Top 10 Tips to Avoid Job Burnout

I worked for “the man” in Corporate America for over a quarter of a century both in commission-only media sales and, for a short time, in middle management.  I eventually left an ample paying position with health care benefits, a nice expense account, and 401k matching to pursue a different dream – releasing myself of the golden handcuffs.

Why wouldn’t someone want to stick it out for the proverbial gold watch and the pension? In my case, there was certainly no pension; or even a gold watch. However, stress was the corporate gift that kept on giving. The stress levels rose each year with every corporate buy out or merger and with each management team’s new “vision”. Eventually, it began to cause health issues.   Funny how your doctor tells you to avoid stress. Like he/she doesn’t know your job, right?work stress

The workplace, to me, had become more stressful and less user-friendly with each passing year. Perhaps due to the immediacy of technology and everyone (outside and inside the organization) expecting results in a nano second. Possibly it is the people sitting at the corporate office in their ivory tower having to massage the numbers to answer to the Wall Street stockholders.  Or maybe greed and the desire for power has overtaken the way we do business on every level.

My purpose today is not to figure out the why, but to help you with a few survival skills to avoid job burnout in this corporate landscape.

1. Use every minute of your vacation time. 

Yes, there actually are people who do not.  I was once interviewed by a manager who was so proud he had not taken a single vacation day for something like 6 years.  I looked at him closely for signs of the inevitable heart attack approaching.  I could not imagine working in an environment which frowned upon taking the vacation time you earned. Needless to say, I didn’t take the job. vacation calendar.jpg

Time off clears your head, allows your internal system to truly relax and gives you time to make cherished memories with family, friends or alone time.  “Vacation” does not mean you have to go somewhere and spend a bunch of money. Perhaps you plant a garden or go fishing on a nearby quiet lake. The point here is to check out.  Unless you’re a rocket scientist, the world won’t end, nor is anyone is going to die without you at your desk for a week or two.

2. Be kind and respectful to all employees at your company (not just the boss).

Most career folks spend 40-50-60 hours a week in the presence of a staff at work. They may be higher or lower on the totem pole, but all of them can make or break your day.  I have found that respecting their positions and working as a team goes a long way to keeping the corporate engine purring along. And takes your stress levels down.

3. Work from home whenever possible.work stress work from home

Many companies are now creating flex time and “work from home” options for employees. Being at home typically reduces stress levels. You are in your safe space. You don’t have road rage from sitting in that morning commute for an hour.  You might be in your comfortable loungewear.  Your sweet dog is at your feet wagging its tail each time you look down.  Since so many people now work with their computers, it is not unrealistic to work from home, even if it is for a couple of days a week. If your company does not offer this option and you have a good relationship with management (see #2), perhaps now is a good time to suggest exploring alternatives.

4. Balance work with family time and hobbies.

The most successful and interesting people I have met in the corporate world also have a passion for life outside of work.  It can be something as simple as date night with your spouse or taking the family to the park on Saturdays. Or a golf group or painting class or a happy hour with old friends.  Whatever your other passion is, do it. Even if you are not that good at it. The key is to take your mind off work,  ignore your smartphone and enjoy a less stressful atmosphere.

5. Do not check your messages after “quiet time”.

We all know these people. Hell, you may even be one of them.  They work all day. Then they work all night as the messages on the phone keep pinging in till bed time. Priding themselves on being available 24/7. Sure sometimes we have a project past deadline and it needs immediate attention. But realistically, how often does it need to be done NOW? Reserve evenings and weekends for your other passions whenever possible.  Most technology allows us to set a “quiet time” to make the pings stop sounding. Your significant other will thank you.  So will your blood pressure.

work stress smartphone.jpg

6. Use “out of office” Messenger when away from your technology.

I mentioned earlier in this article that people seem to want results in a nano second these days. An email is received and then within a couple of hours a second one appears, “Did you get my previous email???”  Some people no longer take into account an employee may be in a meeting, or focusing on a different proposal or are driving and don’t want a $500 texting fine, for Pete’s sake. Who was Pete anyway?

I have found the “out of office” bounce back message to be an effective tool.  Create a response telling the recipient how long you will be away and who to contact for immediate attention.  I found it takes stress levels down when you do not have to worry about the immediacy of emails and voice mails. Obviously, it is handy for vacation time, but you can use it when you have appointments out of the office or if you have long meetings/conferences.

7. Change jobs.

What? You love your _______ (prestige, paycheck, manager, title – fill in the blank).  But the dirty secret in the corporate world is your company ultimately does not care about you.  They care about your production for “the man”.  Will they miss you when you are gone?  Sure, maybe.  Especially if you took care of #2. But the reality is that you are, most likely, replaceable (with the exception of rocket scientists). So why should you be concerned about leaving if you want a different/better opportunity?

When you feel that stress coming on it may be time to make a change. You know what I am talking about. Sunday night rolls around and you are dreading the next day. You have a sinking feeling when you read your email and your manager has called a special meeting. You know it is going to be a sales “beating” not a “meeting”.

There may also be ways to change jobs within the company to a different department. That way you will not lose your accrued vacation time (see #1).

8. Be honest.

It seems we see the honesty quality less frequently these days.  Honesty goes a long way keeping stress levels down. Admit your mistakes and own them upfront.  Don’t try to play the blame game. Most people do not get fired from admitting a screw-up and apologizing. At my last company, I was written up by HR several times (loud music at my desk, posting a seductive photo of myself on social media, blah, blah, blah).  I would love to see that file today. And laugh.  But seriously, when the team knows you are a straight shooter, honest and dependable, and not sneaking around causing drama, your job will be easier to not only survive but to thrive.

9. RUN from office drama and gossip.

work stress water coolerWe have all been in a work situation where you know the one who loves to create drama. Do your best to stay away from these people or least do not get involved. They will ultimately cause undue stress you never anticipated or invited.  Same goes for gossip. It eventually bites you in the ass!

10. Never lose your cool.

During personal time it might feel good to cry or scream. But in the corporate world, you are much safer showing minimal emotions. There are even counselors and corporate mentors who can help you get there if it is a challenge.  The guy who often goes ballistic over some office nonsense is most likely the next one on the chopping block. Unless he is the big boss, of course. Then you are screwed and might want to put #7 into place.

Here’s wishing you the best in today’s corporate world!

 

Top 10 Ways to Reinvent Yourself

Most people, at some point in life, think of reinventing themselves.  Whether it is tweaking your style or a complete life overhaul, we often strive to make ourselves better – or at least different – than before.  But the age-old question is; How does one go about this metamorphosis?  Change is a frightening exercise. When it is forced upon us, we have to go through the steps of re-learning and acceptance.  But what happens when we force it upon ourselves? It can be a magical process once we see the other side.

I was wickedly shy as a child and tween. I was afraid to raise my hand in school, even though I knew the reinvent shyanswer to the questions.  I remember the outgoing, confident kids being awarded the big parts in the school plays and being chosen first on the kickball team. Not necessarily because they were the most talented, but because they were self-assured.  Growing into a dorky teenager with braces added to my awkwardness, pulling me deeper into this introverted self.  The thought of going up to a stranger and introducing myself to them was terrifying.

However, on the inside, I was playful and humorous and even a bit of a rebel.  My circle of friends and family knew about those characteristics.  However, no one on the outside did. At that time, I was desperate to reinvent myself from the geeky duckling into the proverbial confident swan.  But how does one go about doing THAT?reinvent old new

In this particular case, I made a big decision to reinvent myself at approximately age 14. I was tired of being shy and I knew that I had more to offer to the world than being a human taking up space. Rather than loathe myself for not living the existence I desired, I decided to reinvent myself.  My pathway to confidence started in an unusual way….

I had fallen in love with a kiddy band from Scotland called the Bay City Rollers. They were the epitome of sappy sugary teeny-bop music…and I adored them.  Their core fan base of predominantly prepubescent girls came with a pen-pal club of like-minded international fans donning their tartan. 

 

That’s right, before the internet and social media, people actually wrote physical letters to one another on paper and mailed them inside an envelope with a stamp!  At one point I had pen-pals in 30+ US states and a dozen countries.   I tell you this story because it was the beginning of a metamorphosis.  Writing those letters became an outlet where I found my creative self.  The playful, humorous self.

I had a pen-pal in a far-away suburban Chicago location.  Actually, it was not far away at all in the grand scope of distances (an hour drive?). But it seemed FAR away back then. My friend (whom I had never met – sounds a little like Facebook, doesn’t it?) invited me to visit for a weekend slumber party.  My mother, I presume, phoned her mother and everything checked out in Mom-world. 

I sat at my little writing-table before that weekend and I vowed not to be shy. I wanted to be the cool girl from out-of-town. I visualized being the one who would bust into a Bay City Roller tune on cue and the one who instigated a rousing game of “truth or dare”. What did I have to lose? No one knew me. There was no history between us. I did not run the risk of being typecast.  Remarkably, I WAS that girl….and the magic happened.  I loved the energy of the “alternative me” and saw my new gang of friends a few more times that summer.

The metamorphosis happened seemingly overnight. However, I know it was a process. I went back to school in the fall ditching my old ways, looking prettier without my braces, and a sporting a new level of confidence.  And so on and so on, strides were made into adulthood to keep improving.   Do I still feel awkward in a roomful of total strangers? You bet.  Do I power through and leave with new contacts or friends? Often. Of course, a bar on premise does help the situation.

Having tackled reinvention several times in my life, I began to wonder how I could help people with ideas for reinventing themselves. Here are my Top Ten (okay, top nine):

Change careers:  Are you stuck in a dead-end job you thought would be more rewarding? Possibly no room for advancement? A dying industry?  The longer you stay there the more that job becomes a part of you. And if it is a negative influence, it can eventually take over your entire outlook on life. After all, most of us do spend the majority of our awake hours working. Know that even after decades, it is never too late to change your career.  Work for yourself by starting your own company. Get a degree online.  Take the first step. The rest will follow.

Move to a new city or country:  Sounds scary, right?  And often #1 on the list goes hand-in-hand with this one.   But I know of no better way to reinvent yourself.  In this case, no reinvent moving vanone knows you. Can you leave much of your past behind and work on the person you wish to be – revealing only what you wish to reveal from your former self. 

 

Take up a new hobby or sport:  You don’t want to do anything drastic but you always wanted to learn to ____. Fill in the blank.  Paint? Write? Surf? Dance? Act? Skydive? Ski? Speak French? Now is a perfect time to learn. Take a class, join a group. Tap into that creative or competitive side and watch a different kind of metamorphosis emerge. And chances are you will make a whole new group of like-minded friends.

Change your style or your hair:  Go from conservative to wild! Get some ink (just remember that idea is pretty permanent) or try a temporary tattoo to see if you like it. Or tone down your punk rock goth look to the professional you want to be. Dye your hair pink, buy a wig, cut it all off.  When you dress the part, you begin to feel the part. And once you feel the part,  you have replaced the old with the new.

reinvent handshake 2Mend Fences:  We all have fences to mend and messes to clean. Some are tiny and some may consume us.  Whether it is family issues or legal messes or work mate/manager muck, they exist.  Some people hold a grudge for life.  Why? Wouldn’t  it be fantastic if you could reawaken into a new person during your clean up? Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness.  Reaching out to commence the process of clean-up eliminates some of your distractions and emotional stress. And it will most likely change you into a more magnanimous person in the process. 

Take a spiritual journey:  No, you do not even have to be religious to be spiritual.  It is something you can do right in your hometown at a spiritual retreat or something grand and life changing like bathing in the River Ganges in India or walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Regardless, you will discover something new in your inner-self and you will return reinvented in some way.

Volunteer: Some of the most generous, nurturing people I have met in the world have worked to help other humans/animals/our earth/less fortunate. Volunteering can be amazingly easy – in your own community for a couple hours a week.  Anything from delivering meals to the elderly to being a role model for kids or simply walking dogs at your local animal shelter. Or you can go on exotic voluntourism trips anywhere in the world, such as building wells in Kenya, helping orphans in India or working at an animal sanctuary in Costa Rica.  

Spend less – save more:  This really touches on financial reinvention. But hey, let’s face it, that is a big part of life too.  Some people feel they live paycheck to paycheck and simply cannot get ahead. But take a long hard look at your finances.  Do you spend money on things you do not need?  New technology when the old stuff worked just fine? A new car when you could have replaced something in the old one for a lot less? A $1000 pair of shoes??? The list probably goes on. We are simply caught up in the mass consumerism of “keeping up with the Joneses”.  Or drunk buying on Amazon. investmentWhat if you cut a few things out of your monthly budget and put that money away for something to help you make more money? Perhaps a property investment or a fund for your early retirement.  Financial success can certainly be reinvention. 

Some of the most successful people in the world have reinvented themselves time and time again. Don’t be afraid to try it yourself.  It might be the best thing you ever did for yourself!  Enjoy your journey!

reinvent yoga

Yeah, that’s me. Searching for Nirvana in India. It’s a process.

 

Top 10 Bedroom Tips for Ladies

***Disclaimer: I am not a trained psychologist, psychiatrist, sex therapist or any other type of licensed professional health care giver.  Nonetheless, this is not my first rodeo!

Ladies, I have come to find men are basically the less complicated gender of the Homo sapiens.  Simplicities like sports, food, sex, hunting/fishing and building things (not necessarily in any particular order) can often keep them amused for long spans of time.

However, occasions spent in the bedroom (or other places where intimacy happens) may be a wee bit more complex.  This is my somewhat tongue-in-cheek Top 10 List of Bedroom Tips. You may find it helpful for navigating those dangerous sexual waters and keeping harmony in the relationship.

sex gun1. Don’t use sex as a weapon for negative behavior or as a reward for  positive behavior. Sexuality should stand unparalleled.  The relationship tends to become more complicated when your other conduct plays a part in intimacy. For example, “I am furious at you for going out with your friends and getting drunk last night, so NO shooting the meat rocket into the sausage wallet for you this week.” Discuss a different reward/punishment system and make it part of your set of agreements.

2. Stay away from comparisons.  “My ex used to do this.” “Yeah, I would say he was bigger.”  Very few intimate partners want to hear about your previous horizontal playgrounds. However, this is different from telling him what you would like him to do to you. That is highly encouraged.  Merely, don’t reveal how you learned it.

3. Give out fellatio/oral sex/blow jobs/polishing the trailer hitch like candy on Halloween.  That keeps them extremely happy. Not kidding.  If you can’t stomach swallowing high fructose porn syrup, do not fret.  He will still appreciate your gesture.  Simply have a towel handy.

sex going down

4. He wants to go immediately to the main course. You want to enjoy a few appetizers first. Foreplay is fun and sexy. Make him wait. He will ultimately be more explosive.

sex chanelier5. Being slightly tipsy is a splendid way to dissolve inhibitions. However, polluted-hammered-shit faced-wasted sex is most often a waste of time and energy. Not only will you wake up with a hangover, you will most likely, be sore or bruised from some antics you can’t quite remember.

6. Be the initiator and aggressor as often as him.  Regardless of how manly he is in the board room or on the football field, he enjoys kicking back in the bedroom and allowing you to assault his friendly weapon…often!

7. Read books about sex or watch instructional videos to spice up life in the bedroom and be open to experimentation. Role playing and toys can add a new dimension of excitement and pleasure. Nevertheless, be warned: Fulfilling his dreams of a three-some may create some unexpected repercussions down the road. Think: Stalkers, STD’s, etc. There are a lot of weird ones out there. Choose carefully.

8. Be proud of your body and uninhibited displaying it. Men are visual monsters. That is sex peek a boowhy they are the big consumers of porn – not us. He is passionately enthusiastic about your body no matter what size, shape or color. Otherwise you would not have gotten this far (e.g. bedroom) in the first place. Show it off. Make things steamy in the way you present it to him…slowly. Drives ‘em crazy.

9. Don’t make a deal about his sexual dysfunction (unless it is an ongoing issue).  Sure, you may be 25 and he is 26 and you laugh at such a statement. “That will NEVER happen to us.” Trust me….if you live long enough and remain sexually active, you will most likely have a partner who experiences it.  Just move on…and try everything another day. Stay cool and do not frustrate him any further by asking questions in bed.

10. A firm rule is to keep away from urination, defecation, blood and bruising. Shut your gaping mouth! There are actually people who enjoy this stuff. You may too. But, hey, it’s MY list.

Life is short.  Try one idea to improve yourself daily.