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!

16 Daily Success Habits

16 Daily Success Habits

I queried my coaching clients last month for the habits they do every day in order to have a better chance at a typical day being successful. It’s important to do them every day and be fully present/invested in them in order to get the cumulative effect of them on your life.

Outside of work:

  • Exercising regularly: this habit was mentioned the most often by my clients–some choose the morning, others at lunch time to rejuvenate their afternoons, and others, right after work
  • Journaling: a place to write down feelings, learnings, chronology of your life
  • Drinking more water: having that water bottle/hydroflask always within arm’s reach
  • Eating healthier: most are making small changes, from cutting out most sugar, to eating breakfast daily, to intermittent fasting.
  • Going to sleep earlier; getting up earlier: not wasting time by staying up late, but instead “getting after it” first thing in the morning
  • Doing spiritual practices: some found that Bible-reading, meditation, or prayer set the tone for a great day by setting positive intentions
  • Prioritizing Me-time: some solitude just for self without obligations to family or anyone else, for personal recharging

At work:

  • Refreshing the to-do list, then setting priorities and reminders: some kind of daily review/preview was the next highest response for success; clients wanted to stay current with what was most important to pursue and not let it fall off their radar screens
  • Checking in/engaging with someone: especially while tele-working, it takes effort–but well-worth the effort–to connect with a colleague, supervisor, or direct report
  • Allotting uninterrupted blocks of time for productivity; getting action items crossed off the list; getting a project to a milestone: blocking time for specific tasks is a time management superpower; honoring those appointments with yourself takes discipline–but the results are completed tasks, a great “reward”!
  • Allotting uninterrupted blocks of time for strategic thinking: most leaders know they need this time, but it’s tough to protect the time for thinking through ideas or next steps or a better vision for the future of the organization or team
  • Following up: this habit builds trust when you do what you say you will do; it’s also important for closing loops, and for assuring delegated tasks are moving along toward completion
  • Responding to communications promptly: it’s vital to not be the bottle-neck in someone else getting down their critical path to their task or project; answer those emails and text messages!
  • Staying organized: letting paperwork or email get out of control only doubles your stress; make systems for everything–and work your systems daily–in order to stay on top of everything
  • Developing a team member, matching their strengths to tasks: great leaders spend a little time each day helping a team member move forward on their goals or career plan, removing obstacles or making connections for them or pointing them to resources for growth
  • Bringing energy/enthusiasm/inspiration to someone else: teams become shadows of their leaders–so, by projecting enthusiasm onto others, it can become contagious–and who wants to follow an uninspired leader?

It’s a great list to pick from! How many of these do you practice regularly? What new habit do you want to incorporate this month? Let’s interact at growingforward@paulcasey.org or at Growing Forward Services on Facebook.

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. 

How to Plan Fantastic Fridays

How to Plan Fantastic Fridays

If you are like most workers, you look forward to Fridays. Some people have chosen to intentionally set aside Fridays for one big activity every week, to close out the week strong. Consider one of these “themes” for your Fridays as we enter a new year.

  • Finish It Fridays: Got lots of tabs open on your computer? You know, those things you said you’d come back to later and wrap up.  Got emails needing some deeper thought before you respond? What about half-completed to-do list items or post-its gone wild around your desk? Use Friday as a finisher to get things officially crossed off your lists.
  • Forward-looking Fridays: With potentially fewer emails come in from co-workers, this might be the time to block out an hour or two each week to preview your next week and two or three weeks beyond that. You are looking for what preparation is needed prior to appointments or meetings or deadlines so that you can get prep time onto your calendar next week. Sometimes this is a good habit to do with your team or assistant.
  • Follow-up Fridays: If you are in a business that is always on the lookout for new customers, use Fridays to prospect those leads that you met or were referred to during the past week. Call or email those contacts, reminding them of when you met, and seeing if you can be of service to them. Or, this them could entail responding to clients or co-workers who needed one item from you during your weekly meeting so that they can move forward with you.
  • Favorites Fridays: After you have surveyed your team for what they enjoy most, recognize them more thoughtfully by buying them something to make their day. Favorite coffee drink, snack, flower, office supply–lots of options here.
  • Face-it Fridays: Put one big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) on the last day of the workweek, and move the needle on it. No more procrastination. You can’t do anything else until you Eat That Frog! Ah, the weekend already seems lighter.
  • Face-time Fridays: Tell your team that you have open office hours during a block on Friday for them to touch-base with you about any concerns or ideas they might have. Or use Friday to go on the road and bring a gift to your top customers to show appreciation for doing business with you.

That was fun to brainstorm! Do you have another positive F-verb that could become a Friday theme? Let me know your thoughts at growingforward@paulcasey.org. And, speaking of Forward-looking Fridays, I have a new free tool to share with you: it’s a quick tips sheet on Crafting, casting, and carrying a compelling vision. Just text Beyond to 72000, and we’ll get it to you. Vision time!

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!

Get your Control My Calendar Checklist!

Sign up today and jumpstart your time management!

Thank you for your interest! Your checklist will be emailed to you soon.