Why the Work-Life Balance Conversation is All Wrong

Why Work Life Balance is BrokenA few months ago I attended a huge women’s conference with some of the most powerful women on the planet speaking.  So I sat in on a panel of experts discussing work-life integration to see what wisdom I could glean from business owners and CEO’s.  Some of what was spoken on this panel made me want to run screaming from the sardine can of an overcrowded conference room.

When the panel started with introductions, one COO started by saying in her strung out voice “I’ve only had 4 hours of sleep over the last two days.”  I thought – why the hell should I be listening to you about work-life integration?  In my opinion the panel only got worse from there.

If we were truly discussing how to have it all at the right time, I would have expected some wisdom from successful women who have found a way of being at the top of their professional game while also having a personal life they love. Instead, with the exception of the one panelist who was real and offered valuable insights, I found myself desperately wanting to rush the stage and give the others a slap and wake-up call.

It pained me deeply to see a room of several hundred women hanging on the words of a few overworked business owners as if what they spoke was gospel and held the keys to their own sweet yearnings for a career and life that works, particularly those working mothers.

As I listened to their stories, what I really wanted to know is:

  • Why do women have to get to the point of breaking before they cry out for help or are willing to set a boundary?
  • How can you possibly call it work-life balance to go to work early, come home early to catch your child’s event and then spend all night into the wee hours working once again?
  • Why do you have to be available at all hours just because you need a flexible work schedule? What are you trying to compensate for?
  • When did saying No become heresy and a career death sentence?

Story after story of working constantly and showing up at their children’s events only to have their face buried in the mobile device with work made me shake my head.  The one panelist even shared that her own son would ask her after his football games – why are you still working instead of watching my game?  This comment made her feel guilty so she stopped looking at her phone and her son really took notice as it mattered a lot to him. Yet she shared her choice with all the regret of a drug addict missing their hit.

When did work-life balance become a thinly veiled term for trying to have it all by never really being present for any of it? [Read more...]

How to Embrace What Terrifies You (So It Becomes Easy)

Fear to FreedomIf it’s ok with you, I’m going to just plain be vulnerable here and share something very few people know about me.  I was reluctant to share this for years because I felt ashamed and frankly odd.  Fear of judgment, a dose of embarrassment, and scared of what other people might think kept me in hiding.  But then recently I thought, this situation is such a clear and bona fide example of what it is feels like and what is possible when you are willing to face and move through your fears that I could keep it a secret no longer.

You see I used to be deathly afraid of flying. I mean a terrified, out of my mind, anxiety ridden passenger.  My family never flew anywhere (and still has never been on a plane) and therefore it was not until high school that I first got on a plane. While I was scared to death, I didn’t let it show (I was 17 years old flying with my high school classmates, remember?), survived the experience, and easily avoided planes for a few more years.

But then it happened.  My desire for wanderlust and travel took root right after college. I started with a few very long car trips and then realized that the places I really wanted to go and desperately wanted to see required air travel. So I sucked it up and got on a plane.  And I panicked. I stressed, sweated, and heart-palpitated my way through whatever flight(s) I needed to endure to get me where I wanted to go.  For years it was like walking through Dante’s inferno as a means to an end (visiting cool new places and having new experiences).  My desire to not be limited by my fears was so strong it literally pulled me through.  Yes I had to force myself, yes I was miserable, and yes it took a terrible toll on me.  Think about it – that much fear and stress in your body has an impact.

Have you ever felt this way – paralyzed by fear? Totally wasted by trying to just “feel the fear and do it anyway”?

One of my low points (or high anxiety points if you will) came the one and only time I have been to Europe. I had to travel there on business and my partner came with me so we could extend the time for a vacation. I literally spent the entire overnight flight panicked, battling heart palpitations, and fearful that every bump and noise would lead to us crashing into the Atlantic.  I squeezed my partner’s hand so tight for 8+ hours that I actually drew blood.  Crazy, right?

Yet that is what fear does… it paralyzes us and creates irrational terror in our hearts and minds.  Whether it is flying, making a career change, or speaking your truth to someone else, fear is fear and it feels so real.

While pushing through it was getting me in action, I knew it wasn’t sustainable.  Even with my deep desire to travel I couldn’t stand the stress of the travel days and it took me days to regroup on each end. What a waste of precious time and energy.  So I decided I would find a way to make a shift so flying was no longer terrifying. In fact I thought maybe one day I could actually semi-enjoy it.

It started with a decision and an unflappable commitment to what I really wanted to experience. Without this the rest of the how-to’s and actions I took would have been useless.

So what happened? [Read more...]

The Power of Flow [Video]

Do you find yourself struggling or in a state of flow?

Are you working really hard to swim against the current or partnering with the true nature of things to work with more ease and experience better results?

Join me as I offer you a lesson in using flow up close and personal.

Using the river as teacher I will invite you into some thought-provoking contemplation and practical action to get your life and business moving in the direction you want it to.

(takes less than 2 minutes of your time!)

Are You Still Working Like a Dog?

Have you been in business more than a year and are still feeling like you’re constantly working like a dog?

I recently ran into some highly successful and powerful women entrepreneurs.  These are women who have been their own boss for years. Women who have created successful companies, been recognized for their entrepreneurial expertise and philanthropy all while raising a family.  They have my utmost respect for what they’ve created and my gratitude for ways in which they inspired me when I first took the leap.  Yet, when I saw them recently, I felt deep in my bones that these women were weary from the journey and overdue for a kindler/gentler pace.

I Burning the Candle at Both Endsthought: What good is business success if your personal life and well-being get lost in the process?

As a business owner it can be very easy to get caught up in a cycle of overwork where you burn the candle at both ends (and maybe the middle too!).  Even if you purposefully take time to be with family, you might find yourself feeling guilty.  You feel guilty when you are working too much and then feel guilty that you aren’t working when you do take time off.  It’s a nonstop circle of feeling guilty about not being “good enough”.

Personally I hit a point a few years ago when I simply hit bottom feeling frustrated, exhausted, and miserable. I call it the FEM Triangle (like the Bermuda Triangle of unsavory outcomes). No matter how hard I worked, my desired goal was just out of reach. Even when I reached a goal I would immediately create a bigger next-step goal that was just out of reach.  I found myself working evenings, weekends, and everything in-between.  My relationships suffered, I didn’t feel as healthy as I wanted to, and I was not spending time doing the things I love.  This was not the idea of successful self-employed business owner that I had in mind!

What changed for me was making the decision that I would no longer put my to-do list and business goals ahead of everything else in my life or wait until later to enjoy other parts of my life. I would build the business that I want to ultimately have right here, right now, not later after I met some arbitrary, elusive goal.

This decision changed everything.

I firmly believe that you absolutely cannot be successful if you have to compromise one part of your life as collateral damage on the way to business success.  Yes you’ll have a give and take between the different parts of your life at different times, but if you integrate the personal and professional consciously, you never have to worry about work/life balance.  Yes you have to take action and do the work, but if it feels like you’re working like a dog, something is out of whack.

Working this way can be so ingrained as a socially acceptable addictive behavior that you don’t even know you’re doing it.

Let’s take a moment to enhance your inner awareness around this right now. You know you’re in this trap if you find yourself:

  • Dragging yourself through your day mentally, physically, or emotionally
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight (or yo-yo’ing between the two).
  • Working early in the day, all day long, into the evening, and on the weekends.
  • Skipping sleep to get work done on a regular basis.
  • Telling yourself all this extra work is necessary to pay your dues.
  • Justifying that working late and extra hours is a means to an end.
  • Unwilling to disconnect from technology for a period of time each day and week.
  • Unable to take time off.

Do you see yourself in any of these statements?

If so, now is the time to draw a line in the sand and decide that you want things to be different.  It might feel scary but it can be done.  If I can go from frustrated, exhausted, and miserable to working only 4 days a week most weeks while growing my income and business, you can too.

Take a lesson from what I witnessed in my colleagues.  Financial and business success alone will not miraculously change you from a workaholic to a happy camper with free time. Only you can give yourself permission to claim and create what you really want.

Do you want more from your one precious life than to work really hard (even if you love what you do)?  If so, contact me for an exploratory conversation about how I can help you create more time for all the things you love both in your business and beyond.

photo credit: gfpeck via photopin cc

Rest & Relaxation for Business Owners – Luxury or Lifeblood?

Rest & Relaxation (R&R) is not just a luxury for the well-to-do. It is essential to our well-being and is truly not optional.  It is the lifeblood that keeps us sharp mentally and physically while giving our creative juices time to rejuvenate. Rest & Relaxation for Business Owners

When I say R&R, what picture or words come to mind?  Do you see R&R only as being a lavish vacation or available only to the “ladies who lunch”?  Do you hear some authority figure yelling at you that you’re lazy, unproductive, and will never amount to anything?  Do you simply see your to-do list growing if you even contemplate “relaxing”?

You wouldn’t think of running your car nonstop without preventative maintenance, turning it off at night, or stopping for fuel.  If you did, it’d break down and simply stop functioning.  So, what makes you think your body and mind should be any different and be expected to trudge on constantly?

What I’d like to know is when did leisure and free time get a bad rap?  Was it back in the industrial revolution or Great Depression when busy equated to security and success?  Was it when you were in grade school and you were told you couldn’t play until all your homework was done?  Is it now as the media and society constantly drill home the philosophy of “more is better”?

Regardless of where the messages came from, they are loud and clear.  You’re expected to work till you drop, schedule a weekly vacation away once a year (if you’re lucky) and fit the rest of your life into the fringes.  Worse still is that for many people the cycle continues until retirement or death, whichever comes first.  Keeping you stuck in this cycle is the fact that when you think of letting up, the news is right there pumping fear into your veins that you could be the next victim in a round of layoffs or economic downturn.  No wonder we’re all so stressed and burned out!

What You Can Do

Before you can decide what to do, you need to get a clear picture of what R&R is.  As I see it, it can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths to taking an extended sabbatical.  It can be absolutely free or cost a sum of money.  That’s the good news because with the range of options being that vast you have no excuse for not giving yourself some!

Before we talk about some definitive R&R options, ask yourself the following question:

  • When was the last time I took a few minutes just for myself?

If the answer is further away than in the last 24 hours, you probably need R&R and you need some now.

Now, before we start coming up with an R&R solution, let’s get clear that adding a little R&R into your life does not mean that you become a sloth.  If anything, taking some time away from the grind will fuel and nourish you so you can pursue your passions with even more vigor.

The key to R&R is to make it a regular, ongoing practice for you.  Think of it like this – you brush your teeth everyday to keep them healthy.  Why not do the same for you.  A little bit of R&R each day will do wonders to keep you well.

Not sure what to try or how to fit it in?  Here are some R&R ideas that require very little time that you might consider having in your life on a regular basis:

  • Take 20-30 minutes a day to read
  • Take 5-10 slow deep breaths.  This is the quickest and handiest path to a relaxation response that you can get and it is available to you anytime, anyplace, and is free.
  • Spend time enjoying a hobby (if you don’t have any, you need one!)
  • Go to bed an hour earlier
  • Take a hot, soaking bath
  • Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and leisurely read a magazine
  • Partake in a spiritual activity such as taking 15-60 minutes for daily meditation, prayer, or reading inspirational articles and books
  • Spend some uninterrupted time with the one(s) you love (with all the electronic devices turned off)
  • Take a 10 minute walk outside
  • Practice yoga
  • Move your body (workout, dance, cycle, kayak, whatever you enjoy)
  • Pet or play with a furry friend (pets are fabulous for stress relief)

Take Action

Pick at least one new R&R item from the list above (or come up with your own) and put it into your schedule starting today.  Book it like you would a doctor’s appointment and don’t cancel it because you’re “too busy”.  The busier you are, the more you need it.

After two weeks, check out the benefits of your R&R practice.  Answer these questions:

  • How am I feeling now?
  • Do I have a little extra energy?
  • Am I feeling more well-rested and alert?

 

If you pay attention to your need for R&R, I guarantee that you’ll feel better, be more productive, and ironically have a more thriving business.

R&R and a happy life is one key indicator of business health.  Learn more and grab your business health checkup here:

The Power of Negative Thinking

That’s right. Negativity is powerful and negative thinking is more powerful than positive thinking. Whoa! You heard me right; negativity is a force to be reckoned with.

The only problem with it is that it will attract to you all the things you most want to avoid. And, as an added bonus, you’ll feel awful each day along your journey. The reason I say it is more powerful than positive thinking is because of its damaging exponential ripple effect.

Have you ever been near someone who is just grouchy and miserable and negative?  One of those business owners that are all doom and gloom?  Has that person ever been you?

Whether the negative vibes and messages you are hearing come from those around you or from within your own self-talk, you are at risk.  Negativity tends to snowball into a big pity party combined with a sour mood, bad attitude, and correspondingly bad experiences.  Before you know it, opportunities dry up, cash flow looks like a clogged drain, and you’re wondering, how could this happen to me? If you’ve ever had “one of those days” and had it get progressively worse as the day went on, you know what I mean. It is like even though you know better, you just can’t seem to stop the snowball from gathering size and speed as it rolls downhill.

Why is that? Well, just as positive thinking and surrounding yourself with positive people can have far reaching positive effects, the same holds true with its negative sibling. Goodness knows there is no shortage of people that will join you in your bitch session, so I’d suggest that the negative spiral can get bigger even faster than positivity. To make matters worse, these bitch sessions of commiserating with one another about how money/the economy/finding clients/ is hard and blaming others is a far more popular and acceptable sport (at least by social standards) than actually taking a hard look at one’s life and making a change.

Let’s face it, life happens and it is not always positive. In fact I admit I can get in a funk with the best of them. An occasional Dilbert inspired moment can blindside me and I find myself cranky (at best) and temporarily hopeless (at worst). I know I have a bigger vision for my business and a plan to make it happen and that gets me through. The bumps along the way can be a pain though so I wanted to share some tips I use for snapping out of a negative spiral. [Read more...]

30 Easy Ways to Deal with That Tired, Burned Out Feeling

As high achieving women business owners, we seem to have a plan for everything — the business, the weekend, the vacation, the house, and the social calendar.

Do you have a conscious plan for renewal and restoration? Top notch racers have a pit crew. Who makes up your pit crew? What makes up your “rest day” regimen?

Most of us only pay attention to our bodies when something is wrong. Then we go to the doctor, drug store, or maybe even the holistic practitioner to cure what ails us.  Then it is back to the grind until something else in our system “complains”.

The way I see it is our bodies, minds, and spirits need preventative maintenance and tuning as much as (if not moreso) than our cars.  It is impossible to be optimally effective and creative in our businesses if our bodies are out of whack.  Think about when your mind is over-full and you are not feeling your best.  How “on your game” are you that day? Not very.  You skip the sales calls, put away the creative project, delay the marketing, and slog through any appointments you have. You do what must be done as best you can and look forward to the day being over.

On the inside, you feel less positive about your business and maybe even get down on yourself.  You wonder who would want to pay you for what you do? How are you ever going to make this business work? (Note: these same thoughts can plague the six and seven figure business owner just as much as the newbie. The difference is their awareness and positive response is triggered faster).

So, what are some practical ways to renew and restore your peak performance without having to take the next three months off?

  1. Get a massage
  2. Receive some energy work
  3. Take a technology-free day (I recommend this regularly)
  4. Create quiet time for reflection, contemplation, prayer, meditation every morning (even 10-15 minutes is a godsend)
  5. Honor a wind-down routine each night before bed
  6. Get at least 7 hours of sleep at night.
  7. Move your body
  8. Get up from your desk at least every 60-90 minutes and walk around
  9. Hydrate – hydrate – hydrate (drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water each day)
  10. Eat whole, nourishing foods
  11. Limit alcohol (only enjoy when you can savor fully and in moderation).
  12. Do some yoga
  13. Exercise – do some cardio, lift some weights, whatever activity you enjoy
  14. Limit/eliminate caffeine to avoid the burned out feeling
  15. Watch a movie (ideally light and funny)
  16. Listen to music
  17. Attend a theatrical, musical, or other live production just for fun
  18. Walk  your dog (or neighbor’s dog)
  19. Play with or pet your cat (or other furry pet)
  20. Watch the fish swim in an aquarium
  21. Read a book (NOT business related!)
  22. Get out into nature (hike, paddle, sit, watch the birds at the feeder, garden)
  23. Make a relaxing cup of tea (or your favorite beverage) and just sit, sip, savor
  24. Visit with a friend
  25. Call a friend of loved one
  26. Snuggle with your lover
  27. Perform a random act of kindness
  28. Send a handwritten card to someone (giving them a boost too)
  29. Daydream by staring aimlessly into space or out the window
  30. Engage in a hobby you love that has nothing to do with your “day job”

 

Which one of these are you going to do today?

One of your favorites not on the list?  Let me know what they are by posting a comment!

Want more time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate? I can help you create a schedule and systems in your business that free you up to make more money and take more time off. Contact me today to learn more (no strings attached!).

 

 

But I Don’t Have Any “Extra Money”! – No Apologies Video

I wish I could ____ but I don’t have any “extra” money right now.  Ever utter these self-sabotaging words?

So often people use the excuse of not having any “extra” money as they reason they cannot get the help, support, or resources they need in order to really grow their business.  But this is a Catch-22. You will always be chasing your tail if you’re waiting for money to descend on you before you take the steps necessary to grow.  You must make decisions based on where you want to be, not where you presently are.  Otherwise you’ll always be waiting and stay in a limbo pattern forever.

I don’t know about you but I’ve never had any “extra” money either. In a humorous sketch of small adventures, I take you on a journey and show you where to find that extra money you seek.