Wanting to be successful is part of human nature. It doesn’t matter if we aren’t going after the corner office or the CEO job, we all want to have an impact and to make a difference with our jobs. Society today tells us that working long hours, always being plugged in and giving everything to our jobs is the way to go.
But I don’t agree with that. In fact, I think working less, taking time and giving everything to our whole life is actually the best road to success, never mind the fact that it is a way more enjoyable journey!
I’m taking Dr. Rangan Chatterjee’s Four Pillars to outline 4 different ways to success that put you and your health first. Ways that actually work better than the formula we are following now.
The other week I posted the first article in the series. If you missed it, on how relaxing and actually working less can make you better at what you do, then click here. It is an eye opening read!
I set myself some goals in that article, and I wanted to update you on how I have done. So the two goals I set are:
Otherwise, I’ve done okay on it. Not perfect by any means. I would give myself a 75%, most nights I put the phone down and didn’t pick it back up again. This is boosted because it has definitely gotten easier the second week with me not touching my phone almost every night!
Walking more has been difficult. The first week was not a success at all. I barely hit 5k steps in a day, half of the recommended 10k steps! It being the week after my sister got married, meant I was busy catching up and put myself last. So I made it a priority this week and so far so good with me taking regular walk breaks, clearing the move bar on my Garmin Forerunner when needed and walking more while on the phone. So I would give myself 50%.
MOVEMENT, EXERCISE & PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
This week I want to explore how simply moving more will make it easier for you to accomplish those great things you want to in your career.
Movement has really declined with the dawn of industrialization, and as more and more jobs require us to sit at a desk all day the less we engage in any form of movement, exercise or physical activity.
First of all I should explain how I define these.
Movement is just that, how much we move in a day and how much variety we have in those movements. So that could include walking around the house or office, bending and squatting to pick things/kids up, carrying heavy loads, gardening and cleaning. So anything that isn’t us sitting. If you are interested in learning more about movement and incorporating more of it, I highly recommend Katy Bowman – she has some great books and a podcast that is very insightful.
Exercise is devoted time that we spend on a movement activity, whether it is yoga or running, strength training or cycling. When you go for a walk for 30 minutes, I would count that as exercise.
Physical Activity is the terminology used in the scientific and medical worlds when they do research and it can encompass both movement and exercise,
So when I googled physical activity in 2018, I came across this list of stats from the American government’s Department of Health and Human Services. Here are two of the scary highlights:
· Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
· More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities (2.5 hours/week for aerobic and 2 times/week for muscle strengthening as prescribed by the CDC)
And overall movement is declining too. In North America, the average employee walks on average 5k steps/day, half of the recommended 10k steps. There is criticism of these stats too, because these are volunteers who are wearing some form of activity tracker so they may be more likely to walking more than normal. Some estimates are that most employee walk only 3k steps/day.
I think most of us have heard that sitting is the new smoking, that the research shows that the more you sit the earlier you die and the more likely you are to suffer from illness. And this includes people who exercise and who meet the minimum. So for those of us who do get our 30 minutes or even more each day, if you then sit for the rest of the day that exercise doesn’t mean much over all.
We have also outsourced a lot of our movement activities – we have cleaners, we don’t cook from scratch anymore, and we drive everywhere. In two generations this changed completely with the technology boom and while I’m glad I don’t have to wash clothes by hand, I have only replaced that movement with sedentary activities. As I’m sure most of you can agree.
Okay, enough of the depressing stats. Let’s get into why we want to move more and not for our health but for our careers. How does movement, exercise and physical activity benefit us in the workplace?
Physical Activity = Better at doing your job
If you increase your movement as well as exercise more regularly you will see a few ways in which your ability to do your job increases.
First of all, it improves your immune system. Studies show that regular exercise reduces the amount of sick leave taken which means that you will be calling in sick less! Or are you the type that powers through being sick and still shows up to work? Well you will be doing that a lot less too. This means your days will be more productive!
Moving more improves your sleep and gets your blood properly flowing throughout your body which means you will have more energy and be less likely to go through that afternoon slump.
Speaking of blood flow, exercise increases the brain’s blood flow which improves your focus and concentration, making it harder for things to distract you (goodbye constant social media checks!) and improves the quality of your work. Honestly, a 10 minute walk or stretching break a day helps, as this study as shown an improvement in memory with just 10 minutes of light exercise a day. Have time for more than 10 minutes? A study out of the UK found that individuals who exercised for 30-60 minutes a day during lunch saw a 15% boost to their overall productivity and job performance.
So you’ll be more focused and you’ll be feeling great and energized allowing you to do more with less time? Sounds almost too good to be true!
Physical Activity = Happier at doing your job
If you take yourself outside during the day, you are engaging i
n nature therapy, even if you are in an urban setting there are benefits! Did you know that 93% of our time is spent indoors? Spending just a little bit of time exercising, especially outdoors will reduce your stress.
Stress reduction is a large part of why it is recommended that you exercise. It helps lower your blood pressure and it releases endorphins (the so called runner’s high) making you feel great. Plus it gives you a break, a break from the desk or a long to do list.
You’ll get back to your desk feeling refreshed and like you can take on the world!
Physical Activity = More Opportunities
Speaking of taking on the world. Think of the last time when you really gave your all to some form of exercise, maybe it was training for a running race or falling in love with Zumba or joining a baseball team. How did it make you feel? I bet you felt pretty good about yourself!
There is a reason for that as exercise is one of the key ways a person can increase their self-confidence
And I bet those boosted feelings of confidence seeped into all areas of your life, including your career. Not only does that make you better at your job and happier at your job it also opens doors for you.
When you are feeling good about yourself, selling yourself becomes a little easier. Which means more opportunities come your way. You are thought of for those game changing projects, it is easier for you to negotiate your worth and when a promotion comes up your name will be on the list (and you will have the confidence to get it on the list even if it isn’t!).
Everyday Tips for Everyday Movement
Just like relaxing, knowing all of this information is easy. But doing something about it isn’t. Especially since the recommendations seem to be all over the place. You need to do moderate activity for 30 minutes, 5 days a week, you need to walk at least 10k steps a day, you need to do more strength training, no wait more yoga, no actually more running. It is enough to make your head spin! And I don’t know about you, but all this conflicting information makes me more likely to sit on my but all day!!
My goal is to provide some small realistic ideas to get you moving a bit more so that you see success in your career, my goal is not to encourage you to run a marathon or to compete in next year’s CrossFit games!
1. Don’t Sit for Too Long:
Keith Diaz, one of the researchers of the sitting and dying study suggests that every 30 minutes we should get up off of our chairs and move around for at least 1 minute but to ideally go for a 5 minute walk.
I love this idea because it is pretty simple. You don’t even have to leave your cubicle, just do some light stretches, pace back and forth or walk in place. So even if you are on the phone, it still something you can do.
If you are working on a written task or something that requires focus, using a Pomodoro Timer to remind you to focus for 25 minutes with a 5 minute break reward (this is a productivity hack that I’ll explore in my newsletter). During those 5 minutes you can go walk for a coffee, or walk around the office. In an 8 hour work day that is an extra 16-80 minutes of walking and movement!
2. Lunchtime Exercise
Moving more during lunch accomplishes two things – it gets you away from your desk and it gets you exercising. My husband goes for a walk every lunch break, sometimes he’ll go for a walk outside if it beautiful, sometimes he walks to do errands and sometimes he just explores the PATH. But it is something that he has committed to and he feels has made his day much more enjoyable. He finds he comes back refreshed and energized to finish off the afternoon.
When I worked in an office setting in Toronto, I used to go to GoodLife 2-3 times per week over lunch to participate in their 45 minute classes. Now? Working from home is a different beast, so I fit it in where I can as my lunch hour is always all over the place!
Again it can be anything and for any length of time. Maybe start by adding 5 minutes of walking during your lunch this week and maybe next week add another 5 minutes.
3. 10 minutes at a time
We already know that all you need to see the positive impact of memory is 10 minutes of light activity a day, so a slow walk, yoga or even Tai Chi. That sounds like an easy addition to the day. Then as that becomes a part of your life you can increase the intensity of that 10 minutes or find another 10 minute chunk in your day.
4. Find something you love
I hate strength training. I find it so boring. And whenever my exercise decreases it is usually because I’m forcing myself to strength train more. I know it is good for me so I want to add it in but if I put too much emphasis on it, I not only don’t do the strength training but I also don’t do anything else. Not good. Whereas I love cardio, especially solo cardio – running, cycling, swimming, and hiking. When I’m emphasizing movement and exercise and not putting pressure on myself to cross train, then I have no issues motivating myself to run 3-4x a week – I love putting on some music or a podcast and just going. That is my thing.
That thing is different for everyone though. For some it is dancing – Zumba or Salsa lessons. For others it is yoga or pilates. There is no shortage of activities that require us to move – rock climbing, axe throwing, dodgeball, baseball, tag with the kids, mountain biking, the list goes on and on. I encourage you to try things out, use google to see if there are any local facilities or online classes. And keep trying until you find it.
But also, sometimes things lose their luster. If you find something you love but it just eventually stops being something that excites you, don’t beat yourself up! Find something else! Don’t give up!
5. Get Sneaky
If you have kids, I’m sure you have snuck vegetables into their food as a way to get them to eat it! You know it is healthy, so you get a little sneaky.
Well, it is time to do that for yourself. There are lots are ways to do this. Think about any time you are sitting, waiting or performing a task that you can add some movement to. Let’s walk through the day and I’ll give some tips and tricks.
Brush your teeth – do some squats.
Commuting – work on your grip strength by squeezing your fist, if you are woman do some Kegels!
Waiting in Line for your coffee – do some calve raises.
In the elevator – do wall push ups (maybe save this for when you are by yourself!) or better yet take the stairs!
Meeting – do some leg lifts under the table (straighten your leg out if front of you).
Getting Water – grab a reusable water bottle and do some curls or presses with it.
Cooking Dinner – put on some fun music and have a dance party while you cook.
Tidying – get into a squat to pick things up, crawl along the floor instead of standing up.
Watch TV – get on the floor and do some stretches.
Brush your teeth – do some lunges.
I have heard and seen so many ideas. Like counter lifts, doing a few squats over a chair before sitting down, putting a pull up bar in the doorway of a room and challenge yourself to do a pull up before you go in, lunging to your kitchen for water or a snack. It really is never-ending and it encourages you to be creative!
Like with relaxing, adding movement is key for me so I want to set two goals for myself:
1. Add 10 minutes of Strength Training every day following this schedule: Monday: Arms
2. Walk 10k steps/day most days of the week by incorporating more walk breaks into my day.
Are you relaxing more, tell me what you have been doing? And what about movement – is there anything you are going to try out?
We have all been in a job we hate, where Sunday dread starts nice and early. Monday it is almost impossible to wake up and our stress levels increase as we struggle towards our desk.
You feel stuck, your happiness nosedives. You spend way too much time googling looking for an answer:
I don’t like my job but I can’t quit
I don’t like my job what should I do
How to be happy in a job you don’t like
I don’t like my job but I need the money
How to stop being annoyed at work
What would you say if I told you about 5 easy ways to be happier in your job while you search for your dream job?
Me 10 years ago…
10 years ago, I was working at an IT recruitment agency. I was there for almost 4 years and honestly I knew from my first week that it wasn’t the right fit for me. It wasn’t the agency by any means, the training I got there gave a strong foundation from which I have built my career on, it was just the nature of the job. What helped me get through was great friends and a great team. But as happens in that world turnover is high and in the fall of 2008 my closest work friend moved to England and my sales partner got a new job.
It devastated me.
But I didn’t think I could leave. It was just around the time of the stock market bottoming out and I was afraid to leave and become the last person in and first person out in another company.
So I felt that I had to stay. And I was miserable. And instead of my usual find the silver lining type of personality I wallowed in my misery. I ate my emotions, I wasted time and had the worst performance of my career. In March 2009 I was laid off (ironic huh?) and honestly it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I have this clear memory of going for a walk after my last day of work with my husband and for the first time in a long time being gleeful and truly excited about my future.
Now, 10 years wiser I realize that I was very lucky to be laid off because the mindset I was in would have kept me chained to that job. I don’t think anyone would have hired me as I was in such a negative space.
And it didn’t have to be that way. I look back and wish that I could speak to that Sara and help her love the job she hated so much. Not as a way to keep her there but as a way to help her move forward.
Are you Happy?
I know now that I wasn't alone – at least 50% of employees are unhappy with their job with 20% matching my disengagement that I experienced. That is 2 million Canadians and 30 million Americans.
That is staggering.
The scary thing too is that in North America so much of our self-worth is tied to our career. So as your happiness declines so does your feeling of worth. Selling yourself is already hard enough as it is, never mind when you don’t actually believe you have anything to offer.
That’s the thing. By wallowing in your misery, letting it get you down and isolating yourself from the world you are in fact holding yourself back from moving forward to a job you do love.
Is the goal to stay in this job I HATE?
I don’t want you to think that I’m trying to force you to stay in a job you hate. As a career coach providing career advice, I would not be doing my job right if I was!
In fact my goal is for you to leave your job as soon as possible. But I know that running away from something doesn’t always lead to decisions that are right for you and your future. Running away muddles your motivations. So while you may be leaving the job you hate, it is very common you are going into a job you won't last at, meaning you'll be back looking for a job within a year.
It is better to get to a place within your current job where you don’t feel so rushed to leave. You can be careful and picky about your next career move ensuring that it is one that will bring you that career happiness.
I also know from experience that a lot of people can get so negative or jaded or so down on themselves that they just never get another offer or even interview. If you are playing the blame game, that comes across to potential employers. If you think you aren’t worthwhile, that comes across too. And those are attitudes that a Hiring Manager NEVER wants to hire!
So how do you do this?
1. Take Back Control
Stop looking to others to make you happy in your job. They may be struggling just like you.
Grab a piece of paper, time for a list. What do you hate most about your job. Come up with your top 3. Let’s break it down from there – what can YOU do about it.
Say the administrative aspect of the job is frustrating and annoying and there just never seems to be time to get it done, but you are always so stressed about it because it is hanging over your head!
Why yes, I’m speaking from personal experience!
You could schedule a meeting with yourself, blocking off the time and NOT rescheduling it, honouring it instead. So when the stressful voice starts talking you can tell yourself – well I have a time already scheduled so I know it will get done. When it comes time to do it, put in your headphones and put on some good music. Or pour yourself a good cup of coffee or tea. Make it an enjoyable chunk of time.
For your top 3, are there any ways in which you can control the outcome or the feelings surrounding them. You not only control your destiny, but you control your happiness.
2. Change it up
This is a “job hack”, can you make your job resemble a job you want? Write another list of 10 things you want in your ideal career (this can come from your Interests, Motivations and Skills).
Is there anything on that list that can be incorporated into your current job, especially if they may help with one of the 3 things you hate?
For me, one of the things I hated most about my agency recruitment job was the nature of the industry. It tends to be very dog eat dog. I like a team oriented and collaborative environment. And shockingly I was able to create one. I sought out Client Managers (those working with clients) to partner up on searches creating a team for those transactions. That led to the partners creating small teams around that model. My best year (happiness and performance wise) was when I was paired up with my sales partner and a team of recruiters. It also helped that I was always very open and communicative about my desire to work as a part of a team which the partners were supportive of.
That is key though. Communication. Once you identify a few things that you can do in your job now to make it work for you, you probably need to talk to your manager! Ask them for more responsibility or exposure to a certain area of the business. You need to advocate for yourself.
3. Get Friendly
Part of my issue during those “darkest days” was that I was isolating myself. I would hide in my cubicle, I worked 7:30-4 which meant I was in the office for 1-1.5 hours by myself and then I would go out for lunch by myself. I would avoid talking to the friends that I did have left. Or when we did talk it descend into a bitchfest.
Not constructive. Not healthy.
Reach out to your colleagues on a personal and professional level. Ask them about themselves. Ask about their goals. Think on it, what could you do to help them succeed? Act on it, it will make you feel better, worthwhile and needed.
It is okay to vent, you need to get those negative emotions out. It is okay to let them vent, you need to be supportive to build a good relationship.
BUT, don’t let it slip into complaining for the sake of complaining. If you put all of your energy into hating your job, how will you have the energy to try and love it! If you see that happening, redirect the conversation. The point of these relationships is to provide you support on this journey to love this job you hate!
4. Be Thankful
Time for another list. A list about what you love, or at least like, about your job, your team/boss, and your company. If you are in a bad place, it could be just a list of 3 things. Then every day make a point to add to the list.
Ruminate on it. Every time the going gets tough take that list out to remind yourself. Read the list slowly, send out a “Thank You” as you read each item.
Gratitude is transformative. It leads to more positive emotions, less stress and the big one – more happiness with our jobs. Let it start transforming you.
If all else fails, get up, dress up and show up. And never give up. You will have hard days where this all seems impossible but slowly those days will either become easier to handle or not happen has often.
Am I annoying you right now? The last thing you want to hear when you are knee deep in dissatisfaction is to "smile" but I'm going to say it anyways. Why? Research shows that the act of smiling can "trick" your brain into thinking you are happy. So why not?
If you put a smile on your face and fake loving your job, eventually it will just slowly start to happen – at least enough to make the last bit of time there an enjoyable experience.
Are you also concerned about what to tell potential employers about why you want to leave? This week in my newsletter I’ll be giving some tips and tricks on how to craft your exit story. Sign up today to get it!
Do you feel like a chicken with its head cut off most days. Well I did too. Until I was introduced to time management and productivity books. Now I read them all the time to find new hacks to get more done in a day. Here are 4 books that really helped me out.
I don’t know about you, but there just never seems to be enough hours in a day. I just want to do ALL THE THINGS and quite frankly the idea of compromising or giving something up just doesn’t jive with my goal oriented and over achiever type of personality.
I want to cook everything from scratch, work out daily, mediate daily, spend meaningful time with my kids PLUS build a business that involves marketing on social media, writing weekly articles and newsletters, help out clients through career coaching and resume writing and more. Never mind the fact that I also have a part time job Career Transitioning, have to deal with all the admin associated with running a business and want some semblance of a social life!
I know that it is impossible to do all of that all the time, but I want to at least try my hardest to become my most efficient self so that I can tick off a ton of boxes every day. As an information gatherer and a reader, it comes as no surprise that I have probably read every Time Management and Productivity book on the market. So my time management is a hodge podge of all of these ideas that I’ve learnt but my system is one that also changes all the time depending on the week and my life at that moment.
Here are four books that really made an impact on my life, ones that I feel have allowed me to get more things done in a day.
1. The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
This is the very first book I read about productivity about 10 years ago when I was laid off from my agency recruiting job. Back then I wrote most of the ideas off as I didn’t think it really applied to me. But there were a few things I did implement and took to heart.
I loved his concept of the “New Rich” how your total take home salary isn’t how you should define your worth. In order to be a New Rich person, you need to create a life you WANT. This really resonated with me at the time as I was in the process of interviewing for a job I really wanted (Corporate Recruiter), only 5 minutes away from my house. But it was going to be a big pay cut. This book sparked a great conversation with husband in terms of what we value most. Money wasn’t at the top of the list, not even close. We also did the calculation and the hourly rate really wasn’t that different when you took into account the hours and money saved from not commuting and extra time at the office. So when the offer did come through it was an easy yes, and saying goodbye to the stress and the commute more than made up for the loss of some money.
Some specific time management tools of his I have implemented over the years are figuring how much time it really takes to complete a task and sticking to it, finding a way to eliminate meetings (or a way to join in remotely), and outsourcing/delegating the tasks you are able to.
When I am at my most productive, I’m following some of his ideas – don’t arrive at your desk without a plan or else you will just dawdle away the day in your inbox and being busy is a form of laziness (similar to a Gretchen Rubin thought that you can procrastinate with work).
In my opinion for 99% of the population the concept of a 4 hour workweek is laughable. But I would still recommend this book to all of you as it gives great insights on how to save you some time. Especially if you work somewhere traditional where they want you at your desk, this book talks about how to convince your boss to let you work from home on Fridays, now who wouldn’t want that!
2. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen R Covey
This was the second book on time management that I read, since it is listed on pretty much all productivity and time management must read lists! This book showed me that my career, just like my life, was completely within my control. You can’t just sit back and wait for your dream career to land in your lap – you have to BE PROACTIVE (Habit #1), and you need to remember to place what you value most above all others so you need to PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST (Habit #3). There are 4 other habits, but for me and my career these are the two that have been most useful to getting me to where I am today.
His quadrant is also such a key for time management and learning how to prioritize your daily, weekly and monthly tasks. By examining the need for this task and the deadline allows us to plan out how our schedule should look.
If you are a reader, then definitely pick this one up. If not, then googling it and reading an article or two will suffice and everyone and their mother has written about it, for good reason!
3. Get you Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight
I love the no-nonsense style of this writer, and honestly as someone who doesn’t like being confined by the corporate world, I could relate to her story of giving it all up to pursue her dreams.
Plus, her approach is right up my alley with her three steps – Strategize (plan of action to achieve a goal), Focus (break it down and schedule it) and Commit (set yourself up for success). She leans into negative thinking as a way to propel you to take action which works especially well for those who don’t have a clear direction of where they want to go or what they want to do, they just know that they want to leave or put an end to what they are doing.
Sarah wants you to be very specific with your goals in terms of time management. For example, say you are struggling to keep atop of your current workload. Take a look at the core of what YOU CAN CONTROL. Are you spending too much time on social media? Then perhaps the solution is to limit your time online. And then focus on your impulse, do you feel the twitch and call of social media? Confront that impulse head on to put a stop to it!
One of my most used time management tips came from this book and that is the concept of a “MUST DO LIST”. Sarah recommends that you have a large running master to do list and that every day you prioritize that list based on urgency and importance (similar to above!) and then move that to your MUST DO List. That is your focus for the day, nothing else!
I highly recommend this book, it is a fun read with some great tips and a little bit of inspiration for anyone wanting a career change.
4. Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
This is one of the most recent productivity books I have read. I loved it – the idea of SAVERS (Silence, Affirmation, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing) is something I fully believe in. But it has been one of the most difficult to put into place. I have bits and pieces throughout my day. I meditate every night before I go to bed (96 days straight right now), I read every day and I exercise/move most days.
I want to do the rest, and I agree with the author that the mornings that I get up early and get all of that accomplished are the days that I am most productive as it sets a great tone for the day.
My problem (or excuse) is my kids. I have a 6.5 yo and a 5 yo who wake up at 6am and quite frankly I don’t want to get up any earlier. And even if, on the odd day, they are sleeping, when I try to sneak downstairs it ends up waking them up. Plus, first thing in the morning they just want to be near me, typically they want to snuggle in bed (there are only a few more years of that and I want to soak those cuddles up!) and then be in the same room as me so it is hard to focus.
But I believe so much in this. I believe that setting your intentions and your goals will not only increase your productivity but also increase the likelihood of you being a success. So I literally just researched a shorter version (since the book recommends about 90 minutes) and came across the 6 minute Miracle Morning by Hal. I’m going to tweak it to 8 minutes and only focus on the pieces I don’t do every day:
Silence: 2 minute gratitude meditation (in addition to my nightly meditation)
Affirmation: 2 minutes affirmations
Visulaization: 2 minutes visualization
Exercise: during the day
Reading: during the day
Scribing: 2 minute scribing – my gratitude, my daily goals and plan.
Anyone willing to join me? Tomorrow, I’ll let you know how it went!
The amazing thing about Happiness Books and these Productivity books is that they introduce to us concepts that we may never have thought about. But more importantly, they tell us the story of how to make the changes and how those changes can have a lasting impact on our lives. So if you are stuck in a job you hate and don’t know what to do, they can help you figure out what you want and how to make the time in a day to get there.
If even that is overwhelming, how about a 30 minute phone call – we can chat for free, let’s strategize where you are, where you want to go and how to get there.
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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