Work Life Balance made Simple

How to make work life balance simple:

  • Everything is not equally important. Do fewer things and do them well.
  • Decide what your values are — and which ones take precedence.
  • Do the things that get results.
  • Focus on the things only you can do.
  • Do the important things, which must be done now.

Work life balance can be simple over time. It won’t be resolved tomorrow but you can get much, much better at this with practice.

Five Key concepts that make work life balance simple:

  1. Learn to say no.

Say no to requests that are not your highest-level priority. Ask your self: am I being helpful or I am doing someone else’s work for them? Is this the best use of my time right now?

You can do anything once you stop trying to do everything.

When you say yes to one request, stop to think what you are saying no to at the same time. You can only spend your time on one thing at a time.

  1. Plan ahead.

Planning out your schedule makes sure the important things get done. Setting up a list for each day, helps you stay on track.

Schedule the important things on your calendar. If getting to your daughters soccer game is important, put that on the schedule.

Schedule some time for yourself as if it was an important meeting.

When you plan ahead for your high value activities, they happen. If you neglect to plan you end up dealing with what ever comes at you in a random fashion.

That feels like a lack of control and is exhausting to react rather than take action.

 

  1. Bundle chores or errands.

Check your patterns; be mindful of how you spend your time and the choices you make on a daily/ weekly basis. How many trips to you make to the grocery store?

When you have a plan for meals you can reduce time spent at the store and preparing meals. Plan ahead for errands and take once a week to do them.

Return phone calls in a batch at work. Save low priority tasks for when you need a mental break.

 

  1. Manage work time

Start each day with the high priority list. Plan ahead on what time you will leave work each day. Cut back on distractions by closing your door or asking questions when you are interrupted. Asking questions can save everyone time. Ask about time, priority and who else is involved before you take on another project.

What is the deadline for this? What do you need from me right now? If someone brings you a problem or needs help: ask first: What solutions do you have in mind? Or ask what have you tried first? Refer back to # 1. Learn to say no.

 

  1. Enjoy weekends and vacation time.

When you are home, really be home. Keep work out of your personal time.

Unplug from work emails, phone calls or texts. Don’t feel like you have to spend every spare moment on chores or tasks. Set up personal rest time doing something fun and enjoyable, even if it seems wasteful. It is not. Time for self-care is critical to enjoying your life and reducing stress.

My final few thoughts are about letting go of expectations and being perfect.

Give up on perfection. Good enough is good enough for many tasks. Other people can do things instead of you doing everything. You just have to let them.

Gaining a work life balance is a process. Reflecting on what is important to you is the first step to making changes that last. Feeling unbalanced? Contact Gwen for a grounding coaching session.

Click here to get a 30 min coaching time

Swim around the Rocks

 

 

 

Habits can be helpful or they can be so automatic that we forget to reflect if we could improve or change a process to make it easier.

What makes us push through the toughest possible path because it is what we have always done? What stops us from trying a different path to see if it might be easier?

I had a dream last night. I love swimming. It feels good, improves my mood and gives my brain a rest while my body gets a great workout.

In my dream the pool was full and in each lane people were just floating in small boats taking up all the space. If I attempted to swim with the boats, I would hit my head, have to stay underwater or just get pushed around by the boats. Even when I asked nicely, the people in the boats were not willing to move for me. So my dream self decided if I wanted to swim I would have to give up on the pool and just go swim in the air.

Dreams are magic. What I discovered was how fun and easy it was to swim in the air. Why had I not tried this before?

If you find yourself pushing through obstacles, consider how you might go around them. How could you avoid the obstacles and make life easier? Is there a path or new idea you could try? Play the “what if” game. What if this might work?

What if someone else has a good idea? How could I make this process easier?

What patterns do you have that might be improved by trying something completely different? In my dream I was free to explore unheard of possibilities. In real life you will benefit by thinking as if anything were possible. Surprise yourself by taking a different path and see what you learn.

 

Make Happiness Top Priority

 

thumb_img_0793_1024What would change in your life if you decided make happiness your top priority?

Edwin Edebiri, thinks that happiness needs to be our default position and has declared himself the Chief Happiness Officer. Listen to his Ted- ex talk here. Happiness as a Default Position
He speaks to a core belief that happiness is a state you deserve to enjoy and everyone can find happiness. I agree that happiness is a state of mind that improves when you pay attention to what does make you happy. What I like about his talk is the idea that self-compassion or the ability to forgive your self is a key component to happiness.
I pulled a few ideas that appealed to me from his talk.

How to make Happiness your priority in life
1. Decide to be happy
2. Smile more and learn to laugh at yourself
3. Create a gratitude list, include what makes you happy
4. Create a list of all the things that make you unhappy and seek solutions
5. Eliminate some things that that contribute to unhappiness
6. Be active and make healthy choices for self care
7. Create a dream list and take actions towards your dreams
8. Play
Is it really that easy to become happier?

There is research that supports that idea of happiness linked to attitude and your focus on need satisfying goals. Remember that these are goals that nourish and support you, not just achievement goals.
Goals that nourish you can be long-term projects that you work on over time. Happiness comes from taking good care of your self in small ways.

What makes me happy?
I have small things that make me happy: hearing a bird sing, riding my bike instead of driving to the store, connecting with people on a summer walk, swimming and a quiet start to the day drinking tea. Consider the small things that you find pleasure in. What does make you feel good? It can be an activity or something you view or appreciate. When you pause at the end of every day and create a gratitude list, it gives you a reason to be happy. In hectic times the only thing we really can control is our attitude.

Look at the ideas above and find what fits your needs. Try one or two of them and see what happens.  Really it can be that easy to enjoy happy moments.
Need some other ways to check your happiness level? Schedule a call with Coach Gwen

Self Talk Inspiration

 

 

thumb_7qrodllp5v6o_1024What do you want to hear when you talk to yourself?

How would you inspire your best friend who needed support in a time of crisis?

I hear too many why questions in my self talk.

Why did you do that? Why didn’t you finish that? Why are you still worried about what you cannot change?

You are strong. You have courage. Follow your heart. Be kind. Give yourself credit. Pay attention to the light within. Listen to your heart. Be caring to yourself so you have the ability to share that caring spirit.

I can change my self talk by focusing in the words that demonstrate love, courage and compassion. My mantra has been: you are loved, you are loveable.

What do you need to tell yourself? Find those words and repeat as often as needed.

Responsibility- Is this Mine?

When did I first learn that I was responsible?  Some where in the lesson of responsibility – I twisted up what I was responsible for. I took on the belief that I was responsible for all others first, that I was responsible for other people. That I was responsible for happiness, feelings, outcomes, being perfect, doing it all.

That other people’s feelings and needs came before mine. I used to think that doing things for others was important and I was not important.  Now I reject that belief and have let go of my idea of being responsible for the entire universe.  Are you really in charge of the universe today? Only when I ask myself that out loud does it sound silly.

Responsibility is a habit that is difficult to sort out at times. I am at heart a responsible person. It is the order of my belief that has changed. I cannot be helpful, compassionate or caring when I am overwhelmed or carrying the weight of all responsibility around with me. What happens if you pick up every task or problem that you see? How many of these problems or rocks can you carry and still keep moving without impacting your own health?

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On good days, I will gently hand you back the responsibility you attempt to pass over to me. On bad days, I will say yes to anything asked of me, and then get angry or upset when I realize I have taken on too much responsibility again. When I carry around things for other people, there is no space in my life for me. I am important. I need to be responsible to me before you.  Another lesson to be learned.

When I do forget and slip back into that outdated idea of what is mine, I am able to remind myself by asking better questions.  Is this really mine? Pause. Say no before yes. Who does this belong to? Why would you ask me that? Is this mine?

I am responsible.

I am responsible for my own happiness.

I am responsible for self -care, honoring my feelings, being kind to myself.

I believe that self- care is critical to self- development and growth.

I am responsible for me.

Words can be used as Weapons

Words can be used as weapons

Words can be used to shame, blamarchere, humiliate, hurt, discourage and intimidate.

Words used as weapons can create emotional distress even when the intentions are careless instead of deliberate. Words can be thrown out in anger or frustration. Words can be used in a deliberate pattern of verbal abuse. I think we fail to recognize the effect of verbal abuse on our physical and emotional health. We have been told to toughen up and ignore hurt feelings, that we are too sensitive and cannot take a joke.

 

In reality your response or understanding of the intended meaning of words is what counts. If you think you have been insulted or ridiculed: then you have been. Trust your internal instinct on how the words were intended.

Suzette Haden Elgin reminds us, “ That verbal violence is a toxic menace. The majority of illnesses and disorders that develop in the workplace have emotional stress as their direct or indirect cause.” (1.)

Words can be carefully crafted as a verbal attack. Elgin describes here how

to recognize the “Verbal Attack Pattern”.

“The most reliable clue you have to verbal abuse is to listen to how different words are stressed in the spoken sentence. Listen for odd or abnormal emphasis to be placed on words spoken.”

Examples: If you really cared about your health–you would get off the couch and start exercising

What is so difficult about eating healthy? It is so simple any one could do it.

In both these examples the attacker is not interested in your answer.

These words are not used to encourage or support. A verbal attack is meant to injure, blame or shame. You don’t have to apologize or explain when under attack. Here are some short ideas about how to defuse a verbal attack.

The attack will include a bait: Some part of the sentence will attack you personally and expect you to defend against that part of the sentence.

Your best defense is to recognize that attack pattern and ignore the bait.

Instead keep your voice calm and address the situation at hand or agree with something that has been said.

All words spoken are not absolute truths. Just by understanding and recognizing a verbal attack can help you reduce its impact or power to inflict pain. It saddens me to realize how often we accept criticism as our fault without questioning the intention behind the words spoken to us. My hope is to raise awareness of the words we hear and speak. That we focus on how to communicate with sensitivity to others and learn to defuse or deflect words used as weapons. I have gathered many tools and skills over the years as a martial arts instructor and teacher of verbal self-defense. I hope this blog gives you some new ideas and would be happy to discuss your specific situations with a coaching call. Schedule a call with Coach Gwen

Elgin, S. (2000). The gentle art of verbal self-defense at work. Paramus, NJ. : Prentice Hall Press

 

 

The Emotional Roller Coaster

The Emotional Roller Coaster- Cancer

What are your options when you know your emotions are running your life and you really need to find a center balance point to be there for your loved one?

How do you be the support person when your friend is upset and having difficulty dealing with loss or grief ?

I wish I could give you the right formula that would help you every time.

I can only share what I learned about accepting my emotions without letting them take over my life.

I now view my emotions as waves. Emotional waves can be large or small, expected or unexpected. You can learn to swim with your emotions by accepting them as just your feelings of the moment.

I hate crying, yet I have cried more the last 30 days than the last 30 years. I hate not having the answers, yet there are some questions that have no answers. I like having a plan and knowing what will happen next. Cancer of a loved one does not give you that option. Making plans is a waste of time and energy. Living on an emotional roller coaster is exhausting and unsustainable. So what do you do?

Most of us have tried two things, ignore your emotions or stuff them away to deal with some day. Some day never comes, so that is the same as ignoring them.

Ignoring emotions allow them to build up to a crisis where you are likely to explode over trivial things. Learning to accept and work with your emotions will allow you to accept them as an experience instead of a stress trigger.
Here are three ideas that have helped me stay steady and calm.

First: Accept the fact that you have emotions and they will show up unexpectedly.

Second: Recognize your feelings and acknowledge them. I do that my naming them.

Third: Ask yourself “what do I need right now?” as a way to focus on actions that support you in time of chaos.

Self-care will take many forms. I thrived on reading, exercising and focusing on small daily routines that brought me comfort. Judith Oeloffs’ book Emotional Freedom was useful for my handling this sudden change in my life. She describes emotional freedom as a chance to become better. “ To make this a reality, you must begin to see each event of your life, uplifting or hurtful, earthshaking or mundane as a chance to grow stronger, smarter, more light-bearing. “ My definition has been simpler. Emotional freedom means to flex your emotional muscles on a regular basis until you accept them as part of you. Do your current strategies work for handling emotions? Reach out and start stretching those emotional muscles by connecting with other people, a trusted friend, a coach.