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Tag Archives: Margaret Smith licensed Insights practitioner

I’m willing to bet you are kind to others—perhaps even people you don’t know. But are you consistently kind to yourself?

This is the question we’ll be exploring this week as we continue our “Self-Improvement Goals” series. Being kind to yourself is always important, but it is even more crucial when you’re going through a difficult time (such as the whole of 2020!). If you don’t love, forgive, and take care of yourself, you’ll be in no condition to help others, perform at your peak, or have the energy to deal with life’s stressors. It’s important to rest when you need it and don’t dwell on your shortcomings or mistakes. It’s important to be gentle with yourself.

Here are three areas where most of us could use a little self-improvement:

1. Forgive Yourself

I’m guessing you have a lot of practice forgiving others. You probably excuse others’ mistakes all time—that co-worker who missed a deadline or forgot a meeting, that child who broke your tea mug, that friend who splashed coffee on your pants. If you’re on a Zoom meeting and someone apologizes for their messy house, you likely wouldn’t chastise them. You would laugh and tell them you understand.

Do you have this much understanding when it comes to your own shortcomings?

It’s time to remember that you are human—you’re imperfect and you make mistakes. Instead of beating yourself up over your errors, try to reframe your thinking. Move from an “I’m so terrible” mindset to a “How can I fix this?” mindset. Focusing on solutions can help shift your thoughts from your mistake to a more action-driven frame of mind. And if you can’t fix something? Do your best to move on and pledge to do better next time. There is always tomorrow to try, try again.

2. Rest

Even the most powerful CEOs, athletes, and politicians need to rest. And so do you. Give yourself permission to simply step away from work from time to time and take a few moments for yourself. Take a nap, read a book, work on a crossword puzzle—whatever you need to do to rest and rejuvenate.

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to take an extended break. If you’ve been pushing yourself to the limit for too long, you’ll eventually give out. Before that happens, make a concerted effort to schedule a long break in your busy calendar. You might choose to take a four-day weekend or a couple of weeks off—whatever you can plausibly take. If taking more than a day off of work causes a fuss, you might want to seriously consider a job change (consult a career coach first, of course!).

One last note about rest: Be sure to get enough sleep! Study after study has shown that getting an adequate amount of sleep each night is crucial if you want to stay healthy and high-functioning. Start winding down your night early and get to bed!

3. Focus on Health

Your health is important. I know it’s tempting to eat junk food and sit around after a long, hard day of work, but do your best to resist! Your health is worth it. Instead, prioritize exercise, healthy eating, and stress-reducing activities. Today, there are many ways to get a nutritious meal on your plate—cook it from scratch, use a healthy-eating subscription box, or cook meals in advance and freeze them. You can download any number of apps to track your eating habits and help you course correct, if necessary.

The same is true for exercise. With Fitbits and apps, it’s easy to track how much you move around in a given day. If you’d rather track your fitness the “old fashioned way,” write out an exercise calendar and stick to it! Moving your body is crucial for your health, and it will affect every aspect of your life, from your work to your family.

Lastly, make a conscious effort to reduce stress. Excess stress can lead to health issues and can affect your night’s sleep. Try soaking in a bath, taking a quiet walk, or reading—anything that will lower your heartrate, loosen those tight muscles, and help put your mind at ease.

If you’re like many people I know, you tend to put others first. That’s an admirable trait, but you also need to pay attention to yourself. After all, if you’re not feeling both physically and mentally healthy, how can you help others?


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If you’re hoping to improve yourself this year, one of the fundamental steps you can take is to build your self-awareness. Even if you think you know yourself decently well, you can always dig deeper. What’s more, it’s possible you’ve changed a bit over the years (or even in the last year!), and it’s a good idea to become reacquainted with the new you.

Why work on self-awareness?

Becoming self-aware will not only help to improve yourself, your communication, your skillsets, etc., it will also benefit those around you. When you understand, for instance, that you do your best work when you collaborate with others and communicate openly and frequently, you can voice those preferences to others.

Another example: If you’re introspective and like to think about every angle of a problem before proposing a solution, it’s a good idea to let others know that as well. In a team meeting, you might say something like, “These are all great questions. I’d like to mull them over and take a look at the data before offering my ideas.” By articulating your preferences, others will begin to understand that you’re not just sitting silently in meetings because you have nothing to contribute. You just prefer to assess all the data before speaking up.

By becoming self-aware, you also equip yourself with some extra empathy. You start to realize that not everyone enjoys working, communicating, thinking, or interacting in the same manner. Whereas you might prefer swift action and timely results, others may find comfort in taking their time and exploring multiple angles of a problem before acting. By learning more about your own preferences, you also open yourself up to the idea that not everyone thinks or acts in the way you do, and that is okay.

How do you increase self-awareness?

That is the question, isn’t it? You can’t just snap your fingers and become more self-aware overnight. It’s a process that involves paying attention, retrospection, and reflection. To get started on your journey to greater self-awareness, you might consider taking an evaluative test. Though this may seem like a simplistic approach, it’s really not. Assessment tests (ones used by professionals, at least) can be incredibly insightful and thought-provoking. Not all tests are created equal, so do a little research before you pick you. My favorite is Insights Discovery®, for a few different reasons:

1) It’s science-based and relies on principles of famed psychiatrist Carl Jung.

2) The findings are presented in easy to understand, easy to discuss language.

3) Insights® does not pigeonhole people or claim that a person is ONE specific way, ALL the time. Rather, it emphasizes that people tend to lean toward certain tendencies and behaviors, and all are capable of embracing their opposite tendencies from time to time (e.g. Those who are usually introverted have the capability of developing or “turning on” extroverted behavior).

Beyond using assessment tests, you could also read books dedicated to self-awareness (The Untethered Soul and Emotional Agility come to mind, but there are MANY books on this topic). You could also work with a coach, counselor, or other professional to help guide you down the right path.

Lastly, building self-awareness takes time and effort. You’ll need to make a conscious effort to really sit down, examine yourself and your behaviors, and think about what steps you can take, going forward. And remember: Being self-aware is a great first step, but it’s not quite enough. Once you’ve gained a little more self-awareness, it’s up to you to do something with your newfound knowledge. Lean on your strengths. Articulate your work and communication preferences. Acknowledge the areas where you struggle and strategize on how to improve them.

Self-improvement is a never-ending journey, and self-awareness is but one important step on that road.


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New Year sparklers

As we tiptoe toward the New Year, we naturally begin to reflect and contemplate. 2020 has been called many things (terrible, a “dumpster fire,” contentious, divisive) and has been difficult for many people. Even so, we can still take the time to look back, reflect on the year, and think about the lessons we’ve learned throughout the twelve, long months.

Perhaps you’ve learned something about your own resilience?

Many of us have had to endure major, sometimes excruciating, changes. And many of us have had to tap into our inner reserves of strength and resilience. Think about the moments of strength you’ve had this year. How can you call upon that strength again, if you need it? How can you keep up your “grit” AND take a break when necessary?

Perhaps you’ve had to be more flexible this past year?

With mask mandates, working from home, furloughs, sick relatives, kids staying home from school, gatherings cancelled, and a million other little changes, you’ve probably had to roll with the punches more than once this past year. How successful have you been at adapting and adjusting? When have you surprised yourself by your adaptability? When have you fallen short? Looking forward to 2021, think about how you can capitalize on the flexibility you’ve already proven you have AND think about areas in which you could improve and grow.

Perhaps you’ve learned a thing or two about human connections this year?

Even many of the introverts I know have grown weary of social distancing and cancelled events. Humans are naturally social creatures, whether in large groups or simply in intimate gatherings with our closest friends. That togetherness was largely missing this year, and it became difficult for many people to endure. Looking back, what have you learned about friendship and family time? What have you missed? Are there certain connections you used to take for granted? Are there certain people you’re missing and would like to re-establish connections with?

Think about how you can reach out, reconnect, and rekindle friendships and acquaintances this coming year. Even at a distance, there are many things you can do to maintain those bonds.

Perhaps you’ve learned a thing or two about self-care?

We all have our limits. We aren’t superheroes that can just go, go, go without a break. When you hit a wall, LISTEN to yourself, stop, and make an effort to carve out time to simply relax and regroup. It’s healthy to have a little down time when you just read quietly for a while, go for a walk, or do a crossword puzzle with a cup of tea. Have you been good about self-care this year? If not, how can you make a concerted effort to improve? What small steps can you take every day to give yourself a few quiet, meaningful, relaxing moments? How can you take better care of your personal healthy and wellbeing?

It’s true, 2020 was a tough year. Even so, there IS an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and triumphs this year. Take the time to reflect, evaluate what you’ve done well and what you’d like to change, and make a plan for the year to come. Wishing you a happy, prosperous, and peaceful New Year.



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