March 13, 2015

Would you want a work life do-over? Hitting a milestone birthday

  50

This weekend I hit a huge milestone in life. I’m turning 50! 

That sounds old, doesn’t it?

Turning 50 marks a shift – physically and emotionally: My back aches a little. My flexibility is not what it was just a decade ago. My children are growing up, my parents are growing old and my home is getting emptier.

On the up side, I’m alive, healthy, working and happily married.

I look around and I see people accomplishing amazing feats in their later years of life. They are starting businesses, mentoring young professionals and advancing in their companies. They are traveling, taking up new hobbies and enjoying their romantic relationships in ways they didn’t have time for while raising their young children or that they put off for later.

Seeing others embrace their senior years has inspired me. When I recently read this week about Patrick Pichette, the 52-year old CFO of Google, who unexpectedly said he was retiring to get to the fun stuff he kept putting off for later in life, I understood where he was coming from.

Like most people my age, I have more wrinkles than I did a few years ago. I’m not going to lie, that bothers me.  But I also have a lot more confidence, direction and a new appreciation for the people in my life. 

After 50 years, I know now that fun and happiness are ageless. Betty While sure looks like she’s having a great time! At 64, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage, fulfilling her longtime dream -- and she's has lots more on her bucket list.

When I look at my peers, I see how easy it can be to get caught up in our Inboxes, our social media accounts, our work projects, and let the stress of our jobs overwhelm us. With half a century behind me, I’m beginning to realize life is too short to waste time being stressed or unsure of our priorities.

I ask myself: If offered a do over, would I take it? The answer is no. 

By now, I also have learned that life is not fair, that awful things happen to wonderful people and sometimes even courage and will power aren’t enough to defeat the odds. It’s that perspective that makes work life balance worth striving to obtain!

 

When I blow out the candles on my birthday cake, I will appreciate the blessings in my life and look forward to the great years ahead. There are no do-overs but there are all kinds of opportunities for 50 years olds who are open to taking them. That will be me, and if you’re creeping up on 50 -- or hitting another milestone in your life --  I hope it will be you too.

 

February 16, 2015

Stressed at the office? How to use mindfulness at work

Today I'm enjoying a day off for President's Day. I plan to stay in the moment with my kids, enjoy the beautiful South Florida weather and make the most of the day because it's so easy to let the stress of work take over our lives.

My guest blogger today provides some great insight into staying in the moment through a practice called mindfulness, giving us tips on how to use it in the workplace to stay zen instead of stressed. Charles A. Francis is the author of Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple: Your Guide to Finding True Inner Peace (Paradigm Press), and co-founder and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute. He also leads workshops and mindfulness meditation retreats through his company, MindfulnessMeditationInstitute.org.

These are simple techniques he shares but they can make a big difference in how we feel about work life balance.

Charles A FrancisHeadshot

4 Ways Mindfulness Can Beat Workplace Stress -- It’s as Easy as Taking a Walk

Workplace stress is an epidemic. The World Health Organization calls it a leading health problem in the United States. Stress takes a toll on productivity, memory, and concentration, and can trigger health, mental and emotional problems, turning a day at the office into an anxiety-ridden routine. But employees can break that pattern by practicing Mindfulness, even for a mere ten minutes, just a few times a week. It’s as simple as changing the way one breathes, walks, listens, and talks.

Mindfulness is a 2,500-year-old practice that trains the mind to become calm and focused. Based on straightforward techniques, it doesn’t take years to master. Employees can practice it during the most basic activities at work. Not only will it quiet the mind and improve performance and concentration, it has a great effect on office dynamics as well.

Here are four simple tips for beating workplace stress:

Take a breath.

Mindful Breathing slows down those racing thoughts and moments of agitation. It can be done anywhere, at anytime. First, stop what you’re doing. Then, take three to five breaths. As you take each breath, pay close attention, shutting out thoughts of anything else. Focus on the feeling of the air you’re breathing in and breathing out.  Count each breath. It will put you back in the moment, but in much calmer state.

Go for a walk.

We walk way more than we think we do, even at work. Practice Mindful Walking, and every walk you take is a chance to get calm and centered. Heading to the water cooler? As you walk, focus on each step, shutting out the rest of the world. Focus on the way your foot falls, and on the time it takes. Do this for three to ten steps, counting as you walk and being deeply aware of each step. And slow down: by slowing down your body, you force your mind to follow.

Listen closely.

Stephen Covey once said, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." Deep Listening radically improves communication as we learn to focus on the conversation, instead of being distracted by second-guessing or getting a word in edgewise. First, start by looking into other people’s eyes as they’re talking. Pay close attention to what they’re saying. Fight the temptation to let your mind wander. By showing sincere interest in what the other person is saying, you’re also doing wonders for the relationship.

Choose words carefully.

The consequences of saying something thoughtless or regretful can be profound in the work environment. Mindful Speech is a way to choose the words that can create harmony instead. When responding to what someone’s just said, take a moment to reconsider the words you’ve chosen. Ask yourself: Are my words too reactive? Are they going to worsen an already tense situation? Try to choose words that are respectful, and kind. Just like Deep Listening, Mindful Speech can help heal the stressful workplace, replacing tension with transformation.

 

 

October 13, 2014

Workplace support important when breast cancer is a personal cause

This month, pink is everywhere. And that's a good thing. 

Look around your neighborhood and you will find all kinds of businesses supporting breast cancer awareness or sponsoring events to raise money for the cause. When there's a personal connection to the disease, those efforts take on new meaning. 

Throughout October, Scott Collins’ employees are wearing pink shirts in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month as they disperse across South Florida. Scott's wife, Lori, is battling breast cancer. At the end of the month, Affordable Window Cleaning Co. in Davie will donate a percentage of its profits to For The Gift of Hope, a South Florida foundation that helps local breast cancer patients with financial needs.

“I want to support my wife in every way I can,” Scott says. “My crew understands that.”

Some owners, like Scott, start small, asking employees to wear pink clothing or ribbons and to get involved in fund-raisers. Others, like Rocco Mangel of the popular Rocco’s Tacos, rally customers in a bigger way. Mangel raised $32,000 last year from an October promotion in which a portion of Tuesday night proceeds at all five restaurants went to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. (Rocco’s girlfriend’s mother, whom he is close to, is now fighting her second battle with the disease.)

The efforts of both represent more than just fund-raisers or awareness events. For spouses and family members of breast cancer patients, these are a way to ease heartache or show solidarity. Some small-business owners gain emotional support from signing up employees for local Race for the Cure teams.

Some take other approaches. Oscar Padilla says the annual cut-a-thon his Kendall salon helps him feel like a doer. A decade ago, Padilla said, he was “devastated” when his mother died of breast cancer. The memories of her rapid decline still sting, he says. “Anything I can do to spread awareness is gratifying.”

Every October, Padilla turns his Kairos Hair Salon pink for the month and donates 10 percent of sales from services and products to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. On Oct. 19, his 10 stylists will participate in a cut-a-thon with raffle prizes donated by neighboring vendors; “They see how important it is to me to give others the potential to survive.” The last three cut-a-thons raised about $3,000 each.

Breast cancer remains the leading cancer killer among women ages 20 to 59; more than 1.4 million cases are diagnosed annually worldwide. It is a life-changing event with repercussions that extend beyond the disease and treatment, and affect those who act as a support system.

If you see a business in your area supporting breast cancer, chances are high there's a personal connection. If you're an employee or customer who is asked to donate time or money, think about how much that support means.
 
Sherri Martens-Curtis, whose mother/business partner died of breast cancer, says she gets purpose from passionate colleagues and friends who participate in her fund-raisers and the knowledge that the money helps promote early detection: “For those of us with a personal connection, it’s that true collaboration that makes a difference.”
 

Scott collins

THINKING PINK: The wife of Scott Collins, above right, is being treated for breast cancer. Collins, owner of Affordable Window Cleaning, and employees wear pink in October, and some profits will aid The Gift of Hope.WALTER MICHOT/MIAMI HERALD STAFF



August 07, 2014

The business of work life balance

In my 12 years of writing about work life balance, I have watched it become a giant industry, and I would venture to say it is only going to get bigger. All of us are struggling to create boundaries with technology making that an increasing challenge.

I thought it was time to highlight the industry's evolution. Where do you think the industry is headed?

BY CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN
BALANCEGAL@GMAIL.COM
At Perry Elllis corporate offices, a group of employees are gathered in the company conference room, stretching into various poses and and taking deep breaths. At the front of the room, a yoga teacher from Green Monkey gives instruction. In the increasing struggle for zen, yoga businesses like Green Monkey have discovered opportunity: a demand for restoring balance to stressed out workers.

The work/life balance industry now encompasses venders and consultants who make money selling services to employers increasingly concerned with wellness, engagement, morale and productivity. Workplace wellness alone has become a nearly $2 billion industry, projected to hit $2.9 billion by by 2016, according to a study by consultants IBIS World.

Newer to the scene are service providers who appeal to individuals — working mothers and fathers or stressed-out leaders — looking to take tasks off their plate, bring order to their lives or create easier ways to work remotely. The category includes personal shoppers and trainers, virtual assistants, meditation leaders, elder care consultants and life coaches.

What has changed most in the evolution of the industry is widespread acknowledgment that work/life balance is not a problem just for women or a concern that is going to be solved — but rather an ongoing challenge. “The recognition has made work/life balance the subject du jour,” says Jim Bird, founder of WorkLifeBalance.com. “It’s something people look at when considering a job or deciding whether to take a promotion and it’s probably the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs.”

Fueling the focus on work/life issues is research. Quantifying stress, distraction, perks, engagement and productivity has become a business in itself, with academics and consulting firms spitting out surveys on the factors behind dissatisfaction and turnover.

Inevitably the research points out one crucial finding: Employees are struggling more than ever before with the demands on their time. Though many companies remain reluctant to hire large numbers of new employees and beef up salaries, almost all large employers now survey employees on job satisfaction and work/life balance. Using results, the company typically goes on to provide some benefit to alleviate work/life friction and improve productivity.

“From an employer perspective, it’s no longer just about helping employees,” explains Rose Stanley, a work/life practice leader at WorkatWork, a nonprofit HR association for organizations focused on strategies to attract and retain a productive workforce. “It’s about tying it back into business strategy.”

Case in point: An estimated one million workers miss work each day because of stress, costing companies an estimated $602 per employee per year, according to HeathAdvocate.com.

Providers such as Bright Horizons Family Solutions are catering to employer demand. Twenty-eight years ago, when Bright Horizons CEO Dave Lissy approached a Fortune 500 company to offer on-site childcare to employees, the HR director’s first reaction was to ask why, he says. Today, “why “ is obvious and that same employer company now uses Bright Horizons Family Solutions also to provide employees with back-up elder care, elder care case management, sick-child care and other work life benefits such as college or educational advising.

“The core issue of child care remains a challenge for companies and their workers,” Lissy says. “What has changed is an acknowledgment of other key life-stage issues that cause the same friction. Companies now show more of an appetite to address those multiple issues.”

Bright Horizons, now a public company based in Watertown, Mass., has close to 1,000 corporate clients; in 2013, it grossed $1.2 billion in revenue. Lissy predicts even more growth. “Time is on our side. Those organizations who don't offer help with work/life concerns will be behind in a world where human capital is the competitive advantage.”

Emerging from the recession, employers are hiring vendors to structure flexibility programs as a tool for innovation rather than just as a benefit. They are tapping stress-reduction experts as a way to increase productivity.

Atlanta-based WorkLifeBalance.com is an 8-year-old company that sells training programs on time management, stress management and work/life balance, both online and on site. CEO Jim Bird said his company has seen an increasing interest from employers, not only of white-collar but also of blue-collar workers, who want to re-engage employees by helping them help themselves. “They are doing it for bottom line reasons,” he says.

Service providers who sell directly to individuals are finding success with a variety of approaches. In South Florida, for instance, Green Monkey has built its meditation/yoga business on the motto “Live in Balance,” targeting stress out workers of all ages and both genders. In six years, it has grown from one studio to three. It also has attracted more than 20 corporate clients with its on-site yoga programs.

Elizabeth King has found a niche in work/life conferences targeted at businesswomen. A licensed psychotherapist, King was running International Holistic Center in Fort Lauderdale when she noticed an increase in women suffering from adrenal fatigue. “They were stressed out and overwhelmed.”

Her answer: Suits, Stilettos and Lipstick, an annual conference in Fort Lauderdale addressing such concerns as making time for romance, health and spirituality. The event draws about 500 women. Her third conference, slated for Sept. 12, will focus on coping skills. “I want to help women build their careers without sacrificing their health and identities,” she says.

Of course, as the industry booms, new “consultants” are following the money. Some, such as life coaches and meditation instructors, may not have training or certification.

“Don’t fall prey to people who are not trained professionals,” King warns. “Work/life balance is a growing business, but if people are selective and ask the questions, only those vendors with experience and credentials will survive.”

April 15, 2014

Foods that help you de-stress? Who knew?

It's tax day and that might have some of you stressed out. But of course, we're always stressed.

Last week, I spoke at a luncheon and asked how many people in the audience had experienced stress in the last week -- to the point where they said out loud, or in their heads, "I'm so stressed!"

Almost everyone raised their hands. Including me. We have so many things that we're balancing that most of us feel close to the breaking point on any given day. 

So, I read with interest an article in The Miami Herald this morning that said there are foods that contain nutrients that nourish the adrenal glands, which produce cortisol and adrenaline, our stress hormones. 

Nutritionist/Dietician Sheah Rarback lists a few of the many nutrients important for healthy adrenals.

•  Vitamin C. The body’s highest level of vitamin C is found in the adrenal glands. Like all nutrients, vitamin C has multiple functions. In addition to adrenal support, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, critical for wound healing and collagen production, and necessary for serotonin production. Great vitamin C foods are bell peppers, papayas, citrus foods, broccoli, pineapple and Brussels sprouts.

•  Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). This might not sound familiar, but as a structural component of Coenyme A, B5 is vital for the proper functioning of the adrenal glands. Best foods for B5 are shiitake and crimini mushrooms, avocados, sweet potatos and lentils.

•  Omega 3 fatty acids. Best known for their anti-inflammatory benefits, omega 3 fatty acids also slow down the adrenal activation elicited by mental stress. Flaxseed, walnuts, sardines, salmon and soybeans are all rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

•  Magnesium. The stress that produces cortisol also produces the adrenaline that increases heart rate, blood pressure and muscle contraction. These reactions use up magnesium. Dark greens, beans, nuts and quinoa are terrific sources for maintaining adequate magnesium intake.

Sheah says it can be tasty to support the adrenals. A spinach salad with bell peppers, orange slices, sautéed shiitakes, avocado, walnuts, quinoa and olive oil vinaigrette beautifully supplies every important nutrient.

So, if you're feeling stressed. Here's permission to eat. Just stay away from the vending machine!

April 08, 2014

The secret weapon behind work life balance

We all  struggle for work life balance, but most of us don’t realize that sometimes the path towards achieving might be something so simple.

Some of the most successful people I know are sharing their secret weapon for remaining strong and finding balance. 

 

One of them is Donna Shalala. By her own admission, Donna Shalala is a workaholic. She is the president of University of Miami and has a resume that anyone would find impressive -- accomplished scholar, teacher and administrator. Her jobs titles include a stint working for President Bill Clinton as secretary of health and human services. While Donna doesn't have kids, she does take care of her elderly mother and oversees thousands of employees. Last week, I was at a luncheon in which Donna was asked about work life balance. 
 
The secret weapon, she says, is a good night's sleep. "The biggest mistakes I've made in my career happened because I was overtired," she told more than 400 women at a lunch sponsored by The Commonwealth Institute South Florida.
 
Coincidentally, or maybe not, Arianna Huffington, cofounder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, also is on a campaign to advocate for a good night's sleep. Her personal wake-up call came in the form of a broken cheekbone and a nasty gash over her eye -- the result of a fall brought on by exhaustion and lack of sleep. She wondered, "is this really what success feels like?"
 
 
Instead of bragging about our sleep deficits or how busy we are, Arianna urges us to shut our eyes and see the big picture: We can sleep our way to increased productivity and happiness — and smarter decision-making. The first step, she says, is getting 30 minutes more sleep a night.
 
So, there you go! Two powerful women are telling you that sleep is key to good decisions and our well being. If you're giving up sleep to get more done, it's time to change that habit. Arianna says sleep deprived women will learn the hard way the value of sleep as she did, especially when trying to see the big picture in business. 
 
As someone who is guilty of giving up sleep, I'm going to change my habits. I hope you will, too. 
 
 

March 12, 2014

Managing a business through personal challenges

A friend of mine recently lost her mother. She confided in me that some mornings, she's so grief stricken, she can't get out of bed. It's a problem because she runs a business and relies on it for her income. When we think about work life balance, many of us tend to think it's all about juggling work and children. But sometimes, it's about juggling a business with unforeseen events in one's personal life. 

I tackled the topic in my Miami Herald column today. The biggest take away for business owners: learn the art of delegation!

 

For entrepreneurs, life events can disrupt business, too

 

 
Jackie Velazquez is a business owner who is just returning from surgery and now continues her busy schedule.
Jackie Velazquez is a business owner who is just returning from surgery and now continues her busy schedule. 
CARL JUSTE / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
 

BY CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN

There’s nothing more exciting than breaking free of a cubicle and starting your own business — until you discover the drawbacks.

While entrepreneurs make their own rules, set their own hours and decide how they want to do business, they almost inevitably discover they lack a safety net when their personal lives get challenging. Many tackle divorces, medical setbacks, childbirth and loss of loved ones while still handling deadlines, tackling customer issues and making payroll.

Earlier this month, Jackie Velazquez tried to keep her 13-year business operating while undergoing surgery to prevent breast cancer. “The first thing that goes across your mind is how can I accomplish this and not miss work.”

Velazquez, owner of Miami-based Smarttarget Marketing, planned ahead for her business, creating targeted direct marketing lists. She asked clients to place requests by a specific date and informed them that she would be hard to reach for four days. She will do the same for an upcoming surgery with a longer recovery.

Meanwhile, she tried to adjust client expectations and answer email as much as possible from her hospital bed. Still, she says, she worries that clients will go elsewhere, or tasks will go unnoticed. “There is never a good time to be gone from work when you are a business owner. If your phone is ringing and you’re not answering it, money is not coming in.”

Undoubtedly, running a business, especially in today’s economy, is not easy and comes with stress. Most entrepreneurs say that they work long hours — an average of 55 hours or more — and 97 percent work on weekends, according to a 2013 Small Business Pulse survey by The Alternative Board, a business consulting firm. Handling life’s upheavals can be a serious concern for entrepreneurs whose jobs extend well beyond 9-to-5 hours.

One such challenge is childbirth. Even with the flexibility of working for themselves, few women entrepreneurs report giving themselves the luxury of three-month maternity leaves. “When you are dedicated to your business, you simply cannot in good conscience check out completely,” said Jessica Wilcox, founder of MoneyClip Direct, a direct mail advertising publication for businesses in South Miami-Dade.

Wilcox quickly learned that juggling isn’t just a metaphor. After giving birth, she gave herself a short one-month maternity leave before returning to sales calls with baby in one hand, invoice in the other. “If I’m not working, money is not coming in and the company is not growing,” she said.

Most importantly, she adjusted her expectations to sustain the business rather than build on it, holding on to existing advertisers rather than courting new ones. She worked just enough to handle “all those little things that can fall by the wayside if you’re not paying attention.” Now that her son is 1, she has hired child-care assistance and recommitted to expanding her business.

The larger the small business, the more challenging it can be to balance the rigors of running it with the demands of life and unforeseen events. A 2013 Small Business Annual Survey by U.S. Bank found that owners with employees are less likely than solo entrepreneurs to have enough time for friends and family and more likely to have their life defined by their business. But the successful ones understand the role their team plays.

Lisa Cann said her team is the only reason that her Pembroke Pines cupcake/dessert business remains open. For the past few years, she has juggled marriage counseling, health issues and financial concerns. “It has been so stressful,” she says. Throughout, she has relied on her employees at Royal Treatz to handle the day-to-day tasks while she focuses on the higher level work.

“I had to get them to realize we’re a team. I don’t want clock punchers. I want employees who are happy to be here and want the business to survive.”

Cann said she scaled back some, closing a kiosk in the Pembroke Pines mall. She continues to operate her storefront/party room with eight full-time staff, whom she relies on to handle sales, communicate about inventory and decorate cakes. “I’m one person wearing lots of hats. But if you hire well, train them right and build trust, your employees will run the business when you can’t.”

Read more...

 

Click here for the full results of The Alternative Board Survey.

February 25, 2014

Can you go too far with weight loss?

Poor Rachel Frederickson. She has been a topic of discussion after winning NBC’s The Biggest Loser  and revealing a staggering weight loss on national TV. The pop-culture universe is publicly asking: Did she go too far?

After stunning the audience by losing 155 pounds, 60 percent of her body weight, some believe the show sparked an eating disorder in her. Rachel revealed that she's been spending 6 hours a day exercising. My reaction: Holy moly! Who has that kind of time to devote to exercise? Yes she probably did go too far. But while the public is worried that she's too thin now, I doubt she will be able to sustain that kind of effort to stay thin. Think about it, that's 42 hours a week devoted to exercising! I'd rather be sleeping!

As someone who has been thin all my life, I have had people comment  on my size. Sometimes, it's downright mean. They will say, "you're soooo skinny." How do you respond to that? Of course, as I get older I'm battling the belly bulge so I'm finally experiencing the struggle others go through to keep weight off. I've finally learned the challenge of balancing dieting, exercise and work. It ain't easy!
 
For me, the late afternoons are tough. That's when I start stressing over all I have left to get done and I crave sugar, coffee and snacks. I'm sure there are other workers out there who are stress eaters, too. Sometimes, I start fantasizing about how great life would be if my job was an exercise instructor and I got paid to work out. 
 
A few weeks ago, I ran into Donna Goldstein at an event. Donna looked great and was smiling from ear to ear. She has slimmed down, sustained her weight loss, and recently got married. Donna is a psychologist and Certified Health Coach with Take Shape for Life. She  has helped over 1,000 people achieve their health and weight loss goals. Most impressive: She has sustained her own 70-pound weight loss for six years, after a lifetime of struggle. 
 
I asked Donna to write a guest blog post on what's realistic to set as our goals when we're trying to stay fit, lose weight and hold a full time job. Obviously, we want to look good and feel good without spending 6 hours a day working out. Of course, our goal is to look good, NOT to have people wondering if we have gone too far! Below is Donna's photo and her suggestions.
 
 
  Donna

 

Many people set unrealistic goals for 2014 involving two-hour  gym work outs or starvation diets. These have likely already failed, as they are not sustainable components of a long-term healthy lifestyle.  What does a busy,  stressed  out person, who can’t get to the gym, do? If  you  are overweight,  like 65% of us in the U.S. are,  or just want to have more energy, here are five simple  tips:

1. Frequent fuelings – I know it sounds counterintuitive,  as “diets” always seem to suggest you  eat less, not more, and  then you feel deprived, hungry and exhausted! Adopting the habit of eating 5 to 6 small protein rich “mini meals” will do more to help you lose weight and maintain a consistent energy level than anything else. Some healthy choices you can eat at work -an oz. of low fat cheese and an apple;  1 Tb. of PB and a few whole grain crackers; a protein bar or meal replacement protein shakes, or a small handful of nuts, seeds and raisins.
 
2. Take more steps – stand up every 45 to 60 minutes to take a short walk around your office and or to do some stretching, use the stairs, try some chair yoga.  This will  increase your productivity too.  Researchers at Stanford found that just one minute of stretching can increase your brainpower and  energy by 45% for an hour!
 
3. Get rid of your candy dish at the office. Also, take a pass on bagels, donuts or pastalitos in the break room or at staff meetings. This only causes your energy to spike and then crash, and then you crave more! Carlos Martinez, the Miami-Dade County Public Defender, who lost 100 pounds on my program, and now routinely runs half marathons,  used to bring these type of “sweet treats” to his staff- now he brings fruit.
 
4. Schedule appointments with yourself. Set aside time for walks, gym time, meditation or exercise classes, and make these a priority. I put my 3 times weekly yoga and Pilates classes immediately on my calendar right after any recurring business meetings-it works!
 
5. Get accountable. Just as a coach in sports can help athletes accelerate their performance, using the services of a health coach, will make it 3 times as likely that you will achieve your health and fitness goals. Find someone to teach you new strategies and hold you accountable.

 

While Donna's advice is practical, I'm wondering about your thoughts on Rachel Frederickson. She pocketed $250,000 from winning The Biggest Loser. Do you think she went too far with her diet and exercise routine?

 

Rachel

 Rachel Fredrickson

 

February 21, 2014

How to handle work life conflict

A decade ago, my friends would complain about how work often conflicted with their little ones activities. One close friend cried to me for 20 minutes on the phone when she had to miss her son's first day of kindergarten because of business travel. At the time, all I could say was, "That really stinks!"

Through the years, I've discovered that work life conflict continues, regardless of your stage in life.

Now, as I approach 50, some of my friends are balancing different work life conflicts. Unfortunately, they are juggling their jobs and cancer treatments.  What may make this work life conflict different is that often continuing to work isn't optional. They need to keep working because they need the health insurance and/or income to cover medical expenses.

Earlier this week, I received an email from Jackie Velazquez, a reader and business owner who faces this work life conundrum. 

Hi Cindy, 

As  a reader of you articles & blog, I thought of you this morning. Today I scheduled to have a double mastectomy due to having previous pre-cancerous lumps removed and now testing positive for BRAC1.

Being a business owner the first thing that goes across your mind is how can I accomplish this and not miss work.

Well, the answer is pretty simple...I can't.

I run a direct mail company, which my clients never know if they will need to get a mailing list all of a sudden, so trying to prepare for the workflow is completely impossible. Trying to balance work out, is almost like saying will have a baby when we can afford it. There is never a good time to be gone from work when your a business owner.

Some of the work I do for my clients is so hands on, trying to get someone to do it while your gone is impossible to teach in such a short time.

So here I sit saying ok, I can do this on Friday, will I be able to check emails by Monday?? Its difficult to say you have to put yourself/health ahead of business. That's hard because in our business, if a client calls and can't get what he needs, it puts everything behind and the mailing can be very time sensitive.

 Also, being a business owner you juggle with the fact of do you even tell your clients?

  Looking for any thoughts you may have on this one.

 

By now, I have a little more experience under my belt and can offer a little more advice to Jackie than just the sympathy I offered my friends years ago. The biggest lesson I've learned is there will ALWAYS be work life conflicts. The solution is rearrange your schedule when you can and let go of the guilt when you can't.

I also learned there is ALWAYS something you can take off your plate to help with the juggling act. If you have limited time and energy, focus on what absolutely can only be handled by you. There is no shame in delegating. Sometimes you just have to think more broadly about who can take over a task. Most business owners feel the need to do everything themselves. But if you physically can't, accept it. Consider hiring a virtual assistant.

Remember, customers, clients and bosses may be sympathetic but they are  more concerned with how their needs will be met. When my friend cried to me on the phone about business travel, I listened. But if she went to her boss, do you think he would care?

What co-workers, clients and bosses respond to is solutions. I think Jackie should be honest with her clients and let them know that she will try her best to handle their concerns despite the fact that she may need some time off. She can let them know that her assistant will take over some tasks and she will handle the high level matters as much as possible.

That's my thoughts. Readers, Jackie and I would love to hear yours. What advice would you give someone who owns her own business and needs to take time off for personal reasons?

 

 

 

January 31, 2014

How Heather Faces Her Fear

Today, my guest blogger is Heather Von St. James. I received this email from Heather and wanted to share it with all of you:

 

Heather-family

My name Heather and I am an 8-year survivor of mesothelioma – a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. When I was diagnosed at the age of 36, I had just given birth to my little girl and was told I had 15 months to live. After undergoing a risky surgery, which required the removal of my left lung, I beat the odds and created Lung Leavin’ Day as a way to commemorate this day that changed my life forever.

Lung Leavin’ Day is now used to encourage others to face their fears! One important thing cancer taught me is the importance of acknowledging these apprehensions that prevent us from living life to the fullest extent. Each year on February 2, friends and family gather at my house for a bonfire where we write our fears on plates and smash them into the fire.

This year, we are asking you to face your fears and raise awareness of this event by virtually participating in Lung Leavin’ Day! I have created an interactive page that tells the full story of this special day, and allows all of you to face your fears and virtually smash them. The website can be found here: Lungleavinday