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Elizabeth Barbour, M. Ed.
The Revitalized Business Woman
Missouri City (Houston), Texas

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Wednesday
Aug242016

Got Free Time? 3 Questions to Help You Spend it Wisely

Imagine this for a momentone day, you wake up and realize you have won the lottery!

Your fairy godmother has appeared and has granted you the wish of 10 extra hours each week of free time.

And it’s going to stay on your schedule…for good. Ten whole hours that previously were used for something else… but now you’ve got 10 extra hours in your schedule each week. For the forseeable future.  What would you do?

Well, first you’d probably celebrate, right?

WOO HOO! YEE HAW! DOING the Snoopy Happy Dance! YIPPEE!

Then, after the excitement wears off, you might think to yourself… wow… this is so awesome…

I don’t quite know what to do with myself!

Let me tell you – this is a normal reaction. The stunned silence. The gaping mouth. The feeling of “Whoa! What’s going on here?” We are so used to living our lives in a way that is so scheduled – overscheduled, really – that we have lost the art of “free time” and “space” and “wiggle room”. For many of us, it’s been since we were kids that we really knew what to do with any extra time.

I’ve coached several professionals over the years who have taken sabbaticals or who have retired. As we have worked together to help them prepare for a change in their schedule, the number one thing that stumps them is that they don’t  know what they want to do with their time! So in many cases, sadly, they end up wasting their precious time and then wonder what the heck happened.

No doubt you’ve heard of the phenomenon of people who win millions in the lottery only to squander it all in the first few years after their windfall.  They are so shocked and overwhelmed at their windfall and they are so out of touch with their core values that they blow it on frivolous stuff and having nothing to show for it years later.

Time and money are both valuable commodities in today’s busy world. If you find yourself with extra of either, it’s important to know how you want to spend it – and spend it wisely!!!

So… I have a confession to make– I’ve won the lottery this month. The Free Time Lottery, that is!

Now that my daughter has started kindergarten and rides the bus to school, I really have gained an extra ten hours in my week that I used to spend in the car driving her to and from her pre-school.

WOO HOO!!! I’m so incredibly grateful for this gift of time. I intend to invest it wisely. My priorities are regular exercise (4-5x/week), spending time with my Mom, writing and meditation/prayer.

While you may not be in my shoes this year, remember that free time can show up in a variety of ways.

  • A meeting gets cancelled and you have a few extra hours in your schedule.
  • You have to stay home with your sick kid and all they want to do is watch movies so you are free to do some things at home.
  • If there’s a change in management at work, there may be a shift in the schedule or in expectations around meetings.
  • Perhaps a family member plays sports many months of the year but there are a few months that you don’t have to work around the game schedule.
  • Your favorite TV show finishes up its season leaving you with an extra hour a week!

So if you are fortunate to find yourself with some free time like me (doesn’t matter if it’s 1 hour, 5 hours or 10 hours), I want you to ask yourself the following:

  1. What do you value the most? Time with family and friends? Your health? Your spiritual practice? Spend more time doing that.
  2. What are you craving? Quiet time? More time in nature. Get togethers with friends? Reading a good novel? Commit to following the craving.
  3. What have you been procrastinating about? Developing a new product for your business? Organizing your finances? Working on your book? Think about how you’ll feel once you complete this project and commit to starting today!

 

Revitalizing Action: Make a list of how you would like to spend your free time if you suddenly got a whole bunch more of it! Write it in your journal or post it on your fridge. Or, bring it up at the dinner table one night and discuss with your partner or your children or your best friend. See what people say and get ideas for how you can be prepared the next time you get the gift of unexpected time!

Here’s to more Free Time!

Elizabeth

Wednesday
Aug172016

How's That Super Woman Mentality Working for You?

I did it again. I asked for help this week.

Whoa. Stop the presses. I did what?

(I know, crazy, right?)

Strong, independent woman who is great at multi-tasking with running a business, raising a child, caring for a dying mother, doing her best at being a good wife, friend and community volunteer… actually had to ask for help!

Gasp!

I have a secret… I’ve actually gotten pretty good at asking for help over the years.

(Can you imagine that for yourself? What would that feel like? How might it change your life?)

I don’t do it a lot, but when I do, it’s a clear and direct ask. And I don’t feel guilty about it.

(Oooh...can you imagine THAT for yourself? Getting help AND feeling OK about it?)

You know why I don’t feel guilty? Because when someone asks me for help, and I’m able to, I gladly step up and say “Of course I’ll help you!” I love helping out my friends and colleagues. When I am able to. (To clarify, I am clear that my time and energy are truly free to give. I don’t say yes when I’m overcommitted, sick or running on empty myself.)

I learned many years ago that the “Super Woman” mentality doesn’t work for me. And truthfully, it doesn’t work for 99.99% of people that I know.

It feels good to help others, doesn’t it? So I have to trust (and so do you!) that it makes others feel good to help, too!

I wrote a blog about this subject last year called Asking for Help: What Are You Afraid Of? and gave specific examples of areas in life where you can ask for help. But I figured it was time to broach the subject again. Time and time again, I hear from my clients and from other busy professional women how difficult it is to ask for help. Yet we all find times in our lives where it is necessary – and often life-saving - to do so!

So what actually happened to me this week?

Well, I woke up a few days ago and was running a fever. I facilitate a monthly networking group in my city and I could have tried to power through it and gone anyway. If it was just a cold, I probably would have pushed through, but the truth is, a fever can really mess you up! And who wants to be around someone else with a fever right?

So I reached out to my awesome assistant and said “Hey Danielle, I’m sorry to do this last minute, but could you please run the meeting for me today?” I emailed her my agenda and notes and she pulled it off without a hitch while I crawled back into bed with my cup of tea and sweat shirt and sweat pants on (despite the hot temps outside) and I napped for several hours. After the event was over, I checked in with her and she told me everything went smoothly and not to worry. Ahhhhh. Sweet relief!

One of the important lessons that I’ve learned as a business owner is the importance of asking for help. There will be times, especially if you are a solopreneur like I am, that you just can’t get something done. If you’ve got a network of reliable people who you trust, you’ll always have someone who can “take care of business” for you.

The other thing I’ve learned is that it’s OK to not be perfect. It’s OK to not be able to do it all. That’s part of being human. Showing your vulnerability is how we connect with others… when you admit that “Hey, I don’t have it all together!” the people around you relax and say “Phew! Me neither! Glad to know I’m not alone.”

We’re all in this together. So if you need to ask for help this week, do it. If you are able to offer help to someone else, do it. The world can only be richer and kinder if we all keep looking out for one another.

Revitalizing Action: Try asking for help this week. (You can do it! I believe in you!) Something small or something big, doesn’t matter… just try it and see how it goes? If you’re not sure in what area of your life you could ask for help, get some ideas here or send me a note. I’m glad to help!

Here’s to asking for help!

Elizabeth

Wednesday
Aug102016

Olympic Self Care Strategies

I love the Olympics! Do you?

I enjoy witnessing the thrill of competition and celebrating when my favorite athletes win but I especially enjoy hearing their stories. Their personal stories are rich with hard work, dedication and the unwavering support of family and friends who believed in them.

For many athletes at the Games, it wasn’t a straight road. They had to overcome a lot of obstacles in pursuit of their dreams. They’ve overcome  health problems, injuries, addiction, family struggles, financial hardship and more to become the best athletes in the world. (Speaking of overcoming obstacles, did you read about the Olympic refugee team? Wow, talk about inspiring!)

Taking care of yourself – mind, body and spirit – isn’t an option if you want to be an Olympian. When I look at these athletes, they are all poster child examples of what it means to practice smart self care. They are extraordinarily focused, have Herculean work ethics and believe in themselves and in their dreams!

If I were to take a (lighthearted) guess as to what the medalists do in terms of self care to achieve a certain medal status, I might break it down into the following:

** Please note, I know that in reality, all Olympians, regardless of if they medal or not, practice some or all of these ideas… I’m just showing it to you in this form to make a point! Did you get it?**

So as you think about your own self care strategies, where might you fall on this chart?

Would you earn a bronze, a silver or a gold medal?

Or would you even be on the podium?

And if not, why not?

Your goals and dreams are just as important as those of the Olympians that we are watching on television right now. If your desire is to grow a successful business, raise a happy family, experience amazing health, travel the world, make lots of money so you can be of more service to the world, invent something, improve your community or whatever else your heart desires, you can make it happen. And building a strong self care foundation is a key ingredient for your success.

Revitalizing Action:  If you’re ready to up your game and revitalize your self care plan, start small. Pick one thing that you can commit to today – maybe it’s eating more vegetables, trying a new form of exercise, spending more time with your kids or asking for more help at work – and try it for a week and see how it goes.

And if working with a coach is part of your plan, get in touch, ok?

Have fun watching the Olympics!

Elizabeth