The following articles are sample posts from my newsletter.
Would you like to be notified when new articles are posted, and receive notices about special program offers?
It should be easy, shouldn’t it? You dream, you imagine, you picture what your life would be like if it were completely up to you. The search for purpose and meaning is ongoing. The ability to maintain a connection to it is often excruciatingly difficult.
Steven Pressfield, author of “The War of Art,” says that the closer you get to your passion and your purpose the greater your resistance becomes. It seems backward, doesn’t it?
In this world where being “on” and productive is highly valued, it’s not easy when the energy for your work – or anything else in life – suddenly drops. It doesn't take long before your mind starts telling you tales about why you need to suck it up and keep going. What drives this? Well, there are many things, but I want to highlight one in particular.
We have tied our results so tightly to what we DO that we have forgotten that we are not in charge of the universe, and that life happens.
It happens to most of us who are in business for ourselves. You experience a lull in inquiries for your services, or the well has dried up completely. No matter what you do, what you "know" to do, it isn't resulting in new business. Does it mean you need a skills upgrade, or is it a signal that you’re in a transition and you don’t know it yet?
If business isn’t going well, if you’re not meeting people who feel like kindred spirits, and/or your health is less than optimal, you might simply be in the wrong environment. It sounds crazy, perhaps, but where you live, work and play can make a big difference in your vitality, and your productivity.
I recently attended an Introvert's Meetup where we talk about what it is like to navigate various aspects of life with this particular "trait." At one point in this particular meeting we talked about the balance between alone-time and social engagements.
It got my attention when, within a short period of time, several people apologized to me for “being late” in replying to my call, email or online inquiry. In none of these instances was I concerned about the “delay,” which span was anywhere from 7 hours to 3 days. So, I wondered, why were they?
Decisions and actions based on "should" are likely to set you on a course of pursuing dreams that are not yours, of making decisions that eventually backfire, and in the end have the potential to create a pile of regrets when you realize you've been living life by someone else's good ideas and not your own.
When I hear the word “should” slip out of someone's mouth, it is a good indicator that they are not making the decision, something else is. That something else is usually some undetected voice living in their head. That voice can be parental in nature; it can be the voice of a teacher or mentor, or an "everybody knows" voice. With "should" in the mix there is little room for want, and less room for clarity.
Working to your strengths is not a new idea; it’s been a conversation in the business world for 20-30 years. However, since business tends to give a bigger piece of the pie to people on the sales side, or in leadership roles – if your innate talents aren’t a good match for those roles, you might discount them like I did.
Are you often the person who raises his or her hand when someone asks for help? Do you also volunteer to help when no one has asked? (I know, ouch. It’s OK. Just stay with me.) Sure, stepping up to help sounds like a good – even noble – idea, but if you find yourself “complaining” about how exhausted and busy you are, and spend a lot of time working on things that are not YOUR priorities, it might be time to investigate your motivations.
Some of the words we use to describe our relationship to time and productivity carry a pretty heavy judgment, often not favorable. They are concept words, in that they point to mental assessments that may or may not be true. Furthermore, their repeated use often puts an end to inquiry, other than to figure out how we should be different, or the other person should be different.
I’ve been thinking – as I often do – about this whole thing we’ve invented called Productivity. It seems to be one of those areas of life I’m here to question. It might be an outgrowth of the years when I was so ill I couldn’t be a consistently “productive” human being, or a predilection for laziness! I don’t think so (on the latter) but I do enjoy large doses of “time-luxury.”
Many people rate the quality of their day based on how “productive they are, where productive is equated to results or the tasks completed.
"Why" is a question that has to be answered when you start a business and again – and again - as your business grows and lifestyle needs change. Healthy or not, complicated circumstances or not, if you’re feeling any level of stress regarding your business – or your job – it may be time to reexamine your motivations in order to assess potential conflicts.
I don’t know why I woke up thinking about the word “respect” today. Maybe it was the dream I was having in which a faceless woman had committed to some fairly public project, and when she got to the starting gate realized that it wasn’t right for her. She bravely and publicly announced that she would not be able to step into the position…in my dream.
Your working conditions can have a greater impact on your sense of well-being and on your productivity than you might realize. When you're not in the right environment for you, it doesn't matter what you do, things won't be quite right. Even the people you love will not be as lovely to you if you're not in an environment that nourishes you.
Good self (or body) care is not an after-hours event, but a regular practice of mindfulness that starts with careful consideration of the projects, clients and work you pursue or accept and ends with awareness of your body’s need to move, eat and rest.
Is anyone really only working 8-5 any more? If not, why do most company owners and CEO's still insist on a traditional start and stop times to the work day?
Control? Habit? Democracy? Compliance?
Well, then, what is a midday guy to do? What if you're going to be much more effective - and happier - if you were able to start your workday at noon, let's say?
The strengths-based approach to assigning business tasks has been in vogue for a good 20 years. Still, as healthy - fun - and effective as this approach is, it’s an elusive little bugger (watched Notting Hill yesterday, so I might be channeling Hugh Grant-speak today.) Neglecting or postponing use of your favored talents for what you “have to do first” depletes your business efforts, as you will often do things that are best left alone or to others. You suffer, too, but that is not always enough to inspire a change in direction.
Many of my clients can only work 5-6 hours/day due to health or family priorities. Two weeks ago I decided to challenge myself to the same schedule, as it's been quite a few years since ill health and a teenage son impacted my business day. To get started, I updated my Visual Workflow Planner™ to reflect a shorter workday in order to best allocate the time available to work.
You can't be all things to all people and win. You can try, but you're likely to burn up in the process. Even if you have the skills to perform many of the operations in your business it is not necessarily wise, especially time or energy are limited. I just started working with an owner to develop her business model and revenue plans for the year. Right now her business model is fairly simple …
Myth: If you want to be successful in business you must be immediately responsive to client requests, no matter how inconvenient or unreasonable. If you don’t you’ll lose business. Truth: If you want to build a sustainable business, you have the right to establish guidelines that enable you to respond to reasonable requests in a reasonable time frame. The best clients for your business will understand and respect reasonable guidelines.
Last week was an interesting week in coaching. Three of my clients are starting to make changes that put them face-to-face with some well-worn fears or beliefs. Without their commitment to create something new in their business lives, these familiar "friends" have been able to lie low enough to be bothersome, but otherwise remain unchallenged. Even though the cruddy old beliefs and nerve-wracking fears are different for each person, the method for dismantling them is the same.
We are lousy celebrators. Driven to be productive during all working hours, most people find it hard to not work, even for a day. Here’s what I think has happened: we’ve been conditioned by the corporate paradigm to sit down at our desks (of wherever we work) for 6-9 hours, no matter what. The idea that it would be okay to do anything else on a workday is deemed preposterous.
What are the benefits of taking a break after a big project ends?
Picture a rubber band for a moment. With very little tension it sits there “doing nothing,” lying on your desk somewhat formless and lifeless. At first glance, you might think it's not very useful in this state. However, I'd like to think that the rubber band at rest could be equated to the moments in our lives when we are quiet and calm, either in a meditative state or enjoying a good night's sleep.
I have always wondered why a chronic illness has to be chronic. Why, once triggered, must an autoimmune response remain in the “on” position? If it is true that all the cells in your body renew themselves every 7 years why would that exclude cells impacted by my illness? Why, once an autoimmune reaction is triggered, can’t it be reversed?
"People often fail in their careers because they have been trying to live out someone else’s idea of what a life’s work should be." ~ Marcia Menter I resembled that! The battle within showed up through a lot of job-hopping in my 20's and 30's, toggling between "acceptable" job choices and those more aligned with my inner drive to do work that matters and helps others do the same.
Many of the people I talk to have a limited amount of time and/or energy to allocate to their business activities, as few as 3-5 hours a day. Some are limited because they are still on the mend after a significant health setback … Others have children at home. Regardless of their specific circumstance, they feel the pressure of having far fewer hours for business activities than they have ideas and work projects.
When life throws you for a loop, and your circumstances today look bleaker than time before a precipitating event or situation, you may find yourself stuck in a circular comparison trap. Whether I'm talking to a business owner who is suddenly having difficulty attracting new clients, or an entrepreneur who has been significantly impacted by a health set back, their ability to rebuild and restore is affected by the degree to which they continue to compare their present circumstances with a preferred past.
The path to personal fulfillment is often revealed when you give yourself permission to know your own heart and be yourself. However, the road to full self-expression is fraught with potential road blocks. As much you may crave a sense of self-authority, such achievement often gives voice to a series of fears about what will happen to you if you heed our inner guidance.
You might think that this is about your singular ability to affect change, but today it is not. It’s about how you approach planning your day. Years ago I was trained in a program called Work Less, Make More®, developed by the late Jennifer White. Jennifer used the “Power of Three” as an organizing principle for establishing priorities around the unending list of tasks most of us work from. I have begun to think that the Power of One is a more realistic model for establishing priorities on any given day.