My Google search history this week reveals several attempts to find out how to find a shortcut to attaining the elusive work-life balance.
"how to make exercise part of your daily routine"
"quick workouts for busy people"
"fitness classes in [my area]"
"what's the deal with crossfit"
It turns out that all I had to do to find the answer was to take a walk.
As this article promised, and this one, and this one, I benefited from something far more valuable than a trim waistline ... I found perspective, calm, excitement, creativity, and drive.
If you're struggling with finding the motivation for making time for exercise (yes, making, not finding) then do it for the dope ... the chemicals that are released during physical activity that are said to:
- "motivate us to take action toward goals, desires, and needs, and gives a surge of reinforcing pleasure when achieving them"
- "feel significant or important"
- "alleviate anxiety and depression"
These benefits seem so similar to the factors that are needed for success - positive attitude, positive image, creativity, stamina etc. - that exercise appears to be the only shortcut needed for surefire success (together with consistent, focused hard work of course). And since we'll only be able to reap the rewards of the success is if we are physically and mentally healthy enough, it makes the benefits of exercise-induced chemicals superior to the manufactured ones bandied about in popular culture.
If you, like me, hate the idea and schlep of exercise, and always place it at the bottom of your to-do list because it never seems in line with achieving your professional goals, then it might be time to rethink your approach. From now on, I will be doing it for the dop(e)amine.
* The above is indeed based on a lot of "pop science", and should not be used as facts in any informal or legal argument as it is purely a result of a mind left to wander while the feet pounded a few kilometers of tar. For more scientific views on the topic of brain chemicals read this, or better yet, ask a trained professional.
**I'm by no means advocated forming an addiction to any type of chemical, natural or manufactured!
My motivation for exercise (which has mainly been half-harted attempts a week before hitting the beach) has changed from being focused on looking and feeling good, to being an integral part of my career plan.
New Year's resolutions seem to have become the nerdy kid that everyone openly scoffs, but secretly admires.
Whether or not you subscribe to the habit of making and breaking (or keeping) resolutions at the beginning of each year, there is one resolution/change/focus/mantra that will help you to extend the relaxed feeling of the break you had over the holidays.
PR is known as one of the most stressful careers, and PR professionals are known for their type-A personalities and workalism. It is because of this combination that the effects of any holiday or break from work don't last very long.
The only resolution that makes sense for PR professionals is to CREATE HABITS NOW THAT WILL REDUCE FATIGUE LATER.
The habits each one of us need to create obviously depends on our job function and approach; mine need to focus on automisation and smart management of routine tasks, as those tend to steal my energy away from the things I'm good at.
Social media is a necessity for marketers, but usually takes a backseat as it is still viewed as a "nice to have" instead of one of the easiest and cheapest to tools to gain insight from target audiences.
Built-in functionality like Twitter's list feature and Facebook's native post scheduling functionality can go a long way to reduce the time spent managing social media platforms. Third-party apps are also a dime a dozen, and range from simple organising to full-scale intelligent curation and automatic sharing of content.
The lists mentioning these apps and tools are endless, but these are a few of my favourites:
For a few tips on how to still keep in touch with your audience while technology does the hard work for you, read this and this.
I am fortunate to work with a team that I can trust to take care of both our clients and our brand. Working with a team you CAN trust, and actually ACTING on that trust are two completely different things.
I've found the first step towards proper delegation is to ensure that your expectations have been clearly communicated and understood, and that the necessary training and testing has been allowed. And then, it's all a matter of trust, backing off, and guiding (instead of micro-managing, constantly checking and criticising).
Once you've delegated those things that sap your energy, you might not need a holiday in a hurry again.
Expand your horizons everyday through reading, listening, exercising, meeting with like-minded people (or those with opposing views) ... or just taking a break from the one-eyed monster sitting on your desk. Perspective lies outside the office walls, and problems viewed from an objective perspective tend to wither away before causing sleepless nights and stressed-out days.
Success is achieved through focus and consistency. We so easily fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people, that saying no has become one of the most stressful activities of every day.
Once you have made a decision on what to focus on (whether is be in your private or professional life), a consistent effort in making decisions and accepting tasks that support the focus areas will soon lead to achieving success where most needed, leaving time and energy at the end of each day.
For those of us who holds jobs where multitasking is necessity, doing one thing at a time (and finishing it) is a great chellenge. I will however try very hard this year to do only one thing at a time, and finish it before moving on to the next item on the never-ending to-do list.
Are you brave enough to share the habits you need to create to extend the resting value of this past holiday? Leave me a list in the comment section below if you are!
The poor Comfort Zone.
I've been neglecting it for years. Until I realised that instead of trying to break free from it (and essentialy who I am) is setting me up for failure.
Popular activities for teambuilding include exercises to help teams think outside the box, workshops that force us outside our comfort zones, seminars on how to embrace discomfort in the name of personal growth ... I could go on.
As with every story, there is more than one side to the tale of the Comfort Zone.
In the zone
When inside a comfort zone, the flight or fight response is significantly reduced, and therefore people can think and act with clear minds and passion in their hearts, because situations aren't clouded with anxiety or fear.
Inside a comfort zone, a person can use all of their energy to be the best version of who they truly are, instead of a mediocre version of what theories and popular culture seems to demand.
The result of this best version of a confident, relaxed and authentic person is an environment where high performance comes very naturally.
For purposes of growth and balance, it is necessary for everyone to move to a place of discomfort every now and then, with the focus on "every now and then".
When exposure to experiences outside ones comfort zone occurs in an environment where time and risk can be managed, and expectations are proactively communicated, the experiences can lead to high learning, which is why pushing the boundaries of ones comfort zone is so popular.
Very simply, my point is this:
Bringing learnings from outside of the comfort zone together with high performance inside of the comfort zone makes for authentic personal and professional growth.
No workshops, no seminars, no exercises necessary.
Imagine if all workplaces had the privilege of ensuring during the recruitment stage to select team members with a perfectly balanced team of strength profiles that accommodate the weaknesses of others. A team that moves comfortably in and between a variety of comfortable skill sets, sensitivity levels, and life experiences.
Imagine if leaders had the skills to guide their teams on the weaving journey between high performance and new experiences.
Imagine if we all had the confidence to feel comfortable with feeling comfortable, and not fear the discomfort that goes hand in hand with growth.
With the MASSIVE changes that struck the media, journalism, and PR fields in recent years, it is incredibly important that PR professionals learn to be comfortable with moving in and out of comfort zones. It is one of the most important Fundamentals of Future Marketing Success.
At the recent #MMX14 we had the opportunity to check in with various of the top media practitioners in South Africa and hear their thoughts on the state of newsrooms. Although the conversations focused on the disruption experienced by global media due to the developments in the digital space, there was a "can-do" spirit among participants, rather than one of despondency.
When faced with disruption we can either choose to embrace and adapt, or fight ... and most probably die fighting. I'm usually all for fighting against the system, and finding ways to be a rebel, but when growth peeks over the horizon, I quickly change my tune in support of disruption.
Disruption usually forces more open communication around issues that are usually shrouded in secrecy, politeness or competition. Disruption, while scary, is the stuff of which success stories can be made ... if only we can get past the inherent need for security, and grab with open minds the opportunity for growth and positive change that lies just around the next corner.
I've jotted down a few notes using the age-old method of pen and paper, and include them below for your reading pleasure. You're welcome to give me a shout if something in indecipherable, or if you'd like to have some context around the scribbles.