Put Structure into Your Day

Many people’s lives have been turned upside down due to the Coronavirus. As the “quarantine” continues, the impact on our lives can create chaos. Putting more structure in your life might help. Being constantly at home with your spouse, kids, pets, combined with a lack of social interaction can add up to that upside-down feeling.

Moreover, for working parents who are now teleworking, childcare can be a problem. If your child is used to you working out of the house, and now you are working from home, setting boundaries will be very helpful. 

In the early 1990’s when working remotely was not the norm, I was a single parent. I worked from my home. My girls knew not to disturb me during my office hours unless it was necessary. Think about what boundaries and limits you can create that are age appropriate for your kids. Ask yourself, What boundaries can I set up?

Another potential issue to handle is the new form of communication with others – video calls. Most people are, or have become familiar with Zoom, and it seems we are all getting familiar with holding meetings through that process. I have several clients who are going from virtual meeting to virtual meeting. I’ve observed that several meetings I’ve attended start up to 5-7 minutes late for various reasons, the least of which is getting used to.” Further, these meetings tend to just go on and on, taking up much more time than was anticipated.

My suggestion, which I have found successful … try to schedule meetings where there are 15-minute breaks in between so you are fresh and present for each call. How far apart are your virtual meetings? Can you space them out on your calendar?

Being home so much more than before can grate on your patience. Notice how you are all doing, such as mood and level of energy. 

The lack of social interaction can also make you feel lonely, especially for extroverts. Keep up with your relationships … FaceTime is great for this! Celebrate your special events like birthdays … set up a virtual party!

How we look and what we are wearing are absolutely factors in how we feel. Get dressed and do the best you can if you haven’t been able to get your hair styled. Make sure to exercise, eat healthy, and get a good night’s sleep.

Make the best of this situation. I know “what ifs” un-nerve many people. Take life one day at a time. In reality, that’s what we all have. One mindset I have is to view this as a retreat instead of a quarantine. I am not being a “Pollyanna.” There are clearly things we have no control over, so why not make the best of it? You will feel better! 

Being Productive at Times of Uncertainty

Realistically, we all need to take things one day at a time. It is easy to do to be looking into the future, but you should not be thrown by the uncertainty that lies ahead. As my mother told me 40-years ago, we make plans and prepare for the future, and that’s a positive thing to do, but, sometimes a higher power has something else in mind. The truth is none of us really know what’s ahead, so we should not count too heavily on today’s circumstances.

Make the most of each day, even if you are quarantined. Because I find structure helpful, I made a schedule for myself that consists of morning fitness classes (online of course), then showering, then a healthy breakfast, and after that, telework coaching sessions with clients. In my area of work, most of my clients wanted to meet by phone, FaceTime or Zoom, so that wasn’t a big leap. 

I take 15-minute breaks between clients and typically step outside to get some fresh air. Food deliveries come around dinner time, so the ritual is to disinfect them and put the groceries away. That in itself feels like a workout! I’m sure you have experienced this yourself.

How are you spending your days? How are you keeping up your morale? What is your concern about the ‘new normal?’

Here are a few tips to reduce your stress: 

  1. If you like structure, make yourself a schedule and stick to it;
  2. Try to accomplish one thing professionally and one thing personally each day; 
  3. Take baby steps each day: to keep you moving forward, so you don’t feel stuck (set goals for yourself);
  4. Look to the future and the past but don’t get stuck there; be present and in the moment … there are no “should haves, would haves, could haves or what ifs in the present;
  5. Be creative with your time – find ways can you increase time with family, friends and relationships in your life.

Note: Feel free to reach out to Susan to learn more about how her expertise in self-talk, resilience, and life and career transition can support you.

Take Command of Your Life #3

I hope you’ll join me for my Talk Yourself into Success webinar in February!  I’ll share positive self-talk strategies and resilient techniques that will lead to a flourishing, thriving life, both personally and professionally. Register here! 












Do You Have a Career Plan?

Some people are clear about their career plan while others are not so certain. Wherever you are on the continuum is fine. There’s no right or wrong or good or bad. It is simply where you are. 

People move vertically, laterally, change fields, start businesses, and so on. 

Here’s a simple step that will help you focus and gain clarity. I successfully use this with clients even if they have no idea what to pursue. 

Think about: 

1. Where am I now: What strengths, skills, and values do I have?

2. Next, where do I want to go? What do my strengths, skills and values align best with?

For example, think about when you have a location to get to and you’re not sure how to get there. So you go to Google maps, plug an address into the ‘from’ and ‘to’ and, presto, step-by-step directions pop up. 

In any career search, or for that matter, life search, it helps if you know yourself. In addition to your strengths, skills and values, explore what you enjoy doing and what experience you have. Also, what has meaning to you? What’s fulfilling?

If you have an idea of what you’d like to do, see if you can shadow someone who is doing that. You can also find a mentor who can answer your questions and guide you. 

If you aren’t sure, embrace the career search. It’s exciting to brainstorm options and possibilities and to see the potential of what and who you can be! 

I have a client, Donna, an attorney for the past fifteen years who now wants to make a change. Donna has done well, but she is burned out. She wants a change! We are exploring things she is interested in and the hobbies she never has time for because of the hours she works. Donna is very artistic and creative, and she is thinking about creating a business combining her skills and passion.

So wherever you fall on the continuum, embrace it! Your future is up to you…and you deserve to live your best life! Having a positive self-talk and being resilient will help you go through any transition. In fact, I want to invite you to my upcoming webinar series, “Talk Yourself Into Success and Get the Outcomes You Desire.”

You won’t want to miss out on the confidence and positive self-talk strategies, resilience techniques, and life and business blueprint that will guide and support you in navigating through life’s decisions and transitions.

Purpose – What Can You Contribute Bigger Than Yourself

In my last article, I wrote about reflection. Looking back on 2019 and looking forward to 2020, I believe living a good, meaningful life is contributing to a cause bigger than yourself. 

What has meaning to you? What’s important to you? What do you care about? What lights you up? What can you do that you will thrill you to make an impact beyond the world of you? Be proactive and make a plan to assure you accomplish what you set out to do. 

One way to go about this is to check in with your personal values. Your values are who you are at your core and they drive your decisions. At different stages of your life your values change in priority. 

Recently I was watching a special on Prince Harry and his family. He was talking about his mother’s (Princess Diana’s) legacy and her quest to eradicate landmines in Angola.  

Prince Harry went to Angola and walked in his mother’s footsteps, following the exact path she walked. By honoring his mother’s advocacy against landmines, which became something near and dear to his heart, he completed their mission. Paraphrasing the prince, he found doing this work “satisfying, fulfilling, and of service to others” while honoring his mother. 

What would you find satisfying and fulfilling? My belief is we are all here to serve. How we go about it is a personal choice. What is your purpose?

Reflection is a Great Teacher  

It’s a new season. Don’t fall back, move forward! What do you want to improve in this new season and as you move forward to a new year? Nothing you think of is too big or too small.

Now is a great time for reflection. Going into 2020, do you want to, and can you do what worked well for you this year? What do you want to change? What do you envision for yourself in 2020?

Reflection can be very powerful and can provide you with a measure of self-awareness and understanding of how you came to be where you are. Reflection gives you information such as the whys and hows of the past year that you’ll be able to evaluate. Knowing this can impact the decisions you make. You will also learn more about yourself and what you’re capable of.

While reflection can be on the more serious side, the winter season and the holidays are also a time for fun. Here are some ideas for you and your family and friends.

Holiday Tips

  1. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  2. Start a new tradition, something that has meaning
  3. Take some home movies to capture your time together
  4. Go around the table and ask each person to say one thing they are grateful for
  5. Play some games good for all ages – Twister; or Charades; or Mad Libs; or holiday Family Feud; or maybe coloring or Scrabble
  6. Be present with your family and friends, no technology
  7. Live with an open heart

Tips to Learn How to Deal With Stress

Have you ever been around a moody person? You never know what type of behavior you’re going to get, or what might trigger the person. Several times in the past week I have heard clients say they feel like they are “walking on eggshells” … not a pleasant way to live. Easing some things in your life can reduce stress. The impact moodiness has can cause stress. Setting healthy boundaries and limits can reduce stress.

Recently I was in line at Whole Foods when I saw the cover of Time magazine promoting The Science of Stress:  Manage It, Avoid It. Put it to Use. One of that themed concept was an article that stood out to me called Simple Ways to Manage Your Mood, by Audrey Noble. 

Noble gave statistics about stress. She noted that a Gallup poll found 8 out of 10 Americans are afflicted by stress. She continued that according to the American Psychology Association, the top three stressors were (1) the uncertainty of the nation’s future, (2) money, and (3) work. Workplace stress accounts for nearly $200 billion in health-care costs, according to Forbes.

Noble pointed out that there are healthy ways of dealing with stress in your professional and personal life. Here are a few tips:

Focus on Intention

Direct your emotions about upcoming goals or obligations toward positive feelings instead of focusing on the negative. Practice feeling that emotion so you can carry that mindset whenever stress starts to arise.

Set Realistic Expectations

We are living in a world where bigger and better is pushed in every aspect of our lives. That sets us up for failure. People feel they’ll be less stressed if they get a better ‘this’ or a bigger ‘that’. Set realistic expectations. Focus on finding gratitude for the things we have in our lives that fulfill us.

Find a Confidant

Get an outside, objective perspective from someone with whom you feel that you’re in a ‘safe space’. Being able to confide in someone can reduce stress.

Change Your Mindset

Intentionally activating positive heart emotions such as care, appreciation, compassion and ease decreases stress. The key is learning how to react positively to negative stressors.

Write It Down

Once you’ve identified what triggers you, write them down. Writing things down can be a therapeutic mode of expression. Once they are written down, share them with someone you feel safe with at work or personally.

Seek Peace and Love

Spend five minutes a day to find something that brings you serenity. Listening to music or finding a quiet time can help. Surround yourself with caring friends or family. Do things to elevate your mood.

Resilience and Inspiration: The Awesome Power of Self-Belief

I think everyone can use some inspiration, particularly in today’s tumultuous times. I am always looking for inspiration. It’s a search that often involves finding a special someone or something to inspire me. We are so used to putting limits on ourselves and others that our self-limiting beliefs hold us back. That’s why most of us are in serious need of positive inner resilience as well as the inspiration to find it.

Perception is reality. So why not break through those self-made glass ceilings and pursue our own greatness. We are all capable of achieving what we set out to do. I didn’t have to look too far to find both resilience and inspiration.

Resilience and Inspiration: Meet the Peetes

I often watch a positive reality television show called Meet the Peetes. This Hallmark Channel program features actress Holly Robinson Peete, her husband, former pro football quarterback, Rodney Peete, and their four children, one of whom has autism. Autism is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior.

This show is truly inspiring. That’s largely due to the respectful way this family interacts and handles a complex disorder that involves many challenges. After learning from doctors the limits their child would face – such as never being able to work or never being able to be in a relationship – this family never stopped believing in possibilities. These included the possibility that their autistic son might prove capable of more than the specialists thought.

Today, a young man of 21, their son works for the LA Dodgers, drives a car, speaks publicly to inspire others on the spectrum. He has healthy relationships with others. He believes in himself because his family and others believe in him.

Inspiration and resilience.

More examples of inspiration and resilience

Once, most sports experts thought that no one would ever run the mile in four minutes or less. That is, until Roger Bannister ran the first sub-4 minute mile on May 6, 1954. He surpassed the limits others set out because he believed he could. Since then, Bannister’s own record has been broken again and again.

My own coach was diagnosed in 2003 with stage-four breast cancer. Her doctors informed her she had a limited amount of time remaining to live. But after undergoing numerous surgeries, her doctors gradually changed their diagnostic tune. They started to increase her percentage chances of survival. She asked them to stop. When they didn’t, she turned around and walked out.

That was sixteen years ago. She remains cancer free.

I look up to people like Bannister and my coach as genuine heroes. People who face adversity, push through, and inspire us to do the same. An inspiration to us all, individuals like them continuously strengthen their resilience and look optimistically to their future. And they get support from others. That’s why it really does take a village when it comes to inspiration and resilience.

Our inner struggles and how we react to them

Everyone encounters problems and struggles with life at various times. But it’s how we view these struggles and how we react to them that determine which path we take.

  • Pessimism or optimism?
  • Hardship or challenge?
  • No hope, or numerous possibilities?
  • Failure or success: Do you stay down when hit? Or get back up and learn from the experience?


Observe your inner self

So take an opportunity to observe your inner self. Are you a benefit finder or a fault-finder? How do you handle adversity? What keeps you motivated and moving forward? What is the one thing you can add to your life that would make a positive difference?

I worked with a client who wanted support to shift from a negative, non-productive mindset to a positive, productive mindset. I asked him how he wants to live each day and what he wants to be different in his life?

In the final analysis, we determined it’s our perspective on life and the choices we make that end up constituting our lives. I asked him how he wants to fill his time. After all, it’s a choice. Soon, he experienced that “Aha!” moment.

Subsequently, we set up a plan. Now we are working on achieving his goals. By integrating his business and personal life and focusing on what he has rather than what’s missing, he is forging ahead to achieve a better and more positive life.

Remember: Inner resilience and the inspiration to do better puts us on the road to personal success.

Creating Energy Through Perspective

Recently, I have been listening to people say their energy is drained or depleted. My suggestion and one that I use all the time is a shift in perspective from feeling drained to living a full life where you are engaged and passionate about your work and personal life. That subtle mindset shift allows me to feel energized. When you are fully engaged and moving forward you are moving energy through yourself so it doesn’t get blocked or stuck. 

In my situation, I could have easily given in to a feeling of depletion, but I know that we’re never out of energy (even though we may feel like we are). Think of the example of childbirth. Whether you have experienced it personally, witnessed it or read about it, the woman giving birth often feels exhausted during the birth process. Yet when the baby is born there is a surge of energy. Simply putting it, and not getting technical, the energy is there, we have to ‘call’ it forth. That’s what I did during this process of having a lot on my plate.  

My past nine months were filled professionally with coaching clients and speaking engagements focused mainly around my book, Talk Yourself Into Success: Strategies for Positive Self-Talk, Confidence, and Resilience. On the personal side I was handling a three-step moving process (two truckloads donated to a great organization called A Wider Circle, one truck to where we moved, and one truck to my kids). I also continue to care for my mother (who is suffering from progressing dementia) and generally dealing with everyday life. This may sound familiar to baby boomers, the “sandwich generation” or as I call it the Oreo – the crème between two cookies.

Having an expertise in life and career transition, I know the resistance that shows up when we are about to make a change, even if it’s 100% positive. (Briefly speaking, we are wired to resist change to keep ourselves safe and the status quo. For more info on the brain and the neuroscience behind this, feel free to contact me: [email protected]). 

The move came about pretty quickly. Pack, move, sell the house, unpack, handle all the technology issues that came about (boy do I dislike Verizon), and so on…all within a short timeframe of approximately one month.  

I have been ready to downsize for a couple of years. I also know that change and transition take longer for my husband so we had conversations about it every now and then. When my husband said he was ready, I knew from other situations that we needed to act fairly quickly, which we did.

Instead of viewing things like the packing/unpacking as something draining, I focused my energy on this next stage of life and enjoying this milestone. The thought of packing and unpacking shifted to it’s exciting to be in a new place and experience new things with my husband.

Could I have felt tired? Sure, and I did, but not depleted because of my mindset. Remember, we control our thoughts; our thoughts don’t control us. We have a choice of how we view situations. 

So when I felt like I needed a break, I took it. And when I needed to create more energy within myself, my mindset went to the positive outcomes we would have…and we now have them…and we love our new place! 

One part that was difficult during the moving process was feeling isolated from friends because I was so focused on getting things accomplished. What kept me going was looking at the end result, that I would see friends once I was settled in and having supportive friends.

So the next time you feel like you have no energy, whether it’s physical or emotional, shift your focus to knowing that your energy is a resource you can call forth and feel.

Transition is an Opportunity for Powerful Change

This must be the month for a great amount of change and transition. Clients are changing jobs, careers, moving, going through separation and divorce. I am in the middle of downsizing. The kids are happy and settled in their lives, and we’re ready to simplify life in a condo or apartment.  

Briefly, change is external (ex: I am moving or changing my job), whereas transition is an internal process (ex: before entering a new phase, tie up loose ends or unfinished business so that you are not bringing your old story into your new phase). By developing an understanding of our purpose, values, and vision, transition can be made easier. It is an opportunity for powerful change.

Most people resist change and transition. It takes us out of our comfort zone. To create a smooth transition, take baby steps forward instead of big leaps that can leave you overwhelmed. If you’re learning how to swim, put a toe in the water, you don’t have to start by jumping in the deep end!

I’m in the midst of change also. My husband and I are pretty busy. We both work, and in the middle of what we’re doing, we’re downsizing, moving things to three separate locations, caring for an elderly parent, dealing with each other’s needs and those of our kids, and keeping up with relationships.

For me, I have learned to go with the flow. I have taught myself to fill my time with ease instead of dis-ease. I literally ask myself what do I want to fill my time with, and I have taught myself to fill the time by being productive rather than becoming anxious or overwhelmed. It’s a choice.

Make sense? Here are a few steps you can take to make change and transition flow with ease.

Build Awareness and Be Present

Without being aware, you can’t make a change. Notice how you’re feeling mentally, emotionally and physically. For example, I check in with myself. I ask myself, how much energy do I have? Where do I need to focus my energy?

Typically for me, I have the most energy in the morning and that’s when I tackle the most challenging items.

To keep the house-packing moving forward I look at it as de-cluttering, and it actually helps clear my mind and makes me feel good. What works for me is I’ll have some coaching sessions and do some work at my desk. When I have had enough sitting, I then do something physical, like packing, until my energy begins to lessen. Then before I go to another task, I will take short breaks throughout the day. The mixture of sedentary, physical, and taking short breaks is a good mix for me. What works for you?

Also when appointments are close to where my mother lives, I stop by for a visit. Then it’s back to work.

Another thing I do is to take breaks different types of breaks when my schedule gets real busy. I carry several golf clubs in the trunk of my car.  I live close to a public golf course and I stop by and hit a bucket of balls at the driving range. That helps keep me grounded and clear. Other times I will do a ten-minute meditation or simply pause and do a breathing exercise.

Self Care (It’s far from trite)

For most people, change and transition can deplete energy. It is essential to focus on sleep, nutrition, and some form of physical exercise (playing a sport, dance, yoga, working out). Be aware of the stress in your life because over time it impacts your immune system, and it will have a negative impact on your health.

Choose Your Attitude

You can let change and transition deplete your energy, or you can choose to embrace change and transition.

Knowing you have a choice is subtle, empowering, and can make a huge difference in your life.

Be Flexible

Life can be harder when you resist change. Again, take baby steps in the direction of moving you forward and being more flexible.

Perhaps like many, my husband’s natural ‘go to’ response to changing situations is ‘no’…and it takes him some time to shift. So when I knew we were heading towards downsizing, I began to mention it 1.5 years ago. Another example was that I told him many years ago (12-15) to expand and open an office in Baltimore, and three years ago he did.  (He now thinks both were his idea.)

My point is that everyone is different. There is no right or wrong regarding the length of time we take to shift; much depends on our experience and the situations we’ve had. Yet, it’s very clear that flexibility and being open to change make life easier. (I’m going to send this to my husband’s inbox!)

Create a New Comfort Zone   

I know it can feel uncomfortable to step out of your comfort zone. Notice how you feel (use your body as a signal to identify where you feel the stress so you can shift your mindset) and your self-talk (what your thoughts are), and don’t let it stop you. Stepping out has you grow. It opens you up to new possibilities. You don’t have  to jump, simply take a step!