Why Your Cell Phone Might Be Hindering Work-Life Balance

I updated my iPhone several weeks ago and received an alert. Without much thought I clicked on the link and received a shocking dose of reality: I had used four glorious, precious hours of my life on my cell phone alone last week. What?! Four hours?! I couldn’t believe it. Four hours is half a work day. It’s an 8-mile hike. It’s the four hours I’ve been needing to finish one of my work projects.

This reality brought a hefty-dose of awareness to how often I was using my phone and the purpose I was using it.

Cellphones control our priorities. 

There was the time I was sitting on Metro on my way to meet some friends. I checked my cell and noticed several work emails. “Better respond quickly,” I thought. So instead of using the ride to decompress, I elected to respond to emails.

Instead of meeting my friends excited and ready to engage, I was completely preoccupied with logistics and work. By choosing to be on the phone, I was unknowingly letting technology dictate my priorities (work over relaxation) and ultimately put myself in a stressful mindset.

The habit of checking cellphones creates more work. 

I’m so thankful to my wonderful clients who respect my time and have reasonable expectations. However,  I recognize that not everyone is so fortunate. I’ve seen too many people who feel pressured to respond immediately to a work email, ultimately sending the message that they are now available 24/7.  An email leads to a phone call, which spirals into a sleepless night attempting to resolve a work issue. The reality is that oftentimes putting up boundaries and deciding not to respond in the first place might have led to resolving the issue the following day.

The constant connection reinforces limiting beliefs.

We all have some type of limiting belief about ourselves. “I’m not good enough,” “I don’t have enough,” “Others are better than me,” etc. etc. Our constant connection to our emails and social media reinforces these limiting beliefs.

How many times have you felt frustrated after checking your email after you’ve left work for the day? Perhaps it reinforced that the feeling you don’t work hard enough or that you did something wrong. Think about all the times you’ve compared yourself to someone else on Instagram, reinforcing the feeling that you’re not happy as someone else or lacking what they have.

And what’s the fallout from telling  yourself negative messages all day? Do you overeat that evening? Binge watch television to escape from reality? Get frustrated when someone is trying to talk to you? The domino effect is not worth it.

At the end of the day, we need a break from our overactive minds.

Constantly checking our cell phones is pushing our minds into overdrive. Between the brainpower needed to solve a problem, or the thoughts that come from the comparison and judgement over social media, we need to give our minds a break.

We must allow ourselves permission to spend time alone or with loved ones.
Imagine your partner, friends, and children associating memories of you spending time with them, not your cellphone.

Imagine enjoying a vacation- fully unplugging and engaging in each beautiful moment of the holiday you worked so hard for.

Imagine a life where you are okay with turning off, being unproductive, and choosing to be fully present.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

What you can do about it.

  1. Turn off Notifications- I turned off all notifications from my emails, text messages and apps. The exception is inbound calls and calendar alerts. I find when I choose to check my apps, it’s about making a conscious choice instead of feeling to the need to react.
  2. Setting Sacred Time-  I no longer check my phone before meeting with loved ones and during my time with them. It allows me to stay present and not get distracted with work. It also allows for me to take a break and truly connect. I’ve also set sacred time during walks, meditation, and even movie watching.
  3. Permission to Take Vacations- During my last vacation, I disabled my work email and put limits on my phone use.  Because I’m self-employed and rely on new clients, I gave myself permission to work for two hours in the morning. After those two hours, I gave myself permission to turn everything off.
  4. Finding Other Things to Fill the Time- Since I’ve put my cell phone down , I’ve been able to enjoy listening to music as I drive, breathing in air as I walk, and watching people as I ride the train. I’ve also been writing, drawing, and painting.

By no means have I mastered my compulsion to check my phone. That said, I can report a newfound sense of freedom. My mind feels less stressed and more open. I’m feeling more balanced than ever before.

Why I Want You to Write a Love Letter this Valentine’s Day

I want you to write a love letter to yourself this Valentine’s Day. Why? Because you deserve it.

How often do you acknowledge yourself and how wonderful you are? How often do you demonstrate self-love?

If you’re anything like me, I’m sure it’s easy to forget.

This morning, I sat down and wrote myself a love letter. I was surprised because it was partially a list of character traits I was grateful for and a list of changes I want for myself- to be more present, to be less future focused, to enjoy the moment. I was surprised how much I appreciate myself for my wisdom, intuition, and big heart. As I wrote all of these things down, I felt my heart grow bigger and felt a lot of self-compassion.

If you can give any gift to yourself this Valentine’s Day, write yourself a love letter. Sit down, and put your heart, your mind, and your soul into it and see what comes up.

And if it’s hard to write yourself a love letter, do it for someone else. It’s easy to buy chocolates or flowers on this holiday, but it’s much harder to open up and be vulnerable.

So give this a try. Let me know how it goes.

Happy Valentines Day!

Love (because I have a ton of it to give),
Danielle

Signs you need to quit your job

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As seen on The List: http://www.thelist.com/78028/signs-need-quit-job/ by Daniela Uslan (Danielle Menditch is a contributor)

Quitting your job is a huge decision, one that affects every area of your life, from your finances to your relationships. How do you go about making this important decision? What are signs that you should quit your job? I went to the experts to find out.

You’ve been wanting to leave for a while

One of the most noticeable signs that you should quit your job is that you’ve been thinking about leaving for more than a few months.

Danielle Menditch, certified career counselor at Inner Compass Coach, told me that most people stay in their jobs for too long out of fear. “A lot of times, fear of the unknown stops people from leaving their jobs,” she told me. “They don’t know what they should do next. They don’t know if they would be better working somewhere else. They’re not sure the grass is going to be greener on the other side.”

She continued, “I typically say if it’s been two or three months that they’ve been thinking about quitting their job, maybe that’s indicative of something else, but when it starts hitting about six or more months, that’s when I say it’s time to really look at it and make a change.”

You can’t get along with your boss

Another indication that you should quit your job is if you’ve done everything you can to get along with your boss, but you just can’t make it work. Menditch told me, “I’ve had a couple of clients who had a terrible boss. They’re either micromanaging, manipulative, or controlling. They have tried to kiss up, have conversations with their boss or human resources, and they feel like they’re banging their head against the wall. At that point, if they’ve tried everything, including seeing if they could switch departments, and it’s just not happening, it’s a sign that the company is not willing to work with them and it’s time to get out.”

A toxic relationship with your boss can have long term negative effects on your self-esteem, so make sure to get out before you start to internalize negative beliefs about yourself. Carlota Zimmerman, J.D., success strategist, told me, “If you are constantly being undermined at work, being made to feel that you’re incompetent, inadequate, a waste of space… over time, you will learn to believe that. Stockholm Syndrome is a very real thing. Once you start believing that you’re incompetent, or simply not that smart, and deserving of your boss’ tirades, what chance could you have to positively improve your life?”

You feel drained by your work

Another sign that it may be time to quit is if your work makes you feel drained, both at work and at the end of the day. Joseph Liu, career consultant, told me that you should look at leaving if “by the end of each day and workweek, you feel physically [and] mentally depleted. This is driven by the fact that your work is not energizing you and not stimulating you. When you’re doing work you truly enjoy, that work actually fills you with energy.”

L. Gordon Brewer Jr., a licensed marital and family therapist, told me that a draining job can have physical effects as well. He said, “If a person is in a job that drains them psychologically and emotionally, it will eventually take its toll physically. Job stress and burnout not only affects the person individually, but affects the systems around that person; friends, family and especially co-workers.”

You’re bored and apathetic

How do you feel at work? Are you interested in your job? If not, it may be a warning sign that it’s time to quit. Liu told me, “Your sense of time can be totally different when you’re bored at work. Time will literally slow down. [Fifteen] minutes can feel like two hours. This is the concept of ‘watching the clock.’ This signals that you’re no longer in flow and not finding your work fulfilling.”

Another factor that contributes to boredom is a lack of meaning in your work. Liu said, “Often, people who are bored describe their work as not being that meaningful, of not having any sort of impact on their lives or the lives of others. When your work lacks meaning, it’s hard to continue feeling motivated in that role each and every day.”

Even if you’re being paid well, the money may not be enough to offset apathy and boredom. Zimmerman told me, “A generous paycheck is a beautiful thing. But over time, what will keep you going, will be pride in your abilities; the knowledge that you contributed and created something important each day. If you’re simply working for a paycheck, you’re cheating yourself.” She added, “Money isn’t what keeps you going; passion does. If you don’t care about your job, you’ll never have passion. You’ll never challenge yourself to enhance your skills, or take the exciting professional risks that true leaders take.”

The work culture doesn’t fit with you

You spend eight or more hours a day at work, and if it’s a toxic environment, or even just a work culture that doesn’t fit you, it can take a serious toll on your well-being. Monte Drenner, a licensed counselor, told me, “Sometimes bosses, co-workers, or even the work environment are toxic in that they are negative, critical, and even demeaning. This environment over time has a tremendous negative impact on one’s physical and mental health.”

Menditch added that many workplaces don’t allow for work/life balance, which can be detrimental to employees. She told me, “This happens a lot in law firms, where the culture and the expectations are that people work for 60 to 80 hours a week and don’t have a life beyond work.”

She continued, “I have a client who was working at a law firm, and her coworker was complaining about some pain in her chest. She went and talked to her supervisor and they asked her to finish up the work for the day, so the woman stayed four to five hours, passed out at the desk, and died of an aneurysm.” Menditch suggested that you look to your leadership to tell if your terrible work culture is unchangeable. She told me, “If you see the leadership not respected, there’s no way the supervisors are going to take it on.”

You’re not growing

You want your job to help you grow as a person, whether that’s through learning new things, being promoted to new positions, or acquiring new skills. If you feel like you’re not growing, it’s a red flag that your job isn’t the right place for you.

Liu said a sign you should quit your job is, “You feel like you’re on a hamster wheel, going around in circles. Not growing, not learning, and not evolving. Work feels stagnant, and you longer feel excited or enthusiastic about what you do. Your future projects in the pipeline don’t excite you either. Stagnation can really stunt your growth as a professional.”

Zimmerman agreed. She added, “In certain prestige-obsessed industries, you’re working at a job with meager responsibilities and title, and very little hope of advancement. I’ve had clients, men and women in their early 20s, who are extremely competent, but due to the saturated nature of the legal field, are essentially working as contract attorneys at their firms. I have advised several of them to quit, because the longer they stay at that firm, in that position, the more damage they are doing to any hope of a fulfilling long-term career.”

You dislike your roles and responsibilities

Let’s face it — sometimes you just don’t enjoy the tasks you have to do at your job. Who wants to work day after day at a job where they don’t like most of their roles and responsibilities? Menditch told me, “A lot of times, people get into their jobs and they are excited about the newness. They are excited about their new position. And then all of a sudden, maybe two or three years into it, they are like, ‘I don’t like what I’m doing.'”

If you can change into a different role at your job, you may be able to stay, but it’s important that you be able to do things you actually enjoy. Menditch said, “I’ve had a client who was doing fundraising, and almost everything she was doing was completely boring to her. We started looking deeper, and she was creative and artistic when she was a kid. When we looked at how she liked spending her time on the side, she liked tinkering with computers. She had more fun doing that when her organization asked her to build a website. So she started taking courses to learn coding and create websites.”

When you know what you like doing, you can either transition to a different position in your company or start looking for a job elsewhere in which you can do what you enjoy.

The company’s core values and yours don’t align

If you have different values from your company, even if you have a good work culture and enjoy the work, it may be a sign that you should quit and work for a company whose values are more similar to yours.

Menditch told me, “I have had clients who work with companies where the culture isn’t that bad, but they just don’t share the same values with their company. I had a client who was working with a big aerospace company that’s known for having  a wonderful work culture, but she didn’t share the same core values. It didn’t feel good to her to be working with missile defense. So the culture was a misfit because she wasn’t aligned with the values.”

Before taking a job, be honest with yourself about whether your believe in their mission and values. That way, you won’t be stuck at a job that’s a bad fit later on.

Steps to take once you decide to quit

What do you do once you decide to quit? There are many steps you can take to make a smooth transition into your next job. Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster.com, said, “Start looking! It may feel daunting to look for a new job, but instead of feeling overwhelmed by the entire process, break it down. Set up job alerts, so opportunities land in your inbox. Revise your resume, polish it, then post it, too. Start networking and meeting key connectors in your world for lunch and coffee. Even if you’re not sure you want to leave your job, you should still start looking.”

When it comes to gracefully leaving your current job, Liu suggested, “Be positive, focusing on your future plans. Don’t badmouth anyone or say anything negative about your organization. Make your departure forward instead of backward looking.”

Above all, have the courage to quit when you know your job isn’t right for you. Salemi told me, “Many job seekers tell me their biggest regret of leaving is not exiting sooner. They may sense they won’t get promoted, but want to wait it out. Next thing you know, an entire year has gone by and unfortunately, nothing has changed. Meanwhile, they could have already been a year into their new job!”

Read More: http://www.thelist.com/78028/signs-need-quit-job/

How to Use Your Job-Hopping Experiences to Identify Your Career Direction

When I talk to potential clients, I often hear fears that their job-hopping experiences mean that they may never settle down into a career. This fear is unfounded: Job-hopping experiences can be one of the best resources to help someone identify a career direction. Job hopping, of course, is when a person works at several companies for one to two years and leaves the positions for a lateral move, increased compensation, increased responsibility, or change of title. The benefits of job hopping are that the person has exposure to different jobs as well as an opportunity to see what is available. Job hoppers have also had a chance to learn about themselves and what they bring to the table. The reason some struggle to identify a career direction after job hopping is that they are not given the tools to unpack those experiences. This article is intended to help in evaluating these job experiences, recognizing patterns, and using the information to guide future career steps.

Identify Your Likes and Dislikes
If you were to look at every job that you have had, what did you like and dislike about each one? Were there any patterns among the roles and responsibilities? Perhaps you found yourself enjoying using similar talents or skillsets among your different roles. You also might find that certain skillsets bore or frustrate you. You might also notice that you have strengths and weaknesses in certain areas. Where there any patterns among the company culture? When you look at your likes and dislikes, did you notice anything about the places where you have worked? This is a great opportunity to look at the values and work culture of the various companies where you have worked. Do you prefer a small, medium, or large company? Do you prefer to work from home or in an office environment? Do you prefer set work hours or a flexible work schedule? Do you prefer a startup or perhaps a company that is established and has been around for a while?

Evaluate Your Experience 
Now that you have taken some time to write down your likes and dislikes, it is important to evaluate what you have learned so that you can use the information to guide your career direction. First, look at patterns among your roles and responsibilities. The goal is to identify these patterns and carry them forward to roles and responsibilities as well as strengths into your future career. Once you identify roles and responsibilities you enjoy, find careers that allow you to build upon them and use them every day. If you want to love going to work every day, you must enjoy what you do. You also have to be willing to walk away from the patterns of roles and responsibilities you do not like. Getting hired because you have previous work experience is easy; however, if you do not like your job on a day-to-day basis, you will continue to quit and job hop.

Next, identify patterns in company culture. When you start carefully evaluating what you have liked and disliked about your previous employers, you can better identify companies where you might want to work in the future. You can do research on websites like glassdoor.com and linkedin.com, and you can ask friends, family, and coworkers for suggestions as well.

Do you want to be self-employed? No matter what, you might realize that you just do not like having a boss. You prefer being able to work on your own terms such as freelancing, contracting your services, and/or starting your own business. You will still be accountable to those who hire you, but you can set your own terms. Starting a journey to self-employment is not a bad thing. A study by Emergent Research, which studies trends in small businesses, found that by the year 2020 almost 40% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancing.  If you start a freelancing business right now, you will be ahead of the curve.

Take Action
Now that you have taken some time to evaluate your past experiences, what do you need to do next? Do you need to do more research about career possibilities and companies? Do you need to go back to a specific career that was a good fit? Do you need to start your own business? Or perhaps do you need to hire a coach? Keep in mind that making a career change is a one-step-at-a-time process.

Don’t let the fear of job hopping stop you from settling down; use it as a platform to gather information about yourself, make informed decisions, and take your next steps.  Job hopping can be a blessing in disguise, instead of a hindrance. It is all a matter of how you learn to share your story and sell yourself to a potential employer.

8 Tips to Help You Thrive Through Winter

Winter days are shorter, and winter nights are longer, so we find ourselves waking up in the morning and coming home from work in the dark. In colder climates we may find ourselves outside less and indoors more. Fortunately, we just have to survive a few more months before the flowers come into bloom. As a career coach and licensed clinical social worker, I notice a big difference in my clients’ moods between the winter and summer months. My clients report a decrease in work satisfaction during the winter, and they are more likely to struggle with paying attention to work tasks, getting through the workday, and feeling bluesy when they come home.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) occurs when signs of depression begin and end at the same time every year. Symptoms include increased anxiety, mood changes, overeating, sleepiness and more.  Sometimes it is called “winter blues.”  According to Mental Health America, four out of five people who have seasonal depression are women. Whether or not you suffer from SAD, it is important to take care of yourself in the winter months both at work and at home so that your personal and professional situations do not suffer. Try these tips to help get through the winter months and thrive.

At work:

  • Take walks. With the limited hours of sunlight, getting outside is important. Ask coworkers to take walks with you. If your work requires a lot of networking, such as owning your own business, ask colleagues to walk with you instead of going to a coffee shop. Walking is a good way to socialize, to get to know your colleagues, and to enjoy the benefits of the vitamin D that sunlight provides.
  • Socialize. During the winter months many people work through lunches and limit social time. If you enjoy connecting with supervisors and coworkers, and you have good relationships with them, schedule lunch time or other opportunities to connect. The benefit of social time at work is that it allows you to focus attention and energy on something other than work. Additionally, another benefit of setting times to connect is that you can build stronger relationships.
  • Take breaks. We live in a society that values overworking and grinding through the day. We often lose touch with ourselves because we are in action all day. When you take a break, even just for five minutes, do something to get in touch with yourself. Meditate, listen to music, stretch, or just breathe. We often focus on things outside ourselves and fail to develop a relationship with ourselves, so this could be perhaps the most important thing you do throughout the day. We often think breaks will take time away from work, but often with a break we come back refreshed and more productive.

Outside of work:

  • Schedule personal time and keep it sacred. We often put other’s time, especially if we have children, ahead of our own. In the winter months we also tend to use downtime to binge watch Netflix and favorite television shows instead of pursuing activities that we would during the spring and summer months. Instead, schedule personal time and honor it as much as you would your professional obligations. When scheduling that time, plan things that you enjoy other than watching television. If you enjoy crafting, go craft. If you enjoy reading, go read. This will help bring more work/life balance into your life and change things up when they are getting stale.
  • Set aside time with loved ones. Like the advice of scheduling personal time and keeping it sacred, do this with loved ones as well. Make sure this time is separate from going to the movies and watching Netflix. Whether the time is spent playing board games or going to a museum, make sure the time is interactive and focuses on connection.
  • Dress yourself beautifully. You may put on the same clothing every week because it does not constrain and feels more comfortable, and you may start associating this clothing with feeling down during the winter. Get rid of clothing that you associate with not feeling good about yourself. Even if you have gained a few pounds and want to lose it, purchase a few items or attend a clothing swap to get things that make you feel beautiful. When you wear things that make you feel beautiful, it helps increase your confidence both inside and outside the work setting. You are amazing and have so much to offer, and you should show it both in your confidence and in your outward appearance. This approach also helps boost positive attitude during the winter months.
  • Move your body. During the winter, we may stop working out and doing the activities that excite us during the summer. Do things to move your body, like working out, stretching, walking around a mall or museum, dancing in your living room, getting a massage, or anything else. The idea is to provide moments to allow yourself to feel you and not disassociate from your body. Activity helps you get out of negative thoughts and focus on how you feel, as opposed to what you think.
  • Seek support. Talk to loved ones and friends. Winter can be long, but you do not have to get through it alone. Make sure you ask for help because often you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings. Be sure to reciprocate and listen to others since that will help you move outside yourself and not wallow. Of course, if you need more intervention such as therapeutic or medial support, seek out a licensed therapist or medical doctor/nurse practitioner.

More than anything, the way to get out of the winter blues is to bring acts of intention, connection with yourself and others, and mindfulness into your day.  These actions can help you get out of negative thoughts and turn your attention towards yourself and others. If you already feel yourself in a grind, or if your head is overwhelmed with negative thoughts at the moment, refocus yourself. Every moment is a moment that you can make a new choice.