How Creativity Enhances Your Ability To Lead

I coach leaders of all kinds, with a focus on their own development of themselves. Learning how creativity enhances your ability to lead is an important skill to hone, especially in today’s new work world. Several of my blogs speak to this, particularly February’s on adding self care to your leadership toolkit.   Seeking to add creativity into self care, elevates the benefits in your professional roles as well as within your self personally. 

Creative time can filter into your work life as enhanced problem solving and innovation, visionary thinking, and improved connection with staff.  An added bonus is your own continued career satisfaction and growth!  Both harmonize with how business is changing from the top down model of leadership to this brave new work world we’re navigating.

Forbes echoes this, saying, ‘effective leadership can require inspiration, which is often better evoked through curiosity and imagination rather than pragmatism.’ 

QUALITIES OF A CREATIVE LEADER

So how do you distinguish what makes a creative leader?  When you read the list, I bet you will think of a few people this describes.  Most of them are quite successful — like Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey. But you don’t have to be at that level of wealth, notoriety or celebrity. There are many, many creative leaders making differences in their way in all levels of the work world.

  • They are intuitive, passionate, authentic 
  • They are curious, think out of the box
  • They inspire and invite ideas and creativity of their team or in their company
  • They grasp that business models are changing, as is the world
  • They will take risks, and are willing to make mistakes
  • They can see and make connections, and strive for everyone winning
 
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein
 

HOW TO ADD CREATIVITY:

While I have suggested breaks for self care through the day, adding in creativity works on a whole different level.  Rather than doing a chore or surfing the net, try some of these:

  • Go to a museum, or an outdoor sculpture garden. 
  • Paint, learn a craft, wood work, fly a kite, do a puzzle – especially if you’ve never done them before.
  • Take your camera out specifically to photograph things for the sake of seeing differently. Do a study on the weeds in your yard, the patterns on your front steps or kitchen floor, spider webs – you name it. Art is everywhere. 
  • Repair or restore something with your own hands.
  • Play music.  Lay on the couch or floor and listen to every note like you did in high school! Dance to it. Sing.
  • Put yourself fully in the moment with grandkids and see the world as newly as they do. Engage fully in their activities with them – finger painting, frosting cupcakes, blowing bubbles, drawing on the sidewalk with chalk.
  • Spend time in your local library – preferably in the hidden areas.  National Geographic and Time have gorgeous images to look at and interesting stories to read.
  • You know the coffee table books that are mostly decor? Crack one open, and take the time to enjoy it. 
  • If you’re a hiker, biker, kayaker, or boater, do it wearing “different colored lenses’. Turn your attention from tracking miles, speed or heart rate to truly noticing  the nature around you, how your body feels with each motion.  
  • Break your routines. Try something entirely new. Say yes to things you often say no to, just to see what you learn. Go a different route and explore some new surroundings.
  • Find time for introspection. It really frees your mind and allows creativity to enter!  This could include swinging on a hammock, driving yourself to a park with few people with a picnic lunch, meditating, dancing to some favorite music, or taking a bath 
  • You may want to keep a private journal as you go. Writing something down has a way of setting intentions in your subconscious and you will be amazed at how things manifest. 
  • Educate yourself more on a topic. Read articles, do a workshop, talk to a coach.

Finding Time was my most read blog post, which confirms that it is half the battle as people strive to work new activities into their lives. I recommend reading it, as it offers solid ways to create more time to do what you really want or need to do. Even if you don’t want to add anything new to your current activities, you can achieve creative benefits by simply shifting your perspective while doing what you are doing- arguably a creative act in itself!  I’m suggesting you give a try, even for a month – and preferably a lifetime!

This video by John Spencer helps to define what I mean.

INCORPORATE CREATIVITY AT WORK

After you’ve been doing a few of these things, shift the skill of thinking from a different perspective to your work life. What is an alternate approach to your daily responsibilities and interactions with clients and co-workers? What would be some ways to bring creativity into your work and see how that develops?

  • Can you set new goals using your expanded perspective?
  • Who exhibits creative leadership in the company, your field, or the world?  Observe them, read their articles, books, or biographies. Follow them on social media, watch their interviews or output on youtube, and LEARN. 
  • What situations are opportunities to practice using your intuition instead of only relying on your head, or being led by the bottom line?
  • If you have new ideas, how can you express them constructively with others on your team?
  • What of your work or role requires the most creativity? Can you do that in the hours when you feel the freshest?  

I have written about the paradigm shift that has happened in business, jump started by Covid 2+ years ago. That business model of the future is here. There will be a direct correlation with how much it will thrive based on how you and/or your company embraces and acclimates to it – at a time when interesting the right people to fill roles and being sure they have what they need to deliver their best work is imperative. New roles are being created – ie: remote work schedulers, online meeting trainers, touch-less technologies, take out and pick up or delivery services,  online sales managers, etc… Employee well being, inclusiveness and safety concerns are more top of the list, and as a leader, working creativity into your perspective and reflecting that in your actions will take you where you need to go. 

If you would like support in working through how to utilize creativity in your role as a leader, let’s talk.

Delegate to Empower Yourself, Your Team and Your Company

One of the most important leadership skills is knowing how to delegate to empower yourself, your team and your company. It may seem obvious that delegation helps you -but not all have an easy time doing it. It might get easier if you keep in mind that not only does it free you up, it actually cultivates the growth and trust among your staff and the company reaps the benefits too!

In my work coaching executives and leaders, it’s remarkable how many operating at such high levels aren’t afraid to say how much they are shouldering, how stressful life can be, or how overwhelming the world seems at the moment. This is quite a departure from the days where you would never let them see you sweat…  But it’s no longer the right model for business today. In fact, it can come off as inauthentic.

We’ve all had so much change and complications added to our lives in recent years, and yet –the work still needs to get done. One of the most productive secrets of leadership today is to understand the opportunity in delegation: It’s a way to empower your team, build individual self confidence and effectiveness, and create a culture of trust. All involved win, including the company as a whole if done well.

The DevOps Institute defines delegation as assigning responsibility for outcomes, along with the authority to act to deliver the desired results. They go on to say, “You often hear it’s just quicker if I do it, or that’s not how I do it. This has a name: self-enhancement bias. It’s a classic trap that managers (even experienced ones) sometimes fall into.”

Reframed, delegation can be an opportunity to develop someone, or a team, increase their capabilities in the process, which is in turn a more effective method of support to yourself.

ORGANIZE TASKS

First, know what you need to accomplish and break it down into long and short term tasks. Prioritize by timeline or other criteria. Assess what you can delegate – and if it can be done by an individual, or by teams. 

CHOOSE THE RIGHT PERSON

Next, match which task to entrust to the person or people with the proper skill set – or the potential for them.  Who is that person on your team who is eager, or would like to take it to the next level, and could do so with a little support from you?

SET THEM UP FOR SUCCESS

Now, assess what will help them (and you) succeed. Is some training needed (and possible in the time frame) in order for them to do it? If you trained them, how could it help not just for this task, but for future ones? Clearly convey expectations on timing and deadlines. Delegating will show them that you trust and believe in them. This goes a long way to raise the esteem of the staff but also the general culture of trust that you can create at work.

People are happiest doing work they feel they can do well, even if they have to stretch to do it. And happy people do the best work. Delegating is a surefire way to develop them, making them more effective, confident and qualified. And lightens your load, to free you up to do more. That’s self care.

I coach the whole person, and that allows you to move to a whole different level in your work, thinking, performance – and it will pay off. What partnerships can you cultivate so you’re not doing it all yourself?Who is a trusted source? If you have concerns about your staff or certain members, lets talk it through so you can empower yourself, your staff and your company.

The Great Resignation… or Reevaluation

The Great Resignation... or Reevaluation

You’ve probably seen ‘The Great Resignation’ splashed across the headlines for the last year. But for you is it the great resignation or reevaluation?

The long pandemic caused lifestyle changes across the board. Health scares, home schooling, limited travel, and the pause from scheduled social and cultural participation got everyone off their personal treadmills.  That created the room to rethink our lives, take a look at what each aspect more closely, especially as it pertains to career. This caused a new title – The Great Reevaluation! 

Since most of us spend 40-60+ hours of our precious waking time working, what we do, with whom, and for what has been a top focus. Some took a leap early and resigned, some are feeling ready to, and others feel unsure how to really assess their choices as the world continues to change.

A Harris Poll done for USA Today reported that one in five people who resigned from their jobs either regret it, or plan to move on from that new role. If that one person describes you, it’s a true opportunity to learn more about yourself before you make the next choice. Or if you resigned but are looking for a new position, or if you are seriously thinking about it while in your current position, how can you be sure to properly evaluate where you are and what’s next?  Let’s look at three questions.

IS IT YOUR POSITION?

While everything in life involves some parts we don’t love, how well matched do you feel by what you do for 8+ hours each day? Is it stimulating, or has it gone flat? Is it challenging or  overwhelming? Does what you do give you a sense of satisfaction?

Next, are you ok with the compensation and benefits package? Are you qualified to make a move to a higher paying position? If not, would a lateral move at a different company mean an advance in pay, a better fit with co- workers or the way you’d work? Would getting more training, taking some classes, or getting a degree help you significantly? If so, can you realistically budget for that in both time and money?

It’s important to look at both your values and experience of the position as well as the money, because just chasing money without the rest will risk that regret instead of a reward.

If you like the people and the company, is there another position within the company you could to transfer to or apply for when there’s an opening?

IS IT YOUR BOSS?

Before you resign, or take a new job, ask: Is your employer the right fit? This is based on way more than just liking them or not. It’s about how they open up or restrict your growth. Do they encourage two-way communication, give you work that is important to you, motivate you to stretch yourself? Is there clarity in assignments, mutual respect or fairness shown to you?  Are you supported in discussing being assigned that’s better matched to your strengths and values?

If you are seeking a new employer, approach interviews like you are exploring them as much as they are you. While it is an employees market right now, the key is to not come off as entitled. This is more of an internal watch for clues. One way is to truly do your research on not just the company and its leaders, but the person you’d be working for. Carefully prepare your interview answers so you can flesh out what you might want to know. It’s common to be asked: what would you like to know or what are you seeking work here for (and you can cover what you hope for in the position with your boss as well).

IS IT THE COMPANY CULTURE?

In this climate, it’s as important to assess if the company’s culture is right for you, even if you work remotely.

Ask yourself: How does your company culture and branding – in terms of diversity, age ranges, top down leadership or group think, work style, philanthropy, reputation for being cutting edge or family and community oriented –fit with your own values? Do you align with the company mission? Do you like the vibe at the company?

And do you feel a connection with the people working with you? This is really important, because we spend so much time with them – sometimes more than with our own friends and family.

After examining these options, you might be fine at your current job, realizing it pays well and provides benefits, and be finding more purpose and play in your personal life. Having gone through all this is likely enough to have answered your questions and I hope, have you showing up at work more settled and happy than before.

If you like the company but are just feeling your work is not satisfying, is there another department or position you could transfer to? If you need to sit tight, consider reframing your mindset. Can it become more enjoyable if you delegate or deal differently with clients or coworkers that drag things down, and focus more on those who create ? If you’re overwhelmed, what can you cancel, or delegate? If  not , should you reach out to your boss for help? Or lighten things up on your personal schedule to recharge to handle work during this time?  What can you shift toward making the day more purposeful?

If this reevaluation makes you feel your boss or company doesn’t fit your values, skill set, or sense of meaning and purpose, it may be time to seek  another position where there is better alignment.

If you’ve determined that you aren’t loving where you are, and want to be more certain of what to look for before you take the leap, reach out to me, and lets’ talk.

Find Opportunity in Transition

Find Opportunity in Transition

Change is happening globally, and that’s changing each of us. But there is a way to find opportunities in transition. 

According to CNN, a record number of people quit their jobs in 2021… 68.9 million of them!  And a whopping 47.4 million of those transitions were voluntary. 

Whether you are thinking of leaving your current position or have already left (by choice or involuntarily), there are things to wade through in the transition. Change is a constant, and we need to address what’s going on inside us in order to move through these times wisely, and make authentic decisions. 

Think about how much we tie our identities to what we do, how many hours of our lives we spend at work and what the money earned or benefits allow us to do. Changes to that can bring up a lot of questions, concerns and emotions. Add a global pandemic, and all the recent news. It’s a call to evolve, and therein lies the opportunity in transition. Let’s take a look at how.

WHAT DRIVES YOU

There’s a trend in meaningfulness now – in work and your life. While we all expect to handle a reasonable level of undesirable tasks, people and situations, it’s begun to not be okay to just tolerate everything for the sake of the job anymore. Now, our drivers are shifting toward needing more purpose and fullness from our work. If this is coming up for you, are you struggling to give yourself permission to want that – or even require it?  

Motivators used to be about getting a better office, working longer hours to be recognized, or dealing with a terrible boss or a sabotaging coworker for a new title or bonus. Now we may ask ourselves very different questions like: how is work helping me be better? Can my strengths really shine here? Can this role help me make a contribution? And if I am to continue where I am, how can what I do at work matter more to me?

The answers are found in your values, how you spend your precious time, and getting clear on your priorities. The need to unpack this paradigm shift has become so prevalent, I’ve covered each in my recent blog posts. Transitions can be empowering but CHANGE is something many are not that comfortable with. Yet change is the only certainty in life. So you have some rich resources here within my blog to start with. 

Let’s look at some of the subtler feelings to address: 

DOUBT 

Whether you lost your job, are transitioning to a new one (or are thinking about it), or want to build a side hustle that could become full time, you may begin to doubt your abilities. Ask yourself if there is any legitimacy to that. Would you need to acquire new skills, and are they within reach? Are you financially able to make the leap?  If you had to move, are you the kind of person who adapts well? What strengths do you have that could carry you? Doubt can present legitimate concerns, and those can be addressed. But when doubt is dancing with your fears, take note. This is where it can really help to talk with someone to gain outside perspective. 

FEAR

Even the most confident person will have deeper thoughts about what they’re doing. “Is it too risky?” “Could I fail?” “What if I lose my health care?”  Depending on your situation, the specifics could be many, but what’s underneath it all is fear.. Addressing those questions are useful, even practical. 

Not leaving what you knew can feel safer as a devil-you-know situation.

But if your desire to leave is greater, trust that. Respect your fears rather than shove them down. They are there to help you – not to paralyze you! Get your fears out of your head and onto paper. Once you see them on a page, they become much more manageable. And it’s easier to see there  are practical ways to address each, one by one. Do this and they shouldn’t keep you up anymore!

GRIEF

Yes grief. It may not be so obvious, but there can be subtle ways grief surfaces. Again, it’s there to be honored, and worked through, because doing so will free you. Ignoring it down will not. If you feel this, you’re not alone;  it’s common when you leave a job. What can help is figuring out whether you identify with your actual occupation or with the organization you work at. If it’s the latter, you may want to see if you can work in a different sector of your company rather than depart.  

REGRET

Another thing that will help you make decisions is a regret test. Picture where you’re at, all you’re feeling and what you’d like to do. Now flash forward to an age you consider to be old. Think of how you’d feel near the end of your time to accomplish things in life if you hadn’t made the change you’re considering. Would you regret it?

Racking focus this way helps eliminate some of the nagging questions and concerns in the present, or will at least put them in perspective. 

COURAGE

Find Opportunity in Transition

All these feelings and concerns give you an opportunity to learn something new about yourself. It actually serves you to be willing to look at them, and then equally realize what strengths, skills and way of thinking you can employ to balance them. Courage is the willingness to do this honestly. 

Sometimes it’s a lot easier to process these when you have someone neutral to talk it through with, who has the training and insight to help with your best interests in mind. 

My work is to partner with you to empower yourself where fears and doubt once were. Contact me and we can talk  about reaping the rewards and wisdom available as you navigate the way forward.

Your Leadership Toolkit: Add Self Care

Zen-art-collage

Today, evidence is pointing to an essential skill ripe to add to your leadership toolkit: self care. Leading is hard work, especially so during these times.  Although often viewed as a luxury, balanced self-care is more important than ever for leaders and managers up to the C-suite for peak performance.

As we enter the third year of a pandemic, some of the early upheaval in the office may have begun to settle. Yet a new constant has become learning how to manage ever-present flux and ongoing uncertainty.  To meet the challenges, leaders focus on performance, and achievement which often require hard work, long hours and grit as a professional necessity. This can have a significant impact on health, well-being and personal lives.

SELF CARE AS AN ESSENTIAL PROFESSIONAL SKILL

Let’s start with debunking some limiting beliefs about self care. Far from being self-indulgent or weak, it has become more mainstream. That means it’s on the minds of  your staff and many of your peers. ‘Between 2019 and 2020, Google Search Trends shows a 250% increase in self-care related searches…Men and women of all age ranges.’

Search data suggests people are moving on from simply exploring the topic to taking action, ie: buying different products, eating differently, and practicing new ways to exercise, recreate and relax.

Forbes Magazine recently tackled the topic, saying, ‘Let’s be clear on what self-care is and what it’s not. Self-care is not selfish, but a necessary lifestyle practice for good health. It isn’t just something you do to recover from illness or crisis, but is also preventive and proactive. It’s a way to value and love yourself, but also demonstrate to others that you care to show up at your best for them, personally and professionally. Consistent self-care practice is what sustains our energy and motivation to keep moving through life successfully, and it is a tool of resilience to help us through the hard times.’

And I agree – besides reaping infinite personal benefits, you will set an example for staff and even clients about bringing your best to the table.

HOW TO ADD SELF CARE

Here are some things to consider:

  1. TIME: We all have the same amount of time in a day, yet some use it better. Though we each have different situations, you can create more time by identifying where you waste it – and instead put that toward things that will actually create more energy, clarity, strength, humor and grounding.  You’ll find guidance on How to Find More Time in January’s Blog.

  2. PRIORITIES: Practicing self care helps you identify what’s important to you. Knowing your priorities can inspire you to let go of your time wasters, or make different choices to replace them with what truly supports and excites you. November’s blog will get you clear on who and what really matters to you.

  3. CHANGE: Self care will help you achieve more. What could you stop, start, or do differently to improve your mental and physical health?  If you were to advise your best friend on this, what would you suggest about self care? Now try that on for yourself.

  4. VISION:  I invite you to take a moment RIGHT NOW to shut your eyes (yes, literally!) and envision yourself eating better, exercising regularly, getting good sleep, having fun and spending fulfilling time with the people who matter most into your life.

ENVISION A LEVELED UP LIFE

If you began to add self care in this way, how different would your life be? How would you feel physically? How would your most important relationships be enhanced? Would your outlook shift for the better?

And how much better would you perform at work?

I rest my case.

Self care is no longer a luxury. You can start anytime and make progress in increments on the road to finding what will work. Even very small changes, employed consistently, can make a tangible difference.

The very fact that you’ve read this means you’ve already begun!

You’ll reap countless rewards from personal self care. Adding it to your leadership toolkit will not only be leading by example, but facilitate your peak performance!

If you would like support in working through how adding self care to your life, and  in your role as a leader, this is what I do best. Reach out and let’s talk.

How to Find More Time

How to find more time has been a bit of a quest for the holy grail of modern life, well before the added challenges we’re facing today. But it is possible to find time. We manage to find a way to meet the new grandbaby, take a dream trip, or book a necessary medical procedure, no matter how busy we are. But how can we apply that day to day?

The last 2 years of the pandemic and all the ways it’s affected our daily lives has really had an impact – so first, we each need to give ourselves a break. The way to get through this is to ground ourselves by creating deeper meaning and order in our own lives. Getting clear on true priorities, based on our values, then making room for them goes a long way in staying centered in the midst of it all. 

If you want help to identify those things, visit both the November and December blogs. 

Either way, how do you find the time to do what you need to?  We all have the same 24 hours to work with. Some manage it well. You can be one of those people. How?

We can make time for what’s important if we stop giving it away to what’s not.

Take a pause here. Let that sink in. 

How To Find More Time

Write down a list of where you misspend your time. Let yourself think on this for a good while, so the less obvious ways will arise. Be really honest here, because it’s this list that will empower you to create a more rewarding life. 

Examples are:

  • Constantly checking emails and texts
  • Meaningless scrolling through Social Media
  • Over-watching TV (rehashed news stories, games or sports)
  • Overdoing anything to excess- shopping, eating, sleeping, cleaning 
  • Doing low priority items as a way of putting off important ones
  • Falling down a rabbit hole on the internet
  • Unnecessary meetings, or poorly run ones
  • Saying ‘yes’ to too much – especially to social “obligations”
  • Lack of priorities or of keeping them top of mind daily
  • Doing for others what they can (and should?) do for themselves
  • Trying to do it all, perfectly

The last two are time killers indeed. 

Create Solutions 

Now that you’ve located some real time wasters, the good news is, you can create your own solutions! 

Make room for a brainstorming session- even if you have to drive to some park bench to get it. Take one item at a time and come up with practical ways to solve the time waster. Take into account both behavior changes and internal drivers – how your thinking may need to shift, and that you may need to inform some people that changes are afoot. This makes it all easier to change.

Improve Work Habits

We kind of fell into our habits with emails, texts and social media… and now they contribute to the countless interruptions to our day. So it is totally accomplishable to walk into new habits to restore some order, focus and productivity. Set times to check email and texts, ie: for the first half hour at your desk, then just before or after lunch, and again an hour before you leave.

Explore your notifications and sounds on all your devices. Set up a special ring for the emergency ones, and learn how to turn all others off so you take the lead, rather than every ping yanking you out of where you need to be. 

Follow by blocking time for uninterrupted work. People will get to know that you don’t answer your phone for personal calls until lunch time (or while driving, or on Sunday mornings for that matter). If you have to, tell the 5 people who expect an immediate response to non-essential texts that you’re shifting how you do things.

Curate Your Consciousness

Become aware of what goes into your head each day – news, music, relatives, clients, bosses and their needs or  problems, plus your own inner commentary on it all. When it all is too much, why not decide to watch only funny movies, or read rom coms instead of the new White House tell all? It’s OK to protect your psyche! 

Scale Down Social Media

A big part of consciousness curation is your social media habits. Is it time to go through your friends list on FB, Twitter, IG, etc and let go of who you don’t really know, or whose been a bit of a drag?  Be thoughtful about it, Maybe you can’t just delete a cousin without issue, but check your privacy settings. You can hide their posts for some time, or make a list of FB of what friends can’t see your posts. 

If you are going to spend some time scrolling each day, you might as well  se and hear things that raise your serotonin, feeds your hope and strength, teaches you something or brings joy. It can still be a sink hole but at least your feed will be positive. 

Go down your list and add at least one solution to each time waster till you complete the list. Don’t expect to shift it all overnight. It took time to make the habits, so give yourself a little time to make new ones. Keep this front and center and keep working at it.  If you see it as the way to spend more time on who and what really matters to you, you will succeed!

As you enter the new year, now is a great time to make meaningful changes. I offer private coaching sessions and can partner with you to help you live your best life.

Let’s Connect and get started!

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!