, , , , , , ,

Beat the Post Vacation Slump!

 

Beat the Post Vacation Slump

Beat the Post Vacation Slump

It’s that time of year.  You may have recently returned from a trip, visiting relatives, vacationing with friends or maybe just enjoying a few days off.  However your holidays were spent, I hope they were rejuvenating and enjoyable.  Getting back to the grind can be a challenge.  I’ve certainly experienced it and I know many friends, family and clients have too.  Today I want to talk about how to beat the post vacation slump!

Whether the holidays were filled with fun, laughter and excitement or anxiety, busyness and overwhelm, coming back to a routine may be tough.   Below you’ll find some strategies about how to get back to being at the top of your game in work and in life, in addition to some tips for the next time you go on vacation.

Be Clear 

Personal Life – This is the time for New Year’s Resolutions, woohoo! The truth is that the majority of them don’t stick.  According to some data, only 8% of people accomplish their New Year’s Resolutions.  However, there are many strategies on how to improve the likelihood for change that lasts.  I would argue that part of the reason people don’t accomplish their resolution is that there is not enough clarity around the goal.  In order to get back in work mode and also work towards new goals you have, consider outlining the details in order to build clarity.  This could mean creating a yearlong vision and then working it backwards to a six month goal, a three month goal and eventually an action step you can take today!

Work Life – Meetings often are less productive after many people have been out their routine or away from work.   You may see less productivity in the meetings outside of work too.  To remedy this, set clear expectations for what the meeting will review and accomplish and do not veer away from this objective.  Make sure there are clear action steps for all members of the meetings you attend.

Stay Focused

Personal Life – In order to stay focused on our personal goals and re-engaging in our routines post-break, there needs to be some way to stay motivated.  Build focus through keeping reminders around that are visible and related to your goal.  Alternatively, creating a writing practice that explores the reason for working towards this goal can help to stay motivated and focused.  Also, creating accountability in some way may be helpful in building focus.  Accountability could be created through working through a goal with someone else or hiring a coach to help explore what is holding you back.

Work Life – Lack of focus at work often shows up in the context of getting tasks accomplished or having a productive meeting.  Often times meetings set out with many things to accomplish and by then end have not completed their intended outcome.  Stay focused on what is most important and do not add too much to the meeting, always expect that things may take longer than anticipated.  Have no more than three main objectives per day that are on your “must complete” list.

Action Items, Expectations and Deadlines

Personal Life – Reaching goals is all about combing process and product.  It’s great to read self-help books, follow thought leaders, or engage in philosophical debate about mindset, intention and positivity.   The next step is combing all of this wonderful theory with small steps in the right direction.  Keep in mind that these steps can be small, but should be consistent.  Keeping after deadlines and continuing with actions items after exploring ideas will lead to progress.

Work Life – The same issues exists in the work world when we have meetings or discussions around an idea.  Ideas often need to be translated.  People feel that meetings are a waste of time when there is no clear outcome, objective or “to do” item.  Always be clear about expectations for all attendees.  Have attendees commit to their particular action item as well as deadline so everyone is clear on each person’s objective.

Keep your Routine in Check

Personal Life – Having some kind of routine in your personal life will do wonders for your mood, clarity, energy and productivity.  The holidays are an easy time to get thrown out of a routine, whether is exercise, eating healthy or a daily practice, it’s a challenging time of year to keep up with our best intentions.  Here is a great resource from The Model Health Show about holding onto a good routine, even during the busiest time of year

Work Life – Getting back into a routine is easier to do with work when it isn’t totally avoided during a break. This certainly doesn’t mean you have to be checking email every day or doing work on vacation….that is definitely not recommended.  But keeping sleeping in to a minimum may be helpful when it’s time to get back to work. Also, reading while on vacation may help to keep your mind active and productive so that it may be easier to re-engage when its time.

Push Yourself!

Personal Life – I hold the firm belief that we are much more capable than we often give ourselves credit for, in every sense.  Care to experiment with this idea?  Try pushing yourself past the invisible finish line that you’ve set for yourself.  Go to the extra class, read the extra chapter, do another set, run the extra mile, take the risk in a relationship. Make a consistent effort to go past your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised what you learn.

Work Life – The same concept of going past where we think we are capable of applies to work.  Consider how much you get done in the typical day and see if you can double it.  No, I don’t recommend working 16 hours instead of eight.  Working more efficiently and pushing past some of the self-set boundaries is a better (and healthier) experiment to try.  Consider how much time you spend during the average day being distracted by non-work related issues or work that doesn’t necessarily make you more productive but makes you busier.   Evaluate how to be the most productive version of yourself and push out any limiting beliefs that may have held you back previously regarding how much you could accomplish in a day.

Re-Evaluate

Personal Life – This time of year is a great time for downsizing, clearing out, resetting, cleansing and letting go.  What has been serving you this last year and what no longer helps you to become the best version of yourself?  You can pose this question to any facet of your personal life from your relationships to your diet to how you spend your time.  Evaluating the different aspects of your personal life allows you to set clearer goals and intentions for the year ahead and also helps to come back stronger from time off.

Work Life – Is the job you’re in the one you want to be in? Taking the time to evaluate how much you are really committed to the work you are doing can be a helpful way to not only improve your re-engagement post vacation, but also help you make changes to your current situation.  If you are certain the work you’re in is for you, great!  Take the opportunity to evaluate how you will make this coming year a better one than the previous.  If you determine that your purpose is elsewhere, come up with an exit strategy. Outline your strengths, objectives and timelines.  This will help make the rest of your time in your current position not seem as daunting.

*Challenge of the week*

Pick one of the strategies above and take action!  Just one.  After you’ve experimented for one week, come back and leave a comment below and share what you learned. Let’s help each other make significant changes this year!

All the best,

Michael

 

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

 

, , ,

Productivity, Napping and Dinners at Midnight

 

Productivity, Napping and Dinners at Midnight

Productivity, Napping and Dinners at Midnight

When I was in college I did a summer abroad trip to Spain.  I traveled, learned about a totally unfamiliar culture and learned to speak more Spanish in three months than I had in three years of class. This was one of my favorite memories from college.  There are many stories to tell, but the one that I was recently reminded of is the difference in scheduling there.  The cultural difference is significant and views productivity from a different lens in some areas.   For those that have not been to Spain, a typical day, (at least for a college student in 2004) looked like this –

  1. Wake up at 7am, wake lethargic roommate up, have some light breakfast and start the walk to school. This walk was 1.5 miles one way, a great way to start the day!  School 8am-12pm or so.
  2. Break around noon, walk back to the house, lunch and then Siesta! Siesta translates to ‘rest’ or “nap”, more or less.  This is the time when the majority of activity slows down for a few hours and people just relax or sometimes actually take a nap.  It’s wonderful!
  3. Wake up around 3pm, walk back to school and have class from 4pm – 7pm or so.
  4. The rest of the evenings were spent socializing and often would result in dinner sometimes not until 10pm or later, then more socializing and bed around midnight…..sometimes much later.

Reminiscing this week had me wondering about what this schedule may do to one’s productivity? Here are a few of the pieces I discovered in searching through some data/research –

  • Napping helps you be more alert

According The National Sleep Foundation who references a study done by NASA on sleepy military pilots, it was found that a 40 minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100%.   However, be mindful that the time of day, personal disposition and length of nap may increase or decrease its effectiveness.  It may be best to experiment with napping in order to find the right fit.

Whether it is napping, relaxing, going for a walk or finding some other way to decompress, there is value in taking a break. Having regular breaks in your day can help you to mentally, emotionally and physically re-charge, allowing you to be more effective with your time working.

There is building research available to show that napping can improve long term memory and task performance.

  • Having a mid-day break is controversial

According to an article in the NY Times, there is some mixed research about how productive Spain is based on the schedule of including the daily siesta.  While some research shows productivity is low, other research shows that Spain is more productive than many other European countries.   There is currently some push to move to a more regular schedule, which some of the country already embraces.

So why bring up this idea of the Siesta and productivity?  I think it is an interesting example of how our lifestyle and culture impacts our experience.   Certainly implementing the siesta in our western culture wouldn’t really fit, given the demands and cultural scheduling that we already have in place here.  However, we do have the option of implementing other ways to improve self-care.

One of the most consistent topics that come up with both groups and individuals that I work with, is the idea of a self-care practice.  Practices look different for everyone but common themes include exercise, meditation, time with loved ones or a variety of other hobbies.

There may be some controversy about including a long nap in the middle of the day.  But, there is certainly strong evidence to show that when we take time to take care of ourselves our productivity, relationships, happiness and health improves.    If you are interested in testing this out, consider answering one or both of these questions –

 

What can you commit to for 10 minutes every day for the next two weeks that will help you to slow down, reduce stress or improve your ability to be present?

 

What is one thing you can take out of your life for the next two weeks that you know distracts you?

 

Thanks!

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

 

, , ,

The Influence of Self-Care on Intimate Relationships

The Influence of Self-Care on Intimate Relationships

The Influence of Self-Care on Intimate Relationships

Not too long ago I wrote a post about self-care.  This is an important concept related to managing stress, being effective, increasing productivity and as we learn today, improving intimate relationships.  I recently met a new therapist in Asheville who I am happy to introduce today.  Cindy Norton has an upcoming practice in Asheville, NC and she is already building a wonderful library of content.  I’m happy to have Cindy write for the Path to Synergy Blog about the influence of self-care on intimate relationships.  Thanks for the contribution Cindy!

Self-Care Defined

 So, what exactly is self-care? Well, self-care is defined as any intentional actions you take on behalf of your physical, mental, or emotional health. Many people see self-care as you looking after and taking care of you.

While this assertion is true, your decision on whether or not to engage in regular self-care has an effect on everyone around you including your coworkers, family, friends, and especially your intimate partner.

Intimate relationships tend to suffer the most when one or both partners are not regularly practicing self-care. We tend to take on the moods of those around us; so if you both are tired, run down, and stressed out, your relationship is going to take a hit. During these times when stress takes over, conflict can reign supreme.

Be Pro-Active

Oftentimes, we do not seek out self-care until we are already run down, exhausted, and yearning to get back in balance. Self-care isn’t meant to be something you seek out on occasion when you have already reached your breaking point.

Self-care is meant to be something that you do everyday like brushing your teeth. Does our physical, mental, and emotional well-being not deserve as much attention as our teeth? I think so.

 When we are pro-active in taking care of ourselves we become more rested, patient, and understanding. Additionally, we are much more available to our partners. This allows us to be supportive of one another and have each other’s backs.

When you are in this balanced place you can keep an eye out for when your partner is stressed and encourage them to practice some self-care and vice versa. It’s likely that you may be able to notice (even before your partner does) that they need to take a time out.

Find a gentle way to let your partner know that they seem a little stressed. It’s not going to be helpful if you approach them in a way that makes them feel defensive. Have a discussion with your partner about how they would like to be signaled when they are getting off track with their self-care.

For example, if your partner enjoys walking the dog for self-care, you may say to them: “It looks like Scruffy could use a walk”. Or if you enjoy a bubble bath to relax, maybe your partner’s signal is offering to run a bath for you.

Not The Same For Everyone

Get to know what your partner enjoys and what relaxes them. But keep in mind, your partner’s self-care practices may look different from yours, so don’t judge.

You may enjoy some solitude and want to curl up with a good book, while your partner goes over to a friend’s house to play cards. Both of these are self-care activities, but they look very different.

Finding Balance

Another important element to keep in mind is that taking time for yourself should not be seen as a threat to your relationship. Finding the balance between separateness and togetherness is an essential endeavor for anyone in an intimate relationship.

We need time to ourselves, and the freedom to pursue our own interests. It is healthy to take time away from your partner and allow yourself to miss them. Self-care activities are flexible in that they can be done solo or together. So tailor them to work for your unique relationship.

Jump Start Your Self-Care Practice

Not sure where to get started? Below are some self-care activities that can translate into a better relationship with your partner. Also, see how regular, solo self-care activities can be adapted to include your partner.

  • Journaling A self-care activity that I have always enjoyed is keeping a gratitude journal. It’s very simple. Just write down three things you are grateful for each day. The entries can be something new and novel each day, or they can be repeats for the things you are especially thankful for – such as health and family. You can adapt this activity to include your partner by writing in your journal three things about them that you are grateful for – and then sharing this with them. The entries can include qualities that your partner possesses or specific events that stand out to you. For example, you may write: I am grateful for your patience, I am grateful for you taking care of me while I was sick over the weekend, and I am grateful that you attended a play with me when my friend cancelled last minute (because I know that you do not like the theater).
  • Spending time in nature – I especially enjoy being out in nature. Many people spend time in nature by themselves as a form of self-care. Being one with nature can do wonders for your spirit. If you have a favorite spot with an amazing view, invite your partner along to share in the experience and tell them why this place is so special to you.
  • Go on an adventure – Sometimes it is nice to go adventuring somewhere you have never been, especially when you have no agenda or expectations. This leaves you open to discover things that you wouldn’t normally had you planned the outing. Including your partner in the outing can enhance your relationship. Exploring with your partner, especially in a new and novel way, is an amazing way to strengthen your bond.
  • Taking a bubble bath. It’s hard to beat a nice, warm, relaxing bubble bath after a long day’s work. Many people, myself included, enjoy the solitude and quietness of this activity. It gives you a chance to clear your mind, or catch up on your latest novel. However, by inviting your partner to join in, you both can enjoy the benefits of this very popular self-care activity.  For a funny example of this from the show Friends, see this video – https://youtu.be/VHAQcnB7yis.
  • Nurturing friendships. Taking time to nurture friendships outside of your primary relationship with your partner is extremely important. Set aside one day each week where you both spend time with a friend. I know someone who has reserved every Wednesday after work to spend with her best friend. They go downtown to a wine bar, order some tapas, and fortify their friendship. It’s also nice to nurture the mutual friendships you have. There are many group activities to choose from. I practice this by going to trivia with my partner and our mutual friends.

Up For A Challenge?

Take some time to think about what self-care activities you are already practicing in your life. Do you schedule them regularly? Or are they practiced only sparingly because you feel that you are too busy? Sometimes people have the misconception that they do not have time for self-care.

I’m sure most of you find time in your busy day to spend 20 minutes mindlessly scrolling through your social media feed. Why not use these 20 minutes to take a walk, go for a jog, take a bath, call a friend, or journal?

Or, better yet, I challenge you to take 10 minutes out of your day today and come up with a self-care plan to cover the next two weeks. Make a list of the self-care activities you enjoy, and schedule time for them.

For example, choose a small 10 minute activity to do daily (i.e. journaling) and choose a more time-intensive activity to do once per week (i.e. outing with best friend). When the two weeks are up, evaluate your progress and aim to incorporate the activities that work well for your life and your relationship.

About the Author:

Cindy Norton is the Owner and Writer at AVL Couples Therapy, a new website launching on January 1, 2016 in Asheville, NC featuring the relationship blog entitled Unearth Your Passion.   Before January please see  https://www.facebook.com/AVLCouplesTherapy for updates. Cindy holds a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a National Certified Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate.

 

AVL Couples Therapy Logo

AVL Couples Therapy Logo

, , , ,

Where do you see yourself in 5 years

 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years

Where do you see yourself in 5 years

I was recently watching an interview that Tony Robbins did regarding Tips for Getting out of a Funk.  It’s worth a watch.   He talked about setting intention, living more consciously and goal setting…in addition to some reflection on our current economy.  This had me thinking about the direction that I’m heading.  I also was recently encouraged by a coach to create a vision board.  The idea being an exercise in response to the question – “Where do you see yourself in five years” This concept of setting a trajectory is one I find so important.

If you’re curious about goal setting and vision boards, check out this cool resource.

Exploring this idea of where I be in five years has been a helpful exercise.  It makes me think about a lot more than goal setting.   I know that goal setting is important.  I have seen evidence of this in my own life time and time again, in addition to most of the clients I work with.  I think that unless we are setting strong intentions, then we may just be letting someone else lead. We can either choose to be the creators of our direction or allow our direction to be created.

Expressing goals can really change results.  According to a study by Psychology Professor Dr. Gail Matthews, 70 percent of participants who shared their goals achieved them, while 35 percent of participants who did not share or write down their goals had been unsuccessful in accomplishing them.

I think finding a direction can be challenging.  There are so many distractions available to us.  Depending on your disposition you may have what is often referred to as – “shiny object syndrome.”  This means that there are always so many things to do, to see, to be involved with, to study etc.   This constant pull in a multitude of directions can take us away from what we are truly after.  I have found the following tips helpful in creating goals and creating a five year plan.

Five tips for creating a 5 year plan

It’s more than a 5 year plan

Remember that creating a five year plan is more about just answering the question – where will you be in five years.  Hopefully it’s about establishing new patterns of intentionality so that going forward you know more about what you want, where you’re headed and how you’ll get there.   Setting a trajectory for success is about creating long lasting change, not just creating a plan.

Where were you five years ago

Often times looking at where you have come from and how you got to where you are can lead to identifying patterns.  These patterns can show up as positive or negative ways that have impacted your goals and aspirations.  Alternatively, you may identify that over recent years there has not been much intention about where you were going, which may show the necessity for more self-direction.  Keeping in mind the important concept from Marshall Goldsmith – “What got you here, won’t get you there.”

What are you willing to give up

Setting an intention for self-development or improvement in some area in life may involve giving up other things.  We only have so much time every day and setting priorities for what we want will sometimes mean letting go.  A great exercise to consider in this evaluation of what you are willing to give up is to regularly ask yourself this question –

“How is what I’m doing right now getting me one step closer to where I want to be in five years?”

How self-disciplined are you and how can this improve

Similar to asking the question of what you’re willing to give up is looking at how self-disciplined you are.  Any sort of change takes a certain level of self-discipline.  If you decide that your self-discipline needs improvement then exploring ways to practice may be helpful.  Discipline can be built in a number of ways.  For more detail, see this post on – growing self-discipline.

Letting go of limiting beliefs

Exploring what beliefs serve you and which ones don’t, will help to not only develop your five year plan but also assist in the process of manifesting this plan.  Fear often gets in the way of exploring goals that you think you may not be able to achieve.  Reducing fear and limiting beliefs will allow you to see options available and set your trajectory higher than you think.  Here are some strategies for how to let go of limiting beliefs and fear in more detail.

Challenge –

What is one thing you plan to accomplish in five years?

 Best,

Michael

, , , , ,

Growing Self-Discipline

Growing Self-Discipline

Growing Self-Discipline

Discipline has been on my mind lots in the last few weeks, so I thought I would do some exploring.  I am currently experimenting with a month long restricted diet (Whole30), definitely an act of discipline.  However, not in a bad way.  Most of the time when I explore ways of eating, exercise routines or other practices I find it interesting and at least somewhat eye opening in some way.  Usually I find that there are discoveries to be found when pursuing an act of growing self-discipline.

I found that it my life, practicing martial arts has been a continually evolving way to build self-discipline.  Certainly there are many ways to build self-discipline, but the question may be – why?  There are many findings on the impact of self-discipline across many aspects of the human experience.   The advantages of having good discipline start when are young.

In a longitudinal study by The Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania found that self-discipline accounted for twice as much variance as IQ in final grades of eight grade students.  These habits and their results may have significant impact on children’s ability to be successful later in life.

A study in The Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology showed that implementing a school based martial arts program had a positive impact on children’s cognitive self-regulation, an aspect of self-discipline.

According to Alphie Kohn it may be more valuable for children to be able to build the capacity to choose when to exercise self-discipline as well as what kind of self-discipline, and that this ability to choose may be more valuable than the self-discipline itself.

However the impact of discipline is not just found in kids.  In a study by The Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, MO it was found that enhancing self-discipline and self-concept may improve subjective memory in older adults.

According to a study in The Journal of Depression and Anxiety, low self-discipline has been associated with anxiety and depressive disorders.


5 Tips for Growing Self-Discipline

  • Take your time – Building any new habit takes time. Taking small steps slowly over time will great the greatest recipe for success.  Remember that creating significant change is a process.
  • SMART goals – Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely will be the easiest to keep track of and the most likely to be achieved, leading to greater confidence and success overall.
  • Find your practice – Building self-discipline, will be most effective if the practice is something that you really enjoy doing. Finding a practice within the category that you are trying to create discipline around will help to build momentum and success overall.  You may find that creating discipline that is at least somewhat connected to your purpose or passion will be easiest.
  • Record your process – Explore the ups and downs of what it is like to create a new discipline in your life. This will be helpful in examining what works, what doesn’t and accomplishments along the way.
  • Practice creating routine – Practicing some kind of routine, even if it is outside the context of your goal will help in building the mindset of being more self-disciplined.  There are always opportunities to create new routines every day, take advantage of this.

How have you created self-discipline in your life?

Best,

Michael