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Category Archives: Transitions

A version of this post was first published on July 29, 2020.

“Sometimes a hypocrite is nothing more than a man in the process of changing.”

Brandon Sanderson, Author of Oathbringer

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 LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE.

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We’re told to “make hay when the sun shines,” but what if the sun never comes out? What if conditions remain overcast, at best? Sometimes, we have to adapt, re-strategize, and move forward anyway. Sometimes, we simply have to act.

Rarely will conditions be 100 percent perfect. If you’re looking for an excuse to put something off, chances are you’ll find it. There’s always a reason to not take on that challenging work project, write your novel, have a child, travel abroad, start your own business…the list goes on. Sometimes, you just have to jump in with both feet and figure things out as you go.

Additionally, it’s impossible to plan for every bump in the road. You will run into unexpected obstacles, experience temporary setbacks and all-out failures, and take unexpected twists. When this happens, it’s import to roll with the punches and adopt a growth mindset (more on growth mindsets in last week’s post).

When you’re on the brink of a major decision or action, try to keep the following 8 tidbits in mind:

  • Progress is not achieved through inaction.
  • You can still succeed if conditions are not perfect.
  • Others have risen above adversity when the odds were stacked against them. For example: After someone stole his shoes, Native American track and field legend, Jim Thorpe, found two shoes (of different sizes) in a trash bin, put them on, and won two Olympic gold medals.
  • No one achieves greatness or makes positive change through inaction.
  • Your actions don’t have to be unsupported. Leverage whatever resources (others’ expertise, databases, classes, grants, a mentor’s advice, etc.) are at your disposal.
  • You are adaptable and resilient enough to overcome adversity or setbacks.
  • Inaction is often just an excuse; don’t give in to your fears!
  • It’s okay to figure things out as you go.

If you are delaying taking action on something, I urge you to ask yourself why. Face your trepidations, strategize as best you can, and jump in! You’ll rarely find the perfect conditions to act, so you might as well plow ahead using whatever resources are available. Even if things don’t turn out as expected, you can still hold your head high knowing you had the courage to act.

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. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Working from home can be a tricky balancing act for anyone. You have to create a routine to stay focused and motivated, set up an office space, and try to create healthy boundaries between work and home. Add parenting into the mix and your balancing act turns into something more like a flying trapeze show that involves juggling fireballs while singing the national anthem. It’s beyond tricky. Sometimes, it feels downright impossible.

But that’s been the story for millions of parents during this pandemic era. For many, having their children return to school last fall was a godsend. It created some semblance of normalcy, some reprieve from the constant need to guide home schooling, provide snacks, breakup spats between siblings, or offer (sometimes much-needed) attention. But things are dicey again, and school district policies are all over the place. Some schools have closed their doors once more, which means parents have to once again split their time between working and babysitting their kids’ Zoom sessions.

I’m well aware that the unpredictability is maddening for working parents. Though my kids are long grown, I’ve talked to many parents of young kids and have read poignant articles about the difficulty of this time. What’s more, women are disproportionately affected by the WFH/parenting balancing act. A McKinsey study found that moms were three times more likely to perform most of the household labor during the pandemic (and 1.5 times more likely to spend 3+ hours on housework or child care EACH day).

So, what’s a working parent to do? I have three main suggestions. These may not be cure-alls, but hopefully they will provide a small amount of relief and sanity to parents who are juggling WFH with child care.

1. Forgive Yourself

Too many of us are perfectionists. In this uncertain time, it’s a good idea to let those perfectionist tendencies slide a bit. You’re not going to win every day, or even most days. Just keeping your head above water is sometimes enough. Maybe you have to eat frozen pizza three nights in a row because you’ve run out of steam to cook a healthy meal. Maybe you have to bribe your kids with more “screen time” than usual.

That’s okay.

Sometimes you have to simply survive until next week and try again. Maybe you’ll have a little more free time or resources then, and you can do a bit better. Or maybe not. Whatever the case, let it go and forgive yourself. We all make mistakes or have bad weeks. Forgive your flaws, be kind to yourself, and instead of dwelling on mistakes, plan for the future.

2. Partner with Others

Though being a WFH parent can feel awfully lonely at times, it doesn’t have to be. Believe it or not, there are many parents all over the nation in a similar position and, guess what, most of them feel isolated and alone too! So, why not partner up?

Reach out to parent friends or connect with parents who live in your neighborhood/apartment building and form a pod. When doing this, it’s helpful to partner with those who are like-minded about pandemic policies; otherwise, a partnership will be difficult. BUT, if you are able to find another family or two to partner with and support each other, that is worth more than gold. You can begin trading responsibilities such as driving the kids to activities, babysitting, tutoring, or even swapping meals. It may not “take a village to raise a child,” but it certainly does help.

3. Schedule “Me Time”

If you’re working at home with kids in the house, you are well aware that it can be extremely difficult to concentrate. Somebody always needs something, and you’re usually the one that hears about it. To help mitigate some of this, it’s helpful to set aside blocks of “me time” in your schedule. This technique likely won’t work with very young children, but it should work with most.

Explain to your kid(s) that when you declare “me time,” that means you need an undisturbed block of time for an hour (or two, if your kids are older or fairly quiet). They should hold off requests, keep noise to a minimum, and respect your boundaries during this time. If you have a door (and your kids are older), you might want to close it to help with your concentration. Then, get to work! Focus on one or two tasks during this block of time and do whatever you can.

If you and your partner are working from home, you might approach “me time” in a different way. Instead of relying on the kids to stay quiet and unattended, you can trade work/parenting duties with your partner. Let the kids know which parent is “on duty” and which parent is working, so they know who to go to in a crisis (or if they need more apple juice!). Regardless of your approach, communication is crucial when it comes to setting aside “me time.”

Parenting during a pandemic is a challenge we’re still trying to wrap our heads around. Things will eventually get better, but for now, simply do your best, communicate clearly, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

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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