Archive for January 2012

3 Simple Ways to Swap Stress and Burnout for Freedom and Wellbeing

Loving life on the 21st century treadmill

Stressed and Busy PeopleWith the rapid introduction of mobile devices, labour-saving widgets and instant access to anything, anywhere, anytime we should be happy, right?

Wrong! As a professional coach, I work with many senior executives, managers, project teams, small business owners, entrepreneurs, stay-home mums and families. No matter where I go, they all have one thing in common – they’re all frantically busy and stressed.

Juggling challenging jobs, raising children, caring for aging parents, paying off hefty mortgages and more, the lines between work and life have become increasingly blurred. Contactable and on-call 24/7, the relentless pressures and demands are taking their toll.

Overlay an endless media stream of bad news stories, natural disasters and economic doom and gloom and it’s no wonder that life on the 21st Century treadmill is wearing us down.

Yet, ironically, there’s also never been a better time to create the kind of lifestyle you actually want. We’ve never had more opportunities, options and choices which is why now is the best time to redesign your life.

Hmmm, easier said than done’, I hear you say, and I understand. Flat out surviving, let alone thriving, many people simply don’t know what changes to make or how to make them to live the life they dream of. Fortunately we have more control and choice over our lives than we may think.

Here are three simple strategies to help you get started:

#1. Identify what needs to change.

Imagine your life is a house with different but connected rooms – health, relationships, career, finances etc. Take out a notepad and go for an imaginary walk through your life house, noting what parts could do with a fresh coat of paint. Identify what’s working and what’s not and jot down how you’d like each room to look.

#2. Start small and commit to action every day.

Often the smallest changes will make the biggest difference and it’s smart to start in a room that’s relatively easy to renovate. For example, if your fitness and wellbeing have been on the backburner, commit to a daily 20 minute walk and build up to regular gym sessions or whatever exercise you enjoy.

#3. Create space – decide what you’re going to ‘stop’ doing.

The hectic pace of life often leads us to unconsciously add more to every day until there are simply no hours left. Stacking your days with frantic activity is the fastest track to burnout and stress. Go through each room again and make a decision about what you’ll reduce, delegate to others or simply stop. Notice the relief and freedom that comes from removing the clutter. This creates space to focus on what’s really important.

There’ll be more simple ways to swap stress, overwhelm and burnout for freedom, choice and wellbeing in future posts.

In the meantime, what strategies do you have for making positive life changes easy? Please share them below – I’d love to hear your top tips.

Carpe diem.
Caroline

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

What’s your job really costing you and is it worth it?

Work Trap37 year old Mary had everything she could wish for or… did she?

Always ambitious, she’d finally scored her dream job heading up a $75m, international project for a construction company. The luring package included a generous, multiple six-figure salary, all expenses paid business class travel, ipad, iphone and a number of other glittering perks.

But it came at a cost.

Whilst taking a short break with her family over Christmas, her days were constantly interrupted by streams of urgent phone calls from her manager, anywhere between 7am and 10pm. Emails couldn’t wait so she logged on down at the beach while her beautiful, eight year old daughter Ellie played in the waves and built sandcastles on her own. Her demanding client didn’t ‘get’ the time zone difference and the sound of incoming text messages echoed through the darkness while her family slept on.

Yes, she could have turned the phone off and refused to log in – after all, she was on annual leave. However, Mary’s company had an unwritten rule and unspoken expectation that senior executives would be on call and contactable 24/7. Besides she didn’t want to let her client, manager or team down and was committed to being ‘on top of it all’.

Her husband Dave was resigned to but unhappy about the constant interruptions and their arguments were becoming more frequent. Even when she was with her family, she wasn’t really. Totally conflicted, by the time she returned to work Mary was stressed and exhausted.  If nothing changes, she’ll pay the ultimate price losing her health, closest relationships and happiness.

It seems as though we’ve spent the last 10 years striving to become more efficient, mobile, contactable and indispensable – but at what cost? Latest figures from the Race Against Time Report, (National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling and AMP Financial Services) show that balancing work and family remains a big issue for working men and women, with around 40% of women and 30% of men feeling often or always rushed or pressed for time. Worse still, you probably won’t be paid or adequately compensated for ‘out of hours’ work.

It’s your life – hop into the driver’s seat and take control

If Mary’s story sounds familiar to you or someone you’re close to, maybe it’s time to take stock. Ask yourself:

  • What are the real expectations of the job (rather than the assumptions)?
  • What price am I really paying and is it worth it?
  • What am I prepared to do to get the job done and have a life?
  • What boundaries do I need to keep my job in perspective and priorities in focus?
  • Who can I call on to share the workload and how else could we get the job done?

Set up a meeting with your manager and team, go prepared with creative solutions and be open to new ways of working. Remember, your colleagues have a life outside work too. While work demands are ever-increasing, the pressure on companies to reduce stress and foster wellbeing is growing too. But the ultimate responsibility for yours rests with you.

Get clear about what’s important, decide what you are prepared to do (or not) and take deliberate action to make it happen.

Life’s short – it’s time to get moving and create the life you really wish for.

Carpe diem.

Caroline

 

 

If you’re wanting simple ways to reclaim your life, my new book, The Great Life Redesign will show you how.  It’s now available in all good bookstores and here.

An Easy Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions that Actually Works

a better way to achieve your goals –

New Year’s Resolutions – we all make them. Yet by mid-January many have fallen by the wayside and by the end of June we can barely remember what they were. So, what’s wrong with them and why don’t they work?

The whole logic behind New Year’s Resolutions as a way to create change is seriously flawed. Think about it….

New Year’s Day is just another day

New Year’s Day is actually no different from its 363 brothers and sisters across the year. Sure it marks the start of a new year but, so what? There’s no reason why you can’t resolve to achieve a goal or make a change on any other day of the year. In fact other days may be far better for starting a new challenge.

New Year’s Resolutions often lack the ‘how’

In the excitement leading up to New Year’s Eve, we often decide that next year will be different. Maybe you’re thinking you’ll lose 10kg, stop drinking on Wednesdays or make sure you leave work on time. Noble as these are, they’re often based on a wish that’s rarely underpinned by a solid plan to achieve them. Without a plan, a wish is like a pack of cards that collapses with the first gust of wind.

Going it Alone is tough

If you’ve ever tried to achieve a goal all by yourself, you’ll know how hard it is. We mistakenly believe that if we achieve it on our own, the satisfaction will be even greater. Yet, on your own, your noble endeavour soon becomes a struggle and it’s easier to give it away than ask for help. Besides, if you haven’t told anyone about it, you haven’t lost anything if you fail, right?

How to Set Yourself up for Success

Before your shoulders drop and you sigh with despair, here are three simple ways to create positive change and pull of the seemingly impossible this year:

#1. Free the goal from New Year and do it at the best time for you

New Year may not be the optimal time for you to embark on a challenging goal. For example, if losing 10kg is your goal, starting your diet and exercise plan during the holiday season may be setting you up for failure. Goals are easiest to achieve when your motivation is high and saboteurs (eg summer holiday partying) are low.

If the thought of going out in shorts with those 10 extra kilos is scariest right after winter, aim to get your wellbeing plan started in spring. By the time New Year comes around, you’ll be well underway, your commitment is established and the extra daylight hours will help you step up your exercise plan.

#2. Set SMART goals and work out a detailed ‘how’ plan

Converting a wish into a Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-framed goal instantly increases your chances of success. Link it to ‘why’ (the benefit and positive outcome of achieving the goal) and develop a ‘how’ plan. This should include what you’ll actually do by when and what resources you’ll need. Identify everything you can that will make it easier and put the plan up on the fridge where others will see it.

#3. Enlist the help of trusted friends.

Once you tell people what you’re going to achieve, it becomes real. If you’re going to back down or opt out, you’re going need to explain it to someone else which will create a sense of failure. Having someone to hold you accountable, encourage you to keep going and celebrate each achievement along the way will increase the satisfaction of nailing it.

Ask a friend to exercise with you, give you gentle reminders that it’s time to leave work or mind the children when you have a monthly ‘date’ night with your partner. Sharing the goal will also give you the opportunity to better support your friends and strengthen your relationships by paying back the favour.

There you have it – 3 simple ways to achieve your goals that have nothing to do with New Year’s resolutions! Be kind to yourself; take the pressure off; let down your hair, relax and have a wonderful New Year.

Here’s to a happy and successful new year.

Carpe diem
Caroline