When You’re Unsure

 Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Do you ever feel like you’re moving through life in a fog?

Or stumbling around in the dark, unsure of where to step or whether you’re actually going around in circles? This happens to me every so often, and I suspect that it happens to everyone at some point or another (whether we want to admit it or not).

I’ve been in one of these phases for the last few weeks. It got so bad that I started questioning and second-guessing every decision I was making, wondering if it was a step in the “right” direction – whether it was the “right” thing for my business – or not. It’s the perfect opportunity for self-doubt and negative self-talk to swoop in and take over.

It’s definitely not fun, constantly wondering if you’re doing the right thing or not.

As if part of you is micromanaging the other part of you. Things feel stunted, lurching, like stop-action clay-mation (but less cute and entertaining because it’s your life!).

 Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The funny thing is, a few weeks ago, I went on this kick of urging my clients to listen more to their gut, to tune into their intuition, and use that as their ultimate guide.

Ever heard the saying, “We teach best what we most need to learn?” Well.

Clearly, I was preaching something that I was having a lot of trouble applying myself! It happens. Part of us knows, on some level, what we need to be doing. But another part of us resists for whatever reason. So how do we clear that resistance and regain some feeling of confidence, coherence, and flow?

The short answer is, I can’t tell you. Because it’s different for everyone. But you probably know. So it becomes a matter of excavation, maybe confronting some difficult issues, digging up some stuff, and then trying some things. And it ain’t easy. I know.

I’m lucky to have had support during this most recent foggy period. And lucky to have a sense of what I need to do in these times of confusion: Journal it out, dumping all my thoughts out on paper, no judgments or filters. Hold on tight to my meditation practice. Listen to music that I find soothing. Consult with a few trusted colleagues (as opposed to my old default – talking about it ad nauseum to anyone who would listen, which always left me feeling more confused and unsure than before).

But the most important thing was reminding myself that I had to pay attention to my own feelings and watch my instinctive reactions to things and TRUST THEM.

Many of us – especially women and people of color – are socialized to second guess ourselves all the time. I had let that socialization hold me back from freely following my internal compass. I was letting the what if’s and self-doubt hold me back like a sticky web.

So the next time you feel this way, ask yourself, what do I need to do to support myself in this time?

What can I do for myself? What can I ask from others?

And what does my intuition tell me?

 Photo by  Tachina Lee  on  Unsplash

Photo by Tachina Lee on Unsplash

If you can’t hear your intuition at first, don't panic. Ask yourself, what can I do, where can I go – to find it, to reconnect with it, to amplify it? Sometimes the answer is to do certain helpful things. Other times, the answer is to do less.

Regardless of what you choose to do, or not do, remember that nothing is permanent. Not the good things, not the bad things.

So, if you’re in a bad patch, hold on. Because this, too, shall pass.

I'm so tired!

Last week someone asked me how I was doing and my response was, "Things are going really great!! But this week has been so packed and I'm tired. I just need to get through till Friday." I felt happy as I responded. But then I realized that this has been what I've been saying to people for a few weeks in a row now.

The thing is, I honestly do feel like things are going really well. But every week, I tell myself that next week things are going to let up (schedule-wise, demand-wise, energy-wise). Inevitably, once I get to the next week, I'm repeating the same thing to myself: "Just gotta make it through this week!"

 Photo by  nikko macaspac  on  Unsplash

What's happening?

I thought I had permanently left behind that feeling of being in a rat race, of constantly running from meeting to meeting, commitment to commitment. And for a while I had. I felt much more balanced. But, of course, nothing is forever. Things are always changing. So we have to keep adapting too.

This is one of those times when I need to recalibrate. If you feel that way too, here are 3 things to try to better sustain yourself over the long run:

  1. Schedule yourself a REAL BREAK. If you've been working full-speed since January, you need a vacation! I myself was reminded of this when a few people mentioned that they were taking vacations at the end of February or early March. "Oh yeah," I thought, "It probably is time for a vacation..." So put something on the books for yourself ASAP if you haven't already. I always recommend longer vacations rather than a long weekend or 2.
  2. If you truly cannot schedule a vacation soon, or if you need something to sustain yourself in the meantime, you may need to strengthen your boundaries. Those of you who know me by now can probably predict what I'm about to say. You need to Say No more. For some of us, it's simply a matter of reinforcing our boundaries, but for others, we need to readjust them to better protect our time and energy. For others of us still, we need to define the boundaries in the first place! Whichever it is, use this worksheet to help you!
  3. In the meantime and for always, start or continue your Gratitude practices. My favorite Gratitude practice to recommend to busy clients is: Before bed, write down 3 things from your day that you are grateful for (you don't have to even use full sentences!). Here's a worksheet to help you with that. And another version of this that I recently heard of is from Gretchen Rubin's podcast, Happier: Keep a running list (on paper or electronically) of all of your favorite things.

That's it! Try 1, 2, or all 3 of these tips to regain some control over your time, energy, and sanity in an otherwise busy time.

Now please excuse me as I go work on these myself...! :)

Until next time – hang in there!

What About Self-Love?

Valentine's Day brings to mind images of romantic love, chocolate, champagne and other things that sometimes (okay, often) cause me to roll my eyes. So I usually avoid thinking about that day altogether. But, as a friend pointed out to me recently, the holiday is actually a perfect time to think about self-love.

I'll admit, self-love isn't a concept that I used to be familiar with, so I'll start with the best definition I've been able to find, which comes from Deborah Khoshaba, Psy.D:

Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth.

 Photo by  Clem Onojeghuo  on  Unsplash

You all know that I'm all about taking action, so you can guess which part of the definition I tend to focus on. When I think about self-love, I immediately think:

What actions can I take, what practices can I adopt, what routines do I need to reinforce, in order to strengthen this state of self-love? What can I recommend to my clients to help them build, sustain, and protect their self-love?

I've come across a ton of suggestions for what to do to practice and strengthen self-love, but we're all busy people prone to feeling overwhelmed. So I want to make this as easy as possible for all of you. Here are 3 ways to practice self-love this month: 

1. Take care of yourself how you would take care of others.

So many of us martyr ourselves for others: our families, friends, clients, colleagues, causes. To paraphrase something I once learned (and that I often need to remind myself of): to want to give to others is human, but to over-give is neurotic. Be sure that you are taking care of your basic needs, rather than always putting others' needs and wants first. This might mean letting yourself sleep more, cooking a nice meal for yourself, making sure that you exercise, taking a bath, scheduling enough "alone time" for yourself, leaving work at an earlier hour. Commit to doing at least one of these things for yourself this week. If you want or need more self-care ideas, check these out!

  Tim Dawson  on Flickr

Tim Dawson on Flickr

2. Treat yourself with compassion.

Along similar lines, start treating yourself with more compassion in your daily life. We all make mistakes and poor decisions. We all have blind spots and areas of vulnerability. That's okay. We are human. And we are all doing our very best, given our circumstances. You are no exception ;-) So it's important to forgive ourselves when we make mistakes and compassionately analyze what happened so that we can do better next time. The next time you find yourself beating yourself up over something you could have done differently or better, try journaling to shift the thoughts in your head to being more loving and compassionate to yourself.

3. Say no (those who've been to my Stop Settling in Your Career workshop will recognize this one!).

There are a million things in the world that you could do with your precious time. But only a small set of those things will actually move you closer to your big goals in life. Before you agree to the next assignment, request, or task, take a moment to think about whether you want to say yes because you feel pressured to (hint: it usually starts with, "I should..." or "I have to...") – or because saying yes will benefit you physically, emotionally, psychologically, intellectually, or spiritually. If you feel pressured to say yes, give yourself permission to say no. Practice saying no the next time you find yourself in this situation!

There they are: 3 ways to give yourself some much-deserved self-love this month!

Give them a try and message me on Instagram or email me at cynthia@embracechange.nyc to let me know how it goes!

Sending love :)

This January, Be Sure to Take Care of Yourself

 Photo by  Matthew Henry  on  Unsplash .

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash.

The beginning of a new year can bring lots of pressures and challenges – on top of old ones that rear their ugly heads from the past year. The shift from holiday times (whether stressful or fun or both) back to a focus on work, resolutions, and goals – the transition can be really challenging.

So in January especially, be sure to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

In a way, the end of one year and the start of another is like any other transition. And it is in times of transition when we are most likely to stumble, struggle, or suffer.

Think of starting to ride a bicycle from a stationary position. We might wobble a bit or lose our balance a few times before getting going.

Think of starting to pedal from stationary while going up a hill. We might not even be able to get started!

I often find myself in a bit of a stressful slump in January.

 Photo by  Teodor Bjerrang  on  Unsplash

Sure, I have my requisite goals and aspirations for the year to keep me motivated and moving forward. But, sometimes, those prove to be my downfall, literally (i.e., injuring myself because I’ve set unrealistic and overly ambitious exercise goals for myself).

I also face that void that’s left after a full set of days with family and friends, without so much of the pressure of work.

It’s very easy for that void to get filled with anxiety, fear, nostalgia, longing, and stress.

Even if you're looking forward to a return to your normal routine, I urge you to keep your physical and mental health at the top of your list of priorities this January (if they aren’t already).

Work might come back with a relentless force. Demands on your time and energy may spike. Your own personal goals may prove to be formidable.

But be kind to yourself.

Don’t try to do everything all at once.

Set aside “me time” to rejuvenate and restore your energy each day or at least every few days.

Make sure you get enough sleep.

Meditate.

Schedule fun activities for yourself so that you have events to look forward to.

Take your vitamins and nutrients.

Schedule in some kind of physical activity a few times a week – even if it’s low-level exercise.

Spend time each week with friends or family or some books :)

I know it’s hard. But if you don’t put your health first, no one will.

So, remember that you can Say No, commit to protecting your time and energy, and live your best life in 2018. Deal?

Year-End Top 10 Free Resources!

 Photo by  Regina Valetova  on  Unsplash

I love creating resources to help my clients work and live happier.

Here are my Top 10 Free Resources all in one place: my year-end present to you :) 

Career and Emotion Management

Managing Work-Related Perfectionism

Saying No

Daily Journaling for Busy Professionals

Goals and Time Management

Accountability Tip Sheet

Weekly Scheduling Packet

Time Charter

Mindfulness

For Difficult Times: A 2-Minute Meditation

PEACE Poster

The Big Picture

The Wheel

Locus of Control

Here's to everything you've accomplished in 2017 and getting to where you want to go in 2018!

Now don't forget to give yourself a much-deserved break!!