Tag Archives: Self-Help

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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Getting A Balanced Life in Only Two Steps

Sand Clock...

Many of you made your New Year Resolutions with enthusiasm, thinking this New Year will be different, that you will quit bad habits, lose weight, exercise, attend a language class or whatever, But did you really think deeply if this is what YOU want ? Do you want to please others ? Do you spend time on somebody else’s agenda ? Do you have the motivation, discipline time and other resources to achieve your goals ? I guess you may have chosen your usual new year resolutions without thinking as a whole person, with finite resources such as time, money and specific support.

In 2012, do you want to simplify your life and implement processes or habits that last more than a couple of weeks after New Year? Here are two simple steps you can take that will give you guidance and makes you spending your efforts on activities that really matters to you.:

Step One: Identify Your Priorities:

Identify your current level of satisfaction for each area in the wheel and connect the dots. Then think about things you really want to improve and develop. Please note that a balanced life does not require that you dedicate equal amounts of time to each little piece of your life. Balance is about taking care of all of you and all of what is important to you. That means that you must make time to invest in your self-care, define what matters to you, and allow yourself to be busy with those activities. Once you selected the categories you want to develop, Think about what a 7 a (Satisfied/Fulfilled) would look like for each one you selected ex. Fitness: enjoy going to the pool once a week and indoor biking 1 hour. Be specific, realistic, make sure you have time and energy or other resources like money or partner. Avoid the “should” or the “have to”. Then select only 3 goals to focus on with actions to reach a 7 in your top priorities (you can have multiple goals in one area).

Step Two : Managing your Resource of Time

The process of using your time effectively becomes possible when you begin to view it as a commodity that you have the choice to spend—or invest. When you invest, you essentially allocate your resources to something you believe will give you a positive return.

Do you view your time with as much consideration as you view your money?

I would bet that you would not burn a dollar bill. Yet, you may be willing to burn through an hour of your time based on someone else’s demands. You need a system connecting your priorities and managing your calendar. There is an excellent method developed by Steven Covey in his book : “First Things First ” See bellow his tool to classify your weekly TO DO list before planning time in your calendar. The idea it to focus on the important things that contribute the most to reaching your goals (Quadrant II) implementing processes and habits to anticipate the urgent and Important (Quadrant I) such as having an automatic bill payment system online for example. You also need to reduce time spent on non important things or quit bad habits that are wasting your time.

If you decide to quit a bad habit, always compensate by an activity you really enjoy that gives you more rewards and fun than the bad behavior.

For example replacing what I call “Pavlovian Tweeting or Facebooking ” by meeting friends outside for hiking or walking. This woks for me, It is fun, good for my health and great to meet new people in my neighborhood.

IF you really want to get the LIFE you enjoy and deserve without the struggle, start working today on identifying your priorities and select your 3 most important goals, make an action plan for each and decide how much time to allocate for each activities on a weekly basis.

If you need some clarification how to use those tools or help you set your goals, please do not hesitate to contact me for a FREE, no obligation, REAL coaching Session:Click HERE

How to Manage Anger, It Can Be Very Positive And Incredibly Destructive

Angry Talk (Comic Style)

Image via Wikipedia

Anger can be normal and healthy emotion that helps us instinctively detect and respond to a threatening situation. More than this, when it is properly channeled, it can be a powerful motivating force – we all know how hard we can work to remedy an obvious injustice.

However it can also be an emotion that gets out of control, leading to stress, distress, unhealthiness and unhappiness. Uncontrolled anger can seriously harm your personal and professional life, because it can become incredibly destructive – to yourself and the people around you.

And in a modern workplace that often demands trust and collaboration, it can cause great damage to working relationships.

This article teaches an effective 12-step approach that helps you direct your anger constructively rather than destructively. The 12-step approach is based on the ideas of Duke University’s Redford Williams, MD, who with his wife, authored the best-selling book Anger Kills. (In this book, Williams discusses 17 steps for controlling anger – these are often abridged to the 12 steps described here.)

Understanding the Theory

Anger is a well-developed coping mechanism that we turn to when our goals are frustrated, or when we feel threat to ourselves or to people, things and ideas we care about. It helps us react quickly and decisively in situations where there is no time for a careful, reasoned analysis of the situation. And it can motivate us to solve problems, achieve our goals, and remove threats.

Acting in anger can serve, therefore, to protect yourself or others. A positive response and constructive outcome can improve your self-esteem and self-confidence.

The Danger of Anger – Foolishness…

On the other hand, a negative response can damage relationships and lead to a loss of respect and self-respect. This is particularly the case when we react instantly and angrily to what we perceive to be a threat, but where that perception is wrong. This can leave us looking very foolish.

So we need to learn to use anger positively, and manage it so that it is constructive and not destructive. Where situations are not immediately life-threatening, we need to calm down and evaluate the accuracy of our perceptions before, if necessary, channeling anger in a powerful but controlled way.

Anger management, then, is the process of learning how to “calm down” and diffuse the negative emotion of anger before it gets to a destructive level.

A Subjective Experience

People experience anger in many different ways and for many different reasons. What makes you angry may only mildly irritate one of your colleagues, and have little to no effect on another. This subjectivity can make anger difficult to understand and deal with; it also highlights that the response is down to you. So anger management focuses on managing your response (rather than specific external factors). By learning to manage your anger, you can develop techniques to deal with and expel the negative response and emotions before it causes you serious stress, anxiety and discomfort.

Despite our differences in the level of anger we feel toward something, there are some universal causes of anger that include:

  • Frustration of our goals
  • Hurt
  • Harassment
  • Personal attack (mental or physical) on ourselves
  • Threat to people, things or ideas that we hold dear.

We commonly experience these potential anger triggers in our daily lives. An appropriate level of anger that is expressed correctly helps us take the right action, solve the problem that is presenting itself, or deal with the situation in a positive manner. If we can learn to manage our anger, we will learn to express it appropriately and act constructively.

Using the Tool:

So when you’re angry, use Redford Williams’ 12 steps to calm down:

Step 1: Maintain a “Hostility Log”
Download our free Hostility Log worksheet and use it to monitor what triggers your anger and the frequency of your anger responses. When you know what makes you angry, you will be in a better position to develop strategies to contain it or channel it effectively.

Step 2: If you do, acknowledge that you have a problem managing anger
It is an observed truth that you cannot change what you don’t acknowledge. So it is important to identify and accept that anger is a roadblock to your success.

Step 3: Use your support network
If anger is a problem, let the important people in your life know about the changes you are trying to make. They can be a source of motivation and their support will help you when you lapse into old behavior patterns.

Step 4: Use Anger Management techniques to interrupt the anger cycle

  • Pause
  • Take deep breaths
  • Tell your self you can handle the situation
  • Stop the negative thoughts

Step 5: Use empathy
If another person is the source of your anger, try to see the situation from his or her perspective. Remind yourself to be objective and realize that everyone makes mistakes and it is through mistakes that people learn how to improve.

Step 6: Laugh at yourself
Humor is often the best medicine. Learn to laugh at yourself and not take everything so seriously.

The next time you feel tempted to kick the photocopier, think about how silly you would look and see the humor in your inappropriate expressions of anger.

Step 7: Relax
Angry people are often the ones who let the little things bother them. If you learn to calm down you will realize that there is no need to get uptight and you will have fewer angry episodes.

Step 8: Build Trust
Angry people can be cynical people. They believe that others are going to do something on purpose to annoy or frustrate them even before it happens. If you can build trust in people you will be less likely to become angry with them when something does go wrong and more likely to attribute the problem to something other than a malicious intent.

Step 9: Listen
Miscommunication contributes to frustrating and mistrusting situations. The better you listen to what a person is saying, the better able you will be to find a resolution that does not involve an anger response.

Step 10: Be Assertive
Remember, the word is assertive NOT aggressive. When you are angry it is often difficult to express yourself properly. You are too caught up in the negative emotion and your physiological symptoms (beating heart, red face) to put together solid arguments or appropriate responses. If you learn to assert yourself and let other people know your expectations, boundaries, issues, and so on, you will have much more interpersonal success.

Step 11: Live each day as if it is your last
This saying may be overused, but it holds a fundamental truth. Life is short and it is much better spent positively than negatively. Realize that if you spend all your time getting angry, you will miss out on the many joys and surprises that life has to offer.

Step 12: Forgive
To ensure that the changes you are making go much deeper than the surface, you need to forgive the people in your life that have angered you. It is not easy letting go of past hurts and resentments but the only way to move past your anger is to let go of these feelings and start fresh. (Depending on what, or who, is at the root of your anger, you may have to solicit the help of a professional to achieve this fully.)

These 12 steps form a comprehensive plan to get control of inappropriate and unproductive anger. And the quicker you begin the better. Anger and stress are highly correlated and the effects of stress on the body are well documented. Visit the MindTools stress management section to learn even more about the effects of stress and how to deal with it. You will find that many of the techniques presented here are used in stress management as well because both are negative, emotional-based influences in our lives, and the approach for dealing with them is therefore quite similar.

Even if you are not at the point where you feel your anger is a problem, it is a wise idea to familiarize yourself with the processes listed. If you do not have the tools to deal with anger correctly, it has a way of building-up over time. Before you know it, you can be in a position where anger is controlling you and becoming a negative influence in your life. Being proactive with anger management will help to ensure it remains a healthy emotion that protects you from unnecessary hurt or threat.

Key Points

Anger is a powerful force, both for good and bad. Used irresponsibly, it can jeopardize your relationships, your work and your health.

Redford Williams’ 12-step approach for dealing with unconstructive anger is a well-balanced system that emphasizes knowing yourself and your triggers and then using that awareness to replace negative angry behavior with more positive actions and thoughts. While you don’t want to quell your anger completely, you do need to manage it if you’re to use it creatively.

And remember that anger can be creative. People act when they get angry. And providing their actions are constructive, this actually helps drive change and get things done.

Article originally posted :  Anger Management – Stress Management Training from MindTools.com

The Reward Is In The Goal: How Making Things Happen Makes You Happy

Post-it To-Do 2.0

Image by rintakumpu via Flickr

For expats like me moving to a new place this summer, they might think that it is already Christmas when they get  their stuff delivered in boxes of all shapes in their new home. Well, for me that feeling did not last long.  From 8:30am until 5pm from Monday to Friday I managed to unpack 659 boxes with 7 movers and two professional organizers specialized in helping people de-cluttering, downsizing while giving a brand new look to your home.

Some boxes were 20 year old, never opened, that went straight to the storage room with guilt in the back of my mind. Then like for New Year I made a new resolution for that move that I will take time to sort the good things from the sentimental crap such as old business cards, some books totally wrong like those predicting the supremacy of Japan over the U.S., old theater tickets or sets of unmatched  silverware.

I am a big fan of Steven Covey and I rely very much on his methods he described in his books: “First Thing First” and “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. However, like most people,

I can be lost in procrastination!

So the problem is not that we don’t know how to manage our time or what we need to do to become more efficient in our life and our work, the issue here is how to stay motivated on the long run, dealing with multitasking or time-consuming activities and losing momentum not focusing on the most important things.

The idea is to start first to identify one goal that you can achieve in one week that is not a “should” or a “have to”. Then  list the benefits for YOU, tangible or intangible but  it is very important that you do something that you have 100 % control (means: don’t try to change others) and you know that you can do it and will improve your life significantly. Then cut this goal into small steps you can achieve in one day and make a realistic “to do” list. It is also important that you identify resources that will help you stay committed like the organizers for me this week. For your daily action plan, better under-promise  and over-achieve than the opposite. So here is my philosophy about getting things done:

The reward is in the goal itself, you don’t need external motivators, carrots or sticks, to make you feel happy and proud of yourself when you overcome challenges and make things happen

My goal this week was to get rid of all the empty cartons. I succeeded and get a space I can already enjoy everyday with no more clutters and junk stuff. I have now the main level looking just perfect, making me really happy: the kitchen, the living room, the family room and the dinning room are all with decorative items artistically positioned, frames and pictures. This result cheers me up when I see other parts of my house such as the basement which is still a mess but actually less challenging than dealing with my extra kitchenware.

My goal for next week is to sort many unfitted clothes and organize my mew closets with some empty spaces, a real challenge for me but I know I will feel really good. The first step is getting rid of clothes that are too big now that I lost weight or simply too old like T-shirts I kept for sentimental reasons with name of places I went 20 or 15 years ago . I think it is very manageable for one week.

I am also thinking to hire an image consultant since my mother lives in France and I cannot get her opinion, for a total relooking.  I will probably need one day  to learn wich colors , shapes and fabrics are suitable for my lifestyle and body shape and eliminate more clothes. I will then go get a new hair cut and color to fit  the “new me”. Again the reward is in the goal, taking care of me to feel great about myself sounds much better than “getting my closet organized” .

What do you think ?

Can you switch your perception to see good outcome from the most daunting task?

Looking forward to get your comments here.

Related articles:

Quick Goal Setting In Seven Steps

1-First write your goals down, sort short term, long term goals

2-List your personal benefits of reaching those goals, what do you get?  tangible  and non-tangible benefits

3-Assess your readiness, do you have the right resources: time, energy, health, people, support, money,environment, timing ?

4-List what is holding you back, eliminate goals you always put on your list but never succeed to achieve

5-Cut big goals into  small, easy steps:  decide the rewards you will give yourself for achieving those small steps and the big goal.

6-Give a realistic deadline (better under-promise then over achieve than the opposite)

7-Get a “buddy”:  having someone who is not judging you and with whom you can share your goals and achievements increases your motivation and chances of success. Tract your actions, failures and progresses  in a journal and change your priorities and actions accordingly.

Tip: Decide one day in the week to dedicate 1 hour maximum to review your goals and do your weekly planning . 


Is Building Self-Esteem a Cultural Thing ?

In today’s global economy, when something goes wrong in the USA, the impact can be seen instantly almost everywhere on the planet. Even Iceland is on eBay.!!!

Global Leaders have to be aware that employees perceive bad news differently and the way to cope is very cultural.  Regarding self-esteem, there is a huge difference between Westerners and Asians in general.

The Japanese culture for example, put the group’s interests first and individuals that stand out of the crowd will be “hammered down like pointing nails”. On the opposite side you have the American way of praising kids all the time, at school, at sports, on the playground even if children perform average, they get a lot  of “Great”, “Good”  and “Fantastic”, maybe the best way to produce great entrepreneurs ?

During bad economy, people cope differently when they have lost their jobs or/and their homes and they handle the stress and fear of failure with various strategies.(See article about stress management ). If people are afraid of making mistakes, it is easy for them to get caught into negative self-judgment, blaming or engaging in self-rejection. It creates a lot of pain that prevents people to make the right decisions and take appropriate actions. Sometimes the self-esteem is so low that some people cannot function, they develop anxiety and avoid contact with others, which makes things worse .

Top 10 tips on building your Self-Esteem:

1-List Things you Love and Enjoy About your Life: Drop your self-defeating and negative thoughts and focus on what is good in your life, your dreams and aspirations.

2-List your Strengths: Try to do as much as possible things you enjoy and good at. It is usually more productive to invest in your strengths than fighting against your weaknesses

3-Have Compassion for Yourself and Others:Recognize your emotions and feelings about yourself and be aware of your coping strategies and behaviors

4-Discover what you tolerate and “Zap Tolerations”. People tolerate a lot of things in their lives that drain their energy down: a messy closets, a negative person etc: Send me an email if you want a complementary list of 200 common tolerations.

5-Be aware of your weaknesses:Without putting too much emphasis on the negative, try to learn how to transform weaknesses into strengths.

6-Know your needs and become “Needless”:If your needs are constantly not met because you don’t ask what you want or you think others must have their needs served first, then you cannot function in a healthy way and be happy.

7-Ask what you want and what you don’t want in a direct way. People with low self-esteem have difficulty to ask others for what they want or saying no without feeling guilty. To build your self-esteem use direct language, learn to say NO in an appropriate way, practice shameless self promotion.

8-Know your values and build your life around them: Look at yourself like a whole person, have a holistic approach to develop your body and mind; the way you think impacts the way your body respond and vice versa, a strong healthy body can boost your positive emotions and give you more energy overall. Your values are deeply rooted and not aligning what you do with your values may set you for failure and unhappiness.

9-Set realistic, achievable, manageable and measurable Goals. Always under-promise and over deliver rather than over promising and under achieving. Celebrate your achievements by small bites rather than waiting for the whole plan to be achieved.

10-Learn from both your successes and your failures. Always ask feedback, people will be happy to give their opinion, but remember it is just their perception and you need to make the difference between constructive criticism and judgment.

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