Sunday, December 31, 2017

Look Forward to the New Year: Moving Ahead

The Process of Progress
As 2017 ends and 2018 begins, it is a natural point in time to stop and reflect on what has occurred and what we hope will happen.  A great deal of emphasis is placed upon setting goals for 2018.  It is healthy and progressive to have an optimistic sense of direction.  However, many of us have grown weary of setting “resolutions” or goals that we either abandon or fail to fully accomplish.  This often breeds a vicious cycle of either setting unrealistic goals, that we are not likely to successfully meet or a chronic sense of trepidation, dread and doubt about the future.  

We are more likely to meet and feel optimistic about attaining goals that are based in reality. This enables us to set goals that we can believe in and see the likelihood of success.

One approach is to be present and mindful of the journey toward our goal.  In that way, we can understand that the goal is not accomplished overnight and we can maintain a positive attitude and the sustained activity (persistence) that will eventually result in goal attainment.  

1.    Recognize that Progress is a Process

  •   Setting realistic goals with identifiable steps are more likely to be achieved. Consider utilizing  the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting system is helpful
  • Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Realistic; Time Limited
  •  Patience with the process and with oneself is important
  •   Persistence is also essential; Don’t give up

2.       Stop and Take Stock of Your Progress: The closer you see yourself moving toward your goal, the easier it will be to sustain your energy and efforts

  •  Take note of and or measure the steps you have made thus far
  •   Create some method of keeping track of the steps you have already made
  •   Focus on what you have accomplished versus what you have not yet achieved to generate your  enthusiasm and positive attitude

3.        Recognize your role in your own progress.  This further empowers you

  •   See how certain attitudes have helped you work toward your goal
  •   Identify your actions, which have been instrumental in helping you achieve your goals
  •   Give yourself credit; Allow yourself to feel good and proud of your role in your achievements

4.       Call up your past history of successful goal attainment

  •  Allow this experience to remind you that you are able to achieve future goals
  •   Recognize what worked before that enabled you to be successful
  •  Allow yourself to learn lessons about the experience and yourself that can help with future goals.

5.       Get empowered around past failures and disappointments, instead of allowing them to conquer and hinder you from future success.  Welcome such experiences as opportunities to enable you to do better in the future.

  •  Heal from past failures or mistakes.  Remind yourself that you are human and that these experiences do not define you
  •   Learn from your past failures and mistakes. Identify what went wrong. Determine how you can do something differently or avoid or prevent the previous problem.
  •   Grow from your past failures and mistakes. Step out seize new opportunities. Aim toward your  new goals with a more confident, more informed and wiser sense of self.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!  Wishing you Health, Happiness and Prosperity.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Happier Holidays: How to Experience Less Stress and More Joy

1. Be Purposeful and Intentional About Celebrating the Holidays

This will enable you to be proactive and in control of how you operate during the holidays.  Therefore, determine the following:
  • What spiritual principles and values you wish to honor (i.e. generosity, charity, family togetherness, personal reflection, etc.)
  • What religious meaning the holidays have and the related traditions and activities you wish to observe 
  • How you wish to feel during and after the holidays      

2.  Ask For and Accept Help From Others
Recognize that it may be far easier to accomplish some of the time and energy consuming tasks with assistance from others.  This may also be an opportunity to strengthen relationships by recognizing the talents and contributions of others.
Examples may include:

  • Hosting a tree trimming party and each guest, who assists, gets a special ornament as a gift or everyone goes out together for a meal.
  • Having a holiday bake-off, during which the participants get to showcase their specialties. Share the creations with each other, so that everyone has a variety of treats to take home.
  • Requesting others to help you prepare for guests (i.e. home organizing, decorating, other tasks, etc.) and offering to return a favor at a later time.

3.  Recognize That The Holiday Season Comes With Additional Demands
The celebrations, decorating and hosting tasks, cooking, shopping, etc. are in addition to our already busy schedules.  Therefore, it is important to consider this in terms of managing our time, energy and resources, as follows: 

  • Taking time out for a break; getting some down time during the season; making time for personal reflection
  • Being mindful and exercising moderation about holiday eating and alcohol consumption.  Refrain from being excessive and remain in control
  • Being realistic with planning and allotting time and energy for holiday tasks (along with regular routine) during what is a fairly short period of time 

4.  Acknowledge That The Holidays May Trigger Pain
If you have experienced distressing life events, such as the death of a loved one or other losses (i.e. loss of a job, divorce, relationship breakup, etc.), it makes sense that you may not feel very joyous or energetic.  
Therefore, it is important to:

  • Give yourself the time and space to grieve your losses.  Grief is a healthy and necessary process
  • Reach out to your social support system for comfort, if you are lonely, sad and hurt
  • Validate your feelings, which are reasonable in light of the negative life event.  Look forward to feeling better eventually.

5. Be Okay With Saying "No"
Saying "no" is a way to set healthy limits and boundaries, so that you can prevent feeling overwhelmed and effectively manage the holidays.
To accomplish this:

  • Let others know what you are and are not willing and/or able to to. This frees both of you up to move on
  • Trust and listen to your "gut" regarding whether a request is beyond your comfort, energy and resource level
  • Instead of saying only "no" or "yes", consider responding to a request with "not at this time",  if you can reasonably fulfill the request at another time (perhaps after the holidays)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Exercise Your Power Over Emotional Pain

Don't Give Power to the Pain: Understand It; Address It; and Overcome It

A healthy response to pain is to recognize its value in signaling us that there is a problem, such as an unhealthy state to address.  Due to its distressing nature, we are typically motivated to end the pain and to resolve the underlying cause, so that we will feel good.  The desire to end pain and return to a state of well-being is a healthy, adaptive response.  Both in the physical and in the emotional sense, the healthy goal of ending pain is to heal  and take care of or resolve whatever caused it.

In the emotional sense, pain consists of distressing emotions, such as sadness, depression, anxiety, confusion, anger, hurt, jealousy, insecurity, etc.  Sometimes, we focus more on the distress and discomfort of the pain, as opposed to the underlying problematic cause.  In such instances, we may be motivated to simply shut down or not feel the pain.  Psychologically, we may do this internally via various defense mechanisms, such as avoidance, denial, detachment, externalization and rationalization.  For instance, if we are feeling inadequate and anxious in relation to failing at a task, we may avoid undertaking such tasks or any other similar performance demand. External means of shutting down or dulling pain may include drug and / or alcohol abuse, as well as behavioral acting our (i.e. gambling, reckless behaviors, excessive spending, etc.).

Such approaches may work temporarily by sparing us the anxiety or fear of failure.  However, the cost or consequence of routinely avoiding performance tasks usually results in feeling stuck, at the very least.  Additionally, the overwhelming fear and presumption of failure, along with the realization that we are not accomplishing something we want further reinforces a negative self-perception.  This is often manifested by a sense of self-doubt, disappointment in self, and low self-esteem.  Thus, the avoidance of pain ultimately fosters a self-fulfilling prophecy and fuels the very pain (deep down) that we wish to circumvent and not feel.

Another way we give power to pain is when we allow the pain associated with past events (i.e. our childhood, negative life events, traumas, failures, etc.) continue to prevent us from moving on in the  present and beyond.  An example of this is when we feel a sense of guilt or shame because of a past mistake at work and we allow that feeling to tell us that we are not competent. This negative internalization of past experiences and the continued focus on such negative during the present often results in our continually punishing ourselves  and mistakenly misjudging or underestimating our abilities.

Stop giving power to past pain.  Also, stop holding yourself hostage to the past.  

Healthy Ways to Overcome Past Pain:

  • Have compassion instead of self-criticism and negative judgment, toward the self, you were experiencing during the past, when you either experienced the painful trauma or mistake.  
  • Recognize and factor in where you were, emotionally and otherwise, during that time, to better understand decisions made then, that you may currently regret.
  • Remind yourself that whatever occurred in the past is over and no longer occurring in the present (if the actual negative situation actually ended)
    • Embrace a major difference between the past and now; 
    • Recognize ways that the past is over and that the present is better
    • See how you are now capable of  rectifying the problem.  For example, you are now an adult and can take care of yourself; not the powerless child from the past
  • Acknowledge ways that now, as an adult and as a function of being in significantly improved circumstances, things are good or significantly improved.
  • If a painful situation from the past is ongoing, then decide how you desire and deserve to feel and address and resolve the source of the pain. This will enable you to heal, learn and grow beyond pain.
  • Learn whatever valuable lessons the painful experiences may have taught you.
  • Recognize how you have become stronger or have positively changed in response to   getting through the past negative experience.
  • Celebrate your triumph over the painful occurrence.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

When Fear is a "Four Letter Word"

Fear becomes a "four letter word" or unhealthy and dysfunctional when it interferes with our functioning, rather than facilitate our coping and survival.

Fear is the emotional and physiological arousal that alerts us to potential danger and threat to our well being.  The healthy form of fear occurs when the danger is real.  In such cases, it gets our attention and prompts us to seek ways to get to safety and re-establish a sense of calm and equilibrium.

Unhealthy fear or the "four letter word version" occurs when we experience this distressing emotion in response to perceived danger, that is not real or to negative thoughts that have no proof.  Examples of mental states that underlie unhealthy fear include:
  • persistent and chronic worry about the future
  • negative and pessimistic expectations that have no foundation
  • irrational, unrealistic and erroneous beliefs 
  • viewing a negative event from the past as ongoing, even when it has ceased
  • negative, self-deprecating thoughts and self-assessments 
In these cases, fear can be described as the acronym, "False Evidence Appearing Real" (F.E.A.R.). Such thinking is often referred to as negative self-talk and represents cognitive distortion.  It generates distress that often reduces our self-confidence and sets us up to behave in negative ways. For example, if a person has a persistent belief that he/she is incapable of succeeding, they will usually either avoid challenging tasks or perform far below their actual capacity.

To overcome the distress and negative impact that unhealthy fear causes, it is important to do the following:
Challenge the underlying thoughts or negative self-talk by asking, "What evidence is there to support my fear generating perceptions?"

Take reasonable risks to test out one's negative predictions, that may not have a basis.  A very powerful question from the book, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D. is, What would you do, if you were not afraid"? 

Focus on what is happening in the here and now or the present and adopt a healthy recognition that we cannot change the past or predict / control the future 

Recognize and accept the reality that we cannot change others or read their minds

Refrain from internalizing painful experiences, such as failure or being hurt, disappointed or rejected
Instead, recognize that what happens to us does not define us.

Re-focus on what you can control and embrace a healthy sense of empowerment over your life and circumstances, while recognizing realistic limitations.

Remember that in response to challenges or negative experiences, we can 
Heal, Learn and Grow

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Process of Progress

Progress is a process, not an event.  When we fail to value and recognize this fact, it results in problems such as the following:

When we have set unrealistic expectations in the first place that involves a goal that is not reasonable for anyone to achieve or that is not something we have either the willingness, skills or ability to achieve.

Examples:  Deciding to become an orchestra conductor.  However, you have neither the strong interest in music or the skills required, such as reading music

Remedy / Positive Attitude:  Setting goals that make sense for us; that are well within
our interest level and capability

When we aim to accomplish a goal without allowing ourselves a "learning curve" or a realistic opportunity to acquire a skill and grow in strengthening it, we set ourselves up for failure.

Examples: Failing to recognize that it takes time to learn a new skill may result in giving up   
                 Becoming impatient with ourselves 

Remedy / Positive Attitudes:  Take time to recognize that  you are stronger or further along
                                                than at a previous point in time.  
                                                Obtain some guidelines by observing others to determine 
                                                what makes sense and reasonable ranges

When we focus only on what we have not yet accomplished, instead of what we have achieved.

Examples: Criticizing and negatively judging oneself for not yet having achieved the goal.
                  Stating, "I'm trying, instead of capturing and describing what you are actually 
                  doing and how much toward the goal has been accomplished.

Remedy / Positive Attitude:  Re-focus on how much closer to the goal you are, than you  
                                               were at some previous point in time.
                                              Give yourself credit for the accomplishment you have made.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Cash in on Your Value: Advancing in Your Career

Cash in on your value!

Your professional worth is very important in boosting your career confidence. By knowing, honoring and asserting your professional work, you can leverage it to attain better opportunities, increased compensation and career advancement through obtaining improved positions.

If you are seeking advancement opportunities, a salary increase or other work related rewards (i.e. bonuses in your current position), here are some strategies to help you cash in on your value and get what you want.

1.  Know your Professional Value
  • What is your special expertise, skills, talents, abilities that you utilize in your work ?
  • What contributions have you made in your workplace ?
  • What does your manager or supervisor rely on you to do ?
  • What are the positive qualities for which your are known and respected at work ?
  • What is your level of training and education ?
  • What achievements have you made in your workplace ?

2.  Test Market Your Professional Value
Activity:  Write a position description, which accurately reflects your professional self. 

  • How does it compare with similar positions at other organizations ?
  • What compensation does your skill set and responsibilities command among other organizations?

  • 3.  Nurture and Safeguard Your Value
  • Document your work related accomplishments
  • Create and follow a career plan with objectives
  • Be proactive about your performance evaluation (get training; seize on new learning or development opportunities; step up to new challenges and increased opportunities that are in line with your goals)

4. Advocate for and Assert Your Professional Value / Worth
  • Negotiate financial compensation that is commensurate with your role's larger market value
  • Advocate for upgrades in your title and position when you have consistently and successfully assumed additional responsibilities
  • If money for raises is not immediately feasible, negotiate for other work related rewards or conditions (i.e. the ability to tele-work, travel opportunities, training paid for by workplace, etc.)
  • Seek new workplace that will enable you to do what you want professionally and where you will be valued, treated well and compensated, commensurate to your level.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Successfully Achieving Our Goals: Maintaining Momentum

The Process of Progress

While it is healthy to set and aim for goals, it is often difficult to sustain our momentum and motivation on the way to achieving them.  Sometimes, the goal appears so daunting and unapproachable that we lose steam and give up. It is also difficult to persevere and maintain our pace and momentum when we only focus not having yet reached our goal.  This is often demonstrated by expressions of frustration and doubt about the likelihood of accomplishment. No doubt, these experiences actually interfere with successful achievement of our goals.

Sustaining our motivational energy, exercising patience with ourselves and persevering until we reach our goals requires a mindset that focuses on progress and reinforces healthy motivation.  

Look forward to experiencing success in achieving your goals and remaining optimistic throughout the process in the following ways:

  • Exercising reasonable and realistic expectations 
         (of oneself and of the task at hand)
  • Measuring progress in small incremental steps, instead of in big leaps
  • Viewing the journey to successful goal attainment as a process, not an event
           (Success does not occur overnight or in one fell swoop) 
  • Taking time to recognize and give oneself credit for any growth and successful steps toward the goal    
  • Giving self room to make mistakes, recover and get back on track      
  • Viewing  mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve, instead of as incapacitating failures
  • Seeing each step made as a step closer to one's goal 
  • Periodically and regularly stopping to take stock of how much closer one is to the goal, today in comparison to some previous point in time 
  • Allowing self the permission to revise goals and change direction when it becomes clear that the current path is not productive 
  • Trusting self and believing in one's ability to accomplish a goal by recalling past experiences of positive achievements 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ways to Enhance Career Confidence

Building Your Career Confidence
Presented by Diane Kern, Ph.D.

          Career Confidence is Comprised of:

·         Having a Strong and Positive Sense of Professional Self
·         Having a Sense of Direction, Aim, Goals
·         Actively Moving Toward One’s Professional Goals

            Having Confidence About Your Career Life is Predicated on:

·         Knowing What You Want to Do (in existing career or new endeavor)
·         What Purpose or Mission Your Career Aspiration will Fulfill

 Ways to Increase and Reinforce Career Confidence

  • ·         Recognize Your Professionally Related Strengths, Talents, Personality and Character Qualities
  • ·         Showcase Your Professional Assets: Seize Opportunities to Demonstrate Skills and Talents
  • ·         Feel Good About and Celebrate Your Career Related Achievements
  • ·         Know Your Professional Value and Take Care of It: Seek to be Treated Well and Compensated
  • ·         Stretch Yourself Professionally and Aim for Your Best
  • ·         Take on New Challenges and Experiences
  • ·         Learn New Skills
  • ·         Self-Promote and Be Proactive in Utilizing Your Professional Assets
  • ·         Surround Self with Positive Social Support: Persons, who you can trust to be genuinely interested, positive and encouraging 


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