Work, volunteer, family… I don’t have the time!

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They teach you to have extracurricular activities in high school.  It’s supposed to look good on college applications.  Then, they tell you to be involved in college.  I have seen resumes that state “maintained full-time job while attending school”. Again, this is supposed to help you get a job because you are well-rounded.  But no one ever held a class on what to do when you have a job, plus volunteer work, plus a family, not to mention church, hobbies, and other activities.

So what now? Explain to your boss how important these other activities are to you, and hope that he allows you to take an hour or two here and there to attend to other matters? Sacrifice time with family in order to get the job done? Or only focus on work and family? Or just family? Or just work? This can be a very confusing debate for a Nu Professional.

In the HR arena, “work-life balance” is definitely a buzz word.  At the 2009 SHRM National Conference, Jack Welch stated that work-life balance is a personal choice.  There seem to be multiple articles coming out every month with new studies on how employers should provide this balance in order to keep their employees happy.

I think that it boils down to what you, the Nu Professional, wants. Here are some suggested steps for balancing your life.

  1. Set Goals – I am a big – no HUGE – proponent for writing down short-term and long-term goals. Determine what you want to accomplish, then go to step two.
  2. Get a Map – Decide how you want to accomplish your goals.  One of the better ways is to find a mentor that is already there and follow the trail they have already blazed.  You may choose different landmarks to visit and places to see, but something they did obviously worked.  They’re already there.
  3. Recruit a Cheerleader – Be it your mentor, parents, friend, spouse, or children.  Whoever is in your life has to understand what you are trying to do and be on the same team as you.  (Note: You’ll avoid many “discussions” with your significant other if you’re on the same page from the start.)
  4. Take a hint from Nike and “Just Do It” – It’s up to you and only you to make it happen.  It will not be easy. You will make mistakes. And you will make enemies. But it’s not about them – it’s about YOU.

I am in the process of reading 10-10-10 by Suzy Welch.  It is supposed to be a great book on how to successfully manage your life.  I will let you know how it turns out.  In the meantime, if you’ve read it or have suggestions for us Nu Professionals, hit me with a comment.

Thinking Shapes Action… I’m Positive

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Our very own Tom Patterson once told me the story of 2 shoe salesmen who were sent to the jungle.  Upon arrival both men noticed most of the natives were barefoot.  One salesman called HQ and said, “Whose bright idea was it to send me here?  Nobody here wears shoes.”  The other salesman called HQ and said, “Send me two containers ASAP.  Nobody here wears shoes!”

The ability to focus your thoughts, your speech, your actions on positive outcomes comes more naturally to  some than others, but we can all benefit from making a shift to the positive side.

As we move into the final stretch of the year, I challenge you to do a little reprogramming of your brain.

The reprogramming I’m talking about is a subtle change, but it has enormous impact. It’s the power of positive positioning, mind share, and action. It starts with speaking in the affirmative, which is fairly easy to put into  practice once you get the hang of it.

A few examples:

  • Man, that Ops Review was brutal  >> The Ops Review feedback is helping us identify ways to get better
  • I have no idea where to start >> With some guidance from you, I’m sure I can run with this
  • We can’t be everything to everyone >> With greater focus we can put our skills to better use

We can achieve more (and be happier doing it) if we train ourselves to think and ACT in the affirmative.  The affirmative actions are focused on:

  • opportunities, not problems
  • strengths, not weaknesses
  • solutions, not excuses

I’m not professing that we should walk around here like the cast from Little House on the Prairie.  Affirmative practitioners don’t ignore that negativity exists (they would truly be in la-la land.)  Instead, the affirmative practitioner acknowledges a negative situation then articulates a positive action.

I’ll leave you with 3 last thoughts on the topic:

  1. The affirmative practitioner is the rescuer, not the victim.
  2. The affirmative practitioner takes responsibility for his/her actions and knows the result will be good.
  3. The affirmative practitioner is a natural leader because others are drawn to possibilities.

If the challenge to make positive changes to the way you think and act resonates with you, check out the following resources:

Book: Change the Way You See Everything – Asset-based Thinking

If you’re not up for a whole book, but are willing to really contemplate Ten Tips, here are some good ones: Ten Ways To Take Control with Positive Thinking

Time Magazine: Exercise Doesn’t Help You Lose Weight

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Weight Loss has long been thought to be a calories in, calories out type of thing that was aided by exercise.  Now, Time Magazine’s throwing one of those cover articles out (titled, “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin”) that’s sure to make a lot of people say “A-HA!!!”

More from the Time article:

“In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless,” says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher. Many recent studies have found that exercise isn’t as important in helping people lose weight as you hear so regularly in gym advertisements or on shows like The Biggest Loser — or, for that matter, from magazines like this one.

The basic problem is that while it’s true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

Earlier this year, the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE — PLoS is the nonprofit Public Library of Science — published a remarkable study supervised by a colleague of Ravussin’s, Dr. Timothy Church, who holds the rather grand title of chair in health wisdom at LSU. Church’s team randomly assigned into four groups 464 overweight women who didn’t regularly exercise. Women in three of the groups were asked to work out with a personal trainer for 72 min., 136 min., and 194 min. per week, respectively, for six months. Women in the fourth cluster, the control group, were told to maintain their usual physical-activity routines. All the women were asked not to change their dietary habits and to fill out monthly medical-symptom questionnaires.

The findings were surprising. On average, the women in all the groups, even the control group, lost weight, but the women who exercised — sweating it out with a trainer several days a week for six months — did not lose significantly more weight than the control subjects did. (The control-group women may have lost weight because they were filling out those regular health forms, which may have prompted them to consume fewer doughnuts.) Some of the women in each of the four groups actually gained weight, some more than 10 lb. each.

What’s going on here? Church calls it compensation, but you and I might know it as the lip-licking anticipation of perfectly salted, golden-brown French fries after a hard trip to the gym. Whether because exercise made them hungry or because they wanted to reward themselves (or both), most of the women who exercised ate more than they did before they started the experiment. Or they compensated in another way, by moving around a lot less than usual after they got home.”

The article’s a good read, so give it a run.  The problem with mass media articles like this is that they tend to not change anything, with the exception of making those avoiding exercise feel emboldened like they are somehow doing the right thing.  I haven’t been exercising, but guess what?  Time ran that big article that said exercise doesn’t work – so there’s no reason for me to start.

Meanwhile, regardless of the reality regarding exercise’s impact on weight loss, that same group gets none of the other positive impacts of exercise in their daily lives.

Worse yet, their kids grow up with no exposure to exercise as a part of a healthy lifestyle.

Thanks Time…

Hitting the "Reset" Button – via the DAXKO Sabbatical

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DAXKO’s always on the lookout for team members’ health and well-being.  Whether it’s nutritious snacks around the office, friendly (or not so friendly) fitness competitions, or free flu shots, DAXKO’s got our back when it comes to living healthier.  That includes our mental health, too.

Everyone needs a break every now and again.  DAXKO understands that and offers a 4-week paid sabbatical for team members who’ve put in 7
years with the company.  Jealous, huh?  The intent… unplug from work and recharge your battery.  The rule… NO WORK!  That means no email and no phone calls into the office.  We don’t want to hear from you for one whole month.  Period.

Here’s the experience of our CFO, who recently returned from his first sabbatical…

“I used my sabbatical to hit the ‘reset’ button.  After 9 years of intense work at DAXKO, I was fairly wound up.  The first part of my sabbatical, my wife and I just headed south by car along the eastern shore of Florida.  After a restful break in Key West, we headed back up the western shore of Florida.  We spent the second part of my sabbatical in Isla Mujeres, Mexico gobbling up fresh seafood.  Here’s what we experienced:

  • Snorkeling and kayaking in the Caribbean Sea
  • Seeing wildlife ranging from wild boars and iguanas to manatees and barracudas
  • Exploring the Kennedy Space Center
  • Watching a fireworks show over Disney World
  • Exploring the island of Isla Mujeres via a gas-powered golf cart
  • Feeding an iguana
  • Waking up at sunrise without an alarm clock for a whole month
  • Watching numerous sunsets
  • Visiting with friends and family in Florida
  • Visiting our parents and grandparents who we don’t see nearly enough
  • Eating more fresh seafood than I have ever  had in my life (octopus carpaccio with habanero slices, anyone?)
  • And even knocking out some long overdue projects at home