Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bit of Encouragement for Parents

I came across this lovely little poem that speaks to the intangible gifts that children provide for us!

It's a nice little read for when we feel "tied down" by our children, when our ambitions seem to exceed the time we have right now to pursue them

We have all been there. Hang on, your children will grow and you will have more time to follow your ambitions and plans.

Until then, read this:

They Tie You Down

"They tie you down," a woman said,
Whose cheeks shoud have been flaming red
With shame to speak of children so.
"When babies come you cannot go
In search of pleasure with your friends,
And all your happy wandering ends.
The things you like you cannot do,
For babies make a slave of you."

I looked at her and said:
"Tis true That Children make a slave of you,
And tie you down with many a knot,
But have you never thought to what
It is of happiness and pride
That little babies have you tied?
Do you not miss the great joys?
That come with little girls and boys?
"They tie you down to laughter rare,
To hours of smiles and hours of care,
to nights of watching and to fears;
Sometimes they tie you down to tears
And then repay you with a smile,
And make you trouble all worth while.

They tie you fast to cubby feet
and cheeks of pink and kisses sweet.
"They fasten you with cords of love
To God divine, who reigns above.
They tie you, whereso'er you roam,
Unto the little place called home,
And over sea or railroad track
They tug at you and bring you back.
The happies people in town
Are those the babies have tied down.
"Oh, go your selfish way and free
But hampered I would rather be,
Yes rather than a kingly crown I would be,
what you term, tied down;
Tied down to dancing eyes and charms,
Held fast by chubby, dimpled arms,
The fettered slave of girl and boy,
And win from them earth's finest joy."

By Edgar Guest

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Burnout Busters

I'm pulling together some content for a workshop I'm giving next week (and ultimately turning into an audio file for sale). The topic is recognizing and combatting burnout.

I thought it is important enough info to blog about...after all, even WAHMs are at risk for burning out.

So what is "burnout" exactly? How do you know when you're at that point?

Burnout is an extreme form of stress. It typically happens when stress is poorly (or not at all) managed, and builds up over time. Having experienced this myself, I can say with certainty, it is NOT a place you want to stay in!

Burnout is physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. People who are "burned out" tend to be cynical, very sarcastic, more irritable than normal, and impatient. Productivity decreases and there is a lack of job (and even life) satisfaction. It's different than depression, but can certainly lead to depression.

I experienced burnout relatively early in my career, so I know how terrible it feels. And I also was able to identify the reasons I got to that point - and managed to pull myself out.

You can learn from my mistakes, and avoid it all together. Or if you're already there, take heart that you CAN pull yourself out of that low place.


Balance truly is the key. One of the biggest errors I made was focusing too much on one group of patients as a psychologist. In retrospect, I got too caught up in how "good" I was at it, and how effectively I helped the patients. I failed to appreciate the need to counter balance that with a less intense group of people.

And I really didn't care for myself as well as I should have - I exercised, but not consistently. I generally ate well, but not even most of the time. I had no hobbies, no downtime, no time away from the children. And being in the helping profession amplified the problems.

The solution for me was to shut down my practice. As blessings often happen, mine occured when I discovered coaching - knowing that I could still impact people in a positive way while balancing my life gave me an unexpected lift.

What can you do?

Find your balance. Only YOU can determine what that will be, what that will look like. But you can do it! Start with the end in mind - what will your balanced life look like? How much time will you put in different areas?

Find a hobby/diversion. Make it something that is completely unrelated to your work. Make sure that when you are doing your hobby, you don't feel like you have to be "on." You will then be pulled back into "work" mode. Do something entirely for your enjoyment and pleasure.

Create time for exercise and physical activity. It is a wonderful stress buster, and works at a physiological level to combat the accumulation of stress (which leads to burnout).

Find areas to delegate in work. You can't do it all. You may need a new challenge, a new environment, or a new job all together. But concentrate on your strengths and hire out/staff the rest.

You CAN have a balanced life. I've done it. It wasn't "easy" or overnight. But I followed the same tips from above and created a pretty nice thing for myself and my family.

Why don't you get started today?

To Your Continuing Prosperity,

Monday, February 16, 2009

What Would You Do Differently?

I'm in the process of writing my second book (which will probably be an e-book, incidentally) about managing stress during tough economic times. I was inspired to do this because of all the free floating anxiety and worry that is out in the world these days.

And not that folks have no reason to be concerned about things, but responding with stress and anxiety really adds multiple layers of problems.

So one thing I would challenge everyone to do is to answer the following question: If you woke up tomorrow and the economy was "fixed," what would you do differently?

For some people, the answer might be "I'd go out again to find a job and might have an easier time of it."

For others, the answer might be, "I'd put the house on the market like I've been wanting to for the past year."

Or, the answer might be, "Well, I guess there's not much I would do differently other than not feel as worried."

Whatever your personal answer, I'd like to encourage you to ACT on that answer. Get up tomorrow and move forward with your plans, regardless of the latest stock market news or unemployment figures.

If you want to sell your house, then put in on the market. True, it may take a really long time to sell, but there is 100% certainty of it NOT selling by keeping it off the market. You only have a shot at selling if it actually is for sale.

Are you unemployed and having a hard time finding another position? Maybe it's time to think more strategically - look at your skill set and talents from another standpoint, and perhaps you might find a new career path.

Even in "good economies," there are always employment sectors that are harder to find jobs in than others. In what ways can you make yourself more marketable? Are there classes you can take? Are there skills you can develop?

Or maybe making yourself more marketable means increasing your "mental flexibility:" expanding your ideas of what you can and will do.

It's easy to stay in a box we've been in a long time. But how liberating to climb out and see things we'd never noticed before that we really enjoy or have an aptitude for.

Stretch yourself just a bit....and see what happens.

If you own a business, step outside tomorrow and take your biz in a direction you never considered before. Just see what happens when you expand and move forward. Even if it doesn't work out, you'll feel great just trying something new.

Don't we all need something new to think about these days?

Do something differently, then let us know how it worked out!

To Your Continuing Prosperity,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Working at Home?

My local paper did an article on working from home, and as a subset of that main topic, the journalist talked about those of us who work from home while home educating our children. Here's the link:

I am so glad this hit the news again, as one of my biggest career goals is to promote the powerful lifestyle of operating a home based business. I also happen to believe that more folks need to home educate their children, but that's a topic for another blog....

Having a home based business comes with many challenges. But in an unstable economic environment, taking on that challenge can be one of the best moves a person can make.

The tax benefits are an obvious perk. But beyond that, "owning" your ability to create money and build something that reflects YOU as an individual, while also preserving your desire to be present in the lives of your family members, is a priceless combination.

Home based businesses run the gamut from folks who just want to dabble a bit by making a few bucks indulging a passion or hobby, to those who really "work" the business aspect and establish a mini-empire for themselves.

Regardless of which end of the spectrum in which you fall, embracing the entrepreneurial spirit helps your grow personally as well. Learning how to promote and market yourself and your business often requires skills that you might not ordinarily use associate with business building.

For example, building relationships is the key to building business. Most women are great at relationship building, yet shy away from this when it comes to product/service promotion. Overcoming that mental block allows you to see ways in which you can enhance the lives of those around you, while also making some money in the process.

People are still spending money out there. They might not be purchasing big ticket items like houses and cars. But they are still buying makeup, small home decor items, jewelry, home-related services, and personal coaching services. They are still wanting to create healthy lives for themselves and their families, and are hungry for that information and support to make changes in that direction.

You CAN provide that! And do it from home....

To Your Continuing Prosperity,

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Weekend Warrior...or doggie guilt?

Well, no, I'm not a weekend warrior. I don't like to do too much work on the weekends (I do answer client emails and inquiries from prospective clients). But the past several weeks have been so jam packed, a Saturday with little on the agenda almost screams out, "HEY! Catch up on some work!"

So here I sit, chugging through my to-do list, making some headway. Of course it feels great, and the reality is that, as a business owner, my hours are flexible and fluid. The trick is to make sure that balance is maintained most of the time.

I suppose if I cared less about spending time with the family during the week, I could have accomplished a bit more and had the "whole" weekend for family time. Or I could have worked a lot and then spent the weekend catching up on school work with the boys.

But neither of those options feels good for me. I prefer that most of my days reflect the things that are most important to me. I tell my clients that a stranger should be able to look at your weekly schedule and determine exactly what are your most important priorities and values.

I like to take that one step farther and make each DAY reflect the things I value the most. Homeschooling is always my first priority, but occassionally that takes a back seat to my speeches, meetings, or trainings. Not often, but sometimes.

With the remaining time I work my career. And for the last 15 or so minutes of the day I MIGHT clean my house....but that is a big "MIGHT!" Wish I could keep a neater house, but it is NOT going to happen!

Lately, I've been very busy - I have new clients, I am fielding quite a few requests for speaking engagements, and I'm writing an e-book....oh, and another print book.

So a Saturday spent catching up makes sense for me. And because I consciously design my schedule, I have no guilt.

OK, not entirely true - my dogs are sitting here staring at me, trying to will me to take them for a walk. Hey, what's wrong with me that I don't feel any guilt from my kids, but my DOGS pull on my guilt strings???

Does that mean my carefully crafted balance is actually not sufficient? And since when are dogs allowed to provoke guilt in humans?

Sigh....I'm bagging the rest of my to-do list this, where are their leashes....?

To Your Continuing Prosperity,

Friday, February 6, 2009

Joys of Business Ownership

I never thought I'd ever own a business. Growing up, I kind of always knew I wanted to be a psychologist and help people change their behaviors so they can be healthier and happier. But run a business? Never even on my radar screen.

So when I decided to quit my job as a psychologist at a hospital and start a coaching practice on my own, I faced a steep learning curve. I was attracted by the flexibility of coaching from my home (it's all by telephone), but I never learned how to run the BUSINESS of coaching.

For that matter, I never learned the BUSINESS of running a therapy practice. I had a sucessful one because I was affliated with a busy hospital-based medical practice.

In graduate school, there were no classes on business building, marketing, accounting/money management, and building a web presense. I always thought I'd hang out my shingle as a coach with a Ph.D. and clients would magically flock to pay for my services.

It probably won't shock you when you hear that, in fact, it did not happen that way. I had to do what all of YOU do: learn the basics of internet marketing, learn how invaluable networking is, and learn the importance of "getting yourself out there."

At first, these tasks felt overwhelming. Why couldn't I just concentrate on doing what I do best - partnering with people towards optimal performance??? I even resented having to do all of that other stuff.

Eventually I got over it. And you know what? I've even come to ENJOY much of it. One of the reasons I enjoy it so much is because I get to know so many fascinating people along the way.

Through my various marketing efforts, I've had the enormous pleasure of encountering some of the most talented and interesting folks I have ever met. And in all likelihood, I would not have had that pleasure if I didn't "have" to market myself.

It's funny where I find gifts in life....often times as a direct result of something I'd been resisting.

Here's to the hidden joys!

To Your Continuing Prosperity,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Staying busy....

So I had a really busy day today.

I'll admit that my personal WAH situation is different from many because I homeschool my children. And that certainly eats up time that might be spent building business.

Because I don't do business during "school" hours, that forces most of my work to the afternoons and evenings.

As I found out this evening, that schedule sometimes means that things fall through the cracks - like, you know, feeding my child.

So all right, it didn't kill him to wait an extra hour and a half to have dinner. And my husband COULD have made sure to feed Alex before leaving for Lucas' hockey practice.

But as he sits down stairs happily inhaling his mac and cheese, I am reminded that I choose this lifestyle because it fits the values most important to me - family time, true education, and striving to maximize all of our gifts and talents.

I can't say I feel good about poor Alex having to wait so long for dinner (although he was playing with a friend and couldn't have been TOO unhappy!). But neither do I drown myself in guilt.

We all do meaningful, purposeful things every day. We advance our families and work our businesses - in good times and in bad. Sometimes we may have to sacrifice comfort to allow other things to happen. This is a good lesson for all the members of our family - and maybe yours, too.

Guilt sucks. Those who know me, and certainly all of my clients, have heard me say this repeatedly. Moms do SO MUCH over the course of the day. And for those of us managing a business at the same time, we juggle even more.

There is no room for guilt. Guilt and regret are distractions. Let's chuck them out the window and move forward. Because we're working our careers, loving our families, and ignoring the bad economic news.

We're busy. No time for guilt.

To Your Continuing Prosperity,