Sunday, October 13, 2019

Carving Out Time for What Matters Most

Recently my friends came over for our monthly brunch. As is customary for the season, we carved pumpkins. We weren’t simply carving snaggletooth faces. We carved images of ghosts, cats, and bats into our giant gourds, which is a lot of work.  I realized we weren’t just carving pumpkins; we were carving out time for what matters to us.  Things that matter are worth the effort. After some self-reflection, I was reminded of a few things that are important enough to me to carve out time.


Whether listening to a podcast or attending a class, learning is a real passion of mine. Therefore, not only do I invest time and energy into my own learning, I share that passion with others.  I teach college classes, fitness classes, corporate workshops, and I teach life skills for women and at-risk youth. It matters to me because I see how it makes a difference in my life and the lives of others.  I know that education -- whether formal or not -- can change perspectives, change behavior, and catapult a person into an entirely new direction.  I am now carving out time to read two books each month. One book I’m reading for entertainment.  The other text focuses on self-development. 

Most of my family is more than 500 miles from me.   Fostering relationships with others is essential for me. It ensures that I have a community I can count on.  Whether its attending book club meetings, riding with my cycling team, or hosting dinner parties, I'm committed to staying connected.  My latest commitment is to pay attention to others’ communication preferences.   Typically, I only have phone conversations with my mother, brother and significant other.  Phone calls are not my preferred means of communications. But I have friends who prefer talking live, so I am committed to calling them.  I have relatives who prefer texting, so I'll text.  I find that when I meet people where they are, our relationships flourish.

When I was a teenager, my summers didn't consist of working a summer job.  My summers consisted of volunteer service.  I was a Volunteer In Public Schools. VIPS -- as we were called -- read to younger kids and aided teachers in the classroom.  I even worked in a hospital where I rocked babies and visited with patients. These days I volunteer my time to support cancer research and support domestic violence survivors.   It makes me feel like I'm living up to my full potential when I can help others do the same.   This season I will carve out time to deliver food and blankets to the
homeless.  With all the divisiveness that exists today, a sense of community is uplifting and enriching.


Most people who know me, know that I'm a bit of a health enthusiast.  Ever since my days as a dancer in high school, I've been conscious about my nutrition and exercise.  My mother still fondly recalls the days when I would snack on rice cakes and granola in between dance performances and drama rehearsals.  If health really matters to a person, it will show up in how much that person invests in it.  My newest commitment is to carve out time for at least 4 hours of activity each week; and take a friend along with me.

Finding what matters 
What really matters isn’t the same for everyone.  Therefore, the process of discovering what matters starts with knowing oneself.  Some people say that what matters to you is evident in your bank account. They say that what you spend the most money on is what matters to you most.  If you spend a lot of money clothes shopping, maybe your wardrobe is very important. If you spend a significant portion of your income on vacations, it's possible travel is an important thing to you. I've said before that I believe time is a more valuable resource than money, because you can't make more of it. So, when I'm reflecting on my priorities, I look at how I spend my time. If you ever feel like you could be doing more to enrich your own life, the lives of others, or perhaps have a bigger impact outside your own household, examine how you spend your time and money.  The answers likely lie there.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Your Most Precious Resource: How Will You Spend It?

In one of my workshops, I asked participants to imagine they've been given $86,400. I asked them to decide how they will spend every dollar. I told them they couldn't save any of it and they couldn't give it away.  Some workshop participants told me they wanted to invest it, save a portion for their children or put some aside for a rainy day.  But I assured them that would not be allowed. I watched them ponder and review their options in painstaking detail.  After they had made their decisions, we talked about the purpose of the exercise. 

It's really not about money, it's about time.

There are 86,400 seconds in every day.  Many of us spend our money very carefully and thoughtfully. But with our time we're not as astute. We waste it, we throw it away, we spend it on the wrong people and things, and we use it in unfruitful ways.

Money has a known and distinct value for most people. And we know what money is worth. We just don't always seem to know what the value of time is.

They are decidedly different in many way:
Image result for time
Can make more:
Money - Yes;  Time - No

Can count how much you have:
Money - Yes;  Time - No

Can save some for later:
Money - Yes;  Time - No

Can give it away to those who need it
Money - Yes;  Time - No

Can earn it:
Money - Yes;  Time - No

Can borrow it:
Money - Yes;  Time - No

Can find it:
Money - Yes;  Time - No

What you can do with both is invest it instead of just spending it.  To invest your time, you need a plan of action.  Be intentional as you plan how you will use your time.   

Here are some tips, experts say help us make the most of our time.

  • Designate small amounts of time each day for things that are not important; like social media, and tv shows.  When that designated time is up, stop.
  • Start each day by planning for the day and for each week by planning for the week.  During this time, determine your top priorities.
  • Be willing to say no to things that don't align with your priorities.  
  • Make time for connecting with friends and family, exercise and self care.  Related image
  • Remember, that they only moment you have for sure, is right now.  

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Overnight Failure Is As Fake As The Overnight Success

It's been said that there's no such thing as an overnight success. I tell my coaching clients there's no such thing as an overnight failure either.  The outward signs of "failure" -- like financial ruin, toxic relationships, business dissolution, or scandal -- can appear overnight.  However, typically there is a series of actions, in-actions, and decisions that lead to those overt outcomes.  Many times, drastically dreadful results come from continually crummy choices.  As a coach I guide people through a process of discovery. They discover how their decisions have led them to where they are. Additionally, we discuss actions and decisions that could help them get where they want to go.  

Here's one such process:  
Coach: "describe your current situation - something that's concerning you a -- good or bad."
Client: "I was recently promoted to supervisor at a tire manufacturer." Coach:  "Let's rewind 12 months.  What were you doing 12 months ago to prepare you for where you are now?"
Client: "I wasn't doing anything special.  I was just showing up to work and doing my job."
Coach:  "Did you tell anyone you wanted to be a supervisor?  Did your boss just come to you and offer you the position?"
Client:  "I told my boss during my last performance review that I was looking to get promoted.  He told me some areas I needed to work on to be considered for a management role."
Coach:  What did you do with that feedback?
Client:  "I took some training classes."
Coach:  "How did you apply what you learned?"
Client:  "I volunteered to take on a big project and offered to lead our team meetings."
Coach: "Great. Anything else you were doing a year ago?"
Client:  "I sought out a mentor."  
Coach:  "How did that work out for you?"
Client:  "Great.  She taught me a better way to handle conflict and build relationships."

The coach might then ask what the client was doing 6 months ago, and 3 months ago and so on.

You can usually backtrack and figure out some things you've done to contribute to a success you've had.  Likewise, you can backtrack and identify ways you've contributed to situations that didn't go well.  

If you can stay focused and be honest with  yourself, you can think through this process on your own.  If not, find an experienced, certified coach and start talking through your actions, their impacts and subsequent lessons.  They could help you find new behaviors that could lead to better results.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Saying No Tactfully

Saying no to the requests of others can be done with diplomacy and tact.  Here's how to protect your time and priorities from other people's emergencies.  

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Lessons from Dubai: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

I get onto the elevator at the Burj Khalifa. It takes nearly a minute to ascend to the top of the tower. This is the tallest building in the world at hundred and sixty three stories. I step out onto the observation deck and there is nothing below my feet but a piece of Plexiglas as I'm a half mile in the air.
As a person who's not fond of heights that was uncomfortable for me. Nevertheless, I knew if I would make the most of this experience I had to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I didn't know what to expect at any point on this journey to the United Arab Emirates. I didn't know what the food would be like, how the people would respond to Americans, or how I would adjust to some Middle Eastern customs. One thing I learned was this:
if you're going to get the most out of a journey or experience, accept that there are no guarantees.
if you're going to get the most out of a journey, or experience, accept that there are no guarantees. No one can promise you that it's going to be perfectly comfortable, easy, and familiar every step of the way. If you are risk-averse, just remember that everything uncomfortable is not necessarily dangerous. Just because you don't know what it will be like doesn't mean it will be bad. Think of something that you really enjoy now but didn’t always like. It could be a food, a sport, a hobby, or even a person. Before you initially tried it, you didn't know you were going to like it.
It won't always be comfortable but at the end it will be worth it.
But you tried it and found out that you did.  Life offers many experiences that are similar. And, you'll have to ask yourself: Am I willing to give up a comfortable job to start my own business? Am I willing to give up an hour of sleep to study for my exams? Am I willing to give up time with friends to go to the gym? Am I willing to give up my favorite leisure activity to save up for a house?
Whatever it is you want to achieve; they'll be something you need to start doing or stop doing to achieve it.  It won't always be comfortable. Nevertheless, at the end of the process it will be worth it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Be Your Best Despite Your Boss

I recently read an article about the importance of a supportive boss.  Having a supportive boss can transform your workplace experience.  It can make a difference in productivity as well as engagement.  When you are engaged you have a sense of belonging, connection and value in an organization. I have had neglectful bosses who ignored me and kept secrets.  I have also had bosses who were quite friendly and kind, but didn't handle managerial responsibilities like performance issues,  clear goals, and distribution of work.  Neither of these is an ideal type of manager to have.  Nevertheless, its possible to have an engaged, productive and satisfying work experience without a supportive  boss.  If you find yourself in a situation where the boss doesn't provide direction; is inconsistent; or even non-responsive, here are some things you can do to manage yourself.

Find a mentor.
A mentor will be a good sounding board and source of advice.  This should be someone who doesn't have a stake in your career (like your boss does).  They should be in a position at a higher level than yours. And, your mentor might work in your organization or another one; they might even be retired.  Your mentor is a person with whom you can be candid and who in return will be candid with you.  A mentor can provide valuable advice, recommendations and resources.  Your mentor could help you learn how to best navigate a tumultuous environment and share their experiences with you.

Find a workplace peer.
You should have at least one close relationship within your organization.  This should be an experienced, trustworthy individual with whom you can discuss your concerns.  Because they have institution knowledge, they'll have a good understanding of the organization and be able to give you relevant perspective.  If you are trying to figure out how to resolve a conflict or solve a problem, this colleague could be a valuable resource. When you're seeking that promotion, your peer might be able to share valuable insights and/or warnings.  If nothing else, your colleague in the workplace can be a good sounding board when you need to vent. 

Join a club.
In every field there are industry-specific or even role-specific associations you can join.  In these organizations you have the opportunity to build relationships with others who do the same thing you do for a living.  They may have already experienced some of the situations you are experiencing.  Since association members are generally from many different companies, they can provide a wide variety of perspectives.  This kind of association could also keep you abreast of best practices, trends, and other pertinent developments in your field.  Staying in the know can help you be more effective at work, work smarter, or prepare you for your next promotion/role.

There is an old saying that closed mouths don't get feed.  If you don't verbalize what you want and need you probably won't get it.  Schedule periodic meetings with your boss to discuss progress on assignments, obstacles you're facing and concerns you have.   Ask specifically for things you need to be successful, such as resources, training, information, or help solving a problem.  You may not already get what you request.  But, you have a better chance of getting your needs met, if you express what those needs are.

As you prepare for success in this new year, don't let your un-supportive boss be your excuse for not achieving what you want to achieve.  Don't give him/her all the power in your career.  Take proactive steps and take control of your professional life.