Navigating Through Rough Seas

Have you ever felt torn between your professional ambitions and your personal priorities? We all have 3 lives – personal, professional and secret. Today, we’re going to offer a few proven-how-to’s in the personal realm that influence your professional life. Some time later, we’ll go where few traverse – the secret life we keep locked tightly away from even our closest relationships.

Time is Fixed…Your Energy Can Flex.

You’ve read, seen and likely sat through seminars and discussions on managing overwhelm, picked up several useful and use-less strategies to leverage the 24 hours you’ve been given daily. Perhaps, you’ve become aware of how your schedule drifts off the map during the ‘raging seas’ of stress, pressures and deadlines realistic and not. Some of us have benefited from those sessions and now realize how to avoid the tricks’n traps that attempt and sometimes successfully infringe upon our daily work and home life. I’ll share with you two thoughts that take on new significance and meaning when you flip them from a negative impression to a positive reframe.

  1. Triggers Initiate Progress

  2. Anticipation Stabilizes Momentum

This article will focus on seven simple, powerful and practical strategies I’ve found to work with and have encouraged successful leaders, like you, to produce a healthier energy to flex in their best direction. These are in no particular order, also. Consider arranging them in an order that works for you to capture the rhythm to help you initiate progress, anticipate how and where to stabilize and sustain your momentum. Roller coasters are a blast once in a while, but to live a roller coaster life is physically and emotionally draining.

Connect. The best things in life will probably never be checked off a to-do list. Take time to disconnect from technology and connect with people. You weren’t made to be alone and connecting with others is one of the best ways to establish a fresh rhythm in both your personal and professional lives.  Sounds great, but how? What do you enjoy doing? Maybe that’s the biggest hurdle – you’re unsure. What did you do when you were younger, in school, maybe before middle or high school – something that gave you great joy?

I’m a journal-er and I make notes often throughout my day, because my memory can be suspect at times partly from distractions and interruptions. Whatever your ‘go-to’ method is, consider writing down thoughts and ideas initially. Then, after you’ve had some downtime, clean up the notes into ‘I will’ statements to give yourself clarity and conviction. I’ve purposely left out the timing or frequency so you can personalize your own. Here are some suggestions to stimulate ideas you could begin or try. LOOK and LISTEN for the trigger and for the anticipation – this is critical for sustaining momentum.

I will host a cooking night with a small group of friends.

I will ask my assistant to make dinner reservations for a date night with my spouse.

When work calls after hours, I will let it go to voicemail.

When a meeting runs long, I will let the organizer know I must excuse myself at (specific time) to make my daughter’s game.

These examples demonstrate activation or anticipation. If you want to get off the merry-go round of overwhelm and adopt a healthier work-life rhythm, then these strategies and more will help you get started.

Sleep. It’s a no-brainer nightly rejuvenation is the foundation of productivity. Realizing some of you have difficulty in getting to sleep or a persistent problem staying asleep. This advice is in no way a medical opinion and you should check with a medical professional first (there’s my disclaimer the suits make me state SMH). One piece of advice I’ll share comes from sage advice my father bestowed on me early on. He said, ‘son, spend good money on the best shoes and best mattress you can afford. When you’re not in one, you’re in the other.’ Here are several thoughts to do more of or to get ahead of what you need in your unique situation.

I will put my phone down for the night an hour before I get in bed.

I will set a recurring appointment to take a 20 minute nap in the afternoon.

When our children interrupt our sleep, my spouse and I will work out a schedule so we can both optimize our sleep.

When I’m tempted to go to bed late so I can finish a project, then I’ll leave it for the morning knowing I’ll be more efficient after some rest.

Disconnecting and leaving your phone in another room is needed as we, as a society, are addicted to our phones. Can’t do that? Then set your DND (do not disturb) on everyone except for your 1 or 2 most important relationships. You need a nap. Start with 10 minutes and work your way to a 20 minute afternoon nap daily. These are simple, practical strategies to help you. Can’t do that? What can you do? What are you willing to commit to then?

Eat. If your food labels are loaded with sugar or words you can’t pronounce the ingredients of, you may want to reconsider that food and find a healthier option. Options like Blue Apron, Personal Trainer Food and Hello Fresh are just a few worthy resources. I make these recommendations, because I’ve tried all three and then some (NOTE: I get nothing for making these referalls, also.) Your body contains more water than any other solution. It may be a good idea to continue to pour that into you versus the other options available. Other ideas to consider:

I will create a weekly meal plan with a list of healthy recipes for my nutrition goals.

I will set an alarm to remind myself to take a break for lunch. 

I will set a reminder on my phone to help me stay hydrated.

When I’m feeling overextended, I will step out and purposefully take a lunch break.

We all think we’re too busy to stop for lunch. Take a break anyway knowing it will make for a more productive afternoon. Push yourself away from the desk and change your scenery to eat in a location that brings you joy whether that’s outside, in a cafeteria at work, anywhere but at your desk – and please, do your best to avoid work discussions.

There are apps like Daily Water, Plant Nanny and My Water Balance to help you stay hydrated. When I’m tired and craving sugar in the afternoon, then I’ll drink a big glass of water or take a short nap. The point is to adopt a strategy. Find something, keep testing until you own an alternative that works for you so you avoid the bad habits that are so easy to give in to. For me, it’s popcorn and chocolate and it’s a daily battle to fight. I do my best to have a protein bar or almonds nearby instead.

Reflect. What life are you living? When you look back at last month or last year, what do you not want to repeat? Warren Buffet’s most unusual approach to productivity is to spend 80% of his time in thought. It goes against everything we think we know about what a leader does. Reading about the Elon Musks and Jeff Immelts of the world leads us to assume business greatness means little sleep, and even less time with loved ones. Immelt, for example, has worked 100 hours per week for his entire career. Is that what you’re striving for? Use powerful questions using ‘what’ and ‘how’ to deeply uncover your priorities and the direction of your business or home situation. Another option, is call me or find another professional to use as a sounding board.

I will set my journal and pen on my favorite chair while having my morning coffee.

I will set my alarm for 20 minutes earlier to make time for prayer and journaling in the morning.

I will have my assistant ask me what I’ve learned from my reading for accountability.

When life happens like, I’m running late for church, then I will watch online or go to the evening service.

When I’m struggling to stay consistent with my reading time, I will enroll in a reading  service.

Find a special place that gives you internal peace and comfort. A friend of mine who spent years with Southern Company, Becky Blalock, has a routine that gives her solace and comfort daily. And, it helped her write DARE: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage and Career for WOMEN IN CHARGE. The same thinking – being intentional and anticipating life’s interruptions – will help you find clarity and stay grounded by employing these strategies.

Move. Exercise gets the blood flowing. Motion is lotion. The chemical changes your body goes through when you exercise keep you healthy physically and uplift your mental spirit. It gives you an edge in every aspect of your life. For my military friends, you’ll appreciate this one – Mobile Operators Ventilate Easily – get off the X!

I will take the stairs instead of the elevator.

I will work with a personal trainer or join a running club in my neighborhood.

When the weather is poor, I will go to the gym or walk the local mall.

When I’m too tired to workout, then I’ll workout in my home using creative exercises.

One of the best methods of extending your life and having a sense of peace is to keep moving. Remember, you’re looking to minimize overwhelm and optimize the up’s and down’s of life to keep you off the roller coaster. It’s a rhythm, not a balance. Go with the flow vs. having everything neatly tucked in boxes. Life doesn’t fit neatly in a box – stop trying to make it fit and fit what works into your schedule.

Play. Have some fun! Play flows along on its own. It rejuvenates you. The physical energy reduces stress, minimizes thoughts of depression, reduces muscle tension, lowers your heart rate and decreases your blood pressure and decreases stress hormones. Does a dog think about playing with a ball?

I will go to a painting class with a friend.

I will plan a golf trip with my sons-in-law.

When my budget won’t allow for an expensive activity, then I will go for a hike with my daughter.

When I’m tempted to grab my laptop to work on the weekend, I will go for a walk instead.

When the weather is suspect,we will have our fun family day indoors with board games.

Play is not just essential for kids; it’s a very important source of relaxation and stimulation for adults as well. Playing with your romantic partner, friends, co-workers, pets, and children is a sure – and fun – way to fuel your imagination, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and emotional well-being. And, it brings rhythm to the life you’re desperately seeking.

Unplug. Let go of your work mentally. Avoid any work at home or talking about work at home. Disconnecting during your downtime ensures your return to work is refreshed.

I will put my phone charger in another room so I am not tempted to check email in bed.

I will leave my laptop at home during weekend trips with my spouse.

I will turn off notifications on my work email before I leave the office each Friday.

When a work-related article catches my attention over the weekend,  I’ll save a link to it on my phone notes to read next week.

When I feel anxiety about work in the evening, then I will stop and shift my attention back to my family.

Our world of constant connectivity has lulled us into a belief that distraction and disconnection are good and normal. Stop! It’s NOT! Take a moment and look around – devices are everywhere. We carry them around like treasure…like the ‘one ring to rule them all.’ We allow them to sit on the table, chirp at inopportune times, and get between our closest relationships. Worse yet, we allow this? The sad truth is we don’t know what else to do. We are just now recognizing the detrimental effects on our behaviors and relationships.

Renewing yourself

Improving any one of the personal realms requires a behavioral shift. Often, we have a belief about how we ‘should’ spend our time or have to spend the time that gets in the way. Sometimes, we need to stop, step back, review what’s working and what’s not and renew ourselves. Taking care of our personal life requires mastsery of time and a commitment to align our use of time with our priorities. Success in life is living in rhythm between your ego, your relationships and the results you provide or feel you must deliver. Having a strong community of healthy relationships opens up opportunities in both your personal and professional lives and sustains a healthier rhythm. Maintaining a positive attitude leads to success in all domains of life.

Click here for a birdseye view of most of the personal realms and it gives you space to add some of your own if you like. If you’d like a sounding board or someone just to talk through what you can do to have more energy and rhythm to renew and rejuvenate yourself, then give me a call 205-482-2177 or go here to my private calendar to set up a call, no strings attached and no obligation.

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