Category Archives: Tips for working through rough times

Recipe for Resilience

There are times when it appears the tide has washed ashore.  Your boat has sprung a leak. The sun has set in your backyard.

During these temporary dark periods it appears that no matter how quickly you bail out water, paddle up stream, reach for safer ground, you still get nowhere.

You may widely open the window; nevertheless, it is you who refuses to let in the sunlight.  No one else is refusing to count the multiple blessings, nor adopt an attitude of gratitude.

Snap out of it I say. Pronto! Press the reset button. Take action immediately.

Stop watching the same old movie. No more complaining!  Sing a different song. The pity party ends right here, right now!

Instead, laugh yourself silly. Put the spring back in your walk. Get your groove back. Put the smile back on your face. You have the power. It’s sticky.  It will catch up with the rest of you, promise.

Start over immediately. There isn’t a second to lose. Why not start the day with a fresh new attitude?

I was reminded of this and the power of resilience by my children. I taught them that no problem is insurmountable. All issues large or small, simple or complex, common knowledge or private, could be handled collectively. They were raised to believe not much could not be cured at the dinner table, or through my home baked chocolate chip cookies, a pot of meatballs, and a large dose of laughter.

Years have progressed, problems have multiplied and grown in complexity; nevertheless, the rules of engagement, secrecy and comfort via the dinner table still apply. Last week my son relayed a story of such intense magnitude my hair practically stood up on end. My daughter’s reaction: “That is horrible”, visibly shaken. “So sad”, (Compassion)! Next, “We really dodged a bullet.”(No codependency there). Finally, “Pass the kale”. (Movin’ On)

I taught them well.  Be compassionate. Know what is yours. Move on.

Foodie that I am, here is my RECIPE for Resilience. Thanks for the inspiration, kids.

R is for Response, Reaction & Relationships:

Your response and reaction to any given situation makes a world of difference in how things will turn out. Some people love a good challenge. Other people’s reaction: why me?

My rule of thumb:

Adversity = Opportunity

I say seize the opportunity. What is the nugget you can grab to learn, grow or prosper?

Can you turn adversity into a stepping stone for personal growth and greatness?

Connections are the heart of my world. My relationships run deep.

In relationships I used to only show up as my personal best. Now I understand that is utter nonsense. It’s exhausting! It is only by allowing ourselves to expose our imperfections, flaws and weakness, that one can fully explore, gain insight and restore emotional equilibrium.  Love me or leave me I say. That’s how I sort out the excess.

Choose your confidants wisely.

Rule of thumb:

To have a friend you need to be a friend.

You can learn a lot hanging around the playground.

E is for ENTHUSIASM:

I truly have a zest for life.

It has been said that my mood and attitude on my worst days resemble that of the average person on their best.

I dance like no one is watching. I sing at the top of my lungs, anywhere, always.  I have no business singing anywhere, ever. Every song is my favorite, ask my kids.  I dress everyday as if I am going to a party. I always wear matching undergarments, in case of accidents. I will try any, I mean any, exercise craze, check out my basement.  I begin each project with total commitment.  I enter all relationships with my whole heart and total abandon.

This is how I roll. This is how I am wired. This is my genetic default button.

How does this help build resilience?

I fake it till I make it.  I never let them see me sweat.  I set the mood and hope the rest of me catches up. Eventually it does.

There are times in life when you will be presented with obstacles. You can view these as challenges or fight to the finish line. Or sing, dance, and look great doing it. Your choice! J

C is for CYCLES & CHANGE

This too shall pass. What goes around comes around. What seems life altering today will not raise your blood pressure six months down the line.

This is hard to fathom when you are swimming upstream in the muck. It is true.

I have heard it said if you round up your friends, colleagues, and even a random stranger or two; put your problems in a hat, you would most likely take back your own.

It is also likely true that the dream job, home, boss and romances unrequited; were really nightmares and bullets dodged.  We just didn’t realize it at the time.

Change is inevitable. I never like to get too comfortable in life because as soon as I do, boom, disaster.   Nine out of ten times the change is good. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

Chin up. Keep the faith. Retain your attitude of gratitude.

For this I keep a Gratitude List:

Every night before I got to sleep I write down at LEAST three things I have to be grateful for.

Even in our darkest periods, we still can count our blessings. Try it and see how quickly the cycles turn in your favor.

I is for INDEPENDENCE:

You were brought onto this planet alone and you will leave it alone.

The truth is, no one is going to save you but YOU.

I spent the first half of my life waiting for my ship to come in; unfortunately I was at the airport.

There was no knight in shining armor for me.  No quick fix. No magic bullets. No happily ever after. Thank goodness!

That is what built grit. The perfect playing field for transformation. When the hard work was necessary the magic could begin!

You can lean on your family and friends. You can read, download, mainline and listen to self-help audiobooks till you become the foremost authority on inner strength or your eyes and ears bleed. Attend all the latest and greatest “kick life in the butt” seminars and workshops. Do yoga, meditate, and stand on you head till you are centered yet blue on the face. In the end it is YOU who will need to take control of your destiny.

Vow to wake up tomorrow knowing that YOU have all the ingredients YOU need to have a fabulous life. YOU have the power to be and do anything YOU want. YOU will be, and do anything YOU want, provided YOU are willing to do the work.

P is for PREPARATION & PLAN B

You can never be too prepared in life; nor should you be without a carefully drafted backup plan. I fondly refer to this as a Plan B.  Doesn’t hurt to have a Plan C and D just in case.

Don’t wait till the floor drops out beneath you, you are gasping for air, have your finger in the dam, while balancing on the ledge by your pinky toe.  The time to spring into action is now!

It will not help if you wait till you are down-sized to update your resume, Bio, and LinkedIn Profile. Update them today! Keep your coach and recruiters closely on hand too.

Don’t continue to linger in negative relationships.  Take control and ask for what you want. Do the soul searching required. Have the confidence necessary to get what you need, or move on.

Don’t wait to go on a diet. Go back to school. Sign up for the webinar. Update your computer skills, or get a new haircut. DO IT NOW!

Whatever you want to be, do, and have, is in your grasp.   If you are willing to put in the work.

I always have my back up plan at the ready. I pack my parachute with a plan B and C.  I keep a plan D and E tucked up my sleeve and shoved in my back pocket, just in case. Life has dealt me an interesting hand. I revel in it. Think of me as a Resiliency Eagle Scout.

Having a backup plan takes commitment and energy.

I work at it hard. I set challenges and hurdles beyond my grasp. I envision the outcomes. I imagine I have already achieved the goal and initiative. My credo, “Failure isn’t an Option”.  In my case it really wasn’t.  It was a matter of life or death. Eat or be eaten. Feeding your kids or not feeding you kids.

I recommend getting an Accountability Partner.  Someone to share your goals and aspirations with.  Someone to send your weekly goals to, who will hold you accountable. They will listen to you when you lose faith. Steer you back on track when you turn left instead or right. Become your confidant, guidepost and most trusted advisor. Most importantly they celebrate your wins!

Second tip, do three things a day toward your goals each day.  It does not matter how big or small.

What happens when you fail to take action?

Answer: Nothing

E is for ENERGY

Energy is the life force of the universe. Since this is a business blog I will spare you my spiritual mambo jumbo  and hide my Zen a bit.  I will not pontificate on the point.

Simple stated, what you put out into the universe will return. The earth is a cosmic boomerang. Like attracts like. Positive attracts positive.   Kind acts will beget more kind acts.  Compassion and empathy the same.

Careful here folks. In Reverse, evil will attract evil. Negative thoughts will bring on more negative thoughts. Disasterous thinking can bring on catastrophe.

What’s a girl to do? Change you attitude, obviously. Tall order. Difficult at best. Not impossible.

Here’s my trick.  Think of yourself as a bucket of energy.  Grab a piece of paper and make a line down the middle. On one side jot down all of the things that zap your energy; on the other side write down all the things that restore your energy reserves.  The goal is to always keep the bucket balanced. This will restore you to sanity.

SWAT and Guerilla Restoration Tactics

Some weeks are harder than others.  It feels the elements have conspired against you. G-d has thrown down the gauntlet.

For these times you must strap on the heavy artillery. Dig deep into your bag of tricks. Create a recovery Pu-Pu Platter of sorts, if you are to find your way back home.

These are the Sundays I play my Fight Song, dance with abandon, and sing along at the top of my lungs.  Your Fight Song is the song you keep on your iPod that revives your energy stores. Makes you want to pump your fists. You know the one that makes you know you can fight another day.  If you do not have one, get one immediately.  I have a whole playlist!

Take your Fight Song on the road. Walk, run, jump, cycle, spin in circles for all I care, MOVE.  I do yoga till my muscles shake at these times. I breathe, release, I MOVE ON!

Once depleted, I dance barefoot in my kitchen while donning a facemask, in between cleaning out closets. Multitasking is as essential as self-care during times of stress.  I will do this while stirring a pot of meatballs, and baking a fresh batch of cookies.  As the sauce simmers and the sweet smell of baked goods wafts through the house, it further settles any residue stress.  I then calmly prepare for the week ahead. I am ready.

As I gather my family back at the dinner table to share a meal and solve the world’s problems; I am now ready willing and able.  Resilience restored, they can hit me with their best shot.

We have gone full circle my dear readers.

As my son gathers his things to drive off into the sunset, I know all is well in my world.

I hope you too digested this recipe and are full of hope and new possibilities.

 

In Case of Emergency Break Glass

 

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I sleep at night with the security of knowing that there is a box of Snowcaps in my night-table. This box of Snowcaps has remained in my night-table unopened for over twenty years. It has accompanied me through multiple moves, various trials and tribulations, and a multiple of life changes, players and personal iterations.

For those who know me personally, I live on carrot sticks and hummus. I rarely even eat chocolate. So why the Snow Caps? The answer is quite simple; it’s symbolic and synonymous for comfort. It is for the same reason that when I was preparing for Hurricane Sandy I bought water, gas, flashlights and five boxes of Snowcaps. After all, if life was going to become challenging, I wanted to make sure I had my comforts available!

I have spent the past month, as I do the open of each year, cleaning (well organizing), purging, and setting the stage for the upcoming year. While cleaning my night-table I came across this ancient box, smiled, and began to contemplate the other “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” habits I have adopted over the years. Further I pondered how important these survival habits, safe guards and rituals have become to my well being and survival in today’s crazy, surprise laden, 24-7 world.

Looking back on simpler times, before the age of cell phones and constant internet contact, having and emergency contact list really had meaning. When leaving the house as a teen and young adult one was told to be home before dark and handed a couple of quarters so you could call someone ”In case of an emergency”. We all instinctively knew just who to call. For me it was my Grandma Fanny. She would get you anywhere, anytime, no questions, no judgment. Who is that person or those people for you? Who will you call when the stakes are high and the chips are down?

It’s wonderful when your children become adults and you can have really honest conversations about what kind of parent you were when they were growing up, and how you continue to support them today. I have come to learn that I am an “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” Mom. What does that mean I asked? Apparently, when it came to the simply day to day stuff like teaching them how to change light bulbs, do laundry, boiling eggs and making beds neatly I failed my kids miserably. After all we were always in survival mode, who could be bothered! Thankfully, everyone turned out great in the end. We skipped egg boiling and went right to omelets. We would be appalled if we got less than A’s in any of our classes, a project (present company included) or showed up late or unprepared to a game or practice! We lived by the golden rule, “Do on to others as you want to be treated yourself”. Most importantly, if you dropped any of us on the set of survivor I am sure we would all make it off the island.

Here are my favorite in case of emergency break glass habits and rituals:

1. Stop!

I used to be the queen of running away from my issues. NO MORE!
In fact I was so skilled at the art of self-deception that I have multiple degrees, a wall of certifications, a laundry list of accomplishments and success beyond my humblest comprehension, all to cover up for problems neglected.
Consequently, I have left shipwrecks of astonished people and boat loads of unanswered questions in my wake. Those days are over.
You can mask running with productivity all you want, but in the end you will need to face your demons and issues head on. Today is as good a day as any.
Slow down, dive in and face the music. This too shall pass!

2. Empty Not Fill

As an ex-chronic runner, filler, busy making problem avoider, and collector of both people and things, I have actually made this one of my New Year Resolutions!
There is nothing better in times of stress, trial & tribulation, and deep contemplation to go on a Personal Purge.
What does this mean? If you need to ask yourself more than once, “Should I hold on to this? The answer is NO. This includes people places and things!

3 Don’t isolate:

Chances are if you run, you also hide. Waiting till you feel better to contact your friends make no sense and defeats the purpose of having them?
Misery does require company. There are others that have walked in your shoes, find them and they will comfort you. Open up to the people you trust. You will be amazed to learn you are not as unique as you think.

4. Know when to let go

Knowing when to let go is always a challenge and often what brings us to our “In Case of Emergency” state.
It is helpful to remember that
“Some people and circumstances present themselves for a reason, some for a season and some to stay.”
I have used this phrase to comfort myself, my clients, my children, and many a saddened friend when they did not get or lost their job, gone through a horrible break up, divorce or life just did not live up to their expectation.
Should I stay or go? Hold on or cut bait?
Knowing the difference is crucial and knowing when to let go is critical!
It helps to remember that life and relationships are dynamic, cyclical and fluid. Be open to all possibilities, and keep your eyes open and learn to read the signs. The right people will actually seem to appear out of thin air.
Trying to make a situation work when it shouldn’t is futile, staying too long may be counterproductive and often destructive. Trust and move on.
The people and things that are supposed to be there will. The ones that aren’t won’t.
Definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results!

5. Break the rules:

I am a definite do gooder, non-corner cutter, live by the golden rule type of girl, but desperate time may call for desperate measures. In times of emergencies you just might be forced to cut a corner or two. Step out of your comfort zone or just push boundaries a bit to experiment with what is possible. Hey you never know? You could stumble into something positive. Just be mindful that you don’t push too far and that you can live with the consequences of your actions.

6. Sweat the Big Stuff!

I am a firm believer that there isn’t an issue or problem that cannot be worked out through with good old fashion sweat and a pair of sneakers, bicycle, yoga mat, weights or whatever physical activity floats your boat. Once a gym rat always a gym rat. I started my Entrepreneurial track as a personal trainer 25 years ago and have always kept a gym membership since, even though I prefer outside workouts (even in the dead of winter). I suggest you do the same. The point is not to isolate. Get up, get out, sweat and start your day right. If you prefer working out at night then go straight to the gym not to your couch. Not to sound unoriginal. JUST DO IT!
I have recently developed a love hate relationship with Hot Yoga. Seriously, who comes up with these things? As if balancing all of your body weight on one leg while holding perfectly still for 60 seconds is not bad enough, now add the element of 104 degrees. Sheer insanity! Yet I show up every Sunday. Why you ask? Discipline? It’s good for me? I’m nuts? My logic, it is mental conditioning. If I can do an hour of yoga each week while being roasted alive everything else that is going to happen to me will be uphill from there.

7. Adventures

Along with my gym rat mentality is my zest for adventure. I am a definite Adrenalin junkie and know this has served me well to help me through many rough patches. For me stepping out of my comfort zone is most often around trying new kinds of physical activity. Parachute Yoga (I know who thinks of these things, but my favorite!), Mountain Biking (15 years ago before it was cool), Rollerblading (when they first came out) to name a few. My son is still traumatized from when I would blade past his bus in middle school and people would say, “Isn’t that your mom”. He would say no, as if there were many other rollerblading moms in the neighborhood.
Bottom line is pick your poison. Live on the edge just long enough to get out of your head for a bit of a break.

8. Fun & Laughter

As hard as I work is as hard as I play. If you read my blogs, or perhaps know me personally, you know that I find the humor in even the most awful situations and topics.
I am a survivor but aren’t we all, we could not have gotten to where we are today without a few bumps or bruises.
I have surrounded myself with some of the best people in the world. Trust me; we have had no shortage of fun. I have laughed at myself, we have laughed at each other, but most importantly we have never stopped showing up for life, and having fun fun fun.
I recently described a best friend of mine as a “Party in a Bag”. This is such a great description of many of my closest friendships. Many of us don’t live in the same state. Our relationships take extra work. So we put in the time and the effort, schedule phone calls, we drive in traffic to see each other, we get on planes and when we arrive we make it count! We laugh, we cry (if necessary) and we have FUN.
LAUGHTER, FUN, CONNECTION truly the best medicine.

9. Calling all contacts

So this will sound like such a contradiction to so much of what I have preached, but I used to be in the habit of waiting till I fixed my problems and the reporting my progress back to my friends. This is absurd!
I am happy to report that I am over this. I will admit that I have had to call myself out to my friends on this habit and they know to reach out if they do not hear from me.
I recommend having regularly scheduled times to speak to out of town friends and specific times you meet your local friends and actually put it in your calendar. This way it actually happens!!
10. Comfort Food

Surrounding yourself with creature comforts in times of trouble is a great thing to do but remember when you popped that last Snowcap, finished the bag of potato chips, and drowned your sorrows in a pint of rocky road you will feel no better about yourself the next day. News flash, your problems are still going to be there.
Remember Rome was not built on Fast Food and French Fries! Think “Brain Fuel” and make healthy choices especially when the chips are down. My rules of thumb, “If it does not fly, swim, grow or have a mother, don’t eat it.” In other words, stay away from anything processed if you want to think clearly to work through your rough patches.
Do treat yourself but make healthy choices. Like one glass of heart healthy Red Wine (good red wine of course!), or a square or two of dark chocolate.

11. Self Care

Times of trouble are no times to let yourself go. In fact you should step up your game even more. My sister and law and I have a running joke. She will always say to me in my darkest hours. “You look fabulous, how can I help”?
If you are a girl, don’t leave the house without make up, if you are a guy shave for heaven sake.
Keep up with manicures and pedicures, dye and cut your hair, schedule a massage, update your wardrobe.
This too shall pass and the last things you are going to want to do when the dust settles is not personal triage, nor should you require a full make-over once things have settled down.
Your grandmother was only partly right. You should never leave the house without a nice clean pair of matching underwear, only you should not do this in case you get in an accident. You should do this because it makes you feel good about yourself!

12. Spoil yourself to a little retail therapy.

Last but surely not least, retail therapy. For me there isn’t a problem in the world that cannot be solved when I have found the perfect pair of new boots and a matching handbag. This I know might not work for everyone. I also don’t recommend retail therapy if your problem is in relation to finances!
Retail therapy comes in all forms and defined is purchasing anything large or small that makes you feel good about yourself, if even for a moment.
Truth be told my favorite retail therapy is gift giving. I love buying gifts and sending my friends random things in the mail spontaneously. No occasion required. I do this out of the blue when I come across something I think will be helpful, or just because it reminds me of them. I do this a lot so they no longer think it’s strange. I highly recommend it. Definitely gets you out of negative thinking for a while.

13. Adopt an attitude of Gratitude:

Every night before I go to sleep I write down at least three good things that happened to me that day and/or three things that I have to be grateful for. It does not matter what is going on in your life, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for at the end of the day. As you start doing this, the positive things will out way the negative things and before your know it the tide will turn.

14. Contemplation

“What brings me to the mat can most often be worked out on the mat”
Translation:
For those of you who have not read my blog the “The Finish Line is a Dotted Line” please do.
Your face down in the ring moment is when your face is on the mat and you are down for the count. The crowd is waiting. What are you going to do? Stay down or get up? Let the other win or claim your rightful victory? This moment is golden; however, it is important to remember this moment is yours to claim and choose alone.
That is where the other mat has always come in for me, the yoga mat that is. Here I can strip down the noise, Adrenalin, anxiety, outside influences, and conventional wisdom to decide what I really want.
Find your means of peaceful contemplation. Then ask yourself what you really want? What is your gut telling you? It is in those quite moments of peaceful contemplation that the healing takes place and the answers come. Follow your voice.  Do the next right thing.

So in conclusion dear reader I wish you neither malice nor harm. I do hope that you read this blog and file it someplace safe and never need to use this list of “In Case of Emergency” tactics. My list is safely nestled next to my Snowcaps as you conclude. It is however an uncertain world and life will continue to throw us surprises and curves balls. Today I do hope you wake up emergency free; nevertheless, just “In Case of Emergency” my list of tactics is my gift to you as you never know, “Maybe one will come up?”

Not Your Circus, Not Your Monkey’s

 

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When you take off on a flight the attendant always says the same thing, “In case of an emergency put your oxygen mask on first before helping the people around you.” This includes the ones you love!
As a road warrior I know this mantra better than anyone. I heard these words every Monday morning for 17 years! It was the theme song of my undoing and then the melody of my road back home.
This, my friend, is the single best advice in my tool chest of tricks. We all know I have a treasure trove of good advice, cautionary tales, analogies and tricks up my sleeve. This one should not be ignored!
Recently, one of my favorite members of my Personal Board passed through town. At an impromptu mini board gathering over fish tacos and red wine, she reminded me of another important saying, “Not my circus, not my monkeys!”
Wow, how powerful and freeing that statement is? How thought provoking.
“Save yourself first”, so you can save the folks around you. Further, “If it is not your circus and not your monkeys” where do your responsibilities start and where do they end? What is yours and what is theirs? What is helping and what is enabling? What is teaching and what is providing answers? Listening and lecturing? Loving and smoothing?
As a parent of grown children letting go is a tippy ship at best. Mission accomplished, although I type through tears, as my son officially graduates and moves the last box of clothing and mementos to Philadelphia next month to start his new career. Nevertheless, isn’t that the point. If you do it right they should leave the nest! My son put his oxygen mask on first! He found his own circus and his own monkeys! Painful as his parting is, I couldn’t be prouder. The coolest part is that we are going to meet every other week in the middle for a meal (once a foodie always a foodie). I will say that again. WE WILL MEET IN THE MIDDLE! (Hold that thought)
So if we are to put our “Oxygen mask on first”, and if it is “Their circus and their monkeys” how are we to continue to show up for our family, friends, colleagues, society and the world in a caring and meaningful way while still retaining our boundaries? After all isn’t showing up fully truly the only way we can make an impact? How then will we still help the ones we love and be of service?
Here is my list of tips for putting on your oxygen mask first so you can show up for those around you while continuing to take care of yourself.

1. We are all a work in progress:

Never stop growing, learning, evolving, exploring, asking, stretching, reading, expanding, scaring yourself, stepping out of your comfort zone! Repeat!
I am a life learner! I say that I am done getting certifications and degrees. We all know I am lying. I will never stop learning! I will never stop reading, taking courses and stepping out of my comfort zone. I will never stop reinventing myself! We live, we learn, we grow and should repeat this process again and again and again!
Pay it forward by sharing your knowledge!

2. Be your personal best:

Whatever your aspiration, strive to be the best in class.
How do you achieve this? Simple, roll up your sleeves and put in the work!
Do the research. Do your homework. Network, Network, Network, (even when you are exhausted). Stretch further than comfortable. Show up fully. Frankly, when you think you have done your best work possible, take one more pass through.
In conjunction have no expectations of others. You won’t need to, you will be too busy leading by example!

3. Take care of yourself:

I never end a coaching session without inquiring about my client’s self-care rituals. Why, because at the heart of our work together no matter what the topic, we can accomplish nothing if we are not taking care of ourselves.
It is the same reason that I watch everything I put in my mouth. Eat organic if possible (even when traveling). Try desperately to get a good night sleep each night, and exercise regularly. I have dragged my yoga mat with me on every trip I have taken for all 17 years of business travel (oh the places we have seen!). It took my limo driver until last year to figure out that I was not a heavy breather and I was meditating on the way to the airport!
Create a healthy routine and stick to it. A healthy life style will lead to productivity.
You will become influential, productivity is sticky!

4. Listen more talk less:

Don’t let the noise cancelling headphones, pile of work, the fact that I am typing, have my eyes closed, am facing the other way, or that I am actually sleeping dissuade you. If I am in your presence (whether I know you or not) you will talk to me and I will listen. You will tell me things you have never told anyone, and I WILL KEEP YOUR CONFIDENCE. I will give you advice, I WILL NEVER JUDGE. Trust me I know things I could have gone my whole life without knowing, but rest assured when you utter the last word it is already forgotten.
When I go on vacation with my family I am instructed not to look up or make eye contact with anyone! (after all, it is their time)
All kidding aside this is the best gift you can give someone, empathy and understanding. A safe place to unload, and then let them go on their contemplative way to figure it out.

Energy zappers/Energy fillers:

Get in touch with the people places and trying that are sapping your energy and GET RID OFF THEM! Ok, so this is not always practical. If it was, I for one would spend my days reading, doing yoga, cooking, gardening, hiking, mountain biking, eating at great restaurants and watching old movies.
We are all intimately in touch with what brings us stress; however, are you aware that there is a positive counter balance?
I am also a bit of a math geek, and a strong believer in that “What gets measured gets done”. In fact if I was to get a tattoo it would have that phrase along with the word accountability!  As a result, I have invented the “Balancing Act” equation. (AP to follow)
How does it work? Make a list of everything that brings you stress and give it a numerical value. Then, come up with a list of energy fillers and do the same until you reach equilibrium!
I challenge you to balance your act! Leave others to do the same.

Speak your mind-Don’t over communicate:

No one likes a nag and overstating the same point over and over and over again does not make it so.
Stop!
Definition of insanity.
Doing the same thing over again expecting different results.
This came up two blogs in a row for a reason!
Don’t hold back. Say it once. Hope you are heard. Move on.

Come as you are:

You cannot change anyone but yourself and you should not want to.
It is your responsibility to continue to grow and evolve, and it everyone else’s responsibility to do the same.
You should always strive to be your personal best and hope that the people around you continue to do the same.
At the end of the day you must accept people for where they are regardless of the level. That is their choice.
Do not let it deter you from continuing to grow. I repeat, do not let it deter you from continuing to grow. Lead by example.

Drop the mad:

This is one of my personal favorites; however, be cautioned it does not always work! Nothing was ever accomplished through screaming, yelling and or trying to solve the world’s problems in one sitting. Sometimes you just have to take a break from it all and have some fun.
If you can put together some peaceful connected moments you can get back to figuring out the world’s problems through a clearer lens.
Take breaks:

Step out of the drama! Get out of the ring! Take yourself out of the line of fire!
Do it for an hour. Do for a day. Do it for a week. Do it for any amount of time necessary and practical so that you can clear your head and think.
Take as much alone time and thinking time required to make the decisions and put the actions in place that are right for you. After all this is yours, not theirs.

Empty vessels/projects:

Oh how I love a good project! I get that from my Grandma Fanny. She always took in strays, and I am very much the same. I have a 12 foot farm table and none of the chairs match. Neither do the people that often pass through for the home cooked meals on Sunday nights. My family and I often reminisce and say, “I wonder what ever happened to so and so. I hope it all turned out well”.
I bring this up as a cautionary tale. It is a gift to give, but it can also be trap. Always give and open yourself to others, but remember it is a two way street.

So, in conclusion, what is yours, theirs and ours anyway?

Another favorite saying of mine is really a question. What happens when you stop hitting your head against a wall? Answer, it stops hurting. What is yours and what is theirs anyway? Truth is, it is all yours and it is all theirs. It is our job to be our best, it is their job to strive to do the same. It is our job to take care of ourselves; it is definitely their job to do the same. It is always our job to show up fully. To be kind, caring, helpful (when asked), resourceful and always, always show empathy. It is their job to clean up their side of the street and do the same. Perhaps in time we agree to meet in the middle? Perhaps we don’t? In the end the universe will take care of the rest.

The Finish Line is really a Dotted Line?

The Finish Line is a Dotted Line

 

 

Why is it from the time we are children we are always striving to reach the next milestone. We can’t wait to lose our baby teeth, only to find we look silly and can’t successfully chew.

Reaching double digits comes next accompanied by gaining entry to a coveted seat at the grown up table. Where consequently we are introduced to chores and responsibilities and often where the conversation is quite boring!

Fast forward, we speed through our high school years. Our new focus becomes getting accepted into to the college of our dreams. We are warned by our family, teachers and trusted advisers that these are the best times of our lives. We do not heed their warnings and fail to truly savor the simplicity of the time.

We then become excited for college graduation. This is when real life will begin! We will build up our resumes, network and interview like a madman and woman. The next thing we know we are drones on the train station platform, ordering coffee on auto pilot, and entering the Monday morning rat race.

Finally comes grown up life. True independence; life on one’s own terms. In reality this means mortgages, bills, car payments and more. Often this is followed by cohabitation or marriage. “If only I was in a relationship and had kids then my life would really start,” might become the next goalpost or mantra. Like all other milestones, does anything truly prepare you for this? Who provides you with the warning labels and fine print?

So net net my dear reader is this; whether you are 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50, in Childhood, Adolescence, Young Adulthood, Marriage, Divorce, Parenthood or Old-Age, the one thing you can undoubtedly count on is that life will continue to raise the stakes.

What are you going to do when life throws you a curve ball? Are you going to lie down and take it or are you going to raise the bar?

One can never truly know what life has in store; nevertheless, you need to be prepared to face each challenge head on. Always bear in mind that adversity bares vast opportunity.

Here are my favorite tips for dealing with life’s ebbs, flows, curve balls and bombshells while continuing to raising the bar:

1. Recognize the signs:

Get real, life does not usually fall apart overnight. There are signs. Do not ignore the red flashing lights from the runway.

2. Read between the lines:

Look for the hidden signs. They are there, you just might not be looking hard enough.

3. Be realistic:

Face reality. Whatever the facts are deal with them head on.

4. Get some rest:

Change is exhausting. Get some rest and by all means schedule in some fun!

5. Save yourself first:

When you get on a plane they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first. This is good advice. If you are ok, you will have the strength to do what needs to be done. You can then help those around you get up to pace and follow your lead.

6. Practice Self-Care:

This is no time to let yourself go! Make sure to continue or adopt self-care rituals that helps revive and rebuild your energy stores. Exercise, Eat Well, Walk with a friend, Spend time outdoors, get a massage, and fill in the blank:_______!
7. Fake it till you make it:

My late Aunt Phyllis taught me that if I did not know how to play tennis to get a great tennis outfit, learn how to jump over the net and then get lessons. “You will catch on” she explained.

I do this with everything in life. I decide what I want to do or be next and then I the figure it out in the trenches. Consequently I always get there!
8. Be Your Personal Best:

Learn, Explore, Read, Stay Relevant, Repeat …………
9. Outsourcing and Lifelines:

If someone offers to help you thank them and say yes! You do not have to be a hero. I have not done a load of laundry or a stich of housework in the two years that I went back to school to change my career. Relinquishing control is difficult, but necessary. Something has to give!
10. Let go:

There are things that you will need to let go of along your journey. These may be people, places and things. You cannot be all things to all people. You cannot divide yourself too thin or you will lose focus and you may not succeed. Remember you are the one on the Journey and you are the one that is undergoing Transformation. Trust the process. Let others catch up.

11. Contact & Thank your Supporters & Personal Board:
You put a Personal Board together for a reason – this is it! During times of transformation you need your closest supporters and accountability partners the most. They will keep you going, talk you off the ledge, cheer you on, and be your best sounding boards. All this, while keeping you honest and sane.

My grandfather taught me at a young age the importance of finding the people you admired the most in life and your career and bringing them into your inner circle. More importantly I learned on my own that in order to have a good friend you needed to be a good friend. I value my close relationships above all else in life, and give relationships my all. I treasure each and every one of you. You all know who you and I know you are reading this. Thank you, Thank you, Thank You!
12. Welcome New and Fabulous Fellow Travelers!

Wow, the people you will meet! Doctor Seuss might have said this first but boy was he right. I have met the greatest people during my transition into my new career. When I walked into NYU that first Sunday morning two years ago I did not realize the door I was truly opening. I have met the greatest people, some I believe to be lifelong friends. Through opening up to new networking opportunities I have again met fabulous people, joined a board and again made fantastic new friends. I have had lunches and coffee dates that have been like warm comfortable sweaters and long deep exhales. Yes, there are people out there that will truly get you, and get what you are going through. Be open to them and let them in. Your will expand and new opportunities will be endless.

13. Steal and savor all and any Peaceful Connected Moment:

I coined the phrase Peaceful Connected Moment when I had small children. By definition a Peaceful Connected Moment, is a very small window of time when the wheels stop, the noise in your mind slows if only for a moment, and you can savor a moment of quiet peace and contemplation.

You will know when one arises. Learn to recognize it, and enjoy.

14. Be willing to take a risk:

At the end of the day, when the preparation, contemplation, and analyzing is over, you must be willing to roll the dice. (I can’t take credit for this, it came from a board member)

You must trust the “Net Will Appear” -Zen Saying

or

“Learn to Swim or Build a Boat” me

15. Let go of dead weight (kindly), but beware of the carnage:
.
When you emerge from the rubble and dust yourself off, not everyone will be there to cheer you when you take your victory lap. This is ok. The ones that are supposed to be there will and the ones that aren’t won’t. That’s life.
You will survive.
My life has imploded and I have reinvented myself so many times, I can hardly recognize myself. This is a good thing; adversity has brought me great opportunity! I have been knocked down and have gotten up each time from my face down in the ring moments stronger, wiser and more resilient from the fight. I have faced adversity and won. I have raised the bar each time and clearly understand there is no finish line or end game in sight. There are only targets, goals and lots and lots of surprises. I am excited for every new challenge. Bring them on, I’m ready willing and able!

I challenge you to do the same.

Transition to Transformation: Tip for Navigating Change

 

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The world is moving at a very fast pace. What are you doing to keep in step?
Every day we hear of corporate mergers, downsizing and restructures. What actions are you taking to rewrite your script to ensure you do not wind up on the cutting room floor?

Did you choose to stay home devoting your energy to the betterment of your family and now face a looming empty nest? What will you do with the next chapter of your life?

It does not matter where you turn; work and life are moving at a dizzying pace. People, vocations and emerging technologies are in a constant state of evolution and reinvention. We face a daily backdrop of high alert and digital connection. No wonder Transition and Change Management have become the adopted vernacular to describe daily existence.

How can one cope with a state of uncertainty and a general sense of unrest?
I cannot overstate the importance of creating a strong contingency plan. Why wait till life is on a downward spiral to pick up the pieces and turn life around? Having a strong backup plan is not only practical but can give you the confidence required to leverage and improve your current circumstances.
Would you go on a road trip without a destination, map, gas, and provisions? Would you go back to school without properly researching the program? Do you step into the ocean with your eyes closed and let the first wave knock you over and spin you around? Then why would you do this in life and your career?

Why show up without the proper skills and a well thought-out strategy? What actions and steps can you set in motion immediately to ensure you are ready to face any and all unlikely events or circumstances?

I recently led a round table discussion group at a Leadership Conference on the topic of sharing our most valuable secrets and tips for success. I introduced the concept of having a Plan B regardless of your current work status. There was a member of our table who was incredibly quiet the entire discussion. I assumed they were unmoved by the discussion. I received an email shortly after the discussion sharing how powerful this concept is. They assumed “that if they showed up each day and did a good job the powers that be would give you a promotion and raise”. It never dawned on them that not anyone else is responsible for your development plan and ultimate destiny.

We can all learn from this lesson. Don’t wait for the fork in the road to form a new path. Lay down a purposeful track and let life adapt to your path. Vow to be the best in class and embellish your current role and life. We all deserve to be happy and on purpose. Don’t wait for necessity or catastrophe. Start building today for the future of your dreams.

Here are my Tips for Building a Strategic Plan B

1. Get real!
Take a fearless and honest look at your current circumstances. Are you showing up as the best possible version of yourselves? Is your position and company secured? If your company took a downturn would you be the first to go? Are you doing what it takes to ensure your relevancy?
2. Keep up with the Jones’s!
How current are your skills sets? Are you keeping up with the current technology? Are you raising your hand for stretch assignments? If not get started yesterday.
3. Ready Set Learn!
Knowledge has never been easier to acquire. If you don’t know something, Google it. Want an up to the minute definition, try Wikipedia. There are webinars, audiobooks, podcasts and multiple books on every topic all downloadable to your smartphone. Today you can get an MBA without leaving the comfort of your home! No excuse, stay relevant!
4. Expand your circle.
Network, Network, Network, and just when you think you can’t stand it one more minute, Network some more.
5. Acquire a Personal Board
Times of change are difficult. Your Personal Board will be your Life Line back. They will keep you on track, honest and moving in the right direction. They will become your biggest critics and your strongest advocates all wrapped up in one!
6. Volunteer: Give and Learn
Volunteering is a great way to keep up your spirit while going through turbulent times. Why not volunteer your services in a way that will require you to learn different skill sets? These skills can be leveraged in your current role or added to your resume for future positions.
7. Take a break
I cannot overstate the importance of self-care during times of change. Change is exhausting. You are in a constant state of uncertainty, learning, stepping out of your comfort zone, and all while showing up at your personal best. Eat Well, Sleep, Nap, Take Breaks, Laugh, See Friends, Exercise (preferably outside), Schedule Fun.
8. Take risks
Change is risky business. Going back to school is scary. Learning new technology is overwhelming. Constantly showing up for networking events can be daunting. Creating an on line presence makes one vulnerable to the masses. You know the old adage, no risk no reward.
9. Step Out
Stepping out of your comfort zone is also not easy. I suggest a change of mindset. Think of trying new things as an adventure. You will not like everything, but you never know what will resonate. I think of how empty my life would be if I did not meet all of my great friends through Networking. What if I never took the risk that first Sunday and walked into NYU for my Coaching Certificate? Trust me I was terrified!
10. Get comfortable with discomfort
My biggest life lesson during my transition from running a Sales and Marketing department to heading up Human Resources and starting my business as an executive coach is that anything is possible. I mean anything! We all have the potential to be, do and have anything we want; we just need to be willing to put in the work. I now welcome uncertainty as it is what gives me grit. It is what gives me the gumption each day to show up as the best possible version of myself and never, never, never give up. One can never truly know what lurks around the corner, but I do know I welcome the challenge. I am ready willing and able to do whatever it takes to reach my full potential. I recommend you do the same.

 

Happiness Is ……

“When one door of happiness closes, another one opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us”.
I recently came across this quote by Helen Keller that gave me reason for pause. It made me contemplate whether life had become so complicated that we have raised the bar too high on how we measure happiness? When we finally do get what we want in life do we stop to savor the moment? Do we move right on to the next big thing? Do we ever slow down long enough to appreciate the little things that bring us happiness every day?
When I was growing up I loved the Peanuts’ song, “Happiness is………..”. I know it was a simpler time, but they were really on to something. They based happiness on uncomplicated principles like, “Two kinds of Ice cream”, “Finding a firefly” and “Tying a shoe for the very first time”.

 

Happiness is 2
One can also learn a thing or two from to the Vantrap family during “The Sound of Music.” Talk about setting a positive example; while escaping occupation, Maria counseled the children to focus on a “Few of their favorite things”! Again, she based happiness on simpler things like “Raindrops on roses” and “Whiskers on kittens”. She further instructed them about the power of positive thinking by prompting them that when “the dog bites” and the “bee stings” that if they simply remembered their favorite things then they won’t feel so bad.

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These examples of course are not based on reality. They were not working toward their next big promotion, saving for their dream homes, dealing with work life balance issues or recovering from the recession. Nevertheless, the antidotes they offer may be just what we all need?
I decided to take their advice and create a list of my own to keep handy during challenging times. Just thinking about the my favorite things made me smile and lifted my spirits immediately. I suggest you make a list of your own.
Here are a few of my favorite things. Happiness is:
1. The first sip of coffee in the morning.
2. The first crisp fall morning that requires me to run back in and grab a sweater.
3. A clean new note book and any kind of new office supply.
4. A book that is so good that I lose all sense and time. When I turn the last page I am actually bereaved because I will miss the characters.
5. Drinking a bottle of wine that I have saved for many years that it is well worth the wait!
6. Sitting around my farm table with my whole family talking long after we have finished the last bites of dinner.
7. French fries, pizza and ice cream with mix- ins.
8. A great sale!
9. Boots, jackets and hand bags!
10. Getting an A in school.
11. Stretching past my comfort zone and learning a new skill.
12. Date night with my husband.
13. A great meal and cool new restaurant.
14. Walks with my girlfriends, long talks on the phone, and Sunday movie dates.
15. Helping anyone.
16. Time with my family (bears repeating).

Now I am not suggesting for one minute that you stop striving for greatness or that we should not set the bar high to reach our goals and ambitions; I am however suggesting that we take some time to enjoy and notice the things that bring us happiness along the way.
What is on the top of your list? I would love to know.

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