Getting Help

Been talking about the need to be able to ask for and accept help for years but now that I am reliant on others, I am truly experiencing the power of help in a new way!

It has been several days since I had surgery. Maybe I was in full denial, but I really believed I would bounce right back. I didn’t arrange for any help. I had coaching client sessions scheduled the remainder of the week because they were all scheduled to occur by phone.  I find that I wasn’t ready for the reality of not being able to do anything and feeling so crappy.  The pain was so bad that doctors/nurses had to keep increasing my pain medication. The effects of anasthesia, pain medications, discomfort left be quite immobilized and needing help even for some of the most basic things.

Although I had prepared my family and business by removing a lot from my plate, had done a thorough house-cleaning, cut back work appointments, bought a full week of groceries, planned a week of meals with my husband, etc. things seemed to unravel when my condition wasn’t quite as expected. My teenaged kids were not as helpful as I thought they’d be. My husband grew bored with sitting around and helping me. Even the dog pouted because he didn’t get his daily long walks with me. I hadn’t planned ahead or aligned the help I needed. I falsely believed that I would be able to handle things.

After having a bit of a meltdown and feeling sorry for myself, I was able to appreciate the help I already had. My sister-in-laws who coordinated visiting on separate days to help out, a friend who stopped in with the medications she picked up for me, the many phone calls I receiced, the help from my husband, my mother-in-law and the kids. This morning I took control and put out emails, texts and calls for help. As a result, I had lots of response!

The lesson learned is that when you act like ‘super-women’ , people expect you to be such but when you expose yourself to needing and accepting help, there’s a world of people ready, able and willing to help! I am grateful to those who have come to my aid with help, emotional support, flowers, meals, and more. Too bad it takes experiencing a situation first-hand to be able to experience the real power of the lessons!

Tips for Working from a Home-Based Office

The current issue of Treasure Coast Parenting features an article I wrote about the “Top 10 Tips for Working from a Home-Based Office” . Read this article on page 36-37 of the magazine to learn how you can be productive and effective when working at home.

Coping with a Job you Hate

Read my recent post at MyPath, powered by Manpower:
Welcome to MyPath: Full Plate: Coping with a Job you Hate

Put Down the BlackBerry and Pay Attention

Are you a SuperBusy Mother who can’t put down your BlackBerry??

I’m learning to put down the BlackBerry and pay attention – Busy Mama – The Olympian – Olympia, Washington

De-Stress Your Holidays

The following tips can help diminish the stress and avert accompanying low energy levels that may lead to greater susceptibility to illness, feeling blue, fatigue, irritability, and generally a negative holiday experience.

Ruthlessly plan ahead. With Thanksgiving already behind us, Hanukkah in full swing and Christmas and Kwanza just ahead, there’s less time for planning, but continue planning as much as possible. Set specific days on your calendar for activities such as baking, shopping, wrapping, and visiting friends or relatives. Also, be sure to schedule some relaxation time for yourself. The holidays will feel more manageable if you are well-rested.

Determine Your True Priorities. Manage your time rather than letting it manage you. Decide what your priorities are regarding holiday events such as parties, family functions, gift buying, cooking, and all other related activities. Put them in order of priority and give yourself ample time for each thing. DO NOT wait until the last minute unless absolutely necessary, or it will be hard for you to not feel pressure and stress.

Define Your Limits. Learn when & how to say “no” so that when you say it you mean it. You only have so many days and hours to squeeze in family, friends, business get togethers, gift buying, food preparation, gift wrapping, traveling, packing, etc. If you have extra time and the desire to help others, fine. However, make sure you have completed or scheduled what’s most important to you first. Others can cross your boundaries if you allow them. Remember that you don’t have to attend every party or event you’re invited to and if you’re not feeling up to it, you may politely cancel. There’s also no need to take on everything yourself, holidays are a time to enjoy, ask for help when you need it!

Let go of the need for Perfection. For many it is tough to accept your own limitations. Think about what you really have to do, and really want to do. Then, think about what you realistically have adequate time and energy to do. Give up unrealistic expectations. Follow those guidelines and you will perhaps do less and not see as many people, write as many holiday cards, or cook as many cookies or pies, but you will be much less stressed and enjoy the holidays considerably more. Simple concept. Put it on paper and stick to it. Cut yourself some slack!

Pace Yourself. Prepare for events in stages. Save and re-use your recipes and shopping lists from year-to-year because traditional holiday dinners vary little. If you are going to be cooking for a large group on one or more occasions, shop early, and prepare what you can in advance, whether it is the day before or the night before. Many types of casseroles, baked goods and snacks can be made 1-2 days prior and kept fresh in a freezer or refrigerator in sealed containers or their own cooking dish. If you have 100 cards to be addressed and mailed, block off 15-30 minutes every day to work on them starting 2-3 weeks before they need to be mailed. Or, better yet, create a mailing list with labels you use annually. Look for possible gift ideas throughout the year, purchase items on sale and put them away until the holiday comes! This alone can save much time (and money)! Also, you avoid the holiday crowds in the stores and malls. Accomplishing a few tasks at a time rather than doing it all at once can cut your stress level by a large amount. Stay organized and focused!

Use Your Computer To Shop And Send Greetings. Take advantage of the technology sitting on your desk or resting in the palm of your hand. One way to save time and energy is to do some of your shopping for gifts online! Most of the major gift and department stores have a web site, and most also have their catalog or many items in many categories online (with photos often) from which to choose. You can use credit cards using a secure server to protect your card number, or in many cases, you can pay by check, phone order or fax. Just about everything from CD’s and videos to toys, jewelry, clothing, computers and computer accessories, and personal items, are available to order online. Use any of the major search engines to find the store address if you don’t know it. Virtual malls are also available through multiple sources. Additionally, you can use your computer to send virtual holiday cards, pictures, holiday newsletters, etc. to friends, business associates, and family online.

Help Others/Volunteer. This is especially good for the person who lives alone or is all alone as far as family and friends. There are many opportunities for you to create your own sense of “community” by being with people who are also alone and in most instances, far worse off than you physically and financially and perhaps emotionally, as well. You can volunteer your time to work at a food bank or soup kitchen where a holiday dinner is served and prepared; go to a local church or shelter to help feed the homeless and the poor; whatever, just be creative and look for opportunities you can contribute. The more you give, the more you will get back in blessings and good feelings yourself. It may not happen the same day or all at once, but it will happen. When you see that the best gift you can give is yourself, your spirits will rise and be reinforced with a warmth and strength which is better and longer lasting than any gift or holiday party.

Practice Patience & Good Deeds.
Keep repeating to yourself when feeling rushed “I have plenty of time.” Hurrying is a struggle against time—that’s unhealthy. Adopt a more relaxed attitude. Let others in front of you in line (especially when they seem distressed), hold the door open for the person exiting with a handful of packages, give up the parking space, drop off something thoughtful to someone special to you just to show your appreciation & thankfulness, find the acts of kindness that make you feel good and do them repeatedly.

Sing, Hum, etc. (it doesn’t have to be out loud). Experience the joys of the holiday season by hearing the music. Let the music help ease your tensions. Some suggestions: ‘Tis the season to be jolly (perfect if you’ve lost your sense of humor); Dashing through the Snow (helps you remember that although not everybody can dash through the snow, movement is absolutely essential to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being); Making a list, checking it twice (Don’t expect your already overloaded mind to remember any more than your way home and the names of your immediate family members); you get the picture!

Exercise!! Yes, that’s right, even before the New Year’s resolutions! Having to park three miles away from any place peopled with shoppers gives you an excellent opportunity to squeeze in a little aerobic activity. Carrying your purchases back to that same location might be considered strength training. It’s amazing how many ways you can work in a workout. However, do more than the credit card wrist twist; the lugging of packages; the raising your arm to mouth and opening wide—do real cardiovascular exercises at least 3 times per week for 20 minutes or more. You’ll be amazed at all the extra energy you create!

Avoid Or Be Very Moderate With Alcohol, Sugary Foods, Caffeine. Most holiday gatherings include the sharing or offering of alcoholic beverages, coffee and cakes, cookies, etc. Since many people use alcohol, caffeine and sweets as a way to combat stress and even depression, it is wise to limit your intake if you wish to limit your stress. These items are only a temporary stress reducer. Keep in mind, the best stress reducers are laughter, listening to and/or singing music, helping others, being loved and sharing love, and for many, association with their church or faith through private or public ceremonies and events.

Set Better Boundaries

At a presentation I did this week for Novartis Consumer Products, I helped the participants recognize where their boundaries are weak or non-existent. Establishing boundaries empowers you to create more self-respect as well as respect from others.

Sometimes boundaries are hard to set with others because we want to be liked, be considered open and friendly, and we fear repercussions. However, people who fail to set and maintain boundaries in their life and work often find that it’s much harder to meet their own needs, and to prevent others from imposing their needs onto them.

Send for a free article: Establishing Boundaries that Honor You by sending an email to Please indicate Boundaries in the subject line.

Leadership and Communication blunders

Here’s a great post from my colleague, Thomas Lee about worker engagement. He redefines the engagement of a workforce as a culture with a high and ever-rising tide of focus, curiosity, passion and courage. Imagine the impact that it could have on productivity and achievement of goals!!

span style=”color: lightsalmon;”Minding Gaps/span

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The Tension of the High Achieving New Mom

Also found this article at the Glass Hammer site in the Work/Life Balance area. The tips are interesting and insightful so I thought that New and Expectant Moms visiting my Blog might also enjoy the content.

Here’s the link:

The Tension of the High Achieving New Mom

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Too much on Your Plate?

I just finished a 3 part series of my Lunch-and-Learn programs for Daiichi Sankyo. The first program was about Mastering Work-Life Challenges. The second program was about Taming Stress in your Life and the final program, which was yesterday, was my signature program, “There’s too much on my Plate”. The feedback was great and individuals really gained a lot of skills and strategies they can use in their own life.

What stood out for participants was my energy and enthusiasm throughout these programs. I truly enjoy what I do and am thrilled to have the opportunity to make a significant difference in people’s lives.

Participants found the A.I.M. process to be very important and useful. They enoyed having a framework to help them recognize their priorities. They liked my real life practical examples.

This program has been adapted to meet the needs of various types of audiences as well as different lengths of time. If your company or an organization your involved with could benefit from tips to help manage all this busyness, contact me!

Make Conscientious Decisions

We all have both big and small decisions to make on a daily basis. Decision-making is a key role for any manager or leader. However fear of failure and lack of clarity may prohibit some from making timely decisions.

After helping so many coaching clients and audiences focus on their priorities, it was time for me to practice what I preach! After playing a key role on the Board of my professional association, I enthusiastically agreed to continue in the role. However, as the work was concluding for the current year, I was feeling myself slightly burning out, frustrated and resentful. This is a sure indication that my boundaries weren’t being respected. Problem is, it was me who wasn’t respecting my own limits and boundaries! I enjoyed contributing to the organization, gaining recognition and acknowledgement and was so caught up in that that I nearly missed the signs! And, I had an important decision to make.

When you feel yourself feeling burned out, frustrated or resentful, chances are you are experiencing the same signs. It’s important to recognize these symptoms and assess the situation. In this case, I had to make a quick decision because the ballot was set to go out in just a few days. If I had mixed feelings about continuing, I needed to explore this and see what it meant.

I’ve shared the process I used with a couple of my colleagues and they encouraged me to share it with you! So, this is my process…

1. Get absolutely clear about the problem at its root cause. To do this I created some quiet time and space for myself for clear introspection. What I discovered is that I had over-committed to the organization at the expense of my business, family and myself.

2. Evaluate and assess the implications. I explored the implications of continuing as well as the possible consequences of not. Again, I got more clarity and increased my focus about what is most important to me. I did a bit of a cost-benefit analysis using time and energy as my highest cost factors and opportunity missed cost to assess time spent on volunteer work rather than on revenue producing business activities.

3. Test my decision. I wrote out my resignation letter on a notebook page and just left it overnight. In the morning, I checked in with myself and asked: Am I feeling a sense of relief or a sense of remorse?

4. Explore different perspectives. I looked at the problem through a couple of different perspectives. I weighed the pros and cons to me, the organization, and my family.

5. Re-test my decision. Still feeling a bit ambivalent about making the right decision for me and the organization, I typed my resignation letter and just left it again. And, again, I asked myself: Am I feeling a sense of relief or a sense of remorse? I was still feeling an incredible sense of relief at the impending decision to leave the Board and shift my energy to my top priorities in my work, personal and family life.

6. Commit to my choice. As difficult as it was, I knew that it was the right decision for me! With some reluctance, I hit the send button in my email that I typed out earlier. My note was brief. I did not choose to elaborate on the rationale of my decision because I know that it’s important to be succinct and to the point. In situations like this, when one chooses to say “no”, I’ve seen people coaxed into changing their mind because they’ve shared too much information and I’ve also seen people burn bridges with accusations, blame and finger-pointing. Being clear and concise will help you stand by your decision,as it helped me!

There is not just one way of making decisions but understanding and knowing what is most important to you will help guide your approach. For me, being professional, respectful, sensitive and firm were important criterion.

The one big lesson: It’s far better to communicate either in-person or by phone so that there’s a two-way dialogue. Sending an email created some confusion and disconnect that could have easily been avoided.

My mantra…stop me before I volunteer again!

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