Many of us have been led to believe that working long hours is the key to achieving success. I held onto this belief for many years. In reality, studies routinely show that people who work sixty or more hours per week tend to be more unhealthy, careless and detached than people who work forty hours or less. Today’s message may not be popular with those who believe long hours guarantee success but I know it will be well received by spouses, children or friends of anyone who has become addicted to working long hours.
For years, I worked long hours, traveled for business, tied my self worth to being able to out perform others and I failed to nurture my personal relationships. Three years ago, I contracted Valley Fever (Google it). For the next two and a half years, I experienced a limited amount of physical energy and was only able to work an average of 20-25 hours a week. Because I was unable to predict how I would feel on any given day, I stopped facilitating live seminars, workshops and retreats which in turn caused a significant drop in my income. I became increasingly frustrated and angry that my energy level didn’t allow me to play the game I was accustomed to playing. In order to experience a sense of significance, I began to focus on accomplishing 3-5 income producing tasks each day, tasks that when completed would move my practice forward. Knowing I only had a 3-4 hour window to complete my 3-5 tasks forced me to develop stronger time management skills.
During the last three years, working an average of 20-25 hours per week, I have been able to create and launch several new seminars and coaching workshops that I now facilitate via teleconferencing. I created a business course that I sell on line, launched a blog and I have written and published two books. Looking back, I continue to be amazed at the amount of time I wasted (prior to my illness) on inconsequential tasks that I convinced myself were of immense value. Today, I am at 90% strength yet continue to employ the 3-5 task strategy 5 days a week. I am enjoying new levels of personal happiness and business prosperity. I make it a priority to set aside time each day to re charge my mental and emotional batteries. You may be thinking to yourself, how is it possible to work fewer hours and be more productive? The answer is… FOCUS. Determine what it is you desire to accomplish and then go after it with determination and laser FOCUS.
3 SUGGESTIONS FOR REDUCING WORK RELATED STRESS…
1. Stop trying to be the office hero! Overwhelming ourselves with “extra projects” or routinely volunteering to spearhead tasks that we simply don’t have the bandwidth for will eventually backfire on us! Over extending ourselves will predictably lead to carelessness and burn out. Focusing on our top 3-5 income producing tasks and delivering consistent results is the best way to receive the recognition we deserve.
2. Work 8 hours (or less) per day. Over the years, I have counseled numerous clients who deeply regret not making family and friends as important as their work. I recently spoke with a client who had just ended his third marriage on the heels of completing his second stint at a rehab facility. “I let work become my entire life. Over the last twenty five years, slowly but surely, I lost everything that truly mattered. I turned to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with work stress and in the end it made it even worse”. As an entrepreneur, I understand that in any new career or start up venture long hours are the norm. With that being said, once we get established, it’s important to take control of our career or business rather than allowing it to control us. FOCUS is the key. The old saying…”work smarter not harder” is sage wisdom.
3. Take all the time off you can. I always encourage my friends and clients to use all of their vacation days, sick days, holidays and any other time that is afforded them. Far too many employees feel “guilty” for taking time off. In many cases, employees are afraid to use their “paid vacation time” because they fear it will hurt them in their quest for a promotion or could be a reason they are let go. If you work in an environment where you fear using your vacation time…FIND ANOTHER JOB! If you are an employer I encourage you to HONOR your employees by encouraging them to take time off. Rested, re charged employees are far more productive than their counterparts. This advice also holds true for the business owner. Our creativity is thwarted when we are mentally and emotionally taxed. FOCUS on your mental and emotional health, your worth the investment!
There you have it! As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.
Is it just me or does it seem like there are a lot of angry people buzzing around our planet? Most angry people are two faced. They exhibit a public face and a private face. For example, the other day a man driving a high end vehicle, dressed in a suit and tie swerved his car and nearly ran me off the road. When I pulled up next to him at the stoplight and gave him a puzzled look, he promptly reached down under his seat and with a smirk on his face, brandished a hand gun! I certainly don’t care to do business with him! My social media streams feature countless posts “attacking” religious choice, sexual preferences, race, political affiliation or anything else that is determined different from the posters belief system. One of my clients recently asked me “why so many people seem so angry”? It’s a reasonable question. Many are quick to blame their anger on the economy, world problems, political agenda’s and even technology. I routinely interact with people who “ooze pissed off”. When I ask them why they are so angry it’s not uncommon for them to snap back… “I’m not angry”. Be honest, all of us get angry from time to time, it’s human nature. As a coach, I routinely see the effects of unresolved anger. Divorce, illness, job loss and family challenges are some of the unfortunate consequences of unresolved anger. I have identified 5 characteristics commonly found in angry people. Also, here are five things I have learned on my own journey as a “recovering angry person”…
The truth be known, every now and then most of us enjoy a juicy piece of gossip. These morsels of misery let us know that we are not the only one facing life’s challenges. Misery enjoys company and boy oh boy do those poor Kardashian’s have it rough! Unfortunately, some of us are addicted to gossip. For example, on cool summer evenings my wife and I like to sit outside on our porch, turn on our fire table and enjoy a glass of wine. Sadly, we have a neighbor who loves to gossip. Whenever my wife and I see her walking her dog down the street we instinctively head inside. Sometimes she is able to “sneak up on us” and our conversation with her ALWAYS goes something like this….How are you tonight Babs (fake name)? “Oh heavens I just can’t believe what’s going on with our HOA board and did you hear about so and so and rumor has it that such and such is going on down the street”! She will ramble on and on and then seem quite put out when we come up with some “lame excuse” why we must head back inside. In the three years that we have been exposed to her, she has never once asked my wife or I a single question about our lives or interests but she readily “spews” details about the majority of our neighbors. Some of it is actually quite nasty! Surely, she must have some “dirt” on us that she readily shares with others as she makes her nightly rounds. “You know those Burton’s are (fill in the blank)”. The gleam in her eyes is a dead giveaway to the personal fulfillment that being the “purveyor of secrets” seemingly affords her.
Recently, after a one sided conversation with my neighbor, I began contemplating why some people are just naturally attracted to gossip while others (like myself) are absolutely repelled by it? What motivates someone to become a “serial gossiper”? Lets take a look at some of the possible reasons.
Generational. For many, gossip is a learned behavior. Many of us heard our parents, relatives and friends gossip and so in order to fit in we may have actively joined the conversation. Anything we engage in long enough becomes a habit.
Opiate. Similar to most drugs, gossip tends to give us a false sense of contentment. The gossiper gets a “rush” from sharing “secrets” and when their audience nods their heads in approval or offers up an acknowledgement like “REALLY, I didn’t know that”, the gossiper is off and running in an unfiltered continuation of whatever half truths they are sharing.
Significance. Gossipers are fueled by an insatiable need to feel important and be viewed as people “in the know”. When they perceive to have an audience they tend to become even more audacious and their filter is turned all the way to the OFF position.
Societal. Gossip is a societal obsession. The tabloids (National Enquirer) sensationalize and outright lie about everything under the sun yet people clear the news stands with millions of sales each week. Tabloid television (Entertainment Tonight) and reality shows (Housewives of Mozambique) enjoy extremely high ratings because millions of people prefer being anywhere other than in their own reality. Sadly, millions of people rely on gossip as their sole source of information.
Ignorance. Gossip is a by product of ignorance. True intellectuals talk about ideas and solutions, small minds talk about people and problems. I have always been able to get an accurate read on someone by carefully listening to what they talk about!
Power. Gossipers derive a false sense of “power” from “sharing details about someone else”. There is no genuine “power” in “spewing” personal information and falsity about others. The gossiper is viewed by non gossipers as vicious and untrustworthy. They carry ZERO credibility!
5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU ENGAGE IN GOSSIP….
1. Would I still share this gossip if the person in question was standing next to me?
2. Is what I’m saying about the other person designed to build them up or discredit them?
3. What void in my life am I trying to fill by routinely gossiping about others?
4. How do I feel when I find out that someone has shared an untruth behind MY back? (Gossipers usually employ a double standard)
5. Who would I become If I made the conscious decision to let go of my need to share gossip?
Nothing positive comes from gossip. Reputations can be ruined, employment opportunities may be tarnished and personal relationships can be damaged or destroyed. Before you engage in any type of gossip I encourage you to ask yourself these 5 questions. I believe that it will help you to make a better, more empowered decision.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts.
There are those who DO and those who SPEW. More commonly stated…those who “walk the walk” and those who “talk the talk”.
do: transitive verb. To bring to pass, carry out, perform, execute.
spew: verb. Spout, gush, spurt, discharge, emit, eject, vomit, flowing in a fast and forceful way.
All of us know people who are “doers” and we probably know some who are “spewers”. The majority of successful people I meet tend to exhibit a high level of self confidence. Their speech and physiology reflect this self confidence. Doers never apologize for their success. On the other hand, spewers go to great lengths to “talk around” their lack of results. “The timing just isn’t right” or “I need to talk this over with a couple hundred people before I can commit” or “I need to wait until I have enough money to get started” are examples of what you can expect to hear from a spewer. Regardless of timing, funds or consensus, doers take the ball and run! “Spewers” know a bit of lingo here and there but routinely disappear whenever they are challenged to step outside their comfort zone to take meaningful action or personal responsibility. Lets take a closer look at some of the key characteristics of DOERS & SPEWERS.
Focus. Doers set meaningful objectives and get to work. They remain focused in the face of adversity. When problems arise they channel their energy toward finding solutions. They do not get distracted by bright, shiny, objects.
Love Challenges. Doers love challenges and thrive on being told that something can’t be done, especially if the challenge is being directed at their ability.
Prioritize Health. Doers rely on energy and realize that health is their greatest asset. They exercise and pay close attention to what goes into their body.
Bottom Line Mentality. Doers take full responsibility for ALL of their actions and decisions. Doers want the ball when the game is on the line and their followers want to get it to them!
Talkers. Due mainly to their profound sense of insecurity, spewers “talk the talk” but rarely back it up with any type of meaningful action. They will be among the first to let you know when you are “doing something wrong” but rarely can they provide a solution for doing it better..
Prone To Blame. Spewers are masters of the blame game. They habitually blame other people or circumstances for their lack of initiative and results.
Bullies. Spewers routinely force their thoughts and beliefs onto other people. If you disagree with a spewer or present them with a differing point of view they may try to overwhelm you with BS and if that doesn’t work they may revert to anger.
Quit Easily & Often. When the going gets tough, spewers tend to exit stage left. Quitting is a habit. They quit, rationalize it and move on to the next “great thing”. They rarely give anything a chance to germinate. They possess an instant gratification mindset.
FROM SPEWER TO DOER IN 3 STEPS…
1. Facing our fears! When we take ownership of our fear we no longer have to make excuses or blame people and circumstances (spew) for why we can’t do something. Once we acknowledge our fear we can then move to the next step….
2. Commit to taking MASSIVE ACTION. The most effective way to overcome our fear is by overwhelming it with MASSIVE ACTION! When we remain in action mode we don’t have time to focus on fear. Once we have committed to taking MASSIVE ACTION the only thing we have to remember is….
3. Don’t quit. No matter how hard things are, how loud the voices in our head become or how many “your a loser” programs we begin running, it’s imperative to press on.
If you made it to the end of this message my guess is that your a doer. Remember, solidifying a new habit takes 90 days of focused activity. If you find yourself struggling in an area of your life an effective life or business coach can help you successfully execute these 3 steps. Here’s to doing!!!
I love getting older! I never thought I would say this, but it’s true. One of the benefits of getting older is that we tend to view everything from a more mature perspective. “We have been there and done that” which allows us to react to life events in a calmer manner. I have adopted the mantra, “this to shall pass” and I know that getting worked up will only rob me of the energy I need to ride out a storm.
The majority of my coaching clients hire me because they feel “stuck” in a specific area of their life. Over the years, I have been able to identify certain patterns of behavior that keep the majority of us from experiencing a much deeper quality of life. Most of the time I am able to identify the cause of my clients discomfort as being what I refer to as GIGS. (Grass Is Greener Syndrome) More than likely a person will not die as a direct result of GIGS, but if left untreated it can cause a person a significant amount of anxiety and discomfort. During my initial client consultation, it is relatively easy to spot the warning signs of GIGS. I have taken the liberty to compile a list of the most common traits found in a person who suffers from GIGS. These traits have proven to be very reliable for the the early detection and subsequent treatment of GIGS. Here is the list of traits common to a person who suffers from GIGS.
*Impatience. Things are not happening fast enough for them.
*They are intolerant of others.
*They have an insatiable need for instant gratification.
*They crave constant recognition. They must be acknowledged for everything they do or they feel undervalued.
*They have extremely rigid expectations. Everything and everyone must conform to these expectations or they become very uncomfortable.
*They rely heavily on routines. Spontaneity is very challenging for them.
*They take people for granted.
*They lack a true sense of gratitude.
*They desire to fix others rather than look at themselves.
*I will just go/be somewhere else is their predominant mindset. They are willing to “bolt” if things don’t work out exactly as they envision them. This will include work, relationships, friendships, marriage and geographical locations.
Once we recognize the traits associated with GIGS, we are able to make a course correction and get “unstuck”.
Don’t let GIGS take away from the quality of your life! YOU deserve the best life has to offer. REMEMBER…The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, it’s greener where you water it!
As always I welcome your thoughts and comments.
“We problem solve from the past, we create in the present”. I tend to feel guilty, frustrated and angry when I choose to visit the past. I feel happy, fulfilled, energized and inspired when I choose to reside in the present. All of us drag around baggage from the past, some of us require two bellhops! Freedom comes when we take ownership of anything we regret or feel badly about, acknowledge that we did the best we could with what insight we had at the time and we move on. MENTAL SHIFT=FREEDOM. “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change”. Over the years, I have coached hundreds of clients who formed their identity around an event(s) that happened somewhere in their past. “I’m an incest survivor”, “I’m the child of an alcoholic parent” or “I had to fight for everything I ever got” are some of the more common ways many of us choose to stay connected to our past. The key word is CHOOSE. I know that for years I chose to identify with my past, which contributed to a great deal of discomfort and what I refer to as my “lost years”. Once I consciously made the decision to “stop identifying with my past” my life began to take on a much deeper meaning.
Self Awareness. We begin to fully embrace who we are TODAY the moment we make the conscious choice to stop identifying with the negative messages/labels our parents, teachers, siblings or friends unconsciously bestowed on us. When we come to realize the identity of “our youth” doesn’t serve us as adults we have taken the first action step toward creating a permanent SHIFT. With self awareness comes a profound sense of personal responsibility. We can relish our NEW role as the chief architect of our life.
Habits. We can now begin creating new habits that will support our SHIFT. The most important one is our habit of “self talk”. Do we speak in past or present tense? Is our “self talk” uplifting or self deprecating? This single distinction/habit is a game changer in the world of SHIFT. Our growing self awareness encourages us to pay closer attention to our “self talk”. We understand and embrace the philosophy of “garbage in, garbage out”.
Independence. Freed from our past programming, we are now solely responsible for creating and designing our NEW life plan. In other words, we have given ourselves permission to paint our own, unique mosaic. At first, this can be daunting because we have always relied on the opinions and direction of others. The key is to jump in and start applying the first brush strokes on our new canvas. As they say “try it, you’ll like it”.
Faith. As we begin experiencing results from our new SHIFT, we are establishing a core FAITH in our ability to create the results we desire. Over time, our “muscles of faith” will grow stronger and stronger until they become our new foundation. The most effective way to build muscles of faith is through a willingness to take risks. The bigger the risk the greater our faith must be and this is how permanent SHIFT HAPPENS.
Tenacity. Each time we experience a breakthrough in our personal or professional lives we have effectively established a new point A. We have created a positive reference point that we can reflect back on, one that gives us the courage to move toward our next challenge. Every significant breakthrough in life began with a decision to make a SHIFT. A SHIFT is the result of our tenacious desire to do and be more.
Until next time….Here’s to SHIFT!