Productivity in the Time of COVID

Productivity in the Time of COVID-19

If you’re like many people, you’re now wondering why you bothered getting a day planner at all for the year 2020. This year has been chaotic for all of us, between quarantining, kids doing school at home, and massive shifts in the workplace. Many people lost their jobs entirely and have struggled to support their families. As of this writing, over 170,000 Americans have died due to COVID and a plateau doesn’t seem to be on the horizon yet. I know several people who have lost their lives to this awful illness, and on a personal note, I became severely ill with COVID in February and was sick for months (hence the long pause in blog posts). Life this year has been very, very far from normal.

Honestly, life probably won’t return to normal as we know it anytime in the foreseeable future. Though there are plenty of negatives to this year, there are some silver linings—many of my clients have said they’ve been happier working more from home, and even though they’ve returned to some office hours, they are able to continue working in some capacity from their house. Others have valued their increased family time and ability to exercise more. Overall, this year made many people re-evaluate priorities and what matters in life. Once I recovered enough from my illness to function again, I valued every extra second I got to spend with my teenage children. They are normally so busy with school and extra-curricular activities that I barely see them, and yet, I got a few MONTHS with them all to myself (okay, and my husband)—taking walks, watching movies, and playing games. As the kids are already ramping up again with their respective activities, I look back on these past few months with them as a priceless gift. I’ve also been super grateful for my health (and for my shiny new antibodies however long they last).

But what about business productivity? Personally, I had to almost close down my own business entirely while I was sick with COVID-related issues such as pneumonia, pleurisy, and kidney problems. Luckily, I didn’t have any underlying high-risk health issues and was super healthy prior to getting sick so I was able to bounce back but it still took almost four months to get back to full capacity.

Basically, my productivity tanked. Since then, I’ve geared back up and gotten back into the swing of things but it was a rough few months…and I wasn’t alone in that issue. One thing I’ve heard repeatedly from my life coaching and career coaching clients in the past few months is their own feeling of lack of productivity. The stress of this year has impacted them and they have periods where they feel less focused, less able to concentrate, and overall less productive. Sometimes, it’s due to having small children at home which makes working at home, well, challenging. Other times, it’s just the stress of the unknown and what the rest of this year will look like. Either way, I’ve been telling people the same thing I told myself during my period of shut down.

It’s okay. It’s fine if you’re not functioning at peak productivity right now. If you and your loved ones are healthy, and you still have a job, consider yourself one of the lucky ones because many people haven’t been as lucky (see current death statistics and unemployment numbers). I’ve had clients tell me it’s even difficult to read a book right now. That’s okay too. Do things that make you feel good. For me, it’s been meditating and exercising daily, getting plenty of sleep, taking long walks with my hubby, and playing with my dogs and kids. 

Here’s the thing: If you allow yourself to acknowledge the stress and focus on self-care rather than dwell on what you’re not getting done, it will help you get back on track even faster. I had many a day where my business to-do list remained untouched, and I forced myself to instead put my attention on healing and all the things I was grateful for. The meditating and exercising has allowed me to keep my balance despite the continued chaos in our world, and time with family has kept me focused on what I’m doing this all for in the first place. If I had just tried to push through it and ignore everything, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

And where am I now? I’m busier than I’ve ever been before with my business (so much so that I’m re-focusing on work/life balance) and on the writing side, I’ve published two novels and a short story in the last few months, completed another short story that will come out later this year, and am currently hard at work on two additional novels. I’m more productive now than I was before this nutty year even started, and that takes into account my four months of doing almost nothing—except trying to breathe.

I know this is a long post so I’ll summarize how to address productivity issues right now:

  • Give yourself a break and allow periods of being non-productive
  • Focus on self-care during this chaotic time and do things that help restore balance (meditation, exercise, time with loved ones, yoga, watching funny shows, etc)
  • List the positives of the down time: what are your silver linings?
  • Do what you can, when you can—and cheer yourself on for the little wins.
  • As you feel more productive, don’t overwhelm yourself with playing catch-up which can cause action paralysis—instead, take baby steps which will help you feel successful which increases motivation and leads to more steps
  • Those baby steps taken consistently turn into big things (e.g. my novel was written just 1,000 words at a time but doing it consistently led to completing the book!)

Bottom line: we’re living through an unprecedented time in history so be kind to yourself and to those around you. The world needs more kindness right now and that includes toward yourself! Hang in there, stay healthy out there, and please wear a mask.

Ready to explore other career options or want to meet a new life goal? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!

Overcoming Obstacles to Reach Your Goals: The Perils of Perfectionism

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a character trait characterized by a person’s quest for flawlessness and often involves critical self-evaluations and concern regarding others’ evaluations.

How does perfectionism hurt you?

Perfectionism is a really common obstacle that can hinder you from reaching your goals. It is closely tied to anxiety and the result is that you are so focused on everything being “right or perfect” that you prevent yourself from taking any action at all. That fear-based paralysis kicks in and you are so caught up in worrying whether something is totally ready that you don’t move forward. This is not to say that you should not worry about quality and go through life doing a half-assed job at everything; it’s saying that you should do the best you can and then keep on moving. Interestingly, perfectionism is more common in those who were identified as gifted/talented when in school so consider it an honorable problem to have.

Action breeds action while the reverse is also true. If you just wait and wait until you feel that something is “just right,” you will likely be waiting for a very long time. Conversely, if you do your best and then put something out there, that step helps you to create future steps.

The Car Analogy

If you’re planning to drive your car from, let’s say Missouri to California, and you look at Google Maps or whatever you use, and do some planning about the best route to take and pack your bags and plot out how to avoid rush hour, etc., you will still never get to California unless you turn the dang car on and start driving! Could you get lost? Yes, and luckily, you can turn the car around or go a different direction and learn as you go. Could it get dark out? Yes, and then your headlights will turn on to help you navigate in the dark. What if something goes wrong? Flat tires, dead alternators, and other assorted car problems happen—that’s part of being a car owner but those things can be remedied even if it causes a delay in your travel.

I don’t even live in Missouri so what’s the point? All goals involve some challenges and detours, but if you start taking action, you figure out how to overcome those challenges and sometimes the detours end up being even better than your initial intended goal. Basically, a car parked safely in your driveway will never go anywhere.  

3 ways to handle perfectionism:

  1. Take a step. Any step. Figure out the most logical place to start with your goal and then take that first step. Remember: there is boldness in action.
  2. Plan on missteps. If it goes smoothly, great—now you can plan the next step. But if something goes awry or a challenge presents itself, use it as a learning tool and make adjustments. Remember: you learn more from what goes wrong than what goes right! My son once complained about getting 98% on a test and missing one question. I asked him what that question was and he knew it right away (and the correct answer) and said he would never forget that one again.
  3. Get help. There are multiple things you could try to address perfectionism. Try a meditation practice for anxiety, such as through Headspace or Brainsync. Read The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (I’ve recommended this book to many of my clients and they have gotten so much out of it). If your anxiety/perfectionism is crippling or preventing you from living your dream life, consider getting professional help from a therapist or counseling. Remember: getting help is a sign of strength because no successful person did it all on their own.  

Start today by taking a step toward your goal even though it might be scary or make you feel vulnerable. The more steps you take, the less scary it becomes and perfectionism will become a thing of the past. I’ll leave you with this quote that eloquently speaks to letting go of fear.

“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”—Andre Gide

Make sure to like the Prosperity Facebook page if you’re not already following! Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Overcoming Obstacles to Reach Your Goals: The “Lack” Mindset

This series of posts addresses common obstacles that people encounter when trying to reach their desired goals. Last week, we addressed how to overcome negative thinking. This time, we will talk about the common perceived obstacle of “lack.”

When people have difficulty reaching their personal and professional goals, they often point to a lack of something as a reason. Lack of time. Lack of money. Lack of energy. Lack of knowledge. Lack of skills. Lack of resources. And so on. This obstacle is common because if reaching goals were easy, everyone would do it. If your common lack belief is something along the lines of “lack of smarts” or “lack of being good enough,” then I encourage you to go back and read the first post in this series about negative beliefs. Also, what you tell yourself matters, so if you tell yourself that you can’t succeed because of some “lack,” then that will be the case (see above quote). For the rest of you, here are some tips for 3 of the most common “lacks.”

  1. Lack of time. I can’t tell you how often I hear this one from my life coaching and career coaching clients (hint: it’s a lot.) Here’s the thing. Everyone has 24 hours in a day: you, your boss, your friends, and even Bill Gates, and Beyonce. Whenever someone begins describing this lack to me, it becomes evident that the issue is actually “lack of time management” rather than time. I will do an entire post on time management in the future but people take great pride in listing off all of their responsibilities and things they do in their day and why they can’t possibly find time for anything extra. You don’t find time. You make time. If something is important enough to you, you will make the time. One quick tip: schedule that thing in your calendar and you are way more likely to do it. I am also a published sci-fi author, and someone once said to me, “I wish I had time to fritter away to write a book.” As though the magical time fairy sprinkled me with extra time that she didn’t have. I get up at 4:30a on weekdays before my kids get ready for school so that I can make time for writing before my other work. Make time for what matters to you.
  2. Lack of money. Unless you are the aforementioned Bill Gates or Beyonce, you likely have some limitations with your money. I tell clients that the quickest way to determine what they really value in life is to look at every penny they spent in the past month that wasn’t for a roof over their heads and electricity. Then, look for any areas where you could shift even a few dollars toward your goal. There are a ton of posts out there on ways to save more money (a google search is great for this), but start a fund for that goal, no matter how small it is. Online accounts even let you name the account whatever you want so make it your goal name or something fun, such as Trip to Ireland account, Start My Own Catering Business account, Freedom from Corporate Enslavement account, etc. In the meantime, be creative. What can you do with the funds you have now? I guarantee you can start somewhere, even if it’s a small step. All big things start with smaller things that add up. I know someone who sold their blood plasma to pay for editing of their first book. How badly do you want that goal?
  3. Lack of knowledge. Most of us are knowledgeable in certain areas but we may have goals that stretch beyond our expertise. I encourage this because I strongly believe that all growth happens outside our comfort zones. I’ve had clients want to shift jobs into entirely new fields, clients who wanted to remodel a room in their home, and even one who wanted to build a motorcycle even though they’d never done it before. Luckily, we live in an age where a plethora of information is literally at our fingertips. I’ve had clients take online classes through places like Harvard X to learn new information, look up YouTube videos on how to install/repair/remodel various things, and send out the word on social media and email that they were interested in a new career field. Remember: knowledge can always be obtained. Plus, being a life-long learner is the key to continued growth and evolving as a human.

In Summary: Those are the top 3 “lacks” that I hear from clients though there are obviously more. I’ve said this before but if you try to view challenges more as “opportunities in disguise,” you will become more creative to your approach in solving them and future challenges won’t seem as daunting. You can absolutely achieve your goals. The key is believing it.

Make sure to like the Prosperity Facebook page if you’re not already following! Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Overcoming Obstacles to Reach Your Goals: Challenging Negative Thoughts

We started the year with a series of posts on how to set amazing goals for yourself. However, setting goals is always easier than accomplishing them, so next, I thought I’d address some of the common issues that cause people to stumble along the way. Today, we will tackle the super common obstacle of negative beliefs or negative thoughts.

What is a negative belief? Any thought you have that undermines your belief in yourself, others, and the world. It’s that little voice in the back of your head that acts as a naysayer to your hopes and dreams. We will focus on one’s beliefs about themselves rather than others/the world, as that is what primarily impacts your goals. As anyone’s perception of themselves is truly their reality, isn’t it better to create a reality you love instead of a negative one? Research from Cleveland Clinic found that we have about 50,000 spontaneous thoughts per day and the negative thoughts tend to be “stickier,” meaning they stay with you longer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change how you think; and those researchers found that your brain does, in fact, change when you learn to think more positively.

What are some common negative thoughts? Some very common negative thoughts that I hear from my career coaching and life coaching clients are: I’m not experienced enough; I’m not lovable; I’m not smart enough; I’m not worthy; I’m not as good at “something” as others; etc. There are also extreme examples of this, such as when people say things to themselves, like: I’m stupid or I’m ugly.

How do negative thoughts impact my goals? Big goals aren’t easy to reach; otherwise, everyone around the world would be hugely successful and happy. Yet the difference between people who reach their goals and those who don’t isn’t typically incredible luck, skill, or lack of any obstacles. It’s perseverance and resilience. Talk to any so-called “overnight success” and they will tell you the hours of hard work and challenges they overcame to become successful.

Challenges are inevitable. They are a part of life. Plenty of people give up when they hit an obstacle due to negative thoughts, such as, I’ll never be able to do this or I’ll never be good enough. Learn to see challenges as opportunities in disguise and your life will change.

One of the greatest (if not the greatest) basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, who didn’t make the Varsity team in high school (he made JV) and interpreted that as being cut from the team, said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” He used his “failures” to drive him and motivate him to get even better. Everyone falls at times; the successful people are the ones who get up again.

How do I change my negative thoughts? Here are a few ways to tackle your negative thoughts.

  1. Identify them. Half the battle with anything in life is identifying the problem. Pick a day and catch yourself anytime you have a negative thought and stop and write that thought down (either on paper or in your phone). Do this for the entire day (or several days if you can). You will notice your patterns of typical thoughts and will likely be surprised at how often you have those thoughts. Don’t be hard on yourself. Negative thoughts are common and normal but if they’re keeping you from living your best life, you can address them.
  2. Challenge them. This is often hard to do at first which is why I have people do it on paper first. Look at your list of negative thoughts from the day and then write down a positive challenge to each thought. People who really believe their negative thoughts may have a hard time coming up with something positive they can believe. That’s okay. Start by pretending you’ve just told your best friend, a therapist, or a loved one the negative thought. How would they respond to you to challenge that thought? Write that challenge statement down even if you don’t believe it at first.
  3. Be consistent. Once you’ve written down the challenges to your negative thoughts, you are going to start catching yourself in the moment. As soon as the negative thought enters your head, immediately counter that thought with the challenge. You can do this anywhere since it’s a mental challenge, so your co-workers won’t wonder why you’re yelling “Yes, I am smart enough” at the office meeting.

Example:

Negative thought: I don’t have what it takes to get this promotion.

Challenge thought: I’m qualified for the job and have as good a chance as anyone.

Now what? After you consistently challenge those negative thoughts, you actually create new neural pathways in the brain. Eventually, instead of following the negative thoughts with a positive challenge, you will think the positive thought instead. Or you will have the negative thought and immediately dismiss it and not give attention to it. Then return to the positive statements that will help power you through to the next step. Next week, we will address the “lack” obstacle that can impact your goals (lack of time, money, resources, etc). Until then, challenge those thoughts!

Make sure to like the Prosperity Facebook page if you’re not already following! Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Part 4: Mastering Your Daily Goals

In last week’s post on goal-setting, we discussed how to break down monthly goals into weekly ones. In this 4th and final post on goal-setting and how to set successful goals, we tackle the most important one: how to set daily goals that move you toward your larger overall goal. Since I live in Colorado, I’ll use the mountain analogy: if you want to climb a 14er, you have to focus on one step at a time because because looking up at the peak from the very bottom can seem daunting. However, if you just focus on where you are and taking that next step, you’ll realize you’ve already climbed half the mountain.

Here are some tips on how to tackle your goals on a daily basis. Based on the last post, you’ve already sat down and addressed your overall 1-2 weekly goals so here are what you do with those weekly tasks:

  1. Decide the next day’s daily goals the night before. This is really easy to do if it’s a work-related goal because by the end of the work day, you’ll have a good idea what your next task is based on where you ended. Either way, take 5 minutes to write down the next day’s goals before you go to sleep. A huge side benefit of this is that you can release any worries about what you have to do the next day because the process of writing it down allows you to let it go. My clients tell me they sleep better because of this one thing alone!
  2. Make the tasks simple but high-priority goals. In following the 80/20 rule, you get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts, so find out what will make the most impact on your goals and start there. If your weekly goal is to eat healthier, your first daily task may be to hit the grocery store for some healthy items for meals. If the task is complex, only put the first part of that task on your list. For instance, if you’re looking to change careers, put one task related to that on your daily list (e.g. revise resume).
  3. Have no more than 3 daily tasks on your list. This one is hard for people but stay with me. One of the things I hear over and over again from clients is how they used to put 10-20 things on their daily to-do list, but (being that they’re human) they couldn’t get to everything, so they simply re-wrote those things day after day. Doing that makes the tasks lose their impact and makes you feel like you failed. It’s better to get bonus points for doing more on your list than feeling like you didn’t finish it.
  4. Do at least 1 of those goals first thing the next morning. Whether it’s getting in an exercise session before your household wakes up or getting into the office early to cross the first thing off your list, completing the first daily goal sets the tone for the day. You start out the day with a WIN, and that feeling of accomplishment and success is highly motivating and encourages more success.
  5. Protect your time around those goals! I have some clients who do not check email until that first goal is done (this method is very powerful and I work with many clients on this time management skill), while others shut their office door or go to a different room in their house. I even have one client who has a shared workspace and uses humor to protect this time … she uses headphones and hangs a sign on her chair that says Work in Progress for that period of time. Do whatever it takes!

Think about what will happen with your large goals if you take just 1-2 steps every day toward them for an entire year! You will be amazed at your progress, especially when you look back at where you started … like standing at the mountain peak enjoying the gorgeous view around you and proud of your determination to reach the top.

Get started right now! Think of your overall weekly goals (you can use a planner or journal to track your daily progress) and list your first 1-3 daily goals for tomorrow:

  1. _______________________________________
  2. _______________________________________
  3. _______________________________________

Good luck and may you reach all of your goals this year!

Make sure to like the Prosperity Facebook page if you’re not already following! Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Part 2: Goal Setting: Breaking Down Big Goals into Monthly Ones

The last post discussed how to set overall goals for the whole year. Part of why people have trouble reaching their goals is that a year can seem like a long time so it’s easy to get overwhelmed with a larger goal and not know where to start. Unfortunately, sometimes when people don’t know where to begin, they either don’t start at all … or they start but give up before reaching the goal.

If you have a larger goal for the end of 2020, you want to reverse engineer that goal and break it down month by month. This way, you start with small, manageable steps that build on each other and it becomes way easier to reach your goal. I’ll give you a few examples and I’ll also provide a free monthly planning template you can try out.

Health Goal Example:

If you have a year-end goal of being healthier, think of a step you could implement first. Not ten steps–like exercising more, drinking more water, eliminating sugar, cutting carbs, increasing vegetables, meditating, etc. Pick one thing first and do that. Also, try not to be extreme in that one step. For instance, if you are currently exercising ZERO times per week and you put that your goal is to exercise every day for two hours … well, you are most likely going to fail in that goal. You want to set yourself up for success which will cause increased motivation and happiness. So, for my clients who exercise zero or once a week, we set the goal for the first month to increase exercise 2X per week. That’s it. Then, if they exercise more days some week, it feels amazing to them, like they’ve gone above and beyond. Keep it simple.

Financial Goal Example:

If you have a goal of saving for a specific vacation, kitchen appliance, etc, then research what you need to save per month given your desired timeline and make that a monthly savings goal–and put that money into a separate account for that specific thing if possible. Some online banks let you name your savings accounts whatever you want which is a fabulous idea as it creates excitement and motivation. So you can name an account “European escapades” or “kitchen remodel” which makes it even more fun to put money into it.

You would apply these same concepts to career goals, relationship goals, spirituality goals, etc. Start with the first step the first month and then assess how it goes before deciding what to implement the following month. Next week, we will go into specific weekly goal planning in a way that sets you up for success. In the meantime, you can grab this Monthly Planning Sheet to use if you want somewhere to list your goals for this month.

Make sure to check out plenty of other tips on the blog such as 5 Questions to Help You Determine Your Ideal Career.  Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Part 1: How to Set Realistic Goals for 2020!

Happy 2020! I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing holiday season with family and friends. I love this time of year as it’s a literal new beginning and is a great chance to set yourself up for a successful year. I’ve never been a fan of resolutions because they often don’t work for many reasons. However, I’m a huge fan of setting goals, because research has shown over and over again that people make progress in the things that they track.

This is the first in a series of 4 posts on goal-setting and we’ll start with the big overall goals you have for yourself for 2020 and the following posts will show you how to reverse engineer those goals into monthly, weekly, and daily tasks to set yourself up to succeed in those goals. Here are a few key tips to goal setting for 2020:

  1. First, you want to choose overall goals in no more than 3-4 areas of your life. Why? Because you don’t want to overwhelm yourself and then become paralyzed into inaction by those feelings. They don’t know which steps to take first, so they take no steps at all. I recommend choosing just 1-2 career goals and 1-2 personal goals for the year.
  2. Make the goals things you have control over. This is a big one. For instance, you can’t say you will get a promotion (unless you’re in charge of giving one to yourself) or that you will meet your future spouse but you can focus on doing things to improve your career such as obtain a new certification, exceed your quotas, etc. or put yourself out there on the dating market.
  3. Be specific. We’ll go more into this with the reverse engineering part of our goal setting in future posts. For now, just get as specific as possible with the overall goal. However, it’s fine to put something like “improve my relationship with my spouse,” “eat healthier,” or “change jobs” because we will drill down into more specificity in future posts.
  4. Use creative visualization. If you’re unsure where to begin as far as goal-setting, then try this creative visualization exercise. Imagine yourself at the end of 2020 and feeling like you just had the best year ever! Feel the glow of happiness and satisfaction until you’re actually smiling. Once you’re smiling because it feels real to you, you’re all set. Now think about this question while you’re still experiencing that happiness: what is different about my life in this visualization than how it is right now?
  5. What will make the biggest difference right now? That’s usually your biggest clue with where to start in terms of goal-setting. What area of your life is causing you the most frustration or discomfort? Start there. Think about that one area of your life getting better and that will help you determine your goal.

Ready to set some overall goals? You can use a notebook, laptop, planner, or just fill out the items below. Feel free to email me at drhelvig (at) yahoo.com if you’d like a prettier version of the planner sheet below or if you would like to set up a yearly planning session with me.

Personal Goals

Health:                                Spiritual/Mindfulness:  

________________________         _________________________

________________________          _________________________

Relationships/Social:                 Other:

________________________         _________________________

________________________         _________________________

Professional Goals

        Career Goal #1                       Career Goal #2

 __________________________      __________________________

Career Goal #3                      Career Goal #4

__________________________           ____________________________

Other:           ________________________________

Financial Goals

Savings Goals:                       Investment Goals:

____________________________                  _____________________________

____________________________                  _____________________________

Other Financial Goals

____________________________

____________________________

5 Benefits of Online Career Coaching

Years ago, I began my career as a Clinical Psychologist doing traditional therapy face-to-face with clients who had issues such as depression and anxiety. The in-office setting made the most sense for me at that time and it was important for me to physically be present with them and to offer support (and tissues!) as needed. However, once I obtained my professional coaching certification, I began to specialize in life and career coaching which drew different types of clients to me. While they expressed some transient anxiety or depressive feelings about not being in their dream career or living their best life (which would be expected), they did not have those symptoms at a clinical level. My coaching clients also were well-versed in mindfulness and the law of attraction which fit well with my own style and I felt an intuitive nudge to try something different.

Back when I first made the switch to distance coaching, either by phone or online, I have to admit that I was initially hesitant about meeting with people that way. Would we still be able to establish a strong working relationship? Would the sessions be as helpful as in-person? Would it be awkward looking at a camera or talking on the phone with someone instead of being face-to-face with them? Now that I’ve been doing online and phone coaching for years, I’ve seen some great benefits to this method:

  1. I can help way more people! Whereas I used to be limited to serving clients who happened to live in my general proximity (Denver), I now have clients all over the U.S. and the world—including Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. Working with such a diverse population of clientele is not only incredibly rewarding but has greatly enriched my knowledge of other cultures which allows me to be a well-rounded coach. It’s amazing how similar people are in terms of wanting to live their best possible life!
  2. It’s convenient. I’ve had people do sessions in their office on their lunch break, outside on a street in Dubai, at an airport terminal while waiting for a flight, from their car (parked of course!) and in their living room while their kiddo was napping. You can do it (almost) anywhere.
  3. It takes less time. Whereas an in-person session means the client also has to allot time for traffic time with driving to and from the appointment, parking the car, checking in with the receptionist, finding a baby sitter, etc., online coaching is easier to fit into a packed schedule—and my clients are very busy people.
  4. It’s flexible. Sometimes, my clients want to see my smiling face so we do Skype or Zoom; while other times, they may be traveling and so phone works better on certain weeks. Or technology blips happen (because life) and we just switch from one mode to another.
  5. It’s effective (which I think is the most important factor for my clients). Developing a strong working relationship has been just as easy, and I’ve even found the session time to be more effective because we are laser-focused during those 45 minutes. I had multiple local clients whom I initially saw in my office who decided to switch to online coaching due to their busy schedules. An interesting outcome of that was that most ended up preferring the phone even over Skype/Zoom. Why? Many told me that they can better process ideas and think more while they walk around, so the phone allows them to do that during our session.

If you’ve never given online or phone coaching a try, I think you will find the process engaging and rewarding. Changing your life for the better is definitely an investment of your time, energy, and resources but living your best life is worth it!

Make sure to check out plenty of other tips on the blog such as 5 Questions to Help You Determine Your Ideal Career.  Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Career Coaching Insights: 5 Questions to Help Determine Your Ideal Career

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

The difference between a job and a career

While a job is something that one does solely for the money involved, a career involves a chosen occupation which often has room for progression in that specific field. Delivering pizzas for extra pocket money would be an example of a job, while teaching or medicine are possible career paths. If you work a typical 40-hours per week, that is 2,080 hours each year that you are spending at work, and a career often spans decades of a person’s life. Decades. That is a lot of hours devoted to one’s career and why it is so important to make sure you are doing what you love. The goal should be that you wake up excited by what you get to do each day—that you are thriving, not just surviving. While it’s never too late to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, the sooner you’re able to identify your ideal career, the more time you’ll have being happy and energized at work.

Here are 5 mindful questions to help determine your ideal career:

#1: What are your values?

In general, people are happiest when what they do in life matches their values. Examples of values can be things such as family, relationships, health, nature, travel, honesty, financial freedom, spirituality, success, and knowledge. There are many other values as well, but the key is that your day is spent in line with at least some of your core values. For instance, if two of your core values were social justice and equality, you would likely be miserable in a job on Wall Street, but might thrive in a non-profit setting.

There’s no right or wrong regarding values; just be honest in what yours are. If you aren’t sure what your top values are, the fastest way to figure it out is to ask yourself this question: where do you spend your 1) free time and your 2) money? People with family as their top value tend to spend their time and money on family activities, or someone who values the outdoors might go hiking or biking every weekend. List your values and then determine if your current career lines up with any of your top ones.

#2: When are you in the flow where you lose track of time?

The goal of mindfulness is to live as much as possible in the present moment, which is where all of the good stuff in life happens. When you are so absorbed in something that you lose track of time, you are fully immersed in the present. For many people, this state of flow occurs when they are involved in a favorite hobby. The definition of a hobby is: an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure. It’s something done due to the love of doing it, rather than for a secondary gain such as money. Some potential responses could be: when you’re gardening, taking photos, building model cars, skiing, rock climbing, jewelry-making, writing, woodworking, or playing with your children. You get the idea. When answering this question, you will probably come up with more than one answer, which is great so think of all incidents where you lose track of time.

A fun extension of this question is: as a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? No matter how far-fetched the answer might be, it often highlights what excited you as a child, and we often lose touch with that inner child as we grow. When you identify when you are most in the flow, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that your answer means you should make that hobby a career. Some people worry that making something they love into a job will cause them to lose their passion for it, whereas others would be thrilled to get to do their hobby full-time. The key is just to tap into those things that excite you, because you can use that passion to determine what is missing from your current career.

#3: What skills do you have that are unique?

Everyone has a combination of strengths, personality traits, and life experiences that make them unique. When you identify the things that make you stand out, you can better explore how to use those strengths. This could be having an amazing aptitude with numbers, whipping up an amazing meal without a recipe, or being someone who easily makes new friends.

If this question is hard for you, think about the last time you received a compliment. Has someone told you that you’re great at solving puzzles, a great cook or that they admire your homemade curtains? Did someone ask you where you got that awesome table or bookcase only to find out that you made it? NOTE: Don’t discount a skill based on not liking an aspect of it. For instance, if you are great with numbers, but didn’t enjoy being an accountant, it doesn’t mean there isn’t another great fit for you, such as data analysis or forecast modeling.

#4: What does your ideal work day look like?

You can try a fun visualization exercise before answering this one. Try closing your eyes and visualize what an ideal day at work would look like, and more importantly, feel like, for you. Don’t focus on what the actual job involves. What type of co-workers do you have in this ideal job, e.g. motivated, collaborative, creative, or independent? Or do you not picture co-workers at all, and see yourself working mostly alone? What is the management style of your dream boss, such as detail-oriented or more unstructured but supportive? Or are you the boss or business owner? What does the environment look like, e.g. bright open space, private office with door, your own house, or frequent traveling to different cities or countries?

When you feel excited and happy in the visualization, like it almost seems real, then you’ve succeeded in tricking your brain, so now you can open your eyes. Jot down everything you experienced in this visualization. Notice how close or far this ideal work day is from your current work experience. Also, keep in mind, that your ideal work day may look very different than your friends or family’s version, and that’s okay—own your vision and don’t let peer pressure talk you out of it.

#5: What would you be doing right now if money was no object?

What would you be doing if money did not matter at all to you? Even if your first inclination is to say “nothing,” think past the initial period of lounging on the couch playing video games or binge-watching Game of Thrones. People thrive when they feel they are living up to their full potential. Would you start your own charitable foundation? Your own business? Would you travel the world and experience new cultures? Move closer to family or loved ones?  Hint: Answering this question also helps you identify your true values in life.

Begin the Journey Toward Your New Career

Your new career starts now.

Too often people stay stuck in careers that aren’t satisfying to them, many times to fears or limiting beliefs about what they think is possible for them. So many of our challenges in life are mental, rather than physical, so use these questions as a starting point. Read through all your responses and notice any common themes, words, or ideas. These repetitions give clues as to potential career ideas. Keep in mind that there is usually not one perfect job out there for you, just like there’s not one perfect partner, so you’re just opening yourself up to possibilities at this point. Use your answers as food for thought in your journey toward a new career, and take the first step today. Did you notice any similarities in your responses to these questions? Did any of your answers surprise you? What step will you take next?

Kristi Helvig, Ph.D., C.P.C., is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified professional life and career coach who works with clients all over the world via the magic of Skype. Contact Dr. Kristi to set up a free coaching consultation at drhelvig (at) yahoo.com.

Life Coaching Insights: 2019 Mid-Year Goal Check

I can’t believe half of 2019 is over already! Mid-year is a great time to take a few minutes and assess how you’re doing so far with your goals for this year. If you’re on track to meet your personal and professional goals, that’s awesome! *throws confetti* You’re doing great and should be proud so take a moment to celebrate and then keep on truckin’ along. However, if instead you are feeling like you blinked and the year is already half-over and you haven’t accomplished anywhere near what you wanted to by this point—don’t despair. You still have time. Six months, in fact. You still have half the year to focus on making 2019 a success for you.

Ready?

Step 1) Assess where you are now. What is the personal or professional goal you wanted to accomplish? What steps did you accomplish so far? What held you back or got in your way? Examine the goal itself—is it a specific enough goal with small attainable steps? Write down the goal below and make sure it is specific to what you have control over. For example, instead of “lose 10 pounds,” you would write something like “exercise 30 minutes per day.” Instead of “make more money,” you would have something specific like “work “x” hours per week on my side hustle” or “make 5 sales calls per day.” You get the idea.

GOAL: ____________________________________________________

Step 2) Break the goal down into smaller steps. Over the next 6 months, if you even take one small step per day or complete one action item, imagine where you’ll be in half a year. You can only climb a mountain one step at a time so instead of being overwhelmed and paralyzed by the sheer size of your goal, just take one step today. And then another one tomorrow. Movement creates movement, so even small steps will motivate and energize you.

What is one thing you can do today to get you on your next step to your bigger goal? Examples might include: set up a savings account, go for a walk with a friend, organize one drawer, create a profile on a dating app, make a website, etc.

Your one thing for today: _______________________________________

Step 3) Set aside a few minutes per week to review progress and determine steps for the next week. Many of my career coaching and life coaching clients tell me they prefer to do this on Sunday evening because it gives them focus for the coming week but you do you and see what works best. Assess your completed items for the past week and decide what you need to put on your daily list for the following week. Note: Only assign 1 task per day. You can always do more than one thing which is bonus but you want to set yourself up to succeed. A common mistake is when people put 20 things on their daily task list, and being that they’re human, they don’t complete them and then feel like a failure—plus, when you re-write the same unfinished tasks over and over each day, it makes them lose their impact.

Weekly goal for upcoming week:___________________________________

Then, just rinse and repeat each week. The prior week’s tasks will help determine your next steps. When a certain task feels larger than others, break that down into smaller ones that seem doable. For instance, if you’re decluttering your entire house and this week’s overall goal is the garage which is so crammed with things that you want to cry thinking about it, break that one task down into manageable pieces, e.g. Monday: the shelves by the door, Tuesday: the box of holiday decorations, etc. One of my clients who started her own business broke things down into different days and: set up her LLC, obtained liability insurance, got a logo design, created her tagline and designed her website by picking one thing per day to do. You can do anything if you break it down into small enough steps!

Here is wishing you a successful second half of 2019 and that you finish this year amazed at all that you accomplished!

Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Professional Coach who helps clients reach their goals all over the world through the magic of Skype. If you’re ready to change careers or would like a free consultation to see if coaching is right for you, please email Dr. Kristi at kristi@prosperitycoachingandconsulting.com.