Get Motivated…Start Packing

strong-mover-201x300Most recently my daughter was in the midst of relocating and coming to terms with the boxes of clothes she had accumulated over the years. This was also a unique opportunity for me to provide a second opinion on a day that I assumed would be fraught with indecision and perhaps a few tears. However, as my daughter rifled through drawers in the bedroom she had used as a storage depot, she was clearly on a mission to release the past. Camp t-shirts, well worn jeans, special occasion dresses, and memories quickly piled up, inextricably linked together. I found myself racing down memory lane and the teen years that were not so long ago as I watched from the sidelines. She was ruthless in her judgments and soon five trash bags were filled with her selections. Once assured that this eclectic wardrobe was destined for an organization that distributed donations to their clients and not sold as bulk for cash, she could relax and revel in her accomplishment. Her history was going out the door, or in our case, at least as far as the basement… with visitation rights.

Downsizing can mean many things; a loss for some and freedom for others. Moving, in and of itself takes energy, effort and a plan. What are you leaving behind and conversely, what are you bringing along to the next space? Was it a purposeful decision or was it thrust upon you? Are the circumstances about building a future or winding down another chapter? Is there joy in your movements or grief as you pack? Whatever the situation, notice your feelings and take the time to honor them. Be kind to yourself in the process and know that you can be your own champion of chang

• Take photos of things you are donating, selling, or leaving behind that have a strong connection for you
• Creating a visual record can make the transition easier
• As you say goodbye to the old you are also able to embrace the new with open arms and a heightened sense of possibility

© 2013 Maureen Weisner

Kickstart the New Year!

Screen-Shot-2012-12-27-at-8_18_14-PMI always look forward to the various approaches to the process of behavioral change that take center stage at the end of each calendar year. Approximately 45 percent of Americans make self-improvement goals in January, yet by February much of that enthusiasm has slowed to a mere trickle. And despite our best efforts, only some 8 percent of us end up achieving those goals. Of course there are many reasons and faulty explanations abound, yet we are in good company with respect to the challenges surrounding change. Read on for Andy Horner’s other approach to kicking off the New Year with a fast track approach.

Instead of a resolution, each year I commit to a New Year’s Kickstart!

Here’s the idea: You start your year off with a big success by completing a relatively quick turnaround project that you’ve been putting off. It could be a website, blog, newsletter, new mini-business, or a presentation or webinar you’ve been wanting to complete.

It’s Your Spark Plug: Whatever your project, your New Year’s Kickstart should be the spark that ignites your bigger picture strategy for the year.

Difficulty: Hard: For your project, it’s best to choose something that will push you. Get out of your comfort zone, but avoid a challenge that’s too grandiose. I don’t want your Kickstart to end in a New Year’s Frustration.

Done in 2 Weeks: It should be something you can knock out quickly. One of the reasons New Year’s Resolutions fail is that the commitment, like losing weight, takes too long to yield results. (If you haven’t noticed, we’re an instant-gratification world now.)

I like the 2 week mark. It’s enough time to get most projects finished. It’s short enough to maintain focus. And it means you begin your year with an achievement to fuel you.

• Write it down
• Color code 2-weeks in your Kickstart calendar
• Celebrate your success!

Are You a Charter Member on the Apology Tour?

Nervous Business Woman Cringing As She Bites Her NailsHow we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Is your tendency to apologize or over-apologize? The bad news is that women do so far more than men according to a study from the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. The good news is that it is a habit that can be broken and yes, it takes practice. Constantly apologizing can certainly lower self-esteem and contribute to feelings of frustration and anger. When you say things like, “I’m sorry I interrupted you”, or “I’m sorry but I just had a question,” “Excuse me,” and more.
• Is it an automatic response to some people in your personal or professional life?
• How can you prepare for a more positive interaction?

Self-awareness is key. Take a moment to reflect the next time you begin to start a sentence with, “I’m sorry.” Apologies are appropriate if you made a mistake or were wrong, however, they can be self-esteem eroders if they are commonplace in your interactions. Likewise, new studies indicate that if you want a favor done, ask a woman. In one study, 47-business school students were asked to recall to agreeing to a favor on the job at a time when they preferred to say, “ No.”

According to authors of “Breaking the Glass Ceiling with, ‘No’, “ the female participants did the favor even though they were five times more likely than males to have reported feeling worn out. They were also twice as likely to have been worried about the consequences of saying no. In a second study, female undergrads were 50% more likely to comply with an implicit request for a favor than were male students. “The willingness of women to do favors in the workplace may lead them to become overburdened with low-skill tasks,” said the researchers.

It is important for all of us to consider who is making the request, and what the consequences of not complying are, both in and outside the workplace.

Habits can be changed but it takes awareness and practice. Begin today by listening and not automatically responding. You can agree to check your schedule/workload, for previous commitments, decide if this is something you will do and inform them accordingly. By changing your way of managing requests, you may decrease the number or type of favor you are asked to do. You can also deflect or even defer to another colleague and spread the wealth around.

If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit…

cinderella584Is what we think we want more compelling than identifying what we need? Cinderella’s stepsisters might be a quarrelsome lot on that point, for try as they might, that darned glass slipper just would not fit on their feet. One of my first summer jobs was in the shoe department of a women’s clothing store, so on a daily basis I witnessed some very surprising behaviors. Many customers were determined to make a purchase based not on comfort, color or style, but on size. Naively, my own experience with footwear was never based on the latter consideration. Imagine feeling visibly hobbled by one’s own decision to pay for something that important, that crucial to your well-being overall health that you would override sound judgment in favor of pain. I am not a Luddite and admittedly there are times when some sacrifice to comfort in favor of fashion is warranted, but on a daily basis your feet are neither too big nor too small. They are just right for YOU and if that shoe doesn’t fit, take a deep breath and place it gently back in the box where it belongs, waiting for Cinderella to claim it.

It is one thing to vainly attempt to wedge oneself into footwear or apparel that is not the proper size and quite another to base decisions on emotional factors that are a vanity of another sort. For example, investing in technology is an area that changes so rapidly it is hard to keep up and at the same time there is cache in having the newest “tools” at our fingertips. Does it announce to the world that we are smart, trendsetting players, not to be confused with the generation that is wedded to antiquated methods of doing business? Or does it mean that we have a drawer full of discarded items that were never understood or integrated into our working day?

Step back, assess and ascertain if your next purchase will be an enhancement or a costly choice and above all, please refrain from limping around your office when your cell phone rings.

© Maureen Weisner 2013

Fighting Fires Without Burning Bridges

orangeIt’s always interesting to observe how we navigate through our lives when the waters are relatively calm and then when things are not ideal. Holidays and time spent with family and friends can sometimes showcase less than perfect people and relationships. How do you respond? Is finger pointing, pouting, arguing or avoidance the behavior of choice or default? How committed are you to your attitude and what will it take to shift your perspective to a place where interests vs. positions is the big picture approach.

The job search forces you to re-evaluate and modify behaviors that could sabotage your candidacy for an opening. Your ability to listen and advocate for yourself may mean the difference between a significant offer with benefits and a more lackluster proposal. When everyone is at the table with a clear intention to come to a satisfactory agreement, the outcome will likely serve those parties and listening is a key element.

I was recently reminded of the overused but simple to understand example of how we would be best served by listening and asking the relevant questions before we are embroiled in a tug-of-war battle. One updated version of the “orange story” is as follows:

“There was once only a single orange left in a kitchen and two prominent chefs were fighting over it. Time was running out and they both needed an orange to finish their particular recipes for the President’s dinner. They decided on a compromise by splitting the orange in half and retreating to their respective corners to complete the meal preparation. One chef squeezed his half into the special sauce he was making. It was not quite enough but it would have to do. The other grated the peel into the batter for his famous cake. It too was not quite enough but it would have to do.”

An improved solution may seem obvious to you now: both chefs would have been better off had they peeled the orange and taken the part they needed. Instead, each had focused on each other’s position (the what) and not on each other’s interest (the why).

What you focus on will affect the outcome of any negotiation. It is always good to ask yourself why you want what you want. This will help you get a better understanding of what your real goals are and could also open up better results for you.

We are always negotiating in the course of a day over issues and things both large and small.
• Step back and listen
• WHY do want what you want?
• WHAT does the other person want?
• How can you both be satisfied?
• Remember the orange!

©2013 Maureen Weisner, All Rights Reserved