‘Tis the Season – Reflecting on What You Learned

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Welcome to December, friends!

How exciting that we have made it to the last month of 2017! What a ride it has been.

We’re not sure if you’ve ever dabbled in project or program management, and either way we’ve got a best practice from some of Coaching Right Now’s PM’ing team this week!

At the end of each project or program we love to capture our “lessons learned”. What are those things that either worked amazingly well that we’d LOVE to make sure we do again? Or, what are those things that did not work so well that we hope to never experience again?!

So for all of us, as we are closing up 2017 and moving into 2018, what if we were to take some time to think about our personal lessons learned?

Need some questions to get you started? Try these!

  • What are three things you are most proud of this year?
    • What made you proud of those things?
  • What is one thing that if you could do differently you would?
    • What is it about it that you’d want to change?
  • What are two things that surprised you about yourself, and would you want to do those things again?
  • What are two things that gave you a lot of energy this year?
  • What are two things that took away a lot of your energy this year?
  • What is something I wish I could have spent more time on this year?

Hopefully these will give you a starting place!

“The future depends on what we do in the present.” – Mahatma Gandhi

‘Tis the season for reflecting on what you learned!

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When Saying “No” is the Best Thing You Can Do

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Some of us have an aversion to saying the word, “no.”

It may be because of the way we grew up, our personality type, or something we’ve learned over time.

No matter why the word “no” is uncomfortable, there are times when it is the best thing you can do as a Manager.

Before we jump into when to say “no,” to successfully say the word “no,” we have to be honest with ourselves.

We have to be willing to look at and admit what our limitations are and what we can handle before we can successfully say “no.”

When you are honest with yourself, then you can say “no” when…

1. You cannot deliver on something in the way it is being asked of you

We’d all love to believe that we can meet every deadline, fulfill every creative idea, and keep all of the balls in the air all of the time.

And, if we are honest, sometimes the requests being made of us may not always be feasible.

If you cannot deliver, try something like, “That won’t work for me right now because… And here are a few ideas that are possible…”

Remember, having the intention of wanting to help, while being honest enough to say when you can and can’t, will help you and everyone else.

If you can’t deliver in the way that is being asked of you, try to come up with some solutions for how you can still meet the need and present those ideas.

This communicates that this option doesn’t work right now, and I have some ideas that can! 

2. When you aren’t comfortable doing something

Sometimes we are asked to do something that we aren’t comfortable with.

Maybe you feel a gut check, or a tension in your neck or throat.

If you find that you are feeling uncomfortable or uneasy about a request, allow yourself the ability to say “no” temporarily so you can pause, assess what’s behind you feeling that way, and then decide what is right for you.

If you still feel uncomfortable, you may want to share why with the person who is asking.

If that doesn’t feel doable, give yourself the permission to say “no” to the request because it is what is right for you.

And, this is a prefect time to give a couple of other ideas what are possible!,

3. When you are burning out and taking on too many responsibilities

 If you are reading this, you are probably an over-achiever.

One thing to know about over-achievers is that we say “yes” sometimes more than is sustainable, and we set ourselves up for potential burn-out.

When you find that you are stretched too thin, be honest with yourself and find things you can say “no” to.

When you do say “no,” and the work needs to get done, ask yourself, “who could successfully accomplish these extra things instead of me?”

This may be a great time for delegating and trusting others on your team to get the job done.

When You Are Wrong

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What if everything you’ve believed about being wrong was, well … wrong?

This week we watched TED Talk by Kathryn Schulz called On Being Wrong.

If you are looking for a different perspective or a challenge on how you’ve always thought about being wrong, this 17 minutes is well worth your time!

Happy learning!

Cultivating Gratitude

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How many times have you said thank you without actually feeling… well… grateful? Muttering thanks to the person who held the door for you earlier, the barista who made your latte, and even your sign off “Thanks!” on all your emails can sometimes ring hollow. The sentiment, and most importantly, the good feelings you have behind the words are lost.

Honestly, if you did keep track of “moments of gratitude”, you would have a dozen things to be thankful for just in that morning on your way to work!

Don’t worry. You don’t have to keep track of ALL of it. How about five things? That sounds almost doable, right?

Putting your problems in perspective by focusing on the positive is the first step in overcoming them. And, there’s so much more. Here are some more unexpected benefits to starting a gratitude journal:

1. Good things DO happen and you finally have the “receipts” to prove it! A gratitude journal is literally your important paperwork of life.

2. You keep only memories that bring you joy. Have you ever gone through your old teenage journals and think … “What was I so upset about?! I had free food and wifi!”? If you want a happy life, record only the happy memories and let the bad times slip into oblivion along with your high school locker combination.

3. It’s the perfect way to end your day. Who doesn’t want to have their stress levels lowered right before bed? Skip the Tylenol PM and grab your gratitude journal instead.

4. Your future self will thank you. This is a little bit meta, but by writing out what you are grateful for now, you give your future self something to be grateful for. Gratitude is simply happiness you recognize at a later date.

5. You will find that you go through life extra attuned to “gratitude inspiring” events. How cool is that?

Starting and maintaining a gratitude journal sounds daunting, but it is so worth it. Here are some handy tips and tricks to get started.

1. Keep a small notebook and pen next to your bedside table. You can later invest in a fancy personalized journal. Whatever you have on hand will do just fine.

2. Write – don’t type. Research shows that the physical act of writing is soothing in and of itself.

3. Take a moment to think through what you are grateful for today. Just today. It may not make sense to anyone who is reading it, and that’s okay!

4. Stay the course. This isn’t a journal of events. This isn’t a place to write out your frustrations. Stay positive and keep out the negative.

5. Keep it secret. Don’t share it with anyone. It will only stymie your true thoughts and feelings. Your gratitude journal is a judgement free zone.

Are you ready to smile at the end of every work day? Keeping a gratitude journal is a hidden life hack for being healthier, happier, and more productive.

Try it!

 

Meditation Isn’t What You Imagine

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No, you don’t need to be sitting quietly in a candle lit room, or listening to Tibetan chimes downloaded from iTunes. While it does sound amazing to go to a wooded retreat to reach inner peace, it isn’t necessary — or very likely for that matter.

The reality is that you spend most of your life following the same routine, but somewhere in the chaos you need to find a little peace. The good news is that self-care through meditation is easier than you think!

Pay attention to your breath

Try this. As you breathe in, count to 1 in your mind; and as you breathe out, count to 1. Breathe in — count 2. Breathe out — count 2. Continue all the way up to 10, and then go backwards back to 1. If you get distracted and lose count, just start over.

Funny how once you get your mind involved in the process of breathing, it takes up a lot of mental bandwidth! That’s because breathing is your true “life’s work” essentially.

Be mindful

At the office you are busy prioritizing your thoughts for the deadlines coming up. Often you are still mentally putting out the fires of yesterday at the same time. Meditation quickly and efficiently allows you to leave regrets in the past and anxiety in the future, where they belong.

It only takes a couple minutes to focus on the here and now. When you get it right, your breath becomes a center of soothing calm. That is meditation through mindfulness.

Find your trigger

There is no wrong time to listen to your breath. But in the beginning, it’s a good idea to pair it with something you do everyday. It could be while waiting in line in the parking garage, or taking the recycling out. You can do it while conditioning your hair in the shower!

Practicing meditation daily and consistently develops a powerful habit for mindfulness. It forms like any other habit. You have to do it daily, even if it is just two minutes a day.

Meditation in practice

The beauty of your practice is that it is ready for when you need it most. When you do find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the size of your inbox, frustrated by an important document lost, or the gnawing anticipation before public speaking, you can instantly transport yourself to the tranquility of your practice.

Find your zen! And go there whenever you please!

Let’s talk about self-care

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“In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, please put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”

Flight attendants diligently remind us to suppress our instinct of wanting to help others before helping ourselves. After all, how can we help anyone while running on literal fumes?!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at the how, when, where, and why of self-care!

Don’t embrace the grind

Smart leaders make self-care their priority because they know it enhances productivity and success in themselves and others. Ignoring self-care mimics a state of oxygen deprivation: you make messy mistakes, and things inevitably grind to a halt.

The World Health Organization estimates stress related illness causes a loss of 300 billion dollars a year in workplace productivity. Often defined as “Presenteeism”, you are technically at work but your health problems choke any attempts at true efficiency.

On some level, you already know this to be true. Your job feels like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. Your body and mind are screaming to be tended to as you plow through the work day.

Self-care feels like another thing to do in your already overscheduled day.

Yes, you know that ideally you wouldn’t scarf a burger at your desk or shun sleep to respond to that one last email. And wait, wasn’t there a meditation app you’ve been meaning to download? It all feels like too much! Even the things that are supposed to help.

Taking care of yourself ends up going from #1 on your list to falling somewhere between organizing your desktop and getting your tires rotated.

Put yourself first

In this series, we explore what it means to put your oxygen mask on first.

How do you make it a habit? How can you quickly integrate it into what you are already doing? And most importantly: how do you know you are doing it right?

Don’t worry – you got this! For now, just take a moment to put your own mask on… and breathe.