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How to Manage Your To-Do List

Happy summer! With a ten week old baby at home I decided to take some of my own advice and simplify my to-do list by recycling this issue’s feature article. Below you’ll find a recent article from the popular e-zine Daily Candy which includes tips from myself and my colleague, Corrine Bucher, on “Managing the Working Mom’s Mountain of To-Dos”. Just remember, delegation is your friend.

Also, the next Moms in Balance 90-Day Group Coaching Program will begin in September. You will walk away from these six group coaching sessions with:

  • A clarified work/life vision
  • Tools for managing guilt, fear and stress
  • The ability to say “no”
  • An extreme self-care practice
  • A detailed plan with accountability

Hope you can join us!

Here’s to a summer with less time stressing about what you have to do and more time enjoying what you want to do.

– Amber


How to Manage Your To-Do List

The following article ran in Daily Candy in March of 2008.

Do. Delegate. Drop.

Whirling too fast? The secret of the happy dervish is accurately spotting the mark. We asked life coaches Corrine Bucher and Amber Rosenberg for advice on managing the working mom’s mountain of to-do’s.

  1. Make a master list of all your tasks.
  2. Take a clean sheet of paper and make three columns: Do, Delegate, Drop.
  3. Put each item in a column. Don’t confuse hard choices with no choices. Remember, this is about feeling happier.
  4. Set yourself up to be accountable: Enroll a supporter and share your list.

Now, turn into the spin.

delegate, manage your to-do list

Overwhelmed? Five Steps to Take Back Your Life

Happy New Year! With the busyness of the holidays just behind us and all the change a new year brings, many people I speak with these days are feeling overwhelmed. Below is an article that I wrote two years ago that provides you with a few steps to manage feeling overwhelmed and take back your life.

For some more helpful tips on staying balanced during this busy period, check out my most recent interview on View from the Bay on ABC-TV. Also, Moms Thrive Now Workshops are right around the corner – in San Francisco on 1/9/08 and Walnut Creek on 1/15/08 – and the Moms in Balance 90-Day Group Coaching Program will begin in February. Hope to see you there!

Here’s to creating a 2008 where your most precious dreams come to life.

– Amber


Overwhelmed? Five Steps to Take Back Your Life

Do you spend your energy worrying about everything you have to do instead of actually doing it? Has making dinner, picking up the dry cleaning or responding to e-mails become a monumental effort? Is your to-do list growing at unmanageable rates?

Lately, I’ve been observing what happens when I find myself in this undesirable place. I noticed that when I start to feel overwhelmed, I go to great lengths to check ‘just one more thing’ off of my to-do list. While this short burst of frenzied activity allows me to accomplish one thing, by the time I get to the second item, I’m totally exhausted.

So, I decided to try an experiment. For the last week, I tried to give into this stuck feeling; to surrender to it and to see what happens. When I slowed down, I noticed that the culprit was often unrealistic expectations of myself and my time.

When I started to have these unrealistic expectations of myself, it became easy to lose sight of why I committed to doing something in the first place. Once I became disconnected from the meaning behind my actions, it was easy to lose motivation. Losing motivation for one thing quickly snowballed into losing motivation for another thing, which contributed to an ever-growing to-do list and, eventually feeling overwhelmed.

Instead of giving into this frenzy, I decided to take some time to re-connect with what’s important to me – exercise, meditation, laughter and fun. Now I’m in the process of figuring out how to incorporate these into my everyday life.
So, when you’re overwhelmed, instead of trying to get as much done as quickly as you can, try slowing down to get re-connected with the meaning behind your actions. Try a few of these exercises to help you slow down:

1) As often as possible, stop for a moment and take several deep, relaxing breaths.

2) Do something that you used to do as a child. Run through a sprinkler, swing on a swing-set or draw a picture.

3) Go outdoors for as long as it takes get perspective. Take time to notice the details of nature – look up at the clouds, smell the grass, snow or rain and feel the fresh air on your skin.

4) Run up and down your stairs or do some jumping jacks or push-ups for 10 minutes. Explore how getting out of your mind and into your body helps you to feel both calm and energized.

5) Watch a funny movie or read a funny book. Laughter provides perspective and makes everything feel more manageable.

Spend a week trying these exercises and then look for patterns.

What do you notice? What are you learning? What is possible from here?

Write down what you learned or share it with your coach.

The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, try letting go of your expectations and measuring your accomplishments. Instead, focus on slowing down and re-connecting with what energizes and feeds you. When you’re connected with your values and the guiding principles of your life, you’re connected to the natural fuel for getting things done.

take back your life, treat overwhelm

5 Benefits of Slowing Down: Tales of a Pregnant Pause

I hope you had a Thanksgiving filled with joy and appreciation! For some helpful tips on balancing work and family, check out my most recent interview on View from the Bay on CBS.  I’ll be featured on another episode of this show on 12/4 to talk about staying balanced this holiday season (KGO-TV, San Francisco).

Also, check out upcoming Moms Thrive Now Workshops scheduled in San Francisco on 1/9/08 and Walnut Creek on 1/15/08 and the Moms in Balance 90-Day Group Coaching Program to begin in Feb., 2008. Hope to see you there!

This ezine’s featured article offers personal insight into what I’ve recently learned about the benefits of slowing down. Working mother or not, you can apply these experiences to your own life to help achieve your own personal balance.

To your health, happiness and success,
Amber


5 Benefits of Slowing Down: Tales of a Pregnant Pause

For the majority of my life, learning how to slow down has been very much a work-in-progress. Several years ago, I was completely unfamiliar with the concept, however, due to various life circumstances, I’ve had regular opportunities to re-examine my pace in life and to make choices as to what would work best moving forward.

This last year or so, I chose to exercise really hard, to work even harder, and to fill my weekends with social engagements. Then, three months ago, I found out I was pregnant and everything started to change – again.

As a goal-oriented woman who prides herself in knowing what she wants and making it happen, I felt extremely grateful to be pregnant – especially since this is not a guarantee in life. I was very excited for about a week – I called immediate family to share the news and was unable to contain myself when I saw friends in person. I thought I had it all figured out. Think again.

I quickly started to experience severe pain that left me on the couch for two weeks. I was diagnosed with three different pregnancy-related conditions that not only caused pain but left me completely exhausted – much more than the normal first-trimester fatigue (not to mention the all-day bouts of nausea).

I realized that my body was providing me with my next opportunity to learn how to slow down and I had to make some choices – quickly. I decided to greatly minimize my work commitments and to give up my intense hour-long daily exercise routine (it was just too painful). I also scaled down my social calendar, selecting fewer and more easy-going activities.

To say that all of this has been a challenge and a learning experience would be an understatement. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned, in hope that you can apply whatever you find helpful to your own life.

Sometimes a packed schedule can give you the feeling that you’re accomplishing a lot, really successful and in high-demand. While all this action and busyness may make you feel important, it’s still possible to feel successful without killing yourself. It’s less about quantity and more about quality; less about ego and more about substance. Also, if you don’t learn how to slow down on your own, your body may take matters into its own hands. Last, slowing down is a body/mind/soul/heart experience. You can’t just say you’re going to slow down and make it happen. All of you has to be on board (or forced to be on board) or it won’t work.

5 Benefits of Slowing Down:

  1. You experience the present more fully and are able to be here now without worrying about what’s next.
  2. The days and weeks feel longer and you gain a truer understanding of the value of time.
  3. You’re better able to notice the people, the moments or the situations that give you the most energy and fulfillment and to prioritize these moving forward. When you choose to spend time with people, you’re better able to connect with them and on a deeper level.
  4. You’re able to get back in touch with your creative, strategic side that allows you to think big and create a vision.
  5. You remember what you’re grateful for because you have time to think about it.

As you think about how slowing down may serve you, ask yourself a few questions. What’s the easiest thing you can do this week to slow down? What’s the benefit? What’s the cost? What are you learning about yourself? What will you do differently moving forward?

You may find that learning how to slow down is a wonderful gift you can give yourself, your loved ones, and your career. Or you may discover that you’re at a point in your life where slowing down simply doesn’t serve you. The important thing is to do some honest, careful thinking about what works best for you right now and to know that you always have a choice moving forward. You’re worth it.

benefits of slowing down

How to Re-Define Success as a Working Mother

Check out my interview about the challenges facing working mothers on a recent episode of View from the Bay on CBS. I’ll be featured on another episode of this show on Tues. 10/2 to talk about how to juggle kids and career (3-4 pm, KGO-TV, San Francisco).

Speaking of juggling work and family, this ezine’s featured article helps you to create a vision and re-define priorities so you can better focus on what’s truly important to you.

To your health, happiness and success,
Amber


How to Re-Define Success as a Working Mother

Are you a “type-A” working mother who used to define yourself by your career? Now that you have kids, do you feel constantly pulled by conflicting priorities? Are you most comfortable and familiar with operating at 110% but juggling work and family has you running at 220%?

One of my clients, whom we’ll call Sarah, is actively working to overcome these challenges. Forty-one years old and a vice president at a publishing house, she appears to have it all: two wonderful children, a loving husband, a rewarding job, a beautiful house and a large nest-egg for retirement.

Yet, despite these outward trappings of success, Sarah feels that she can’t be the professional or the mom that she wants to be and, as a result, she feels guilty for letting others (and herself) down. She worries that both her kids and her work suffer as a result. Exhaustion and stress have started to take a toll on her physical health, emotions and relationships.

Sarah is far from alone. Despite their significant achievements, many outwardly successful working mothers come seeking my services because they feel the same: overwhelmed, guilty and stressed.

So, the question becomes, how do you define success? A fat salary? Being a good mom? Enjoying a loving romantic partnership? Making a difference in the world? An impressive title?

At the end of the day, how you define success is very personal and no two people define it the same way. Below is an exercise to help you get started in defining success on your own terms.

Step One:

Create and draft a compelling vision (best imagined outcome) for your career and life one year from now. Imagine your life is exactly as you’d like it to be. In one or two paragraphs, describe your ideal life.

Also, while there is no right way to do this, I recommend you find a quiet place and do ten minutes of deep breathing before you even start this exercise. It is important for you to give yourself full permission to dream without censoring or trying to figure out how you will achieve your vision.

In order for you to be clear about your vision, it is helpful for you to know what your values are; what’s truly important to you. Clarifying your values will help you discover what’s essential in your life. Values are the intangibles that drive us, inspire us, and energize us. For example, travel is not a value, but it may represent how the values of adventure and learning are expressed. Money is not a value, but it may represent how the value of freedom and a lack of want are expressed.

Here is a partial list of values to help cultivate your vision: accomplishment, beauty, adventure, creativity, family, nature, truthfulness, power, trust, security, challenge, directness, freedom, growth, leadership, service, recognition, partnership, etc. Make sure your vision aligns with your values.

Also, think about how your vision excites you. If it doesn’t scare you a little, or if you already know how to get there, you are probably thinking too small.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What will you be doing?
  • With whom will you be spending your time?
  • How will you show up in the world?
  • What will your impact be?
  • What will be exciting (engaging, rewarding) about that?
  • How does this picture for your career and your life honor your values, and let you lead the type of life you desire?

Step Two:

Briefly describe the personal qualities you will need to bring forth to achieve your vision. (More confident? More focused? More forgiving of yourself?)

Creating your vision will help you define your priorities. Once you know what your priorities are, you’ll be better able to focus on what’s truly important to you. You may even find that you’re able to let go of some of that guilt about not being able to “do it all” or to be “everything to everyone”.

You may learn that you while you used to think you wanted it all, you choose not to have it all at the same time. Or perhaps you will discover that there are certain things that you are just not willing to sacrifice. Or you may learn that you can live more modestly with greater peace of mind. Whatever you discover, I hope you will remember that success is very personal and you’ve taken a great first step in creating a definition of success that fulfills your needs, goals, and dreams.

redefine success, work and family balance, work life balance

How to Transition Back to Work After Maternity Leave

Happy Summer! Take a moment to check out a recent Washington Post article that includes an interview with one of my clients on her coaching experience. Also be sure to look for my interview about the challenges facing working mothers on an upcoming episode of View from the Bay, on CBS in San Francisco.

This ezine’s featured article offers practical solutions for transitioning back to work after maternity leave and serves as a reminder for more seasoned working parents on how to achieve work/family balance.

To your health, happiness and success,
Amber


How to Transition Back to Work After Maternity Leave

If you’re like many of my clients who return to work after maternity leave, you may view your job as a welcome vacation from the exhausting responsibilities of caring for a newborn. Oh, the irony. However, as you prepare to go back to work, you may unexpectedly be faced with a whole new set of challenges, including growing feelings of anxiety and guilt about not staying home with your child. Here are a few ideas to help you through this process:

Plan Your Plan Carefully select the best back-to-work date for you and your family. Try to anticipate how much time you’ll need (and how much time you’ll get) as best as you can. Review your employer’s maternity leave policy and talk with other working mothers in your field. Work with your husband/partner to assess your personal financial situation to determine when and how (part-time, flex schedule, etc.) you’ll return to work. Also, be sure to review your Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) eligibility. As you start to explore these questions, you may also find it helpful to create a work-plan for you and your growing family that outlines what your weekly schedule will look like.

Partner with Your Partner Talk to your husband/partner about your plan and make sure you’re both on the same page. You’ll strengthen your relationship, save time and energy and build the support you’ll need throughout this transition. You might be surprised to find that your partner shares similar feelings about his or her return to work. Talk with your partner about what is going to work best for the family, as a whole. Remember that perfect options don’t exist. There will be sacrifices by both parents. Money, time, convenience and fast-paced career growth are among the biggest things that may change. The best option will include sacrifices with which you both can live. By engaging in honest, ongoing communication with your partner/husband, you’ll be able to successfully manage this transition together.

Communicate at Work Too Not everyone has the luxury of working with colleagues who are familiar with the challenges of returning to work after maternity leave. Talk regularly with your supervisor and/or your staff about your schedule, priorities and options. Only you know what you need to balance your roles as mom and professional, so speak up.

No Woman is an Island – Delegate! One of the secrets to success as a working mom is learning how to delegate to other staff, your husband/partner, your family, etc. If you’re overwhelmed with work, take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself some honest questions. What do you absolutely need to do right now? What can you postpone, delegate or say “no” to? On the personal front, hiring a cleaning person one day a week may be all it takes to make you feel in control of your home life again. Maybe it’s time for him to start ironing his own shirts or for your older children to start doing the dishes. Spread the workload around a little -small changes can make a big difference.

Find Comfort in Childcare The more comfortable you are with your childcare situation, the easier it will be for you to focus on work. Set-up a trial run with your daycare for a week before you return to work to prevent any last minute surprises about reliability, scheduling, pick-up/drop-off, etc.
Breast-pumps and Boardrooms Some larger family-friendly companies now have special rooms devoted to pumping, called lactation stations. If your company doesn’t have such a room, set-up a daily pumping schedule where you can shut your office door (or use someone else’s office when they’re in meetings). Cover the windows, lock the door and put a note on the door as to when you’ll be done. Make sure you’ve got refrigeration available (if needed) and consider how convenient your clothing is to workday pumping. Pumping at the office can be a hassle but it gives you the freedom to continue nursing for as long as you choose. As an added bonus, if you’re missing your baby, stressed, or feeling guilty, you may find that the oxytocin and endorphins released through the pumping will help alleviate some of these feelings.

Expect to Feel Guilty When you’re working a lot of hours and away from your child for long periods of time, you may be consumed with feelings of guilt. You may also feel guilty for leaving your child to go to work, guilty that going to work sometimes feels like a welcome break from your child or guilty when you have to leave work early. Guilt is a given. I work with my clients to help them manage this guilt (see the last ezine article on how to manage guilt). You can’t control guilt but you can choose what you want to do about it.

Learn How to Compartmentalize As we already established, when you’re at work, you may feel guilty. Then, when you’re with your child, you may find that you’re easily distracted by thoughts of work, household chores or a million little tasks that need attention. Do your best to be in the moment. If you’re able to be fully present when spending time with your child, you’ll feel less guilty when you’re not with them. Easier said than done, right? Read my upcoming article for tricks on how to become more present and focused when spending quality time with your baby.

Set a Trial Period Allow yourself a ninety-day trial period to see how your new weekly schedule works for you and your family. Once you’re through this trial period, assess how it’s working and change your schedule accordingly. Also, as your child grows and develops, you may need to continue to tweak your schedule.

Keep it in Perspective At the end of the day, all of this careful planning can’t account for emotions. During the post-partum period, your hormones are in huge flux and if you find yourself in tears the first day back at work, remember that you’re not alone and there’s no need to beat yourself up about it. The good news is, research shows that if you have an enjoyable job that inspires and motivates you, it’s beneficial for your health and for the health of your child. So, hang in there, give yourself a break and remember that by taking care of yourself, you’re taking care of your baby.

transition back to work after maternity leave

How to Manage Guilt So it Doesn’t Manage You

Take a moment for yourself and check out my new website for working mothers: www.workingmotherscoach.com. Also, note the launch of the Working Mothers’ Balance Program© – 90 days, one goal – under the workshops tab.

In in-depth interviews I recently conducted with 25 executive mothers across the U.S., they cited guilt as their number one challenge. Guilt that they have to leave their kids to go to work, guilt that going to work sometimes feels like a welcome break from their kids and guilt when they have to leave work early to pick up their kids.

Whether it’s guilt related to being a working parent or guilt related to something else in your life, this month’s article provides practical coaching solutions to help you better manage your guilt.

To your health, happiness and success,
Amber


How to Manage Guilt So it Doesn’t Manage You

You’ve been there – you know the feeling. It’s that nagging sense that you’ve done something wrong, unfair or otherwise inadequate and you can’t stop beating yourself up about it. It may be part of all our lives but guilt doesn’t have to run anyone’s life.

When was the last time you felt guilty? Perhaps it was when you didn’t spend enough time with your family or friends. Or when you left work early or burned the kids’ dinner.

If you’re a parent who works outside the home, you’re probably all too familiar with these feelings of coming up short and not being the parent or professional you want to be. You may find that there’s not enough time in the day to do everything perfectly and that something always has to give. This tug of war can be extremely challenging.

In in-depth interviews I recently conducted with 25 executive mothers across the U.S., they cited guilt as their number one challenge. Guilt that they have to leave their kids to go to work, guilt that going to work sometimes feels like a welcome break from their kids and guilt when they have to leave work early to pick up their kids.

Whether it’s guilt related to being a working parent or guilt related to something else in your life, guilt is a self-limiting, self-sabotaging thought that holds you back from where you are now to where you want to be. Guilt, fear, worry and doubt are the biggest, most common self-limiting thoughts or beliefs. They often disguise themselves as your good, old, familiar friends that have kept you comfortable and safe. As long as you’ve listened to them, you’ve been OK.

As much as guilt, fear, worry and doubt may have served you or kept you safe in the past, they may have also prevented you from finding a more rewarding job or taking that much deserved vacation. Or, they may have simply diverted your energy away from more important, meaningful things.

The first step in managing these negative thoughts is noticing when they rear their ugly heads.

The next time you’re feeling guilty, take out a piece of paper and a pen and write down everything that comes to mind. If you get really curious about what happens when you feel guilty, you will learn more about your relationship to guilt and, as a result, be better able to manage guilt.

Below are some questions to ask yourself:

  • When did you start to feel guilty?
  • What happened right before you started to feel guilty?
  • How does guilt show up in your body?
  • How does guilt serve you?
  • What is the cost of feeling guilty?
  • What else do you notice?

Greater awareness of negative thoughts leads to better management of negative thoughts. Once you’re aware of when, why and how you feel guilty, you’ll be better able to manage guilt.

The next step is to have an honest conversation with yourself. Did you do the best you could, given the situation? If the answer is yes, then you can work on giving yourself permission to let go of that guilt. If the answer is no, then you can come up with a plan to do better next time. Once you have your plan, it’s time to give yourself permission to let go of that guilt.

Easier said then done, right? Check back for an upcoming article on how to let go of perfection. Whether it’s passing up overtime or weekend work to spend some extra time with your kids, living with a less than sparkling clean house or cooking simpler dinners, you probably have more choices than you think. It’s just a matter of planning instead of automatically scheduling yours, and your family’s, lives away.

So, the next time you’re feeling guilty, instead of cascading down the guilt spiral, simply notice the guilt and ask yourself some honest questions. Then, you can make an intentional choice about what to do next. You can’t control negative thoughts but you can choose what you want to do about them. Isn’t choice a beautiful thing?

Juggling kids, career, marriage and personal time?

Exciting news! I just completed in-depth interviews with 25 executive mothers to uncover their top challenges and the results are incredibly revealing for all working parents – both mothers and fathers.

Did you know that executive mothers cite guilt as their number one challenge? Guilt that they have to leave their kids to go to work, guilt that going to work sometimes feels like a welcome break from their kids and guilt that they have to leave work early to pick up their kids from daycare?

On a lighter note, did you know that the Tyra Banks show is a favorite among working mothers?

This month’s article outlines the survey results and offers some insight into setting priorities. Check back next month for the first in a series of articles that will review the survey results in more depth and provide practical coaching solutions and programs to address each challenge.

To your health, happiness and success,
Amber


Juggling kids, career, marriage and personal time?

Have you ever been fascinated by certain people and wanted to truly understand what motivates them, what scares them and what keeps them up at night?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that working mothers come to coaching looking for solutions to very specific challenges, not the least of which is balancing work and family. The more I coach working mothers, the more passionate I’ve become about helping them with their challenges. So, I decided to conduct in-depth interviews with 25 executive mothers to understand their deepest, darkest worries so I could develop coaching programs to help them effect change in their personal and professional lives.

The survey revealed that executive mothers cite guilt as their number one challenge. Guilt that they have to leave their kids to go to work, guilt that going to work sometimes feels like a welcome break from their kids and guilt that they have to leave work early to pick up their kids from daycare.

Following are additional survey results of 25 working mothers in senior-level management positions across the U.S.

Top Challenges for Working Mothers:

  • 91% feel they’re struggling to juggle kids, career, marriage, and personal time
  • 87% feel that if they just had more time, they could get it all done
  • 82% report that running from commitment to commitment and lack of sleep take a toll on their personal time, health and well-being
  • 77% are struggling to lose those last 10-20 pounds post-pregnancy
  • 73% feel they are playing a constant balancing act in which something always has to give
  • 71% feel guilty, stressed and exhausted

Top Resources for Working Mothers:

  • 89% have read parenting books, magazines or websites
  • 78% have tried mom’s groups
  • 46% have tried parenting classes or workshops
  • 82% said they received some benefits from these resources but were unable to make lasting change

Does this sound like you? While the study focused on working mothers, I’m sure working fathers face many of the same challenges.

So, what can you do about it?

One thing that was consistent for the dynamic group of women I interviewed is that they recognize the value of constantly re-evaluating, re-prioritizing and re-connecting with what’s most important for them that day, week, or year. They understand the need to take a step back, get perspective and re-calibrate their priorities both as new situations come up and as they go about their daily routine.

You may find that there are some times in your life when you need to focus on making money, some times when spending time with your family has to be the priority and some times when you just need to carve out a little bit of alone time. The trick is to get enough perspective so that you feel you are intentionally making choices instead of having life “happen” to you, completely out of your control.

So, the next time you’re feeling guilty, stressed or overwhelmed, take five minutes to go outside, look up at the sky and ask yourself, “What’s the big picture perspective?”

juggling kids career marriage

How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Do you find it difficult to say no? Do you have a fear of displeasing others? Do you have trouble expressing your true feelings?

You’re not alone. In my work with successful and motivated women, these are a few of their most common challenges.

If you struggle with some of these issues too, this month’s article will help you examine your personal boundaries and determine where you can strengthen them.

Also, check out the following article in which I’m featured: “Decide Upon Your True Dreams and Goals: Solutions for Resolutions,” Investor’s Business Daily, Jan 2,2007.

Last, to start your new year with greater intention, join me for a “New Year’s Virtual Retreat” on January 20th or “Your Life in Balance Virtual Retreat” on February 3rd.

To your health, happiness and success,

Amber


How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Do you find it difficult to say no? Do you have a fear of displeasing others? Do you have trouble expressing your true feelings?

You’re not alone. In my work with successful and motivated women, these are a few of their most common challenges.

If you struggle with some of these issues too, it may be helpful for you to examine your personal boundaries and determine where you can strengthen them. Simply put, personal boundaries are the limits you place between yourself and others. The stronger your boundaries, the more free you feel to express yourself.

We all have certain relationships and situations where our boundaries are stronger and certain relationships and situations where our boundaries need work. Frequently, the closer we are to someone (i.e. – romantic partners, children and parents), the harder it is to maintain strong boundaries.

Below are a few signs of weak boundaries:

– Difficulty in asking for what you want or need
– Allowing others’ opinions to determine your self- worth
– Taking things too personally
– Difficulty in standing up for yourself
– Feeling like a victim
– Feeling obligated or indebted
– Allowing others’ bad moods to rub off on you

I invite you to take a look at your own life and think about where your boundaries are strong and where they need work. You can test the strength of your boundaries in various aspects of your life by asking yourself the following questions:

In this situation/relationship, “How free do I feel to express myself?” “How free do I feel to ask for what I want?”

Once you have an idea of where your boundaries need work, you can start practicing your communication techniques.

Setting boundaries is best done with a graceful or neutral tone. This will feel uncomfortable at first, but as you take care of yourself, the personal power you gain will make it easier. When setting boundaries, there is no need to justify, give excuses or over- explain your feelings. Be firm, gracious and direct. When faced with resistance, repeat your statement or request.

Below are a few neutral responses to common situations:

To set a boundary with an angry person: “You may not yell at me. If you continue, I’ll have to leave the room.”

To set a boundary with someone who is critical: “That is an inappropriate comment. Please stop.”

To buy yourself time when making tough decisions: “I’ll have to sleep on it. I have a policy of not making decisions right away.”

To say no to extra commitments: “Although this organization is important to me, I can’t participate now because my time is already over-committed.”

To back out of a commitment: “After reviewing my schedule, I now realize that I won’t be able to give this project my best attention. I’d like to help find a replacement by the end of next week.

To set a boundary with an adult child who borrows money: “I won’t be lending you money anymore. I love you and you need to take responsibility for yourself.”

Once you’ve tested out these neutral responses, you can craft your own responses to specific situations or relationships in your life.

Strengthening your boundaries is one of the best ways to attract new positive relationships and transform existing relationships, which will have a powerful impact in both your personal and professional life. Strong boundaries will give you the confidence to speak your truth and to choose what you want (and don’t want) in your life. What do you choose?

how to say no, say no without guilt

How to Stay Balanced this Holiday Season

This mid-month ezine offers you tips on how to stay balanced this holiday season. Listen to my recent interview with Women’s Radio for more tips on maintaining your balance and productivity throughout the entire year.

As mentioned in the radio interview, for the rest of December, if you buy my book “Inspiration to Realization” from pacificlifecoach.com and mention the end of year special, you’ll get a 20 minute coaching session. This offer is valued at $42 and is good through the end of 2006.

To start your new year with greater intention, join me for a virtual retreat focusing on “Your Life in Balance” on February 3rd, 2007. I’m also accepting suggestions for group coaching topics in 2007.

To your health, happiness and success,

Amber


How to Stay Balanced this Holiday Season

For many of us, the holidays can be fun but overwhelming. We savor the parties, the decorations, the visits with family and friends but there’s the stress of adding more activities – shopping, sending holiday cards, social commitments, etc. – to already full plates. Even if we start out with enthusiasm and expectation, we’re often left feeling physically exhausted and emotionally depleted by the end of this festive season.

The holidays can be a time of joy and fulfillment if we just maintain a sense of perspective. Below are three ways to do just that:

  1. Borrow from the past. What made previous celebrations special? What memories come to mind? What was satisfying about them? Use the best pieces of the past to create the best celebration this year and in the future.
  2. Start planning the holiday you want. Think about what your dream experience would look like so you can design a celebration of your own making. Do you crave rest, relaxation and rejuvenation? Do you want to party with 100 of your closest friends? Could you use a holiday getaway with your partner? Your festivities should reflect who you are and how you have fun.
  3. Celebrate. Now that you’ve taken the best pieces from the past and planned a holiday that will bring you joy, it’s time to actually enjoy yourself. Don’t worry if a dessert is runny or if a gift isn’t exactly the right size, enjoy the interactions and opportunities to share with people you love. So don’t sweat the small stuff, just go have fun.

holiday planning, holiday season balance, holiday stress

What Do You Tolerate in Your Life?

What do a messy office, a stiff back and a negative friend all have in common? They are all examples of the things we tolerate – often without realizing it – that try our patience, dull our spirit and drain our energy. This month’s article will help you look at what you tolerate in various aspects of your life and help you choose what to accept (or not accept) from yourself and others.

To your health, happiness and success,

Amber


What Do You Tolerate in Your Life?

What do a messy office, a stiff back and a negative friend all have in common?

They are all examples of the things we tolerate – often without realizing it – that try our patience, dull our spirit and drain our energy. They may be so subtle, of such long standing, or so widely held as normal that they don’t feel like something we tolerate but more like “that’s just the way life is.”

The fundamental principle here is that the universe treats us just as well as we demand to be treated. Yet, we often move through life accepting less than the best from ourselves and others. Furthermore, it costs us our vitality every time we tolerate something that really isn’t up to our standards.

If you are committed to making changes that will bring you greater peace of mind and happiness, looking at what you tolerate in your life is a great, empowering place to start.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Make a list of three things you put up with in the various areas of your life: home, work, health, romance, friends and family, money, recreation, and environment.
  • Looking at your list, what items do you choose to minimize or eliminate? By starting with baby steps, you give yourself the permission to succeed and build confidence. If, for example, you choose to minimize your messy office, start by trying to clean up your desk or bookshelves.
  • By taking a deeper look, you may find that there are limiting beliefs that have supported you in putting up with these things for so long. In the case of the messy office, you may think to yourself: “I don’t have time to clean this up” or “I’ve always been disorganized”. Or, for other things you tolerate, perhaps some of the following thoughts sound familiar: “That’s just how it is”; “That’s the price I have to pay”; “Don’t rock the boat”; “Don’t make a big deal out of it.” Try adding the words “until now” onto the end of your negative beliefs and see what happens.
  • What is the benefit of continuing to tolerate these things? There is usually some kind of payoff – even if it’s as simple as maintaining the status quo. What part of you does not want things to change? Revisiting the messy office example, perhaps you find some comfort in holding onto old files “just in case you need them”. Acknowledge that part of you that doesn’t want to change.
  • With your friends, family or coach, develop a strategy for eliminating or minimizing each item on your list. Commit to making real changes. In the case of the messy office, you may choose to set aside a half hour every Friday afternoon to clean up your desk. You can then expand this to other weekly action items until your entire office is exactly the way you want it. Create a support network for accountability, feedback and celebration to help you along your path to success.

As you choose to minimize or eliminate what you tolerate, you will enjoy greater confidence, joy and empowerment. Now that you’re in the driver’s seat of your life, be sure to enjoy the ride!

how to eliminate things you only tolerate, how to reduce things you only tolerate

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