Have you heard of the Strengths Finders assessment? The tool, discussed in the book of the same name by Don Clifton, which provides you with your top 5 strengths. These are qualities that positively define the work that you do. It’s actually very handy. I have asked clients to use this tool as it quickly gives insights on what they are great out and how that affects the work they are (or are not doing). The strengths fall into four categories: strategic thinking, relationship, executing and influencing. It is my guess that if you call yourself an achiever (one of the words on the Strengths Finders assessment), you have one or more strengths in the executing category. You are a ‘get things done’ kind of a person.
You get things done no matter what. It is in your nature. It’s why people turn to you and why they know they can rely on you when the project is important.
My Strengths Finders words are Input, Harmony, Analytical, Discipline and Learner. To boil that down, I like to gather information, make plans, get things done and ensure others are happy about the plan. I can relate to you going and doing all the time. If you are at all like me, you may not know HOW to pause and relax.
Recently, I met with a very powerful group of women, led by Victoria Whitfield. We come together live (virtually) twice a month. The discussion this month centered around the energy that we take on from other people and refreshing our own energy. I was not alone in feeling that this topic really hit home. After a very difficult month of May, personally, I realized that I have not yet let go of or refreshed my energy. In other words, I have not taken a break.
After the meeting, I spoke to another attendee, an entrepreneur. Both of us were feeling emotional and needed to talk through the experience. Even though our reasons were different, our response to the stress we were experiencing was the same:
Is this you, too? Are you part of the ‘Get It Done’ Tribe??
If so, I want you to give YOURSELF permission to take a break. Listen to your body, listen to your mind, listen to your spirit.
If you have a tendency to put others’ needs first as well, then this permission slip is especially important.
Here are your next steps:
1 - Read the permission slip (print it if need be and post it on your wall)
2 - Schedule a time to take inaction :-)
Here are a few ideas of things probably not on your to-do list that will not help you pay the bills (they will but that is another post!) Bath, journal, long walk in the woods, sappy movie with popcorn & wine, cry, nap, talk on the phone to a friend, massage, yoga, run, dance (naked in the rain for bonus points!), belly dancing, read a beach novel.
3 - Add breaks to your schedule. Saturday morning, ‘me’ time or whatever works best for you. Put it on the calendar. Non-negotiable.
You cannot go and get things done all the time. You cannot be stuck in ‘on’ position. But sometimes what we are stuck on is ‘not feeling’. Allow yourself permission to relax, let the emotions flow and get back to your ‘to-do’ list after.
You can also check out The Balance Maven® for more tips on how to carve out time to care for yourself. My friend, Jennifer Flynn, is a pro at teaching busy entrepreneurs how to balance work and play. She is a business and lifestyle strategist who specializes in helping overwhelmed entrepreneurs and small business owners end the war between work and play.
As the owner of The Balance Maven® and creator of its signature program Balance YOUniversity™ she supports clients with both her Balance Maven Business™ and Balance Maven Life™ platforms. It is her mission to show you that you CAN have both personal and professional fulfillment. From tangible processes to achieve what you want, to creating superior time and money saving business strategies; she helps you build effective systems to streamline for efficiency and end overwhelm, one step at a time. In maximizing productivity you will create more free time with profitable results leading to a healthier business and a happier you. You were born to have your cake and eat it too!
Visit her website and take her Balance IQ quiz to see how well YOU protect your "me" time.
Having a fulfilling career and a happy, well-supported family life, while feeling energetic and focused IS possible.
It’s open enrollment time in the Momentum Accountability Program. This is where YOU get the support you need to get your big goals done and the reminders you need to take care of yourself in the process. With all that you are seeking to achieve, doesn’t it make sense, to be fully supported in the process? Find out more and apply today. (Applying is free however space is limited. Applications are reviewed ensure this is a good fit for all!)
When my head is full, when life is getting on top of me, when I feel as if the pressure cooker is going to explode, I take myself for a walk.
Walking in open space and in the fresh air has the magical effect of slowing things down, I can feel my shoulders drop as I walk. Walking anywhere works but if you can get into nature then that’s the best medicine of all and I cannot return from a walk in a bad mood.
By going out, you take yourself away from the usual distractions like the people and situations which often cause the stress you might be feeling. I would urge you to turn your phone off so you’re not disturbed and give this time to you. It’s an investment and one you will reap the benefits from especially if you start to do it regularly.
One of my favourite places to walk is Epping Forest which is close to where I live and where I can walk for miles if I choose. You could do a few circuits of a lake though, walk along a canal or river or in a park. You don’t have to walk all the time either, you can choose to sit.
Try to let go of everything that’s filling your mind. Look around you, breathe in and feel the relaxation enter your body. On breathing out, imagine all that stress and tension leaving you.
Visualise your troubles being carried off in the wind and out of reach.
Shake your body out and again imagine that you are letting all the negative thoughts go.
There is always something to seen wherever you walk. Nature changes from season to season and you may just become tempted to see the year through on your walks. Who would want to miss the buds unfurling; baby ducks or swans on the lake; fungi in the Fall and those glorious colours as the year draws to a close.
If you aren’t in reflective mode and rather feel frustration and annoyance, then you may just want to pound those feelings into the path as you walk. It may become part of a march for a while but there are no rules, so do your own thing, whatever works for you.
I find spending some time in mindful walking useful, you can do this by bringing all senses to play and looking, listening, feeling, tasting and hearing but I find it’s even better to focus on one sense at a time. So you might spend 10 minutes just focusing on what you can hear for example. The more you do it, the better you get at it. I find that I have become expert at spotting fungi from afar!!
If you’re interested in exploring this further, visit http://womenwalkingwomentalking.com/7-days-of-mindful-walking/ and download my FREE 7 days of Mindful walking
When walking mindfully, you are so in the moment and when you are in that place you cannot think about anything else. This is a huge bonus.
Walking can become the prevention to stress too, especially long term stress. By getting into the habit of bringing this everyday activity into your life, it becomes a tool which stops stress building.
I burnt out about 5 years ago, stress was high and walking was one of the mainstays in my recovery. I no longer have that long term stress, sure I get the immediate stuff that everyone gets, but nothing like it used to be. In fact I feel very strongly that walking saved my life. I’m in the middle of writing a book about that and if you’d like to express your interest in a copy, then just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll let you know when it’s complete.
You don’t want to admit it. To your clients and your boss and the stakeholders you report to, you are ALWAYS on your game. You are ALWAYS in the flow. But if we were honest with ourselves and others, we’re not.
In trying to be always on, always available, always producing, we have created an unsustainable stress state in our minds and bodies. Midlife crisis? Bankruptcy? Heart attack?
There is a fear underlying all of your activities that keep you pushing all day long:
Fear of failure
Fear of being ‘found out’
Fear of losing it all
Fear of never being able to recreate what you built
Fear of losing the ‘big’ client
Fear of dropping the ball
Fear of (fill in your truth)
Let’s Go to the Beach
Nature gives us many good examples to base our own behaviour. The ocean waves ebb and flow on a daily basis (multiple times per day) and there are seasons of higher tides and even unique events when the water rises or lowers substantially.
Can you imagine if the waves were only ever ‘coming in’? There would be no ebb, no rest for the wave to gather strength and move forward.
The weather across the globe is expressed in seasons. In some places four distinct seasons of dormancy, rebirth, growth and clearing/decay, while in others there are two a rainy (flow) and a dry (ebb).
Can you imagine if the dry season did not follow the wet? There would be no sunshine. If winter did not preceed spring? There would be no rest to prepare for the explosion of growth.
So, what, I have a report due.
You are probably thinking I have gone a little hippie chick on you, I’ll take it :-) But truthfully, you have bills to pay, budgets to meet, reports to produce, widgets to create and distribute and right now, how do you get it done?
Stop pushing and take a break. When we are in a stress state having over-extended our flow state and moved into overwhelmed, then we no longer think clearly and creatively. We no longer have space for new ideas, we no longer see all sides of the problem being solved.
I recently read that people who have fewer than six hours of sleep in a night, are three times more likely to get into a car accident. With less than six hours of sleep our bodies and minds do not fully reset and clear the ‘gunk’ from the previous day.
Acknowledge the ebb and flow. Not only do you experience this daily but weekly, monthly, seasonally and even across years. Instead of fighting against it, allow yourself to see the ebb as a time to reset, gain resources, learn, rest, step outside of the box and gain strength to flow again. Plan for and accept time in your day, week, etc to pause.
One Momentum Program member, an accountant, recently said this, “My revenue is in target to match or be slightly better than last year, but I'm working less and less stressed!! I'm maintaining the same game plan today. Keep producing, take lots of breaks and something fun at the end of the day.” You can hear that he is working hard and ‘pushing’ and then also taking breaks to reset and work with his natural rhythm.
Clear the clutter. The physical act of removing the stuff from your space that is old, outdated, broken has a cleansing effect on your spirit and your brain. The results are similar to clearing a clogged pipe. You will find as you complete the clearing process, ideas begin to flow, you mood will lift and your energy level will increase. What can you let go of today to make space (mental and physical) for where you are going?
If you are stuck in the process, let me know. I would love to have a conversation with you about how to move forward.
Monthly Organizing Classes are available on the 3rd Thursday of the month via Zoom. Register Here.
Being an entrepreneur and business owner is hard! Once you have your business up and running it's not uncommon to hit a few snags: scalability, staff retention, launching growth projects, getting enough sleep!