stress

I Deserve Better

In the past couple of days, I have made great strides in overcoming my “breakup.” I have to say “breakup,” with quotation marks, because this was not a romantic relationship. Rather, I’m referring to my relationship with my former mentor. Even though there was no romantic interest or romance involved, I found the end to this relationship to be even more devastating than the end to any of my previous romantic relationships. Here’s why.

Before, I had talked about how I felt like I didn’t fit into the culture of my old organization, nor did I feel like the business model was right for me. All of this was true. However, even though I felt that way, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the organization because of my mentor.

For the majority of my life, I had prayed to meet someone who would want to listen to me talk about my feelings, thoughts, and ideas all the time. I prayed for someone who would not only eagerly listen to me, but who would then go on to support me, comfort me, and offer me sage advice that I could then use to improve my life.

My mentor was that person for me.

Not only that, but I truly enjoyed his company. We both shared a love of music, writing, and creativity. We both shared the same sense of humor and jokes. We both cared about overcoming, healing, and making a difference in our own lives so that we could go out there and make a difference in the lives of others. We both wanted to do something great with our lives and achieve lasting greatness, legacy, and impact.

But mainly, I enjoyed his spirit. I have never met anyone who was more giving, selfless, and kind. I have never met anyone who was more gentle, caring, and understanding. I have never met anyone whose presence was so calming, soothing, and peaceful. And I have certainly never met anyone with so many great relationships across the board (spouse, children, family, friends, mentors, mentees).

Yet I didn’t want to stay in the organization, and I knew it. But I also knew that if I left, that would change everything about the relationship. Because I was dealing with re-establishing myself in the music scene in MA, growing my music studio and my monthly income, as well as becoming aware of deep trauma that had occurred in my early childhood, at the time I was not prepared to lose the one source of stability that I had in my life.

I had already lost the other source of stability I had in my life – his wife. To be fair, I had tried very hard to become great friends with her. One of my strengths is that I am very skilled at building new relationships with others, but she was always resistant and unreceptive to building a good relationship with me. She didn’t like my method of building relationships, but when I asked her for feedback, she was unable to provide me with a different way. She always discouraged me to share myself with her, didn’t want to share herself back with me, and didn’t want to help me through any of my struggles. Eventually, she told me that she just didn’t want to communicate with me until I had completely resolved my struggles. So she turned out to be a Fair Weather Friend who had abandoned me in my time of need, not a Hard Times Friend who stuck it out, and therefore I lost the motivation to work on our relationship.

Anyway, for many months I struggled through all of the multifarious issues that I faced at the time. I had a lot on my plate, and I was unable to take on any more. I needed to remove something, stat. Yet due to the magnitude and scope of everything I was dealing with, my difficulty managing negative emotions in conflicts, and my propensity towards an aggressive, rather than assertive communication style, much of my anger and overwhelmed feelings were projected onto my mentor. Not only that, but I was constantly being triggered back into scarcity mindset because I feared that leaving the organization meant losing the relationship; also, I was triggered because the submissive style of the mentor/mentee relationship reminded me of the toxic and abusive relationships from my past.

Yet despite my anger, attacks, and demands, most of which I was unaware of doing (in scarcity mindset, that’s a normal way of talking when you’re upset), he did not tell me that I was hurting him and/or draining him of energy every time I was triggered and slipped back into scarcity mindset. Instead, what happened was that I kept calling meetings that were designed to discuss something that would remove an item from my emotional plate and free up my capacity, for example my thoughts about whether or not to leave the organization. Then, he would derail the meeting to try to teach me about handling conflict correctly in relationships, or tell me that it was my responsibility to make a decision to abruptly change my mindset from scarcity back into abundance (It’s not possible to make a decision like that in scarcity – that’s an abundance trait. Changing the mindset back from scarcity to abundance takes a LOT of effort and work). I would become annoyed that my meeting was being derailed and my time wasted, because with his hectic schedule, meetings don’t grow on trees. Then I would have to wait another week or two for another meeting, where the same thing would happen, so I was getting very frustrated and annoyed that no progress was being made over months. This only served to worsen my anxiety about the relationship.

Eventually, I figured out that he kept derailing the meetings because I was hurting him. Once I asked him if this was true, then he started being more forthcoming about how he felt. Yet, as part of the mentor/mentee relationship setup, mentors are discouraged from sharing their emotions and hurt feelings with their mentees. Yet, I would have responded QUITE differently to him if he had just told me the truth. The last thing I wanted was to hurt the person I cared about most, so I would have done anything to make amends and fix it.

After awhile, he got tired of our unproductive meetings, as well. But instead of having an honest conversation with me about it and working with me to fix the problem, he just avoided scheduling any more meetings with me and did not explain to me what was going on. Again, this only served to worsen my anxiety.

Around this time, I had made a decision to leave the organization. I was working on extricating myself from the different forums, events, etc. and had scheduled my membership cancellations. I was starting to research alternative methods of achieving my business goals.

At this point, I felt that the relationship with my mentor was in serious jeopardy, but he blew off every single request I made for a meeting. Not only that, but he responded to my messages way less frequently, as well as reneged on his promise to help me with my anxiety and emotional struggles. He started classifying my mindset every time I spoke to him and put me into an “abundance” bucket vs “scarcity” bucket; from there, he would refuse to take me seriously whenever I was in scarcity. He started saying, just like his wife had, that it wasn’t his role to help me with transitioning my scarcity mindset back into abundance mindset and that I needed to go to therapy before we could have a good relationship. Yet whenever I called him out that he was also abandoning me in my time of emotional need, just like his wife had, then he would get defensive and say that I was being “unfair,” and that that was not what was happening.

For awhile, we were trying to repurpose our relationship from mentor/mentee into friend/friend. However, we were advised from multiple people who had tried to help us that it would never work. I wanted friendship, equality, and emotional support, and he wanted to push me hard to overcome my past and become successful to share my story onstage. Even though I had told him that I was leaving the organization and had no plans to return, he thought I just “didn’t understand” his perspective and that I would “change my mind” later on. Yet I did understand, and he didn’t accept or acknowledge that.

Finally, a few weeks ago, he stopped responding to my messages completely. Like his wife, he had made the decision to become a Fair Weather Friend. Unlike his wife, he had not made his position clear. For someone who had always told me that my communication was not very good, his was quite lacking as well. At least I made an effort to clearly state what I needed and where I was at with the relationship, which he did not.

For weeks (months), I have been mourning what I knew was the inevitable loss of this relationship. I have been eating chocolate, buying the huge cookies at Barnes and Noble, watching romantic comedies, and singing/playing breakup songs. But yesterday something dawned on me that would completely change my focus:

I deserve better.

That’s right! I deserve better. Even though my former mentor is a wonderful person who did so much to help me, and who wanted so badly to see me succeed, I deserve to be treated with love and respect ALL of the time, not just some of the time.

This is what I deserve:

1. I deserve to be treated as an equal in a relationship.

I am not a fan of the mentor/mentee submissive type of relationship, and I never will be. I deserve equality. I deserve to be involved in making decisions about the relationship, not kept in the dark about decisions that he made by himself that affect me. Not only that, but my opinions and ideas should not be rejected merely because I lack the exact same 20 years of experience in the field. Everyone’s opinions and ideas deserve respect, because not everyone knows everything and people have different skill sets, talents, and perspectives that they bring to the table. Finally, my healing journey is my business and mine alone. I don’t have to take anyone’s suggestions that I go to therapy, because I have my own healing method that I prefer (and which works better for me than therapy).

2. I deserve to be loved and accepted for where I’m at.

It is inappropriate, not to mention unrealistic, to expect that you can just “hand someone over” to a therapist and immediately have a mindset problem “fixed.” Healing takes time, and therapy is not for everyone. With this attitude, he and his wife made me feel like there was something eternally wrong with me, that I was damaged goods, and that I was unworthy of associating with them. They made me feel like I had to “fix myself” before I would be worthy of their relationship.

Not only that, but they completely disregarded and did not recognize any of the growth or progress that I made in overcoming negative emotions and handling conflict. They kept telling me to change, work on, and improve those things, but then they didn’t even notice when I did.

3. I deserve to be respected for where I’m at.

Even if I slip back into scarcity mindset temporarily, I still deserve respect. People should not be classifying me into a “scarcity” vs “abundance” buckets and then deciding whether or not to take me, and the things I say, seriously.

4. I deserve Hard Times Friends, not Fair Weather Friends.

Part of friendship means helping people when they are not strong, not abandoning them until they are “fixed” or “healed.”

5. I deserve someone who wold prioritize an important phone call in their busy schedule when our relationship is in jeopardy.

Enough said.

6. I deserve someone who would take responsibility and ownership for the things that he did to contribute to the problem, instead of completely blaming the problem on me, my shortcomings, and my circumstances.

I tried many times to explain to him the things that he did that caused me anxiety, but he didn’t take me seriously and accused me of blaming him for my anxiety. The things that he did included, but were not limited to: sparse and inconsistent responses to my messages, taking a long time (or refusing) to set up meetings, derailing my meetings, not taking action to solve our relationship problems, not treating me like an equal, not respecting me while in scarcity mindset, and not being honest with me about his feelings.

I deserve a relationship where the other person is equally invested in fixing the problems. Someone who would understand and see his part of the problem, think of solutions, and work to compromise and correct the issue. Someone who would apologize for what he did wrong and then work to make amends with me.

7. I deserve someone who is able to be vulnerable enough to tell me that I’ve hurt him, or that I’ve drained him of energy, and tells me directly what he needs from me.

I’m not a mind reader. I can get pretty close to mind-reading when I talk to someone on the phone or in person, but it is damned near impossible via text or online. I constantly felt like he expected me to read his mind and understand what he was thinking and feeling, instead of doing the work himself, being vulnerable, and sharing his heart. Instead of just simply sharing his point of view, I always felt like I had to complete a full-on scavenger hunt through his messages for clues, and then spend hours piecing it all together into a point of view that I didn’t even know whether or not would be accurate. This was not something I even had the ability to do when I was in the depths of limited capacity and scarcity mindset.

 

So that’s it! I deserve better, and I am looking forward to finding better in the future.

 

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Managing Negative Emotions: A Breakthrough and A Realization

Guys, today was a super important day in my life. Not only did I just have a HUGE breakthrough, but I also had a really important realization as well.

The Breakthrough
For many months now, I have been working on the way that I process and manage negative emotions. I have been trying to learn how to do it in a more effective manner. Due to my personality type (bossy controlling impatient domineering choleric, efficient, and leading), I have always had trouble maintaining mutual respect in disagreements. With my ability to be frank, direct, and to-the-point, I would immediately enter into attack mode in a disagreement and give the other person a piece of my mind whenever I felt hurt, unloved, disrespected, attacked, and/or criticized. Unfortunately, the anger and the emotional haze I felt would frequently result in very harsh feedback that would sound hurtful, unloving, disrespectful, attacking, and criticizing to the recipient. (Interestingly, I subconsciously made the other person feel as terrible as I felt in the conflict).

I always wondered why we were never taught in school how to manage negative emotions correctly. Along with “Money 101: The Skinny on Budgeting and Finances,” “How to Avoid Getting Scammed in Legal Contract Writing,” and “How to Actually Earn Money in this Sh*t Economy,” the courses titled “Loving People Through Conflict” and “Managing Negative Emotions Correctly” were noticeably absent from the curriculum. If these topics were actually taught to people in school, there would be a lot less A) alcoholics, B) drug addicts, C) people who eat their feelings, D) people who don’t eat their feelings, and E) people who don’t f*ck up all their relationships from needing to release their anger. Among other things.

Not only were we not taught how to manage negative emotions correctly in school, but it didn’t seem like anyone else knew how to do it either. Until I met my mentors in my former program, I didn’t know a single person who could actually manage their negative emotions correctly or who could love someone else through a conflict.

In my research on this subject, including some books and online courses, I have already learned some invaluable information about how to overcome these negative emotions.

Step #1: Release the emotion

For me, I have thought of several ways to do this that do not involve lashing out in anger at an actual person:

  • The best way is definitely critical thinking, if you have time to do it. This process can take anywhere from 30 minute to 2 hours depending on the complexity of the emotions involved. More often than not, it’s just not feasible to exit a conversation for that long.
  • For smaller amounts of time, depending on if you can, you can do some strength training, power walking, yoga, etc. Again, this is not always feasible due to your location and weather, as well as timing.
  • Another location-dependent one for me is playing piano. This one really helps me (but, I need a piano handy).
  • If you can take a 5-15 minute breather from the conversation, what works best is to b*tch it out by yourself. Either speak into thin air or write it down, but let the person have it (although, they will not be there to receive it).
  • For on-the-spot treatment, I’ve found the best way is to carry squishy desk ornaments in my purse. It feels GREAT to dig my nails into them when I’m pissed off. If I’m at home, I then start using my Chinese stress balls to relax. This can be done mid-conversation if necessary. Then I take some deep breaths, work to calm my facial muscles, calm my throat, and try to have empathy.

Step #2: Understand the Emotion

  • Again, critical thinking is by far the best. I would marry it if I could.
  • Have index cards handy that have your patterns laid out in front of you. Instead of becoming angry, demanding, and controlling next, what do you really want? What need are you trying to have met? How else can you meet it?

For me, when I become angry, demanding, and controlling, usually it’s because I feel unloved and I need emotional attention. I can meet that need myself by 1) talking to God and the Universe, or 2) writing in this blog (which do you think I picked today? lol).

  • Just think about it. Why are you so upset right now? What is this triggering? What does this remind you of from your past?

 

Today, I am very proud of myself for what I accomplished. I was having a conversation over text where I became upset. Because I was at home, I practiced piano and released my anger. As I was practicing, I started thinking my way through the emotion. I started asking myself, “Ok. WHY am I so upset right now? What is this reminding me of?”

And then I had my answer. I responded to the person in a very calm and respectful way. Then I filled my own love tank by writing in this blog 🙂

My whole processing time for the negative emotions and the response was 30 minutes. Progress over perfection! This small victory only added on to my really important realization earlier in the day.

The Realization
Not only did I not know how to process and manage my negative emotions in the context of conflict situations, but also I would have the same problem when I would deal with very strong emotions by myself in dealing with anxiety and panic.

As mentioned above, my primary need to fill my love tank is emotional attention. What I would do in the past was just dump my emotional load on anybody and everybody who would listen, with no warning or no consideration for what they were doing. All I could think about was that I FELT horrible, and I just needed someone else to listen to me so that I would feel better.

Understandably, most people became so tired of this that they stopped talking to me and stopped offering to give me emotional support. I drew the conclusion that all people sucked, didn’t want to give emotional support, and didn’t value vulnerability and authenticity in relationships.

The issue with this was not that I wanted to share myself with others. It was not that I was being vulnerable and authentic. It was just that I was sharing myself with no consideration for others, therefore making others feel like I was using them for emotional attention.

I have since learned not to use people as an emotional dumping ground. Now, I see emotional sharing as a negative deposit in the relationship, because it is something that I want to gain from the relationship instead of something that I am giving to the relationship. The only way to have a good relationship is to give more than you receive back. I have begun investing more of myself in my relationships in general to really show people that I care about them. The emotional sharing conversation itself has to be built in a mutual manner to the point where the timing is right and the other person will be receptive to hearing about the emotional pain. This is the right way to go about emotional sharing and support.

Not only that, but I have realized that most people actually DO value vulnerability and authenticity in a relationship. In fact, most people PREFER their friends and family to be vulnerable and authentic. It’s just, the sharing has to be done in the right way for it to work.

I no longer have to stay silent on issues that bother me or hurt me so as not to offend or disrespect anybody. I no longer have to feel isolated and alone. I no longer have to pretend that I’m ok when I’m totally not. I am SO GLAD that I had this realization.

The Breakup Transition Period

Hey guys! It has definitely been a minute since I last posted. Sorry! I have been dealing with a colossal amount of stress recently, so I have not had the opportunity to post.

A large amount of the stress I’ve been feeling has come from a distinct lack of alignment in my life. For some time now (re: a LONG time), I have felt distinctly unsettled in my life. Ever since I moved back to Massachusetts from Nevada, I have been trying to sort out my beliefs and values systems so that I can live my life in full alignment with myself. For those of you who have known me for a long time, you know that in my past I have adapted to my surroundings in an effort to fit in and be liked by everyone. This resulted in me changing myself, my values, my beliefs, and my personality approximately 50,000 times, which gained the respect of absolutely nobody that I was trying to change myself to gain approval from. Thus when I lived in Nevada for 3 years, I picked up some West Coast values that distinctly conflicted (as in… head-on CLASHED) with my East Coast values and upbringing. In moving back home, I have over time tried to find a happy medium between my old and new beliefs, which has proven to be more difficult than I thought.

One of the places that I felt the most pushback and conflict was from my business that I started in Nevada. Despite working hard at it and following the system for 2.75 years and drastically changing my mindset and overcoming so much in my life, I have not been able to generate actual business results and growth. After giving considerable thought as to why this was the case, I determined that even though I generally liked and supported the business model, the work, and the outcome of doing the work, I felt very unfulfilled doing it. The whole time, I had an undecided heart about whether or not it was right, so consequently, none of my hard work actually paid off.

There were two reasons why it was not right.

Reason #1: my authentic self did not fit in with the organization’s culture. BIG TIME! I stick out like a sore thumb. No wonder at times I wanted to kill people over their beliefs and not the follow advice and perspective given to me (heh).

Reason #2: Despite liking the business model, it was not the best fit business model for me. In following this business model, I felt continually strapped for time, wishing I had 10 personal assistants to take care of chores, errands, and administrative work, because I was not willing/able to put my music and creativity on the back burner in order to build my business.

So was trying to do both music and business at the same time, feeling completely overwhelmed, and torn apart in two different directions. Not only two different directions in terms of businesses, but also two different directions in terms of East Coast vs West Coast and trying not to die of internal confusion.

I took a week and did some serious soul-searching. I asked myself what I could do for my life’s work that I would find truly fulfilling on all levels. Something that would truly make me proud and want to scream it from the rooftops so that everyone hears it. My why is still the same – I still stand for pursuing your creative passions and mentoring people in their personal lives so that they can overcome to become. I still believe in cultivating a mindset and lifestyle of abundance in all areas, because everything is possible if you just believe it. Long story short, my external identifying purpose has not changed, but rather the internal process and mechanism has changed. I have now found a new pathway to success that will allow me to realize my goals and ambitions in a streamlined, more unified business model, which is in full alignment with myself, my purpose, my values and beliefs.

As a result, I have enrolled in some online business courses to learn the ropes of the new business model, as well as some online trainings to help prepare me for what I want to do next. It is very exciting time to be learning again and trying something new! I am really enjoying it and already have much more clarity about my new (old; authentic; resurrected) business goals and aspirations.

However, with my recent decision, I am currently in a transition period between my old opportunity and my new opportunity. I have been trying to sort between old relationships and new relationships, old communities and new communities, old daily habits and new daily habits, and old goals and new goals. I have been trying to decide what to keep, what to ditch, and what to resurrect (things that I had ditched at one point but now want to bring back).

In particular, I feel badly that I stopped investing in my personal relationships during the time I spent in my old opportunity. I was definitely not the friend to most people that I know I could have been. Thus I have resolved to invest more time and energy in my current relationships and actually be a good friend again. I’m very sorry if I have hurt anyone or if anyone felt ignored during the time that I was not an active participant in your life. Please forgive me! I promise I will do better this time around.

Anyway, the more of my ducks that I get in a row, the better I feel and the less anxiety I have. But not everything is aligned quite yet and I feel like I’m in the middle of a very messy breakup. (I definitely have NOT been eating chocolate, cookies, and peanut butter, or watching Titanic and crying, or singing/accompanying myself on “Think of Me” from Phantom nonstop….). It’s very difficult and emotional to leave an opportunity, a community, and people you have been with for 3 years. There were a lot of great aspects of that opportunity. There was a lot that I learned, a lot that I gained, and a lot that I hoped that I would learn from it in the future. Right now I have to mentally release a bunch of unreleased potential for that opportunity and shift that potential over to my new opportunity.

Some people don’t understand. They think that I’m completely off my rocker and that I’m making a huge mistake. They think that I won’t be successful in my new opportunity. I know that they’re only saying those things to me and taking that attitude because they’re upset that they had invested so much time and energy into me to make me a star, and now I’m letting them down. But I have to stop pretending to be something I’m not. I have to stop trying to fit in with people and with an opportunity that goes against what I believe fundamentally to be right. Right now, I am making the best choice and the best decision for me. If that means I have to lose people who are very important to me, then so be it. I will be upset, and continue eating chocolate, and continue singing Phantom, but it will be for the best. Friends for a reason, friends for a season, friends for a lifetime. Which will it be?

The Rumination Antidote

Do you find yourself continually lost in thought? Do you find that as you go about your daily business at work, at home, or out with friends, negative thoughts seem to intrude into your consciousness and distract you from being present in the moment? Do you find that your mind swirls uncontrollably as you recount past negative experiences, one after the other? Once you start, do you find it impossible to stop and feel as though your mind has completely taken over?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you could suffer from rumination. Side effects of rumination include anxiety, depression, stress, fatigue, health problems, selfishness, and sour relationships. If you are prone to ruminating, don’t worry. The good news is that you’re not alone — and I know the secret antidote!

For many years, I myself suffered from rumination. When something bad happened in my life, I found it nearly impossible to move on from it because I felt like my mind kept mulling it over and over and over and over. Even if something bad happened three years previously, my mind would ruminate about it like the bad event had happened yesterday. There was no escape! I felt like my mind was continually holding me as a prisoner. For many years, I felt helplessly enslaved to my own mind.

It took me a long time, but eventually I realized that the situations that happened in my life were not the problem. The problem, I discovered, was that I kept ruminating about the negative situations in my life. It was the ruminating that paralyzed me from moving forward, not the events themselves.

Once I understood this, it took me awhile before I discovered the secret antidote. Eventually, I discovered the antidote in a book called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. In this book, Carnegie describes the critical thinking method, which is by far the most invaluable piece of advice that I have ever received in my life. By practicing critical thinking every day, I was soon able to gain control of the thoughts that continually swirled around in my mind and I was able to think of solutions to move forward. Not only that, but I could actually take action; as a result, I could cease thinking about the same problems over and over again.

So how does it work?

Good critical thinking skills employ the following steps:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What is the cause of the problem?
  3. What are my goals?
  4. What are all solutions to the problem?
  5. What is the best solution to the problem?

All you have to do to unpack a problem– ie) controlling the swirling thoughts that ruminate around in your mind– is to sit down and write out the answers to these questions on a piece of paper.

Absolutely revolutionary. What. A. Genius!

Not only does the critical thinking method allow you to remove the thoughts from your mind, but it also allows you to unpack the problem and actually think about solutions to the problem. In addition, it helps you to reframe your mind from one of negativity (thinking about a problem) to one of positivity (thinking about your goals and solutions). Huzzah!

Once you practice critical thinking, then you will start to really think through the decisions you make. Eventually you will become so good at this that you will start to make really good decisions on your own. Consequently, you will rely less on other people’s advice and perspective and rely more on your own. As a result of this, you will build a self worth and a trust in yourself simply because you have the knowledge that you can make great decisions all by yourself.

When you think about it, rumination is actually a combination of 1) anxiety, 2) unforgiveness, and 3) victim mentality. People who ruminate frequently are paralyzed with fear of taking action because they do not know how to avoid repeating the same negative event or circumstance again in the future. People who ruminate frequently are simply blaming other people or circumstances for their own misfortune in life. They do not know how to move forward because they are stuck in the same bad circumstances from the past, as bitter victims.

As I learned, the best way to un-stick yourself from the past is to learn how to forgive the people who hurt you and to cultivate an accountability mindset. Learn how to examine the situation from both sides to determine what role you played in causing your own current situation of misfortune and then learn how to grow from it. Improve yourself to be better or to act differently so that you can avoid similar misfortune in the future. Lastly, cultivate a mindset of accountability and responsibility.

Remember: You, and you alone, are responsible for your current circumstances and your life. If you do not like something, then think critically about it and then take action to change it. This is the secret antidote.

 

Become a Master of Time Management

For some people, time management comes very easily. Starting from the time that they first crawl out of the cradle, they already know how to be early for things, wake up in the morning, and set up a schedule with all of their activities neatly aligned and time-blocked. These people know how to plan very effectively. These people also know how to correctly estimate how much time it realistically takes to do everything.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I am not one of these fortunate people who came out of the womb with all of her ducks in a row. Time management skills are not a talent that have ever come easily to me. For the past two years, I have agonized and struggled to become even  proficient at this, let alone become a master. That being said, the good news is that if I can learn it, anyone can! Read on for the tiresome fruits of my labor my tips.

Step #1: Figure out exactly how long it takes you to do everything.

I’m not even kidding. Become attached to your watch, or your phone, or however else you tell time (a sundial? is that even still a thing?) and write down how long it takes you to go to the gym, clean the kitchen, brush your teeth, commute to work, scroll through Facebook, etc. You may need to do this a few times to get a consistent idea of how long each activity actually takes you.

Side note: commuting to work (or commuting anywhere for that matter) does not take the exact amount of time that it tells you it does when you research your route on Google maps. Not only do you have to drive there (the amount of time that you researched), but you also have to walk from your house to your car. Then you have to put all of your stuff into your car. Then once you arrive in the work parking lot, then you have to walk from your car into the office with all of your stuff. Then you have to punch in, get coffee, and be “early” to impress the higher-ups. Translation: a 15-minute commute on Google maps actually takes at least 30 minutes, if not more. And that’s not even accounting for traffic jams, lane closures, road construction, and detours.

Once you know how long it takes you to do everything (realistically), the next step is to organize everything you need to do.

Step #2: Organize everything.

It’s not just about deciding what time of day that you should do certain things on your list. It’s about also thinking realistically about what time you actually gravitate towards doing certain things. If you do not take the time to do this, chances are you will not be very successful in following through on your schedule (unless you have super-human long-term consistency skills, accountability skills, and emotional stability).

For example, you might have the best intentions to wake up at 5 am to work out. But will you? Or will you just end up hitting the snooze button 30+ times because you’re not a morning person and you don’t want to wake up, and then get mad at yourself for not following through on your commitment to yourself (guilty)? Maybe you will be more successful if you put your workout after work instead, because then you would be working in your strength zone (being a night owl). Working with yourself, instead of against yourself, is key.

That being said, this step in particular takes quite a bit of practice if you are not used to thinking realistically about what order you should do different activities. You may need to create different versions of your schedule, try them out, and then revise/tweak them until you find a progression of activities that actually works well for you and your energy needs.

Step #3: Managing your to-do list.

Before I studied time management skills, I always felt completely swamped and overwhelmed by what I coined “annoying phone calls” – aka spending three hours on the phone with some company trying to resolve a conflict or issue and then having it turn into a huge ordeal/crisis each time.

Pro tip: call at a time when not many other people are calling. At first I thought that calling in the morning was best, but in reality almost all other people also call in the morning. Generally people think that they are being smart and so they try to call before they have to go to work, but because everyone else also thinks that they are being smart by calling in before work, it simply does not work. I’ve found that calling in the early afternoon (1 pm) is best. If you call at 1 pm, not only are you calling in after all the lunch break callers are finished, but you also have the benefit that the person you’re speaking with also probably just took their lunch break and is now in a great mood, therefore actually wanting to help you. Problem solved.

In addition to refining the timing of when you call, also make sure to divy the calls and errands up into small chunks each day so that they are not so overwhelming. Invest in a daily planner and write yourself a note to call your credit card company on Monday, the insurance company on Tuesday, the bank on Wednesday, etc. What I find helpful is to spend a little bit of time thinking and planning your errands and phone calls for the week each Sunday and then divying them up into your personal planner.

Step #4: Actually completing the household chores.

For those of you reading this who aspire to some day hiring a personal assistant to take care of all this #$*%, I feel you. I am one of them. If you have a spouse or a roommate who actually enjoys doing these things (just like natural time managers, some people come out of the womb and actually enjoy cleaning. Again, I am not one of them.), then I am somewhat jealous of you but also wish that you would be more selfless and help that person out. If you already have a personal assistant who does it, I hate you.

If you don’t have an obliging spouse or roommate and you do not have a personal assistant, the good news is that once you have steps 1-3 down, step #4 should be a piece of cake. Once you know how long it takes you to clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, do laundry, clean your room, change your sheets and towels, water your plants, back up your computer, update your iPod, go grocery shopping, cook meals, do your budget, do your tax log, and do your mileage tracker, then you are already in pretty good shape. Knowledge is power.

The next step is, of course, to organize (step #2) and divide and conquer (step #3). When do you feel more inclined to complete these chores? Some people prefer to lump-sum all of them and dedicate their whole Saturday towards doing it. Other people prefer to split it up and do some of it each morning before work. Other people split it up differently and do some chores on the weekdays and some chores on the weekends. Again, no two people are alike and you can totally customize this to your strength zone.

Step #5: Handling a crisis.

Ah, the crisis. This one will be very quick. Is it really a crisis, or are you just procrastinating on the work that you actually need to do???!

Ahem.

Step #6: Prioritization.

Once you generally know how to schedule according to your strength zone, and once you have all the annoying bits in check so that you can truthfully refer to yourself as a Responsible Person, then the next step is to prioritize and fine-tune your schedule so that you are working every day to achieve your life goals.

What if you don’t have any life goals? Well, get some! Become passionate about something and go for it. Develop some #ambition (or in my case, #BlondeAmbition).

Once you have a list of your goals, you will need to spend some time planning the sub-steps (or “deadlines,” if you prefer) in which you will work to complete them. Once you have the sub-steps identified, then you can determine the daily habits that you need to put into place in order to get yourself there. Then you can update your schedule accordingly to include your daily habits. This may require some juggling and shuffling in other areas in order to prioritize your daily habits, but it will all be worth it in the end. Trust.

Help! All of goals seem to collide with each other and there are simply not enough hours in the day for me to complete everything!!! What do I do???!!!

This was me for a very long time, so I feel you. The good news is, I worked my way through it, and so can you. In my next post I will cover this topic in more detail.

Anyway, there you have it! If you follow these 6 Steps consistently and work to improve, then you will become a Master of Time Management in no time.

The Six Main Self-Care Areas for Adults

If you’re like most adults, you struggle greatly with finding balance and meaning in your life. You might be asking yourself, “Who am I, really? What is my purpose in life? How can I serve and give back to others? How am I supposed to accomplish my life’s purpose at the same time as working a full-time job, managing my home, maintaining good relationships, and taking care of myself?”

Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, the majority of us were not taught how to balance our lives in school, nor were we taught how to create a meaningful life, legacy, and impact for ourselves. That being said, don’t let this deter you! Regardless of what age you are, there is always a chance to start fresh and change your life in a positive direction in order to produce the best results possible. All it takes is some prioritization, focus, determination, and diligence, and balance will be yours. As long as you maintain an eagerness to learn and a willingness to change your mindset, then the world will truly be your oyster.

So what is the best way to get started? There is a lot that goes into balancing your life, as well as many questions to ask. “How much time should I spend working? How do I build my financial empire? How often should I cook and clean? How often should I go to the gym? How often should I see my friends and family? How often should I work on my to-do list? How do I make good decisions? How do I manage and prevent crises? How often should I take a break, relax, and de-stress?”

Those are just the questions that apply to your life in the moment. There are also larger-scale questions to think about, such as, “how much time should I spend thinking about life in the moment vs life in the big picture? How do I achieve my goals in life at the same time as taking care of myself properly? When is it appropriate to be selfless and when it is it appropriate to be selfish? How much of my time should be spent trying to excel in this life, vs how much should be spent preparing for the next life (in a spiritual sense)?”

If a there’s a lot that goes into balancing your life, and there’s a lot of questions to ask, where do we even begin? How do we even begin to tackle this complicated problem?

To start with, I will share with you the six main self-care areas for adults. In order to achieve balance in your life, you must master the following areas:

  1. Self-Care. If it is your goal to serve and give back to others in life, then you must first be able to serve and give back to yourself. Take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually, and see your ability to help others soar. Self-care is the foundation for living a lengthy, prosperous, and vivacious life.
  2. Mindset and Attitude. If you would like to maintain healthy relationships with others, you again must first start with yourself. Cultivate an abundance mindset of selflessness, patience, grace, empathy, and forgiveness (after all, isn’t this the attitude that you would like others to take when they relate to you?). Take the time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses as a person and work to improve yourself as needed.
  3. Much of our stress in life comes from unhealthy, toxic relationships. Become a master of good conflict resolution, boundaries and standards, expectations, laws, and rules of society in order to maintain good relationships with others. Be prepared to snip or limit the time you spend with others if necessary.
  4. Learn how to make better decisions in your life that will achieve the optimal result. Employ critical thinking skills (what a lifesaver!) to navigate personal and professional issues. Learn how to prevent crises from happening in your life and how to mitigate them once they do.
  5. Time Management. Much of our stress in life comes from poor time management skills. Take back control of your time, instead of having your time control you. Organize your schedule, to-do list, goals, thoughts, and mind. Streamline for better efficiency and set realistic goals for easing yourself into your schedule. Allow time for planning and reflecting in order to improve your system.
  6. In addition to better managing your relationships and your time, you should also spend some time in self-discovery mode. Much of our stress in life comes from lack of alignment with ourselves in our lives. Spend some time determining who you are, what you stand for, what your purpose is, and what your goals and dreams are. Once you know all of this, just go do it! Seek full alignment with yourself and start today.

With a complete mastery in all of these areas, you will significantly manage and reduce the amount of stress you feel in your life. Not only that, but you will be on track to achieve greatness in your life and you will be able to set out to help others. There is no better balance than being relaxed, healthy, happy, and set on a vision!