Breathe – And by breathe I don’t mean life-sustaining, autonomic, shallow breathing, I mean belly-filling, brain-cleansing breathing. With each breath take in enough air to expand your belly and with each exhale, expel as much breath as you can, pulling in your belly to extract every bit. Breathe in to a count of five and out to a count of five and do it five times. You’ll feel the difference.
Stretch – So much of the workday can be spent immobilized staring at a computer screen. In addition, if you have a stressful job (who doesn’t — a show of hands, please), tension can creep in on little cat paws. You don’t see it coming but at some point you realize you’re holding tension in your neck or shoulders or back. Raise and lower shoulders, do some head rolls, bend forward while sitting or standing, raise your arms over your head, do some side stretches. Take a moment to notice where you are feeling tight and focus on that area. Don’t push too hard, it’s not a contest to see how flexible you can make yourself, just stretch enough to release the tension.
Walk – Doesn’t matter where you work you can take five minutes and walk. Inside your building, around your parking lot, down the street in your neighborhood. Short breaks are uplifting and good for the body and mind. A walk will get your blood flowing and make your brain function better.
Say “No” – Getting comfortable saying no is a skill that pays off in many ways. Pick situations when you truly have a choice (it’s more often than you may think) and practice saying “thank you for thinking of me, but no, that’s not something I can do right now.” If you need to compromise somehow, you can always add, “But here’s what I CAN do.”
Be grateful – Write down three things for which you are grateful. These don’t have to be big things and frankly it’s better if they aren’t. If we can be grateful for a comfortable desk chair and a really delicious cup of coffee, we’re going to be grateful a much greater percentage of the time than if we are grateful for a fabulous vacation.
Volunteer – Volunteering takes our mind off of ourselves – which is a good thing. You can volunteer at a local organization that matters to you or even volunteer to help a colleague who could use a hand. Volunteering in any capacity is good for your spirit and has a way of spreading. A kindness done for others leads to more kindness being passed along.
Be mindful – Whatever you are doing, be fully aware and focused in that moment. Taking your first sip of coffee? Enjoy the warmth of the cup and the aroma, as well as the taste. Composing an email? Tune out everything else and focus on just that one task. Speaking with a colleague? Give that person your full attention.
Notice nature – This can be purposeful or on the fly. Driving to work or walking by a window pay attention to whatever nature you see. Having lunch, pick a seat where you can see outside, or better yet, sit outside. Listen to the sounds, smell the scents. Put a live plant or fresh flowers on your desk. Even for a few seconds, take in whatever nature falls into your line of sight.
Listen to music – Pick some music to suit your mood – or perhaps to change it. Listen to soothing music to reduce tension, upbeat music to re-energize you, or your current favorite song to lift your spirits.
Go on a media fast – Turn off the television and the radio. Stay away from newspapers and avoid online news sources just for a day. The news will keep happening without you and in fact will still be available to you later. This isn’t putting your head in the sand regarding current events as a lifestyle; it’s for a short while. Give your brain a break from all the sensational bad news stories out there.
Declutter – Take a few minutes and clear off a corner of your desk that’s been piling up or a drawer that over-accumulated stuff. Getting rid of stuff feels good. Completing even a small project can have residual positive mental effects for days.
Love & Peace to Mary Kutheis
By Victoria Mavis, Area Director, BNI – North Central PA
As a human resource consultant, I often work with business owners who grapple with the demands of employees, business challenges, and life events—all of which can derail a business. When asked for suggestions to get their business back on track, I turn to these five steps:
1. Have clearly defined and realistic goals. This means more than announcing “Increase sales” at your weekly sales meeting. Every goal should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Does your goal have teeth? Imagine that you’re taking the last ski trip of the season and you end up in a coma from an accident (unfortunately—accidents do happen at the most inconvenient times). You had a succession plan worked out, so your #1 replacement comes in to lead the company until you can resume duty.
Reviewing your goals, she determines there is nothing else to do since the company is ahead on sales by three percent. Yet, currently, the market is increasing by 50 percent and your strategy is to mirror the industry. That means 47 percent is on the table for your competitors to grab.
If you have a knot in your stomach about now, power-up your laptop and add some clarity to your goals.
Are your goals achievable? According to Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization, “Re-engineer it.” If you want $3 million in annual sales and it’s the end of March and you’re at $100,000, this means sales of $322,222 per month are needed for the next nine months.
You need to question, “Is this doable? What will it require?”
If you’ve never set goals to run your business or if your goals haven’t yielded results, I recommend you get help. Read a book about goal setting; meet with other business professionals to find out what they do; or, invite a coach to help your team through the goal-setting process.
2. Remove distractions. Email and the Internet are reported to be the biggest distractions at work and often in our personal life. It is the bitter-sweet of social media. Email, tweets, and Facebook posts produce contacts who begin to know and trust you, purchase your product or service, and tell others about you.
Removing all social media that gets client attention and still expecting activity that generates sales is like cutting off your right leg and immediately expecting to run a marathon. The secret is not to remove distractions necessary for business or professional functions, but rather to shift your focus. Determine a time when you can pay un-interrupted attention to them and nothing else. For most, this is where the real work begins.
3. Get support. As business leaders, we often trip up with this one. Why? It’s simple. Our entire life we’ve been conditioned to believe that to be the leader, you need to deliver everything flawlessly by yourself. In fact, seeking guidance from others may be interpreted as a sign of weakness.
Would you rather be thought of as weak and get results or as a pillar of strength and fail miserably? The choice is yours.
4. Know what works for you and do it. Begin by identifying and stopping what has not worked in the past. According to Misner, “It sounds ‘counter intuitive,’ and it is, but it works. Many get trapped thinking ‘I’ve always done it that way.’ So if ‘that way’ is not working, try something new.”
You’re probably thinking, “I don’t know what to try.” If so, repeat Step 3 until you get it. Everyone has someone from whom they can learn from. The point is to surround yourself with a circle of friends and business associates who help your growth and development.
If that’s not your current circle, either change the conversations you have with the people you know or develop a few new relationships with people you’ve always wanted to learn from.
5. Stay for the miracle. I can imagine the furrowed brows by readers right now. I know it’s tough; but it’s not impossible. As a person who has enjoyed a walking disability for the majority of her life, I can tell you all about difficulties, challenges, and hardships, but what does that really matter?
At the end of the day, the difference between settling for what life gives you and achieving what you want is the way you respond to each person and everything that you meet along life’s journey.
If you’re committed to the life in front of you, give it your best 24/7. If you’re not, begin to migrate towards something to which you are committed that will produce positive results for you, your business, your community, or the world.
Life is too short a game not to be played “full out.” You may never achieve what you set out to do, but if you set out to do what you plan to achieve, the world will be forever altered because of your daily contribution. Make it a purposeful day now for your world!
ABOUT VICTORIA MAVIS
Victoria Mavis is a speaker, author and human resource (HR) expert that is known for always “telling a story” to illustrate her experience from over 20 years in industries, such as hospitality, local government, manufacturing, medical services, non-profits, and retail. She skillfully guides clients to increased earnings by “rightsizing” HR administration, including the use of human capital and internet technology.
Victoria holds an MBA, is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), and also certified as a Behavioral Specialist. She is a member of Rotary International, BNI, and other business, professional, and community organizations.