Focus on your strengths with Erin-Brie Warwick

Some views and ideas

Blog Posts

  • Quttin' Time

    In the last blog post, I wrote about the fine line between workaholism and merely being passionate about one's work. Although we make an effort to purposely quit things to achieve greater wellness (such as smoking or drinking), we rarely see work as a potentially harmful and destructive activity.

    In our increasingly competitive world, I think many of us feel that in order to be successful and keep our job, we must spend more hours actively working and continuously increasing our output. We begin to find ourselves off-kilter and out of balance. It results in burn out, illness, strained relationships, depression, anxiety, and the list goes on.

    Unless we experience a crisis or the situation is dire, we usually don't quit or change jobs to improve our wellness. Although our work environment may be less than ideal, even harmful or toxic to our health, we tend to stick it out.

    Of course, in our world today jobs can be tough to come by. As well, we live in a society where work, work, work is the norm and the reluctance to quit is understandable. The importance and necessity of working hard has been ingrained in many of us.

    The benefits of working (paid or unpaid) extend beyond the financial. It also allows us to connect both socially and professionally and it forms a big part of our self-identity. The reality is that our identities are often closely tied to what we do for a living. It's no wonder that quitting a job (even one that might not be healthy for us) creates some anxiety, concern and self-doubt.

    Although many people would love the option to quit work or retire, that might not be their current reality....so what can be done? Could you investigate the option for a more flexible work schedule (such as working a longer 4 days instead of 5) or job sharing to reduce the total workload? Another idea to consider may be paying someone to take on one of the tasks that burden you (such as lawn/snow removal or house cleaning) and eliminating consumption that adds little value to your life. 

    Can you set a time for yourself each day when you stop checking work messages and emails (or decide you will check during weekdays but weekends are off limit)? How are you spending your holidays...are you even taking them? What do you stand to gain, or lose, by not fully taking your allocated work holidays? When you are away from work can you focus on and enjoy other activities? 

    I would suggest that you reflect on your life, to think about what's most important to you and your family, and to decide what you might need to 'quit' to improve your total wellness. Why wait until you experience a crisis or your health suffers!? What can you do now to improve your work situation and overall wellness? 


    Moving you forward, WLS

  • Working 9 to 5...or 8...or 10

    **Blog repost** 

    Years ago I read an article found in Canadian Business magazine entitled, "Surefire Ways to Spot a Workaholic" (Laura Cameron). Here, the author discusses the interesting distinction between a person who is a work addict versus someone who just works a lot. This seems like a very fine and blurry line! It's as relevant today as it was then, so I'm reposting my blog post.

    One of the individuals interviewed for this article spoke about the mentality that exists in our North American society, where employees who work excessively are congratulated and rewarded for being more involved and dedicated. As well, a study was referenced that was conducted by psychology researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit. They wanted to find out if particular personality traits could link one to 'workaholism' and were interested in seeing if further identifying these traits would be useful to managers in determining whether an employee is fuelled by "passion" or by "self-centered compulsion'. Interestingly, this study showed that many of the characteristics exhibited by participants with workaholic tendencies were not conducive to productive work habits. Some workaholics expect perfection of both themselves and of others, as well as being poor at delegation, because sharing the workload poses a problem for them. Compulsive work habits are not necessarily effective work habits. Spending unnecessary time trying to produce perfect work, or possibly creating more work than is actually required, may not be productive.

    Researchers determined that what motivates a workaholic differs from the source of motivation for a person who merely enjoys working. They state that a workaholic "works because their sense of self-worth is tied to the output, not because they're genuinely passionate about their profession or their contribution to the team." The study's lead researcher believes that these results will help managers to identify workaholic employees.

    A Canadian psychology professor, who also contributed to the article, thinks that in an interview situation a manager will be able to detect signs of workaholism because of the "narrowness of focus on self and worth." I’d be interested in reading further his opinion on this. As an interview is a somewhat artificial and self-centered situation, you spend the majority of time focusing on yourself and essentially selling yourself (your personality, ability, skills etc) to the interviewers. Are there specific statements or indicators that should raise red flags and cause concern for employers?

    As well, in a short interview, is it truly possible to accurately make the distinction between a workaholic exhibiting negative traits and a person who just enjoys working a lot? Even if some level of distinction can be made, what manager wants to turn down a potentially hard working, dedicated, productive, gem of an employee because they may get too involved in their work (for the wrong, internal reasons)....how sure must a manager be that s/he is making this accurate and fine-line distinction before making the call?

    I suppose what this article does show us are some of the reasons why the cycle of 'workaholism' continues in our society. If we continue to reward excessive work behaviours, without making a distinction between the healthy and the unhealthy ones, we are encouraging the very behaviours that stand to hurt us all in the end.

    Your thoughts? Moving you forward, WLS

  • Stress Less (continued...)

    In my previous post, I outlined some tips for stress reduction.  Here are a few more ideas to consider...I hope you'll find them useful!

    • Try to focus on the task at hand. Put it into context, as being one step that must be completed in order to bring you closer to achieving your end goal (I'm assuming here that a goal setting process has already taken place). What often happens is that we think about our looming deadline and become overwhelmed. It becomes so daunting and seemingly insurmountable that we begin to doubt our abilities. Suddenly the small (do-able) steps are forgotten and we experience fear and frustration. So try to concentrate on the present. What can you do right now, today, to bring you one step closer to where you want to be?
    • Be conscious of the stressors in your life and plan ahead for your calming (escape) plan. This isn't negative, it's smart. Whether it is work/traffic/kids/family/other that causes you stress, become aware and think in advance as to how you're going to keep your cool. Even if you can't avoid the instinctual reaction that may arise when you encounter this stressor, you can minimize its impact by thinking ahead.
    • Similarly, find ways to STOP for a minute and just breathe. What this 'STOP' looks like will be unique to each of you. What you find effective may not be effective for someone else. Here's one possibility....If visualization is something that you feel works well to relax you, close your eyes and imagine (with as much detail as possible) a place that you find calming. Picture yourself there, just taking in the surroundings and breathe.....

    Beautifully said by Etty Hillesum, "Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths".

    Moving you forward, WLS.

  • Stress Less!

    Self-help books and magazine articles tell us. Our doctor and/or natural health care practitioners tell us. Chronic stress can be a major problem. It can exhaust us and make us sick - both physically and mentally.

    So what can we do to stress less? Because this issue is so prevalent and important, justifiably it is given much attention in the media and within the health care context. At the risk of repeating popular advice, here are some tips to stress less!

    Let's start with some of the more commonly given advice. The following points cannot be stressed enough (no pun intended....)

    • Maintain a healthy diet - try not to go overboard in either direction, as balance is key.
    • Try to get a few minutes of sunlight each day. Apart from giving you that hit of Vitamin D, it'll also help to brighten your mood.
    • Strive to get an adequate amount of sleep each night.
    • Grow and maintain a strong network of support and lead a passion-filled life (where your interests and passions are reflected in the way in which you spend your time).

    What else??

    • In terms of work stress, some experts advocate that in order to experience less stress, you should tackle the jobs that you dislike first. The logic is that in doing so, you'll get the 'worst' tasks out of the way and can then move on to more enjoyable projects. Other experts advise that you start your day doing a task that you enjoy as it is uplifting and will put you in a positive frame of mind. I would suggest that you explore both methods to determine which is ideal for you. Pay attention to both your emotional state and your productivity levels. Which approach maximizes both?
    • The procrastination factor - We think that in avoiding a dreaded task, we'll also avoid the stress that tackling it will cause. Unfortunately, procrastination just makes it worse. Why? It can confirm our thoughts that the task is too daunting and we can't do it; it feeds our fears of failure; it makes the task seem more overwhelming, especially if in procrastinating we end up panicking last minute to complete it. It can also create a harmful mindset....one that works against you and your goals.

    Check back for a continuation of this post, with more tips for stress reduction....

    In the meantime, I'd love to hear what works well for you!

    Moving you forward, WLS.

  • Roll the Dice: Taking Chances

    Some people firmly believe in 'luck'. They may blow on dice while gambling, carry around a lucky token, search for four leaf clovers and let the belief that they are either lucky (or unlucky) influence their decision to act or not.

    Some individuals see opportunities that others miss. How? They have open-minded approaches to life,  more positive attitudes and are more resilient when faced with failure.I believe that if you're waiting for luck to discover you, you'll find yourself passively sitting and waiting...and waiting...and waiting...On the other hand, being open to new opportunities means that your approach is active. You have conscious awareness of your surroundings, what opportunities are presenting themselves to you and which ones you can purposefully seek out.

    As well, having a positive outlook on life can make a big difference in terms of taking opportunities. In reading and researching the personality characteristics of Optimism and Pessimism it's evident that people with a positive outlook have a broader field of view - they see more of what's going on around them and as such, take in more beneficial information that can help them to seize successful opportunities.

    As well as having a positive outlook, try introducing more flexibility into your life - whether that be flexibility in your actions or your mindset. Many of us live with tunnel vision, pursuing one goal at the expense of others. Of course, it's sometimes essential to focus solely on the task at hand. However, on a daily basis, try to open your eyes to what's around you. Keep an open mind...your world is bigger than you think and hidden opportunities abound!

    Some say that younger people are more likely to take chances, experience both successes and failures, and use these experiences as a tools for discovery and that when we age we become more rigid and crystallized in our thinking.As I age I find myself trying new things or revisiting old activities with a new an improved perspective. I've found that breaking out of our negative thinking patterns and rule bound lifestyles are exciting changes to make.

    If we can conquer our anxiety over taking chances and making changes, we can move forward in our lives, seeking out and grasping opportunities that we'd never imagined.

    Moving you forward, WLS

  • That Little Voice of Self Doubt (part 3)

    In the third and final installment in the 'self doubt' blogging series, I'd like to welcome back PJ Sangalang, BA, MA (Psychology) to talk about the Imposter Syndrome. Thank you SO much PJ for the interesting and insightful post! 

     The Little Voice grows up into the Impostor Syndrome

     As Erin-Brie expertly described the last two posts, even a squeak of self-doubt can mushroom into a louder, more crippling voice, echoing throughout one’s psyche, infecting confidence and skills. “What am I doing here? How did I even get to this esteemed position without someone finding out that I’m not the best at what I do? I feel like such a phony.”

     And with that angle, I’d like to extend this conversation to introducing the Imposter Syndrome, a cognitive bias in which someone feels as though they do not deserve their successes, believing their accomplishments are not due to their skills and ability, and believing that they are, in effect, frauds. Subsequently, this mindset leads one to think that all that they have achieved to get to this point—and anything they will accomplish from this point forward—is undeserved. A quote by decorated actress Kate Winslett summarizes this elegantly: “Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud.”

    It really does feel like an extension, if not altogether a “grown-up” version, of that voice of self-doubt, does it not? It is important to remain confident in one’s internal abilities, believing in the hard work, sacrifice and natural ability that have led you to where you are. As Erin-Brie has noted previously, it is about turning negative, destructive thoughts into positive, constructive ones. Specifically in this case, explaining your successes as being due to you, not something else.

     My job entails training and teaching new hires in the company, and in our busier seasons, I have a month to turn bright-eyed, motivated new hires into bright-eyed, motivated independent employees. As you may guess, the first day with the new group is the most nerve-racking, and that abstract self-doubt transforms into phrases such as “What if I mess up? What if I miss something? What if they don’t understand what I’m talking about? What am I even doing here?” Uh-oh.

     To solve that, I like to catch myself even before that self-doubt has a chance to talk, and use it as motivation. “You’re not going to mess up and you’re not going to miss anything because you’re prepared. They’ll know what you’re talking about because you’ve dealt with dozens of groups and countless individuals and you’ve dealt with it all. And if you miss something or mess up? You know how to fix it. You’re here and you’ve been here this long because you’ve developed your style to suit different individuals and their own learning styles, with success. You’re no imposter.” To that effect, I don’t even give my doubts a chance to speak, explaining how I have done my best to overcome my obstacles, and in effect motivating myself even further to do a good job by reminding myself that I’ve done so before.

     Instead of wallowing in self-doubt, it would be far more constructive to focus on how your abilities got you where you are—and will take you to where you want to go. Think of the things that you have done to get you to your successes. Don’t let that tiny voice of self-doubt grow further. Before it has a chance to speak, tell yourself and the world that “I deserve all this because of me, and of that, I have no doubt!”

     Moving you forward, WLS

  • That Little Voice of Self Doubt (part 2)

    Why do we have this self doubt? What fuels it?? Perhaps we hear words/statements from long ago playing in our heads; memories from the past that still speak to us in the present. Maybe we were told in childhood or early adulthood that we weren't good enough or that we didn't have the capability to do something. Often we internalize other people's opinions of us, or even worse, the opinions that we perceive they have of us.

    Perhaps we feel it is better to be a self-doubter than to appear overly secure. Do you think there is a fine line between confidence and conceit? A fear of appearing conceited or asserting our abilities only to risk failure, creates a vicious cycle of insecurity. We need to feel that it is ok to be proud of our accomplishments and successes. In knowing that we're taking responsibility for creating the life we desire, and in knowing that we are the ones taking action, we can acknowledge that opportunities and successes aren't happening to us merely because we are lucky, but that our skill, hard work and dedication is the driving force. Of course, we are assisted by others in our supportive network, or (depending upon  your beliefs) perhaps spiritually. But it is crucial that we value our own contribution and congratulate and reward ourselves for a job well done.

    So, if a little voice in your head is saying "stop, you can't do this!" it's up to you to change your thoughts from negative to positive before the negativity spirals out of control and overwhelms you. Instead, tell yourself something along these lines, "I have the abilities and/or experience to do this. It's ok to make a mistake, everyone does. I've got this."

    Think back to positive comments that have been given to you that reinforce the intelligent, capable, fabulous person that you are. Think of some tangible examples of your successes, ability to defeat challenges and to overcome obstacles. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in and support you, not who put you down or diminish your light.

    Take ownership and be proud of who you are....and let your light shine.

    Moving you forward, WLS

  • That Little Voice of Self Doubt (part 1)

    Do you sometimes feel like you don't belong? As though you're 'faking' your way through your career successes, or that you're just having a lucky streak that will end at some point? Think about it....do you own your successes or do you have feelings of inadequacy and a lack of self-confidence?

    Truthfully, many successful people feel inadequate. Their feelings of self-doubt are overwhelming and can be all-consuming, but on the outside they look secure and confident. I recall being in court with a senior Crown Attorney while I was articling. When I got up to face the judge, I felt my legs turn to jello. Of course, the words came and all went well. Afterwards, I explained to my colleague how I felt and he made the analogy to a duck - it appears to be gliding across the water effortlessly, while in fact it is paddling like mad underneath!

    What was really important in that situation was my internal dialogue. What was I saying to myself to get through? And what did I say to myself afterwards to have the courage to do it over again? I honestly can't recall, but I want to stress how important it is to have positive self-talk. We are our own worst critics and what may appear disastrous in our minds, often goes unnoticed by an outsider! We are often the ones who stop ourselves from progress, from taking new opportunities and challenges. Why? Because we give too much "air time" to the little (or big!) voice of self doubt in our heads.

    Self-doubt can negatively affect us in all areas of life. For example, professionally we can limit our opportunities for advancement and socially, we can withdraw and become less engaging with others.

    We are not only fearful of failure but can also be fearful of success. We wonder, will a new opportunity be accompanied with difficult challenges? And, can we really do what we are setting out to or will we disappoint ourselves and others?

    For the next 2 weeks, we'll further develop this topic. There will be an interesting guest blog post on the "Imposter Sydrome" as well. Stay tuned! See you next week!

    Moving you forward, WLS

  • Focus on Your Strengths (part 2)

    Last week's post raised the idea of focusing on your strengths. Is this an unsettling idea? It may be. As a young child in school, we were taught a number of subjects and required to demonstrate proficiency in all to pass and achieve good grades. Our parents and teachers told us to spend extra time working on those areas in which we were not strong.
     There was tremendous value in that - it taught us persistence, dedication and patience.

    However, in our adult lives today, to get us from good to great, playing to our strengths will help us to be more successful, helpful to others - including our colleagues, confident, rewarded and motivated. It's something to consider.

    A few questions to ask yourself when considering your strengths (paraphrased from Marcus Buckingham's Put Your Strengths to Work):

    -What are my positive qualities? What do others say positively about me?

    -What do I do that when completed, I look forward to doing again?

    -What do I want to know more about so I can become more proficient?

    -What activities make me feel energized, fulfilled, accomplished and strong?

    Quoting (Psychologist/Author) Cheryl Saban, "When you take the time to engage in activities that absorb your full attention, you'll experience a sense of well-being and contentment. Use your natural gifts and talents. Find ways to enhance your quality of life with them."

    Moving you forward, WLS

  • Focus on your Strengths (part 1)

    Where do you focus your time and energy? Try spending the majority of your time building upon your strengths and talents and expanding your current knowledge. What are your natural abilities? Do you spend adequate time and focus on these?

    This does not mean that you must avoid what you do not like, as life is full of mandatory tasks that we do not enjoy! It also does not say that you must stick to a few activities and never expand your knowledge elsewhere. In a work environment, that is often required and expected.

    It's saying that if you focus on the things that fuel you up instead of depleting you and your energy resources, you will feel renewed as opposed to constantly drained. Consider what gives you the greatest pleasure, sense of fulfillment and excitement.

    A quote from Andy Stanley says that, " if you really want to make a lasting impact, then you need to eliminate what you do well for the sake of what you potentially do best." My best guess of what he is trying to say is that to maximize your potential, spend the majority of your time focusing on your strengths/talents/abilities.

    We spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to overcome our weaknesses and not enough time growing our strengths. For a good read and hands on exercises that focus on identifying and playing to your strengths, I suggest Marcus Buckingham's Put Your Strengths to Work.

    As a broad overview, Buckingham looks at identifying your own strengths and weaknesses and discusses how to put your strengths into practice while navigating away from the activities that weaken you. He discusses how this can be applied in your professional life at work.

    In next week's blog post, we'll continue the topic of focusing on your strengths. How do you feel about this? Does it feel wrong to navigate towards the things we enjoy and are good at, or do you feel like it makes perfect sense to do so?

    Until next week.

    Moving you forward, WLS 

     

  • Potential - You Have It!

    Living the life you desire and achieving your dreams doesn't just happen...you have to make it happen! Ask yourself - "Am I truly making the most of each and every day?"

    Live your life with intent and purpose and be excited and hopeful about what is upcoming in your future. You and only you are responsible for taking action and creating the future you want for yourself. Your future is what YOU make of it. The ability to reach your full potential is in your hands and is your responsibility, no one elses. You don't need to wait for anyone to tell you that it's "go time" to take full control and ownership of your life.

    Don't focus on what you lack, instead focus on what you have. Quoting Albert Einstein, "Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking that it is stupid." What are your abilities, unique skills, interests/passions and talents? Be conscious of what you're focusing your energy on. If you are fixated on the negative and on what you do not have or what you believe you are incapable of doing, you will only attract more disappointments into your life. You will create roadblocks for yourself that will hinder forward movement.

    Realize your passions - Build on your strengths - Attract what is positive - Be proud and happy with who you are.

    You are a unique and talented individual. Grow your potential!!

    Moving you forward, WLS

  • Being Grateful

    Gratitude is a topic that is often discussed during my coaching sessions with clients. I believe that it is hugely important and can have profound effects. Actually taking the time to experience and express thankfulness for everything around you is eye opening. It may be expressed by simply saying thank you more often (in genuine appreciation) or perhaps by engaging in internal practices of gratitude, such as: meditation, journalling, spiritual worship, etc.

    Many of my clients practice daily expressions of gratitude in doing a simple exercise - writing down 3 things that they are thankful for. Every day, regardless of how you are feeling. I encourage you to do this every morning to start your day in a positive frame of mind. A good way to end the day is to review this list, or a portion of the list, as a simple reminder of the goodness that surrounds you.

    We are faced with so many things that have the potential to make us feel down, disappointed and hard done by. Regardless of your situation, try to make a concerted effort to focus your energy on the abundance that surrounds you and is already present in your life...even if at first thought, it is difficult to see. There are always (always!) reasons to be grateful, commit yourself to seeing them.

    You may not be able to fully control your environment or situation, but you can always control your thoughts, reactions, and the decision to see your circumstances in a positive light. It is in your power to take the initiative to make these changes.

    Make the decision today to experience gratitude and to show thankfulness internally and externally. Be thankful for those who support you and make your world a better place.

    Moving you forward, WLS

  • Happy Hearts

    When I was studying psychology in University, I recall discussing 'positive psychology' (and pioneer Martin Seligman and colleagues). Some psychological schools of thought are largely focused on treating a problem ("disease centric approach") whereas positive psychology is more in line with coaching philosophy, namely that we are in the drivers seat of our lives. We have control over our happiness or unhappiness.

    Here are a few thoughts to think on......

    1) Focus on what is positive in your life today. Look ahead and plan for the future but don't forget to acknowledge your present accomplishments and to congratulate yourself. Also, remember to express gratitude. You have much to be thankful for....believe it.

    2) Capitalize on your strengths and live passionately. A passionate lifestyle is one where your values and interests are reflected in your daily life.

    3) Focus on goals that are your own and that matter to you. If they are aligned with your interests, desires and abilities, they will be easier to reach and the process will be much more enjoyable.

    4) Make happiness a priority. Write down 5 things that make you happy and try your best to include them in your daily life.

    5) Establish and grow meaningful relationships. Be grateful for a supportive network. It is incredibly important and deserving of your gratitude and effort to maintain and nurture.

    6) Last but not least, don't overextend yourself. It leads to stress, anxiety and burn out....not conducive to a happy heart nor a healthy life.

    During coaching sessions, clients and I often discuss the relationship between life balance and happiness. Be conscious of your stressors. Enlist the support of your social network (family, friends, colleagues) or seek professional assistance to aid you.

    Take a step today towards increasing your happiness. It's worth it....you're worth it.

    Moving you forward, WLS

  • Resolution Solution (part 2)

    In last week's post, we discussed making the conscious decision to be more positive and how that can be achieved in a world where we are bombarded by negativity. Today, I want to turn the focus inward to look at our own internal voices.

    The noise isn't always outside, we battle internal demons as well. Our "inner critic" is crafty. It rears its ugly head when we're feeling low, afraid, or lacking in confidence. Unchecked, this can lead to disastrous consequences. This internal monster needs to be managed. We need to be able to acknowledge its appearance and recognize the negative voice in your head. Once you're aware of its presence, take action. Tell it where to go! Even saying "Stop! Enough!" may be sufficient to quiet the noise. Lastly, try moving forward using self-affirmations. These will be different for everyone as they should not feel forced, "canned" or fake. Create ones that work for you. Use them...and believe in them.

    Another important point in the discussion of positive vs. negative thinking, is the potentially damaging effects of over generalization. Make an effort not to globalize or overgeneralize your thinking. The world isn't black or white...there's a lot of grey in the mix too. Be conscious of the use of the words "always" and "never" (such as: "I always fail when I try to cook this" or "I'm not going to try this activity because I'll never succeed"). Can you work on those statements to frame them more positively? Constantly overgeneralizing can create a vicious cycle. Negative expectations are fuelled by negative thoughts. Negative thoughts create negative energy, attitudes and behaviours....thus creating a negative outcome....not surprising. So try to change your perspective and look for positives in a situation and experience gratitude, because things could always be worse.

    Take a look at your focus. Both good and bad things happen to us over the course of a day/week/year, so to what are you giving the most energy? Is it the 'negative drama'? If so, try to highlight the positive. Look for good in the world and feel optimistic about your future. Look for what made you happy, excited, energized, proud, etc. and talk about these things instead. Just like negativity, positive energy is highly contagious. What you put out into the world you tend to receive, so try passing along a happy bug (which, unlike the flu bug, people will be glad to catch along with you).

    Moving you forward, WLS

  • Resolution Solution

    Are you a resolution maker? Like many others in the world, you may have started this new year with a list of "Must Do's" (such as sleeping more or going the gym) and "Must NOT Do's" (eating fast food, smoking etc).

    The great thing about resolutions is they don't have to be written for January 1st. In fact, some people find them to be more effective when they're set at other times of the year. Regardless, they do serve an important purpose. They're helpful in causing you to look at your big picture goals/vision and to examine how satisfied you are with your life today in comparison to the life you desire.

    In making these key changes and moving forward, working with a coach can be very effective in helping you explore and further define your goals and to align them with your passions. We can help you to navigate through the complexities of life as you journey towards your goal while overcoming roadblocks that stand in your way. As well, we'll  keep you accountable to the small, manageable steps that you've created en route to your end goal.

    In reflecting upon the goals that you may have set this year, was "having a positive outlook and attitude" anywhere on your list? Some of us naturally exude positive energy (and if this describes you - thanks - the world needs more of you around!) A positive outlook is beneficial to us in many ways.

    They say that misery loves company, and negativity can inadvertently affect our own feelings and decisions. At times, we fail to differentiate ourselves from others. We need to acknowledge our own uniqueness in perception and experience, and know that we may not feel, interpret or react in the same way.

    When negative gossip is being shared try to avoid engaging and instead, share something positive. Change the conversation around and make a positive contribution. Yes, sometimes gossip can be useful. It can make us feel closely connected to those with whom we are sharing and it can create a sense of belonging, understanding, and intimacy. However, it can also be incredibly destructive, unproductive and even harmful to our own well being. Try to shape a negative discussion into a more positive one while exercising good judgment and sensitivity. Even if you see the conversation as useless, negative banter, the speaker may feel differently. To him/her, they may be expressing a significant experience and it may be an emotional issue for them. 

    In next week's blog, I'll continue this conversation with a discussion on the effects of internal negative "noise", as well as how we can try to avoid making broad (negative) generalizations.

    Make it a fantastic week!

     Moving you forward, WLS

     

  • A Commitment to Growth

    Living the life you desire and achieving your dreams doesn't just happen. You have to make it happen!

    As we wrap up the month of December, and head into 2019, ask yourself - "Am I truly making the most of each and every day?"

    Mary Kay Ash, the creator of the incredibly successful company Mary Kay has said, "the world is full of people who are quick to dream but slow to act. Often because they have failed to break big goals into manageable ones, but more often it is a fear of failure. You can only overcome such fear if you are willing to get up and get started. Yes you are going to make mistakes, but we fail forward to success....remember, obstacles polish us up or wear us down" (Mary Kay Ash biography page 99).

    I love that quote and the realization that life doesn't come easily and that we often must fail forward to success.

    Make your own growth plan intentional and strategic. Commit yourself to not accepting the status quo or mediocrity, but force yourself to learn, change and grow.....and expect (and tackle full-on!) the obstacles that will present themselves.

    Put yourself in an environment that encourages (not hinders) growth. I've read somewhere that there are certain types of fish whose growth patterns reflect the environment which they're in. Put them in an environment that encourages growth and they will expand and reach their full potential. On the contrary, a stifling environment will stunt them.

    "Be willing to live life to your fullest potential, and believe in fact that you have plenty of it!" ~ Cheryl Saban (Psychologist and Author)

    Wishing you and yours happiness, health, and a commitment to positive growth in 2019.

    Moving you forward, WLS

     

  • Take a Deep Breath

    Last week, I had a chat with a good friend. During our conversation, when we found ourselves talking about the Christmas season I began to hear panic in her voice. She spoke faster and faster as she discussed the cooking and baking and family gatherings and holiday-party-attending and gift buying issues. I absolutely love this season, but goodness it can be stressful!!

    Even if you don't celebrate the holiday, you can hopefully relate to this post...to the sheer craziness that the month of December can evoke. So, how can we enjoy this "most wonderful time of the year" with less stress, less emotional turmoil and more joy, peace and...calm?

    Lets take a look at 2 things, pressures and expectations. These can result from internal thoughts and/or external influences. Sometimes, we're truly our own worst enemies. We expect ourselves to: decorate like Martha Stewart, make 20 different holiday dishes (without burning any of them), find the perfect gifts, and the list goes on and on.

    You can't do it all. Or maybe you can, but there's a good chance that your body and mind are going to feel the feel the impact. Look at your to-do list and prioritize. What's the cake and what's the icing...so to speak.

    If you feel over scheduled with holiday events, remember that your own health and sanity is paramount. Everyone is extremely busy and people will understand. If you can, drop in and stay for a short while, or alternatively, thank them for their kind invitation but decline and offer to get together in the New Year when life slows down. In short, stretching yourself thin and stressing yourself out will not benefit you nor the people around you. Ask for help when needed and learn to say no when necessary.This is not an easy thing to do and something that I am continuing to work on myself.

    Another important consideration is your own health and well-being. With life in fast-forward mode, we can find ourselves out of sync with regular routines that keep us level. Sleeping, eating, meditating and exercising patterns change quickly and our bodies and minds struggle to adjust. This also applies to other members of our family, such as our children and spouse...and even the pets! As much as possible, attempt to keep up a normal 'routine'. Try your hardest to keep yourself balanced and practice being kind to yourself. Really. It matters.

    Lastly, I think that at some level we begin to believe that the holiday season is one that should resemble the picturesque scene on the front of boxed cards. That it should have happy families, perfect gifts, smiling children and incredible food. It is difficult to match this level of perfection...and is it even realistic for us to want to? As well, the unspoken expectation in those holiday songs, stories, movies etc. that the holidays are a time of togetherness and love can be heartbreaking to those who are experiencing loss, loneliness, and heartbreak. Having expectations for ourselves is a good thing....but searching for what is truly important for each of us is the most important thing. What the holiday means to me is most likely not what it means to you. We have different interests, beliefs and customs. But I ask you to go back to the source...is it religion, or family, or a sense of peace and good will? Try to focus on the true meaning of the season to you and your family, and look at the rest of it as window dressing....pretty decorations on a strongly rooted tree.

     Seasons Greetings and best wishes for health and happiness.

    Moving you forward, WLS

  • Take a Leap

    You may be able to personally relate to this or in the least, know of people who are undergoing changes (or major overhauls!) in their lives that lead them to new and exciting places.

    Oftentimes, that leap of faith is a difficult one to take. Many of us - most likely all of us at one time or another - find ourselves in a rut, going through the motions of life not feeling much in terms of passion and excitement. Instead we may feel that we are circling in monotonous boredom. This boredom can be an excellent red flag, alerting you to the fact that change is needed. That doesn't mean we have to make drastic changes to our job, relationship etc. but it may mean that we need to set new challenges or goals to achieve.  

    Change is scary stuff. It's one thing to be able to identify that you need to shake things up (and kudos to you for recognizing that change is required) but actually doing it takes much courage, effort and oftentimes, a leap of faith.

    So take a few minutes to think of the big picture. Ideally, what do you see yourself achieving? Where do you want to be?? Take a moment to think about what you love to do, where your talents lie, and at what you're willing spend time growing and improving. Then write it down, draw of picture, cut out photos and quotes, and pin them up. Do whatever it takes to inspire you and to create that clear vision. Don't bite off more than you can chew...take one small step at a time. As a coach, I work with clients to achieve their desired goals. Once that vision is created and goals are formed, it is important to remain accountable to yourself. The path to reaching your goals is often a rocky one. You have to be prepared to stay the course through the ups and downs.

    Remember, that brave first step is often the hardest but to quote Walt Disney, "If you can dream it, you can do it."

    Moving you forward, WLS

  • A Hideaway from the Everyday

    If “a little change will do you good” then a little change of scenery will do you great! I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to spend some time at beautiful Falcon Lake in the ‘Whiteshell’. For those unfamiliar with Manitoba, the Whiteshell is a large provincial park full of everything wonderful that our Canadian Shield has to offer. Although the bugs were out in full force, I can’t really admit to roughing it. The beautiful cabin accommodation certainly didn’t test my camping skills, but did create a space where I had no choice but to slow down and relax for a couple of days (relax...what!?). It’s a strange realization that in fact, it is possible to forget how to truly do that. It was as if I was given the permission to slow down with no obligations and no distractions to divert my attention. What a blessing this was. Although I had to return to reality, I was grateful for the moments that I had to slow down and experience ‘quiet’.

    In our busy lives, how many of us regularly take a few minutes in true ‘quiet’ and find a space where we feel peace and serenity? You may wonder if that’s even possible with kids and/or the busyness of work and life. Of course there was noise at the lake, but it was a different kind of noise. It was awakening to chirping birds, hiking to the top of a cliff and hearing only the wind rushing through the trees, listening to the sound of water against the lakeshore and of a canoe paddle cutting through calm waters. It was peaceful and calming. I returned rejuvenated and ready to tackle the week. Although living in this environment would be sheer bliss, it is not the reality for most of us, so I asked myself, “How can I find this quiet space in my everyday life?” How can I feel that way again in an entirely different environment with so many external distractions that are out of my control?

    Do you have any suggestions on what works for you?
     Moving you forward, WLS



  • A Little Change would do you Good

    Change is inevitable, unavoidable, unquestionable...

    I do believe that life gives us many opportunities for change but we have to be open to these possibilities that surround us and lie before us. Sometimes, however, our lack of awareness of what exists both around and ahead of us comes from our fear of really seeing what is possible. Fear can be almost tangible – causing us to create obstacles to progress or to even set up our own roadblocks. Sometimes it’s easier to maintain status quo than to face the unknown and venture into uncharted territory, exposing ourselves to something new and different. But where is growth without change or triumph without challenge? And how can setting our fears aside and embracing change help move us forward to places we’ve only dreamed of?

    As a coach I am grateful to be a part of the journey that my clients take to identify goals and roadblocks and make the desired changes in order to live their best life. Welcome to Warwick Life Strategies! 

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