The ebb and flow of work-life balance

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 in Work-life Balance | 2 comments

Work-life balance is not static- there’s an ebb and flow. Sometimes you need to go easy and sometimes you need to push harder.

If you’re the type that naturally pushes harder (like me!), you’re likely to experience stress and related health issues.

If you’re the type that naturally goes easy, you may find yourself not making much progress and generally feeling dissatisfied with life.

There’s no blueprint for work-life balance, especially work-life balance that goes hand-in-hand with professional success. To achieve real work-life balance, you adjust your efforts as needed. Have a big project coming up? This is the time to work hard for success! Feeling unfocused and uninspired? Go ahead and take the time you need to relax and recharge!

I’ve recently learned about the ebb and flow of work-life balance in my life. After leaving a burnout job, I needed to take it easy. While I was taking it easy (or easier, at least), I started experiencing some health issues that really knocked me on my butt. I got in the habit of going easy on myself- maybe even too easy. I was no longer pushing, even when the situation called for it- even when it was good for me.

Then it hit me- I was taking it so easy I had become complacent. I felt weak and tired not from a lack of rest but from a lack of mental exercise and stimulation. I realized I needed to push a little harder than I had been pushing.

Work-life balance is not a destination, it’s a way of living each and every day. You can’t screw it up because in any given moment you can stop, reflect, and choose to go easy or push harder. You find the balance in the day-to-day.

What do you need to do today? Go easy, or push harder?

the ebb and flow of work life balancePhoto by Mo

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When life doesn’t go according to plan

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Achieving Goals | 5 comments

How often does life go according to plan, really? My life doesn’t often happen the way I think it will, the way I want it to, or the way I plan for it to go.

A lot of things haven’t been going according to plan lately, but it strikes me that life isn’t bad- not bad at all- just not what I was going for. For example, publishing a new post on Friday instead of Monday.

Sometimes I find myself feeling frustrated or overwhelmed that life isn’t going according to plan- don’t we all? Then I remember that I don’t need to get what I want to be happy. (Yes, really!) And I remember that success is making the best of the life I have.

So what if life doesn’t go according to plan? All I really have to do is adjust my plan and make the most of what’s in front of me.

Today I will be happy because whether or not life goes according to plan, I choose to be happy. Today I will make the best of today. Today I will live a purposeful life and realized it doesn’t matter how it all turns out in the end (and it will all turn out okay in the end!) I invite you to join me!

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How Toastmasters helped me overcome social anxiety

Posted by on Mar 21, 2014 in Personal Development | 2 comments

I’m socially awkward. I experience social anxiety- particularly in new social settings. Going to parties is the worst because I just don’t know what to do with myself and feel completely out of place.  Can you relate?

I didn’t join Toastmasters to help me overcome my social anxiety- I didn’t even know Toastmasters would help me be more comfortable in a variety of social and business situations. Facing my social anxiety in Toastmasters was a completely unexpected and wonderful gift!

I didn’t even realize how much my social anxiety had improved until recently. I thought about what changed and I realized what changed was me, and what changed me was Toastmasters.

When I started in Toastmasters I felt really uncomfortable talking about myself. I was confident in my abilities but I was still uncomfortable being me. Not Chrysta the blogger, or Chrysta the accountant, or Chrysta the hostess- just Chrysta.

The first speech we give in Toastmasters is a speech about ourselves. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote that speech, hurriedly throwing my speech together the night before because I just couldn’t figure out what to say about me.

As I continued in Toastmasters I discovered, with the support and encouragement of my club, that I gave the best speeches when I was genuine, honest, and 100% Chrysta.

That’s right, people actually like me for being me.  People from vastly different backgrounds with very different interests. People like me. Whoa. It may seem strange to suggest learning people actually like me was a revelation, but it was.

I’m a nerd. A geek. I’ve never enjoyed sports and many other mainstream interests. I’m thrilled to curl up with a movie or book. I’m a homebody. I’m an introvert. I’m a Trekkie.

It wasn’t that I thought I was unlikable- most of the time I just feel different. I’ve always felt awkward in social situations and found it difficult to be comfortable just being me.

Toastmasters may or may not be for you, so I’ll try to share some of the insights I’ve learned in Toastmasters that helped me face my social anxiety.

How Toastmasters helped me overcome social anxiety

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Be passionate

I am friends with every member of my Toastmasters club because we all get to know each other so well. What I love about getting to know my fellow Toastmasters is hearing what they are passionate about. When I’m passionate about something and I share it with others, I shine.

Be genuine

When I started out in Toastmasters I chose topics I thought my audience would be interested in. Sometimes they were interested and sometimes not, but either way my fellow members didn’t connect with me when I wasn’t sharing some part of myself. That, my friends, is as genuine as it gets.

Be vulnerable

I used to be so afraid of making a fool of myself in social situations. In this, Jennifer Lawrence is my hero. She trips at the Oscars and she laughs it off and we all laugh with her- it’s endearing. In Toastmasters I’ve had lots of practice making a fool of myself in the most supportive and encouraging environment. We all make fools of ourselves sometimes and it’s often our vulnerability that makes us relatable.

Be unique

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” ~Oscar Wilde

One of the many reasons Toastmasters is so fun is because each member of my club is different and we all have something unique to share. I’ve learned my contribution to Toastmasters, and the world, is my own experiences and perspectives. My voice is unique and beautiful. No one else can tell my story.

Be uncomfortable

The encouragement and motivation from my fellow Toastmasters gave me confidence to keep trying new things, keep putting myself out there, and to embrace and love myself just as I am. Every time I get up to speak I learn, grow, and become more comfortable doing things that used to make me quite uncomfortable.

Have fun!

In Toastmasters I’ve learned that when I’m having fun, other people are having fun with me. Whatever attitude I adopt is like an invitation to my audience to share. I can choose to have fun and so I will- now won’t you join me?

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