Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Are You Into F & M??

I’m an admitted work-a-holic. It’s easy. Since I love writing, work feels stimulating and joyous. I also consider myself a play-a-holic at times too. I do need to have fun away from my computer! But in March, I agreed to write two books quickly. It was MY choice. A third edition of Start & Run Your Own Record Label was badly needed, with all the new models for digital marketing. So I wanted it out fast. My editor at Billboard said if I turned in by May 15th, it could be out in January. So I agreed! It’s important to me that my book comes out quick.

Around the same time, I signed with McGraw-Hill my Nice Girls Can Finish First book. Normally they give at least a year to write the book and then it could take another for the editing and production end. But my editor loves it and offered to speed its release. If I could turn it in by June 1st,. it would be out for Women’s History Month in March. Of course I agreed! I wanted this book out as fast as possible.

I interviewed dozens of people for the music book. Transcribing interviews was time consuming. In between I was writing the other book, doing my blog, and working on other projects. Trying to do simple personal stuff like laundry, preparing meals, cleaning, communicating with friends, etc. became intrusive. I’m glad I did agreed to the short deadlines—now that it’s over. I did learn a lot.

During that time I accepted I can’t do it all. Nobody can. You may try to. I’ve done that. Push—push—push to get 2 days worth of work done in one. Telling myself I can do it. I see many other work-a-holics like me, or much worse if that’s possible. Electronic toys bring multi-tasking to the next level. It keeps you in work mode even when playing, since anyone can reach you anywhere. You might get extra work done by working double-time in all your time, but can be price can be too high!

It’s alluring to want to get ahead or do something that means a lot to you, like me with my books. Working faster during much longer hours can seem the road to achievement. Why not if you can? Because it can hurt you in ways you may not think about until it’s too late. Just like many medications have side effects, working on overkill has them too:

* Hurts your health. You may skip meals. Neglect your needs. Ignore discomfort from doing those things. Or you may pop pills for the headache overwork gives you that may not be best for you. Nutrition can really suffer when you’re on the run, even if the running is just in your head, like me tied to my computer. Sweets and junk food are much more alluring when you’re working on a treadmill-like schedule. Smoking and turning to drug stimuli can also increase.

* Stress. Do I need to spell this one out? Working too much causes your body to respond to the stress of it all. That causes all sorts of harm to your body. It can damage your heart, give you indigestion or heartburn, and many other things that can potentially weaken your immune system.

* Sleep deprivation. You might not plan to give up sleep when you take on too many projects but it can suffer in several ways. Having work on the brain can prevent falling asleep. I’d get so frustrated when my mind raced. I knew it was important to get my eight hours. Then there’s the allure of getting more work done by sleeping less. I’d wake up at 5 AM and think about how much I could get done if I stayed up. So of course I stayed up and sleep suffered. I actually think I got less work done since it’s harder to function efficiently when you’re tired.

* Loss of playtime. All work and no play is no fun! Nor is it healthy. We need balance. I love writing more than almost anything. But avoiding downtime activities limits my joy. You need a mix of both! Making money with no time to play with it makes no sense!

* Loss of friends and family. When you work almost all the time, there’s little quality time for loved ones. Your romantic partner feels neglected. Friends alienated. People are your most valuable assets. We all need to give and receive love, whether it’s romantic or with friends and family. It’s important to make an effort to spend time with people you care about!

* Diminished productivity. Wearing yourself down also wears down your ability to function at high capacity. In the last few months I worked 7 days a week, often 14 hours a day. But eventually I realized it took me longer to do things. My brain slowed down. So I was working harder and longer while getting less done.

* Diminished satisfaction. When I was on overload, eventually my joy in writing decreased as I pushed myself to keep going. Too much of anything is no good as they say! It’s important to take breaks from work, even if you love what you do.

I was lucky. I caught myself. After a few weeks of the above, I made the effort to create at least some balance. I still had to work hard but every day I had at least an hour of ME time. Often it was to exercise. One hour of weight training or running in Central Park. Once a week I had acupuncture to reduce stress and keep up my energy. I did my best to accept that more sleep meant more quality work. And while I pared down my social life for a bit, I still made some time to go out and have fun.

And deep breathing regularly also relieved stress.

I had to make choices on what to cut back on and to prioritize where to put my time. That was how I survived being on overload. Many of us think we can do it all. And we can, if we sacrifice our well-being and sometimes our sanity. I love myself enough not to do that! I had no regrets putting things off. Keeping myself healthy is always my TOP priority, as it should be yours too!!!

I apologize for not keeping this blog up as much as I used to. I will post more often now. I was also VERY late getting out the free music industry e-zine I publish. And, much slower to answer emails. Sometimes a girl has to focus on the income earning work! Now I am catching up and it feels great to get my apartment back in order.

People tell me they skip meals when they’re buried in work. I never did. Eating regularly is important! So is making a special effort to eat healthy when you’re busy. I keep nuts handy for snacks. When you’re exceptionally busy, be vigilant about taking care of you in whatever ways you can.

Sometimes you must go the distance to get things done. I have NO regrets about dedicating so much time to get my 2 books done so they can come out early in 2009.

I’m into F & M?–Fun & Money! I live to enjoy my life and to earn enough money to pay my bills and whatever else I need. I’m a work-a-holic and a play-a-holic! I both work and play with passion. Otherwise, my life wouldn’t have the healthy balance I continually strive to have. While I have some new books to write, my deadlines are more manageable
now. I’m happy about that and plan to make more time for fun as I do my day job too!

Find your own balance. Get into F & M! Make an effort to have lots of fun and time with those you care about, and put lots of energy into your work too! You might have to evolve into that balance, like I did. Consciousness helps you get into an F & M lifestyle! I love to tell folks I’m into F & M. ? Try it. It’s a great way to live!

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Get Bouncing Everyone!

Have you ever had one of those days, or months, or years, when you felt like life’s situations were locking a ball and chain around you, holding you stuck in a negative situation or keeping you trapped in a depressed or sad mood? Do you want to move forward but don’t know how to shake it off?

Help is here! ?

I’m delighted to have Karen Salmansohn as my guest today. She’s a best selling author of many books with over 1 million sold. Her newest is The Bounce Back Book: How To Thrive In The Face Of Adversity, Setbacks And Losses (Workman Publishing Company, 2008). It’s dressed in a symbolic red rubber cover. Just like a red rubber ball bounces back when it’s thrown against a wall, Karen tells her readers how to bounce back from a variety of situations.

The Bounce Back Book has gotten high praise from many impressive folks, including Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and Lucy S. Danziger, Editor-in-Chief of SELF. It’s a great gift for someone you know who’s going though a personal struggle or for yourself. As Danziger says, “Salmansohn’s advice for regaining your footing after a life set back is smart, do-able and even fun. Chock-full of mood-lifting exercises designed to increase self-awareness and enhance resilience, this mini-guidebook makes clear that we all have inner strength, once we know how to access it.”

Tips from The Bounce Back Book
By Karen Salmansohn
Life is full of uncertainties, and what we have planned doesn’t always go as expected. In fact, there’s a big ‘ol “IF” in the middle of “life” that reminds us of lurking stipulations. My newest book, The Bounce Back Book, is chock full of tips on how to help you cope with these setbacks.

For example, Tip # 21 reminds you that when life throws you curve balls, hit them out of the park.

If you’ve been fired…consider starting your own company.

If you’ve had a bad breakup…consider moving to another city or country.

If you’ve been faced with an illness…consider training to run a marathon and becoming your healthiest self ever.

Change is good if you INSIST on making change be good. Don’t’ fight it. EMBRACE it. Go with the flow of your change by considering flowing in a new direction. Brainstorm crazy new ideas that are now newly possible.

And Tip # 23 from my book helps you harness this flow. “People are seldom happier than when they are in the flow,” says psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who has spent more than 25 years researching this phenomenon. He once described flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved an you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

A lot of people experience flow while exercising. I know I do. As a runner, I often want to give up midway through my workout. But that’s when I push myself though that wall of pain. I stay focused only on taking the next step, then the next step, then the next. Before I know it, I’ve completed my run.

To be clear, flow is not about zoning out. Any damn fool can sit in front of the television and forget their troubles for an hour (or six).

Seek out the thing that absorbs your attention utterly, the thing you look forward to, that takes your mind off your struggles, if only for a little bit. Flow can be illusive. If it was easy to get, we’d all be “flowing” all the time. You may not find your flow right away, but keep looking for it. And when you do find it, make it a priority to fit flow into your daily life.

Karen is so right that when you find your flow, you can push through the pain! Her example of running resonated with me, as I do that when I run too. It hurts, I get tired, it’s hot, and I want to stop and go home. But I don’t! I talk to myself and stay in the flow of doing something healthy for me. Like Karen says, it’s not about zoning out. I stay in the run, or find other things that absorb me. Finding and staying in the flow does help me get through the negatives and come out the other side stronger. It can help you too!

Check out Karen Salmansohn and her terrific new title, The Bounce Back Book.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Saying “No” Without Saying “No”

In my last post, I discussed why saying “no” is important. We’re often afraid that if we turn people down when they ask for something, they won’t like us. Since saying the actual word “no” can feel uncomfortable, but there are alternative that work well.

Find firm ways to turn folks down without the word ever crossing your lips.

Little white lies ease you into it. If it’s more comfortable at first, create excuses. Someone calls for a lift – you just washed your hair. Can you come watch her kids? You’re writing a report. Survival excuses allow you to bow out nicely. Consistent, reasonable excuses can get people out of the habit of always expecting your help. Agree occasionally.

You really don’t owe anyone elaborate excuses! Be careful about letting someone box you into a corner. When I was a DoorMat, I’d be asked if I really had to go to the doctor when they needed me. I’d actually change my appointment rather than argue! People may not take your turning them down well and challenge your excuse, pushing for more details about why you can’t. Watch how others turn you down. If you consistently make excuses, People will begin to look elsewhere.

Create generic answers instead of saying “no.”

Use expressions like, “I can’t do it” or “this doesn’t work for me.” Flattery can temper refusals. Say you think highly of them but you’re overextended. Tell a neighbor you enjoy talking with her but it’s not a good time to share family barbecues. Turn folks down without “no.” Create pat answers. Find your own version:

• “That doesn’t fit my schedule.”
• “Time won’t allow me to make more commitments.”
• “Filling in when you’re away is too important for my limited time.”
• “I barely have time to take a potty break with so much on my plate.”

Do you get arguments from someone when you turn them down? When people are used to getting their way, the less they accept not getting their way. A reader commented on my last post that when she’s asked to do something she doesn’t want to do, she looks in her Day Planner and says she can’t. But a co-worker has actually looked at her schedule after she’s declined! That’s rude!

If it were me, I’d focus on how inappropriate it is to look through my schedule and question what I said. Maybe seeing the date reminded me I have a dentist appointment I didn’t write down. Only bullies push to get their way when you’ve turned them down. Better to avoid them when possible! That’s why I recommended in the last post that you wait and let the person know later. If you email your turn down, they can’t question you as easily!

NEVER say, “I wish I could,” unless you want them to rearrange their schedule to grant your wish.

Segue into just saying you can’t. When I began to baby step out of DoorMatville, I gave elaborate reasons and apologized. Now I firmly say, “I can’t, which invites fewer follow-up requests. My conviction indicates, “case closed.”

Do friends try to rope you into volunteering for charity or at your kids’ school? Bow out clearly. Don’t be evasive or say you’re sorry you can’t help. That invites more requests. It’s your right to choose how to volunteer. Don’t let people with causes intimidate you. Explain other commitments take all your time—no more details—with a smile! ? A firm attitude reinforces it.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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You Can Say NO!

Last night I was at an event. The speaker asked people in the audience to share something special they’d done this year. One woman said she began to say “no” to people. Everyone applauded this feat. Women are known for being overly agreeable. I’ve encountered many guys who say they also agree to requests much too often.

Saying that one small word—“no”—turns into a very big deal for many of us!

I relate. When I was a DoorMat, I couldn’t get that word out. Turning someone down meant possibly losing a friendship. Or alienating someone. You might not even like the person but if you want to be liked by EVERYONE, agreeable seems to be the course of action.

Being liked seems much more pleasant than annoying someone by not helping. When I was on Oprah, she asked the audience what they preferred—being liked or being respected? Almost everyone chose liked. And people like you much more when you’re agreeable! Now I know that real friends like you even if you don’t jump when they need something. And colleagues who respect you will respect when you’re too busy to accept more work.

We all have ouch moments when we feel we’ve done something to make someone not like us. I still do! But they pass fast in the glow of feeling more empowered.

After being the go-to girl for everyone, I finally began to be more selective about doing favors. As my self-esteem grew, I accepted—joyously—that I was entitled to have a life that includes meeting my needs too. To achieve that, I had to stop putting all my time and energy into others. But, I was accused of becoming a bitch when I turned down requests. I ran back to the “security” of being agreeable until I realized the manipulation in their words.

They were being unfair by labeling me with a nasty word, just for saying I couldn’t help them. It’s okay to say “no” if you have something else to do!

I learned how to turn people down more diplomatically. At first, I proudly forced “no” out. It felt uncomfortable and wasn’t well received. So I tried new ways to ease people into understanding that they had to find someone else as their go-to girl. I’d gotten folks in the habit of expecting me to help with everything. Now I had to break that habit! And I did, by using new tactics to slowly wean myself away from requests.

You can create new habits of responding to what others want from you. Their attitude probably won’t change overnight. Long time habits take a while to bereak. But if you’re consistent, you to can give yourself a lot more time by giving less to others. You can stop being on agreeable auto-pilot! Next time you get asked to help with something you know you don’t want to do:

Pause before responding. DoorMats feel they must reply instantly. You don’t have to! Even if you may say yes, get into the habit of thinking before you respond. Try to stay as deadpan as possible so they can’t read guilt or dismay. They may try to manipulate you if they sense guilt or a lack of enthusiasm for their needs.

Stall. Say you must think about it or check your schedule. If she pushes and says she needs to know fast, nicely explain you can’t respond fast so she may want to find a backup. If she acts like you’re not being a friend, ask, with a smile, why she thinks her schedule is more important than yours.

Stall more. A few people may get the message if you stall a bit. Ask him to email you to remind you to check your schedule. It gives you some distance from personal reactions. Turning someone down electronically is easier.

Ponder. Ask yourself, “Do I want to do it or prefer not to?” You might want to go the distance for someone who has helped you a lot. Be selective as you turn folks down. Don’t just stop agreeing to everything. But if agreeing to the request will inconvenience you in ways that stress you, and you don’t owe the person that kind of consideration, choose not to do it.

Excuse. After you’ve waited a while, say you can’t do it. Waiting helps the person get used to your not always saying “yes.” It forces them to think of alternatives to having you do what they need. Even if you say “yes,” they may begin to see they can’t automatically count on you. As you practice, you can turn off auto-pilot and selectively agree when it works for you.

I may not be liked by as many people since I started saying “no,” but I’m a lot more respected, and a lot happier with the people in my world who like me for me, not for what I do for them. In my next post, I’ll give alternatives to saying “no.” You can turn folks down without that little word ever crossing your lips!

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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