Friday, December 30, 2011

Balancing Work and Life: Gratitude

More and more, I am convinced that if we take a few minutes to find gratitude early in our day, each day is more balanced. If we do this each day, that adds up to weeks, months, years –  and a life – of balance.

I like to watch the morning news as I get ready and dressed for the day. Unfortunately, most of it is bad news for breakfast. So what can we do to Scotchguard ourselves from the bad news around us? We can immerse ourselves in plain and simple gratitude by creating a mental – or even written – list of the good in our lives. Hey, just being thankful for waking up and putting our feet on the ground is something!

Years ago, when I realized I was having a “feel sorry for myself” day, I would MAKE myself drive by the local hospital on the way home from work. Yes, it was perhaps 10 minutes out of my way, but I consciously knew I had to snap myself out of it and make room for gratitude. Now, I start my mornings with a breakfast of gratitude to make sure every day is in proper perspective.  

Gratitude is like attitude in that it’s contagious. The more you focus on the positive, the more positive comes your way! Plus, you have the power to spread it around.

As we enter 2012, be powerful in your gratitude and see how your day, week, month and new year goes! Watch how it spreads around you. And, a bonus is that someone in your world will have you on THEIR grateful list.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Balancing Work and Life: Rekindle Your First Love

Think back to your first love. Are you visualizing a much younger version of yourself in a special time of your life?

Last night I was on my last cell of energy, feeling half ill from the weeks of pushing myself, driven through the Christmas season, and now finding myself dressing for a formal party which I had previously looked forward to, but was now just dragging towards. My body, nor my heart was in it and every move felt exaggerated. The couch looked so much better to join – not a party!

Arriving and making my hellos through the crowd, I was doing my best to be myself enjoying the festive crowd. A lovely dinner was served and the conversation went well. At least I was getting to sit down, I thought, which was a great consolation for a much tired me. 
And then the most rewarding, uplifting and renewing experience happened. My first love arrived at the party. I sat up straighter, my heart beat a bit faster, my dull headache faded, a warm tingling feeling raced from my toes to my cold fingertips. A genuine smile even spread across my face and the tired lines disappeared as a younger version of myself appeared. I felt the love. I had pushed back this feeling for so long. I realized immediately I had not be attentive to my own needs.

A fabulously talented pianist sat down and filled the air with piano music – my first love. My heart felt joy and I was also mentally playing every note, remembering what my first love and passion was. I had been a professional pianist for 20+ years and had thrived and survived on expressing myself through music. How remiss on my part to neglect my first love.
As I filled my cup by the end of the evening, I walked away with the knowledge that I had forgotten to feed my passion. My current work self, who never gets the list finished, had not spent any time restoring the life me. I had a new attitude on balancing my life and work.

Have your spent time with your first love lately? As you can see from this story, it is not cheating on your present self. Set aside some quality time to restore yourself, and may your days be merry and bright. God bless.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Givers and Takers: The Balance

The holidays are a time when people are fixated on giving. We shop for presents to give our friends and family. We search for the perfect gift and enjoy the emotional response of them liking it. There has to be some endorphin released doing this because so many people love to give. Give, give give!

Many years ago (which I refer to with my friends as BL as in "Before Larry") I was a big giver. The giving I am speaking of, though, is not physical gifts, but relationship giving. I was wearing myself out trying to please people and give, give, give. 

I have a friend who who recognized my imbalance of giving and taking. When he approached me about it - and did and intervention of sorts - I was in total denial. Eventually, he gave me a book, The Givers & The Takers, to read and absorb. This book explains that being a giver is not all good, that we needed to find times and relationships in which to take.

Needless to say, this 25-year-old intervention has stuck with me. I have thought about it and worked with the idea for years, and find that a balance means not only reaching a good place, but it has also grown in other parts of my life.

Givers and takers. I hope today you can take with you this lesson and apply it to find more balance in your life.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Turning Off the Workaholic Mindset

At certain points in life, we find ourselves working very hard on our careers. Whether we’re working toward a promotion, looking for a new position or even relocating, it’s during these times we need to be especially mindful of our work life balance. I came across a great post on the Work Awesome blog by Nathan Gilmore that shares a number of pointers about how to create balance – and happiness – at work and home.

Here are 10 key points that Nathan shares:

Work fewer hours
Thanks to smartphones, many people feel they must always be connected and ready to work. Gilmore also suggests establishing a four-day work week.

2)     Spend time with family and friends
Create a similar work schedule to the important people in your life so you can enjoy free time together.

3)     Save work for the office
Having a “working environment” is crucial, but equally important is having a “non-working environment.” Make your home a place of rest, not an extension of your office.

4)     Keep your eyes off your phone
Do you have that itch to “always be connected?” Set a regularly scheduled day or timeframe to turn it off. It’s important to spend quality time with your family and friends and keep your focus and attention on them during that time.

5)     Find a few hobbies
Enjoying hobbies will help you get out of work mode. It’s especially helpful if those hobbies can include friends or family because it helps you stay connected.

6)     Enjoy relaxing
It’s okay to relax and take time to recharge your mind and body. If you don’t take time for yourself, you won’t be as productive at work or at home.

7)     Accomplish personal goals
Think of all the time and energy you put into reaching goals at work. It’s equally as important to have a few reasonable life goals to work toward.

8)     Only think about working while at work
Again, shut off that phone! Be in the present and focus on what you’re currently doing. Only think about work when you are physically at work.

9)     Help your friends and community
Donate to a charity, give back to your community or help someone you know. You will feel better about yourself when you do something for others.

10)  Don’t wait, do it now!
When you physically punch out of work today, mentally do the same thing. Don’t check anymore email for the day. Shut off your work mind and focus on everything else going on in your life, because there’s always plenty to think about.