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    work life balance

    What I Learned about Motivation on My Summer Vacation

    I’ve just returned from a two-week vacation in Israel, Jordan and Spain – and I am writing this email saddled with incredible jet lag, some squishy new love handles made from gelato, falafel and Manchego cheese, and many beautiful memories to last a lifetime.Deb_Jacob_Camels

    What made this trip so special for me? My sole travel companion was my 15-year-old son, Jacob.

    I knew that we would both enjoy sampling the local cuisines (luckily, gelato is always a local cuisine), taking history tours, shopping, swimming, and just wandering around. And I also knew that this trip would benefit from planning beyond flights, excursions, and lodging. It would require us to shift from a task focus (the what, where, when, and how of getting the trip off the ground) to a relationship focus (the who we were — separately and together – and why we were choosing to do this together.)

    Admittedly, it’s that kind of focus that busy, driven people who are motivated by getting things crossed off their to-do lists often neglect — and the costs of that neglect include the loss of connection, collaboration, ownership, engagement, and meaning.

    I didn’t want to look back on this trip and only be proud of what we did, where we went and how we got there. I wanted to look back on this trip and be proud of who we were and what we built together.

    Can you think of a partnership or team you work on (or live with) that could benefit from a little more of that?

    Here are 10 questions I asked my son and myself before our trip that you can bring to your next staff meeting, board meeting or Labor Day vacation.

    1. What’s our purpose for doing this?
    2. What could we do that would have each of us jump out of bed in the morning with excitement to get started?
    3. What would make each of us want to crawl back into bed and say, “I’ll pass”?
    4. What have we done in the past that we want to make sure we repeat?
    5. What have we done in the past that we want to make sure we don’t repeat?
    6. What do we each want to learn/get better at/get smarter about?
    7. How might we veto something that one of us really doesn’t like/doesn’t want to do?
    8. How should we let the other person know when we’re feeling stressed/sad/tired/overwhelmed/frustrated?
    9. How should we ask for personal time/space without it feeling “personal”?
    10. What would we want our sound bite about this [project/task/challenge/opportunity/trip] to be a month after? Six months after? A year after? 10 years after?

    38 Ways to Say No (and Still Preserve the Relationship)

    1. I’m not available then, but could be available on (insert date)no buttonWould that date work?

    2. Oh, I will be so disappointed to miss this!

    3. While I would love to do that for you, [insert type of priorities] preclude it. I hope you understand.

    4. I am so flattered that you asked but unfortunately cannot do that. Can I help you brainstorm someone who might be available?

    5. Normally, I would say yes, but I have already committed to ________ at the same time.

    6. Right now, I am saying no to all invitations (on this topic, at this timeframe, etc.).

    7. I need to decline, but warmly request that you keep me in mind for future meetings/events. Would you please reach out again?

    8. I try very hard not to make commitments I will likely need to cancel, and because of the timing here, I would likely need to cancel at the last minute, leaving you in a last-minute scramble to find someone else. Because of that, I will need to say no.

    9. That sounds like a fantastic event/opportunity/cause, and I know that I will be sorry to miss it.

    10. I cannot attend in person, but I wonder how I can help in some other way. Should we brainstorm ideas?

    11. I don’t feel that this is the right fit for me. Can I share with you the kinds of project or priorities that DO feel like a good fit for you to know for down the road?

    12. I am so grateful for the opportunity and for you thinking of me. However, I am in demand at the moment with appointments made months ago. I can also recommend x and y and z, who would be great

    13. I can’t, but let me take a look at who might be available to fill in for me.

    14. My schedule is completely booked for the next {insert timeframe}. Would you please reach back out after then?

    15. I am so sorry to decline but I have a prior engagement. Here’s what I’d like to do, though: let me put a note in our files indicating that I needed to turn this request down so that next time, I can move your request to the front of the line.

    16. Right now, I am only accepting requests related to X priority. Since this request seems to be about Y priority, let me put you in touch with someone who handles Y.

    17. I have reached my [weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual] quota for [speaking engagements, consulting, meetings, panels, rallies, etc.]. Things should open up again by [insert month]. Please reach back out to me then.

    18. I hate to admit this but I have already said yes to two events that day, and will need to cancel at least one of those. I don’t want to cancel two.

    19. I have recently had some unexpected events come up and so I won’t be scheduling anything new at this time.

    20. I will be out of town.

    21. I don’t do X, as a rule.

    22. I’m good at X, but not great at it. Let me suggest some people who are great at it.

    23. It sounds like our budgets aren’t in the same ballpark. If you have flexibility, terrific. And if not, I completely understand and know that you’ll find someone great within your price-range.

    24. I will need more information to make a decision. Can you please send me….?

    25. I adore the cause, but simply can’t commit right now/I need to decline.

    26. I don’t know and I don’t want to hold you up so feel free to ask someone else.

    27. You’re so kind to think of me. Thank you. Sadly, I need to decline.

    28. Not this time. When’s the next opportunity available for something like this?

    29. If only I had a clone then I could be in two places at once!

    30. I am heads-down on a project right now, and won’t be coming up for air for the next [insert timeframe].

    31. When do you need to know by? I ask because if it’s in the next {week/month/quarter], I will need to say no.

    32. Right now, I am only saying yes to very select opportunities that fall into [insert area of focus], and unfortunately this doesn’t meet the criteria.

    33. I’m not available for that, but I know someone who is working on a common agenda/goal/objective. Let me connect you!

    34. Others have made similar requests, and I have said no to all of those.

    35. X is my top priority right now, so I am devoting all of my time to that.

    36. With x # of this type of request coming in every month, I have had to limit the number of acceptances in order to make time for other business. I am at my limit.

    37. I have committed to my clients that X would be my leading priority this year. For that reason, I will need to say no to this invitation in order to make good on my commitment.

    38. Thank you so much, but no.
    …and just for fun…

    10 Things NOT to Say

    1. You’re joking, right?

    2. I have commitment issues.

    3. This request is below my pay grade.

    4. I wish I had the luxury of entertaining such a whimsical request.

    5. What do I have to say to get you to understand that NO means NO?

    6. I no longer commit to causes that make me feel like a hypocrite.

    7. As if!

    8. Sure, at half-past never.

    9. Yuck!

    10. N to the O.

    You Have My Complete Attention

    attentionOne of my favorite rituals when my twins were babies was to give them their nightly bath. I loved the one-on-one (-on-one) time with them, playing and splashing and just being together. Over time, they advanced from baths to showers, and from needing my help to wanting complete privacy, thank you very much!

    But one bath-time ritual that my daughter Sophie didn’t seem to outgrow during her tween years was keeping me company in the bathroom when I took a shower. Each evening after work, I would hop in the shower and pull the curtain closed, and then hear Sophie sneak into the bathroom, close the lid of the toilet, sit down and say, “So let’s talk.”

    I was torn: I missed the privacy of being alone with my thoughts and my loofah, and I also appreciated the opportunity to have some deep conversations with my growing girl. But one day, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked her,

    “Sophie, why do you always want to talk to me when I’m in the shower?”

    Her answer caught me with my pants down:

    “Because it’s the only time I know you won’t check your phone while you’re talking to me. It’s the only time I have your complete attention.”

    There was no shower long enough or hot enough to wash off the sting of that pointed and painful observation.

    Ever since then, I’ve started:

    Paying a lot more attention to paying attention!

    I realized that I did it consistently with my clients (who pay for my complete attention), but I didn’t do it consistently for my family, who are, in fact, the reason that I even have clients. And it’s still hard – every day. There are a million things competing for my attention, between emails, calls, dinner, errands, the expected and the unexpected interruptions. But I am well aware that because of how hard it is to give someone your complete attention these days, it is a more precious gift to give and to receive than ever before.

    In a recent New York Times article, “Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.” the author cites that the costs of dividing your attention with people you care about include empathy, connection, and trust. And while technology is surely a factor in what makes this challenging, what is also a factor is our willingness to settle for less than someone’s complete and undivided attention. We need to learn to ask for what we need from others in our personal and workplace relationships to feel heard, connected and respected and we need to stop making excuses for ourselves for why it’s ok to not be fully present for another human being with real and immediate needs and challenges.

    In the 7th and 8th cohorts of the Jewish Coaching Academy that I facilitated last week (email me for 2016 dates), we discussed 10 behaviors that let someone know that you were committed to being fully present for them. They include:

    • Close the door.
    • Turn off all electronic distractions.
    • Put your cell phone completely outside of your line of vision.
    • Let other people know that you’re going to be occupied, and for how long.
    • Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign up and honor it.
    • Create a time buffer before your conversation so you can clear your head from your previous work or interaction.
    • Make a list of what you need to do after this conversation so that you can be fully present now.
    • Notice when distracting thoughts come into your head, and then send them away without judgment.
    • Let the other person know if something is interfering with your ability to be fully present, and then do your best anyway.
    • Tell the other person “You have my complete attention”.

    How do I know these work? Because I use them with my clients, my friends and my family and they thank me for not just being there for them, but for really, fully being there for them. And I also know these work because I now, blissfully, shower alone.

    Change is Inevitable, Suffering Isn’t: Strategies for Managing Change

     

     

    After 35 years of working hard and loving every minute of it, my mother is retiring.
    For my mom, this moment came as a surprise. Of course, a part of her brain was aware of this reality but the other part was in a complete denial. 
    For some people, work is a paycheck; a means to get the bills paid and live life. For others, work is a sense of purpose; a validation that their existence means something to someone and that by doing their job and living their life purpose…the world is becoming a better place. For my mom, the latter was the case and this is why it felt to her that someone had just turned off the lights in the middle of the show. 
    In Israel, we have a perfect example that age has nothing to do with who you are and what you are capable of doing.  Shimon Peres, at age 90 and Israel’s President, is living proof that as long as you feel you have something to contribute to the world, then it is your obligation to do so.
    So the question to ask is, why is it so confusing and scary, at times, for people like my mother to retire.  I think the answer lies in our ability to manage change or better yet, manage life transitions.
    Transitions as a Journey Across a Bridge
    Some of the changes in our lives are by choice and our response to the change is positive. Other changes are being forced on us and our response to them might be negative. Either way we need to realize that we are leaving something behind (if we get married – we leave our single life behind, when we start a family – we leave our freedom and sleep behind, when we lose our jobs – we leave our routine and security behind, when we age – we leave our youth behind and all the possibilities we could have had). That is when the journey starts. It is like crossing a bridge. Sometimes we are excited about the journey, and sometimes we are scared. Sometimes the bridges are short and the view is spectacular and sometimes it is long and foggy and we can’t see what’s on the other side. At times we run fast on the bridge, can’t wait to start the new chapter in our lives and sometimes, we refuse to take a single step, holding on to the railing and keeping looking back to all the things that we left behind.
    Harry Woodwards, in his book “Navigating Through Change” has identified four human reactions to change:
    ·         Confusion – “I’m ok but my whole world is destroyed”
    ·         Denial – “If I don’t talk about it or think about it – it doesn’t really happen to me”
    ·         Anger –  “Just as it happened to me, it will happen to you too!”
    ·         Loss – “Who am I if I am no longer have my career or my identity as a spouse?”
    All four reactions have a positive aspect (in moderation) and negative aspects that we must watch out for. We have the ability to recognize the type of reaction that we have, validate our feelings and deal with the difficulties. If we choose to stay “stuck” in any of the reactions – we will never be able to progress in the transitional journey and start a new chapter.
    Managing the Road Blocks
    Sometimes transitions are difficult because of the things that keep holding us back. My friend and colleague, Myriam Khalifa, had suggested that there could be others areas in our life other than our reaction to change that we should look at, such as: 
    ·         Others – beliefs and thoughts of people who are close to us. For example, “my parents raised me to always put my family first, before my own needs”.
    ·         World – circumstances in our life, such as financial crisis, “our mortgage is upside down”, conflicts in the middle east etc.- all that prevent me from leaving the place I am at now.
    ·         Work/Stay home – logistics around the house, commitments that we have at work/home. For example, “my paycheck is really good, even if I’m unhappy with my job”. Or, “I don’t have time for what I really want to do since I have to be here for my children”.
    Sometime we are so bogged down by the roadblocks that we can’t even start thinking of our dreams. Every time we dare to come up with a new idea for ourselves, a roadblock pops in our mind and we soon let go of our dreams. Why not, instead of letting go of our dreams, let go of the roadblocks. This does not mean letting go of the people and responsibilities we have. It means, letting go of the thought that we can’t do things because of our responsibilities.
    Tools for Dealing with Transitions:
    • Recognize and identify the situation: time of transition. What kind of bridge it is? Where are you on this bridge?
    • Re-connecting to your core essence. You are much more than the roles you have in your life.
    • Understanding the natural process of transition and the kind of reaction that you have.
    • Make an inventory – what has really changed in your life and what has stayed the same?
    • Allow time to mourn. Even if the change is positive – you are leaving something behind.
    • Try to enjoy this time of uncertainty. Dare to dream again about a new bright future. Stay open to new ideas and thoughts.
    • Take care of yourself!  What makes you calm and happy? – Do it!
    • This is the time to rely on your support group (friends and family). You are always there for them…it is time for them to remind you how wonderful and capable a person you are!
    • If the change gives you some free time – enjoy it.
    • Don’t worry!  Its going to be OK. Your body is feeling the stress, allow it to breathe deep and relax.
    • Let your emotion be. The more you try to fight sadness and insecurity – the more power they will have over you. We all want to feel positive feelings, but there are other kinds too. Recognize your own feelings and don’t let them take you off track.
    • Be brave – trust your core essence and god’s gifts
    • Instead of saying “I used to be” or “I had” – say: “I hope to be” or “I plan to do”
    • Even if feels that someone had turned off the lights…we always can turn them back on.
    I’d like to wish my mother a smooth journey crossing the bridge into retirement and finding a new and fulfilling new chapter in her life.

    Split Personality: Are you different at work vs at home?

    I stood in front of the mirror sweating in a 105 degree Yoga studio. It’s the same spot I stand in everyday but today I noticed something different about this spot. The mirror split my body right down the center. I had stood their countless other times but today for some reason I noticed it and it struck me as odd. I’m not sure if the heat was getting to me or the Buddhist motivation the teacher was dishing out but either way I became very philosophical at that moment. My body was split and I realized that I often feel like two different people.
    My personality like so many others is split between home and work.  Work Donna and Home Donna are complete opposites as my spouse often reminds me. Work Donna is decisive, outgoing, a multitasker, budget conscious, a tireless go-getter and extremely private. Home Donna is quiet, wishy-washy and for lack of a better term often lazy. The two never meet except on a very rare occasion and everyone notices it quickly. My spouse first recognizes the voice. Apparently, work Donna’s voice is much different than home Donna. My co-workers notice it when I’m indecisive or share some personal anecdote from home. Both my colleagues and my spouse are quick to point out when the other half of me shows up in the wrong place for good or bad.
    After doing a bit of research, I’ve found that I’m not alone (phew!)  Many people feel their personalities are completely different at work and home. There seems to be multiple reasons for this phenomenon.  For those people in a high powered or stressful job, they may need to recharge when they get home. The same is true if you are an extrovert at work.  Even the most extroverted people, need some downtime. Sometimes, the reason we get a job or are successful in a career is because of our personality characteristic.  For those of us, that work in a non-profit, we know that multitasking is a trait that has to be honed and sharpened and without it we would fail miserably at our jobs.  We are no longer specialists in one area but a jack-of-all-trades in many. Although there is a lot to do at home, my to-do list is more of a checklist than a barrage of people coming at me with needs and wants.  I recognize I don’t have children and I’m sure every mom reading this is shaking her head.
    Take a test like the Myers Brigg two times, once in the frame of reference as you are at home and once as you are at work.  Take a look at the differences and examine what the differences are and ask yourself are they working for you at this time in your life and career?  If you’re really daring, take it to your colleagues and family and see if they agree with how you see yourself.  There’s a lot to be learned from what each of them say.  
    My goal next week when I stand in front of that mirror in the Yoga studio is to not see a body divided but to see different parts of me that work together to make a better human being.
    Are you different at work and at home?  Let me know in the comments below.

    TXTNG WHL DRVNG

    As my husband Michael and I were heading to JFK airport, envisioning the sun, sand and frosty beverages of our upcoming “no work allowed” weekend in St. Martin, I peeked into the car to our right to see a frightening sight.

    “Michael,” I exclaimed in horror. “That guy over there is driving with his knees while he texts!”

    Michael turned to me, eyebrow raised. “Jealous?”

    Boy does he know me. Boy oh boy.

    So here are my two pledges, beginning immediately:
    No work on vacations — it’s bad for my relationships, my mental health and for my own business
    No texting while driving — it’s bad for my safety and the safety of those around me

    Now call me an overachiever (please…do!), but I think we could all benefit from identifying ONE habit we need to attend to immediately for your own health, wellbeing or safety.

    What’s yours?

    Deborah
    www.myjewishcoach.com
    www.jewishorganizations.blogspot.com
    www.myjewishcoach.blogspot.com

    Looking forward to Freckles: My Day Before Vacation

    I finally did it:

    I used some of the frequent flier miles I have been hoarding for years and booked a NON-WORK TRIP WITHOUT THE KIDS (see that, honey? I didn’t feel a little bit faint this time!)

    Michael and I are going to St. Martin. And St. Maarten. And we’ll probably pop over to Anguilla — because we can. Four days. No kids. But at a hotel with internet access (sorry, hon!!!)

    So here are the questions that got me to this trip…

    • What can I do to better manage my work and my life?
    • Who am I outside of work?
    • To what extent does work define me?

    …and When am I going to schedule another break from work?

    What are your answers? I’d love to know! But not this weekend….

    Deborah
    www.myjewishcoach.com
    www.jewishorganizations.blogspot.com
    www.myjewishcoach.blogspot.com

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