I write a column for the Garland & Rowlett Messenger in Texas, and with the paper coming out last week, I think it’s only fitting to share the column with you all here. If you click the link here, you can see the photo copy I’m all kinds of proud of.
Faced with a seemingly insurmountable goal, nearly every last one of us quits the fight. Then there are the select few that reject the hand-me-down rules of what we are capable of. These individuals change the landscape of human achievement, and they don’t do it for medals, awards, or recognition. They do it because they feel it in their bones as something they can do when the world tells them it’s impossible.
Diana Nyad did the seemingly impossible over Labor Day weekend by swimming, without a shark cage, across the Caribbean Sea from Havana, Cuba to the Florida Keys. 110 miles of open water, hordes of box jellyfish, and the ever-present threat of sharks weren’t enough to deter her from reaching her ultimate goal.
Nyad is no stranger to defeat and the pain of failure, having finally completed the swim 36 years after her first of five attempts. At 64 years old, she swam for 53 hours straight, fueled by unshakable vigor. It begs the question, what drives someone to do such a thing?
In her 2011 TED talk, she explained her commitment and drive, saying, “I want it to be difficult. I want it to take passion. I want it to take an unwavering commitment to be able to get to the other shore.” She spoke volumes when the first few words out of her mouth after finally reaching that shore were, “we should never, ever give up.”
This is a shining example of having a vision and commitment to making it become a reality, regardless of what obstacles come before you. In my workshops and personal coaching programs, I meet countless people with big dreams and big reasons for them, but not enough strength to keep forging ahead when it becomes difficult.
The great Roman philosopher, Lucius Seneca said it perfectly: “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” The journey is almost certainly going to be difficult at times, but you must keep pushing if you wish to shine.
You have within you the power to create an absolutely extraordinary life if you simply give yourself permission to do so. Since we were little, we’ve all had those voices telling us to be more realistic and practical in what we set out to accomplish. For some of us, the voices were those of our family members; others learned to aim lower from their coworkers, friends, teachers, or spouses.
This is the great lie of the human experience. Fear of aiming too high and failing was instilled in us based on the opinions and experiences of others. We carry around other peoples’ assumptions about life as our own. One of my favorite questions to raise is this:
If you never learned failure – if you never learned to be realistic, what would your life look like?
Give yourself permission to throw out all the conclusions you’ve been given about life, and goals you’ve been told you can and cannot reach. The greatest innovators, athletes, leaders, and performers in the world share the same chemical makeup as you – they just don’t believe the same things about life, and it allows them to create extraordinary successes.
If I told you a 64 year old woman was going to swim for 53 hours straight, 110 miles across the Caribbean Sea from Cuba to Key West, you might not believe it. You might think it couldn’t be done. She, however, never learned that lesson.
My invitation to you is to examine your beliefs about what’s possible for you in your life. Take a closer look at where you may have learned those beliefs and give yourself permission to throw out assumptions that no longer serve you. Focus on what you truly want to believe and experience, and notice what begins to happen when you do.
Until next month, stay brilliant.
Nourish What Matters – a monthly column of empowerment, clarity, confidence building, and challenges from inspirational speaker and coach, Blake Alexander Hammerton.
The real reason you’re not achieving those goals of yours? Short answer – your goals are lame. Sure, they might serve a great purpose in the long run, but you struggle to find the motivation to get them done when they don’t really mean that much to you.
“I want (fill-in the blank), but I can’t seem to find the motivation to make it happen.”
You don’t need motivation. Your goals are impotent. They don’t excite you. They don’t resonate inside you. The impact of achieving them isn’t that important, so doing the work to achieve them isn’t important either.
You only have to do one thing to reach your goals:
Only set goals in which the impact of achieving them thrills you.
It’s really that simple. If you connect to WHY achieving the goal is what you want, you’ll find it inspire you. What about achieving it resonates in you? What’s the ultimate reason you want to achieve this?
“I want to lose 25 pounds because I want to feel sexy when I step out of the shower and my husband can’t take his eyes off me.”
“I want to write my bestseller because I want to impact lives around the world with my words.”
“I want to make more sales because I want to have my dream wedding in Santorini.”
What’s the WHY behind your goals. Tap into that, and I promise you, you’ll reach every goal you put out there.
Leave a comment. Let me know what you think. Is this working for you already? Share it!
Psychology Today had a brilliant article in 2010 on America’s culture of envy, and wanting be, do, and have more. Moreover, it’s about our own judgements that we haven’t accomplished enough – regardless of what incredible feats we have completed. It rings so true with me because I can hear the parts of my mind screaming at me about what I haven’t done, and how I fail to measure up to people around me; but I also hear the voice that’s amazed with the things I have done when I measure them against my ability as a human being to do them. It’s about measuring your life against your internal dream – not against the celebutantes on TV.
“The Contender Syndrome is subtly different from envy. It’s more a sense of not living up to the best you, rather than not living up to the best Albert Einstein. Some scientists say the feeling of not reaching your potential comes from a discrepancy between the ‘actual self’ (who you are), the ‘ideal self’ (who you’d like to be), and the ‘ought self’ (who you think others want you to be). Troubles arise when your actual self doesn’t align with your other visions.”
Anything from parents or teachers telling you things like, “You can do it. You’re better/stronger/smarter than this.” can start the process of either pushing you to achieve, or create the gap between where you are and where you’d like to be. This gap is the big pickle. Some people never learned how to build a bridge from here (actual) to there (ideal). Often this gap can seem too big to bridge, or simply impossible because the talent needed to live that dream aren’t available. Hazel Markus, a Psychologist at Stanford University, disagrees with this.
“A lot of people think you need the talent. People who end up suffering, feeling like they could have been a contender, are those with the idea that talents are pretty much fixed, so they don’t figure out how to get from where they are to where they want to be,” says Markus. “They don’t even really think it’s possible, so they don’t put the work into it.”
How will you know you’ve achieved it? How do you know you haven’t yet? How do you know you’re not in denial about your achievement? A lot of people see the ideal self and hear the ought self, but can’t get a clear view of the actual self. They may actually be very close to their ideal state, but they can’t see the steps they’ve taken, and the successes they’ve had along the way. Their gap is still too big. One great way to bring your progress into light is to name the greatest pleasures in what you have or do, or the person you are. You’ll see that your values are in some of your greatest pleasures. There’s more to life than ‘keeping up with the Jones family’ and it involves celebrating your successes just as much as you celebrate other peoples’.
Take time to reflect on where you are now, and what you’ve done to get here. You may find that your actual self isn’t far from your ideal self at all. Celebrate that! Follow what makes you happy, and do the work to get there and beyond. Often real, focused work is what separates the contenders from the victors. Success is subjective, my friends. One man’s failure is another man’s success. It’s all about what makes you happy.
“If you’re doing something positive in the world, if you’re productive, if you’re a player; then you’re a success.”
Peace, Love, and a million successes to you all,
Reference: “I Coulda Been a Contender” by Abby Ellin. Psychology Today. August, 2010
It’s been quite a crazy week! I’ve been sending out newsletters a few times a week since this started, and last week I threw out a challenge that came back to me like a wrecking ball. I invited all of you to revisit an old idea you had – maybe one you threw on the “back burner” quite some time ago. I didn’t challenge you to bring it to fruition that day, but I opened the door Monday, and challenged you to take some steps to see if it could hold water on Friday.
I received a lot of responses, filling my inbox throughout the day, and I cannot express how amazing it is to hear some of your ideas! Some of them felt so strong – like they have been burning the midnight oil inside you for years, and the passion and excitement of bringing it out was incredible to witness!
Monday I thought about the charity/foundation I wanted to start “eventually” – eventually is code for a magical time called “someday.” I opened my intention up for suggestion, and asked for a hint – what some of us call quantum flirts or signs. Well, I got it. There was so much going on in my world that day, that I almost felt like we had missed the reasons why we were living. Then a Trevor Project commercial came on. I immediately heard the voice in my head screaming at me.
We need to Nourish What Matters most in life.
That was it. I knew this was what had been burning inside me. So I did what any other completely neurotic nerd with a good idea does: I got on the computer, registered a domain name, built a quick website, created logos, a mini mission statement, and designed merchandise to get started.
Nourish What Matters
Many of you received the newsletter this morning regarding it, but I’m going to throw in some details here as well. Nourish What Matters is an ideal, a foundation – nay, a movement in the making. It’s about recognizing the value and preciousness of life, and the community and connectedness of humans. We’re all different, but we’re all here for the same thing: to experience whatever greatness we can while we can.
Nourish What Matters is about acknowledging that ideal in everyone, and giving them a place to call home. We will raise monies for various events and charities until we have our own charity to tout. We want to support the Trevor Project, Sing for Hope, and organizations that promote the human spirit and innovation.
You can join the movement, and get the donations started by clicking the image above, or this link, and purchasing a t-shirt or hoodie. You know you want to. They’re wicked-awesome, and so are you… isn’t that a perfect match? I vote yes.
Please purchase a piece of merch, and spread the word!
Together we can do this!
Peace, Love, and a million successes to you all!
P.S. What charities do you want us to donate to? What causes speak most to you? Let us know in the comments below!
The other day a friend of mine posted this picture on her Facebook wall, with the followup comment of “story of my life.” It immediately got me thinking:
How many people feel this way?
More importantly, I instantly felt curious about how many people took it a step further and decided to no longer let the heart make decisions – after a breakup, mistake, fallout etc. Many of us experience something that alters our outlook on life to such a degree, that it can sometimes take another life-altering experience to switch it back.
I’ll be turning 30 next month, and I have been that guy – the one that lead head-first into everything, and refused to let his heart make any decisions. You see, I got my heart broken in high school (as most of us did), and in true teen-angst fashion, questioned whether love was even worth it anymore. I went to college and fell madly, stupidly, wildly in love again. Then that fell apart. Well, that was it for me. My brain told my heart he was no longer allowed to make decisions.
My heart was cutoff.
No more decisions from that guy.
Of course I then fell in love again – just as deeply, madly, and wildly as before, but there was something new happening. I was assessing and calculating like a team of high functioning autistic accountants. At the first hint of displeasure or struggle, my team of “statistical engineers” ran the numbers and determined if my relationship was worth any further effort. I started actually hearing the math being crunched in my brain when things weren’t going well.
Needless to say, my relationships were not going to last very long. And they didn’t. The greatest (read: sarcasm) and most tragic fact around all of this was that I truly believed it wasn’t my problem – the women in my life just weren’t perfect enough to pass my committee. What an awesome guy I was, right? (Again, sarcasm in heaping spoonfuls here).
Then one day my coach changed my life by putting my brain and my heart in opposite corners, and let them fight it out in court. My brain explained exactly what it was doing, and why it was the best way to go. My heart sang its song, and why it wanted out from under the thumb of the committee upstairs. For the first time in years I witnessed the struggle. I heard the cold calculations. I felt the ache in my heart from years of being ignored. I learned something more important than anything else:
My. Brain. Was. Wrong.
You see, my brain shamed me for feeling– not thinking– and causing me (brain and heart included) to experience something that turned unpleasant. My brain shamed me into following its logic. For years I was the reason my relationships were falling apart. I was the reason emotional mediocrity was the name of the game. My brain, with all its calculations, made-up probabilities, and erroneous statistics, had carved a path for me that turned out to be something so far from what I wanted whenI was younger. My brain made me look like an idiot. And suddenly I felt like one.
You know what the funny part was: My heart forgave me. How cliche is that?
Look, when your heart leads you into a situation that turns sour, it can make you look like a fool. When your brain leads you into situations that prevent you from feeling anything at all, well, that can be so much more devastating. It’s much better to look like a fool and feel something, than to actually BE a fool and miss out.
For the record, I totally know this image is humorous and easily relatable. I get it, and I giggled when I saw it too. There is, however, some pretty powerful truths to this, and I wasn’t about to let it slide. My heart had something to say about it, and my brain knew how to make words appear on screen – go teamwork!
Remember that you’re more than just logical. You’re an emotional being. You’re significant, incredible, amazing, intricate, irreplaceable, and you are always at choice. Choose to feel. Choose to experience. Even if your brains tells you the opposite, let your heart sing.
When has your brain told your heart NO? Leave your comments below!
ONLY A FEW SEATS REMAIN
TIRED OF JAMMING IN THE GARAGE? GET INTO THE REAL MUSIC SCENE.
The Continuing Education department at Harper College in Palatine has a music program designed to give you all the tools, resources, and know-how to take your talent to the next level, and I’m honored to be a part of it. The first in a four-class curriculum is a coaching course I lead – one that’s totally focused on getting you clear on what you want, and what it’s gonna take to make it happen. Let’s not waste anymore time and get down to the details, shall we?
We designed this program for those that want to create something with their music. Do you have a passion for the music industry, but not sure how to get your music heard? Do you get discouraged and/or quit trying before you even get started? Are you tired of the balancing act it is to create music, promote it, get exposure and recognition, and still find time to sleep at night? I know what that’s like.
STOP SPINNING YOUR WHEELS.
This program is designed to answer the hard questions, and get you on the right track to creating success with your talent. As your coach, I’m going to challenge your belief pattern like it’s my job – because it is my job. The course is titled Get Out of Your Own Way, and that’s exactly what I’m going to teach you how to do. You’ll be empowered, challenged, pushed, pulled, and set into motion. It’s been said that we’re out biggest critic, and I’m going to teach you how to change those reviews.
Look, the music business can be tough and frustrating to navigate, which makes it crucial for you to clearly define what you want to achieve and set goals to help you get there. Even more critical is understanding the why behind what you want. This class is designed to help you create your Musician Mission (how your music will impact the world), identify potential obstacles, release negative self-judgment, and create action plans for your success. You will learn how to get out of your own way so opportunities can come to you.
We’ll have a lot of fun exploring your vision, and you’ll get answers to burning questions like:
• What does Justin Beiber have that I don’t? I mean, honestly… (it’s not his hair, by the way)
• I don’t want to be the next Lady Gaga, is there still place for me in the industry?
• I’ll be a success when I get a record deal, right?
• How much does recording a studio album really cost?
• How do I get thousands of people to hear my music and promote FOR me?
We had an amazing introductory panel night on Wednesday, and enrollments are coming into the program, but time is running out! I know this course, and the Marketing & Money, Social Media & Promotions, and Recording courses that follow mine in the program are incredibly valuable. What you’re going to get in the 6 weeks with me is worth over $400 in coaching. If you wanted this opportunity with me privately, that’s exactly what it would cost you. Register for the Harper course, and save yourself $250 instantly.
What do you have to lose? Evening classes begin Thursday the 19th.
Let’s make this the year you make it happen.
What a treat it was to speak with Kate Swoboda in a Skype interview last week! Kate is the founder and lead coach at Your Courageous Life coaching, and the mastermind behind the Coaching Blueprint – a tool and class to help coaches get their businesses running by helping them get back in touch with what makes them love coaching so much.
If you’ve read anything on her site, you know Kate is a no-nonsense kind of person. She doesn’t sugar coat the issues we are all dealing with – as coaches and as people. She calls out the gremlins we all wrestle with from time to time, and loves playing in that space of uncertainty – that space that many people call fear.
In this interview we talk about what we want for 2012 and beyond, what keeps her inspired to keep inspiring others, and what we, as coaches and human beings, can gain from embracing our fears and discovering what’s within them. It’s a brilliant 20 minutes, if I do say so myself.
I do have to apologize, however. The audio on my microphone just wasn’t playing nicely the day we did this interview, so I have some echo going on. She sounds like she’s in a room (like a regular person). I sound like I’m in a barrel (like someone about to roll over Niagara Falls for publicity). I give you all my word that I will make quite sure to sound better next time.
What do you want to learn from embracing your fear?
What do you want, as we enter the ending months of 2011, for 2012?
Leave your comments for us!
An earlier post prompted some commentary about the “voices in one’s head” and the negative influence they have. In my response, I noted that we all have these “voices” that influence us. The truth is:
You are your own saboteur.
As many of you know, my coaching style is one part nurture, one part nature, and one part “in your face, this is the reality of life, wake the hell up to it” honesty. This is no exception. We sabotage our success. You do it. I do it. Even successful people do it! To coin a very cliche phrase and quote Henry Ford:
Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.
The truth in this is that a large portion of the world automatically believes they can’t even before trying. This is the result of the saboteur within us. It’s a voice that keeps us in familiar, albeit boring, predictable, and possibly miserable situations in order to keep us safe. Many coaches and therapists also refer to this as the Inner Gremlin or Deep Risk Manager. I call mine Clark.
Technically, if we’re being honest – and let’s be honest, we are – I have a committee. There are a lot of different voices and personalities screaming things at me from time to time. If you’ve ever seen an episode of South Park, you’re probably familiar with the way Trey Parker and Matt Stone portray mobs and politicians – they’re a large group of characters that simply yell, “Rabble Rabble” over each other until it creates this incomprehensible noise and nothing gets done. That’s essentially how my committee behaves if I let them.
No, I’m not crazy. Let me explain.
The Saboteur inside you will say things to you to keep you in a place that it can control. The upside is that it prevents you from taking ultimately life-threatening chances (read: playing hopscotch on the expressway), but the flip side of that coin is that it also prevents you from taking risks that could really have us living out loud.
The voices say things that include, but definitely not limited to:
- “You’re not smart enough to do that. Who do you think you are?!?”
- “Yeah right, fatty. There’s no way you stand a chance.”
- “He’s never going to call you, you ruined it.”
- “She’s out of your league. Give up and go home where at least nobody has to see you strike out.”
- “They’re never going to hire you. You just don’t have that “thing” everyone keeps talking about.”
- “You don’t deserve it. What did you do that was so great?”
- “Don’t try… you’ll only fail and get hurt again… we all remember what that was like.”
Pretty depressing, right?
We continuously find ourselves in crappy situations and wonder how it happened. The truth is, our Saboteur told us it was a bad idea, killed our confidence, made us believe that it was better (and safer) to not stick our neck out and go for it – and that voice went unchallenged.
Ready for a heaping scoop of hard truth?
“You cannot make the same mistake twice. The second time it happens, it’s no longer a mistake – it’s a choice.”
Did he really just say that? That can’t be true.
I did say heaping, remember? This was big. Chew on it for a second. The way to pull yourself out of self-sabotage (read: not challenging those negative voices in your head), is to acknowledge what’s happening, and consciously choose your next step. For example, let’s imagine you’re unhappy with your job, and you’d like to change careers, and possibly move out of state and away from everything you know. The thought of this may trigger some of the responses in the bullets above. Hear them. Write them down. Now ask yourself, “is this thought helping me, or hurting me? When I believe this thought, do I feel good, or do I feel scared? Am I powerful or powerless?
If it makes you feel the latter of all of those options, acknowledge it. Then choose to do/feel the opposite. I know it’s often easier said than done – especially when you first start rebelling against your inner gremlin – but it does get easier. Here are some tips:
Attitude Adjustment – How is your attitude? Are you always searching for things to promote your negative outlook? A bad attitude and negativity is paramount to self-sabotage. Breathe deep, and turn the page on it today. Try seeing only the positive side for a week. It will make a HUGE difference.
Have a Plan & Work it – One of the major contributors to self-sabotage and letting the voices go unchallenged is not having a plan to support you. Make a plan for your success. Write out your goals and why they’re important to you, and start taking steps to make them happen.
Procrasterbation – Sometimes there isn’t anything quite like sitting around and doing nothing, but remember that every time you choose to procrastinate, you are also choosing not to go after what you want. If you get too comfortable being idle, you’ll sabotage projects just so you can subconsciously go back to being idle.
Fear of Failure – Many, many, many people have such a powerful fear of failing that they never really start anything. The beauty of failure is that it’s only feedback. If you learn something from it, you actually gain traction to make it happen next time. The old adage is, “If you’re not failing, you’re not really doing anything.” Get out there and do it!
Ask for Help – One of the greatest, and most often overlooked options in the pursuit of success is asking for help. How many of you are struggling, but don’t ask for help? There are people out in the world that have been in your shoes, and are full of insight and examples to help you get where you’re going. Open your mouth and start asking for help. We love to help each other.
I know this is an incredibly long post, but it’s important. The bottom line is that it’s completely normal to have negative voices in your head keeping you down. It’s almost routine to sabotage your own success from time to time. The point here is that once you know about the committee in your head, you can start consciously choosing to create different outcomes.
In the immortal words of Devo (and I use the term immortal very loosely), “When a problem comes along, you must whip it. Whip it good!”
Do you have an inner voice or gremlin you’re trying to tame? What do you do? Share you story in the comments below!
There has been a lot of negative discourse in the world these days – in case you missed it: “the economy is terrible, everything is getting too expensive, you’re not getting any younger, there’s nothing you can do, terrorism is taking over” – it’s all thrown at us every day in the media and sometimes in relationships with those closest to us.
I know, like every last one of you, I’ve found myself in situations that were not the way I’d planned them to be. Whether it’s the unexpected end of a relationship, a surprise visit (from anyone good or not-so-good), failure or falling-short of goals, or financial burdens, when things don’t go as planned it can turn us all upside-down (even if only for a few moments).
So what’s the answer to all of it? What’s the other side of this cursed coin?
There are a lot of little things you can do to shift your game, and level the playing field. They may never prevent the unexpected (it’s called unexpected for a reason), but they’ll definitely help to change the way you influence the world around you, and how it impacts you. Here are some keys for helping you through “what to do when my plans don’t go as planned.”
Tune out the “it’s never gonna get better” voice
The moment things do not go our way, we instinctively begin rattling off all the far-fetched and overly melodramatic details of how “this is just one more terrible thing” in our lives – exaggerating how the situation truly affects us. A previous post of mine [Bad Publicity] talked about this voice a lot. The messages we tell ourselves have a very serious impact on how we view the world.
Ready for a little nostalgia? Remember when you were little and upset about something and your mom told you it would be okay? You believed her! Coincidentally, she was right, wasn’t she? When did you stop believing it would be alright?
When things don’t go as planned, take a moment and listen to that voice in your head. Notice how it makes you feel to believe all the negative and depressing ideas that voice is pushing on you. If you don’t want to feel that way, choose not to believe it. 90% of the time, we blow things out of proportion. The big question is this:
Did my plan get derailed or just delayed?
Take the hint – something is trying to emerge
When what you want seems to elude you, pause for a moment and look around. What appears instead? There’s something trying to emerge in all conflict – which is exactly what happens when plans go awry! I remember working in sales a few years ago, and I found that toward the end of that job it was getting increasingly difficult to smile and stay motivated. The job wasn’t terrible on the surface, but beneath the visible, my heart was crying out for escape. I was not supposed to be there any more.
I know you’ve had moments where you suddenly saw/felt a sign that changed your perspective or brought you clarity. In fact, you may have even asked the sky/God/Universe for a sign. Well, they’re all over the place and it’s high time you gave yourself permission to slow down and see them.
As an example, let’s imagine you’re unemployed and feeling pretty down about it. Maybe you even feel like the victim of the economy. The media is posting record unemployment numbers and it’s all doom-n-gloom well into the future.
Pause. Let’s look around for a moment.
Let’s imagine that other people around you have modified their searches and have found work. Let’s even go as far to say they took risks to get the jobs they now have. What’s this sensation? Maybe the sign here is that changing your plan or taking a risk will deliver the reward you’re looking for. Are you too focused on something that’s not coming? Are you so focused on the tree in front of you that you miss the engulfing wildfire around it?
What’s trying to emerge in your struggle?
Play the Bigger Game & return to the basics
This is probably the most important piece in the equation. When plans fall apart or don’t go as expected, and you feel the weight of it all pushing you off track – discouraging and demotivating you – get back to basics. The Bigger Game is all about knowing who you are and why you do what you do. If you don’t know what it is that makes you come alive, then everything can almost taste the same. If, however, you’ve discovered what you want – what fulfills, thrills, motivates, calms, and creates you – then all you need to do is return to the why behind it.
A perfect example of this is my friend Joe. He works in his garage building custom motorcycles on weekends and most weekday nights (often well into the early morning hours). He also works 40 hours a week in a corporate job pounding phones in a cubicle in the suburbs. When things don’t go as planned, he knows it’s just a delay in his real place in life – building custom bikes.
Joe is so infinitely clear about what makes him feel most alive that he simply doesn’t let anything get in his way. His why is pumping through his veins. Motorcycle building and customizing is Joe’s “Adrenaline of Purpose.” What’s yours?
When it’s as crystal clear what you want as it is with Joe, a calmness comes over you when the unexpected happens. Instead of reacting to the stress, you get curious about it. It no longer threatens your future or happiness. You know what you want and why. That’s the first brick to lay in your foundation.
If you want help discovering what your Adrenaline of Purpose is, contact me. Let’s discover what pumps through your veins.
The Mark Twain quote above is so perfect because we need to stay present to opportunity. Even completely changed or ruined plans can unfold into the most beautiful day in your life. Give it that chance.
What do you find yourself doing/thinking/feeling/behaving when plans don’t go as planned?
Leave your comments below!
P.S. It’s all going to be okay.
I don’t know about anyone else, but it feels to me like it’s getting harder and harder to relax these days. The stress of life can be pretty overwhelming. Especially the daily grind of work. Hell, they don’t call it the daily grind for no reason, right? Many of us simply wind up, and come home exhausted, frazzled, and unfocused. Sometimes we come home to a family that we immediately neglect or pick fights with… or they come home and pick fights with us! Any time you get the chance to relax and get centered at work, take it – it’s time well spent.
I’ve included 5 ways to find a little peace and relaxation at work. These are simple, yet effective, activities you can do without going out of your way and potentially causing you more grief. Check them out, and comment on what works best for you!
Get Up & Get Out!
No, seriously, get up from your desk and walk out for a break. It’s long been said that sometimes you have to walk away from a problem and come back before you can solve it. Many of us get so focused on the minute-to-minute stress of our immediate surroundings, that simply getting away from it for a few minutes can break us free. A brisk walk or some other form of exercise while on that break is even better. Even a few minutes of exercise releases endorphins – helping to elevate your energy and your mood almost instantly!
Tune in to turn on the calm.
Studies have shown music to help with concentration and stress-reduction. Having some of your favorite tunes playing in the background of your days is very powerful in reducing your stress. My own personal advice is to use a service like Pandora or Last.fm for your music, because it offers far fewer ads than standard FM or AM radio, and the musical variety is completely custom tailored to your tastes. Relaxing music like classical is better for your brain (rather than death metal) because it lowers blood pressure and reduces Cortisol – a hormone linked to stress and weight gain.
I often have clients take a break during their day and go out to their car and spend 5 minutes listening to music they can sing to… loudly. Singing and laughing are very similar in the chemical reactions they cause in the brain. If you can find 5 minutes to sing in your car, take them. They’re powerful minutes!
Buddhist monks have been using mindful breathing techniques in their meditation for centuries. Stop for a minute during your day and practice some simple breathing. Sit up in your chair, feet flat on the floor, hands resting on your lap, and begin breathing. Notice the sensation of fresh, clean, rejuvenating air entering your body, filling your lungs. With each exhale, feel the sensation of stress, anxiety, and worry leaving your body. Notice your breath – and only your breath. Concentrate on the pattern of life, calm, centered, focus breathing in, and anxiety, worry, stress exhaling and leaving your body. Do this for one minute each hour.
An additional tool is a Mac App called CalmDown. CalmDown sets up little activities for you to get centered and calm when you need it. It sits in your upper menu bar and is ready when you are. If you select “Calm Down” your screen will fade to white and encourage you to breathe deeply. Other options have more elaborate, yet simple, activities to help you relax. It’s only $.99 in the App Store, and while it’s common sense, this little reminder is a pretty valuable deal at only $1.
Let’s be honest, we could all use a life-line from time to time. When we’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or wound up, one of the greatest things we can do is vent. The next time you’re feeling those familiar feelings, take a break and phone a friend, coach, parent, therapist – whatever!
A word of caution: This can be treacherous to relationships if both parties are not clear on the rules. Venting involves just letting everything come out – no need for the other person to “fix” anything – only to listen and offer support. Both parties should lay out rules so one person doesn’t feel like he or she is being “dumped on” by the other person all the time. Venting is healthy when there’s a time limit and reciprocity.
“Can I just vent to you for 5 minutes?”
“Sure, but then I could 5 minutes too.”
Change Your Layout.
I’m a strong believer in Feng Shui – the art of arranging objects in a space to create harmony and balance in the energy of that space. If you have the luxury of changing your work space colors and arrangement, go for it. Bright colors and wood tones balance energy and spark creativity. Stay organized by introducing colorful pen holders, stapler, and stationary. If there’s a way to bring in natural light, bring in as much as you can.
Working in a plain cubicle in a nondescript office building can be a hard space to modify, but every little bit counts. To help, I’ve included some beautiful images to help you. Download them and make one a background this week, one a background next week, one a ba– you get the idea. Keep on the lookout for more inspiring images for use on your home, office, or home-office monitor!
What do you do to relieve stress or find peace at work? Share in the comments below!