Work/Life

When Is Self-Care Over-Indulgent?

 

I promote self-care a lot because I know that science supports it.  Stress in the workplace contributes to major chronic illnesses responsible for most early health-related deaths. It’s also a high cause of absenteeism. Self-care CAN be a way to manage stress.

However, since I teach generation Z and Millennials and work with Generation X through baby boomers, the chasm in understanding of the role of self-care and reasonable limits to self-care during work hours is vast and causing a lot of conflicts in today’s workplace, which has never had so many generations before.

Millennials have been accused of having a sense of entitlement. One of my current students, a millennial, even admitted that their reputation is earned.  However, the workplace also has much different expectations than when the generations before them entered the workforce. For the most part, there was a finite beginning and end to the workday. However, since internet and cell phone connectivity have enabled people to work remotely, the delineation between work hours and personal hours has been blurred. In some family-friendly companies, the employees who are parents enjoy more flexibility in their schedule, but the single employees are sometimes expected to pick up the slack.

How do we create boundaries around self-care that don’t cause drama that threatens collaboration and productivity? How does a company decide what is fair, enough, and truly restorative?

Firstly, it’s unrealistic and refuted by science to assume that people will fulfill all of their self-care needs at home. Brain fatigue starts to set in after just a few minutes of concentration. One or two 30-second breaks per hour to do something pleasurable is sufficient to restore the brain. Yawning and stretching (very slowly) are highly restorative exercises. This is a great time for mindfulness, like being present and still. The best part about mindfulness is that employees will start to become more and more self-aware and emotionally intelligent, and will naturally consider the impact of their self-care regimen on others.

Self-care does not have to consume a lot of time, in fact, less than a minute. But people misunderstand self-care and engage in activities that actually contribute to mental exhaustion, like social media, “venting,” and personal errands.

Even some fitness activities can be draining rather than restorative. It only takes 10 minutes to increase oxygen to your brain. There is some science that suggests that endurance training can make you more resistant to fatigue, but that doesn’t mean employers can allow employees to run a marathon during work hours.

If we follow a model that our country’s laws were designed around, your rights end where another’s begin.  Because emotional intelligence does not fully develop until the 3rd decade of life, usually well into a person’s career, most entry-level workers have blind spots around how their self-care impacts others, and they need to be coached here. They also have developed habits, especially social media, that can lead to greater distractibility and more frequent mental fatigue, which leads to more mistakes and less accountability.

In my career prep course, as well as in my coaching practice, I work with my students on defining who they want to be at work, what reputation they want to build, and how to brand themselves and deliver on that brand for optimal career growth. They are taught the neuroscience of mindfulness and are guided in making it a life-long habit.

My firm, Epic Careering, offers coaching to companies that achieve the same results, and as a byproduct employees spend less time in drama, less time in self-indulgent non-self-care, and more time cooperating, collaborating, and producing.

Schedule a consultation today and catalyze the growth of your employees’ potential tomorrow.

Bachman Turner Overdrive – LOOKIN’ OUT FOR NO.1

Bachman Turner Overdrive – LOOKIN’ OUT FOR NO.1

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

If You’re Robbing Yourself of Fun and Self-Care During Your Job Search, You’re robbing Yourself of Results (Prescription Within!)

 

When I was out of work for 10 months after 9/11, I was not only in between jobs but also in between living arrangements. I wasn’t officially a roommate to my boyfriend (now husband) and his roommate since I was not paying rent, and I could not continue to live with my bachelor father, because some things you can’t unsee.

I had moved back in with my dad after leaving a cheating boyfriend at the age of 21, met my husband four months later, and was laid off six months into our relationship.

I had student loans to pay and some credit card debt that I’d accrued while searching for my first job after college. I had also finally bought a brand new car, a Saturn SL2, after being stranded one too many times on the side of the road with a broken down car, so I had a car payment as well.

After being informed that cleaning and tidying were insufficient forms of rent, and if he (the roommate) were me he wouldn’t be doing pilates at 3 PM or hiking in the middle of the day, but hitting the pavement.  I felt added pressure to spend all my time either working doing anything so as not to be home when he was home, but also not spending my time on self-care. I walked to a business within walking distance, since gas was a luxury I couldn’t always afford, and worked for minimum wage doing menial tasks while neglecting self-care. My depression worsened, and interview anxiety manifested, whereas I’d never had interview anxiety before.

As an employee, I was known to be sharp, intelligent, forward-thinking, and organized. As an unemployed sponge, I was now considered a burden, a leech, and essentially useless. Even though some friends were helping me out, giving me referrals for jobs, I was not making them look good at all. I was showing up as the unemployed sponge, not the confident, value-adding, trend-setting, technology-savvy people person.

After the business down the street told me their business slump meant my minimum wage job was no longer, I went back to taking care of myself. Neglecting myself wasn’t working; it was backfiring. So was doing work well below my capacity and potential. Something else I realized – my husband and his roommate didn’t know how to land a corporate job. Hitting the pavement was not producing jobs that would position me to pay my bills and rent and sending online application after online application left me powerless and dejected. I had to go back to my network, which I avoided when I was depressed and doing demeaning work. I had to show up as the person who would add value

I went back to pilates and hiking regularly. I spent my transition time finding out who my network knew (this was before LinkedIn). I shifted my criteria to target GROWTH opportunities that required a college degree, whether in recruiting or not, and challenged myself to find ways to have fun that didn’t require spending a lot of (or any) money so I could remember why people wanted to be around me.

I landed, finally, and then was laid off again three months later, but landed again five weeks later, and then was promoted three months after that. I knew that eventually, I would teach people what I learned about making a job search effective AND fun, and how essential both are.

Nearly 16 years later, here I am with 13 years of experience doing just that under my belt and when my clients express to me that their emotions and thoughts are getting the best of them, I prescribe them fun and self-care. Now, after years of studying human performance optimization and neuroscience, I have an even better understanding of exactly why fun and self-care are essential to job search success.

Do you remember learning about Pavlov’s dog?  Reinforcement is key to learning positive behaviors and making them habits. Reward yourself for engaging in job search activities that are effective, but perhaps stretch your comfort zone, like attending networking events, asking your friends and contacts for introductions, inviting hiring managers to speak or meet, and calling to follow up. The more you associate these activities with a reward, the more motivated you will feel to do them.

And, once you get results this way, the shot of endorphins will further compel you to want to repeat them.

Make sure your self-care routine incorporates exercise AND restoration. Exercise is not just healthy for your body, but also has proven clinical impacts on your mental state, helps you feel more confident, and increases oxygen to your brain to make you smarter! Restoration and recuperation is key to preventing physical fatigue and brain fatigue, both of which can negatively impact your performance and mood. Making time for stillness and reflection is essential to seeing where and how you can improve as a human being, teammate, and as a performer.

To take this all a level up, identify and engage in activities that put you in the flow. The more you can put yourself in a state of flow, the better you intuitively, swiftly solve problems and make decisions. For me, being in the woods or out on the water, coloring, making crafts with flowers and plants, swimming in the ocean, sitting in my hot tub, dancing to live music, attending development-related classes and webinars, watching sports, and yoga put me in a flow state.

Make a list of activities that make you feel like you’re in the flow, and set time aside on your calendar each week for these. Steven Kotler, NY Times best-selling author on the subject of flow, recommends at least 15% of your time be allocated for this each week.

Also, don’t avoid people because you fear their judgment. Isolation is a confidence killer and anxiety inducer.  Invite the people who know and appreciate the “real you” to spend time with you at least once a week. There are plenty of things that you can do that don’t require spending money, such as a game of catch, card and board game potlucks, picnics, and gathering to watch your favorite show or team. Keep up your team skills while in transition. You can even invite them to volunteer with you.

Having trouble justifying this to the stakeholders in your job search? Tell them it is a prescription, professor’s orders, and show them this:

 

If you want additional emotional support and guidance (not just advice, which I give freely here) on how to spend your days to optimize your performance and results, schedule a free consultation.

Put The Lime In The Coconut

AND SHAKE IT ALL UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

We Are In Big Trouble If Leaders Don’t Start Doing This

Reflections

How do we shift from a world where rampant mental illness pushes people to the limits of their humanity to a world where we take good care of one another?

Could it be as simple as breathing??

Letting go?

Healing?

Processing?

Allowing?

Surrendering?

Choosing happiness?

Self-reflection may be simple, but it’s not easy.

I cherish my time for self-reflection. Without it, I tend to stay in a stressful loop. In a moment I might start to go down a rabbit hole, thinking about an interaction that I had or have to have. Without time to process these thoughts fully, they just stay in a loop.

There is something I am supposed to get from these repeating thoughts, which is why my brain keeps showing me it. I need to reveal it’s meaning, process my emotions about it, and then put it behind me as completed. If not, my energy gets sapped. I find it hard to focus and all tasks take longer. I may even procrastinate or escape into TV or social media. Still that thought loops.

It’s like when you are running late for something and you keep going back to your house for different things you forgot and it just gets later and later. Ever do that? Be in such a rush that you forget important things and it causes you to be even later?

I notice that if tasks and obligations, including my cherished kids and clients, keep me from giving these thoughts my full attention for a while, I start to resent them. I get short tempered. I set up boundaries to protect myself. I have more freedom to do so because I am self-employed. Still, when I accept work, I make a commitment and that commitment has to be fulfilled. I don’t always see a busy time coming and I get stuck

However, companies need to adopt a self-care culture to allow their people to grow and develop not just skill wise, but in their consciousness. Our planet actually depends on it!

Otherwise, we get unconscious producers in power, focused only on producing hard results without consideration of consequences. This explains situational greed, a neuroscience concept I introduced in a previous blog in which the brain starts to rewire itself to pursue more power and/and possessions, sometimes even becoming addicted to the dopamine release of acquiring more power and/or possessions. Without being able to regularly take time, which becomes even harder as you take on more responsibility and authority, this can go unchecked and lead to a host of toxic conditions and detrimental consequences.

Without that time, I could not have written this!

A balance, however elusive, appears to be the more accurate place from which to make critical decisions that impact many.

Not work-life balance, but production and reflection balance. An employer can’t assume its employees are doing this at home.

This is a generalization, but often those at the top of the income chain employ the assistance of others to take care of admin/housekeeping, even child rearing. But do they use the time that is freed from those tasks for reflection? Or, do they use that time to produce or feed ego?

Most other people, including top producers, are going home and attacking a busy kid activity and homework schedule plus a home care task list. Then they zone out consuming media because they are mentally and emotionally exhausted – another generalization, I realize.

Still, I think it’s fair to say the general workforce is not in the habit of making time for self-reflection, and if they are, they doing it incompletely and getting stuck in the loop I described above.

The loops below are a much better model for conscious growth, whether you are a leader or a producer:

Achieving Conscious Leadership

 

  1. Consumption – Make plans based on new insights, illuminations, teachings
  2. Reflection – Consider how people and planet will be impacted directly and indirectly
  3. Production – Set goals and intentions and execute
  4. Reflection – Examine direct and indirect impacts, as well as own performance relative to higher self

The key is self-intimacy (into-me-I-see). Not just asking how was it, evaluating in terms of results, profits, etc., but asking how was I. Sometimes the answers aren’t good, and the ego doesn’t like them.

But the higher self, the one who wants to continually evolve into a better and better person, a better leader and a more positive influence on the people around them, needs them.

Coincidentally, I came across this warning signs list this morning. I thought someone might need this more than music, so I’m sharing it.

https://www.higherperspectives.com/warning-signs-nervous-breakdown-2610845741.html

Think What Happened To Elon Musk Won’t Happen to You? Think Again!

Reverse Engineering Internal Sabotage for Prevention [Part 1 of 3]

SpaceX Discovery Fire

Discovery Fire Galaxy 2016

The Tesla sabotage incident Elon Musk made the world aware of last week raises a few great questions.

  1. How does somebody who would be inclined and capable of sabotaging your company get into your company, and how can you prevent that?
  2. How can you choose the right person for promotion, but still make sure that those who didn’t receive a promotion stay engaged and working in the company‘s best interests?
  3. Once you know that your hiring process allowed a saboteur to get through the screening process, how do you make sure that the rest of your workforce is on the up and up without insulting knows of higher values and morals?

All great questions, but we’re going to focus on #1 today and tackle the other two in subsequent posts.

If you took a look at Tesla’s Glassdoor profile, you’d see that they rate highly, at 3.4 out of 5 stars, but only 57% would recommend Tesla as an employer to a friend.

Overall, people are in it for the mission of disrupting the energy and transportation industries, and 85% approve of the job Elon Musk is doing. The common complaints, however, are lack of work/life balance – long hours with minimal pay and inflexible attendance policies. The benefits are not quite making up for the lack in fair pay, either. Plus, lack of procedures are making employees feel like they can’t even be efficient in the time they spend there.

Apparently, people get fired unexpectedly and are given little to no feedback on their performance. Also, one employee reports that it’s rare to be recognized, even if you’ve achieved the “impossible;” it just becomes the standard expectation from that point forward. They are letting go 9% of their salaried workforce (outside of production) to cut costs. They also are churning through people who find it hard to stay more than a couple years.

Musk knew when he decided to step up and disrupt very wealthy and powerful industries that he would become a target. However, with the workforce complaints piling up, I wonder why he didn’t see an internal attack coming.

Perhaps he isn’t familiar with altruistic punishment – a reaction embedded in our brain that gets triggered when a person believes he/she or someone else is being treated unfairly. Why did nature install this type of reaction in our brain? To promote cooperation that supports the evolution of our species.

In answer to #1, biologically, science has proven all human beings are capable of inflicting harm on someone who has treated others unfairly. It stands to reason that people have varying thresholds.

I think of Clark Griswold when I think of altruistic punishment. It hardly matters what National Lampoons movie you choose. He always had the best of intentions to show his family a great time and make meaningful memories. When other people’s shenanigans and acts of God threatened to sabotage his plans, he felt fully justified in breaking laws and violating other people’s safety and/or property to achieve his well-intentioned mission. In the end, people admitted that they were being unfair and Clark and his family got away without punishment and with amazing memories that brought them closer together as a family. Good times. I don’t see the Tesla employee enjoying such a happy ending, but maybe.

I’m sure Musk has his own justifications for keeping things the way they are – in order to be profitable, the company has to produce 5,000 Model 3s each week. People have proposed that he be stripped of his Board Chairman position. The company’s shares are worth 16% now than they were last year at this time. No doubt, Musk is under a lot of pressure to control costs and boost production to survive as a company and achieve his mission. I’m sure employee belief in the mission is the thing that Musk was depending on to get him and his over-stretched workforce through these challenges. Unfortunately for Musk and his mission, it wasn’t enough, and the costs have been extremely prohibitive, though he still remains certain that he will achieve his production goals.

Yes, Musk confessed to sleeping at the factory. I’m sure he wants his workforce to see him as a model employee, to see that he’s willing to put in every drop of his effort and time for the sake of his mission. Can he really expect them to show the same level of commitment AND perform, stay, endure with few perks to their lifestyle? Once they have been hired by any of his companies, they become premier talent for the taking.

He suspects the jilted employee was collaborating with someone associated with Wall Street or the industries he’s disrupting.

Here’s the thing: if you were losing or stood to lose millions of dollars with the widespread production and purchase of solar/electric vehicles, and you knew that many employees were unhappy with the conditions under which they work, might it occur to you to convert an employee into an accomplice?

Not all companies have such enemies, but they do (or will) have competition.

Out of curiosity, I scooted over to Elon Musk’s other companies’ Glassdoor profiles to see what was said about them. I had heard that a recent graduate I know received an offer to work for SpaceX, but turned it down because it required 70 hours per week. SpaceX is very highly rated at 4.4 out of 5 stars, and Musk’s approval rating is even higher at 97%! It seems that even though lack of work/life balance is still a very common complaint, improvements have been made since 2015. So far, though, it looks like the mission and the high caliber of talent is keeping the workforce going. It’s been rated a top place to work for 2018.

I headed over to SolarCity, which has been part of Tesla since 2016 and is being led by Lyndon Rive. As you might expect, lack of work/life balance is the #1 complaint, but other common complaints are also poor training and lack of communication from executives. It also seems that background checks are quite extensive. One employee waited 12 weeks for verification. This was while the company was part of Tesla, and before the saboteur came out with his confession. I wonder if the saboteur made it through the same comprehensive and stringent background checking, yet still wound up wanting retribution.

So, should you tweak your hiring practices to include measuring the altruistic punishment threshold of potential employees, or should you address workforce complaints to the best of your ability?

It seems to me that sound, fair workforce cultures and policies are the best way to prevent internal sabotage. These are fixable problems!

If I were a shareholder, I’d be highly skeptical that the company could become profitable by cutting the workforce outside of production while doubling production.

I wonder how the costs of attrition, lack of efficiency, quality issues, and extensive internal sabotage rack up against the costs of more flexible work days, increased monetary incentives, improved feedback and communication, and career planning. Could Musk have avoided quality issues, delayed launches, sabotage and having to do a workforce reduction if he invested in solving the issues affecting his people?

As much of a visionary as I can agree Elon Musk is, it seems his eyes are on the prize and not his people. This is a strategic failure I hope doesn’t result in the combustion of his company, especially as new competitors emerge regularly.

One employee already stated that he feels everyone fears that the company is one disaster away from imploding. Could it be?

Is your company at risk of a similar fate?

If you answer yes to any of the questions below, then your company is at risk.

Please nominate your company for a workforce audit (all submissions are confidential!) by e-mailing us with your company’s name and the name(s), direct e-mail address(es) and direct phone number(s) to any and all contacts who would be the most logical point(s) of contact. C-level executives are logical points of contact, but so are majority shareholders and Vice Presidents empowered to make workforce investments.

  • Does your company put profit above people?
  • Do your executive leaders seem inaccessible and lack transparency?
  • Would you consider the working conditions to be inhumane and/or counter-productive?
  • Do they fail to acknowledge achievements?
  • Are your performance evaluations lacking in clarity on what you can improve or how you can grow?
  • Do they fail to give you feedback or deliver it harshly?
  • Is unprofessional behavior tolerated?
  • Does it seem certain kinds of people always get the promotions?
  • Are initiatives lacking in funding while executives take home healthy salaries and bonuses?
  • Does your boss play favorites?
  • Is communication one-way or non-existent
  • Are you fearful of what will happen if you make a mistake based on a history of punishment vs. development?

Beastie Boys – Sabotage

Music video by The Beastie Boys performing Sabotage. (C) 2009 Capitol Records, LLC

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.