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As Fall arrives- seemingly overnight, many of us are back to early mornings, school and work routines, volunteer positions, homework and busier days!! In this Newsletter I’ll share strategies on goal setting and planning, staying present and mindfulness to help your reentry go a bit more smoothly.
“I’ve got a 2 -year goal to achieve my next position,” said a client recently. She explained that she has a time-consuming, multi- stage project she needs to accomplish first, however, which if she completes early, will make it possible to leave before 2 years. We often have long term goals that depend on tasks and projects that precede them. This makes planning and organization of time, materials and actions more challenging.
When we’re faced with a looming end goal complicated by an important, shorter term project, we can get overwhelmed hyper focusing on one to the exclusion of the other or go back and forth chaotically between the two projects. Here are some strategies that can help us work steadily towards a long- term goal while making progress on sorter term but essential projects:
- Map out in big strokes initially the tasks necessary to achieve the long- term goal. A two- year goal might be broken down into stages with benchmarks to achieve every month or quarter.
- On the same large spreadsheet or flipchart, in a different color enter the near- term project with its high-level sub goals and associated benchmarks.
- Identify the priorities for each benchmark according to the ABC rule:
- time sensitive or urgent and important, B- important, or C- not urgent and not important in the near term.
- Plan out the first month of tasks for each week with a high- level look at the 2 yr. goals and a more detailed eye to the near term one.
- “Chunk” tasks for both goals- break the work into 15 min- to- several hours each week to chip away at the projects. Careful! Be realistic about the time you honestly have available to put towards both goals.
- Review your progress each week and, if tasks are planned daily, each day. Did you put the time in you planned or did life get in the way? Adjust your plan each day, each week, and each month to hit your benchmarks.
- Assign a specific time on your schedule in writing to work on a specific task. If we say, “I’ll do it tonight,” that is not specific enough…suddenly it is 10 pm and we’re fatigued- after 3-4 nights like that we can find ourselves behind schedule and discouraged!
- Ask for help!! Family, Teammates, colleagues across disciplines can offer information or take on parts of one or both goals.
- Reassess the end dates for each project. Is the 2 -year goal for the new position a want or a need?
- If you are getting behind, hard on the facts but be soft on the person. Self-talk can demotivate us if we are overly critical when our plan goes awry.
- Finally: Celebrate! Celebrate both the benchmarks you achieve along the way as well as the completion of each goal!
Setting Goals and planning are essential for progress. We benefit from the clear sense of purpose from pursuing a dream, setting goals and identifying action steps to achieve them. Often, however, we find ourselves mentally living in the future and missing out on today! How can we keep our end goal in mind while living mindfully today?
* First, start your day with a Mindfulness Practice. This could be as simple sipping your coffee, really noticing the smell and taste without looking at your phone! Or, you may wish to sit quietly following your breath with your full attention for 10 minutes. Others may wish to meditate with a free app like “Calm” or “10% happier”. This sets the tone neurologically to be more attentive and present.
* Periodically throughout the day, pause and simply breathe for 30 – 60 seconds with your full awareness on the physical sensation of breathing. I recommend setting an alarm or reminder at regular intervals perhaps 10 -, 12, 3 and 6. This simple technique may show you if you hold the breath or breathe in a rapid- shallow pattern, a common; unconscious stress response.
*Make a deliberate choice to notice your surroundings. If on a walk, notice the flowers, changing leaves, or birds singing rather than worrying about what happened yesterday or what might come next. If in a meeting, really listen to the people speaking – listen for meaning and emotion.
* At the end of each day, focus on the accomplishments you made including effort and progress. And, list 3 things you are grateful for from that day.
*Pay attention to balance: Are you focusing too much on the long-term project and neglecting a significant responsibility? Neglecting self-care?
When we live each day consciously, we can be more at choice so we enjoy our todays while working toward that future goal.
If you are interested in learning more about Mindfulness you might benefit from my Mindfulness Based Support Group starting Oct 23, 2019 at 7:30 pm. See upcoming events for details.
Are you a leader who wants to communicate influence and inspire your peers, Manager, or employees?
Are you an organization who wants to empower High Potentials thru Sr Executives to improve their professionalism, leadership presence and results?
Ascend Consulting provides customized solutions including:
- Individual Coaching
- Leadership Retreats
Coaching, distinct from consulting, is a process that empowers leaders
- to improve self-awareness
- add to their leadership “toolbox”
- gain 360 feedback
- create an intentional customized development plan
- take meaningful action toward their goals
- gain support and accountability
My clients improve their emotional intelligence, management skills, communication and resilience. Mindfulness is a key underpinning of my approach- we cannot mange or alters behaviors and emotions of which we are not aware. Mindful Leadership Coaching, integrated with “Conversational Intelligence”* can transform organizational culture!
If you are serious about transforming your own or your employees’ development, I invite you to check out my website and call me for an initial conversation. www.ascendconsultng.net
*Conversational Intelligence, Judith E. Glaser. Bibliomotion, Inc., 2004.
Once upon a time, I became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Owner of Ascend Consulting, Inc., providing Psychotherapy and Counseling. Then one day, I had the honor of attending 3 days of Coach Training in Philadelphia with Thomas Leonard, the “Father of Coaching”. It was fascinating to watch Thomas’ compelling style of asking insightful, challenging questions to move clients to act! to achieve their goals. I enrolled in his coaching school “Coachville,” on the spot!
During the next several years the ICF was growing and credentialing requirements were evolving. After taking over 265 hours of training and meeting the additional requirements of 2 recorded sessions, a live coaching exam and over 250 coaching hours, I was certified by the ICF as an ACC (Associate Certified Coach) in 2007.
Over the next several years my training continued and my coaching hours serving clients began to add up. In 2012, I was President of the ICF: Philadelphia Chapter. In 2013, I achieved my PCC (Professional Certified Coach) designation after mentor coaching continuing education and an exam that took 13 hours!
Since then, I have become certified in the EQ-I and Hogan assessments, and graduated from Judith Glasser’s Conversational Intelligence coach training. I love this work which allows me to partner with my clients to expand their self-awareness, go deeper and wider than they thought they could, and to support them as they tap into their own answers. I am a professional nudge, so they stay accountable to themselves and achieve their goals.
The story continues as this year I will submit my 40+ hours of ICF: approved continuing education and renew my PCC. And, I will continue in my 2 peer supervision groups so I can keep learning and honing my skills as an Executive and Career coach. The requirements are rigorous and I am proud that they are!
Stephen (not his real name) was in his weekly management meeting and as usual, he found himself getting frustrated with his colleague Bob. Every week, Bob was vocal in his opinions and Stephen often found his mind wandering when Bob would launch into an explanation or ask questions that Stephen thought were unnecessary. The fact was, that although Bob was extroverted, he often brought up information that needed to be addressed. Stephen knew he was missing potentially critical discussions by “zoning out” but he didn’t know how to force himself to listen. As his executive coach, I asked Stephen how well he listened to himself. Was he aware of the subtle tension that preceded his annoyance with Bob? What was the thinking that preceded him tuning Bob out? How adept was Stephen at listening to himself when he was anxious or stressed? I suggested that he try Mindfulness Meditation: simply follow the breath noticing the full inhale, pause, exhale, pause, inhale. As he practiced every day for 10-15 minutes, he noticed the pause, between inhale and exhale and the longer pause between breaths. He became aware of his wandering thoughts when practicing and eventually this carried over into his workday. As he learned to pause and to listen to his wandering thoughts in meditation, he became able to pause before zoning out in management meetings. The pause helped him to be at choice so he could to listen to Bob’s message despite his talkative style.
No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. Even though we all make them, it isn’t always as easy to live with the fear and judgment we put on ourselves because of them.
How does one turn down the guilty and self-critical voice we hear inside when we do make a wrong decision, and turn up the Self-Compassion to recover from it?
Read my latest March/April 2019 Power Point for tips on being more Self-Compassionate during those times:
Self- Compassion. Does this phrase bring up thoughts of ego, self- centeredness and self- pity? It often does, because most of us were learned to fear mistakes and judgment when we made a mistake or did something WRONG as children. We also learned to feel guilt and even shame for those misbehaviors. Some of us high achieving perfectionists (you know who you are) have spent our lives beating ourselves up over real and even imagined imperfections. We tell ourselves, “I really messed that up! Why am I so stupid?” “I’m never going to get that job!” “I really bombed that big presentation!” Negative criticism and guilt lead to anxiety which inhibits clear thinking and now we really can’t perform at our best.
What can we do to turn down that guilty, self- critical voice and start clear accurate self-reflection so we can do better next time? We can show ourselves some self- compassion! In fact, people who are self- compassionate are more honest about their strengths and weaknesses and more resilient. IN turn they are more honest and forgiving of others.
So, what is self-compassion? According to researcher/ author Kristen Neff, Ph.D. Self Compassion, 2011 Harper Collins, it is comprised of 3 components:
*self- kindness- an understanding and non -judgmental attitude
*recognition of our shared humanity- everyone makes mistakes; experiences pain
*Mindfulness- a full awareness of our experience
When we are fully present to our mistakes, weaknesses and suffering, without judgment, we are better able to problem solve. This clear thinking empowers positive action to comfort, soothe and motivate us to change and grow. Facing our experience as it is with kindness rather than amplifying it or avoiding it due to fear, helps us move forward. Remembering that all humans are imperfect and experience pain in life, puts our experience and our self -worth in perspective. We have the courage to change. As we approach ourselves with both honesty and kindness, we can also be positive and accepting of others and support them to grow.
Let’s take a business situation.
Dean (not his real name) worked in finance in a global corporation. He was extremely intelligent, detail -oriented, and trusted by the C-Suite. Dean’s self -talk was critical most of the day, every day. He was convinced that sooner or later he would make a big mistake and could lose his job. The truth was he was highly valued and his boss, the CFO, often told him he was way too hard on himself. Still, he lived with anxiety and self- doubt about his performance. Unfortunately, he managed his people with the same highly critical attitude. He didn’t dare take the time to just chat with them or go to lunch because there was too much to do. Not surprisingly, the only time they heard from Dean was when he found an error in their work and his feedback could be harsh.
As Dean’s executive coach, I explained the neuroscience behind relentless negative self- criticism. We talked about how critical thinking is hampered by the anxiety it generates and over time performance suffers.
Conversely, mindful acceptance of a mistake allows us to face it without exaggerating it or shutting down due to fear. Reminding our self that everyone makes mistakes and that we are capable adults, enables the mind to clear so we problem solve and remedy the situation. As we turn the mind away from criticism toward acceptance with non- judgment, we relax and use our energy to create solutions. As Dean practiced Mindful breathing every day, especially during times of challenge or mistakes, he experienced greater confidence with the big boss. Not surprisingly, he started to risk taking the time to chat with his direct reports and get to know and enjoy them. When they did make a mistake, Dean approached employees with a teaching style, so they learned and developed their skills. They in turn felt more valued and calmer which reduced their mistakes.
Self -compassion is not coddling ourselves. It is honest acceptance with recognition of our humanness, and it helps us address our mistakes with courage, creativity and resilience. Sounds like a sound self- improvement strategy to me!
Mindfulness Based Support Group
5 Thursdays, 12 Noon – 1:15 pm
Starts May 2 and ends May 30, 2019
Registration is $160 and includes of Marjorie’s CD:
Come to the Quiet: Meditation for Relaxation and Healing
Register at Marjorie@ascendconsulting.net
Marjorie presents “Cultivating Deeping Awareness: Mindfulness Practices for Coaching”
June 20, 2019 ICF Philadelphia
Contact Marjorie for more info
Did you know Marjorie is a highly sought -after speaker for Leadership Retreats? Her highly interactive, content rich keynotes focus on critical leadership and emotional intelligence competencies that set winning companies apart.
Contact Marjorie for your organization’s next event” Marjorie@ascendconsutling.net
Build Awareness Through Mindfulness
Learn how to practice mindfulness with our CD “Come to the Quiet: Meditation for Relaxation and Healing”.
Click here to receive a complimentary sample track.