Posts Tagged ‘Wellbeing’

This past week I taught a workshop called ‘The Balancing Act’ all about managing your time in order to create better balance in your life.  That’s got me thinking about time and balance and what balance means to each of us.

Ask yourself, is the way you spend your time the way you really want your life to look?  Do you waste time on unproductive activities?  Are you clear on your goals?  How can you take steps to get to where you want if you don’t know where that is?  One participant in the workshop said that he had heard that setting goals and writing them down was a good idea but had never taken the time to do it.

If you don’t know what your goals are then you can’t determine your priorities and may often have no idea how to make a good decision about using your time.   It seems to me that without goals you are likely spending your time wherever you feel the most pressure.  Urgent takes precedence over important.   Would you rather work towards a goal or two or get to the end of  your life having accomplished nothing much?  It’s really up to you.

If you do want to spend your time on activities that are meaningful to both your work and personal life, take some time right now to sit down and write down your goals and dreams.  Don’t be afraid to dream big!  Everyone is different and we all want something different from our life.  It doesn’t matter what the balance is that you want, it only matters that you decide what you want and make a plan to get there.  Ask yourself how you want to spend your time today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this year and next year? 

Give yourself the time you deserve to work towards your personal and professional goals right now.    Remember it is not selfish to make time for you a priority.  Time is all you have and you only get one life.

Here’s a great quote from Denis Waitely, “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes.  And you can’t save time to spend it on another day.  Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving.  No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”


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I’m so excited this week because I get to share the final one of the four webinars I attended on Your Brain at Work with Dr. David Rock.  This one was my favourite.  Anyone who knows me knows that I’m all about action.  How do I implement what I’ve just learned?  How do I change myself and help my clients change as well?

One way to achieve change is to focus your attention.  Quantum physics tells us that you change the nature of physical reality through attention.  If you think about anything regularly you can re-wire your brain circuits. So, I think we had better watch out what we think about and put our attention on, don’t you?

Dr. Rock spent some time in this session focusing on Mindfulness.  Just thinking about it is making me more mindful – ha!  Anyway, developing the skill of mindfulness (or paying attention) requires us to do 3 things:

  1. Pay attention to incoming information
  2. In the present moment
  3. In an open and accepting way

Now, there’s this nasty tendency our brain has to intefere with our ability to be mindful by turning on the narrative circuity.  You know what I’m talking about – that little voice that says, “You are crazy, you can’t do that!” and so on.  The key to paying attention is to learn to turn down the narrative and focus on the incoming information right now in this moment.  In this way we can become better at switching attention and choosing what to focus on.  The idea, the way I understand it anyway, is to use your power to veto the thought you don’t want as soon as you notice it and get back on the right train of thought.

The final key to facilitating change in ourselves and others is to create a feeling of safety.  We can do this by focusing on where we are going, not what we are avoiding or where we’ve been.  We need to be careful to minimize status threats, we need to create certainty, we need to give people choices and help them connect.  In the end, by asking ourselves and others the right questions we can move away from focusing on the problem and move toward the solution and a new reality. 

Here’s the reason I’ve been blogging about this for the last 4 weeks – Dr. Rock says that if I focus my attention on what I’ve learned by speaking about it, thinking about it and writing about it, I will create new circuits in my brain.  Say what?  Just kidding!  Hope it’s been as much fun for you as it has for me.  I’m off to put some of these concepts into practice with my clients.  Wish me luck!

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Alright, where were we?  I’ve been on vacation and I think my brain went to sleep over the course of the last week.  As you can tell I’m back to digging through my notes from the webinar series ‘Your Brain at Work’ with Dr. David Rock.

Our third session was all about how we know, understand and get along (or don’t) with each other and even more interesting, about how we influence each other.  Dr. Rock introduced us to the SCARF model.  S = Status, C = Certainty, A = Autonomy, R = Relatedness, and F = Fairness. 

Let’s start with status. Wow, does this subject speak to our ego or what?  Status is all about our perception of our position relative to another person or our pecking order.  We attempt to make ourselves feel better by trying to raise our status. We do this be being taller (I’m all over that one!), more attractive, the way we dress, etc.  The expectation of a status increase is rewarding hence the reason we crave it.  Sometimes we can raise our status by being better than we were before.  Most arguments ensue over right and wrong which is really all about status.

Now to certainty or perhaps uncertainty.  Uncertainty makes us anxious.  In general we raise certainty by understanding which is why we are often looking for more information.

Autonomy is one term I am familiar with – it’s all about being in control and making my own choices.

Relatedness is our connection with others whom we trust.  We classify people as friend or foe, people we trust or distrust and we connect with some people and not others.  When we are working in a group we feel the emotions of others and often the person with the strongest emotion (either positive or negative) will take over the group.

Last but certainly not least there is fairness.  I don’t know about you, but I was always taught to share my toys or chocolate bars.  Splitting anything fairly makes us feel good.

In what order would you rate the 5 elements?  Which is most important to you?  Which is least important?  Here is how they stacked up for me:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Certainty
  3. Fairness
  4. Status
  5. Relatedness

The decisions I make when I am working with others are based on my preferences.  We all need to ask ourselves how we can be mindful of the 5 elements and make changes  to help minimize threat and maximize reward for others.  How can I raise the status of the people I work with to maximize the reward they feel? Not how do I raise my own status thereby making others feel threatened. 

Oh my, all so very fascinating.   Stay tuned next week for the final entry on this subject where I’ll attempt to tie this all together in my brain.

If you want to learn more, check out the Results Coaches website.

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You guessed it, my struggle during this time of year is what to do about vacation.  Somehow, in the old days, when I worked for someone else it was so much easier – I had no choice.  However, now that I own my own business I do have a choice.  One would think that the freedom of being able to take time off whenever you want would be an amazing thing.

However, as many of you small business owners out there know, taking vacation is filled with feelings of guilt instead.  I notice that some of my associates who have children are really good at just taking the entire summer off, again partially because they have no choice but partially because being with your children all summer definitely does not leave you riddled with guilt.  It seems to be a very acceptable and well-founded decision.

So, why is it that when I, with no children, decide it’s summer and I really want to take a couple of weeks off I just can’t seem to do it?  The knot in my stomach begins to form, the really annoying little voice in my head starts chattering and I cave and delete those days I had marked in my calendar as ‘Vacation’.  How dare I think I can take two weeks off?  Who’s going to pay the bills?  What if I miss an opportunity to work with a client?  What if a new client calls during that time?  What if the sky falls in?  And so on and so on . . .

And then there’s the neverending ‘To Do’ list that could get done while I’m ‘on vacation’.  The  idea here is that I tell my clients I’m taking a week off and then I hide in my office and work on all those projects that are listed on the big white board (actually it’s silver, kinda cool, huh?).  It tells me I have some website revisions to do, I have a new workshop series to pull together for the fall, I have a trip to Newfoundland in September, and so on and so on . . .

But wait, it’s summer.   Summer in Nova Scotia only lasts a few weeks.  I need to take advantage of it or just like last year it will be over and I will not have taken any time off.  OK, here goes.  I’m booking off the last week of July and making plans to do things with people so I’m committed.  I’m also taking off a week in mid August and actually have already booked to go away for two days at the beginning of that week so surely that will force me to complete the week since my brain will already be on vacation.

I’m liking the sounds of this already.  Let’s all be sure to take some vacation this summer.  I’m convinced we’ll be thankful we did when it’s all said and done.  The work will still be there when we return, won’t it?  Apparently vacation is good for my health and wellbeing – imagine that.

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Who knew that there was such a thing as the Canadian Index of  Wellbeing?  Well, know you do.    I found some very interesting tidbits in this fairly lengthy document (yup, government types wrote it, hence the need to dig for the good stuff) that I thought I would share.

The discoveries were really no surprise to me as I see so many of my clients struggling with maintaining balance in their lives.    There once was a dream that technology would allow us to have more free time when, in fact, we all know just the opposite has happened. 

The study finds Canadians caught in a time crunch where we struggle to balance work, children and parents, family time, leisure and cultural activities.  We are finding less and less time for physical activity and social activities (that don’t involve the computer) and are paying the price with our physical and mental health.  According to the study we have less time for personal pleasures and are more dissatisfied with the quality of our lives.

Is there a way we can make room in our lives for both our obligations and our need for fun and relaxation?  Here are a few things we all need to think about:

  1. Urban sprawl – working adults are spending more time commuting between work and home.  So, we either need to move closer to where we work or negotiate with our employers to work from home  a lot more.  There are actually those who believe that we are far more productive working at home away from the interruptions of our co-workers . . . hmmm.
  2. 24/7 availability – new technologies like laptops, Blackberries, iPhones, etc. has increased the demand for many of us to be constantly ‘on call’ making it difficult to separate work from home. Negotiate with yourself and your employer and turn the darn things off!
  3. Excessive time on one activity – the notion of balance has been lost on many of us.  Obviously spending too much time on one activity can mean not enough time spent on other activities.  So spending 8 hours at the office and then coming home and checking email on your Blackberry is obviously not a balanced life.

There were some interesting findings in the study about the differences in time use between men and women:

  • Men (16%) were almost 3 times as likely as women (6%) to work long hours
  • A higher proportion of women (23%) than men (17%) reported time pressure
  • A higher proportion of women (22%) than men (16%) provided care to seniors
  • There is a significant drop in leisure activity among women
  • When women vacation they spend more nights away than men (go girls!)

The study also discovered that more people are working non-standard hours and fewer families have a parent at home to help manage the household, and provide care for children and the elderly.  All of these factors have contributed to the feeling of time crunch.

All that to say that spending too much time at the office or on work-related activities causes us more stress, poor physical and emotional wellbeing, relationshp conflicts and overall lower satisfaction with life.  The study states that work-life conflict can lead to higher levels of anxiety and depression, sleep disturbances, infectious disease and suppressed immune functioning, poor diet, lack of physical exercise and obesity, increased dependence on cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, high cholesterol, digestive problems, allergies and finally old-fashioned burnout!

All right already, I’m going to spend less hours working, honest!

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