This New Year Can STILL Be Your Best Yet!

Photo of 2 round loaves of bread on a table with flowers

Even in all the tumult and uncertainty, this new year can still be your best yet.  And those aren’t empty words. What we’ve all been through has its hidden blessings as well as its lessons. This time of year naturally inspires reflection on what has been, and what may lay ahead… That can seem daunting when so much is unknown. It’s hard to even count on what’s happening week to week!

In answer, I posted the first of a two-part Primer. Part one was November’s blog entitled The Time is Ripe for Getting Clear on Priorities. A few simple questions hone in on your true priorities – which may have changed or become clearer due to the challenges of the last 20 months. With those in mind, you establish just a few main achievable goals. Imagine the peace of mind that comes from narrowing it down, and getting clear.

In Part Two, the focus is on making intentional strides toward your goals and priorities, by quarter, month and day. We break it down into manageable bites. It works. You’ll spin your wheels a lot less and instead spend your valuable time and energy where it matters most to YOU. How amazing would that be. Are you in?

If you haven’t done the first part yet, visit November’s blog, then come back here to do Part Two! 

LIFE LIVED BY THE QUARTER

Begin by dividing the calendar year into four 3-month quarters. 

  •     Q1 January-March 
  •     Q2 April-June 
  •     Q3 July-Sept
  •     Q4 Oct-Nov

SIZE UP THE BIG PICTURE

Chose a 12-month calendar that works for you whether a big desktop calendar, a spreadsheet or a digital planning board like Trello or Infinity. It’s good to be able to see the year and quarters at a glance, if possible.

COLORIZE YOUR CATEGORIES

Then think of main categories that take time in your life, WORK, FAMILY/LOVE LIFE, SOCIAL, SPIRITUAL, HEALTH/EXERCISE, and any major PROJECT (from home reno to having a baby) or EVENTS (from concerts to trips). Assign colors to each, picking your favorite for Self Care.

Taking it quarter by quarter, begin to fill in, in the corresponding color:

  1.  WORK SCHEDULE –Start by filling in your work, plus vacation days, related events to create a framework. If you freelance, or pick up extra work as it comes, this is where planning only in 3 month chunks, or monthly/weekly really helps.
  1. MAJOR LIFE EVENTS – Add holidays, trips, weddings, taking kids to college, medical procedures, moving, renovation, having a baby, etc. Those are pretty solid and will make the time in-between stand out more.
  1. SELF CARE – A non-negotiable category! In the remaining white space, plug in Self Care every day. Some days it can be generous, others it might just be 10 minutes. And know you will keep each, like you would a doctor’s appointment or a trip to Italy! In other words, this a priority, and frankly, what makes all the rest work.
  2. SOCIAL – Yes this comes after Self Care, but can be part of it too. This is anything you do regularly, like a book club, lessons, church or volunteer work, which goes into the calendar to work around. If it conflicts with your self care, consider if you’ve committed to too much, or what can be worked around. Save things like concerts or dinner with friends for when they crop up. 

All the rest you fill in by week, day and hour as it comes up during each quarter. But the framework of the most important things are what remain solid, to work around (give or take a social commitment that may change). Reviewing the next quarter every few months gives you great flexibility to roll with the unexpected and keep living the life you want with intention and awareness. 

PRE-QUARTER REVIEW 

PLAN THE COMING QUARTER – Now this is key. The quarter closest in time can be the easiest to foresee in more detail. So a month out from the next quarter, schedule in a half hour to review the quarter you’re in and sketch out the coming quarter. Bring forward anything that is really important. Ask yourself with each thing you put on the calendar, is this a priority, is this within what I value, is this taking me toward my goals. 

Not every dentist appointment or garbage night has to fit that. And each day, recommit to scheduling in self-care.

ADD A LITLE PADDING – Just like we may pad a budget to handle any mishaps, build in a little open time to each week or month for the unexpected to crop up by not overbooking yourself. BONUS: This calendar set up will make it very easy for you to get back on track.

Congratulations on doing amazing work! Whatever you put in writing sets you on a course where you’ll naturally make decisions based on the work you’re doing now, even if you don’t refer to the calendar religiously. Why? Because it plants a seed in you based on your authentic intentions and what you truly value. You will inherently make choices toward that and 12 months from now you’ll see that you still walked the path you set out now. 

This new year can still be your best yet! Welcome a fresh new year as much as a fresh new you. What means most to you will be you top of mind, and the overwhelm of life will be exchanged for very manageable bite size pieces, with the flexibility to handle the unexpected.

The pandemic did us a service by showing us what really matters.  Don’t let that slip away.

If you want support for your planning process, I am happy to help!  Let’s talk and see what what is possible for you.

The Time is Ripe for Getting Clear on Priorities

Trail-Newburyport-Fall-Leaves

As this year is fast coming to a close, the time is ripe for getting clear on priorities. The holidays ahead will bring a lot of joy and add to your already full days. But it also is a really great time to reflect, looking back and then forward to the coming fresh new year.

In today’s tumultuous world, we’re wise to look for any window of respite we can find. You may be thinking that November isn’t a typical time of new beginnings… but it can be. Now is a great time to begin looking ahead to the coming year, and sketch out some goals – both personal and professional.

You may be thinking: Sounds nice, but how do I do that?

I’ve put together a two-part Quarterly Planning Primer to get you started! This is not the average to-do list or work forecast plan. It’s a different approach, based on how we all have changed over the last 20 months. My Primer begins by clarifying what matters most to you this month. Then, my December blog will cover how you can incorporate your priorities regularly, by breaking the year ahead into manageable blocks of time.

This is where we are evolving to, and we need the tools to take us to the top of our game, both in the present and into the future.

IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITIES

We start with identifying what you value, personally and professionally. It’s good to write this down in a way you can keep it to return to as things shift or are accomplished.

Name the top 5 of these:

  • What you most value
  • People/groups that mean most to you
  • What want to spend your time doing
  • What makes you happy, whether big or small

Now name these top 5:

  • Personal goals at work
  • Goals expected of you at work
  • Rewards from your work
  • Biggest work challenges

If you want to continue along these lines of discovery, I think you’ll find my May blog, How to Transition Toward Your New Work/Life Balance, interesting.

 ASK YOUR HEART AND GUT

I wrote about Heart Intelligence and Gut Intelligence  in my blog series earlier this year. They are super-skills. Science is finding Heart and Gut Intelligence to be as real and calculable as our brain function. We know those times we’ve ignored our body’s cues. The key is to combine what all three have to offer in all aspects of your life.

So look at your answers again, this time tuning in to your body’s signals. How much really feels right? Can’t tell exactly? Here’s a clue: when you read each, do you find you feel happy? Frustrated or discouraged? A little tense somewhere (your throat or jaw, hands or chest)? Tired? Grounded? Ask if your answers are based on what’s expected of you, or what you ‘should’ want, rather than what you really want.

This is just applying a different layer of perspective, to make sure your heart and gut intelligence was involved, not just your head. After looking at it this way, is there anything you’d adapt or change on your lists? Go ahead and do that.

FANTASTIC! Now you have a lot of authentic information to apply.

THE BIG PICTURE 

Now you have a grasp on your PRIORITIES about what makes you happy and what is more obligatory. The big picture focuses on what you truly want in order to actively be pursuing it. So let’s boil it down even more.

What would you love to say you’d accomplished, both personally and professionally, if you could project yourself to 12 months from now?

Answer in three areas, keeping it to 1-2 items each:

  • Work:
  • Self-care:
  • Family/Friends/Love life:

Now, look at the answers using your gut and heart intelligence. What do you feel when you look these over? Do they ring true to you? If not, revisit them and do your best to tweak them. No need to get hung up here, but to begin using these new tools to root out your highest good.

This exercise has narrowed down your most important GOALS for the year ahead!

Now you know your priorities, based on your values, and have formed a short list of the most meaningful goals for yourself, at work, and with family and friends!

In December’s blog, we will talk about planning – how you create the path to these goals and intentionally work toward them each month. Sounds great, you may say, if I only had more time.  We’ll cover that too! We can make time for what’s important if we stop giving it away to what’s not.

It is a a really positive turning point. If you want support for your planning process, I am here to help. It’s easy to reach out to me for a chat and see what can happen! 

How To Transition Toward Your New Work-Life Balance

Salisbury Rail Trail

You may be wondering how to transition toward your new work-life balance, as mandates relax and many advance through opening phases. What will that look like? And how do you get from here to there?

What a year! While the US may be starting to emerge after dealing with a mysterious and confusing pandemic, other countries are in the throes, while some are virtually Covid-free… but all it takes is a glance at the news to know what’s happening around the globe, and that affects us all.

START WITH WHERE YOU ARE

It’s been stressful for everyone. There have been countless articles and TV specials covering ever-changing medical updates, how to keep fit, handle holidays, look good online and even open your mail! As we begin to surface from it all, many find ourselves exhausted, grappling with various comfort levels, and navigating a new frontier while earning a living. Many have worked all through the lockdowns – trying to stay afloat in a local business or Zooming at home at makeshift desks alongside kids and pets.

How do you process the strong desire to connect while respecting your (and others) concerns and normalize fears when Covid isn’t gone yet? It’s not the same world, so we won’t be going back to the same office. Not all of our co-workers may return. Our favorite place for lunch may be closed. There will be different routines developed and continually evolving hybrids.

It’s A LOT of adjustment.

Many of us are afraid to go back. Some are chomping at the bit. Others want to retire or do something entirely different. How do we navigate all that with intention, thoughtfulness and grace? It all depends on where you’re at.

FIVE QUESTIONS

Here are some questions to ask yourself to find out. Find a quiet time when fresh with a nice cup of something, and take these at your own pace.

1. What did you learn from experiencing this pandemic?

    • What did you discover is important to you?
    • What have you learned you can live without?

2. What benefits or hidden blessings did you experience?

3.What do you hope to remember about this time of global shutdown?

4. What parts of quarantine life, and practices do you want to keep?

5. What support do you need moving forward?

    • What would that look like?
    • Who and what can help?

It may take some time to find the answers, but they are in you… and they are crucial to explore. I invite you to take this opportunity to review what you want – and don’t — and get some clarity around that which you don’t want to lose sight of as you ease back.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

It’s one thing to orchestrate the answers in your personal life, but how do you do that at work? Whether you’re in charge or report to someone, the company is figuring it out too. Here’s some thoughts:

  • What are your options for a phased in approach at the company?
  • Are they considering a hybrid or rotational work model?
  • What do you need to do to feel comfortable in terms of a clean workplace, the ability to mask or distance while at work?
  • How do you open up lines of communications, for employees, co-workers and employers?
What we all have in common is the place to start. ~ Doris Roach

A lot of that communication needs to happen. Degrees of comfort will vary as much as each individual.  Some feel a vaccine is a free pass, some are still wearing double masks and scared, and many are in between, perhaps taking care of a high risk person at home. The good news is, everyone is in the same boat when it comes to adjusting at work. What we all have in common is the place to start.

Whether you must return soon, have been working all through this, or aren’t sure what’s next, these questions will move you into new thinking that will come in handy. If don’t have the luxury of finding a window of free time to sit with these questions, you can still mull them over when you’re commuting, on break, showering, mowing the lawn or walking the dog!  Give yourself permission to think a new work-life balance through internally. Take one at a time, read more on the topic, talk to others. All will create a shift, even if subtly, and answers will come.

I am one of those people you can talk to, especially if you are struggling or want guidance in going deeper. Contact me and let’s talk about what you need! I’m here to help.

Harness the Three Brains of Leadership

Harness the Three Brains of Leadership

To be an effective leader in today’s climate of challenge and change, harness the Three Brains of leadership — not just the one in your head, but the ones found in your gut and your heart. If you rely solely on using your head, you’re leaving these two other vital resources untapped.

 

Three Brains?

A wealth of neurological evidence is emerging, pointing to each of us having three “brains” — the intelligence found in our head, but also in our gut (the enteric brain) and heart (the cardiac brain). All are innate and at work 24/7, whether you utilize their messages or not. My goal with this series is to introduce you to the findings from these scientific studies as an exciting new way of operating in your work and life, and to help you to develop it.

Head Intelligence

My series started with The Role of Heart Intelligence in Leadership followed by How to Listen to Your Gut. I deliberately saved Head Intelligence for last as it’s the most familiar to us all.

Our head is constantly taking in and processing information in order to make decisions. We rely on this as our primary source of information. It also governs things that are so automatic we don’t even notice, ie: our breathing, heart beat, fighting infection, etc. Amazing that we carry on, largely unaware of the very things that are at work moment by moment, even the ones that are literally keeping us alive!

Heart and Gut Intelligence

Similarly, our heart and gut are also taking in information and communicating to us. They can serve us greatly, if we only tuned in! We’d have much more information at our disposal about people, projects and situations from which to pick and choose, apply or reserve.

The ability to do this is showing up as a key quality to carry leadership forward in a demanding world. Much is beginning to be written about this, for example, this article by Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka:  In it they say, “A new field of leadership development is emerging, known as mBIT (multiple brain integration techniques). It provides organizational leaders with practical methods for aligning and integrating their head, heart and gut brains for increased levels of emergent wisdom in their decision-making, and for developing an expanded core identity as an authentic leader.”

Integrate Your Three Brains

Now that you know that science is finding Heart and Gut Intelligence to be as real and calculable as our brain function, the key is to combine what all three have to offer, to truly be at your best.

Instead of making decisions, taking action, and communicating based solely on what you have in your head, imagine taking advantage of this additional, very real and useful intelligence to add to or blend the information from your head!

Leaders who make it to the top often rely on their instincts – their gut intelligence, or by listening to their heart — and have confidence to act boldly. We think of them as mavericks, apart from us mere mortals. Rare.

But my point is that none of us are “mere” anything! We all have these three brains within us, ready and available. We develop our brains through experience and education. All that needs to be developed for our Heart and Gut Intelligence to serve us is our awareness of them, and an ability to utilize each to the degree needed with any given person or situation.

Can you imagine feeling as comfortable sourcing what your gut and heart tell you as you do with your head? To access only one is to miss operating at your full potential not just your work, but with your family, friends, and in your community — not to mention your own life experience too!

The good news is, by the mere fact of your reading this far, we’ve begun that inner conversation! That small shift can begin to create, in its quiet way, concrete changes over time. If you want to learn how to identify which brain you are or could be using, and judge when to act on it – or not act, that is my specialty!

Please get in touch and let’s talk about your goals!

How To Listen To Your Gut

How To Listen To Your Gut

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘It takes guts’ or have been asked: ‘‘What does your gut tell you?” But do you know how to listen to your gut? What is the gut exactly? How do you distinguish what messages come from your gut vs. your mind? If you have ever felt pings from your body at key moments, or had a strong feeling about a situation or person, you have been utilizing signals from what experts are now calling Gut Intelligence (GQ).

"Every single person has Gut Intelligence—intuition. It’s innate, and is just about whether we tap into it or not."

We know of our IQ: our intelligence, education, and training. We rely on it, and put a lot of effort into improving it, in ourselves and in our children. In the last two decades,  value has been placed on our Emotional Intelligence (EQ) — the ability to empathize or understand the needs of others. EQ, (or Heart Intelligence) has begun to reach beyond the obvious social rewards to its application in business, with clients and our audience. 

Today there is much scientific evidence emerging that we have a third “brain,” stemming from the gut, or the enteric nervous system… and it is being called Gut Intelligence (GQ). 

In literal terms, your gut is the pathway from your esophagus through your digestive system, but did you know that it’s got more neurons to fire communications through your body than your brain has?  Besides it’s important work in your digestive system, it is also your inner alarm system – the place your fight or flight triggers come from!  While the brain is busy being distracted by all kinds of data, in a dangerous situation, the gut kicks in. It processes information far faster, releasing signals through the body to the brain, all focused on protecting you!

Jay Pasricha, M.D., director at Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, said in a recent post, “The enteric nervous system doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our big brain—with profound results.” In a word, it’s instinct. We’ve evolved out of primal days when we needed those skills to stay alive, except for extreme circumstances in modern life like avoiding a car accident. Yet those signals are still in top working order and can now be incredibly empowering to you in your work life. 

Being gutsy has positive connotations, but hints that it’s the quality of a maverick, not the average person. The truth is, every single person has Gut Intelligence. It’s innate, and is just about whether we tap into it or or not. 

It can be hard for those in leadership to put much faith in their intuitive instincts over stats, trends, and deadlines. But it’s as viable a skill as any other you’ve honed. One that out pictures as courage, and can heighten the success of any endeavor, professional or personal. You won’t abandon your data, systems, or protocols by adding your intuition… you enhance it! 

We know those times we’ve ignored our body’s hints and clues. So if your gut  senses and communicates critical things your head may not, how can you become aware of that and trust it? And how do you know when to use your instinct or just note it and wait?

If you want to learn how to listen to your gut and develop trust in your judgement calls, I’m here to help. Let’s talk!

This is the second of a three part series on Intelligence. Read the first, The Role of Heart Intelligence in Leadership, and bookmark this blog to return for the third installation next month!  Even better, sign up to my newsletter for my latest blog posts, inspiring hand-picked resources, and to be the first to hear of my upcoming workshops and coaching opportunities.