Archive | Work

Working Remotely: The Importance of Active Listening

Ear

EarAs we collectively settle in to a long stretch of working from home, we’re quickly adjusting to a host of new challenges. Seemingly overnight, we’ve all become experts in using “gallery view” on Zoom. We’re gradually working out which headsets will best enable us to drown out the sound of barking dogs and screaming children. We’re even figuring out what counts as an acceptable Online dress code, somewhere between pajamas and suit.

One challenge that’s harder to surmount virtually, however, is the art of people skills. If you’re in a sales role,  it’s absolutely vital that you pick up signals about when to pull and when to push the client along the sales journey towards “yes.” This is especially important if you’ve never met that person before. Equally, whether you’re leading a team or managing up, you need to establish some sort of personal connection if you’re going to persuade the person in front of you to move towards your desired goal.

There’s no question that it’s harder to do all three of these things when there’s a computer monitor between you and your interlocutor. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

One useful strategy in these circumstances is to practice what’s known as active listening. ‘Active listening‘ means, as its name suggests, actively listening. It requires concentrating intently on what is being said, rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker. This means listening with all senses – so that you can read the subtext of what the speaker is saying.

You might, for example, pay attention their body language. Are they leaning forward in their chair, ready to pounce, when they ask a question? This can suggest an aggressive sub-text. Or are they chilled out, relaxing back into their chairs, which might imply a more supportive, or at least neutral, question? How about their tone? Is there a decided hint of hostility in what they say? Are they trying to be helpful? Or are they simply curious?

You should also pay attention to where they place their emphasis in a sentence. The phrase, “Did you do this?” is utterly distinct in meaning from “Did you do this?,” as well as “Did you do this?” Try to read these subtle, verbal cues.

Another reason active listening is vital – particularly in an online environment – is that it shows that you are actually paying attention to what’s being said. Interest can be conveyed to the speaker by maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and smiling, or saying “Yes” or simply, “Mmm hmm,” to encourage them to continue.  By providing this feedback, the person speaking will usually feel more at ease and therefore communicate more easily, openly and honestly.

The last thing in the world you wish to convey in a business meeting is that you are thinking about something else. So don’t. This skill is particularly vital in an online meeting where you may be tempted to sneak in a quick peak at your email or your social media account. Nine times out of ten, if you pull your attention away from the speaker, you’ll fail to hear the question properly and – consequently – subtly convey that someone or something else is more important that what’s happening in front of you. Think about the message this sends when someone does it to you.

Above all, when you listen carefully to what someone’s saying, you’re much better positioned to address their needs and interests. And at the end of the day, that’s what effective sales – and management – is all about.

So work at being fully present. It’s one of the most powerful tools afforded you in the virtual age.

Image: Ear by Hana Ticha via Flickr

 

 

 

 

Portfolio Careers and the Corona Virus: Risks and Opportunities

webinar

webinarIn the wake of the outbreak of the Corona virus, there’s been much speculation on how it may affect the global economy. Former Economic Council Chairman Austan Goolsbee wrote an insighful piece in The New York Times last weekend about  what the virus my portend for the U.S. economy. He pointed out that the American economy is likely to be particularly hard hit by the virus because of the size of its service sector (think restaurants and gyms), its sports-related economy (which hinges on large events), and its health care expenditure (which may dry up as people become more reluctant to undergo non-essential medical procedures).

I run my own small business as a communications consultant in London, one that relies heavily on face-to-face interaction in the form of workshops and one-to-one coaching. In the last week, my entire business model has been upended by the virus, and I’m not alone. This state of affairs has caused me to think a lot about how this virus is affecting small businesses more generally and what we can do to mitigate risk. Here are five direct impacts I’m already experiencing:

a. Cancellations are on the rise. I’ve had three workshops cancelled in the next month, two in Germany and one here in London. All three involved people flying in from different parts of the globe and all three were considered too risky to hold right now. That was to be expected. Less expected was an an offer run a large, lecture-style workshop to a large group of undergraduates at a London university, which was rescinded within a few days of being floated. Apparently, only three people signed up for a similar lecture that was meant to be held today – intended for 300 people. So the organizers decided to cancel my planned workshop as well, before we even formalized the terms. I’m lucky. All four of these events will be postponed, not outright cancelled, and three were already paid for before awareness and panic around the virus reached its current level. But I can’t expect that trend to continue.

b. Travel restrictions also creating new opportunities. At the same time, the travel restrictions now kicking in have also created opportunities for my business. Late in the afternoon on Friday, I received a call from a client at Oxford University where I routinely deliver workshops. Because the academic department in question had to abruptly cancel an upcoming trip to Africa, it is now scrambling to deliver something worthwhile for their students on campus. So they called me up and asked me to deliver two workshops on short notice. With my newly open diary, I said “Yes, please.” That was a good phone call to receive.

c.  Virtual offices have their upsides. I’ve written before about the ups and downs of working from home. But man, am I glad that I have a virtual office right now. One of my coaching clients, with whom I normally meet face to face, agreed that the next session would take place over Skype. Not having an office also means that I’m not wasting money on overhead to run an empty office right now. I’m also saving money on transport, meals out and other business expenses. Mostly however, I just feel safer. I’m also helping others with more compromised immune systems stay healthier by not exposing them to any germs I may be unwittingly harbouring.

d. Investing in virtual tools. Given that I deliver workshops for a living, I’ve been asked many times whether I offer webinars. Delivering virtual training has long been a goal of mine, but until now, it was a back-burner issue for me – something I’d like to get to, once I have time. Now, in full-on risk management mode, it’s become a front burner issue. While it’s difficult to teach public speaking effectively via webinar (at least if you’re going to use a camera, which in my view is optimal), that’s not true for teaching writing. So as the old adage has it, necessity has become the mother of invention. I am going to begin developing a webinar ASAP. I may also opt to do more editing, something I’d side-lined in recent months because I felt I could afford to do less of it. This is a long way of saying that having a portfolio career is proving to be a real asset in the wake of this unforeseen crisis.

e. I’m writing more. Part of my portfolio career – mainly the unpaid part! – is my writing. Only a couple of weeks back, I bemoaned the fact that I’ve been so busy this year with work that I’ve not given proper pride of place to my writing. That’s no longer true. Now that a large chunk of my calendar has been cleared in the coming month, I’ve discovered – much to my delight – that I have time to write again. And that makes me incredibly happy. The trick is to take this unexpected bonus and turn it into a long-term benefit once, God willing, this epidemic passes.

I’ll be eager to see the UK government thinking actively about how to help small businesses during this crisis, particularly those of us in the gig economy.

In the meantime, I’m going to lean into my portfolio and see what happens…

How about you? How is the Corona Virus affecting your work?

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Image: Webinar by Nick Youngson via Picpedia

Tips for Adulthood: Five Tips for Speaking to Slides

PowerPoint

PowerPointFor those of us who give a lot of presentations, Powerpoint is like an extension of our body. An economist friend of mine put it best. He stood up to deliver a talk at a conference many years ago, only to find that the projector wasn’t working. Forced to speak without his slides, he quipped, “I feel like I’m standing up here with my fly down.”

I knew what he meant. PowerPoint has become synonymous with “giving a talk.” Have deck, will travel.

But while PowerPoint has revolutionized our ability to deliver an engaging talk, this tool can often do more harm than good. And that’s because when you think about your talk in terms of slides, you forget the key point about public speaking:  you are the message. So anything that gets in the way of that message by definition dilutes it.

Here are five suggestions for using slides more effectively:

a. Write the talk first, then design the slides. Yes, I know. That sounds counter-intuitive. But it’s the right way to go. If you design the slides first, your natural inclination will be to create ever more slides to narrate your message. Before you know it, you’ll start creating slides for words like “it” and “the.” In contrast, if you write the talk first, you can be much more selective about where and when you use slides. In particular, you’ll learn how to *only* use slides that add value, rather than as filler.

b. Less is More. Remember that as soon as you put a slide up, you are competing with it for the audience’s attention. So the less text, the fewer bells and whistles (read: videos, animations, sounds, etc.), the better. An employee who creates slide presentations at Microsoft for a living put it like this: “Draw eyes where you want, when you want.” Otherwise, in a battle against even an ugly slide, you will invariably lose.

c. Separate out listening and reading. The reason you need to be so spare in your use of slides is because people cannot read and listen at the same time. We all think we can  – “Sure honey, I’ll do the dishes,” we say, while scrolling through our smart phones. But we’re only half listening. (Little wonder the dishes still remain in the sink, unwashed, an hour later.) And that’s because of a concept called cognitive load. We’ve all got a limited amount of working memory. So when we have to handle information in more than one way- say through simultaneous auditory (spoken) and visual presentation of text – our load gets heavier, and progressively more challenging to manage.

d. Shift away from text to images. The upshot of the previous point is that the less reading that’s going on, the better. One way to avoid overdoing text in your slides is to shift to images. A picture paints 1,000 words and all that good stuff. If you’re addicted to bullets as a way to bring people along with your argument, try replacing your bullets with images

e. Don’t use Powerpoint at all. Whaa?? Perish the thought! If you don’t believe me, watch how Bill Gates – the inventor of PowerPoint – has come to deploy slides over time:  sparingly, or not at all. Try it. You might like it.

Image: Slideshow via Wikimedia Commons

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Why do you Work?

growth

growthI woke up on January 2nd this year in a complete state of panic. I’d slept poorly – having a version of my standard “getting lost” dream. (This time, I was on a bus you couldn’t disembark.)  And then I proceeded to have the normal re-entry freak-out that occurs when you take a vacation, amplified by the fact that it was a new year, with all the attendant expectations.

I realized in that moment that if I were merely to pick up where I left off at the end of 2019, I was going to have yet another year that left me busy and stimulated, but also frazzled and depleted.

Setting SMART goals

When I teach project management in my Life Skills for Offices course, I encourage my students to set SMART goals for projects. SMART is an acronym which stands for:  Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Time-bound. According to this approach, the more you can make your goals conform to these five principles, the easier they are to implement. So, for example, instead of setting a goal for yourself like “Read More,” you change that to “Read 10 pages per day.”

I decided to see if setting some SMART goals in my life might help to manage my anxiety. I began with a brain-dump, writing down all of the big-ticket, top-line things I wanted to achieve in the coming year. When I finished the list, I was relieved to see that they sorted neatly into three categories:  work, writing and personal life. So far, so good.

But here’s the kicker. My writing and personal goals were crystal clear – and readily lent themselves to becoming SMART. But what also came through starkly on the page was that I didn’t actually have an over-arching professional goal.

When I tried to come up with a SMART goal for work, all I could think of was: Keep Working.

What do I want from work?

In some ways, this lack of a goal where work is concerned is entirely understandable. I launched my own business about 18 months ago.  The first year of any new job – but particularly one where you are in charge of all sales, delivery, marketing and content development – is grueling. Moreover, because you are trying to build a name for yourself, you tend to take on any work that comes your way:  You need the income, you need the “social proof,”  and you need the experience under your belt.

18 months in, I wouldn’t say that I’ve “arrived” as an entrepreneur. But  I’ve certainly begun to amass some of those markers of success. What doing that SMART goal exercise laid bare was that it was time to sit down and ask myself a question I find incredibly hard to answer:  What do I want from work?

How much work is enough?

In his book, Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business, Paul Jarvis argues against the idea that business needs to be about infinite growth. Instead, he begins with the proposition that you should first decide why you work and then decide how much you need to do in order to support that goal. In Jarvis’ case, he works to support his life. He frequently takes a month or two off from his software design business to go hiking in a remote location. So he deliberately limits the number of new customers he takes on in order to facilitate that lifestyle.

The key takeaway here isn’t that there’s an optimal amount  of work you ought to be doing or an optimal size for a company. The key, as Jarvis explains it is that – particularly if you are self-employed – “You get to define what’s important. Maybe growth and hiring a team to divvy up the work is important to you. But then again, maybe it’s not. And if it’s not, then maybe growth at all costs in all directions isn’t the best thing for you either.”

It’s such an obvious idea and yet I’d never thought about it with respect to my own work. How much work is enough for me (over and above paying the bills)? I have to confess that it was really scary to ask myself this question. Because it meant thinking about work as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

My new work goal 

I wish I were at the point where – like most of my self-employed friends – my work goal had a concrete target, like a dollar figure or a certain number of days per week. But if I can’t identify why I work, I don’t think I’ll ever know how to devise the appropriate metric.

So now I have a new goal where work is concerned. By the end of this financial year – which in the UK ends on the 5th of April – I will have figured out an answer to the question of why I work.

A year and a half ago, I vowed to try and replace all my micro-goals with one, over-arching macro-goal: that of achieving peace within.

I’ve utterly failed in that endeavor. Maybe now I can finally make some progress.

Image: Growth chart map graph arrow via Pixabay

 

 

How to Thrive in the 21st Century: Upgrade Your Soft Skills

communication skills training

communication skills training

As the curtain falls on yet another World Economic Forum, discussion naturally goes to the future of the world economy and its concomitant risks. A crucial risk that wasn’t discussed in Davos this year was the future of work.

According to a landmark McKinsey report on the future of work published in 2017, automation could displace as much as 30% of work globally by 2030. Activities most susceptible to automation include physical ones that rely heavily on routinized behavior, such as operating machinery and preparing fast food, as well as collecting and processing data in professions such as accounting and paralegal work.

How all of this ultimately plays out in terms of employment is still unclear. Some jobs will disappear. Some new positions will emerge. And rather than lose their jobs, some workers will simply re-tool. But three important trends are already identifiable.

Read the rest of this post over on Clearwater Advisers

Image: Communication skills training via publicdomainpictures.net

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Why Running Your Own Business is Empowering

strong woman

strong womanI had lunch with a friend the other day. Like me, she launched a new business in her 50’s. Now, she’s launching another one (after taking a year out to recover from cancer.) When I asked her how she was feeling about all of this change in her life, she smiled.

“I feel great,” she answered. “I feel empowered.”

Her comment got me thinking about the word “empowerment.” Much like “leaning in,” empowerment is one of those buzzwords we all throw around  without really defining what we mean by it.

Saying No…and Saying Yes

One of the most important lessons you learn as you age is how – and when – to say “No.” Just as there are good reasons to accept work that doesn’t pay as well as you’d like when you need the money, there are equally good reasons to turn down work even if you have time.

Lately, however, I’ve also been enjoying the freedom of saying “Yes.” It’s not that I’m taking on work that I don’t really need or want. It’s that when a random opportunity crops up that’s slightly outside my comfort zone, I’m not instinctively saying “No” before I fully consider it.

I was offered two potential pieces of work this week that are both slight reaches for me. One is fairly far outside of my knowledge base and the other is for an audience I’m not familiar with.

I’m not sure I’m going to end up doing either of them. But the simple act of being open to an unexpected opportunity felt empowering because I was expanding my set of choices.

Setting Boundaries

My old boss once told me that I was exceptionally good at “ordering chaos.”

He was right. And while he meant it as a compliment, it can also be a curse. Whether it’s a paper, a project, or a meeting, if I encounter something that isn’t well-organized, I can’t help myself:  I fix it.

The problem is, sometimes that’s not my job. I was in a meeting the other day where the potential client was very much in brainstorming mode. I love that sort of thing. But at a certain point I could barely suppress the urge to leap up out of my seat, grab a marker and commandeer the white board to help structure the thinking.

That was problematic on two fronts. First, no one asked me to stand up; I simply felt compelled. Second, I sensed that if I did take ownership of that white board, I might very quickly end up running that project for them. And I knew I didn’t want that.

So instead of trying to order that particular piece of chaos, I walked away from it. I told those assembled exactly where I thought I could make a contribution, asked them to reach out to me when they were ready, and then exited the room.

My old work self would *never* have done that. She’d have taken notes and started project managing. But newly empowered Delia simply said, “Call me when you need me.”

Asserting Your Worth

Taking a page from Kayleigh and Paul on the Creative Class podcast, I raised my freelance rates this year. I didn’t do anything drastic, and I stayed within my market. I also waited until I had a solid track record of success – with the testimonials to prove it – so that I could justify the increase, should anyone challenge me. (They didn’t.)

With one of my clients, I also went back and asked for more money when the scope of the initial work expanded – in time and volume – beyond what we’d originally agreed.

A year ago – and certainly 5 years ago  – I never would have done either of those things. My M.O. would simply have been to keep absorbing more work, even if it felt unfair or over-burdening. Indeed, I would have felt guilty had I asked for more pay.

This time, in contrast, I felt like I was simply asking for my payment to reflect my true value and effort.

Empowerment as Liberation

Most people think of self-employed people as liberating themselves from offices. But I never had a problem with offices.

What I needed liberation from was myself:  my inability to say no to things I didn’t want to do, my reluctance to embrace things I might want to do, and my tendency to wildly over-compensate for other people’s shortcomings.

So I do feel empowered. But not in the sense of finally being CEO in my company of one. Rather, what running my own business has taught me is that I am free to make choices that make me happier. And Lordy, does that feel good.

Image: Strong Woman (Unsplash) via Wikimedia Commons

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Tips for Adulthood: Five Myths about Public Speaking

public speaking

public speakingOn occasional Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

Public speaking is a critical skill in the 21st century workplace. And yet many people list public speaking as their top fear, second only to death. That fear can be particularly damaging for women, who often suffer from “Fear of Public Speaking” (FOPS) syndrome.

But a lot of that fear is misplaced. And that’s because most people misunderstand the most effective way to make a presentation, whether it’s to an interview panel, their boss, or a large crowd.

Here are five myths about public speaking that you need to let go of if you wish to come across as relaxed and confident when you speak:

Read the rest of this post over on The Return Hub

Image: Actor-People-Women-Speech via Pixabay

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The Social Value of Older Workers

In the seemingly never-ending conversation about the “future of work,” older workers figure prominently. There is growing recognition that enabling older workers to remain economically productive is good for their well-being, good for their employers and good for the economy. But I would like to highlight another benefit older workers can bring to the table: their potential to help solve social problems.

First, a brief detour to the well-known numbers:  older workers are a large, and rapidly growing, segment of the workforce across the world. In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 25% of the country’s labour force in 2024 will be 55 or older; that’s up from 22% in 2014 and just 12% in 1994. In the U.K., the number of those aged over 70 who are in full- or part-time employment has been steadily rising year on year for the past decade, reaching a peak of 497,946 in the first quarter of this year – an increase of 135% since 2009.

Not everyone agrees that this surge in the number of working “perennials”  – as this cohort has sometimes been called — is necessarily to be welcomed. A recent RSA report examining the impact of the technological age on older workers in the UK, for example, outlined four different scenarios, not all of which were positive.

But contrary to the traditional view of older workers as an unmitigated drain on resources, there is growing appreciation of what they might bring to the table.

Read the rest of this post over on the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing blog

Image: Office Business Colleagues Meeting via Pixabay

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Tips for Adulthood: Five Tools for Adopting a Growth Mindset

working woman

working womanOn occasional Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

One of the things I enjoy most about my new life as a communications consultant is the variety it brings. One day I’m coaching a student on how to write a doctoral thesis …another day I’m editing a policy briefing…and the next I’m delivering a workshop on life skills for offices to a group of statisticians.

But dealing with that variety also has its challenges. Lately, I’ve been spreading my wings outside of the higher education and non-profit sectors to venture into commercial work. And as I begin working with a different sort of client, I am learning how to operate in an entirely new world – one that has its own vocabulary, mores and ethos.

I’ve long been a huge fan of  Carol Dweck’s concept of “the growth mindset.” This is the idea that we shouldn’t think about our basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, as fixed traits that are unalterable. Rather, she encourages people to embrace a “growth mindset,” one where people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. So as I make my foray into London’s financial center, “The City,” to drum up new clients, I am in full-on, growth mindset mode.

Here are five tools for adopting a growth mindset:

a.  Think of it as part of your lifelong learning. Dweck maintains that a growth mindset fosters a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. In a similar vein, one of the key takeaways from reading Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott’s brilliant book, The 100 Year Life, is that we need to abandon the traditional idea of a neatly arranged, three-staged life comprised of education, career and retirement. Instead, we need to embrace a multi-phased life course in which people keep learning throughout their lives, take lots of breaks and dip in and out of jobs and careers.  I think about my immersion in the private sector right now as a form of life-long learning, albeit one that doesn’t happen outside my job, but within it.

b.  Create some affirmations. One practical step that can help cultivate a growth mindset are affirmations. Affirmations are short, powerful statements of self-belief.  I adopted this practice – (which, like many others, I stole from Julia Cameron) – when I was writing my book manuscript last year. Telling myself things like, “I’m a good writer,” “I like my book,” and “My writing engages and connects with readers” was really helpful on those off days where I didn’t have flow or lost confidence in myself. But affirmations don’t have to just be creative. They can also apply to work, e.g.: “I am a great salesperson,”…”I enjoy client relationship management,”…”I love empowering people from all walks of life to achieve their full communications potential.” As a friend of mine who spent 30 years as a consultant in the private sector put it, “Don’t think of the Private Sector Delia as different to University Delia or Non-Profit Delia. She is the same person, who happens to be applying her skill set to a different sector.”

c.  Join a group. Another way to build confidence and gain insight when you’re embracing a new professional identity is to join a group of other people facing a similar challenge. Last year I joined a global network of professional women called Ellevate, right when I was launching my business. Ellevate operates chiefly through “squads” – groups of women of different ages, sectors and stages of their careers who meet virtually over 12 weeks to provide advice and support to one another. I found it incredibly reassuring – and useful – to bounce ideas about marketing, business development and networking with other women who were either going through – or had already been through – a similar set of challenges.

d.  Get a new wardrobeResearch has also shown that what we wear to work affects the way we are perceived by others and the way we perceive ourselves. So if we want to adopt a new mindset – “I am the boss lady now!” – changing our clothes can help change our mindset. I’m already well on my way to rocking the City

e.  In the end, of course, if you really want to lean into your growth mindset, there’s no substitute for Nike’s motto: “Just do it!” I was listening to the Creative Class podcast the other day, when host Paul Jarvis observed that “the cure to fear is action.” Although I normally dislike cold-calling people – hearing this clarion call – I grabbed the phone and adopted a “smile and dial” mindset. And guess what? I landed three leads in 24 hours.

How about you? What strategies have you employed to get yourself in the right mindset for a new professional identity?

Image: Woman taking phone call via Pexels

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Why I Struggle With Weekends

gardening

gardeningI was observing a presentation skills workshop recently aimed at a bunch of Alpha Male, hedge fund-type guys who wanted to improve their pitching skills. Attendance had been spotty; every hour or so, one of them disappeared to make a crucial phone call or broker a deal. During one of the breaks, one of them raised his hand and asked: “Couldn’t you deliver this on a weekend? I’m sure you’d get a better turnout.”

My first instinct would have been to say, “Sure! Let’s do that!” Instead, the guy running the workshop smiled politely and responded, “No, sorry. I don’t work on weekends. Weekends are for gardening and spending time with my family.”

I was floored.

Part of it is that I’ve been drawn to a series of careers over the years that don’t lend themselves to normal work weeks. My first job was in academia. When you’re a junior professor, you’re evaluated on how much you produce, not the quality of your teaching.  So weekends are gold for advancing your research, free of the distraction of students and committee meetings.

My next career – journalism – wasn’t any better. When you’re writing on deadline, or producing a daily radio show (as I did for four years), you’re a slave to the clock. The entire concept of 9 to 5 disappears.

Now I’m launching my own business. The first question I was asked by a company who recently hired me as a consultant was “Do you work weekends? Because if you don’t, we can’t hire you.” My gardening colleague above has been doing this for a long time. It’s easy for him to turn down work. I’ve just started, so I’m not in that position. I said “sure” without blinking an eye.

There’s a societal component to this as well. Katrina Onstad has written a book called The Weekend Effect. She blames the loss of the weekend on two primary factors. First, there’s the rise of competitive parenting, forcing parents to feel obligated to pack their kids’ weekends with soccer practice, chess tournaments and mandarin lessons. There’s also the pull of the constant, 24/7  technology era in which we live, which encourages us to remain permanently “switched on.”

In my own case, it’s far more personal. I struggle with slowing down. There is a fear of the abyss – of how to deal with the thoughts and fears that crop up when I don’t have 10,000 things to tick off my to-do list. Sundays are particularly bad, because vestiges of my childhood creep in to the poison the day.

Because I’ve conditioned myself to this expectation of working on weekends, I now feel guilty if I don’t do at least some work over the weekend. As if I’ve done something wrong. A therapist I saw 20 years ago once asked me why I found it so difficult to not work on weekends. I worked religiously on Sundays back then, so he was really asking me why I couldn’t at least take Saturdays off. I responded, “It’s not that I can’t take a Saturday off. It’s that when I do it, I feel like some people do when they’ve consumed an entire box of chocolates.” It was simpler to just to work and not deal with the guilt trip.

I know this is all terribly unhealthy. I’ve read the research showing that when people are nudged to treat the weekend as a vacation, they return to work on Monday happier than those who crammed too much in. Nor does adopting this “vacation mindset” mean that you need to spend a lot of money or race off to the beach. It just means taking a mental break from work. Like my friend the gardener.

So here’s a new resolution. In a year when I’ve resolved that my watch word will be balance, I’m going to try and gradually let go of feeling compelled to work on weekends.

After *this* Saturday, that is, when I’m scheduled to help facilitate an all-day workshop…

Sigh.

Image: A Woman enjoying gardening outdoors via Freestockphotos.biz

 

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