embracing the journey

The Journey

Lately I find myself yet again being consumed by responsibilities. My day job. Writing blogs. Trying to write a second book. Supporting my husband’s business. Rental property issues. Supporting others. My checklist has grown, and my happiness has diminished. I am not complaining. I have chosen to be involved with everything on my plate and, for the most part, I enjoy the things to which I have committed.  My challenge is that when the “doing” is first, foremost and only, the rest of my life begins to fade away. It is not the work that is the issue. It is making the work a priority over living which is the cause of my unhappiness.

I wake up early in the morning, not because I excited for a new day, but because a litany of problems to solve and things to do replay in my mind. I am not truly connecting with those I love, because I am distracted by trying to solve an issue. I am not in the moment because I am planning what I need to do next. I am not stopping to smell the flowers because I feel compelled to complete the next task. I am not enjoying connection with others because I am focused on the project, not their feelings. And I am unhappy.

As usual, the things I am concerned about have not happened yet, may not need to be resolved, or may not need to be resolved by me. Yet I am taking myself out of my life and concentrating on issues that are either not really issues or are not really important in the scheme of things. Somewhere, somehow I learned and believe that life is about responsibilities, accomplishments, making things happen. Over the years, I have been trying to accept and embrace a new belief.

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

I am coming to believe and fully embrace that life is just about experiencing. Learning to accept life on life’s terms. Releasing any meaning, judgment and expectations I have. To just truly be. To release my desires and simply experience what comes to me. To see an experience for what it is, not what I interpret it to mean or what I would have preferred it to be.

Alan Watts shares this as the Chinese concept of purposelessness. Purposelessness is not a negative. Purposelessness is just being. Purposeless removes the meaning. Purposelessness removes the focus on the outcome. Purposeless is simply being. It is The Power of Now that Eckhardt Tolle talks about. It is the enlightenment Michael A. Singer writes about in The Untethered Soul. My friend Dave Werhane sums it up well, “When I accept that my life is truly a journey, then there is no reason to do anything solely as a means to an end.” Let’s stop looking for the meaning, for the result, for the conclusion. Let’s stop worrying about results, fixing things, trying to accomplish things. Let’s stop labeling things, judging them, trying to uncover their meaning.

Instead let’s be, truly – deeply – solely be, in each and every moment. Let’s experience. Let’s let colors and sounds and tastes and touch wash over us. Let’s do what we are driven to do, not what we think we have to or should do. Let’s create to create. Let’s get out of our minds and be fully in the moment experiencing with all our senses. The deepest sense of peace, well-being, and love have always been experienced when I let go of my mental monkey chatter and allow my full consciousness to be in the moment.  

When do you feel most trapped? When do you experience unhappiness? If you are like me, it is when you are trapped in your mind replaying the past or worrying about the future. Try to find time each day to be in the moment without your thoughts. Remove your regret or anger of what happened. Stop playing mental scenarios of what could be. Be. Here. Now. Enjoy the journey!

stress at work

How to Manage Workplace Stress

stress at workWorkers seem more and more stressed every day.

  • Technology has created expectation of an immediate response 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  • Short-term thinking and planning based on the focus of quarterly stock reports has increased the sense of importance for every project. We feel everything is an urgent priority needing instant attention.
  • The “doing more with less” mentality has increased the amount of our responsibilities and what is expected of us. This has created a culture of inefficient multi-tasking.

Below are four ways you can reduce the amount of stress you feel at work.

Manage Your Electronics: Do not be a prisoner of your electronics. Control how you use them versus reacting to them in the moment. When the communication pops up, you stop what you are doing, you read the email, and you say oh it’s not urgent, and you go back to your project and then another email pops up and you do the same thing. This is an amazing waste of time and focus. Turn off notifications for your email, texts and social media. Instead carve out time slots during the day to check communications. To help others manage their expectations of your reaction time, you can add an automated response to your email such as “I will get to your email in 24 hours.”

Managing Communications: When you do open your email, open it only once and act upon it in that moment. Choose to either Do, Delegate, Delay, or Delete.

  • Do: Respond and complete the request in that moment.
  • Delegate: Is this the highest and best use of your time?  Is there someone else you can delegate this to?  Is there an automated system you can put in place to handle a specific type of email?
  • Delay: If the email does not need to be handled right now, but it does need to be done by you, add a reminder to come back to it. Don’t just leave it in your inbox as you may then open it again in the future only to delay it again. Color code the email as a “future” and set up a follow-up reminder.
  • Delete: Does this need to be done at all? Is there really anything you need to address with it? If you find you are constantly deleting emails from certain sources, you may want to unsubscribe from the list or remove yourself from the project.

Change Your Relationship with Time: When I was working my 9 to 5 job, I would wake up in the morning and immediately go through my to-do list and what I had planned for the day. The result was feeling behind the eight-ball before I even left bed. One of the ways to release time’s hold on you is before you get out of bed say, “I have more than enough time today to accomplish everything that I need to do.”  Just making that statement changes your outlook on the day. This reframe empowers you to deal with the day differently.

Simplify and Focus: Often our stress comes from creating unrealistic expectations. There are only a certain hours in the day. Manage what you expect to accomplish by having a list of absolute must-do’s for the day; not more than 3 per day. Make sure you have enough time to accomplish these tasks. I determine what I am going to focus on for the day by having a realistic list of projects I want to accomplish for the week. Remember to focus only on your daily to-do’s. If you focus on the week’s goals it can be overwhelming. Focus solely on the obtainable items for that particular day.

Katy Warner Stress Relief

Have Your Become a Type A Personality?

The concept of a Type A personality has not been around for long. It was actually identified in the 1950s by two cardiologists, Drs. Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman, who were studying coronary heart disease. They found a link between personality types and heart disease. According to their research, they identified three types of behaviors:

• Type A, which they labeled as competitive, ambitious, impatient, aggressive, and fast-talking;
• Type B, which is more relaxed and non-competitive, and
• Type C, which is hardworking, but becomes apathetic when faced with stress.

Katy Warner Stress ReliefThose considered Type A were more prone to having high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and stress-related illnesses.

According to the Friedman and Rosenman study, Type A’s are defined as:
• Involved in multiple stressful activities tied to deadlines.
• Showing a tendency to rush to finish activities.
• Practicing perfectionism.
• Taking everything too seriously.
• Having an intense sustained determination to achieve one’s personal goals.
• Competing constantly against others and themselves in all situations.
• Having a persistent desire for recognition and advancement.
• Exhibiting mental and physical alertness over a long period of time.
• Unable to easily and clearly express their feelings.

According to Dava Money of the Creative Healing Institute, 50 percent of the United States population is now considered a Type A personality. This is because the Type A personality is a learned, rather than an innate behavior. Our Western society rewards competition, success, a focus on work, and being constructive. Added to this, modern technology provides new ways and new reasons to multitask and always be connected. The result is the desire and belief one must be a superhuman handling everything thrown his or her way. Because of this, most of us, at one time or another, experience Type-A tendencies.

In this technologically fast-paced world, have you become a Type A personality?

Are you experiencing some of the negative tendencies and results of being a Type A person, like:
• Anxiety when you have to wait.
• Stress when your to-do list no longer calms you down, but becomes your tyrannical master.
• Being frantic, overwhelmed, and inexact due to a sense of heightened urgency.
• Being crazed due to clutter in the house or office.
• Feeling powerless to say no to responsibilities even when you become buried in them.
• Insomnia due to uncompleted to-do lists and unread email.
• Exhaustion from unrealistic multitasking.
• Devaluation as your focus on work means you are underpaid for the long hours you work and for what you deliver.
• Work-life imbalance keeps you away from the joy of family and friends, as well as our own needs and self-care.
• Martyrdom from an extreme desire to serve and give to others.
• Frustration by not being able to affect the emotions, actions, and results of others for which you feel responsible.

How many of these tendencies do you now experience? Were you always this way or have these tendencies increased over time?