Thursday, January 31, 2008

worklife YOU!

We launched a little worklife survey earlier this month. Having long wanted a sense of just exactly what IS going on with folks in regard to managing work and life, we looked for answers from other organizations. Finding very little that asked the questions we wanted answers to, we decided if it was to be done, it was ours to do.

Knowing most folks hate anything that takes longer than the blink of an eye, we aggregated demographic information to keep it SUPER SHORT - only 10 questions total for a really solid set of information about what we're experiencing, what we want, and what gets in the way. We tapped Balance Integration Advisory Board member and psychotherapist Claudia Marchetti, director of sales training for Chanel for her stamp of approval - and let it rip.

With a single send to a small group of subscribers (around 1500), a week later we already have some AHA'S.

1. 26% of respondents report spending 40% of their time working - that's 9.6 hours - more than half your waking moments! Another 22% put the number at 50% of their time!

2. 46% self-report they get 8 hours of sleep - interesting given the abundance of research attesting to our widespread sleep deprivation - is it wishful thinking?

3. The biggest contrast in how we spend time and how we WISH we could spend time isn't a shift towards more time with family. Overwhelmingly, respondents expressed a desire for more time EXERCISING and PURSUING HOBBIES/ACTIVITIES FOR PERSONAL ENJOYMENT. Sounds like we're finally getting the message that to be available to others we've got to take care of ourselves as well!

The survey is still in it's infancy - we're going to keep harvesting and reporting this information from time to time and watch trends and changes. The more data we have, the more we'll have to share so pop in, check some boxes...we'll get back to you with how it looks both now and in the future.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Feel Better - From Should to Done!

According to Harris Interactive, we are less likely to include healthy habits in our resolutions this year. Apparently, we're all a bit burned by having had those fiery intentions to hit the gym every morning fall to the wayside as we hit snooze and enjoy another 20 of shut-eye in winter's dark mornings.

Given that we DO want to feel better and live more full lives, what about all the little things any of us CAN do at a moment's notice with all the benefits and none of the guilt?

The following suggestions are instant-gratification oriented. Designed to support your physical well- being, they offer a bonus bang of being guilt free if you forget to do them and feeling even better if you celebrate remembering them!

  • Walk somewhere. Park further from where you are going. Get off the train or bus a stop early. Walk to see the guy in accounting instead of popping him an email. Walk anywhere. It feels good, stimulates your circulation and wakes you up.

  • Drink water. Yeah, we all SAY we drink enough water, but it's winter and between the cold and artificial heat and all the cold & flu bugs going around, you need it even more.

  • Stretch. Right now, at your desk, even if you don't know what you are doing. You don't have to be a yogi to get the benefit of tension release by gently moving a limb in a way that feels "stretchy".

  • Breathe. We know this separates the living from the dead. But conscious breathing separates the aware from the unaware. So right now, as you read this, observe your breath move in and out of your body.

  • Go potty. Incontinence has risen in the industrialized age, and with computers we often forget to go for HOURS which weakens really important muscles. Bet you have to go RIGHT NOW, don't you?

  • Have a media moratorium - as soon as you hit close on this email, take a 5 minute media moratorium. No pixels. No monitors. Nothing that beeps or blinks. Just you and whatever else there is.
This list is obviously not comprehensive. It's not supposed to be. We want to remind you that your feeling good isn't scuttled entirely just because you didn't make it to the gym this morning/week/month/year. Your feeling good is your choice in every moment and every thing you do.

Think Better - Go-To Good

If all this talk about GOOD and FUN is putting you in a bad mood, GREAT!

You see, just like the media adage "if it bleeds, it leads", as a culture we're pretty fixated on the negative. This is why it's important for us to become absolutely aware of what DOES put a good feeling in motion inside of us.

In workshops on creativity and inspiration, we often ask folks "what makes you feel good?". Not a complex question, but for the most part it takes lots of ums, looks of frustrated concentration, and often disclaimers and even requests for clarification before we can get a single response.

So what DOES put you in a good frame of mind? Whether you are one of the lucky ones who has off-the-cuff awareness of what elevates your mood , or already feel a bit stumped, take a look at these aspects of GOOD and add to your arsenal of helping yourself think and feel GOOD in 2008.

  • Physical Activity - I had lunch with an executive the other day that reminded me of the obvious - no one ever feels worse for eating right and moving their body a bit - what makes your body feel better?

  • Music - what sounds put you in a good mood? Do you have them on the ready when you need them?

  • Foods - what foods give you energy and stimulate your sense of fulfillment when you eat?
    Connection with Others - What forms of interpersonal interaction put you in a GOOD state of mind? Whether it is a walk with a friend or arguing the merits of a book or movie, what makes you feel good with respect to connecting with others?

  • Time alone - What is your favorite way to spend time alone? Cruising Ebay for the next windorphin fix? Looking at travel mags for your next cold weather escape? One friend loves the weather channel for making her feel connected to the entire world.

  • Guilty pleasures - One thing that makes me feel great is ditching work for 20 minutes to go sit and have a coffee in public. The sense of solitude in the midst of nameless masses, the movement, and the break in energy revives me for whatever is waiting, and whatever is NEXT!

  • Weekends - What is your favorite way to spend a weekend? What recharges you completely and leaves you ready to go for the coming week?

  • Kindness - In what ways does being kind to others create satisfaction in you? Practicing smiling at strangers and seeing if they return the favor? Tipping extra well no matter the service? Most of us have some secret kindness that we delight in practicing.

Keep noticing good moments and what the factors are that make them happen. By identifying your own best-practices, you'll be able to more authentically say it's all good.

Lead Better - Good Game

In Sound On Sound Magazine, the geek squad of the music industry did a study of just what makes a great song great to see if the magic in one song can make magic happen if applied to the creation of another song. They took the elements of James Brown's "I Feel Good" and analyzed if various components could strengthen other songs. Their findings: a big GIANT yes. It seems that the media adage "Good Is Good" holds true for more than just adapting Iron Chef for U.S. audiences - what resonates with us on an intrinsic level holds no matter if it is being applied under different circumstances.

This month, we used this approach to setting our intention for the year. First we called Brooke Emery of Attraction Boutique for her favorite strategies for having a year worth celebrating. In describing our ideal year, the characteristics we named included the obvious: geographic growth, profitability, evolution of services/offerings, continued expansion of client base. Pretty good business-speak, but working with Brooke we realized that something HUGE was missing - FUN. Given the seriousness that tends to set in when people use the word "intention" - FUN is the perfect antidote.

Think about it - humans thrive on fun. Give me a five star meal and if I am not having fun I might as well be at Micky D's. Show me a great movie, and if my mental disposition keeps me from enjoying it, I might as well have never seen it at all. Fun is the magic dust, the special sauce that allows our lives to feel lively. And when it comes to having work that is anything but drudgery, having fun is a must.

Of course, fun happens on it's own - from a random playful smile from a co-worker to a presentation that blows the audience away. But practicing mastery means that if fun is a must have or core value, you have to approach work and life in a playful, fun way. And if "I Feel Good" can be a guide map for other good feeling songs, whatever has made you feel good in the past can point the way to your good feeling now and at any time.

To make something fun, ask yourself: what's a phrase you can use to remind yourself to be playful as events unfold this year? It might be related to a time in your life when you were having the most fun, or it might be a phrase that inspires you. For Linda in our LA office, the phrase was "Flow With the Go" - a play on the old go with the flow that emphasizes not just being reactive but being ACTIVE but still in alignment with whatever is happening. As a fan of De La Vega, notorious NYC graffiti artist, I borrowed from one of his famous scribbles "Realiza Tu Sueno" or "Become Your Dream" which reminds me to see life as my own dream unfolding even when things seem more like a nightmare. Brooke herself claimed "Everyday is Jazz Fest" to remind her of the great feeling of being in the sun, having a beer & hearing great music. Beer aside, the point is to remember the BUZZ of feeling good no matter where you are.

So what's yours? Think about times that you have felt fantastic or phrases that inspire the best feelings in you. Pick one that feels especially evocative to you and name it. By claiming that image, memory or positive association, you are tapping into a pathway to feeling great no matter where you go or what you do.