Stress a Little Less, Live a Lot More

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You’ve probably heard these wise words from none other than Dr. Phil before: “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.”

While you may think it sounds cheesy, it couldn’t be more true. We are always telling each other to live in the moment and be spontaneous. Applying that to life can certainly lead to a lot of wonderful, unexpected moments But at the same time, living that way all the time can lead to an unnecessary sense of urgency. And ultimately, that mean lots of stress.

We might not realize or want to admit it but a lot of the stress we feel is created by ourselves. We live so much in the now that when problems or issues arise, we feel the constant need to attend to them immediately. Meanwhile, things or people that actually need attention get pushed aside. That doesn’t bode well for efficiency, productivity, and overall happiness.

Learning to stop stressing so much certainly isn’t easy and just trying to do it can make us more stressed out. Here are a few easy and actionable steps to take to get you started:

Don’t Act Immediately.

When something is thrown your way, it’s best not to act immediately because you can easily overact. Your emotions might be high and maybe even your feelings a little hurt. It’s tempting to fire off some angry, urgent emails or call everyone in your phone book. But first, even if it’s only a few minutes, take some time to digest the situation. It will help you gain a little bit of perspective.

Think About The Bigger Picture.

When you’re feeling stressed, think about the bigger picture. Will it affect your end goal that significantly? Probably not. We have the tendency to blow things out of proportion. In reality, it’s only a very tiny part of the bigger picture. But if so, you can take your time to think it through. Don’t sweat the small stuff because in the end, it won’t matter.

Take Your Time.

Always, always, always remember to take your time. Think things out rationally and realistically. Once you do, everything you were worrying about will feel much more settled. Instead of wasting time stressing, spend that time creating an actionable gameplan.

After all, life is a marathon so stop sprinting.

How to Get Out of the Rat Race

148771988You’ve probably heard about the rat race before. If not, it’s basically a term unhappy employees use to describe the dreaded 9-to-5 job. And just from the term itself, you can probably understand why.

There are plenty of people who enjoy their day-to-day job. They feel fulfilled from it and are passionate about what they do. But then, there are those people who see it as just a job. It’s basically a paycheck and just a way to make a living until retirement. Or in other words, it’s a rat race.

Are you part of the rat race?

Some people are part of the rat race and don’t even realize it.

If you are, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans grudgingly work the 9-to-5. While many want to make the switch to entrepreneurship, the journey there is definitely scary. Even if they hate staring at the walls of their cubicles, the stability of a paycheck every two weeks is hard to beat. After all, pursuing your dreams may make you happier but it might not make you money.

How do you escape the rat race?

There really is no magic answer to this question. After all, everyone’s situation is different. However, the one thing everyone must get over is fear.

Fear is really the one common theme everyone has when it comes to pursuing their dreams. Will I succeed? What if I fail? What will other people think of me? Fear, not finances, is the one biggest obstacle people have to overcome when deciding whether or not to make that leap. And the longer you wait, the more fearful you will become. It’s a risk but one that you have to take.

To help mitigate your risk, the best thing you can do for yourself is plan ahead. Those who spontaneously decide to take the leap are probably going to have a low rate of success. Before you decide to leave the race, do the following:

  • Start a side business while you are working at your “day job. (Great tips here and here.)
  • Save as much money as possible.
  • Build your network.
  • Quit…but only when you are ready!

The rat race can be demoralizing. And once you’re in it, it can be hard to get out. But keep in mind that you’re only stuck if you let yourself to be. It’s a challenge to get out but definitely one that is worth it.

5 Tips to Fight Back Against the Post-Summer Blues

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It’s September! That means that summer is officially over, fall is here, and yes, we’re heading back to work.

Remember those days when you were young and dreaded going back-to-school? Just because you’re an adult now doesn’t make it any easier. You probably have a case of the back-to-work blues after enjoying a summer of Fridays off and vacation. Getting back into the swing of things after an extended break can really be difficult, both for your body and mind. Here are 5 tips to fight the back-to-work blues and ease back in:

1) Take it one day at a time.

First things first: take it easy. After coming back from a vacation or an extended break, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that has piled up. While you may want to jump right in, take it one day at a time. Organize first and then prioritize. Once you do those two things, everything else will run much smoother.

2) Tackle your email first.

When you’re ready to dive in, the first thing you should tackle is your email. When you’re away from more than a week, your inbox has a tendency to get out of control. First, skim through them all and immediately delete the ones you no longer need. Then, reply to those that you can answer quickly. Next, flag that emails that you need to follow up on and tackle them one at a time.

3) Create a longer term to-do list.

While you should make yourself a to-do list, you should also create a version with longer-term goals. Since you’re heading into a new quarter that happens to be the dreaded 4th quarter for many, you’ll probably be faced with sizable business goals. Create actions steps for yourself and determine what you need to do to make those goals achievable.

4) Adjust your workout and sleep schedule.

Undoubtedly, the hardest part about going back to work is getting back to the 9-to-5 schedule. If you’re coming back from a vacation, your sleep and workout schedule is probably all messed up. You’re not going to get back into overnight but give yourself a week or two and slowly adjust back to your routine.

5) Plan your next vacation.

The one thing people look forward to when coming back from a vacation is planning their next one. Having something to look forward to can help increase overall happiness and productivity. So get started – whether it’s a couple months from now or a year from now, start planning your next dream getaway.

Defining Your Sense of Urgency While Keeping Calm

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Every email you get in your inbox seems to be flagged with that little red exclamation mark these days: “HIGH IMPORTANCE”.

Once you see that notification pop up in your Outlook, you immediately take a look at it…only to find that’s it’s really not that important. Of course, what we think is important is all relative. What seems important to someone else might not be to you. However, just because it isn’t urgent to you doesn’t make it any less stressful. You’re being pulled in all different directions and being told that everything thrown on your plate is urgent. How do you manage?

It’s difficult to find a balance between your priorities and the priorities of the people you work with. Since what you do affects other people’s work, it’s important to manage according to other people’s needs as well. But on the same note, it’s your time and you have to get your work done as well.

Define your sense of urgency

Before you throw yourself in a tailspin, take a deep breath. No, not everything is urgent and just because someone says it is, doesn’t mean that it is – even your boss. Instead of trying to do everything at once, go back to the tried and true method: prioritize. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many people does this task affect?
  • It is holding up anyone’s work?
  • Does it affect the bottom line?
  • When is the “drop dead” deadline?

When you consider the answers to all these questions, you may come to find that something isn’t really as urgent as someone makes it out to be.

Keep your calm

Whatever you are doing, always remember to keep your calm. After all, you are only one person. You can only do so much. Try your best and do as much as you can. When you have a lot of things thrown in your direction, it can certainly get stressful. But stressing out will only make things more difficult.

Lastly, remember to set expectations. If you can get something done immediately, great. But if not, let others know. Chances are you both can work something out to make everyone happy.