Posts Tagged ‘Joy’

The Joy of Loving Your Work

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Today was an amazing day. So amazing, I forgot to post my blog this morning because I was shooting my home for an upcoming issue of Traditional Home. Days like today are the fun days. You know, the days that it feels like you’re living in your sweet spot!

And I’ve talked about my word of the year for weeks now in my 52 Weeks of Joy series. I’ve mentioned how I’m rediscovering or creating new joys in my life. It’s a daily practice. But believe me, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There are dozens of reasons every day or at least every week that can bring you down if you aren’t vigilant.

One place where it can definitely be challenging to find joy is in our work. Most of us spend more time each day at work than doing anything else. So it’s really important to our happiness and well being to make sure that our job brings us joy many more days that not.

All of us have had times when the joy of what we do is drained right out of our workdays thanks to deadlines and stress. It can be hard to get motivated enough to get out of bed when your work isn’t inspiring you. And even though I am passionate about the work I do, I can’t tell you the number of times over my 18 years in business,  when I’ve thrown my hands up in the air and said, that’s it, I QUIT! Just shut the doors, we’re done! And when we add on top of that our responsibilities at home, it can really get overwhelming.

So if you are feeling burned out, drained or overworked, or if you can’t remember the last time you felt like you were working in your “sweet spot”, then it’s time for you to commit to finding joy in your work. Sometimes the problem is that your job or industry has changed due to factors outside of your control and you may start to ask yourself why you continue to do this job everyday. And believe it or not, that’s a good thing. When anything in your life is so painful that you are motivated to make a change, that’s exactly when something amazing is going to happen!

So what steps do we take to put that joy back or maybe find it for the first time? Well as problematic as it can be to watch all those fabulous photos, amazing destinations, and incredible projects everyone is posting on social media because it makes us envious or think that we’re doing something wrong, it can also be motivating. Yes, “Comparison is the thief of joy”, but it can also light a fire under you to make your life what you dream it can be. I do turn to Instagram often for inspiration including ideas for what I want in my life especially in the way of travel with my family.

So if you’ve lost the happiness and passion you had for your business, what can you do? I have some ideas for you:

First, stop everything for 10 minutes today. I want you to turn off your phone and your email and shut your door. Then I want you to get a piece of paper and a pen, and I want you to write down why you got into this business in the first place. And do not get up until you have a reason that isn’t “I want to make money.” Because you could do ANYTHING to make money. You could probably do a lot of things that didn’t have the amount of aggravation and stress you’re feeling right now.

What was it? You need to get back to whatever the motivation was for your business, and rediscover it so you can bring back your joy!

You may also want to remember what positives you get from your business. What 2 or 3 things do you love about your business? Maybe you like the freedom of your schedule. Maybe you like not answering to a “boss.” Or maybe you like being in charge of your destiny – whatever it is, you need to write those down and remember them, too.

You know what else is really the enemy of happiness? Being overwhelmed. That’s why I wanted you to create a moment of zen, without phones or distractions, to focus on what is important to you. I wanted you to stop the “overwhelm” for just a few minutes or better yet a few minutes every day with meditation or yoga. That is definitely working for me this year!

When your to-do list seems as long as the Great Wall of China, taking that first step on the wall can seem like an enormous and almost impossible task. But that one step is everything. If you can focus on one goal, one task, just one step, it can really help you take action. Taking action, even a small one, is really motivating. It’s an accomplishment, and that can really help you keep going.

Remind yourself of any successes you have in your business too! I’m guilty of not doing this sometimes myself. We get so caught up in grinding away at everything we have to do that we forget to stop and say “Hey, I just did a BIG thing there!” Maybe you want to make a list on a white board where you can see it all the time. Or maybe you want to even set a reminder to have a glass of champagne when you get home. However you have to do it, set a routine to celebrate all of your accomplishments, your JOYS, from small ones to really big ones!

And finally, be sure you are finding inspiration for yourself. Inspiration really does lead to joy! So if you need to go to a museum, or read a book, or take a day trip somewhere, or go to the spa when you should be working so you can relax enough to be inspired, then do it! I suspect that inspiration and creativity were one of the reasons you listed for why you got into this business in the first place, so find ways to bring them back into your work life.

Here’s to us all having more days in our “sweet spot” this year!

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Yin Yoga

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Yin yoga changed my life. About 6 years ago I discovered Yin style yoga. I had been practicing yoga on and off for years but was typically doing flow yoga or even hot yoga now and again. I had no idea Yin even existed. Sadly there is no Yin yoga studio in Little Rock anymore but I now practice Yin at home in my personal yoga studio. More about that in a bit

So what is Yin, you ask? It’s a type of yoga involving super long holds in typical yoga positions…as in 8 minutes in a forward fold. The point of it is to bypass the muscle and get into the connective tissue. You know the connective tissue? It’s that stuff that basically shrink wraps your joints. And as we age it doesn’t remain as pliable or flexible as it once was which can cause all sorts of joint pain, back issues and injuries. If you are a nerd like me and would like to learn more about Yin and it’s benefits, this book, The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga, is for you!

I find that Yin has a lot of the benefits of Restorative yoga too. And I know, I know, lots of “real” yoga peeps think Yin and Restorative are for sissies. Well as Oprah would say “here’s what I know for sure”. I get cardio in my life in tons of ways including walking, hiking, tennis and other intense exercises. So I am not lacking in the sweating and burning calories department most of the time. But where I am always in major need is in the stretching my body and relaxing my mind categories. My personality is definitely Type A and some might say I’m “intense” so instead of adding more fuel to the fire so to speak with hot yoga or something fast paced, what this hard-working mama needs is something that calms me down and makes my body feel oh so good. And I mean YIN FEELS GOOD! It’s truly hard for me to decide if a massage or Yin yoga feels better.

And what I learned about Yin is that it’s sort of like yoga meets meditation. Because trust me, when you are in a hold for 5-8 minutes or longer, it definitely becomes about quieting the mind, especially in poses like Dragon that are super painful. So for me Yin is a double win because it is a major dose of mental work with a super dose of stretching my body.

You can also think of Yin as in the opposite of Yang. Yang qualities are fire, intense, fast, restless, active. Yang isn’t all bad, it is also positive, light and  sunshine. But for me, too much Yang is a problem. And my personality is absolutely way more Yang than Yin. We need to balance our personality with whichever qualities we don’t have. So I am the perfect candidate for Yin yoga because I am definitely high-strung, very active, easily stressed and I also spend a lot of time sitting at work, on airplanes, and in front of my computer so my hips, hamstrings, low back, neck and shoulders get really tight. The difference in my body and my demeanor with a Yin yoga practice is remarkable. Just ask those people who live with me when I’m not practicing Yin (wink!).

I really understood the power of Yin yoga over the last couple of years when I took on a lot of extra things like expanding my consulting company, and 4 licensed product lines, and I let my Yin practice fall by the wayside. Boy did I ever feel the pains of not having this gift of yoga in my life. And my body went from feeling like a 30 something to an 80 year old in about a year’s time. I was actually surprised at how far backwards my health and flexibility went by not making time for this therapeutic form of exercise.

 

So if you are like me, Type A all the way, give Yin yoga a try. I practice every day now and my life is better for it. You can do it right at home with yogaglo.com on your computer, tablet or phone. And if you have Apple TV like me, it’s even easier to stream it on your TV. If you’re looking for peace, health and lots and lots of JOY this year, Yin yoga is the way. Namaste!

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Quitting

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Yes, you read that blog title right. Sometimes it is a JOY to quit things–to just decide you will not do some things in your life anymore. Whether it’s things on your to-do list or your bucket list or maybe it’s some of your business services or social media–quitting can feel great. And oh my yes, don’t we want to quit social media sometimes?! Being a part of too many things is exhausting. I so relate to the quote above. It’s funny but for me, it’s also very true!

There are many things that most of us need to quit. And believe it or not, sometimes it’s relationships…the toxic and draining ones that only take and don’t ever fill you back up. Or maybe even ones that aren’t really taking anything from you much, but you feel guilty for not being able to give them more time. Anything that brings guilt needs to be reconsidered. And then there are all those hobbies and exercise classes and social groups and bible studies and charity boards and the PTA. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you shouldn’t be an advocate, a philanthropist, a friend or be spiritual or religious. I am just saying that it’s time to take a look at the particular groups or activities you are currently in and see if they are still the best fit for you.

But I have to tell you, quitting is one of the hardest things for me at times. It is often harder than saying no to new opportunities. As kids we were taught not to quit, right? You’ve heard all the sayings…”Don’t be a quitter”. “Winners never quit, and quitters never win”. But you know what? That is a myth, and a dangerous one at that. It is often the reason that we become overloaded, stressed out and unhappy. Because we keep adding new things, exciting things, things that seem like they will make our life better, but we don’t quit things to make room for the new. So we just cram it all in there like our days are going to magically become longer than 24 hours if we just keep stuffing more into them. Surely they will have to stretch like our stomachs do when we keep cramming food in, right? Ha! But unfortunately, our days never do.

I have learned that I have a lot of core beliefs from childhood, from my parents, from teachers, from society that are not healthy for me. It’s not that people didn’t have the best intentions when they were teaching me these ideas, it’s just that they are outdated thoughts. They don’t fit my grown up life or my goals or my health plans. They are beliefs that have become obsolete, but for some reason, we don’t get new beliefs when they stop working for us like we get newer models of cars, TVs, phones and computers. Think about it, how effective would we be if we were still using a phone or computer from 1970 or 80? Not very, right? And how many of us would look our best if we are 45 and still dressing like we are 16 or 20. Probably not many of  us. But we will continue trying to make beliefs, ideas and life lessons from our childhood or youth fit where we are today. That just doesn’t make any sense.

Not being about to quit is one of these outdated rules for me. It no longer serves me well as a core belief. I think that is true for many people including children today. When we were told not to quit, we didn’t have a schedule like a high powered CEO at age 10. But children today are expected to act and work like an adult, keep a schedule that would exhaust any grown up and they have so many choices of activities it makes their heads spin, but we still associate failure or embarrassment with quitting. So they just stay over-loaded or we let them quit, but shame them for it. Why? Why not let our kids, or us for that matter, sample something–try it on for size–and see if they/we like it? And if we don’t, then why not quit and keep looking until we find the right sport or interest or school or career or relationships that are a good fit?

As I continue on my quest this year for my 2 resolutions…1) finding more joy and 2) loving myself more, I am realizing more than ever that there are a lot of things I need to quit to be happy and healthy. And this doesn’t mean I will quit being a consultant or a designer or a mom or a wife, but there are parts of each of those things that I need to quit if I want to be the best version of me. And it doesn’t mean I will quit every group I am in or quit eating, but there are some things in my life and diet that definitely need to go if I want to feel good.

I love how Arianna Huffington says in her book Thrive that she decided just to take a bunch of pressure off of herself by simply striking a ton of things off her bucket list that she really didn’t need or want to do. She realized if they were that important to her, she would have already done them by now. What can you wipe off yours? There are several things that I am striking from my bucket list this year and a ton of things off my to-do list, and I feel great about it!

I have to remind myself that some things run their course in life and that’s ok. Some relationships come to an end and that doesn’t necessarily mean they were a failure, they just ran their course.  Some careers or business services had a great run but now it’s time to do something different with your time and resources. That’s not a bad thing. In fact its a good thing. Some exercise routines or hobbies you have tried to make stick for years need to go. They aren’t right for you or you’d be a pro at them by now.

I think back to when some of my favorite TV shows (Sex in the City, Castle, Downton Abbey) went off the air and how sad I was. But it was always better for them to go out on a high note leaving me with fond memories instead of waiting until the last possible minute, far past their prime, when they really left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth or mind. So what in your life or your business is like that? What are you tired of? What has run it’s course? What do you find yourself dreading every time you start to do it? What needs to end so you can make room for new, exciting and better offerings to your family, your friends or your customers? What should go so you can create things that are more in line with the season of life you are in right now? Again, my list is pretty long and it will take courage and guts to make changes. That’s true for us all, even when we know it’s the right thing to do, it’s hard to change.

I’m here to tell you, there is a lot freedom and a lot of JOY in quitting. Scary? Yes! Worth it? Absolutely.

If you need help deciding, read this great little book by Seth Godin called The Dip, when to quit and when to stick.  It even tells you that there are some things you should quit and quit fast! Don’t linger. And I agree. Every day you wait you are keeping yourself from more joy. And the good news is most things aren’t absolute. You can usually go back in some form or another, and maybe even a better version if you quit and regret it. So don’t let fear hold you back.

Happy Quitting, friends. I hope it brings you as much peace and JOY as it is bringing me. Think of how happy we will all be with all those weights lifted from our lives!

Joyfully yours,

 

 

 

The Joy of Listening

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Listen carefully because I need to tell you something really important…We don’t listen. Yes! It is so true. None of us (or very few) truly listen to each other or to our bodies. We often don’t even listen to the small voice inside–you know the one you may call intuition or your gut that is your innermost guide to what works for you.

We don’t listen to our spouses, our children, our families or our friends. We don’t listen to clients. We don’t listen.

As a part of my course in Nutrition at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, listening is taught as a very important concept for both personal wellness and coaching others. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So why don’t we do it?

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Well we all have our reasons. Usually it’s because we are thinking of ourselves or thinking about what we are going to say next. Often it’s because we think we are smarter or know better than the person that’s talking. Sometimes it’s because our minds are wandering or fretting over all the things on our to do list. It may be because we are distracted with social media (put your phone down please!) or television or our kids or our dogs. I mean seriously could we have any more distractions in our lives?

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So I am going to be brutally honest here—isn’t listening the only way we really learn and help others? As I really started to think about the reason that I personally don’t listen the way I should to my family or my clients I learned that for me it’s a matter of time. I’m always in a hurry. I never feel like I have the “luxury” of listening. And I think that is really sad. It goes back to my post last week on “having my plate too full”. I realized I feel this constant pressure to get things done and so every meeting, every encounter whether with friends or family or my business associates or vendors I am in a race against the clock to blurt out all the important things that I feel must be said before that imaginary buzzer in my head sounds and tells me it’s time to move on to the next thing. And I wonder why I always feel so stressed!! Living in this self-imposed fight or flight mode has the cortisol pumping 24-7 in my body and the repercussions on my health and relationships is detrimental.

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Then I started thinking about the JOY that comes with listening. And I am depriving myself of that connection with others when I am harried and on a deadline for every conversation. It is most evident when I think about my pre-teen daughter. I want more than anything else to stay connected with her as she grows like my mom has connected with me. And I’ve now had the light-bulb moment about listening and I realize this means clearing my plate so that I have time to listen to her. Real time. Eye contact. Being fully present.

And that is not semi-listening while on my laptop. It’s not pseudo-listening while I am cooking dinner. It’s real listening maybe while we go for a walk, or drive in the car or head out for a frozen yogurt and sit across from each other and smile. I have been drawn to a quote for a while that says “Time without attention is worthless”. These are powerful words. I think it goes to the heart of idea of quality time. But I feel like quality time has become one of those things that Americans give lip service to, don’t you? Most of us consider it “time with family” if we are in the same room or house with them while we multi-task on a million different things. And then there’s the problem of not listening to ourselves.

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Yes, there is the whole debacle of me not listening to my body. Seriously, could it scream any louder when I am out of balance. I suspect some of you can even hear it screaming where you are right now, ha! But all joking aside, when your joints ache and your pants don’t fit and your feet hurt and your brain is foggy, wouldn’t an intelligent and logical person listen? One would think, but so few of us do. That’s why we are all overworked, sleep-deprived, stressed out, and depressed. It’s why we need alcohol and anti-depressants, mindless TV and Facebook to numb us from hearing that persistent voice inside telling us exactly what we already know, but don’t want to hear. For me the message is SLOW DOWN! DO LESS! RELAX! It’s saying please, please, please I beg of you to go up to your yoga room, or take 20 minutes and meditate, or go out for a walk and breathe all that fresh air! What message is your body telling you?

listen to your soul

So I am turning my focus now not to listening (ironically), but to getting things off my plate. My need to open up whitespace in my life, to prioritize and say no. I need to remove more deadlines and stress and quite honestly to love myself more. This is the only way I will be able to listen—truly listen, to those precious people and clients and colleagues that are most important to me. And it is definitely the only way I will ever hear myself.

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I know in my heart and in my gut that listening is one of the things that can bring me the most JOY this year. I want to listen to my heart, my loves and my body more than ever before.

Will you join me in finding the Joy in listening? Tell me your answer—I’m listening.

Joyfully yours,

Tobi Signature