Tag Archives: work-life balance

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 ?

Related Articles:

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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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


Guess What Posts Were Most Read In 2011 ?


If you have a blog:

  1. What were your 11 most read posts in 2011 ? See table 
  2. Do you think those most read posts reflect your expertise or interests? I think I do 
  3. Do you write for your audience or for yourself first and then see what sticks ? Both
  4. Do you have a content strategy ? Yes but need more interactive content

Please share your own comments 

Here my top 11 Most Read Posts in 2011(click on the link to read the article)

5 Tips on How to Connect With People You Don’t Know (Part II)
Stay-At-Home Dads: A Recession Effect or Positive Choice?
Cross-Cultural Non Verbal Communication
Expat Life: Returning Home and the Grief Cycle
Social Media Usage Across Cultures
Desperate Ex-Career Expat Wives: Do Not Patronize Them!
Klout Score: Content Is Key !
How to Develop Cultural Intelligence? Intercultural Dimensions
What Leaders Can Learn From Japan’s Earthquake ?
How Is Expatriate ROI Defined In Global Companies ?
Does Raising Bilingual Children Make Them Smarter ?

Most Commented

Desperate Ex-Career Expat Wives: Do Not Patronize Them!
Lady Gaga: Are Leaders Born That Way ?
Klout Score: Content Is Key !
What Can We Learn About American Culture From Captain America ?
The Secret Powers of Time and Cultural Differences
3 Sure Ways To Never Be Happy
Resilience During Disasters: Are Expats Better Prepared ?
Is It The End Of Expat Executives ?
How to Manage Anger, It Can Be Very Positive And Incredibly Destructive
Do You Work Too Hard ? Some Cultural Perspectives
Social Media Usage Across Cultures                   

Why don’t you make a similar compilation in your blog and post the link here in the comment section? It is shameless promotion for your blog and we can cross-post feedback about the posts-thank you,

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10 Tips For Expat Executives and Their Families Returning Home


 

It is not a secret, It is very hard for expatriates, especially successful ones, to go back “home”.  I already described the emotional phases and grieving process most expat families experience when they return to their home country: Expat Life: Returning Home and the Grief Cycle

Here 10 tips on how to make your transition process as smooth as possible for you , your spouse and your children:

1. Reinforce that family core beliefs, values and principles are not built on geographic location and will be the same even if you your family members feel they became different persons after their experience abroad.

2. Don’t deny the pain of leaving and acknowledge emotions, understand that your spouse or your children might not have the same feelings than you about the move: they left friends behind, unfinished business, a mix of excitement and sadness, loss of routines and support systems, loss of self-esteem. Communicate often and give time to mourn.

3. Once back “home”, avoid speaking about your overseas experience : nobody cares and you can even get hostile responses to what is perceived  as “showing off” and bragging. This is true for adults and children when they meet with extended family members, people at work and other kids at school.

4. Meet other ex-expats families not only for you and your spouse but often third culture kids need to meet other children who share same expat experience regardless in which countries they lived.

5. Expatriation changed the way you think and behave, expect others to have changed too. Be open-minded and curious about their experiences.

6. Recognize that you need new routines and a new support network.

7. Balance family time, work time and respect individual needs. Each family member copes with transition at their own pace and need some space and time alone too.

8. Make an effort to reconnect with people in your organisation. You may have extended your international professional network while living abroad but try to meet more people locally, ask questions, look for people who share same interests. Network as if it would be a new country, especially if you have been expatriated for a long time.

9. Recognize that your interests and professional career changed  and will not necessarily evolve in the direction you thought before the expatriation. Find a good mentor or an executive coach to help you redefine your new career vision and goals and a solid action plan to reach your objectives. With a coach it is much easier to get motivated, keep looking forward, move on, be accountable and open your vision to new possibilities.

10. Focus more on the present, accept your new role, enjoy the positive of your new situation. Stop longing for the past.



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