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Category Archives: Changing Your Life

Are you a worrier? Do you tend to dwell on something and envision the worst possible outcomes? There is something to be said for preparing for the worst; however, constant worrying and catastrophizing can also lead to anxiousness, constant fear, and difficulty finding enjoyment or joy.

How can you combat your worrywart tendencies?

Psychiatrist Katherine Pannel recommends a thought exercise. If you’re faced with an uncertain situation, picture the very worst outcome, then shift your thinking and imagine the very best outcome. After that, consider the most likely outcome, which will probably land somewhere in the middle of the two scenarios. This exercise helps you to refocus and “redirect your thoughts to a more realistic, comfortable place.”

Another way to stop worrying so much is to focus on preparations.

When you know you’ve put in the leg work and are thoroughly prepared, there’s less cause for worry. Tell yourself that you’ve done everything you can, and the outcome will be what it will be.

When I’m preparing for a presentation or an important meeting, I try to allow myself time to A) prepare the material B) practice and C) anticipate possible questions. Ideally, when you practice it should be out loud, in front of a mirror or with a friend or family member. When you’re anticipating possible questions, think about the things people are likely to ask AND anticipate any follow-up questions to those initial questions. When you’re prepared, you tend to feel more confident and less worried. You’ve done what you can, and the rest is out of your hands.

Lastly, if you’d like to stop worrying so much it’s important to accept your imperfections.

Recognize that you are not perfect, and you don’t have to be. Nobody is! If you make a mistake, it’s okay (truly). Pick yourself, attend to any necessary damage control, and try again. Many of us have unrealistic expectations for ourselves (we would probably never treat others the way we sometimes treat ourselves!), and that isn’t healthy. Instead, be kind to yourself, recognize you’re an imperfect human being, and simply try your best.

Let’s combat worrywart tendencies once and for all! Most of the time, things are not as bad as you fear them to be.

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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Are you one of several million people who has recently left your job? Or, are you thinking about making a career change? Or are you, perhaps, hoping to switch roles or responsibilities in your current workplace? Whatever the case, it’s crucial to start thinking about and preparing for the transition ahead. Smooth transitions are usually not accidental. They take a good deal of reflection, forethought, strategy, and adaptability. Today, I’d like to discuss three keys to a successful transition.

Before we dig in, I need to give credit where credit is due. Dr. Jean Davidson, an experienced coach and consultant, is the originator of the “Three Keys” concept. She founded Davidson Consulting and Coaching in 2004, and has helped many individuals and teams step into the best versions of themselves. Dr. Davidson’s eBook, 3 Keys to Finding Hidden Treasures in a Difficult Transition, discusses transitions from a unique angle, and in this blog post I’m going to paraphrase some of that information. (If you find this information helpful, I highly encourage you to download Dr. Davidson’s complimentary eBook from her website!)

Let’s dig in to the “3 Keys.”

1. Notice where you are in the journey

There is power in observation. It pays to slow down, reflect, and think about where you are in your transition journey. Do you think you’re close to the beginning of your journey? Toward the end? Or somewhere in the middle? What roadblocks are you facing now, and which ones do you anticipate in the future?

This intentional reflecting is important, as it helps us identify our current state, where we’d like to go, and what might be standing in the way of us getting there.

2. Look for treasures and use them

Though you might not realize it in the moment, there are valuable lessons to be learned during a transition. Oftentimes, we’re too busy trying to get through the transition that we don’t absorb the life lessons and wisdom we gain from experiencing it. And this attitude makes sense—transitions can be difficult and uncomfortable. The last thing most of us want to do is dwell on them!

But that’s precisely where you’ll find the lessons, the “treasures,” buried in the folds of uncertainty and stress. What types of lessons?

Perhaps you’ve learned about your personal resiliency. Maybe you’ve shifted to a career that pays less but grants you more time off, thus teaching you how to appreciate personal time. Or maybe your transition has taught you something about your support network—those important family members and friends who have your back (and, conversely, maybe you’ve learned who doesn’t have your back and who you might need to distance yourself from).

All of these lessons are true treasures. We simply have to look for them. (Dr. Davidson goes into more detail on how to do this in her eBook.)

3. Identify what to let go of

As you move forward in your transition journey, you will likely discover that some things no longer serve you. Some of your habits, tendencies, attitudes, or even relationships may no longer fit into this new chapter of your life. Reflect on your new path forward and consider what you need to leave behind. Some of your decisions about what to reject might be relatively easy (ditching your habit of overworking, for instance, or ridding yourself of the tendency to be too much of a people pleaser). But other decisions may be more difficult (Do you let go of that harmful friendship, or do you attempt to repair it? Are you really ready to put an end to certain bad habits?).

I challenge you to be frank and honest with yourself. What do you need, going forward? And what will inhibit your progress or, worse, drag you back to square one? Cut the things from your life that will only weigh you down—the self-expectations, the harmful relationships, the toxic beliefs, the bad habits.

After you determine what to let go of in your life, follow through! Make a plan for how to rid yourself of these things and take action. Communication and honesty will go a long way in this process.

Transitions can be tough, but they can also open new doors and provide an opportunity for you to reinvent or rejuvenate yourself. Take your time, learn from your journey, and let go of anything that is harmful or holding you back. Walk forward on your new path with clarity and confidence.

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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Graphic of person in the middle of four yellow arrows pointing outward

It is said that nothing is certain in life besides death and taxes. Let’s add one more item to the list, shall we? Uncertainty. While this addition might seem obvious, it’s important to acknowledge the uncertainty of life. When things are uncertain in terms of finances, health, relationships, or anything really, we can become anxious, withdrawn, and our health can even suffer.

Lately, life seems more uncertain than ever. Many people are out of work or still working from home; people are feeling isolated from friends and family members due to caution about COVID, or because of differences in philosophies or political beliefs. With so many changes and uncertainty, it’s difficult to know where tomorrow will lead (let alone next year!).

How can we confront the uncertainty of life? I recommend starting with the following four approaches, and going from there.*

*“Going from there” might mean seeking support from a qualified therapist or counselor. Do not hesitate to reach out for help if you need it!

1. Be Kind to Yourself

When you’re attempting to deal with feelings of uncertainty, it’s important to be gentle with yourself and take your time. It doesn’t pay to ignore your feelings or push through when you truly need to pause, take a meaningful break, and/or recenter yourself. Acknowledge that uncertainty is inevitable, and it has always been part of your life in one way or another. When you were a child, you often had to release control while adults made decisions. In your adult life, you’ve never been able to control things such as the weather, the influences of your genetics, or other people’s feelings/reactions toward you. Remind yourself that you are strong, you have overcome past uncertainties, and you will continue to overcome uncertainties.

2. Redirect Your Energy

It is completely fine to enjoy a healthy distraction from your present woes. Sometimes it’s helpful to occupy your body and/or mind by regularly engaging in meaningful activities. Try learning a new language, baking, painting, or simply catch up on your reading list. Exercise is also a great way to distract yourself from current troubles and gain some positive endorphins and muscle while you’re at it! I believe there is a form of exercise for everyone, whether walking, swimming, weight lifting, yoga, or cycling.

3. Connect with Others

You are not alone, and you are not the only one who has struggled lately. Even though the feelings associated with uncertainty—anxiety, sadness, fear, anger, etc.—can seem very private, it’s not healthy to let those feelings take control and lead you to become isolated or withdrawn. Before you reach this point, reach out! Connect with friends or family members. Seek the camaraderie of a club, volunteer organization, or church group. Just being around people you enjoy can have a positive effect.

4. Take Meaningful Breaks

Taking a break is not a sign of weakness. Sometimes it’s absolutely necessary. Rest when you need to; step away from your work when you need to. And if you are completely burnt out, it may be time to take an extended break or sabbatical. Many workplaces would rather grant an extended leave than going through the process of hiring and training a new person. If your workplace refuses to give you time off (or, if you don’t envision a positive future in your workplace), it may be time to make a change.

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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