eBusiness Blog

5 Tips for Taking Control of Your Mind

5 Tips for Taking Control of Your Mind What’s the single most determining factor for your success in business and life? Money? Time? Knowledge? While those things are definitely important, that’s not the answer. Actually, it’s you. Yep. Call it your mind, mindset, beliefs, psychology, ego or whatever... but ultimately it’s all the stuff that goes on between your ears (aka YOU) that can propel you to success or hold you back from having a life and business that you love. It’s the fear, self-doubt, anxiety, worry, second guessing, perfectionism, lack of focus, procrastination, etc. that truly holds you back from the success you crave—not money or time or how many certifications you may hold. Imagine if all the chatter in your head was supporting and positive? That it lifted you up instead of tearing you down? Imagine what it would be like if YOU controlled your mind instead of letting it control you? How would things be different? My guess is that you’d find the resources to overcome your challenges pretty darn fast.
But how do you do that? How do you take control of your mind? How do you truly master your psychology and overcome all the inner stuff that is holding you back? How do you make it work to your benefit instead of your detriment? It’s not easy. I give you that. And, it’s not fast either. But it is worth it... big time. Here are 5 tips to get you started...
  1. Take responsibility

    This is a must. Before you can do anything else, you must realize that it’s you who is creating your reality and only you can change it. Period. Stop focusing on and blaming others—focus on YOU.
  2. Meditate

    Yes, meditation is a proven way of gaining true control over your thoughts and feelings. There are tons of ways to meditate so try a few and see what works for you. Personally, I enjoy a nice walking meditation.
  3. Surround

    Fill your life with positive like-minded souls who have various skills, strengths, styles and expertise. Nourish yourself and others with your kindness and generosity.
  4. Be grateful

    Yes, you’ve heard it before, but the more you can think, feel and display gratitude, the calmer your mind gets and the easier it is to ignore that negative mental chatter.
  5. Hire a coach

    One job of a coach is to help you clear your stuff so you CAN take inspired action and HAVE the business and life of your dreams. It’s much easier to work on this when you have someone in your corner rather than trying to do it all on your own.
Bonus: Focus on keeping things simple and uncluttered. The more chaos in your life, the more your mind monkey will chatter non-stop. Whatever your circumstances, whatever has or hasn’t happened in your life and business, your mind is the key to your happiness and fulfillment. Do yourself a favour and master it. What do you do when your mind starts spouting negative chatter and is holding you back? I’d love to hear in the comments below. [article_about_author author="heather"]

12 Tips for Thriving During the Christmas Holidays

12 Tips for Thriving During the Christmas Holidays The holiday season is just about to ramp up big time. We are past Halloween and Remembrance Day, and while there were some decorations up November 1st (shame on them), we are now about to be thrust willing or not into full out holiday mode. Does the "busyness" of the holidays stress you out? Overwhelm you? Make you want to just say to H E double hockey-sticks to it all? I do like Christmas, I really do but it can be a bit much if you let it. In fact, last year I decided to skip it completely and went zip-lining in Belize instead. I fully admit that I felt giddy with the sense of freedom: no decorations, no shopping (besides some new warm weather clothes), no baking, no parties, no cards, nada, nothing. I spent over 2 weeks relaxing in the sun; it was awesome—one of the best Christmas's ever (if you have never skipped Christmas, I highly recommend you try it at least once in your life). However, this year is the exact opposite. I know it is going to be super busy with family coming to stay, tons of shopping, cooking, parties, visits, cards...the whole shebang. But I'm not too worried because you see over the years, I have devised my very own system for not just surviving the holidays (and especially the 12 days of Christmas), but for thriving during the holidays so that come January 2nd, I don't need a vacation from it all. [clickToTweet tweet="'Not only survive this holiday season but thrive with these 12 tips!' Via @eVisionMedia" quote="Not only survive this holiday season but thrive with these 12 tips!"] Curious? Well then read on... Here is my top 12 list for thriving during holidays.
  1. Pick your battles; be realistic in what you can do

    This may seem strange but it is the KEY to thriving during the holidays. Right now (as in today) create your overall holiday strategy. What parties you need to go to? Who is visiting? Where do you need to be? How much baking REALLY needs to happen? How many decorations and when are you putting them up? Shopping? Etc. Then look at your plan and cut at least a quarter if not half off your to-dos. Chances are you made such a massive plan that there is no humanly possible way you can do it all. Be realistic and pick only the absolutely most important things and then let the rest go. Yes, let it go, let it go.
  2. Make lists

    See number 1. I make lists for everything. What I'm buying, baking, meal plans, etc. You name it and I have a list for it. This keeps me super organized and I get to put big checkmarks next to things on a daily basis. And who doesn't like checkmarks?
  3. Organize your shopping.

    I have a shopping strategy that works super well for me. It might for you too. I have two gift shopping days. One in November and one in December. Aside from a bit of additional online shopping and groceries, that is it. The November shopping day is for all the gifts I need to mail. I make a list of all I want to get and I spend a day getting it. Then the next day I package it all up and mail it. Done. The December shopping day, I actually really look forward to. It's a day to myself. I pick a weekday. I have my lists. I wear comfy shoes. I grab my favourite latte and start early. I take a break for lunch at my favourite place and really treat myself. I can usually get everything I need in one day (yes, I have 2 kids, a spouse, parents, siblings, friends, etc. to buy for). I am a shopping machine that day, but then it's done. I feel like a warrior queen coming home from war with my trophies.
  4. Wrap as you buy. Have a wrapping party

    Once you have a gift, wrap it. The day after your epic shopping day (or as soon as you can), put half a day aside to wrap. I like to invite a friend over to help. We have some Bailey's and snacks. Put on some good tunes and wrap wrap wrap. Then we go and do the same at her house on another day. It makes the wrapping so much more fun and gets it done super fast. If you don't want o invite a friend over, get your spouse to help (if they claim they can't wrap, teach them).
  5. Keep up with your exercise

    Get outside and go for a walk. Go to the gym if you usually go. Do that Jillian Michaels DVD. Exercise is not just good for your body, but it is amazing for stress relief and your mental health. After a day of battling crazy shoppers, instead of drinking a goblet of wine, go for a short walk around the block. Your mind will thank you.
  6. Sleep as much as you can

    Go to bed early. Have a nap if you like. If you normally aren't a good sleeper, now is the time to rest as much as possible. I generally have a nap most afternoons. And, I also go to bed at least a half hour earlier whenever possible. (Side note: I don't know about you but wine keeps me wide awake at night. I feel super sleepy at first, then after about an hour I am wide awake for the rest of the night. Avoid those types of things when you can.)
  7. Eat as well as you can; pay attention but don't stress about it

    I generally eat fairly well but I do love my yummy holiday treats like most people. I love to bake too. In my opinion, life is meant to be enjoyed and lived. Yes, I want to be healthy but I am also not going to stress big time about it (there are enough other things to worry about). So while you shouldn't pig out, and yes paying attention to what you are eating is important, don't stress about it. That is what January is for. Enjoy the moment while it is there.
  8. Have a cookie baking day

    Want my secret for getting all your baking done in one day? Have a cookie making day event. I get the kids to invite some friends over, I invite a friend or two and then suddenly you have tons of helpers. I often make the dough the night before. Then we put on some great music and create an assembly line with someone rolling the dough out and cutting the shapes while others decorate. I usually oversee it all and make those cookies that don't need to be rolled. At the end of the afternoon, we all clean up together and have tea/hot chocolate and sample our cookies. Everyone gets to take a few home too. And you can check one more thing off your list.
  9. Take quiet moments for yourself, every day

  10. Every single day I need quiet alone time. This does not include sleeping at night. I mean things like a relaxing bubble bath, meditating, reading a book, or even watching a sappy girly movie. While I love everyone dearly, I need time to myself too to unwind and just purge my brain. You do too. Even the most extraverted person needs time alone. Learn to enjoy your own company.
  11. Ask for help

    If there was ever a time it was ok to ask for help (and really that is anytime), the holidays are it. You do not have to do it all yourself. Get help with everything from decorating to baking, shopping, making lists, all of it. The entire family can be involved. Smaller children can help with decorating and cookie making. Older children can help with wrapping and dishes. Everyone can and should be involved. That way you all have time to snuggle on the couch together to watch the Christmas classics.
  12. Let it go; you don't need to be perfect

    When it comes down to it, there will be times when you just can't fit something in. And that's ok. Let it go. No guilt. No shame. Just let it go. You do not have to be perfect. Your house does not have to be perfect. It is the imperfections that make us interesting.
  13. Have fun

    The holidays shouldn't just be about lists and getting things done. It is about spending time with loved ones and having fun, sharing your love and gratitude for one another. Bringing joy to the world starting with you. So be sure to add fun and play as much as you can into your plans. Dishes can wait.
Ultimately, it comes down to putting your own mental and physical health first, so that you can then help create the most joyous experience for your friends and family. If you are run down and grumpy... well that's just no fun at all. P.S. I could actually give you a list of over 100 tips, but then you would be here reading. Instead, go outside and play. P.P.S. I'm sure you have some great tips for thriving during the holidays too. Please do share in the comments below. We'd love to read them. [article_about_author author="heather"]

Your Day… Your Choice

Your Day... Your Choice There is no problem unless we choose to make it one, so think carefully before you act.“ ~ David Marshall You know how sometimes you wake up in the morning and you feel energized and excited because you’re ready to go out into the world and make a big difference? You begin your morning ritual. You head out the door and find that it you have a flat tire so now you’ll be late to work. “Alright, that’s ok”, you tell yourself, “No problem, just get the tire changed so that you can get back to changing the world.” Excellent. Only now you’re sitting in traffic and you’ve somehow managed to spill your coffee on yourself while all the people behind you are seriously getting on your nerves with their tailgating! “Oh my gosh! Look at that woman beside me texting while driving!” Ok, blood pressure slightly elevated, but that’s ok. Reassess. Moving on. This will not ruin my momentum! You’ve managed to make it to the office, after finding what must be the furthest parking spot from the door. In fact, if you’d just walked from home, you may have been closer! And now that you’ve arrived, you find a pile of paperwork, a ton of emails, 15 voicemails, and 2 hours later the school calls to say your child is sick. That’s it! Good intentions are squashed. Any sense of changing the world today has gone out the window, and you’re planning on which drive-thru you can hit before picking up your sick child. My point here is that we all have good intentions, but what is the difference between those who start the day with good intentions and fail and those who finish the day with their intentions and dignity intact? The answer is choice. The physical choices: to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise, and meditate. It’s also about the mental choices you make. You can easily lose your cool at the lineup at the grocery store, but will that really change the situation? Probably not. It will most likely increase adrenalin, increase your blood pressure and it will spread the negativity onto others. In fact, your act of aggression could significantly alter someone else’s day and keep on going. This is why I love the idea of paying it forward so much. Let’s say the line at the grocery store is due to the fact that the elderly gentleman in front of you does not know how to work the debit machine. Everyone at that moment has a choice, be a helper or stand around irritated. The latter will not change much except to possibly escalate the situation and leave people embarrassed and angry. If you chose to step in and help, not only are you turning a negative situation into a positive one for yourself, but perhaps the clerk’s day and the elderly gentleman’s day too. Imagine that because of your positive attitude and helpful nature, the clerk can continue their job stress-free and keep a smile on their face to help the next person in line. Imagine that gentleman being empowered to master a piece of technology while maintaining his dignity and independence. Notice how you can choose a positive outcome; it’s not the event—it’s your choice how you respond. It’s true that not every situation is 100% stress- free, but the truth is our thoughts control much more than we give ourselves credit for. Those thoughts are energy that is expelled in either a positive or negative reaction out into the universe that keeps on spreading. When your day is crumbling, take a breather, go for a 10 minute walk, clear your head, and get back to that sunny place you woke up in. Try and remember that your positive attitude will not only change your day (ultimately your life) but the day and lives of many others around you too. When things go wrong during your day, how do you turn it around? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. [article_about_author author="heather"]

What To Do When You Feel Like Quitting Your Business

What To Do When You Feel Like Quitting Your Business Have you ever felt like quitting everything about your business? Like just giving up on it all? Maybe you’ve been working and working crazy long hours doing everything you can to make things flow the way you want. But your bank account isn’t showing the fruits of your labour. Your family is wondering where you are and are asking for your time. You’ve stopped doing other things you love because you know that if you just keep pushing and striving, that one day everything will be roses. But it’s not working. And some days it’s just too much. Maybe you’ve even wondered if this entrepreneurial thing just isn’t for you. I’m just like you. Some mornings I wake up and do not feel like working at all — if I have to send one more email I might scream. Sometimes, it feels so hard and I just feel like saying to hell with it all and becoming a hermit (of course a hermit on a hot tropical beach somewhere exotic). I know a lot of people look to my story as a source of inspiration and that is one of the things I love about doing what I do, but — and I fully admit this — I don’t always feel motivated to get out there; sometimes in my darkest moments, I’ve even considered throwing in the towel. Actually, quite a few times. My guess is that you’ve been there too. I am willing to bet that at some point in your business you have felt a sense of despair or a lack of motivation, especially if you don’t yet have an income stream that is enough for you to live on, or if you are just starting out and you haven’t seen much if any of a return for the work you’ve put in. We’ve all been there. Even the superstar entrepreneurs — those people with huge sales numbers and a massive number of staff who are also writing books and giving speeches — they’ve all had moments, or more likely many moments, when everything seemed dark and they just felt like quitting. It happens to all of us. The struggle is actually all part of owning a business (or starting anything for that matter). So don’t panic. However, while we’ve all been there, the choice to keep going or not is still your own. You need to decide every time you feel this way whether to quit now or keep on keeping on. Only you can decide. And while I can’t tell you what you should do, there are some things that might help you make the decision for yourself.
  1. Take a break. Chances are you are exhausted and burned out from working super long hours. If this is the case, then your productivity, energy and creativity will be at an all-time low. You need a break.   Preferable a nice long break but even a full day unplugged from the office can do wonders on your perspective. Make the time even if you think you don’t have it. Get outside. Exercise. Breathe. Have a nap. Take a vacation. Have an adventure. Laugh. Play. LIVE!   Yes, you have a life outside of your business so take a break and enjoy it. When you come back, your head and heart will be much clearer, you’ll be recharged and you’ll know your next step.
  2. Remember your vision—your big why. Once you’ve had a bit of a break, think about all the reasons you started your business in the first place.   What made you take the initial leap into entrepreneurship? What were you passionate about? Helping and serving others? Changing the world? Bringing your cool new gadget to the marketplace? Whatever it was, your “big why” was there in the beginning. You had a vision.   Is it still there? Can you still see it? If so, it’s time to either get in touch with that vision again and fine tune it, or let it go.
  3. Ask for help. Sometimes you have your big vision but you’re still unclear.   At this point, I suggest asking a neutral third-party for some help. Not your family and closest friends — they’ll either support you no matter what or already think you’re crazy for starting a business. And probably not your accountant or lawyer — they often only look at the numbers which won’t help you right now.   No, I mean someone who has been in the same boat as you are right now and can give you true honest feedback, an experienced business person. Maybe it is time to close up shop, but my guess is that it isn’t. However, you won’t know unless you get out of your own head (and all the chatter that is nagging at you) and ask for help.   Many Chamber of Commerce or BNI groups have business mentorship programs you can take advantage of or try hiring a business coach (hint hint)? It’s our job to help you get crystal clear on your vision and create a plan of action to get you there, all the while supporting you along the way. You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, there is no such thing as a self-made success—everyone has help along the way.
Those are just three quick tips to help you gain some perspective when you feel like quitting your business. There are many others. My final tip today is this... Feeling like a failure? Ready to quit? Good. You can now join the club of experienced business owners whose failures, fears and doubts, in hindsight, turned out to be opportunities in disguise. Try looking at things from another perspective and allow the magic to happen. Have you ever felt like quitting your business? If so, how did you keep going? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Heather [article_about_author author="heather"]

Why Being Present Is Not Optional In Today’s Age of Technology

Woman being present As an entrepreneur, you are probably really great at setting goals, making a plan and taking action. You can easily focus on your business and the success you envision. That is great. But are you present in your life? That means that instead of focusing on the person or situation right in front of you, you are busy thinking about your to-do list, your next big deal, finding clients, or how you could improve your next widget—worrying about the past or thinking about the future. It means that you are often found on your phone or laptop during family and personal time, answering calls, checking emails, sending texts. Your mind is pretty much elsewhere than on the task at hand. It means that you are missing out on your life as it sails by without you. In my last article, I spoke about your relationship with time and how you can shift your perspective on time, so I won’t go into that here. Today, I would like to share with you how you can be more present in your business and life. There are a ton of benefits when you focus on the present. Here are just a few:
  • Increased enjoyment, happiness and FUN
  • Reduced stress and feelings of overwhelm
  • Better and more fulfilling relationships
  • Improved productivity (more things checked off your to-do list)
[Tweet "The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. ~ Thích Nhất Hanh"] Being present is what you experience when you're completely focused on this very moment right now. You are calm. Your mind is clear. You are decisive. You know what you want. You know what's right for you. You are your best self. And, you are truly there for the people in your life. How often are you driving while talking on a cell phone, or thinking about work problems, or what you’re going to make for supper? How often do you eat without thinking about the food you’re putting into your mouth? How often does your mind wander while doing other things, thinking about something you messed up, or worrying about whatever? How often are you having a conversation with someone important in your life but your mind is elsewhere? The truth is most of us are elsewhere, most of the time, rather than in the here and now. Many people spend less than 1% of their time being fully present. The rest of the time, you drift in and out as your attention wanders. Your mind may even seem to be out of control at times. Honestly, I am not perfect at being present. I don’t do it all the time either. But I can say this: I've been practicing being present for awhile now. I've gotten better at it and you can too. Give yourself permission to enjoy the present. Being present means learning to live as if you have nothing to hide, nothing to prove, and nothing to lose. Your mind, body, heart, and soul become one in that one moment. Time slows down and you are truly connected to the moment and the people around you. Did you know that the definition of eternity is the present moment? It has never NOT been the present moment—the only time that is real is now. The past and future are merely ideas in our mind. No one can do anything real in the past or future—at least not yet. Only the present. It may seem a difficult thing to wrap your brain around but it’s merely a logical fact. Your ability to be present truly depends on having GOOD BOUNDARIES. If you have poor boundaries, you will constantly make excuses and either lash out at others unjustly or you will be passive and let others run all over you. Are you the passenger or the driver of your life? When you are the driver, your focus is on self-control and self-responsibility. You don't control others, nor do you let others control you. I learned that lesson the hard way. I used to let others control my life–I wasn't aware I was doing it, but I was. It wasn't until I took total control of my life that things started to improve. Being present begins with being AWARE of when you are trying to change the present moment and when you have checked out and are in the past or future. You'll become suddenly aware that you aren't paying attention to a conversation. Or maybe you are on the phone during a family dinner and suddenly realize that you missed out hearing about everyone’s day. Or while you are supposed to be watching your child’s soccer game, you are really working on that report and realize you just missed your son or daughter score their first goal. It doesn't have to be like that. There's no single method that will get you better at being present. I don't have a magical formula or pill to get you there. However, I do have one word that I often tell my kids when they're learning anything new: practice. I guarantee you won't be good at it at first. Your mind will wander, or you'll do a lot of thinking about what you're thinking, and whether you're thinking it the right way, and whether there is a right way, etc. etc., until guess what? You're no longer in the present. That’s completely normal. We all do that; I do that. Don't beat yourself up. Don't get discouraged. Just practice. So here is your assignment for today. Write down situations where you can start to be more present (e.g. family meal time, conversations with your significant other and those you love, during your workouts, etc.). Then practice every day. Do it in the morning. Practice it while eating breakfast—savour every bite. Do it with your evening jog or walk—feel how your body responds. Do it when you talk with someone—look them in the eye and focus on the conversation. Every opportunity you get, give it your full attention and practice. (Here’s a pro tip: Put away your cell phone when you need to be present in a conversation or family time. There is nothing more damaging to a relationship, then when someone is obviously not even trying to pay attention.) You'll get better. I promise. Make focusing on being present a habit. If you make it your focus, I guarantee you’ll get better at it. Try it for 30 days. It's the best method for forming new habits. I'd like to point out that there is no failure. I can pretty much guarantee you will mess up, but that's OK, because it is impossible to mess up. The only thing that matters is that you practice, and over time, if you keep doing it, you will learn to focus on the present more often than you do now. You cannot fail, even if you stop doing it for awhile. Doing it at all is success. Celebrate every little success. Of course, there are times when you need to analyze the past or plan for the future; there is no way you could stop yourself from thinking about the past or the future anyway. However, with practice, you can focus on the present more than you already do. When you are truly being present, you are tuned into your life and the lives of those around you. You are living fully. And there is nothing better than that. Do you struggle with being present? I'd love to hear your biggest take-away after reading this article, share in the comments section below. Heather [article_about_author author="heather"]

3 Secrets to Experiencing Time Abundance

3 Secrets to Experiencing Time AbundanceTime is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it, you can never get it back.” ~Harvey MacKay When I ask most business people what some of their major obstacles or challenges to success are, Time Management is what most people say—being overwhelmed with all there is to do in a day. When I say the word Time, what does it bring up for you? Not enough? Not enough hours in a day? The clock’s ticking? It goes too fast or too slow? Believe it or not time for the most part is no longer a major problem for me. People often ask me how I have time to do all that I do. I work full time in my business. I homeschool my son. I have an organic garden and love preparing most of our meals from scratch. I preserve much of my harvest. I have a very active social calendar. I enjoy a lot of pampering and self-care on a regular basis. I travel and take vacation often. AND, I still get 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. So how do I do it? Here is my secret... It has nothing to do with any time management program. It has everything to do with how I perceive time itself. Today, I’m here to help you with your relationship to time. It has to do with how you live your life and how you can become more effective by being truly present and being in the flow within your life. Being in that place, you are automatically more effective; you are more productive; and you get more bang for your buck out of any activity that you do. When you’re in that flow state, you have more power with each activity that you do. Instead of it being “I’m trying to get as much done as possible in the shortest amount of time”, it’s more the idea that “Everything I do I want to do with the most power possible.” Wouldn't it be great to no longer feel overwhelmed by all the things that you have to do to in a day? To no longer be hurried and rushed and worried? It’s a fact that the more that you want to accomplish in the world, the more things there are to do, the more things you put on your plate. Ultimately, how you spend your time IS how you live your life. It’s a currency you don’t get back – EVER. So spend it how YOU want to. Do you feel used by life? Many of us feel victimized and resentful of all that we think we must do. But you don’t have to feel this way. If you really want, you can choose to shift your perspective. And shifting your perspective will help you do things differently and more effectively. Here are three suggestions for how you can do that:
  1. Free your mind of time scarcity. What mindset do you think most people have? You guessed it. A sense that there is never enough time and you don’t know how to get everything done. You feel overwhelmed and at times out of control. Are you a “busy person” or an “I’ll make the time” person? A “busy person” has a sense of time scarcity, through which they see everything. It doesn't have to be that way. It is actually a defense mechanism – a way to try to protect yourself from disappointment and stress. But this scarcity mentality usually does exactly the opposite. It creates more stress and disappointment, by focusing on what you can’t get done or what you still have to do. When you see life through a time abundance mindset you know you can find the time to do what is really important. Where do you stand on the time, scarcity vs abundance continuum?
  2. Love everything that you do. When you love everything you do, you don’t dread things. You don’t procrastinate. If you’re choosing between watching your favourite TV show or watching your favourite movie that just came out on DVD and you can’t wait to watch either one, how motivated do you need to be in order to watch one of those things?If you could imagine that the work that you do could be just as enjoyable as deciding between watching your favourite TV show and watching a great movie, if they’re both joys, motivation basically takes care of itself. It’s going to come down to either doing things that you love or getting yourself to love things that you do even if you don’t currently love them. Start making a conscious effort to choose to do things you love. For the things you don’t love, is there some part of it you can love?
  3. Develop patient timelines. Most people have unrealistic expectations about how much they can accomplish which leads them to over-promise and under-deliver. Sometimes self-judgment gets in the way and keeps you from developing patient timelines. “Well, I should be able to do it this fast.” And “Other people do it this fast.” Be patient with yourself. Don’t over pack your day. Create a list of 3 top priorities for a day and then do those. If you have a larger task, break it down into small tasks spread out over a few days, weeks, or months. If you need to clean the garage but just can’t face it all at once, decide to clean out one small section a day until it is done. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Be patient. Rome was not built in a day. Take daily consistent action and your goals will be achieved.
So there you have it, three time abundance principles to get you started. If you even apply just one to your life, you will suddenly find yourself feeling less hurried, less stressed, and you will feel more peace and joy. If you apply 2 or more principles, the changes in your life will be dramatic. Do you struggle with time? I'd love to hear your biggest take-away after reading this article, share in the comments section below. Heather [article_about_author author="heather"]

6 Highly Effective Tips for Business Professionals to Avoid Burnout

Woman stressed working at the computer As a professional and entrepreneur, I previously thought I could work on more projects simultaneously than is humanly possible, maintain a happy home life, and thought I could do it all and still maintain my sanity and health. I was wrong. I've learned that burnout is very real, very scary and very likely for most high-achieving professionals at some point in their career. However, you don't have to suffer from burnout; there are easy ways to avoid it and I am going to show you how. Before I get into how to avoid burnout, let's take a deeper look at what is burnout exactly (and why you should care). According to Wikipedia, burnout refers to long-term mental, physical and emotional exhaustion and diminished interest in work. It is most often assumed to be caused by an excessive workload and other life stressors working in tandem that eventually bring a person to their breaking point. When you are experiencing burnout you may feel disillusioned, helpless and completely worn out. When you're burned out, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak, and it's difficult to muster up the energy to care—let alone do something about your situation. The unhappiness and detachment burnout causes can threaten your job, your relationships, and your health. Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North have been studying the burnout process and have divided it into 12 phases, which are not necessarily followed sequentially.
  1. The compulsion to prove oneself
  2. Working harder
  3. Neglecting your own needs
  4. Displacement of conflicts
  5. Revision of values
  6. Denial of emerging problems
  7. Withdrawal
  8. Obvious behavioral changes
  9. Depersonalization
  10. Inner emptiness
  11. Depression
  12. Burnout Syndrome
Perhaps you have experienced one or more of the above phases. I know I have. In fact, I have experienced all them at some point including full-blown Burnout Syndrome (which needs medical attention) and I KNOW that I never want to experience that again. I hope you never have to. Perhaps you think that working harder and ignoring your own needs makes you more productive. It may in the very short term, but in the long term it actually makes you LESS productive and you risk not just your health and happiness, but also your business if you continue to burn the candle at both ends as the saying goes. The negative effects of burnout will spill over into every area of your life—including your home, your business and your social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Like any other health issue, coping with the symptoms of burnout once they exist is much harder than prevention. If you can take steps to get your life back into harmony, you can prevent burnout from becoming a full-blown breakdown. I would like to share with you my top tips for avoiding burnout so that you can live a happy and fulfilled life WHILE having the career and business you desire.
  1. Watch for the warning signs of burnout. Burnout is a gradual process that occurs over an extended period of time. It doesn't happen overnight, and it can creep up on you if you're not paying attention (and it gets worse and worse as time goes on). Signs could include things like: feeling tired and worn out most of the time, frequent headaches, feeling a sense of failure and self-doubt, isolating yourself from others, using food, drugs or alcohol to cope, taking out your stress and frustration on others, loss of motivation, etc. If you pay attention to these early warning signs, you can prevent a major breakdown. If you ignore them, you'll eventually burn out.
  2. Take a break and time off whether you think you need one or not. Daily, weekly and monthly downtime is essential to your health and well-being and ultimately the success of your business. Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email. Have a nap (I nap for 20 minutes almost every afternoon). Schedule your vacations first when you are doing your yearly planning. Be sure to have at least one long weekend every six weeks and a couple of weeks off each year. Having time off and being away from your desk not only refreshes you both physically and mentally, but you will actually be much more productive in the long run. It allows your creative juices to flow without the hindrance of a daily task list.
  3. Set boundaries. Learn how to say No. As a high-achiever and professional, you probably like to take on multiple projects and have your hands in many pots. But saying "no" actually allows you to say "yes" to the things that truly matter. If it doesn't get you closer to your goals or light you up with excitement, just say no.
  4. Nourish your creative side and passions. Creativity and play are powerful antidotes to burnout. Try something new or resume a favorite hobby. Tap into the passions you once had but were too busy for. Get outside and play. Laugh. Be sure to choose activities that have nothing to do with work.
  5. Adopt healthy eating, exercising and sleeping habits (aka Self-Care). When you eat right, engage in regular physical activity, and get plenty of rest, you have the energy and resilience to deal with life’s hassles and demands. I can’t stress enough how important self-care is for your well-being and your business. You are the only one who can truly take care of yourself. If you don't, you won’t be able to take care of others or serve as you desire within your business. Self-care is an investment in yourself and your business.
  6. Ask for help. A huge reason for burnout is taking on too many things at once. If you can't say no to a task, learn to delegate and ask for help. This is not a weakness or failure on your part but rather a strategic decision for your business, health and happiness. I have learned that if I don't excel or enjoy a task, I give it to someone else. This frees up my time to do the things I like best and keeps my day manageable.
Burnout is very real. Don't think that you are Super Man or Woman that can continue at a crazy pace indefinitely and not suffer the consequences. Recognizing the symptoms of burnout within yourself is the first step. Having been there, I urge you to take some easy actions now to prevent a breakdown in the future. Heather [article_about_author author="heather"]

All work and no play…

Chalk Flowers Are you hurrying through life? Can you say for certain that at the end of your life, you will have enjoyed the moments you’ve lived, or were you too busy racing to that imaginary finish line? Are you so busy working and building your business that you find it really difficult to take time out for fun? Do you even know what fun is for you? Do you know what all work and no play makes you? Not just a dull boy or girl...but rather an unbalanced, unhappy, burned out workaholic. That may seem harsh but it’s true. It also significantly increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer and countless other diseases. But most importantly, if there is no play, no fun, no adventure...what’s the point? If all you do is work and survive, you aren’t living in my opinion. And by work I don’t just mean your job, I mean all the things you do that you feel you must do – like laundry, taking out the garbage, all that house stuff counts as work too even though you aren’t being paid for it. Sure you still need to do those things but they need to be balanced with the fun stuff too. As adults we don’t play anymore or at least very little. When did that switch flick in your life from playing every day to rarely or not at all? Do you feel guilty—as if play were an indulgence and not a necessity? Somewhere along the line you probably confused play with sitting in front of a computer or TV, or really anything that isn’t work. As plato once said. “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” My guess is that you’d rather be around fun and playful people than workaholics; you could be that playful person. I think we’ve lost our ability to play because everyone is just so busy being busy that they don’t value play. It’s not a priority. Perhaps even you think it is time wasted when you could be doing something else, something productive. Maybe you are so stressed and so overworked that you think feeling tired is normal. You think it is ok to feel anxious. If you aren’t busy, you think something is wrong. Well guess what? Play is productive. In fact, it can be the most productive thing you do all day. The concept of play is a very important tool for children and adults alike. Play helps you to relax; it sparks your creativity, and of course can result in exercise both for the mind and for the body. In fact, play is used widely in therapeutic programs because of its ability to increase focus and relieve stress. Whenever I see a group of children playing, I often marvel at the freedom that they have with their minds and bodies. They are simply in the moment. And, that is a skill that everyone needs to have. For you, play might include being outdoors, hiking, biking, that sort of thing. Or, it might be playing a board game, jumping in puddles, taking a yoga class, or tossing around a baseball. There is no definitive right or wrong way to play, as long as you are indeed participating in an activity that gets your mind off of work or other stresses and taps into your creative energy. Play often ignites laughter, which is also a very effective way to deal with stress. Laughing and playing both reduce stress by releasing endorphins in your body that make you feel good, and can even alleviate pain. It also boosts your immune system through the reduction of stress hormones, which in turn can help you stay healthier. And as a bonus, both playing and laughing increase blood flow in your body which improves cardiovascular circulation which (yep, you guessed it) makes you healthier! Play is the literal fountain of youth. People who play more, live longer. Playing also has social benefits. If you play with others (highly recommended) you are increasing the quality of your life by lifting your mood, building relationships, building team skills, and improving your overall perspective on life. Instead of a coffee break, today take a play break. Grab some sidewalk chalk and go draw. Dance. Skip. Or even, just go for a walk with a huge smile on your face. You can do it. A little play a day goes a long way to improving your health, creativity, and productivity. Give it a try and let me know how you do in the comments below. [article_about_author author="heather"]