Archive for December, 2007

Questions for Your New Year’s Reflection

December 30, 2007

Hello! Another year past– and a fresh new year ahead! It’s just a day and a half till the new year. A perfect opportunity to take some time to reflect. Before jumping ahead to next year’s goals, dreams and resolutions (if you’re so inclined), perhaps you’d like to take some time to complete the year past with some acknowledgements and reflection?

Each year-end I use some of these and other questions to guide my reflection. Perhaps you’ll find them of value to yourself? Take whatever time you like to wonder/ponder/reflect on any or all of these. Consider both your professional and personal life.

THE YEAR PAST:

1) What accomplishments from the past year are you most proud of?

2) What successes have you forgotten or perhaps overlooked — that you might want to acknowledge yourself for now (e.g. a task well done; new learning; a courageous act; other?)

3) What did you learn about yourself last year?

4) In what way(s) have you grown? Who have you ‘become’ in the evolution of “you”? (e.g. wiser, more courageous, more open….etc.?)

5) What are you choosing to let go of this year so you can begin fresh in the New Year?

6) What were the high points of the past year?

7) What inspiration (a moment, thought/idea; experience) will you carry forward in the year ahead?

8 ) How would you complete the following sentence: “This was the year of ___” (fill in the blank with a word or phrase that captures a theme most meaningful for you)

 THE YEAR AHEAD:

1) What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?

2) What do you want more of in the year ahead?

3) What do you want less of?

4) What new learning goals do you have for yourself for the year ahead?

5) What other goals are important to you right now?

6) How will you actualize these goals?

7) What structures/plans/supports will you put in place to make them happen and keep you “on your game”?

8 ) How will you have fun this year?

9) What will ‘balance’ look like to you this year? And how will you honour that?

10) What relationships will you invest more of yourself in this year?

11) In what way would you like to see yourself grow (i.e. via experience, personal development, other)

12) How would you complete the following sentence: “This will be the year of ___” (identify a phrase that conveys a theme most meaningful to you).

These are just a few ‘thought-starter’ questions….but hopefully they’ll inspire your own meaningful year-end/New Year reflection.

Parting word…

The one who asks questions doesn’t lose his way” (Akan proverb)

To celebrating the year past and beginning a fresh new TGIM year!

Best,

Eileen 

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In the Globe and Mail today…

December 19, 2007

How fun – the Globe and Mail invited me to write a little article for its “mentor minute” column published in today’s paper. It’s based on my last blog post (managing year-end/holiday stress) but modified a bit (some of my ‘wordy fat’ edited down:)

Click here if you feel like reading it.

To a TGIM work-life and holiday season!

Eileen

Tips: Manage stress in the last stretch to year-end/holidays

December 13, 2007

Sigh. Catch my breath. Running, racing….doing, doing, doing. It’s the final stretch of the year….and just a week and half or so to the holidays.  Lots to do. Thought I’d share some tips and ideas from my experience in navigating the demands of this busy, busy season.

1) Time to Triage (when prioritization just isn’t going to cut it): Prioritization may work during the regular course of the year but at this time of the year everything is AMPLIFIED! Learn lessons from folks who work in emergency rooms. While everything might seem like a priority – you don’t have the luxury to address and do everything at once. So be extra diligent in discerning what must be done first and what truly needs to call your attention right now.

2) Save your brain cells (and energy) and write it down! It takes a lot of energy and focus to keep everything you need to do in your head.  Write it down. Keep a list with you…and save your brain cells to focus on what you really need to focus on.

3) Learn to say “No”. With so many requests and demands this time of the year, it seems impossible to say yes to everything. This is another way to practise your ‘triage’ strategy. Say yes when you truly must or want to — but discern and learn to say no when and where you can. For future reference on this topic (when you come up for air) — see the article I wrote in October (“Are You Addicted to the Yes Habit“).

4) Save Some of the Fun for January/February: Everyone tries to squeeze in the celebrations and get-togethers in December. How about saving some fun for the Jan/Feb blahs? I do this with one of my clients whom I work with regularly (a team of great folks). We plan our ‘December’ lunch for after the holidays in January when everyone can truly enjoy themselves instead of feeling like it’s just one more of the gazillion holiday events squeezing the calendars. Besides, we all need a little something in the new year to beat the January and February blahs. 

5) Take Care of Yourself! With all the running around and extra stress, who needs to get sick? This is the time to self nurture and ensure you are doing all you can to prevent getting run down. Eat well, sleep well, dress warm! Whatever it takes…

6) Be Mindful of Your Attitude. This is just as important as the other ideas above. For more on this, see the post I wrote on Sunday: “T’is the Season of Rush

If you have any tips of your own – pls write and share! 

In the meantime – tnx for stopping by. Means a lot to me this time of year when we are all so time-crunched.

To a TGIM worklife and happy holiday season!

Eileen

To give, or not, at the office? In the news today…

December 12, 2007

Is the  holiday season bringing you workplace ‘gift angst’? Not sure what to get the boss or your colleagues? Stuck on what to get for the guy/gal you barely know from down the hall but drew their name in the company’s Secret Santa exchange?

Check out today’s Globe and Mail article “To give, or not, at the office“, written by Randi Chapnik Myers. Randi interviewed a few work/career coaches (including myself) so you’ll find various perspectives and tips. 

I’d like to reinforce that when it comes to gift-giving in the workplace, the spirit of giving is more important than the actual “gifting”: use your judgment, be sensitive and appropriate. Generosity comes in many forms.

Cookies anyone?

Note: see “In the News” section for more news articles featuring Big Cheese Coaching. 

T’is the Season of……RUSH!

December 9, 2007

Busy these days? Madly trying to complete projects before year-end? Is your December to-do list filled with shopping lists, work-related (and other) party planning/attendance/organizing — and more!?

 (photo courtesy of SophiMuc on Flickr)

 Ahhh yes, well t’is the season…to rush, rush, rush

How’s that working out for you? Feeling joyous? Or overwhelmed with too much to do? Feeling a little….

Seasonal Angst…?

Where’s the joy? True, we are a society used to being busy (even addicted to it), but December ‘busy-ness’ tends to take on a whole new dimension. 

I know for myself, if I don’t pay attention, I end up on a crazy treadmill of stuff to shovel off my to-do list.  I caught myself recently feeling so weighed down by it all that I was missing the fun that I know could come with this time of year. A lot on my list is stuff that typically would provide meaning for me. Work that I do enjoy; holiday festivities that are lovely….cards to make; gifts to buy (for people that I do want to express gratitude to); etc.

But instead, I found myself ploughing, ploughing my way through “The LIST”. From one task, thinking and planning the next. Productive and busy…..but not really present.

 Until I remembered to….

“Pay attention to what I’m paying attention to”.

Notice I didn’t say ‘stop doing’ or ‘do less’. I still have a lot I want to do and need to do and will do in the weeks ahead leading up to the December/New Year break. But I reminded myself to pay attention to my inner game.What was going on internally (my inner conversations around all this ‘doing’)?

Who was I being in all my doing?

Well I realized I was defaulting to a worried grinch with myself and giving too much energy to the negative thoughts of worry…….”yikes I have too much to do…I’ll never get it done…..how am I going to manage it all? What if I fail….Where’s all my free time gone….this is a pain….I have to do x, y,z….then a, b, c….don’t forget blah, blah, blah.”

By focusing so much on the limiting beliefs (the time that I don’t have, doubt….and all kinds of negative self-talk) — I was energizing a negative mindset. And hence, feeling weighed down.

Do you ever do that? Who doesn’t from time to time? We all do. Part of being human. When on the ‘doing treadmill’ we can easily forget who we are. How resourceful we are; what is most important; and what it’s all about anyways.

And sure, there are lots of other practical strategies that we can employ to help us navigate the seasonal demands of work life (being organized, saying ‘no’ when you need to; prioritizing, delegating, etc. ).  But this post isn’t really about all that….it’s about…. 

 The inner game and paying attention and managing your self (and yes, so very ‘EQ-ish” if I might add).

Here’s a helpful equation to keep in mind: 

Our thoughts impact our emotions which impact our choices (and actions or non-actions) which impact our results.

If you check in with that equation –it will help you become more aware of how your mindset is impacting how you navigate any given situation. While you can’t control everything, the good news is you can actually control more of how you ‘be’ with any given situation. Start with becoming more aware of what’s going on internally…your thoughts, beliefs (limiting and/or empowering) — because those are significantly influencing factors in how you’ll feel…and what you will choose to do or not do.

How you experience the lead-up towards and within this holiday season (and any time for that matter) begins with your mindset.

So a few questions to help you pay attention mindfully:

  • What are you thinking?

  • What judgments are you applying to whatever situation you are in this time of year?

  • Do you have ‘evidence’ that these judgments truly hold true (e.g. “I’ll never get this project done on time “) — or are they exaggerated voices of doubt?

  • How’s that internal voice working for you? Feeling joy, peace — or angst?

  • What are some new perspectives you can consider? What’s the voice of reason saying? The voice of inspiration? Try them on….

Feeling a little lighter yet? I know I am….even though that ‘list’ still beckons.

To navigating your work-life with more holiday joy this season!

Eileen

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