Skip to content

UXL Blog

Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: UXL

In the northern hemisphere, we are entering the darkest time of year. For many of us, we wake up in darkness and finish work in darkness. And that absence of sunshine can be difficult, even if you’re surrounded by the twinkle of holiday lights or the love of family members or friends. For some, this is an immensely difficult time of year—a time characterized by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and/or isolation. While some people enjoy “hibernating” in their home during the winter months, others find it difficult and yearn for human connections.

In truth, people can find themselves in “dark patches” at any point during the year. We might find ourselves depressed or frustrated with our personal life, finances, or career, or we might simply be grappling with burnout. But actual darkness can amplify those feelings and frustrations, and make us long for any sliver of sunshine (metaphorical or not!) that we can get.

How can we find light and levity amid all the darkness?

Aside from taking steps to aid your body (exercising regularly, taking Vitamin D), there are several ways to boost your spirit and your mood. Let’s talk about some of those mood-boosting methods:

1. Focus on Gratitude

This might sound a little…squishy, but gratitude does work. According to Harvard Health, “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

If you’re thankful for what you have, you develop a more positive mindset, and that can go a long way (it even can affect your physical health!). Foster gratitude by setting aside time each day to reflect on the positive aspects of your life. What is going well right now? What are you thankful for? You might also choose to jot down some of your thoughts in a gratitude journal.

2. Fight Pessimism

Many of us have negative narratives that constantly run through our brains. I call this your “saboteur.” This is the voice that tells you you’re not good enough or capable enough; it tells you to sit down and stay quiet because you don’t have anything valuable to contribute. It’s time to start talking back to this inner voice!

Start by paying attention to your thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking pessimistically, hit the pause button. Reframe your thinking so you focus on the positive and start seeing solutions, instead of barriers. And don’t forget to be kind to yourself. You’re smarter, braver, and more capable than you think you are.

3. Tune in To Positive Media

What we surround ourselves with makes a difference—the daily TV shows, movies, music, podcasts, and radio shows. Attitudes of fear, anger, mistrust, or sensationalism can easily leak into your subconscious. Even if you believe you are immune to negative news stories or terrible TV shows, you probably are not. We tend to become what we consume.

Make a conscious choice to read, listen to, and watch media that is affirming, productive, or uplifting. That doesn’t mean you have to tune out the news, but it does mean you should be mindful of your time and what you’re allowing into your life. Balance trashy TV shows with more thought-provoking content. Sprinkle in informative podcasts in between celebrity gossip. Think of the media you consume as nutrients that nourish your brain and emotional wellbeing.

4. Tap into Your Network

You don’t have to slog through your slumps on your own. Dare to reach out to trusted friends or family members and seek their support. Let them know what you need from them—someone to listen, someone to grab a cup of coffee with, someone to lend a little support—and be honest about what you’re going through. If friends and family members are not enough, consider seeking support from a licensed therapist.

5. Busy Yourself with a Hobby

Adopting a productive hobby can be a healthy way for dealing with dark periods. Do something that interests you and lifts your spirits. This could be baking, woodcarving, learning an instrument, practicing photography, painting, writing—anything that captivates and energizes you. If you’re not sure where to begin, try browsing through online course offerings through Udemy, Coursera, or Teachable.

(My online leadership course is hosted by Teachable. Feel free to check it out!)

6. Breathe

When you feel the weight of the world pressing down on you, take a time out. Pause whatever you’re doing and focus on yourself for a few minutes (or longer, if that’s what you need). Concentrate on your breathing. Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for several seconds, and puff it out through your mouth. Do this several times, counting to yourself as you go through the motions.

You might also try other relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation (apps such as Calm or Headspace can help you get started), listening to relaxing music, stretching, or going for a quiet walk. Recognize when you’ve hit a wall and need to practice a little self-care.

Though we’re entering a dark time of year, your mood doesn’t have to match the night sky. Try a few of these techniques and let me know what worked for you. And remember to seek additional help if you need it. You’ve got this!

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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Curiosity cat

Curiosity is a…curious thing. It’s a personality trait that is often overlooked. It’s easy to measure intelligence, and there are several tests that can more or less determine your EQ (emotional quotient), but how do you measure curiosity?

Even though it’s not easy to measure, we shouldn’t brush aside curiosity. Various studies have shown that certain personality attributes associated with curiosity are linked to career and life success. Here are a few ways that having a curious personality can bolster your success:

Better Relationships

Curious people are typically good listeners and are great at asking questions. They genuinely want to know about the person sitting across from them and learn about their experiences.

A Happier You

According to Emily Campbell of Berkeley University, research has shown curiosity to be “associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, more satisfaction with life, and greater psychological well-being.”

It Helps You Learn

Curious people ask questions and tend to be more engaged with new material that comes their way. This leads to higher academic achievement, as well as greater learning, engagement, and performance at work.

It Triumphs Over Anxieties

Even if you’re a naturally anxious person, curiosity can help you overcome your fears. By taking a genuine interest in the world around you, you set yourself up to enjoy new experiences, instead of shying away from them.

The overall lesson: DO let your curiosity get the better of you! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, take unexplored paths, and put yourself in the middle of a new experience. Your natural curiosity will help you succeed in the workplace and in your personal life. What would you like to learn today?

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It happens to all of us, doesn’t it? We start out the new year with the best of intentions: “I’m going to exercise and eat better!” “I’m going to get more sleep!” “I’m going to learn another language!” But by week 3 or 4, we start to lose steam. Then, February hits and the resolutions of the month before begin to fade. By mid-February, most people have given up their resolutions and carry on as normal…

It doesn’t have to be that way! You CAN keep your resolutions; you CAN make permanent life changes this coming year. How? Here are four steps to set you up for success, but ultimately it all boils down to you. Do you want to succeed? Do you want to make a long-term difference? Then you can, and you will. Let’s get started…

1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

You might have lofty goals (and I’d certainly like you to achieve them!), but it is crucial to be realistic. Don’t resolve to go to the gym every day, only eat fruits and vegetables, and cut out television entirely if you don’t think those goals are sustainable. Don’t aim to go “all out” for a month, and then crash back into your old habits. It’s much better to work towards something (i.e. start by going to the gym twice a week, and then increase your attendance as the year goes on) then to plunge in and back out again.

2. Break your goal into twelve parts

A year may seem like a long time, but a month goes by in the blink of an eye. If you have a substantial goal for the new year, break your goal into smaller pieces so that you feel a sense of accomplishment each month. For instance, if you’d like to write a book this year, make a plan like this:

January: Complete book outline and attend one writing class

February: Write chapter one; attend one writing class

March: Write chapter two

ETC.

Don’t forget to reward yourself in some small way after you achieve your monthly goal!

3. Hold yourself accountable

There are a few ways to check in on your goal progress. One effective method that I’ve used is to enlist the help of an “accountability partner.” This is a person who will check in on you every once in a while and make sure you’re on track. This could be a close friend, your mother, a co-worker, etc.–someone who isn’t afraid to keep you on the ball. In turn, you can offer to be their accountability partner.

If you’re a more private person and would prefer to tackle your resolution solo, consider setting up a series of notifications in your Google calendar, iCalendar, or whatever program you prefer. Create an event that says something like, “Have you completed X this week? Keep going!” and set a notification to remind you of the “event.” These regular check-ins will help keep your resolution top-of-mind. Just be sure they aren’t so frequent that you’ll simply delete them without a second glance.

4. Make your game plan

Really, this should be step number one, but I’m closing the list with this one so that it’s the first thing you do when you finish reading this post. MAKE A GAME PLAN. Don’t go into the new year with a vague resolution and no idea how you’ll achieve it. Take the time to sit and reflect about your goal. Ask yourself why you want to make a positive change in your life and then ask yourself how you are going to make that change. The how is important. This is where all the action comes into play. How will you reach your goal this year? What steps will you take? How will you accomplish those steps. Only by really thinking about the logistics of your resolution will you be able to achieve it successfully. By crafting a game plan (and posting it somewhere that you can see if every day), you’ll start to turn a vague wish into a reality.

Start today! The new year is coming up and I’d love for you to dive into it with confidence, knowing that you have the tools to achieve great things this year.

If you’d like additional help creating a road map for this year, please give me a call anytime and we can discuss your strategy.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: