Category Archives: Work-life Balance

The Opposite Principle


Of course it is not that simple to implement but it is a good start to identify what works best for you and keep doing it and stop what doesn’t work.

For more advice read the article :  The Costanza Principle: Better Decisions Through Your Inner Contrarian ( Original article published in 2014 in lifehacker.com written by Thorin Klosowski )

insanity

Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results-Albert Einstein

 

 

Indulgence vs. Restraint – Do we need this 6th Dimension in Intercultural Training and Coaching ?


What insights does Hofstede’s 6th and least frequently discussed dimension on Indulgence vs. Restraint give us to help us to collaborate more effectively with people from other cultures? See on www.communicaid.com

I don’t think this is a valid dimension and would really like to see more validation.

For example, I don’t agree with the score differences between France and USA, France shown as medium indulgence and United States as very indulgent.

I don’t think United States is a more indulgent culture than France. In the USA there is no law that oblige employers to give paid holidays while in France by law people work only 35 hours/week but also have more than 5 weeks of paid holidays per year compared to 25 % of American workers that don’t take their vacation.

Paid maternity leave is also much more in France than in the US : six weeks before birth and up to 8 weeks after birth.

People don’t work on Sundays in France and you cannot do your shopping 24/7 as you do in USA, Japan or Russia (personally I think it is a wrong thing for the economy but majority of French people are against opening stores on Sundays to preserve the quality of family life)

Have you ever find this 6th dimension useful to explain some cultural differences or similarities ?

Related articles: 

American Culture: The Non Vacation Nation

Do You Work Too Hard ? Some Cultural Perspectives

 

 

Best New Year’s Resolution?


See on Scoop.itGlobal Leaders

Rock Pebbles Sand

Anne Egros‘s insight:

 Do you remember the story of the jar to be filled with rocks, pebbles and sand ?  What will you put first if rocks represents the most important things in your life ?

Read this brilliant article from the author of “Good to Great” Jim Collins :

Instead of making a “To Do List” why don’t you start making more time and space in your life ?

Start making A ‘Stop Doing’ List !

I remember when I started reading the “7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” From Steven Covey. It was suggested you start defining what would you like to be remembered for when you will die. Who will be at your funerals ? What people would say ?  It’s a variant of the famous question: what would you do or stop doing if you will only have 6 months or 10 years to live ?

How about you? Do you take time to stop, think, reflect and listen to your inner voice telling you what really matters in your life ?

See on www.jimcollins.com

How To Stay Focused When Your Life Is A Chaos


Spring is often a time of intense excitation for many people. For example I like to “de-cluterize”  my closets and my computer or re-evaluate my business strategy. Probably mother nature makes us feel that way, showing us so much exuberance with beautiful flowers and birds singing everywhere.

It is also a very chaotic time for most expatriates who are going to relocate to another country or going back “home”. If you are moving to an unknown place, you have probably spent a lot of time and energy already to search information, connect with people you don’t know who are living or has lived in your new country. Maybe you have also to make plans to sell your current house, cars, appliances(if you don’t have the same voltage), worried about your kids’ well-being and schools, started house hunting etc.

The number of things to think about when you plan a move is a Herculean task  and you better be well prepared and organized.

When you are in transition, no matter if it is for a new job, a new house or a new country, you have to deal with a lot of stress that will prevent you to focus and  get the right things done.

Here are some tips to help you achieve your goals while enjoying your life when you are in transition:

1-Dealing with uncertainty 

When we deal with any change we have many worries and many “what If” type of questions that trigger a lot of anxiety. What if I don’t like the people in my new job ?, What if I cannot sell my house ? What if I don’t like my new country ? it is hard to focus when we are constantly worrying.

What you can do:

    • Accept that the decision you have made is the right one and do not regret it as there is no turn back
    • Let go the obsession to control everything.The only certainty we have, is that life is unpredictable, no matter how prepared we are.
    • Try to notice when you get those worries kicking
    • Identify a coping strategy like taking a break and go walking outside or write down your feelings and thoughts in a journal, talk to your friends or simply do nothing and think about a good moment of your life.

2-Keeping  Your Routine

Everyday,  you have to keep your life as usual plus add on the top all the logistics and deal with unplanned events such as waiting for a visa or finalizing your new job contract. You will experienced periods of high excitation when you are into action followed by periods of uncertainty that are really testing your patience and your morale when things are not going the way you think.

What you can do: 

    • Having rituals or daily habits helps stay focused.
    • You can choose specific days of the week to do certain activities that you need to do anyway like picking the kids at school, grocery shopping, going to the gym etc. Put those activities at a fix time in your weekly calendar as much as you can so you don’t waste your time on planning.
    • Be realistic  and conservative about the time you need, adjust your pace like for a marathon you cannot be always in an emergency mode otherwise you will get burnout.
    • Take 2 daily breaks of 30 minutes minimum for unplugging and relaxing

3-Stay Motivated : Make a “done list”

Getting things done give you a sense of control and helps you manage your stress.

What you can do: 

    • Finish everyday by revising what you have accomplished during the last 24 hours or last week or since you started working on your project. You will realize you have done much more than you think, including things that were not planned!

Your Turn : What do you do to stay focused while in transition ?

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Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Grief and Loss – AARP


All men die, but not all men really live~William Wallace

This is a very serious subject and  I would like you to think about it. Do you really live the life you want? Are your compromising your dreams to meet someone ‘else agenda. Do you think you had no choice so you live a life you do not enjoy fully?  Do you simply take time to explore your dreams before you are too old or too sick to make them true ?

Bronnie Ware worked for many years in palliative care. Her  patients were those who had gone home to die. On their dying bed, when questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, five common themes surfaced.  I am going to list those top 5 regrets and put some personal comments for you to think about it

 1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. It’s important to try to honor at least some of your dreams along the way. It’s too late once you lose your health. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

For years I have kept a journal where I write my dreams, small or big, without checking if they are feasible or not. This exercise helps you being conscious of what you passionately want, I check it regularly and add new ones but I am always amaze to see I have achieved some of my dreams almost effortlessly as they were in my mind when choices had to be made.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.  We sacrifice our Youth, Health, Time and Love for money and other materialistic things yet those most precious things cannot be bought with money. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do.

 3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Being able to recognize and express your negative emotions such as anger, resentment,  frustration and communicate  your worries and doubts safely with friends or family members is certainly helping reducing stress. Chronic (long-term) stress caused by stressful situations or events that last over a long period of time can trigger health problems. If you already have a health problem, stress can make it worse.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Being part of a community, helping others having a cause you stand for all this make your life richer, giving has healing power when it is done unconditionally.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. Guilt is often the emotion that prevent you from being truly happy. Be incredibly selfish, have your own needs met first because you cannot really help others if you feel miserable, you cannot truly love if you do not love yourself.

To read more about this article Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Grief and Loss – AARP 

Hope that sharing this article with you will help you to never have regrets 

American Culture: The Non Vacation Nation


OECD Countries Blue

Who get the most paid vacation ? Check this list Minimum Employment Leave By Country

France is one extreme with minimum 5 weeks vacation up to 8 weeks when combined with various holidays and compensation time when you work more than 35 hours /week.

United States is the other extreme, being the only developed economy that does not guarantee its workers any paid vacation or holidays. As a result, 1 in 4 U.S. workers do not receive any paid vacation or paid holidays.

How does this translate in term of productivity ? You can see in this table compiled by the OECD on Labour productivity levels in the total economy  that France is very close to the US with GDP per hour worked as % of USA (USA=100) = 97.9

But does GDP a good indicator of well-being, quality of life and  happiness ?

What You Measure Affects What You Do-Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize in Economics

The OECD has developed a tool called the Better Life Index using various parameters such as housing, jobs or health. They have designed an interesting interactive map that you can use to select the parameters that are important to you and compare how various countries perform: http://oecdbetterlifeindex.org/

So if you just take one parameter such as “life satisfaction” , the results are better for the U.S. than for France:

For the United States, the self-reported life satisfaction has been rising over the last decade. In recent polling, 70% were satisfied with their life and 80% believe that their life will be satisfying five years later. 76% of people in the United States reported having more positive experiences in an average day(feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc). This figure is higher than the OECD average of 72%.

For France, in recent polling, 51% were satisfied with their life and 64% believe that their life will be satisfying five years later. This is however a very low ranking when compared to other high-performing economies in the OECD. 73% of people in France reported having more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc). This figure is close to the OECD average of 72%.

The self-evaluation has some biases however as French are more critical and less prone to give positive feedback than the Americans.

You can also see the ranking of countries for work-life balance :  People in France people work 1554 hours a year, lower than the OECD average of 1739 hours. People in the United States work 1768 hours a year, higher than the OECD average of 1739 hours. In theory the less hours you work the better you can balance your life but this is not counting the fact that working more and getting paid more can help you buy some time and the United States has a great culture of services to individuals.

In Conclusion: Don’t rely on simple numbers to decide your next international assignment. There are so many cultural factors to include on top of economical data, that you better talk to people who have lived or are working in the country you are interested in to get some information. If your company does not provide pre-departure cultural training, you may need to hire an expat coach to help you make your decision. Here the link to the Expat Coaching Directory.

Personally I think the quality of life in the U.S. is better than France but lower than Japan

Real experience is what matters, can you tell your story about living abroad ?

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7 Rules To Never Waste Your Time Again


Are you always busy, yet not finishing all you want to do or enjoying the way you spend your time ? Time is the most precious asset we have that once spent is lost forever, unlike other precious things we may lose such as money, a job or even love, as we can always replace them. So why most people don’t think about time as an investment and don’t choose wisely how to spend it  as they do about their own money ?

Most people have to go to work because they need money for their families to buy food, clothes and have a roof over their heads not because they love their jobs. Ironically, for money we trade most of our waking hours, minimum 5 days a week for 40 or 50 years, giving away our youth and often our health, until we are too old to enjoy activities we really love to do!  So if this is true,  it gives you another reason to really make sure the time that you have left is not wasted on futile, non-important things or let other people steal your time.

So if this sounds familiar, let’s learn how to identify your priorities, manage distractions and stay focus to get the right things done.

Rule 1: TRACK YOUR TIME. Discover who and what is stealing your time by starting to log how much time you spend in your activities and with whom.

Rule 2: CATEGORIZE.  Arrange the information and identify activities under the various roles in your life. Your roles can be “the fit and healthy you”, parent, spouse, employee, business owner, community member, the spiritual “you” etc… In a previous post I mentioned “The Wheel Of Life” to identify which areas in your life are important to you and decide your priorities to focus on.

Rule 3: ANALYZE  Look at your current time management patterns and check how those differ from the ways you’d like to spend your time.

Rule 4: STOP AND THINK  We all do certain things without thinking just because we always did. It is time to stop doing everything that is not vital for yourself your family and your job and see what happens. For example do you really need to check your FB page or answer to Tweets first things first in the morning ? How are you going to measure the impact of NOT doing something ?  Let’s suppose you want to lose weight and get more energy but you can only invest 3 hours per week of your time exercising. Well if you are aware of how your metabolism works then you better choose to lift weights and do strength training 2 times a week  and add one hour of high intensity interval exercise such as spinning instead of running on the treadmill for one hour everyday. Why ? because lifting weights and doing squats increase your lean, muscular mass that increases your metabolic rate. Interval training is also recognized as the method of choice to burn more fat than long hours of walking or even jogging. You can apply this concept to your job hunting or social media strategy too: If you have only 5 hours per week, what activities will bring you most leads in less time ? blogging ?, tweeting ? phones calls ?, attending live events etc. You must try what works for you and simply do more of what works and less of what don’t.  Plan your time accordingly.

Rule 5: CLEAR UNRESOLVED MATTERS You need to let go failures or negative past experiences in order to move on. Staying with someone or something in your past waste time and energy. Do you have regrets, remorse, shame, fears, anger , denial ? First thing is to identify what is holding your back, then clearly expressing them and communicating those things. Choose a person you really trust and share three or five things you feel worst about that you want to change, decide what to do about them and take action so they never come back.

Rule 6: SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES Boundaries are imaginary lines we establish around ourselves to protect our hearts and minds from unhealthy and damaging behavior of others. When we set cl;ear boundaries we spend less time dealing with fears, we avoid people who are disrespectful and who steal our time and energy. Require that every single person in your life is always unconditionally constructive. Identify first what others do that violate your boundaries and then clearly communicate them to others.

Rule 7: SET A CLEAR VISION AND MAKE SURE YOU SET GOALS AROUND YOUR VALUESWhen you set your goals and priorities according to your life purpose, vision and values that matter most to you then you can fully express yourself and get fewer distractions and live a fulfilling life. Revisit often your vision if your priorities in life change but your values should be the same no matter what and are guides in your life.

STILL HAVE NO TIME ?

Maybe it ‘s time to go back to the driver seat ! 

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