A global pandemic has broken out and it’s changing all our lives – maybe forever.
Not only are many getting sick and fighting for their lives, the rest of us are living in isolation while the stock market crashes and some of us aren’t sure if our jobs will still be our jobs in a week or a month.
This type of drastic, rapid change is unsettling to say the least.
Difficult times are one of life’s guarantees. For some, it will create despair and helplessness. For others, it’s a time to invest in themselves, their families, and their relationships to come out of the dark time a great deal stronger than they were when it started.
Here are 4 tips on what you can do to thrive during uncertain times:
89 percent of employees who work at companies that support well-being initiatives are likely to recommend their companies as a good place to work.
The American Psychological Association estimates that the American economy loses 500 billion dollars and 550 million workdays every year due to stress.
Over the last decade, in large part due to newer, younger, companies like Google and the rest of the tech sector, employers have started to understand that company culture and employee happiness aren’t only important as a moral issue, but as an issue that drastically affects their bottom lines.
“Goofy” ideas like nap pods, meditation, and life coaching have gone from flavors of the month to proven benefits in an amazingly short amount of time.
I can’t repeat it enough: If you’re not happy in your relationship, then you’re not happy.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, you might be scrambling to get some flowers or that perfect gift for your significant other, but on the day of love the best thing you can do is become intentional about taking your relationship to the next level.
One of the biggest lies believed and repeated in our culture is the lie that good relationships are easy or that good relationships just happen. Relationships, like a sport or your job, are a set of skills that you need to hone for you to be successful.
So while people spend countless dollars on education for their careers, seminars for how to better themselves, and self-care routines, far less people than should invest time and money into their relationship – due to that faulty belief that things should just “fit” between people truly in love.
For Valentine’s Day I’m going to give you 3 tools to understand and improve your relationship. If you use them, you will improve your relationship exponentially:
Growing up I was never much of a planner. To-do lists felt like a waste of time and planning often seemed like it added more work than it alleviated – which of course is the opposite of the goal of good planning.
On top of that, I have always been good at improvising on the fly and playing jazz in my life, so it just never seemed like much of a priority to sit down and plan everything out.
As I’ve gotten older, my responsibilities have grown and my dreams have gotten bigger, I’ve started to hit the limits of where “planning on the fly” can take me.
Like many clients I work with, when I’m not intentional about what I’m doing with my time and where my life is headed, I start floating along the river of life and just hoping that things work out.
This is obviously not the philosophy of someone who wants to accomplish anything of substance in their life, so I’ve revisited planning in a major way and have implemented amazing planning that has changed the course of my life forever. Here are some basic concepts in planning that will change your life forever:
One of the things I see constantly in my clients is people holding themselves back based on their own self-concept rather than the external factors in the world around them.
Throughout life, people make decisions about themselves that may or may not be true. Or they are true some of the time and people extrapolate that idea to their entire life.
How many people do you see that would tell you they are “shy,” but then you’ve seen them be the life of the party one or more times? How many people seem quiet, but then get up to give a presentation at work and magically find another gear where they are commanding and inspiring? How many people think of themselves as a total bad ass at work, but then come home and are easy-going sweethearts with their children and spouse? And I’m sure everyone is familiar with the often celebrated lady (or gentleman) in the streets who’s a “freak” in the sheets.
All of us have these apparent contradictions in our personalities if we look for them, but most people never stop to investigate these beliefs that sit in the back of their heads and filter all their decisions. We all have dynamic personalities and we all “perform” differently depending on the setting and who we are with.
If you want to move up in the world, level down, or pivot in a different direction, one of the best skills you can develop is to gain control of the different parts of yourself so that you are capable of calling whichever version you need at the time you need. Here’s how to get started:
There’s a lot of clichés in the personal development space. I will often repeat them because clichés are often overwhelming truths that we should pay more attention to than we do. One such idea, which doesn’t get nearly enough attention, is that empathy and forgiveness is the root of happiness in yourself.
If I could impress one personal development lesson it would be this: Have empathy for yourselves and others because we are all doing the very best we can.
It’s at this point that you are inevitably thinking about the co-worker you hate, your sexually harassing boss, your ex best friend who has been long written off, or any other number of people that you absolutely DON’T think is doing the absolute best they can.
Believe me, I know the feelings you have towards those people. The feelings are dark, cynical, and seductive. They will take over your life and leave you alone if you allow them to live in your head or your heart.
For most of us, the holidays mean an increased amount of time spent with family, trips back home, and maybe tripping over in-laws in your own house.
For some, this is awesome – a beautiful chance to reconnect with the greatest people you have ever known over Christmas lights and impeccable meals.
For others, it means frustration and stress.
Some people fit in naturally with their home. Their parents are warm and encouraging and provide exceptional role models for which you to model your life after. These people don’t usually have a lot of problems.
For others, they have chosen to use their family as more of an anti-role-model, using their family as a point of reference for differentiation, rather than sameness. For this group of people, coming home is a much bigger challenge.
Either way, going home is often a challenge for personal growth. To family, in contrast to the rest of the world, you are a fixed being and a deviation from what you were when you were 9 is a stress point for them – whether they realize it or not. This is why people change so rapidly when they go to college since it represents the first time a person really gets to define themselves on their own terms in our culture.
Family, conversely, may get annoyed with your new whole foods, keto, or vegan diet, because to them you were the slightly overweight child who loved to town on pizza and buffalo wings. They might scoff at your hippy new-age meditation routine you cultivated when you read the science on the difference between those who meditate and who don’t. Of course, when you go to tell them about to exceptional quality of research that backs you up they laugh it off and dismiss you because you are just little Timmy to them, not Timothy the VP of sales at a Fortune 500 company.
There’s an old saying that bounces around the coaching world and it goes something like this: When you think you’ve achieved enlightenment, go home for the Holidays.
Here are some tips to shake off the frustration for those of you who are shaking off your last trip home:
I was listening to Pope Francis address a giant crowd of Catholics on Christmas today and I was moved by a lot of what he said.
His eventual point was interesting in that it was very close to the guidance I try to give to my clients. He talked about how we need to accept the gift of Christ so that we could in turn be the gift for others.
This is a Christian way of saying what I have thus far found to be one of the best directives in life: be more so you can give more.
As Francis discussed the idea of Christ coming as a gift for those who didn't “deserve” - he made it abundantly clear that we will receive the gift anyway and as such we should accept it gracefully and move forward in giving ourselves to others. Whatever your religious affiliation, we can all recognize that we are often extremely hard on ourselves to the point where we feel we don't deserve love and grace, let alone feel like we can contribute to the world around us.
That being said, in the personal development space there is no shortage of people obsessed with their own growth. People spend countless hours sculpting their physique, padding their back account, finding that strategic edge in their business, or sharpening their mind with the next best idea.
But for what?
A lot of people who are working on their personal development and growth have big dreams and big goals and that is great.
However, it can become a problem when your dreams are so big that it stresses you out and leads you to inaction - not an uncommon problem.
If big picture thinking is crippling you, then aim lower and focus on small actions you can take today to move you further down the road on your journey.
Your growth will come from your action and not your thinking.
Gratitude is one of those ideas that is so talked about in the coaching and personal development space that it almost feels too cliché to discuss.
Like most clichés, it gets repeated so often because it is so important. But like many truisms we hear frequently, just because we hear it or say it, doesn't mean we practice it.
Thanksgiving is a day where some people actually try to step into gratitude and practice it - even if only for a moment.
What I tell people about gratitude is simple. In our day to day lives we can think about all the stuff we don't yet have and the pain it causes us, or we can think about the stuff we do have that we should be grateful for. Both things are true, but where you put your focus changes your day to day life immensely.
Think about all the decisions, coincidences, gifts from God or the universe that have shaped and blessed your life.
Maybe it is the fact that you were born in the West where you can brush your teeth without fear of dying from a disease in your water. Maybe it's the detour or night out you almost didn't take that led you to meet the person that changed your life.
You can focus on those things or you can focus on stuff that pisses you off. Your choice.
As cliché as it is, gratitude truly is the antidote to anger and sadness.
Action item: Go back into your memory and remember one of the most special moments in your life. It could be one of those coincidences, a night of passion and love, a landmark day, etc. Play this memory in your head like a movie and step into the memory like you are there again. Feel what you felt. See what you saw. Smell what you smelled. Spend a few minutes of your day back in that moment and take that feeling into the rest of your day.
Your life coach.
The Andrew Warner Podcast: