Shawn Achor ( about how happiness can lead to not only better mental and physical health, but also more productive workplaces. Shawn argues that happiness in any given situation is a choice, and that by making that simple choice, we are setting ourselves up for success. Happy employees are healthier, easier to coach and even more productive.

The happiness argument has been made by many a public speaker. But often I’m left wondering – if the choice to be happy is so easy, why is it so hard to follow through? One might argue that it’s because complaining is so engrained into our lifestyle. Misery loves company, and we have trained our behavior to match that sentiment. So in this month’s blog, I want to share some of my tips and tricks for making workplace happiness the norm around the CU water cooler.


Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is something so easy that makes a huge difference in your outlook. Whether you call it focusing on the positive, being thankful, or looking on the bright side, gratitude is an easy way to train your behavior towards happiness. Recently my family has taken to actually filling out a white board with the things that we are grateful for. Putting what you are grateful for in writing is a very powerful tool, and reading what others are grateful for is often an eye opener.


Help Someone

It comes as no surprise that helping someone else just feels good. Its why many of us decided to start a career in the Credit Union system, where volunteerism is a key value. Make sure that you are taking advantage of volunteer activities promoted through your work, and truly enjoy that good feeling when you’re done. Helping someone can be done on a small scale too. Lend a hand to a coworker struggling with a project, take a minute to help a neighbor carry their groceries, even paying for the person in line behind you at the drive thru can leave you feeling cheery all afternoon.


Get Enough Sleep

As Andrea Phippen mentioned at our SYL retreat this summer, it is very hard to practice emotional intelligence when your physical needs are not being met. Being well rested helps you to have patience, maintain your engagement in tasks, and yes – be happier. Don’t worry about making big changes overnight, just try and adjust your sleep window by 5-10 minutes at a time. Little changes make big differences.

As we go into this busy season following summer holidays, make sure to take the time to focus on the positive. Little steps towards happiness can bring down our stress, make us more productive and even… happy 🙂


Shout out to the BCYoungLeaders for sharing the Achor Ted Talk with their community. Connect with them on Twitter @BCYL or online at

Tune Out to Turn In

Keeping yourself grounded in a time of constant change can be a hard task to accomplish. Social media, constant email notifications, and the need to continuously be connected can make it hard to unwind and regroup after stressful days. Many people think that in order to be successful in our careers you need to be available 24/7. I was totally one of these believers, however I now feel the opposite. How can I give the best to my organization and coworkers if I never have time to focus on giving my best to me?

I recently listened to a phenomenal public speaker (Jeph Maystruck – you’ve probably heard of him) who enlightened my way of thinking when it came to this topic. When did we become slaves to our phones and computers instead of having them make our lives easier? I don’t remember the last time I had my phone on silent without feeling constant anxiety that I was missing something important. I mean, I even have my FitBit give me a notification so that I can know who is contacting me ALL THE TIME… talk about addicted. While it may not be realistic that I sever all ties with my iPhone, I feel like there are some things that I can do to help me perform my best at work as well as taking personal time to regroup. Let’s face it – being a burnt out 27 year old is not on my list of things to accomplish!

First of all, I decided to put technology to work to my advantage and I downloaded a meditation app. This app even has a breathing bubble – which comes VERY handy both at home and in the world of Human Resources (it’s not all roses, people). Second, I’ve attempted to stay on track and not be a slave to my incoming emails. Do you all know how much easier it is to accomplish things when you’re not constantly reading pop-ups?! GAME. CHANGER. Last, I turned off the notifications on my FitBit – I don’t need to be dropping what I’m doing at every second of the day to go to my phone, or sitting there reading my watch. Sorry Mom, I will be missing a few more of your phone calls now.

While these are a few things that have helped me to become more grounded in my day, they may not work for you. What makes you feel calm and relaxed? Can you somehow incorporate it into how you structure your days? Technology is a thing of the future, but we can definitely use it to our advantage! As future leaders of the CU system, we’ve got some exciting times ahead – let’s embrace them and live in the moment.


Twitter Chat

Our Twitter Chats are always a huge hit! Check back soon for details on the next chat, and in the meantime make sure to follow us! @SKYoungLeaders

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

As some of you may know, I am expecting a baby this summer. This is not the topic of my blog but I could go into all the details about the anxieties that come with being a first time mom… I will spare all of you the details. Instead I would like to talk about how a symptom of pregnancy has forced me to be more aware of how I show up at work. In the past I have had a good handle on my emotional intelligence, but throw some pregnancy hormones in the mix and that goes out the window! As someone who frequently takes the time to self-assess my behaviors, I now find myself thinking “did you actually say that” and “what were you thinking”. So what does that mean for my work relationships? Will they just give me a pass because ‘it must be the hormones’ or do I have to be better for the people around me? I can honestly say that depending on the day I might answer that last question differently, again based on my hormones. However, today I say the people around me deserve better. How I show up at work and at home is so important for my own wellbeing as well as the people around me. So exactly how do I manage this when something going on internally makes it so difficult? Well it is through Self-Regulation, one of the 5 key elements of emotional intelligence. See, by reflecting on the things I have done, I am holding myself accountable to being better. Once I have recognized how I have reacted in certain situations, it helps me to manage my emotions in similar situations. It also made me self-aware so I was able to go back to the individuals who I had those “did I just say that” moments and apologize. This shows those individuals that I am comfortable with admitting when I am wrong and that I care enough about them to preserve our relationship. I truly believe that having a strong EQ helps us be better employees, leaders and all around better human beings.

According to Daniel Goleman, there are 5 key elements to emotional intelligence:

1.       Self-Awareness

2.       Self-Regulation

3.       Motivation

4.       Empathy

5.       Social Skills

 I have attached an article which goes into more detail around each one of these areas.

 While my story was around how my EQ was affected by hormones, how might someone else’s be affected? Could it be from a lack of sleep, a fight with a partner or friend, or maybe your child wouldn’t get dressed that morning; whatever the cause may be, it is important to understand the connection between that and our EQ. I encourage each of you to take the time to learn more about emotional intelligence. How does it affect your work and personal relationships? The nice thing about emotional intelligence is that you can always work at improving. If you are interested in investing in your development, I highly encourage you to work on mastering your EQ.  Just Google “EQ” and you will be amazed at all the resources available!


Spring Update

We are five months into the year and we have accomplished so much already! We want to thank our annual and initiative sponsors for making this possible and for the ongoing support your Credit Unions provide – whether it is monetary, advisory, or a combination of both, we sincerely appreciate it.

So what have we been up to? Funny you should ask…

January 2018 – First annual meeting in Moose Jaw, SK. We set the foundation for a few great initiatives to take place throughout the year. We met with Strategy Lab and opted to transition to them for a website rebuild and ongoing hosting. We were absolutely blown away by their passion for what they do, it was an obvious fit for us credit unioners and we are so impressed with their service and the end result.

April 2018 – CUMA in Saskatoon, SK. was a blast. The CUMA Executive did a fantastic job with organizing, hosting and getting top notch speakers in place. We especially enjoyed the panel discussion comprised of a combination of Executives, Board Members, and Staff. Getting a variety of people involved created an engaging discussion, and we also got to see our very own Brittany Halkyard co-host. Way to go Britt!


February 2018 – Hosted the first Twitter Chat of 2018. The topic was around Personal Development Plans (PDP), Learning & Development (L&D) and Competency Assessment Questionnaires (CAQ). It was a very busy hour with activity coming from system leaders, individuals and Young Leader groups. Thank you for your participation! Prospera Young Leaders shared a resource titled The Johari Window, an exercise intended to better understand your blind spots.



Upcoming June 2018 – Annual Retreat “Beyond the Numbers: Finding Your Why” in Cypress Hills, SK. The retreat is designed to bring together Saskatchewan Credit Union leaders who will experience scenario-based learning on Leadership, Change Management, Solving System Challenges, Communication and more. Congratulations to those accepted; we are looking forward to seeing you!

Upcoming Q3/4 2018 – CU Advance 2.0 Implementation. SYL has partnered with the 2017 winners Team CU by Design (Shannon O’Neill (Cornerstone), Stephanie Burkell (Affinity), Josh Noble (Unity) to assist in the great question: how can the SK credit union system increase walletshare and expand membership base?

SYL Spotlight: Congratulations to the one and only Josh Noble, Manager of Innovation for Unity Credit Union who took home the CUNEXTGEN Sponsorship Award. Josh has been very involved on the Saskatchewan Young Leader and National Young Leader committees. We are very happy to see his inevitable success!

“My first year on SYL has been nothing short of inspiring. Getting a firsthand look at the leadership and teamwork that comes out of all corners of the province really makes me proud to be a part of SYL as well as the CU system. I feel super excited and ready to take on the next year!” – Larissa, 1st Year

“My first impression of the SYL committee was how well we balance professionalism and fun. My first 6 months on SYL have had me collaborating with colleagues across the province, planning events, marketing, web design, project management and more! The biggest thing I have learned is just how much can get done when everyone on the team is active and engaged; we are all working hard to create success. ” – Ashley, 1st Year

“In my first year of SYL, I have seen the power that common ideas and values have to bring people together to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives.  I look forward to being part of such a great committee and bringing great development opportunities to the Credit Union system.” – Christine, 1st Year

“We have such a solid, intelligent group of people who are ready to collaborate and give to the Credit Union community, and that is really cool to be a part of. I’m excited to look back on this year and all of the successes. #killinit” – Tamara, 1st Year

“Having a young leader program is so vital to the individual credit union and the credit union system, especially as we head into the future. Weyburn CU supports our young leaders by engaging them in initiatives and encouraging them to get involved.” – Donna Rooney, Business Relations Manager for Weyburn CU Yellowgrass and Lang branches


What did one hat say to the other hat?

Follow us @skyoungleaders to get your ha-ha!


We hope you enjoy a safe and fun summer!


Choose Your Struggle

I’m a fan of unconventional things. This admiration of weird extends into almost every facet of my life; from hobbies, to people, music, how I prefer to do business, and specifically books. Enter Mark Manson.

Mark and I have built an intimate relationship and he doesn’t even know it. Next time you go into the book store, find a beautiful, little orange book titled “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a *beep*”. Yes, I have edited the title out of respect. Yes, he published a book with a curse word in the title. He doesn’t care, and it doesn’t matter. The point: when you stop caring so much about external stuff, and re-focus that energy on what really matters – you – that’s where the magic is. Is this starting to sound familiar yet? Opposites attract, The Secret, The Backwards Law, the list goes on.

Mark Manson

That page hit me like a brick wall. Combined with the other healthy doses of reality that he throws at you, it felt like an entirely new concept. It is important that we recognize that there are going to be speedbumps, there are going to be very uncomfortable situations before we hit our goals. I set goals, and most times I crush them, however sometimes I don’t fully commit to the rocky process and consequently fail at execution. What if by welcoming the setbacks, which tend to be the milestones before the end goal, our success rate went through the roof? What if we made I don’t like to-do lists?

Some examples could be:

  1. I’m going to speak publicly as often as I can. In the beginning, it’s going to be awkward and I’m going to strongly dislike it.
  2. I’m going to spend most of my personal time to an educational course for the next three months. Social events and trips are off.
  3. I’m going to dedicate time and energy to exercising for the rest of my life. I’m likely not going to see results right away and it will be disheartening.

Sometimes we need to get real with ourselves and choose the struggle. For those of you that need ultra-positivity, that is totally okay if it’s working. If it’s not, could this work? I jumped into that question’s rabbit hole of self-analysis head-first and thought to myself “what a wonderful world”. Just kidding, it was interesting to say the least, and it will be ongoing, but it is a wonderful world.