Friday, March 30, 2012

Balancing Life Emotionally: Cancel the Soap Opera!

As a guest, I was observing a fireside chat of women who were discussing the emotional roller coaster of life. Each had their own story of distress, and some shared how the downturn had changed the ride up. That was the best part, of course. However, one participant spoke to the point that she felt balance of life was boring and lacked emotional luster.

Well, it was all I could do to sit quietly and listen as this highly educated woman elaborated. Obviously, I disagree. She defined balance as that flatline of not feeling life.
In my own and others’ observations of life, calm is good. When bad drama does not enter my day, that is success. I do admit I know those who relish in daily drama and even create it when life is riding along smoothly. Truly, I don't think they even know they consciously do that, but simply, that is where their comfort zone lies.

Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that anyone swallow their emotions or not embrace the feelings of what is happening, good or bad. I'm just asking – do you have a drama queen in your life? Or do you create drama? Self-made drama is draining and stress-inducing – who needs that? Take a step back and ask yourself why – and then take action to reduce it. Maybe just being conscious of this issue will raise awareness for you. 

One great real world example is the best competitive athletes. They want to win and when they don't, they resolve their emotions with dignity and grace and more devotion to their sport.

So, as a competitive spirit in life, find your mentor, look for their example of balance, accept what happens in your life and find the positive. Address the tough game but be wise enough to recognize and enjoy a day of balanced peace.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shoot for the Moon - Bring Back a Few Stars

Big dreams, big hopes, big plans, big hair, big Texas (ok, I’m in Texas, small joke) . . . but big dreams can become reality. How do we balance those dreams with reality which will balance our lives and work?
  1. Plan realistically. This means research your passion and find a place in that dream that spells out y-o-u! If you have five children, you may not want to plan on a dream career that leads you away from home a lot – at least until the kids are out on their own! If your dream career is being a teacher and the schedules coordinate as your children are at school, then that is realistic. Here are a few ideas on how to find your dream career.
  2. Time frame has to be right. You are 30 years old and decide to be a professional athlete. That’s not much of a reality due to the timeline. But playing on a recreational team IS realistic at the age of 30. Get it?
  3. Look around and see how your dreams affect those around you. Can your dreams feed your family? Work within your financial means? You want to be a star? The “starving artist” or “starving musician” is not a great plan if you are the breadwinner. I know, I was a musician, and sometimes being a star is being a super talent in your profession.
  4. Make a plan and stick with it. If your plan is on target, then hang in there. Yes, it is a grind most times (for years) to be an “overnight success” in any industry.
  5. Be happy. That is, be happy in your choice. No buyer’s regret or looking back after you have dug in. Being happy is a choice.
Shooting for the moon is a great target, and if you do make it, congratulations! But if you happen to miss the target but bring back a few stars, well, that’s a great thing, too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Balancing Work and Life from the Home Office

When I was researching this concept two years ago, I found it began in other countries and very common. The U.S. just started entertaining this concept for real. And, there are many reasons, but I am going to shoot for the reason being we are a very structured country. OK, just guessing…

But onto the subject at hand, can life be more balanced by working from the home? And how does that work?

A recent conversation with a married 30-ish career woman, wife and mother of a three-year-old, revealed it was a great idea. Before, she spent so much time preparing for the day, arranging schedules, finding a back-up sitter when the little guy was sick, etc., that her productivity at work was lacking. However, the simple routine now goes like this: 

  1. Get the three-year-old ready for preschool, prep breakfast and out the door with Dad.  He drops him off on the way to work.
  2. She goes into her office, works until noon, takes a walk/lunch break, returns to working at her computer and on the phone until husband and child return home. She also has time now in the afternoon break to prepare a bit of supper for the evening. 
  3. By working from home, she is more productive at work and less stressed at home. It’s a good balance for her – and her family.
It does seem like a good plan. My only caution: carve out face time with clients or bosses as we would not want the slogan “out of sight, out of mind” to create an invisible employee.

Working from home can be a success but only with that one reoccurring word: discipline. Be sure to weigh the potential benefits and challenges if you’re contemplating the switch.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Recognizing the Seasons of Life

As winter is still upon us and we look forward to spring, I’m reflecting on the seasons of life. So which season are you presently in?

To recognize that season, please take note it is not determined by years of life, but how you have navigated through your life and how you have processed it. After recognition, one must determine what to do with that season, and if you are ready to move to the next, etc. 
An important part of recognizing your current season, I believe, is nailing down your priorities. Where are your priorities? Time? Money? Family? Friends? Fun? The answer lies within your own mind, of course, but to truly recognize them, look at your life. Where do you spend the majority of emphasis in time and energy? It is true that actions speak louder than words. So, if you don’t like where the pie chart is taking you on priorities, take time to change it . . . through actions.

And then, to seek that balance in priorities, are you changing because you WANT to, or is it because you or someone you love is hurt enough that you HAVE to. Regardless, free will has attitude, and producing a good attitude during the change will not only help you, but those around you, weather any storm.

As winter might be dragging a bit in your life and you are looking forward to a brighter spring-like day, find your priorities, recognize your season, and make your plan to change if you don’t like the current forecast.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Maintaining Work-Life Balance While Traveling

I am in my office at this moment catching up from traveling. I have found that it makes no difference if being gone is for work or fun. Returning to piles of work in my office is a drag. So I ask myself constantly, how can I make this balance better?

1. Phones with email access are a huge help. Who can live without a smartphone these days?!  I find that when I return home I can zip through the emails repeated on my computer in a delete frenzie if I have tended to them on my iPhone.

2. Take work with you. I try to take a bit of work in different areas, whether it be my business, my home bills or my ranch paperwork; and my iPad, which I can write a blog or two on if I need to be creative. I give myself choices so when I do get home, I am able to feel like I did something, even if it wasn’t as much as I had hoped. If you take too much with you, your briefcase will be very lonely on that trip sitting in the corner. Paul Davis, a writer who was able to work full-time for six months while road tripping his way through the United States, shares lots of good ideas for how to work while on the road on his blog, Vagabondish.

3. Don’t beat yourself up. I have done this so many times. It is a fact for everyone that you will be behind for a while, well, that is, unless you have an assistant! 

4. Reward yourself for catching up. Movie anyone? How about a nice long walk to de-stress and chat with a friend as you walk? Or how about planning your next trip? Now, that’s a reward!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Balancing the Scale

Being physically fit has always been in my sights. Even as a child, I watched intently as Jack LaLanne would demonstrate his exercises and isometrics on the black and white TV. During my 20s, high impact aerobics were popular, and my family and friends were in that era, but in my 30s I noticed that it was tennis, then later golf. But in my busier work career, the routine had fallen off, as I was “busy” and “didn’t have time.” Yes, it can gradually take you down a road where the sight of stairs drives you to the elevator. So, my excuse in my 40s became a time issue… and rightly so as every moment seemed filled. However, could I have made that balance? And “HOW could I?” is really the question.

Devotion and commitment are two words that must be forefront. And IF I had disciplined myself to that 30 extra minutes three times per week, it could have made a difference in my mental game. Priority is another key word. So where does your priority lie?

I have noticed that big companies have fitness rooms, and nice ones, too, that offer employees the opportunity to get moving towards fitness. Or how about a lunch walk in which you take your sandwich on a walk with you? And a co-worker, too! Not only will you be moving and losing, but you will not be spending those extra dollars on an out-to-lunch date which can be costly over time. The military offers a few great tips for even working out at your desk!

I think we get it. It is a matter of MAKING time, early in the day, or lunch time, to find the commitment, devotion and priority to make it happen.

Jack LaLanne and his programs were broadcast in black and white. Come to think of it, the concept is black and white… just do it. Then colorful results will appear with a better you in the mirror.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Balancing Work and Life: How to Rise Before the Sun Does

I recently posted ten reasons to wake up early, but I thought it would also be helpful to share a few ideas on how to make this possible. Waking up early is important to achieving balance each day because it prepares you for the day ahead and allows you to do things you don’t usually have time for. While the benefits of waking up earlier may seem obvious, actually finding the motivation to stop snoozing each day may feel a little more daunting – but it doesn’t have to be. Here are six ideas Peter Shankman recently shared:

6) Water. Keep a glass of water next to your bed and drink the entire glass before your alarm shuts off. Water is a great wake-up call because it opens brain cells and rejuvenates you.

5) Get up—now! Move your alarm clock to somewhere you can’t reach so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Some even recommend putting the kibosh on your alarmclock’s snooze feature. This and the water will help get you moving faster.

4) Get a pet. Feed a pet at 5 a.m. once, and he or she will make sure you’re up and at ‘em to eat!

3) Just do it. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to wake up early, actually do it! If you set your alarm at 5 a.m., wake up at 5 a.m. No snoozing until 6:30!

2) Leave your room. Once you’re done sleeping, it’s time to leave the bedroom. Go drink some coffee in the kitchen or check your email and read the paper in the living room.

1) Early to bed… Early to rise. Easiest way to get up earlier? Get to bed and get those eight hours! Yes, this might be a transition at first, but when you start to enjoy the things you’re able to accomplish in the morning, you’ll find all the motivation you need to get to bed earlier.

The best way to start a new routine is to just do it! Don’t wait until the first of next month or after a vacation. There are always a million reasons not to do something. Don’t make anymore excuses – try waking up early tomorrow morning and see how much you can accomplish before 7 a.m. Better balance is just an early morning away.