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Category Archives: Changing Your Life

coffee and book
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Though I’m generally an optimistic person, there is a lot of hardship in the world lately that has been weighing me down. And I know I’m not alone. When I tune into the news, comb through social media, or talk to friends or acquaintances, I feel a general sense of dread and uncertainty. Many people are unemployed or underemployed, the pandemic is keeping us isolated and frustrated, the economy is uncertain, social issues have the country severely divided…it’s a lot to take in.

During this time of turmoil and strife, it’s crucial to remember to be kind to yourself (as well as others!). You have to remember that, although you are strong, you are just one person. Besides, it’s difficult to make positive change or be a support for others when you’re worn thin and tired.

If the world is weighing on your shoulders and you’re feeling helpless or downright exhausted, I encourage you to set aside time for self-care and rejuvenation. You deserve it. You need it.

Here are 5 ideas for rejuvenating yourself and returning to a positive place in your life:

1. Go Easy On Yourself

Start your rejuvenation journey by forgiving yourself and acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers. You can’t be everything for everyone. You don’t have to be put together all the time. You don’t have to be perfect.

It’s easy to compare yourself to others when you’re on social media. Others’ pictures of perfection (baking bread, sewing COVID masks, flawlessly homeschooling their children) are just that: PICTURES. They don’t show the entire reality. They don’t show the struggles and tears.

If comparing yourself to others is dragging you down, stop tuning in. Take a break from Facebook and Instagram. When you find yourself wanting to click on social media, read an eBook instead or a play a game. Create some “social distance,” and see how it changes your world.

2. Find Daily Quiet Time

Setting aside time every day for quiet reflection, journaling, reading, yoga, etc. can make a world of difference. Even 15 minutes or half an hour can help reinvigorate your brain and put you in a better place. Let your family know that you would like to set aside this time—your “me time”—so you make sure it is peaceful and uninterrupted.

3. Develop Daily Patterns

It’s possible your old life patterns were interrupted by COVID, which can cause you to feel unsettled or edgy. Find creative ways to carve out new daily patterns. For instance, if you used to have a 30-minute commute where you sipped coffee and prepared for your day, you can still set up a morning “commute,” even if you’re now working from home. Make coffee and take the dog for a walk, as you mentally prepare for your day (OR make tea and sit on your porch for a few minutes OR eat breakfast and jot out your daily to-do list…whatever works for you!).

4. Take a Staycation

If you are not working, or if you have the time to step away from work for a while, set aside a week or so and take a staycation. You could stay at a local hotel, but basing yourself out of your own home works just as well. Be a tourist in your own town—visit local parks and museums, eat lunch on a patio, discover parts of the city you’ve never seen before, go for a scenic drive. Most importantly, don’t stress! Sleep in, practice good self-care, read that book you’ve been meaning to read.

If you wanted to take your staycation to the next level, you could visit other countries from the comfort of your living room. Take virtual museum tours, order or make food from a specific country, and immerse yourself in books or movies set in that country. Your creativity is your only limiting factor!

5. Stay Active

Exercise releases endorphins and helps keep you healthy. Even when you’re feeling downtrodden, it pays to make a concerted effort to stay active. Ride your bike, take long walks, lift a few weights, turn on some music and dance—staying active will empower both your body and your mind. Figure out what works best for you and incorporate it into your weekly routine.

You deserve rejuvenation. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking concerted, conscious breaks will help you endure today’s hardships. You’ve got this! And if you’d like to chat, I’m here.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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It takes courage to admit when you’re wrong, and it takes even more courage to shift your perspective and open yourself to change. The older we get, the easier it is to do things the same way day in, day out. We become entrenched in our beliefs, and it becomes more and more difficult to shift our way of thinking.

In psychology, this “set in your ways” attitude is called mental rigidity.

While it’s normal and healthy to have a routine, mental rigidity goes a step further. It limits how you see the world, makes you less adaptable, and causes you to be closed off to new ideas or perspectives. As one article puts it, “Mental rigidity cuts off the wings you need for imagination, improvement, and exploring new places.”

Mental rigidity can also make it difficult to have empathy–to walk a mile in another’s shoes. We become accustomed to one reality, one way of life, and that becomes the ONLY way. However, different people hail from different backgrounds and have different experiences and beliefs. We can’t necessarily KNOW what another person is thinking or feeling, but we can attempt to UNDERSTAND.

When you introduce yourself to different perspectives, beliefs, and vantage points, you do something a little scary: You open yourself to the possibility that your deeply entrenched attitudes and ways to thinking might change.

Change is never easy, especially when others expect you to remain the same. When you begin to shift your perspective or beliefs, you might face criticism from those who think you’re a “hypocrite” or “wishy-washy.”

I challenge you to stick to your guns and make an honest effort to change, if you believe that change is necessary. Recognize that you are doing yourself a service in the long run, and others’ snide remarks can’t stop you from continuing to learn and grow.

On the same token, be gracious to those who change their minds. No one has all the answers, and it’s okay to learn and evolve. In fact, it is healthy.

So, be fearless. Challenge your assumptions and be bold enough to get uncomfortable. It is only when we dare to step outside our comfort zones that we can truly expand our horizons and potentially change our points of view.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Stressed woman at laptop

Prompted by the COVID pandemic, more and more people have realized they can do much of their work away from an office setting. Working from home (WFH) is becoming the new norm, and companies are beginning to realize that employees can be about as productive at home as in the office. With WFH sticking around for the long haul, it’s crucial to establish some personal ground rules.

Why set ground rules?

Because it’s easy to get trampled by unreasonable expectations if you’re not seeing your bosses and co-workers face-to-face. People may expect you to return emails at all hours of the day, jump into a last-minute Zoom meeting, or take on a mountain of new assignments.

Just as it’s important to set personal boundaries in an office setting, so too is it important to set firm WFH boundaries. Here are 3 ways to do so:

1. Take Charge of Emails

If you’re answering emails at 8:00 or 9:00 at night (or later!), you set the expectation that you are willing to work at all hours of the day. That should not be the case. Even if your work laptop is with you 24/7, it is important to separate your work time from your personal time. That means establishing a timeframe for answering emails and sticking to it.

If your co-workers and supervisor know you’ll generally respond to emails between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., that expectation will be set. If they know you’ll respond to emails at 11:00 at night, that expectation will be set. If, for some reason, it’s easier for you to respond to emails at night (maybe you have small children that need care during the day), schedule your emails to send the next morning. That way, you’re still holding firm to your email parameters.

2. Say No

Many of us get in the habit of saying yes to assignments, even when we are A) short on time or B) the assignment does NOT suit our talents. When their team is working from home, supervisors may not have a good sense of how busy people are and whether or not they are free to take on more work. Because of that, they might assign tasks to those who are already up to their ears in work.

If you find yourself panicking about a new assignment, pause and ask yourself, “Does this fit into my area of expertise? Do I, realistically, have time to take this on?” If you answer no to either question, push back (as respectfully as possible!). You might even reach out to others who are better suited for the assignment and see if they have the time and capacity to take it on (if you do this, remember to return the favor at a later date. Also, let your supervisor know you’re looking for someone else to take on the assignment!).

For more, read this post for tips on saying no.

3. Limit Zoom Meetings

Zoom meetings are tiring. It can be difficult to read social cues through a screen, you’re forced to sit up and stare at the same spot for an extended period of time, and it’s sometimes difficult to get everyone engaged. If you’re involved in back-to-back-to-back Zoom meetings, you might find yourself completely wiped out at the end of the day.

To prevent video chat burnout, make an effort to limit your online meetings in a given day. If someone wants to schedule a meeting, ask yourself, “Do we really need to meet about this? Would a simple email suffice?” AND ask yourself, “Have I already reached my Zoom meeting limit for the day? Will scheduling another be productive or relatively useless?” Take charge of your schedule and limit your online video chats.

 

Just like working in an office, WFH should come with firm personal boundaries. If you do not take charge of your time and set healthy parameters, you’ll find that you’re in danger of burnout. Start saying no, setting email boundaries, and limiting video chats today!


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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