When was the last time you sat by a lake in a chair that was hard to get out of and you were happy and felt relaxed, like you had no place else you had to be, no obligations pressing on your brain? I live in Minnesota, in the northern United States, and I feel the pull of my closest lake far more often than I yield to her.
Are you working too hard? Too many hours as well? Have you gotten your vaccine(s)? Do you sleep enough? Do you remember your significant other's name?!
Women's Loyalty to Employers Astounds Me
As I work with my executive career coaching clients and talk to former coworkers, family members, and neighbors, I am struck by how many people are working harder than ever. There is a level of loyalty-to-employer among professional women that I see as not being in their best interests. I even see it in women who hate their jobs and/or their bosses. What is up with that?
A good friend of mine once complimented me on something that many resume writing experts try to get us to avoid -- I have always changed jobs when I became unhappy with the work, the bosses, the culture, or all three. This may have made me look like a job-hopper in my first years as a new mother, but I have no regrets.
Along the way, I learned a lot about myself and the world of work. I developed new areas of knowledge, new skills, and new colleagues and friends as well. Shout-out to my dear friend Marianne for calling me brave for quitting jobs! I love you!
Some of my all-time favorite people are the women and men with whom I worked in previous organizations. After taking time to recover from the place, I made sure to reconnect with the former coworkers I most adore. You know who you are. Thank you for being my friend all these years.
Are there former coworkers you miss? Contact them and say so!
Self-Care Matters Too
We need to take better care of ourselves and our planet. If we cannot do it for ourselves, then maybe we can trick ourselves into saying we need to 'do' self-care so we can take care of our loved ones -- whatever works. You run the risks of feeling depleted and resentful, getting sick and burned out, if you wait to do any relaxing until after you finish up this one last big project, this one client pitch... fill in the blank here. Please be good to you. And stop working so hard!
As an Executive, Leadership, and Career Coach to women, I encourage my clients to own their strengths and to stop focusing so much on their weaknesses. However, as I write this, I am very aware of my weaknesses, including my tendency to be inconsistent with any work endeavor that does not involve direct client contact. I do better when I am meeting in real time with women, serving you based on your current challenges and aspirations.
Consistency is a good thing, particularly in terms of managing one's "brand". I would be a better steward of my brand if I cranked out something in writing every week, month, or even every quarter, like clockwork. Unfortunately, consistency is not my strong suit. Alas, heavy sigh. I find it difficult to figure out which weaknesses to work on versus letting go.
To what extent is this true for you? Which weaknesses are you OK with just owning and ignoring, and which ones do you wish you could magically erase?
Imperfect, Inconsistent Coping is still Coping!
Please continue to take good care of yourself, remember to breathe, and reach out to people whenever it helps you to do so. Know that I am thinking about each person in my professional and personal spheres, including you. Paraphrasing what Stuart Smalley used to say on Saturday Night Live, "You're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, people LIKE you!"
Please know that no matter how you are feeling and responding these days to the challenges you face, you are responding normally to abnormal situations. I took the above header phrase from the second last sentence of this short Greater Good article (Q & A) with a psychiatrist:
Tips for Calming Your Pandemic Stress
I found this article by searching for information on how much we humans need social support. When I am feeling my worst and/or my busiest, that is when I most need time with friends. However, that is also the time when I am less likely to call people or to ask them to get together. This was true before the pandemic, and now there are new complexities and layers of weirdness attached to socializing!
How about you? Has your need for time with friends and/or family changed from before the pandemic? What changes have you made in your social life during the pandemic, and are those changes working for you? If not, what tweaks could you make to be more intentional about getting your (social and other) needs met during this time?
You are not alone, even when you feel alone. There are so many people all over the world who are going through the same or similar thoughts and feelings as you. I hope you are getting your social support needs met. If not, I hope you make time to reach out to people you care about, for some mutually rewarding discussions about these abnormal times.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, please consider the value of doing "Bare Minimum" as a way of coping, saving energy, staying sane, etc. This is something I feel compelled to bring up with certain clients, especially women who self-identify as perfectionistic and/or workaholic! Bare Minimum involves doing considerably less than what you would typically do for a work project, task, favor, etc.
How often do you go above and beyond what your boss, team, family, or other people in your work-life expect? What toll does keeping up that level of performance take on you -- physically, mentally, and socially? Might there be certain projects or tasks for which you can do less work? How would that feel? In what ways might that free you up? What impact would that have on your body, mind, and spirit? What would you do instead with the time you free up for yourself?
Independent of how long this pandemic lasts, we are (or can be) in control of how we approach our work and other life roles. What can you do to improve your overall well-being, in ways that only you will likely notice and that won't get you anywhere near fired?! Practice "Bare Minimum", tell a friend about it, and see how it goes!
Kim Bartels is an Executive Coach and Career Counselor for women and other diverse leaders.