Rest & Relaxation for Business Owners – Luxury or Lifeblood?

Rest & Relaxation is Lifeblood not Luxury for Small Business OwnersRest & Relaxation (R&R) is not just a luxury for the well-to-do. It is essential to our well-being and is truly not optional.  It is the lifeblood that keeps us sharp mentally and physically while giving our creative juices time to rejuvenate.

When I say R&R, what picture or words come to mind?  Do you see R&R only as being a lavish vacation or available only to the “ladies who lunch”?  Do you hear some authority figure yelling at you that you’re lazy, unproductive, and will never amount to anything?  Do you simply see your to-do list growing if you even contemplate “relaxing”?

You wouldn’t think of running your car nonstop without preventative maintenance, turning it off at night, or stopping for fuel.  If you did, it’d break down and simply stop functioning.  So, what makes you think your body and mind should be any different and be expected to trudge on constantly? [Read more…]

Why the Work-Life Balance Conversation is All Wrong

Why Work Life Balance is BrokenA few months ago I attended a huge women’s conference with some of the most powerful women on the planet speaking.  So I sat in on a panel of experts discussing work-life integration to see what wisdom I could glean from business owners and CEO’s.  Some of what was spoken on this panel made me want to run screaming from the sardine can of an overcrowded conference room.

When the panel started with introductions, one COO started by saying in her strung out voice “I’ve only had 4 hours of sleep over the last two days.”  I thought – why the hell should I be listening to you about work-life integration?  In my opinion the panel only got worse from there.

If we were truly discussing how to have it all at the right time, I would have expected some wisdom from successful women who have found a way of being at the top of their professional game while also having a personal life they love. Instead, with the exception of the one panelist who was real and offered valuable insights, I found myself desperately wanting to rush the stage and give the others a slap and wake-up call.

It pained me deeply to see a room of several hundred women hanging on the words of a few overworked business owners as if what they spoke was gospel and held the keys to their own sweet yearnings for a career and life that works, particularly those working mothers.

As I listened to their stories, what I really wanted to know is:

  • Why do women have to get to the point of breaking before they cry out for help or are willing to set a boundary?
  • How can you possibly call it work-life balance to go to work early, come home early to catch your child’s event and then spend all night into the wee hours working once again?
  • Why do you have to be available at all hours just because you need a flexible work schedule? What are you trying to compensate for?
  • When did saying No become heresy and a career death sentence?

Story after story of working constantly and showing up at their children’s events only to have their face buried in the mobile device with work made me shake my head.  The one panelist even shared that her own son would ask her after his football games – why are you still working instead of watching my game?  This comment made her feel guilty so she stopped looking at her phone and her son really took notice as it mattered a lot to him. Yet she shared her choice with all the regret of a drug addict missing their hit.

When did work-life balance become a thinly veiled term for trying to have it all by never really being present for any of it? [Read more…]

How to Embrace What Terrifies You (So It Becomes Easy)

Fear to FreedomIf it’s ok with you, I’m going to just plain be vulnerable here and share something very few people know about me.  I was reluctant to share this for years because I felt ashamed and frankly odd.  Fear of judgment, a dose of embarrassment, and scared of what other people might think kept me in hiding.  But then recently I thought, this situation is such a clear and bona fide example of what it is feels like and what is possible when you are willing to face and move through your fears that I could keep it a secret no longer.

You see I used to be deathly afraid of flying. I mean a terrified, out of my mind, anxiety ridden passenger.  My family never flew anywhere (and still has never been on a plane) and therefore it was not until high school that I first got on a plane. While I was scared to death, I didn’t let it show (I was 17 years old flying with my high school classmates, remember?), survived the experience, and easily avoided planes for a few more years.

But then it happened.  My desire for wanderlust and travel took root right after college. I started with a few very long car trips and then realized that the places I really wanted to go and desperately wanted to see required air travel. So I sucked it up and got on a plane.  And I panicked. I stressed, sweated, and heart-palpitated my way through whatever flight(s) I needed to endure to get me where I wanted to go.  For years it was like walking through Dante’s inferno as a means to an end (visiting cool new places and having new experiences).  My desire to not be limited by my fears was so strong it literally pulled me through.  Yes I had to force myself, yes I was miserable, and yes it took a terrible toll on me.  Think about it – that much fear and stress in your body has an impact.

Have you ever felt this way – paralyzed by fear? Totally wasted by trying to just “feel the fear and do it anyway”?

One of my low points (or high anxiety points if you will) came the one and only time I have been to Europe. I had to travel there on business and my partner came with me so we could extend the time for a vacation. I literally spent the entire overnight flight panicked, battling heart palpitations, and fearful that every bump and noise would lead to us crashing into the Atlantic.  I squeezed my partner’s hand so tight for 8+ hours that I actually drew blood.  Crazy, right?

Yet that is what fear does… it paralyzes us and creates irrational terror in our hearts and minds.  Whether it is flying, making a career change, or speaking your truth to someone else, fear is fear and it feels so real.

While pushing through it was getting me in action, I knew it wasn’t sustainable.  Even with my deep desire to travel I couldn’t stand the stress of the travel days and it took me days to regroup on each end. What a waste of precious time and energy.  So I decided I would find a way to make a shift so flying was no longer terrifying. In fact I thought maybe one day I could actually semi-enjoy it.

It started with a decision and an unflappable commitment to what I really wanted to experience. Without this the rest of the how-to’s and actions I took would have been useless.

So what happened? [Read more…]

The Power of Flow [Video]

Do you find yourself struggling or in a state of flow?

Are you working really hard to swim against the current or partnering with the true nature of things to work with more ease and experience better results?

Join me as I offer you a lesson in using flow up close and personal.

Using the river as teacher I will invite you into some thought-provoking contemplation and practical action to get your life and business moving in the direction you want it to.

(takes less than 2 minutes of your time!)

Are You Still Working Like a Dog?

Have you been in business more than a year and are still feeling like you’re constantly working like a dog?

I recently ran into some highly successful and powerful women entrepreneurs.  These are women who have been their own boss for years. Women who have created successful companies, been recognized for their entrepreneurial expertise and philanthropy all while raising a family.  They have my utmost respect for what they’ve created and my gratitude for ways in which they inspired me when I first took the leap.  Yet, when I saw them recently, I felt deep in my bones that these women were weary from the journey and overdue for a kindler/gentler pace.

I Burning the Candle at Both Endsthought: What good is business success if your personal life and well-being get lost in the process?

As a business owner it can be very easy to get caught up in a cycle of overwork where you burn the candle at both ends (and maybe the middle too!).  Even if you purposefully take time to be with family, you might find yourself feeling guilty.  You feel guilty when you are working too much and then feel guilty that you aren’t working when you do take time off.  It’s a nonstop circle of feeling guilty about not being “good enough”.

Personally I hit a point a few years ago when I simply hit bottom feeling frustrated, exhausted, and miserable. I call it the FEM Triangle (like the Bermuda Triangle of unsavory outcomes). No matter how hard I worked, my desired goal was just out of reach. Even when I reached a goal I would immediately create a bigger next-step goal that was just out of reach.  I found myself working evenings, weekends, and everything in-between.  My relationships suffered, I didn’t feel as healthy as I wanted to, and I was not spending time doing the things I love.  This was not the idea of successful self-employed business owner that I had in mind!

What changed for me was making the decision that I would no longer put my to-do list and business goals ahead of everything else in my life or wait until later to enjoy other parts of my life. I would build the business that I want to ultimately have right here, right now, not later after I met some arbitrary, elusive goal.

This decision changed everything.

I firmly believe that you absolutely cannot be successful if you have to compromise one part of your life as collateral damage on the way to business success.  Yes you’ll have a give and take between the different parts of your life at different times, but if you integrate the personal and professional consciously, you never have to worry about work/life balance.  Yes you have to take action and do the work, but if it feels like you’re working like a dog, something is out of whack.

Working this way can be so ingrained as a socially acceptable addictive behavior that you don’t even know you’re doing it.

Let’s take a moment to enhance your inner awareness around this right now. You know you’re in this trap if you find yourself:

  • Dragging yourself through your day mentally, physically, or emotionally
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight (or yo-yo’ing between the two).
  • Working early in the day, all day long, into the evening, and on the weekends.
  • Skipping sleep to get work done on a regular basis.
  • Telling yourself all this extra work is necessary to pay your dues.
  • Justifying that working late and extra hours is a means to an end.
  • Unwilling to disconnect from technology for a period of time each day and week.
  • Unable to take time off.

Do you see yourself in any of these statements?

If so, now is the time to draw a line in the sand and decide that you want things to be different.  It might feel scary but it can be done.  If I can go from frustrated, exhausted, and miserable to working only 4 days a week most weeks while growing my income and business, you can too.

Take a lesson from what I witnessed in my colleagues.  Financial and business success alone will not miraculously change you from a workaholic to a happy camper with free time. Only you can give yourself permission to claim and create what you really want.

Do you want more from your one precious life than to work really hard (even if you love what you do)?  If so, contact me for an exploratory conversation about how I can help you create more time for all the things you love both in your business and beyond.

photo credit: gfpeck via photopin cc

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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