4 Tricks to Ease the “Sunday-night Blues”

sunday-blues1

I love this term, “Sunday-night blues.” How many of you know exactly what I’m talking about? It’s that sense of dread, anxiety, and fatigue that tends to show up every Sunday afternoon as you begin to think about your upcoming workweek.

I was reading an article by Martha C. White in Money Magazine where she quoted Katrina Onstad, author of The Weekend Effect: The Life-Changing Benefits of Taking Time Off and Challenging the Cult of Overwork. Onstad says, “the failure to take a break is bad for your body, mental health, family, and even career.” And the fact that we spend most of our weekends checking email, working, or thinking about the office makes taking that needed break impossible.

Luckily, Onstad and other experts say there are solutions. Here are four ways to turn your weekends into recharging opportunities.

  1. Turn off your phone

This is kind of a ‘duh’ statement but you can’t fully unwind if you don’t unplug. Unless you are in a profession where lives are at stake, no one will die on the table if you don’t respond to email or phone calls on the weekend. A lot of successful people are setting this boundary and sticking to it. You cannot be productive if you are burnt out so set the expectation at work that you will respond to emails received during the weekend on Monday.

  1. Go outside

Studies have shown that all people, regardless of age, gender, and social class are happier and more energized when they spend time outside. Being outside improves your mood and concentration – making it all that much easier to spend your upcoming workweek inside.

  1. Hang with friends

Research has also shown that friendships are key to our well-being. Hanging out with friends not only increases your mood, it contributes to your sense of belonging, and decreases stress. This works even if you are an introvert and generally recharge by being alone. Spending even a small amount of time with friends will get you pumped to tackle Monday.

  1. Do good deeds

Volunteering regularly enhances one’s well-being as well. Everyone wants to do things they feel good about. Again, it increases mood and contributes to your sense of belonging. Finding ways to volunteer over the weekend makes you feel productive, accomplished, and that you have made a valuable contribution to something bigger than yourself. All things that give you a high that you can ride into the week.

While it’s hard to consider a regular weekend as a mini-vacation, using these techniques can truly make you feel like you’ve had one. Not only will you have less dread going into the week, you may also find an increase in good ideas and creativity – which will give you another good reason to look forward to Monday.

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No Excuses – The Key to Success?

no excuses

I recently had the privilege to attend a Women in Leadership luncheon on the topic, “A View From the Executive Level and How to Thrive There.” It was a moderated panel discussion of three, high-powered, well-respected female executives. One panelist is the CEO and Chairwoman of a global manufacturing company. The second panelist is the Chief People Officer for a top 20 public accounting firm. And the third panelist is a Senior Advisor to the Management Committee of a global law firm. To say that their respective backgrounds, experiences, and biographies are worthy of envy does not even begin to cover it.

As they proceeded through the moderated discussion that focused on lessons learned, challenges overcome, and career advice, I began to notice a theme. I noticed that each of them took a “no excuses” approach to their careers and career success.

Now, when I say “no excuses” I don’t mean pushing through when the going gets tough. I don’t mean do it even when you don’t feel like it. And I don’t mean finding a way to make things happen when you don’t have the resources you think you need. While pushing through all of these with “no excuses” are important and I’m sure a big part of their individual successes, I was struck with how each of them refused to allow the gender inequalities in corporations keep them from achieving what they want to achieve.

Each of them basically has an “it is what it is so I need to figure out how to make it work to my advantage” attitude.

Please don’t read my last sentence and assume they are okay with the status quo. It was more of the fact that they acknowledge the environment in which they must operate. And, instead of complaining about it they have figured out how to succeed in spite of it.

Instead of complaining that there aren’t any women in the board room, they figured out how to get invited. Instead of complaining that their male colleagues speak over the top of them at meetings, they figured out how to get those talkers to advocate for their ideas and talk with them instead of over them. Instead of complaining that men just didn’t get it when they explain things, they figured out how to use those communication differences to their advantage. Instead of complaining that they are the token woman on a project team, they used that opportunity to demonstrate expertise and leadership, build allies, and advocate for other women. They never waste an opportunity regardless of how or why it was presented to them.

The lesson here is that none of these women expect their companies to fix gender equality for them. They aren’t sitting around waiting for it to just get better and they certainly aren’t waiting for the government to do something about it. They have taken the responsibility to fix it for themselves and are taking the time to teach other women how to do the same thing.

I have long believed that gender equality in the workplace is not a top-down issue. That demanding that companies fix this issue just because it’s the right thing to do is not going to be the expeditious way to fix the problem. I believe this is a bottom-up issue. That if we spend more time encouraging women to ask for a seat at the table, to ask for the raise, to ask for the promotion, to ask for the opportunity, to find advocates – then we are going to start to see a shift.

The shift has already started. It is our responsibility to keep it going. Not just with us, but with our daughters, and sons for that matter. No excuses.

 

**If you find that you are being held back by your own excuses, I would love to discuss how having a coach can help you create a breakthrough. One panelist mentioned that hiring a coach was a pivotal point in shifting her mindset and perspective and the driving factor behind her career success. Don’t let your excuses keep you from achieving your potential. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, a colleague, or a coach – find that “person” for you that will call BS, hold you accountable, and give you new perspective on your excuses. By shifting internally, you can impact the shift globally. Contact me at stacy@minerva.partners if you are ready for your own shift.**

Happiness Hacks that Work Every Time

happiness

While I have met a few people in my lifetime that I’m convinced are determined to live a miserable life, I would say that most people desire happiness. Sometimes it’s really easy to be happy and sometimes happiness feels really elusive. For those times where happiness is harder to come by, Ellen Petry Leanse, the author of The Happiness Hack says that building in more time for what’s truly meaningful can bring that happiness back.

Here is what Ellen suggests:

  • Be intentional

When you wake each morning, take a minute to focus on how you want to feel that day. Do you want to feel relaxed during the day? Accomplished? Challenged? Once you determine how you want to feel, then set that as your intention for the day so that you can approach your to-do list from that mind set. This puts you in control of your day instead of allowing your busy calendar to be in control.

  • Go tech free

It’s really important to carve out some tech-free time each week. Ellen suggests identifying one morning a week where you can block off a full three hours of tech-free time so that you can focus on big-picture idea generation and/or problem solving.

  • Resist social media

This one is really hard because it’s perfectly normal for us to grab our phones or laptops when we are feeling bored or are procrastinating. But Ellen says that relying on our phones actually makes us less creative and connected to the rest of the world. Instead of grabbing your phone to flip through social media feeds, take a walk or allow yourself to daydream for a few minutes. This will get your creativity juices flowing again and release boredom or any mental blocks you are experiencing.

It’s hard to believe that the key to feeling happier could be as easy as these three steps, but it is. The next time you are struggling to find happiness in the midst of a busy workday, remember these happiness hacks and get yourself back on track.

Are there other hacks that you use to inject a dose of happiness into your day? For instance, I personally like to have dance parties if I’m feeling the blahs. Getting up and moving around to some killer music always puts me in a better mood. If you have a great hack, please leave a comment below to share with our community.

3 Ways to “Increase” Willpower

willpower

According to the American Psychological Association, willpower is “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” Most people believe that their lives would be greatly enhanced if they just had more willpower. We believe that if we just had more self-control we would eat better, weigh less, exercise more, save more money, stop procrastinating, and achieve more of our goals. As a matter of fact, the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey shows that the #1 reason people cite for not achieving goals like these is due to lack of willpower.

So, achieving our goals should be easy, right? Just tap in to your willpower and make it happen. Here’s the problem with that. Willpower is a depletable resource. It’s limited and if you don’t use it efficiently, it will be impossible to rely on your willpower to accomplish everything.

Here are three ways you can use your willpower more efficiently to help you achieve those things most important to you.

1.       Incorporate rules instead of relying on willpower

One of the best ways to avoid depleting your willpower is to not use it. That sounds weird! Hear me out. If you spend all day trying to resist temptation, you will quickly deplete your willpower. However, if you replace your need for willpower with rules, then you don’t have to tap into your willpower at all. You go from having to resist to simply just having to follow the rules.

Let’s take an easy example. ICE CREAM. I love ice cream. If I have to use my willpower to resist ice cream, I’m going to fail every time. Especially if its late in the day and I’ve been using willpower all day to resist all of the other things I’m not supposed to be eating in order to lose weight. But if I replace relying on my willpower with the creation of a rule instead, my chances of succeeding increases. If I shift from “I try not to eat ice cream because I’m trying to lose weight” to “I don’t eat ice cream” then there is no grey area. I just don’t eat ice cream. And you can do this for most of the temptations in your life. Just make life rules for them.

What are some examples of other life rules? Here are a few:

·       I go to bed and get up at the same time every day – even on weekends.

·       I focus on my #1 priority in life the first thing in the morning, if only for 15 minutes.

·       I shut down all electronics by 6 PM every night to focus on my family.

·       I act polite and generous at all times to all people.

·       I spend no more than 15 minutes per day on social media.

 2.       Do the hardest things first

This is another great way to use your willpower efficiently – do your hardest things first. You have heard this before, especially in the context of procrastination. But it makes perfect sense. If you only get one tank of willpower a day, waiting until it’s almost empty to tackle your hardest things won’t work very well. You will deplete your supply before you finish.

Doing the hard things first will allow you to address the item when there are the fewest distractions and when you have the most willpower and energy.

3.       Shorten your to-do list

The third way to use your willpower more efficiently is to shorten your to-do list. By focusing on what really matters, you don’t allow non-important things to deplete the willpower you need for the important things. Because being depleted in one area can reduce willpower in other spheres, it is more effective to focus on a single goal at a time rather than attacking a long list all at once. 

Make time for what matters. Focus your life around people and experiences, not a long to-do list.

Willpower can be compared to a muscle that becomes fatigued with overuse. Studies show that repeatedly resisting temptation drains your ability to withstand future enticements. These three tips can help you use your willpower more efficiently and strategically, making it more likely to resist temptation throughout the entire day so that you can achieve your goals

 

You Are Enough

you are enough

I’ve always been one to directly link my salary to my personal value. As I climbed the corporate ladder I knew my value was increasing because my pay check said it was. Every year, I was more valuable than the one before.

Not only did I have proof that I was valuable to my employer, I also felt that my paycheck made me valuable to my family. My salary was a significant portion of our household income and afforded us many luxuries we could not have had without it. In addition, I felt that my paycheck solidified my place in our social groups. Because I made excellent money, I was secure in what I did for a living, who I was as a person, and my place in society.

The problem with linking your personal value to something like making money is what happens when you aren’t making money.

When I launched Minerva I was starting from scratch. There was no side hustle before moving to Minerva full time. It was just jump directly into this fire and let’s see what happens. Well, what happened was that I went from a very nice salary to zero. And my personal value/self-worth/self-esteem went with it.  

Since the launch of Minerva, I’ve spent a lot of time questioning if I’m no longer enough. When you strip down past the salary, past the job title, and past everything else associated with my corporate life, am I still enough. Will my husband still see me as a worthy partner? Will my daughter still see me as a strong female figure? Will my parents still be proud? Will my friends still respect my position?

In all of my insecurities, I find myself constantly justifying to others that I’m doing the right thing. That choosing to launch Minerva was the best thing that has happened in my career in a long time. And I’m not alone. I hear my friends and colleagues who have chosen new career paths based upon happiness and purpose constantly justifying their decision to give up high-profile, high-salary positions to others as well.

The truth is, we aren’t less valuable when we “downsize” our salary. Our value is based upon what we contribute to those around us, not in how much we get paid for those contributions. And while I know that combating my insecurities around my value is, and will continue to be, an everyday journey – I know that I’m enough. I know from the way my husband engages in conversation with me. I know from the way my daughter confides in me. I know from the way my friends include me. And I know from the way my clients trust me. It may take me several years to get back to the salary level I once was. But I’m starting to understand that my purpose is bigger than any amount of money I can make.

Whether you tie your value to money, love, attention, etc., I hope as women that one day we get to the point where we don’t need to be reminded through those things that we are valuable. That we get to the point where we just know we are worthy. And we are enough.

Resilience Can Be Learned

resilience

Have you ever heard the saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” There are definitely people in our lives that seem to easily rebound from challenging times while others just never seem to get their groove back. The good news is that even if resiliency doesn’t come easy to you, there are ways that you can learn to be more emotionally robust.

·       Choose to be a warrior

When we face challenging situations our natural instinct is to amplify them to extremes. For example, if you’ve recently lost your job you may tell yourself that no one will ever hire you again. Or if your child doesn’t get into the top elementary school you applied for you may tell yourself that their educational future is ruined.

Going down the path of extremes does nothing but increase stress, keep you from taking purposeful action, and perpetuate a downward spiral. This is why resilient people stay far away from this type of extreme thinking. It is your choice to either overcome a challenging situation or become a victim of it. You’ve heard this at least a million times. You can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you respond to it. Resilient people choose to be a warrior.

·       View closed doors as course corrections

I can’t think of a single person who has ever walked this Earth that didn’t face a setback or two in their life. Those who handle setbacks the best see them as opportunities to grow. Crisis can lead to breakthrough.

When one door closes, it’s the Universe’s way of telling you that you are off course and need to move a different direction. Resilient people use setbacks as an opportunity to course correct, learn, and grow.

·       Make your health a priority

Some say that physical health is a pillar of resiliency. It’s nearly impossible to be resilient if you are not taking care of yourself. Now, this doesn’t mean that if you have a medical condition or are facing health issues you cannot overcome them. This means that it’s essential to make your health a priority before, during, and after a crisis.

Resilient people practice healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and listening to their body signals. They also practice self-regulation activities such as yoga and meditation which allows them to step back from situations and not be reactive.

·       Don’t be afraid to share

People seem to fall into two extremes on this topic. Either people over share their struggles and allow themselves to wallow in it endlessly through the empathy of their friends and family. Or, they try to carry the burden all by themselves. Believe it or not the first extreme may end up being better for resilience than the second. Research shows that socially isolated people have a more difficult time recovering from challenges. The more you hide the challenge, the more power it has over you.

Resilient people don’t over share in order to feel more significant but instead allow others to have insight into what they are facing. That interconnection gives them that extra little something that they need to handle their challenges by helping them develop a sense of belonging. That sense of belonging is an important component to handling the tough stuff.

If you are struggling to hang tough in hard times, give these skills a try. Mindfully applying them when you are facing a challenge will help you bounce back from anything.

How to Increase Your Risk Tolerance

risk

How do you know when its time to take more risks in your life? They could be career risks or personal risks. Typically, you know its time to take some risks when you start to feel too comfortable where you are.

You’ve heard this a thousand times: growth only happens outside of your comfort zone. So, if you aren’t uncomfortable, then you aren’t growing. If you are really comfortable where you currently are, then you aren’t growing, and its time to take some risks.

However, most of us are scared to death to take risks. Taking risks can be terrifying, dangerous, and can potentially backfire. Therefore, most of us have a very low risk tolerance. If we need to be uncomfortable to grow and we need to take risks to be uncomfortable, then its helpful to learn how to increase your tolerance to risk. Here are four ways to do just that.

1.       Share your real goals

Don’t be afraid to share your real goals with those people who believe in you and support you. They will be the ones to encourage, and sometimes even push, you when you need it most. Risk seems less scary when you have folks that believe you can do it.

2.       Always be learning

Those at the top of their game never rest on their laurels. They are always learning. One of the best ways to make risk less terrifying is to immerse yourself in what it is you are looking to do. Read about it. Listen to podcasts about it. Spend time with people who have done it. The more you learn, the more prepared, the better chance for success.

3.       Embrace your story

One of the hardest things to do in life is to be fully who you are. Our whole life has been filled with other people’s expectations for us. However, the cost of seeking approval and being something that is not true to who we really are is high. It is very freeing to understand you don’t have to live up to the expectations of others but instead embrace the story of who you really are.

4.       Ask for what you need

Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of Task Rabbit, has been quoted as saying, “The hardest part for a lot of women is to think about what you really need to be successful – and to go ask for that.” The worse thing that can happen when you ask is someone telling you no. And hearing no doesn’t put you in a worse place than when you started. If you need X, it’s because you don’t have X. If you ask for X and are told no, you still don’t have X. No worse. But if they say yes, you are just that much closer to successfully accomplishing what you want.

Is it time for you to take more risks? Leave a note in the comments letting us know what areas you need to experience more risk and how you are going to approach that risk in order to keep growing. We’ll be here to support you every step of the way.