10 Monday Mindset Motivators–and All Week Long

10 Monday Mindset Motivators–and All Week Long

To be on the “top of your game” every day, you must have your thought patterns in the right place. Your thoughts turn into feelings with turn into actions and then into your results. 

What kind of mindset could you adopt, to better assure this will be a successful Monday (or any day!)?

  • I will not take myself so seriously. It’s OK to make mistakes; don’t put so much pressure on yourself as to be overwhelmed or in a negative space mentally/emotionally. Say, “This is temporary; there’s light at the end of this tunnel.”
  • I will take a break when I start to feel my energy dip.  “Put yourself in time-out.” You reach points of diminishing returns when you insist on pushing through and being productive when you are on empty.
  • I will stay on top of my goals/priorities. Go into another week/day feeling clear on “the plan” of what you want to accomplish. Make a short list of priorities. Clean off your desk and close your computer tabs, except for materials/resources you will need that relate to those priorities. Don’t waste time; begin ready for the day and focus!
  •  I will not letting my feelings control/define me. Adopt as much of a relaxed/at peace mindset as possible, knowing that you have the ability to take things as they come. Worry is destructive and gets you nowhere fast.
  • I will choose to be positive and solution-oriented.   Assuming good intentions of your family and colleagues puts you in a posture of curiosity and positivity. Choose happiness over the alternatives. You are not a victim and “everything is figure-out-able.”
  • I will not let fear take me down. Even if you have moments of impostor syndrome, you have a reservoir of confidence to tap into, based on your experience and wisdom. Self-talk: “I’m ready to take this on!” and  “I’m making a difference!”
  • I will be proactive vs. reactive. If it’s a task, show initiative and go after it, asking for help along the way. Don’t wait for a fire to be lit around you before you step up. Speak out a creative possibility. Have the difficult conversation before things get worse. Maintain an action mindset.
  • I will do something today to keep growing forward. Make time today and every day to learn, whether it be listening to a podcast while getting ready for work or while working out, carving out time to watch an inspirational video, or picking out a self-leadership book (or technical resource) to dive into. Be a little better today than you were yesterday.
  • I will have faith and hope that things will get better. This anticipation of brighter days pulls you forward into another day/week. A loss of hope leads to depression, which mires you in a pit of despair. Find things to look forward to: hobbies, trips, appointments with people that inspire you, conversations with God, etc.
  • I will put myself in others’ shoes. Everyone experiences hardship in their lives. You have no idea what they are going through. Assume they need encouragement and support—and give it liberally. Empathize with their situation and give grace. When you see things from others’ perspective, it softens yours; together, you might just collaborate to a win-win solution for both of you.

These 10 mindset motivators could be printed up and put on your dashboard, monitor, office door, or journal. Speak them into your life daily to set your intentions for the day. Brighter week ahead!

Want to chat about how coaching might lessen your stress and increase your peace of mind and productivity? Let’s see if the time is right for you. I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org

8 Things Not to Lose

8 Things Not to Lose

We’ve all lost our keys or wallet or sunglasses a time or two, and we’ve either found them or replaced them. However, there are less tangible things that absolutely must not be lost because of the negative consequences to living the best version of yourself AND the necessity of making the contribution you must make to the world.

Don’t lose your:

  • Hope. This is many of my clients’ one-word theme for 2021. You have to have hope to cope…with change, with disruption, with sudden left turns, with bad news. Hope isn’t blind optimism, but its element of reality plus the thinking that something good can come out of anything, is one of the best ways to build the character quality of resilience.
  • Cool. When our values get poked, we tend to react–and then regret how immaturely we behaved during our rant (and that’s if we are self-aware!). Make it a goal this year to be “difficult to offend”. As the Chinese proverb goes, “If it’s within your control, why be angry? And if it’s not within your control, why be angry.” Let ti roll off or address it with composure.
  • Faith. Many people grew up with some sort of faith experience in their homes, and some have decided it doesn’t serve them for some reason or another. That departure often creates a hole in one’s spirit. Faith in God, for me, springs from a gratefulness of what He’s done for me before and throughout my life and it’s is the foundation for any virtue that I want to express to the world.
  • Confidence. As I’m reading the book Presence by Amy Cuddy and studying the concept of executive presence in order to help the leaders I coach, I keep seeing how being your most authentic self leads to your self-confidence. The fear of entering whatever arena where you are hedging can be alleviated by reminding yourself how your motive is to add value to this situation and then doing your very best.
  • Vision. Drifting occurs when you lose your vision on the target: you get lethargic toward growth and development actions because you have forgotten your big WHY, or motive. Take the time in solitude to get re-acquainted to the compelling snapshot of the future toward which you want to go, in the various roles you play in your life. Write it down, post it, and goal-set off it.
  • Family. One of my clients said the quote the other day: “On your last day at this job, you will still have a full email in-box.” The to-do list never gets fully done; you never get fully caught-up. So, is it worth losing the daily moments with those you love the most, to do that one more task? There are glass balls (most important relationships) and rubber balls (less important tasks) on your plate; when the glass ones fall off, they break–and that damage is great. Let the rubber ones bounce back to your list tomorrow.
  • Self. Especially if you have some “pleaser” tendencies, you are tempted to live someone else’s script for your life. Always meeting someone else’s needs to the detriment of forsaking your own needs leads to emptiness. In the book Give and Take by Adam Grant, he shows the healthiest, most influential people are not the pure Givers (nor obviously the pure Takers), but those who give out of a full tank. Self-care and reconnection to your personal mission and vision are huge to avoid burnout, and better boundaries will empower your service to what matters most.
  • Focus. We all have a little attention deficit disorder in us, especially when we don’t really want to do our most important tasks/priorities. It’s so easy to “squirrel” to what’s shinier or easier. But, like a laser beam, focused energy can cut through the most difficult materials. You truly can make headway on your toughest tasks by blocking out time to do it, obeying your calendar when that time comes, removing distractions, and doing the deep work until crossing it off your list.

Which one needs deeper thought for you? Which one is your greatest temptation? You can’t tame what you can’t name. If you need a coach to help you process where you at right now in your life, ping me with an email to chat. I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org  Time to get back on track!

Increase Your Capacity to Do More with Less

Increase Your Capacity to Do More with Less

Pressure mounts at work when:

  • someone retires or gets fired, and it’s been determined the position won’t be filled
  • someone goes out on leave for an extended amount of time
  • responsibilities get added to your plate that aren’t in your job description
  • new regulations force a new way of doing things 
  • you have a sudden increase in customers/clients to keep happy
  • you have a new supervisor with higher expectations

Now what? You can’t clone yourself! But you only have so many hours in the day, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight! That’s a recipe for burnout if you don’t find a way to either shed some responsibilities to ease your load, or increase your capacity–and still make it happen. Let’s pretend you’ve delegated all you can, and your plate is still over-full.

  1. Improve specific skills. One way to increase capacity is to get better at what you do so that it takes less time. Your efficiency gets you through one task and on to another one more quickly instead of all the hesitation that comes with not knowing what to do next.
  2. Set boundaries and practice self-care. Since it’s time to put on your cape and be a superhero, it’s going to take you being in tip-top performance shape. By getting plenty of quality sleep, daily exercise of 10,000 steps, food that is fuel and not garbage, and a healthy NO that rolls off your tongue when even more “opportunities” come your way, you will be able to cope with the increased, sustained stress.
  3. Stay in your strengths zone. You are one talented worker. Do you remember why? For what elements of your job have people praised you, for years and years? What tasks give you the most energy at work, where it almost seems effortless? You’ve got to do more of THAT. Working too long in your weak areas will make you feel weak, and it will take twice as long, too.
  4. Get incredibly organized. To keep up with the influx of email, paperwork and people to serve–and technologies and supervisors to adapt to–, your work space and systems must be a well-oiled machine. Make sure there’s an easy home for everything that crosses your desk so that piles don’t form, causing distracting clutter (and thus, overwhelm). Take care of quick tasks in the moment, and block out productivity time for more critical thinking tasks–and honor those appointments with yourself!
  5. Triage tasks and then prioritize. You now must become a time management ninja. Actually, let’s call it priority management. As request for your time flow your direction via multiple media, have a master task list in one place to capture each task. Unless it’s urgent to do right away (and only YOU determine if something is truly urgent), set a daily time to review your day and preview the next day. During this half-hour of prime time, you’ll refresh your to-do list and choose your top 3 tasks for tomorrow that you MUST do, to make it a good day.  Rank the other tasks by importance, urgency, and significance and tackle them accordingly as the week progresses.
  6. Use available resources. Sing it with me, “We all need somebody to lean on.” When under additional stress, enlist the help of anyone you can–even if they just can take a piece of a project. Talk to your mentor or coach for advice. Find a way to automate some tasks using technology.

Deep breath. You can do this! Increase your capacity when your load can’t be lightened “the easy ways” and you’ll keep Growing Forward!

Still feeling overwhelmed? Check out my blog on that topic for some practical tips to deal with overwhelm.

I mentioned time management, and I have a free tool for you at www.takebackmycalendar.com Pick up my free Control My Calendar Checklist to get those first systems started. 

When You Have Nothing to Pour Out: A Leader’s Inner Health

When You Have Nothing to Pour Out: A Leader’s Inner Health

If things are not going well with you, begin your effort at correcting the situation by carefully examining the service you are rendering, and especially the spirit in which you are rendering it.”  –Roger Babson

The longer the corona-lockdowns continue, the more I hear of people’s mental/emotional health taking a beating. Have you felt like you just didn’t have what it takes to start another day, or begin work on another project, or sign on to another virtual meeting? In addition, many are lacking the vision of something to look forward to each week. Let’s first do a quick self-check to see if your mental/emotional gas tank is on E for empty.

Most of us see the writing on the wall; we just assume it’s addressed to someone else.” –Ivern Ball

Are you:

  • Frequently tired?
  • Frequently irritable or angry?
  • Experiencing loss of joy in your job and/or life in general?
  • In the middle of ongoing relational strife that hurts you deeply?
  • Suffering from declining health; recurrent health problems?
  • Not finding time to renew/relax/refresh—no separation from work and home and me-time?
  • Struggling with an external/internal problem not dealt with, that begins to consume you?
  • Feeling distant from God/your spiritual Center?
  • Overall feeling off-track or drifting through life?

If so, it’s time to Fill ‘er Up!

Visit the gas station: Take some time away, in solitude, to figure out where you are, where you want to be, and goal-set for how to get there (or utilize a list of questions from a life-coach to help you get some of that clarity).

Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” –George Washington Carver

Here are some questions for your self-reflection once you are away from your typical routine. Begin by Starting to  journal.

Before it can be solved, a problem must be clearly stated and identified.” –William Feather

  1. What is draining my tank? This identifies how the stimuli is affecting how God wired you.
  2. What’s my negative self-talk? This identifies how you are allowing arrows of discouragement to implode you.

We cannot act in a manner that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves.” –John Maxwell

Every thought we think is creating our future.” –Louise Hay

  1. What bad habit am I allowing to fester?  This identifies what is clogging the pipes in your relationships and flow of energy.  “Little faults can ruin a person just as little holes can ruin a tire.”    Blast before you build.
  2. What boundaries am I allowing to be violated? This identifies where you are taking on ownership of someone else’s problem—and getting trampled by it.  Anger is a sign of this.
  3. Has self-care been neglected? In which areas? This identifies where you are self-destructing by not feeding yourself the nutrients of life.   Stress management, nutrition, rest, exercise, preventative health exams, etc.  Downtime is not wasted time!
  4. What am I doing to refresh/renew self? This identifies how well you are balanced, your bounce-back quotient.

Life is not about how fast you run, or how you climb, but how well you bounce.”

       7. Do I have a dose of beauty and laughter in my life? This identifies how drab or vibrant your life has become.

You don’t stop laughing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop laughing.” –Michael Pritchard

Then, Build an interdependent support system of key people/life-givers:

    1. Spouse (Freshen up your marriage!)
    2. Friends (Ask for accountability)
    3. Mentor (someone further down the road from you)
    4. Counselor/coach (to get you unstuck)

A true friend is someone who can get us to do what we can.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Difficult times always create opportunities for you to experience more love in your life.” –Barbara DeAngelis

Then, on an ongoing basis: Take one day at a time; live in the present.

    1. Free up from the past (Forgive and ask for forgiveness).

Time heals all wounds unless you pick at them.” –Shawn Alexander

2. Don’t worry/live in fear about the future.

Where your head goes, your body follows.”

3. Seize the day! Deal with it!  Launch it!  Pursue it!

Just for today I will be happy. Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once.” –Sybyl Partridge

The beginning is always today.”  –Mary Shelley

Prepare your mind to receive the best that life has to offer.”  –Ernest Holmes

Then, Receive AROMA therapy:  Ask for it from your spouse and support system, or fill your life with it yourself.

    1. Affection (touch)
    2. Respect (Don’t allow yourself to be disrespected)
    3. Order (De-clutter/simplify life, work/home spaces, and mind)
    4. Merriment (Have fun, see humor in things, treat yourself)
    5. Affirmation (Self-affirmations are all you can control)

Day to day, Cease complaining and up your gratefulness quotient.

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” –Charles Dickens   You can either complain that rose bushes have thorns—or rejoice that thorn bushes have roses.

Triple-A Formula for Happiness:

  • Accept the moment.
  • Appreciate it.
  • Adapt to its opportunities.

If you haven’t yet, Start a wellness regimen.

The groundwork of all happiness is health.” –Leigh Hunt

  1. Begin exercising daily.  Find a way to move; don’t give up.

2. Start making healthy choices in eating/drinking.

3  Get plenty of rest (both sleep and other downtime)

4. Find ways (besides 1-3) to decompress: hobby, lessons, energizing activity, chatting with a friend, solitude/silence

 To stay chipper, Do something in your passion every day/week. Make a huge list of things you love; it’s a menu to pick from.

From the choices in this blog, Build new habits and protect them with boundaries. You must build momentum. What must you say NO to, in order to stay YES to these priorities?

The secret of success is what you do daily.”  –Maxwell

Without consistency, there is no moral strength.”   Mentally prepare for the day.

Now, what will you do first?

No matter how big and tough a problem may be, get rid of confusion by taking one little step toward solution.  Do something. Then try again.” –George Nordenholt

If you haven’t picked up a copy of my first book The Static Cling Principle, make it your first read of the new year. It’s about what habits to pull off your life that are draining your gas tank, and which ones you need to stick onto your life to fill you up. Jump over to www.paulcasey.org

What to do When You Feel Overwhelmed?

What to do When You Feel Overwhelmed?

Overwhelmed? You know, that feeling of “emotional flooding” where your brain can’t wrap around all the things coming at you. I like to say that “overwhelmed” simply means “not broken down into small enough chunks for your brain to process.” And the consequence is typically paralysis: “shut down: system failure”. Or maybe a bit of a panic attack/freak out. Or a pity party, being a “task martyr”.

Even though we all experience a sense of overwhelm on occasion, it’s better to have a plan on the front end so that when (not if) it happens, we can calmly work our plan and not waste energy spinning our wheels or letting negative emotions grind our productivity to a halt.

Some ideas for your “dealing with overwhelm” plan:

  • Recognize overwhelm when it is happening. The quicker you can read your emotional gauge and see that it’s running “a little hot”, the quicker you formulate a workable response to pull out of it. A lack of self-awareness is “an accident waiting for an intersection.”
  • Vocalize it to self and someone else. There is something therapeutic about simply saying your emotional state aloud. “I am overwhelmed!” If you have a trusted friend, confidant at work, a great relationship with your supervisor, coach, or a success partner–that would be with whom to share your current state. If you are a person of faith, it’s time to pray. You can’t tame what you can’t name. And that starts the constructive path out of the ditch.
  • Change your state. This is a phrase I got from motivational speaker Tony Robbins. You must do something to break the pattern of your spiraling negative thoughts and the email that keeps shouting at you with another task.  Take a break. Go get a snack. Physically get your body in motion: take a walk. Do some deep  breathing exercises. Listen to encouragement/inspiration with your earphones while slouching in your chair.  Basically, it’s recharging your batteries with some me-time.
  • Now it’s time to never waste a crisis. Dig inside for what is going on behind your emotion. Ask yourself, “What is scaring me the most? What’s driving this emotional reaction? What do I need right now?” Separate what’s out of your control (to put out of your mind asap) from what’s within your control (to do the next steps of developing a plan and focusing on it).
  • Ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, that you are incapable of handling the stressors of your job. No, it’s a strength to have both the humility to know when you are over your head, and the leadership proficiency of delegation. Talk to your team. Talk to your supervisor, if appropriate.  Tell them tasks that they can take off your plate to relieve your load right now. And discuss “What can be postponed/back-burnered?” until we get back to ground-zero.
  • Reprioritize. Determine a filter for examining your to-do list and triaging tasks. Who is most important to respond to first? What is most urgent, so that others can meet their deadlines, or so that you don’t lose a client? Which consequences will be the worst if you don’t give that task attention? Make or update your to-do list, and doing it with pen/paper helps you do a brain dump and sort your thoughts. You may even want to get organized/file/clean your desk for 20 minutes to clear away the clutter that restricts you from a clear focus on these priorities you are narrowing in on. (I have a priority ranking tool, if you are interested.)
  • Give yourself a pep talk. You are turning the corner from overwhelm to empowered. Reframe your situation positively to move forward. “I can do this!” “I’m gonna get as much of this done today as I can.”
  • Get ‘er done! Take one next step on each priority. Move the ball down the field. Initiate the email. Schedule the meeting. Write the first paragraph. Most people say that they feel most confident when they are crossing things off their list.

What do you do when overwhelmed? Any of these, or do you have some go-to strategies? Let me know at growingforward@paulcasey.org. Also let me know if you want to be in my private Facebook group: “I am growing forward!” Would love to have you as a GFF (Growing Forward Friend) in the tribe!

Feel Like You’re Just Treading Water?

Feel Like You’re Just Treading Water?

I had a client say the other day that he was just “treading water” when I asked him how he was doing in this COVID-scarred world we now live in. It made me google that phrase, because I thought it an appropriate metaphor for how so many people I encounter are feeling. To tread water is literally to “keep one’s head above water by remaining upright  and pumping the legs” and figuratively to “expend effort that maintains one’s status but does not make much progress toward a goal.”

So many people are pushing themselves to keep moving at work (and away from work) despite “attacks” on their mental and emotional wellness, in addition to the constant fear of becoming COVID-positive.  Maybe you can relate? You try to get your goals accomplished, even though it’s so not business as usual: all the workarounds to try to get your typical job done. Then there are all the distractions at home, and the feeling that work and personal life are always blurred together (hence the term “Blursday”) without clear stopping and starting one area of your life. And the things we looked forward to every year (travel, holidays, dining out) are all altered in one way or another, detracting from the fun or satisfaction we usually derive from them. So, another day and week go by and we tread water.

One fun fact I read is that a person burns 11 calories per minute due to the exertion of treading water, one of its only benefits. It led me try to find some ways to make the best of our current situation. Maybe one of these might intentionally become a goal or habit for you:

  1. Keep the long view perspective. Looking back, while you might have a bad day here or there, consider how well you have persevered through the many months of your COVID-altered life. And going (growing!) forward, extend the typical time frames of your goals to allow for how you must compensate to achieve them–but keep making progress toward them. Stay on track; make slow progress.
  2. Keep learning. This year I’ve picked up a couple facilitator certifications (DISC and Emotional Intelligence) to add to my quiver of offerings I can do for teams. I made that decision once realizing I wouldn’t be going to a conference as I normally would. What skill can you pick up? What knowledge area can you deepen? How can you stretch yourself so that you are more useful to your company or marketable for others to use your services? That’s why the motion of treading is more beneficial than simply floating.
  3. Find ways to stay buoyant. Using the treading water metaphor once again, you must find ways to keep a good sense of humor and take good care of yourself, or you’ll sink under the heaviness of 2020’s negativity. Watch clean comedians to laugh til you cry. Play games with your family that make you snicker at each other. Use social media to spread cheer instead of doom. Lavish praise on colleagues. Find things to look forward to every day: a coffee at a drive-through, a walk/jog around the neighborhood, a phone call with a good friend, time spent on a hobby that brings you joy, decorating for a holiday, cooking a new recipe.
  4. Distance but don’t isolate. Relationships are the spice of life. Conversations help us learn something new. They connect us to the spark that others possess, that we might not have at the moment (like borrowing energy!). We take our minds off our own struggles (after sharing them with someone who cares) and focus our attention on being a boost to others. We leave their presence with a fuller tank than when we arrived.

Now I throw it to you. Add to my list. How can we all make the best of our situation heading into yet another month of not-so-ideal? The bigger the list, the more options to get unstuck. Who says we can’t thrive? Let’s keep a dialogue going. Start out with an email my way at growingforward@paulcasey.org. Would love to have you in my tribe.

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