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Category Archives: Changing Your Life

Recently, the New York Times published an article about a man who, when faced with his own mortality, finally began to realize what was truly important in life. Jonathan Frostick had been working nonstop as a manager at an investment bank when he was struck with a sudden heart attack. As he was being rushed to the hospital, he thought, “This isn’t convenient. I need to meet with my manager tomorrow.” Only later, as the dust settled and he began to recover in the hospital, did he realize how twisted those sentiments were. He had been concerned about his heart attack being an inconvenience.

That’s when Jonathan made a decision. He would begin to focus on what really mattered to him in life. He would spend more time with his family. He would step away from work more often and not get tangled up in workplace drama. He would stop spending so many long, tedious hours on Zoom and begin to enjoy life a bit more.

Jonathan’s experience can be a lesson for us all. When we’re faced with a life-altering situation, we suddenly begin to gain a bit more perspective. We realize what to hang onto…and what to let go.

In your own life, what or whom do you love? What gives your life meaning? What brings you joy?

On the flipside, what causes you anxiety or angst? What do you dread? What drags you down or is tedious for you?

Although life isn’t always a bed of roses, it doesn’t have to be something you simply endure. Life is too short for that. It’s too short to be caught up in a job you hate. It’s too short to put up with people who do not lift you up or support you. It’s too short to be miserable.

Take the time to reflect on your life at this moment and how things, as a whole, are going for you. Are you mostly satisfied, but could stand to tweak some aspects of your life? Do you know you should make some changes to truly find your joy? Or, are you downright miserable and need to completely overhaul one or more aspects of your life?

If you simply need to tweak a few things to get yourself back on track, start THIS WEEK. Maybe you’d like to spend more time with family. Maybe you’re disappointed you let go of a beloved hobby and want to get back into it. Or maybe you need to improve your communication with others and want to start being more honest and transparent. Whatever the case, I encourage you to start making changes now. Why wait? They say the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago…and the second best time is today.

But what if you feel that you need a complete overhaul?

If things are truly not going well, it may be uncomfortable to be honest with yourself and your situation. It can be downright terrifying to think about changing career paths or exiting a harmful relationship. But in the end, it’s worth it to take a leap and make the necessary changes. Keep in mind, you don’t have to do it alone. Make an appointment with a therapist or career coach. Talk to a trusted friend who has also made major life changes or who is simply a good listener.

If you’re not fully happy with your trajectory CHANGE IT. Don’t wait until you’re faced with a life or death situation to finally gain perspective and course correct. You deserve to live your fullest, happiest life.

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. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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A few weeks ago, I spent some time with family on the East Coast. We had a few responsibilities and appointments, but in between our little tasks, we laughed, relaxed, swapped stories, and generally enjoyed each other’s company. Stepping away from my responsibilities in Minnesota gave me a little perspective. Suddenly, my list of house projects seemed less important. My coaching work and other responsibilities were less urgent. What mattered most was family and being present for one another.

That’s what happens when you take a break. You allow yourself the space, time, and peace to reflect and gain perspective. You might start to realize what’s truly important in life. You might remember what truly makes you happy.

Taking a break is good for your mental and physical health as well. I’ve read numerous articles on how taking a meaningful break can rejuvenate your body and improve concentration and motivation. One study by a professor at the Wharton School of Business found that when people spent more time on family, community, and self, “their career satisfaction increased by 21% and their work performance (self-assessed) improved by 8%. Happiness with family life grew even more.”

That’s because we’re not meant to work 60 or 70 hours per week. If we go, go, go, chances are, our batteries will quickly become drained and we’ll end up working harder instead of smarter.

That’s why I advocate for taking a break. Make it meaningful. Make it a real break, and not just a “working remotely” situation. Step away from your laptop, your email, your responsibilities. Go somewhere without wi-fi or cell phone reception if you have to! Just take a break. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

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. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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“If you’re trying to break a habit, don’t say ‘this is the last time I’m doing it’ to yourself. Instead, say ‘this is the first time I’m NOT doing it.”

-Unknown

Many of us have had to adjust to new ways of living, working, and existing during the recent pandemic. Now, people are slowly returning to work, and children are either back in school or poised to return this coming fall. With so many things in flux, we’ve had to adapt to and create new routines and habits.

Whether you’re adjusting to life changes OR trying to buck an old habit, I have a few different tips for doing so. Feel free to experiment and do what works best for YOU and your situation. And remember: developing a new habit takes time and patience. You’ve got this.

1. Enlist an Accountability Partner/Role Model

Telling one or more people about your goal is a powerful action for developing new habits. Not only can that person/people act as support, they can also apply a little bit of healthy peer pressure. If you cheat on a goal, what will your accountability partner/role model think??

You may also consider having regular check-ins with your accountability partner to keep you on track. Don’t forget to thank your partner in some way OR offer to return the favor if they are also seeking to develop a new habit.

2. Act Daily

It’s crucial to be consistent when developing a new habit. Make a commitment to act every day to help your new habit stick.

3. Keep a Calendar

Buy an old-fashioned paper calendar and make a mark on it (or apply a sticker!) every time you practice your new habit. A calendar is a great visual reminder of everything you’ve achieved and it can help keep your habit top-of-mind.

4. Be Kind to Yourself

You may not be a natural at keeping up your habit at first. Whether you’re attempting to quit smoking, going to the gym every morning, or committing to reading more books, the early stages of your habit might not come easily. Be gentle with yourself and understand that things WILL get easier as you go along.

5. Visualize

Visualization is a technique used by professional athletes and entrepreneurs alike. There are neurological reasons for visualizing your success. Your brain begins to recognize pathways to success and sees success as the norm. Take the time to envision yourself participating in your new habit and thriving.

6. Reward Yourself!

There’s nothing wrong with bribing yourself to achieve your goals! Set a few incremental milestones on your calendar (one successful week, month, six weeks) and reward yourself when you reach those milestones. You might treat yourself to a dessert, go out for a nice dinner, or take a mini vacation (an outing at a lake, perhaps, or an extended weekend trip). Do whatever you’d like, as long as the rewards match the achievements.

Creating a new habit can be difficult at first, but with time, commitment, patience, and faith in yourself, you can do just about anything. If you’re aspiring to a career-related habit and want to talk, I’m here. Best of luck with developing your new habit!

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. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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