No time for you? The one essential move to find it.

How do I find the time to __(fill-in-the-blank)__? I get this question a lot. Or clients will ask, “How do I do all of these things?” Or they’ll say something like this: “Everything I do is important! Everything! And I don’t have time to get it all done! Never mind adding something extra like going for a walk!” Sound familiar?

No time

The question of how to find the time came up at a recent speaking engagement I gave to a group of businesswomen.

“How do I find the time to go for a walk?”

Most of us tend to believe that we need more time. I’m guilty of this myself every once in a while. Wishing for more time.

“If I only could get this stuff done, then I could do that little something for me.”

What you don’t realize is that if you magically happened to get an extra hour, you would most likely fill it with more work. More email. More laundry. More dishes.

And you’d be happy about it!

For a little bit, at any rate. Until the hour is over and you realize that the emails will keep coming, the laundry and dishes will keep piling up, and your to-do list will keep growing.

At its core is the, “if/when this happens, then I can” thinking.

When we approach life with this mindset, we end up spending a lot of time wishing and waiting and having things happen to us. We become responder. We are at the mercy of things like time and circumstances.

Here is the other thing. And you may not like this.

People don’t realize they’re really asking this, “How do I set aside time for me when I continue to choose to put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own?”

You don’t have the time to do everything for everyone and everything else like your family, your job, your business and still have time left over for yourself.

You really and truly don’t.

Here is the essential move to change this. It’s not necessarily easy. But it’s incredibly simple.

You MAKE the time.

You make it. You decide. You choose. No one else. Email doesn’t control you. The dishes aren’t howling out for you to wash them. No one is putting a gun to your head to reply to those emails. You control and choose where you spend your time.

Time is not something that happens to you. It’s not something that you manage. You manage yourself within the time that you have.

You don’t have the time. You make the time.

You may need to take time away from something else. You’ll have to make what may feel like difficult choices. I know what that’s like. To get vulnerable: when I was struggling with stress, overwhelm and burnout it really felt like I NEEDED to answer email immediately. It felt like there was no way I could take a walk because I was terrified that something would happen while I was away from my computer and wouldn’t be able to respond right away. I did not have the time. What I didn’t realize is the stress left me in a near-persistent fight/flight mode, and left me incapable of making good decisions while lack of sleep further impaired my judgement and slowed my reaction times. I realized I needed to make a change when had a close call driving to work one day.

I had to ask myself some really hard questions: what good was I to my job or my family if I was dead? How much could I contribute and live my purpose if I wasn’t healthy?

It was my responsibility to make a change. Not just for me and my future, but for my family. I needed to make the time.

Choosing to walk instead of answering emails were incredibly tough those first several times. But when I realized that I could go for a walk without the world ending, it got much easier. And it will for you too.

I invite you to ask yourself those same hard questions. What will your contribution and impact on the world be if you keep putting everyone else’s needs before your own? Imagine being able to contribute your gifts to the world at a higher level than you can now simply by making time for you.

For those who are plagued by guilt when you do things for your mental, physical and emotional health consider this. You’re not actually doing it for you. When you make positive changes in your life, it positively affects everyone around you.

So don’t make the time for you about you. Don’t spend an hour at the massage therapist, or sit in a bubbly tub with the door closed and ear plugs in for you alone. Remember what you’re doing it for.

That’s it.

You don’t have the time. You make the time.

 

If you found this useful, I encourage you to share it. You never know who might need to hear this exact message today.

3 quizzes you must complete to know how stressed you are

You can feel it in your chest, shoulders and neck. You’re wired and tired: strung out from the caffeine and adrenaline but worn out from doing it all. What more can you do? What should you stop doing? How can you know? That’s where a stress test can help you.

hang on by a thread

Image by imelenchon used with permission.

You’ll likely have an idea of where things aren’t working, but when you’re chronically stressed out and overwhelmed, your brain doesn’t function at its best. In fact, the changes are startling.

A stress assessment can help you find out where you are good at supporting yourself and where you could be sabotaging your efforts to get it all done. I’ve been there. When I led the communications for a $50M company, I often felt overwhelmed and stressed out. When I did the assessments, I realized I could adjust in small but significant ways to improve my resiliency and manage stress better.

The assessments

Here are a few assessments from reputable sources that I have found to be helpful:

1. Stress Vulnerability Test by the Stress Management Society out of the UK. It will tell you if you’re prone to negative stress impacts and offers many resources to manage stress.

2. The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. This is a well-established scale that measures your number of stress-causing life events. It can estimate how likely you are to become ill in the near future.

3. Stress Screener by Mental Health America. A test that feels more fun than the other ones. They provide links to ten tools that can help to manage stress after they calculate your score.

After taking the tests

Sometimes people can feel devastated or shocked when they learn that they are vulnerable to stress, or that they have a high or moderate likelihood of becoming ill because of it. When you’re a high achiever managing multi-million dollar projects, or running a business, or leading staff members, it can be very hard to believe that you can’t get a handle on your own stuff.

If you’re concerned your scores, take comfort that it’s a normal reaction.

Instead of focusing on any potential label or self-judgement because of your result, look at where you can improve. Implement one to three quick, easy wins that won’t add to your stress. For me, I chose to add exercise, mid-day breaks, and more sleep back into my regular routine. Like so many of the people that I talk to, I had cut back in all of those areas thinking it would help me get more done.

The opposite happens as research and our own experiences show. I followed the advice of the experts and self-help books that suggested I ease back into it. The last thing you want to do is completely change what you’re doing. Big lifestyle changes are not what we’re after here. You want to start with small, slow improvements that you gradually increase over time.

It’s simple. But it’s not necessarily easy. I can tell you from my own experience, that stopping work to take a break can be incredibly challenging. The emails and work don’t go away when we step away from our desks. You can get a lot done in 15 minutes. However, research has shown that people who take breaks during the day are more productive and happier than people who don’t. You can read more about that here in my recent post, “3 awesome reasons to take your breaks – even if you don’t want to.”

Same with stopping work to get some exercise in. All of that time seemingly wasted! Not so, particularly if you take walks. They are the “Best kept secret to stop overwhelm and reduce stress”.

Sleep is proving critical to our daily function. More and more research is coming out countering the decades-old assertion that sleep is only time wasted. For more, read “Don’t skimp on sleep: why choosing sleep makes you smarter”.

Taking it further

Leverage the information you learn from the tests. Apply for a strategy session with me. That’s where, even if we never speak again, you’ll walk away knowing what’s really going on for you right now and you’ll know your best next step to take to get more balance.

You might be thinking that you know exactly what’s going on for you and what’s causing your stress and overwhelm. But people who’ve done the strategy session with me have had a-has that there’s something happening at an even deeper level that’s that real cause. Until you set aside that time to find out what that is, especially with a certified coach—someone trained to hear what you say and what you don’t say—you’re bound to keep repeating your cycle.

If you can honestly say that you’re exhausted from juggling everything, you’re tired of being overwhelmed and you don’t want to be OK with that anymore, let’s talk. I invite you to schedule a strategy session.

Take good care of yourself.

The best reasons for you to walk in a park

I had the great fortune this past Easter long weekend to go for three park walks with my daughter. Not only was I getting some valuable mom-daughter time in, I was also beating stress. I share how you can too in the below video.

It’s National Take a Walk in a Park day. A great day to get out and about, even if it’s not all that nice where you live. I do love a walk in the rain and snow.

There is a lot of research that backs up the amazing benefits we get from walking in nature. Never mind that for now though. Think back on the last time you took a walk. How much better did you feel after walking than you did before you started? If you’re like me, you’ll have felt an incredible difference.

Now to the research:

  • Walking in nature lowers stress levels and blood pressure. (source)
  • Simply living close to nature reduces your stress hormone levels. (source)

And if you don’t live or work near nature, you can still use greenery to reduce your stress and have better brain function.

  • Find the greenery that you can in the environment around you: planter boxes, trees, gardens, lawns, a park. Your memory and attention will be better than if you walked through a busy street. (source)
  • Look at pictures of nature. We more quickly recover from a stressful task after looking at naturescapes. (source)
  • The sounds of nature are incredibly helpful as well. Listening to nature can help us recover from a stressful task faster. (source)

So what are you waiting for? Get on out there! For motivation, here are a few shots of one of our days. It was stunning.

Nature walk

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Resistance Is Fertile

Spring is upon us. For many that means new beginnings and fresh growth. For others, it means a marathon spring clean is about to happen. For me, it means I may actually consider cleaning my oven. In this guest post from talented coach and friend, Eric Asbeck, he shares how we can cultivate fertile ground for our own personal growth.

fertile ground

Image by Chia Ying Yang used with permission.

Resistance Is Fertile

By Eric Asbeck

Breakthroughs are a key part of your personal growth and building your career or business success.

And you want a successful career or business, right?

Achieving your goals involves trying new things. Let’s be honest, beginning something new is awkward. It’s important to get good teachers and lessons. And it’s also important to practice.

So how do you know which new things will yield the biggest personal growth and create the biggest breakthroughs for your success?

Surprisingly, one place to look is to those things you’re resisting the most.

I have learned that resistance is a magnificent tool for discovering where to find my biggest breakthroughs.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but the higher my resistance, the greater the breakthrough that’s available for me.

When resistance is off the charts, I can consult within myself, gather my support system, declare my intention to them, and step into it.

My biggest breakthroughs have come through embracing my resistance and stepping into it.

I remember vividly the moment when I viscerally embraced this self-truth.

I was in a year-long self-development program. Each quarter the team would elect new officers to manage various roles.

I’d held various roles in the first two quarters. As we entered my third quarter, the first election was for team leader, a role I’d avoided.

People were asked to throw their hat into the ring to be considered. I remember sitting there thinking “no way…” (and more vivid language).

I’d learned through some of my earlier self-development training that resistance was a good guide to where my biggest growth could be.

In this case, my resistance was off the charts. I delayed as one, two, then three others began their pitches to be team leader.

Suddenly a light bulb went on in my head and I raised my hand to be considered. I made my pitch and was elected! Then I sat stunned over what I’d done.

Now here’s the main point: I underwent more personal growth and breakthroughs that quarter than any other I had.

I discovered myself as a leader in ways I’d never found in all my prior leadership and management roles. My coach and their coaches made a point of pulling me aside to make it clear to me where and how I’d grown.

What a revealing experience! From that point on, I’ve grown to deeply respect the incredible value of seeing my resistance as an opening and guide for personal growth.

How about you? Are there things you’re resisting that you know in your gut could be your biggest openings for growth and success?

Do you have a good coach and support system in place to help you through it? Are you ready to embrace your fear or reluctance and act?

Not sure what you want to do? Let’s talk about how you can get crystal clear about what you want to do next, and your best strategic next step. Visit http://www.yournextmoveexpert.com/apply/ to learn more.

©2014-2015 Copyright Eric Asbeck and What Business To Start, LLC

Powerful Peaceful Professional

You simply can’t miss this if you’ve ever…

  • Wanted to find a way to enjoy your family, your kids, or your life without sacrificing your income at work.
  • Felt burned out and just wanted to break free from it all.
  • Desired to build stronger personal relationships but didn’t know where to start.
  • Struggled to maintain a healthy love life with your partner.
  • Been stuck in a dead end job or felt unsatisfied with your current situation in life.

I’m going to be attending and presenting at this summit put on by wellness expert Dr. Carmen Tekwe. Join me!

Here is your direct link: http://thepowerfulpeacefulprofessional.com/erin-acton.

Get over it!

Isn’t it time to get over it?

jump for joy

Photo by Catrin Austin used with permission.

Like really get over it.

And by it, I mean everything.

Get over the need to put everyone else first.

Get over trying to be all things to all people all of the time.

Get over the guilt of saying no to someone or something that you don’t want to do.

Get over those voices inside your head that tell you you’re not good enough.

Get over the fact that your house is messier than you’d like.

Get over being fake happy.

Get over it.

It’s time.

Time to say enough already.

Time to put yourself first.

Time to go to bed early.

Time to take a day off.

Time to be happy.

Time to be you.

It’s time.

Sooke Chamber smiles
I had such a wonderful time speaking to the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce. The amazing fascinators, hats,  delightful tea cups and wonderful people like Alison Forster seen here with me significantly upped the pleasure.

“Erin Acton’s talk on “Burnout to Balance” at our recent Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce event celebrating Women in Business for International Women’s Day with Afternoon Tea at Sooke Harbour House really resonated with me. As a woman who juggles many different roles – business owner, mom, wife and active volunteer – there were several times when she spoke that I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s me!’ I love that she shared both her personal experience and practical tools that we can use in our own lives to get more balance. We also received feedback from many of our guests with similar sentiments.  I highly recommend Erin as a guest speaker!”

–Karen C. Mason, Director, Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce
Event Organizer

Upcoming speaking appearances

  • March 9 – Private event, Victoria, BC
  • May 3Nanaimo Women’s Business Network, Nanaimo, BC
  • May 14 – 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre, Victoria, BC
  • September 21 – Peninsula Business Women, Sidney, BC
To arrange training for your business, group of friends, or workplace, or to interview me for your blog, podcast, or radio or television show please email erin at erinacton dot com.

Best tool to get present anytime, anywhere – Free resource

Want to get calm?

Wish you could leave work at work and be fully present with your family?

Want to rock an important presentation?

If you have 30 seconds, you can use my super simple, three-step process to get present anytime, anywhere.

You can use this tool before, during, or after any event to help you feel more calm, patient and present. It is especially effective at helping you to get present when you’re in overwhelm. Here are some other ideas.

Before:

  • When a meeting is set to begin.
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  • Right before you start an important conversation.

During

  • When you feel anxiety, anger or impatience forming.
  • Anytime you feel overwhelmed.
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  • If you’ve lost your cool and want to regain your composure.
  • When you realize you haven’t been paying attention.
  • When something unexpected happens that gets your adrenaline pumping and you need to calm down.

Bonus!There is only one way to get this free resource—by subscribing to my FREE email newsletter.

Simply fill in the form here. Once you do that and confirm your subscription, I will email you the download link to this amazing, FREE 3-step process.

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Don’t waste any more time zoning out and missing what people say to you. Get your free 3-step countdown and get present anytime, anywhere – today!

Three awesome reasons to fail

There is tremendous freedom in failing. But it took me a long time to see it this way. A recent admission of my biggest business failure showed me just how powerfully positive it can be.

Fail

Photo by Ryan Steele used with permission.

Many of the people who initially seek life and business coaching with me do not see failure as anything but that. A failure. They feel like they’re failing at their jobs or at their businesses. Like they’re failing their families and friends. Like they’re failing at life.

How could failing be a positive?

I was recently part of a large group of entrepreneurs who took part in a failure festival. We each had to share our biggest failures.

Yikes.

I had to share my biggest business failure. Out loud. To other people.

My heart revved and my mouth dried as I thought about it. As if I wanted to reveal my dirty secrets to a room of incredibly professional and successful people. I had barely acknowledged it to myself. Yet it had been there, gnawing on my insides for the last few months.

Ironic because I had been trumpeting my other life failures in my #FailFriday Facebook posts with gusto and laughs for the last several months. I’m good with failing at my life. What’s new there? But failing at business? Come on now.

As I listened to the others share their failures, a few things happened. Here are my big takeaways.

The things you think are a big deal are really only drops in the pond

I was such a failure, I told myself. My failure is so big I bet I’m going to win this contest. (They were rewarding and celebrating the biggest failure at each table.) But as soon as the first person started sharing her story of sinking tens of thousands of dollars into a program that generated very little if any revenue, I knew mine was a teensy weensy, itty bitty failure.

What a reality check. The thing that I had felt such shame about for the last few months was so cute and adorable you could pet it.

When we acknowledge our failures, they lose their power

When it was my turn to share, I still gulped, even after I had heard at least three other people confess their fails, all of which were worse than mine. My voice shook and my skin flushed and burned. And how could I not? I had kept this inside of me without looking at it or acknowledging it. I allowed it to fester and grow into a monster that gobbled up my energy and confidence.

And then it was out there. That big ugly failure that was anything but. When I saw it for what it was—growing pains that offered a valuable lesson—I was able to move forward.

There is always a lesson in your failure

Once I acknowledged my so-called failure out loud, I felt so much lighter. I didn’t realize until that moment how much extra weight it had added to me, and how that had slowed me down. Now that it was out there, I could look at it objectively. And that allowed me to see the lesson that had been disguised up to that point. There is always a lesson we can learn. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes it requires a bit of exploring, but there is always a lesson there.

My big lesson in this experience that I share with you: as soon as you think you’ve failed or made a mistake, acknowledge it out loud. Then find the lesson that it offers you. Don’t carry it around with you. You’ll be able to move forward that much more quickly towards everything that you dream of.

 

Tired of feeling like you’re failing and don’t have the energy to find the lessons? Apply for a complementary strategy session. Even if we never speak again, you’ll find out what’s really going on for you right now and your best next step to get where you want to go. Find out if it’s right for you here.