Ep 97: Wait for it…

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Still waiting for Hurricane Dorian. 😬 It’s been quite a test for us here in South Florida. Waiting is a test on a few levels.

Here are a couple of things you can gain from a season of waiting.

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Full transcript 👇

 

Ep 97: Wait for it...

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Well, we are still waiting on Hurricane Dorian. I’ve spent most of my life on the Gulf Coast of Texas and the Atlantic Coast of Florida so I know how to hurricane.

  • You learn how to wait in long lines at Walmart.
  • You learn how to wait for gas.
  • You wait a little longer for a sub sandwich because everybody had the same easy idea you did for dinner.
  • You refresh your devices like a mad dog just waiting for the next official hurricane update.

This is all part of the waiting boot camp of hurricane season.

But this storm is pushing everyone’s buttons.

The waiting is intense.

And it’s even worse now that we see some reports out of the Bahamas because we have something tangible to go by now.

It looks bad there, and every report coming out of our neighboring islands breaks our hearts.

But we have no choice but to continue to wait.

Have you been through a period like this in your life?

When all you can do is just sit still and see where it goes?

You’re prepared and you’ve covered all your bases. You’re confident in your plan.

But there’s no gate to walk through. No clear way forward.

I think this is one of the more frustrating parts about being intentional and purposeful.

You can only make things happen so much.

At some point you can’t make anything happen, no matter how good your plan or how skilled you are with your stuff.

You just have to wait and see how it goes. You may have to see what the winds bring you to work with.

An intense waiting period is about as stressful as it gets.

How can you weather it with some grace?

First, a waiting period gives you time to consider other things you may normally miss.

I guarantee you more families in South Florida have spent more time together over the past few days than they have in months.

A waiting period gives you time to assess what matters to you and what you want to keep around you.

In a business, a slow time might be the opportunity to consider your marketing strategy instead of just moving your widgets.

In your personal goals, a waiting period might be the time you need to make sure you’ve considered every angle.

This is a blessing you don’t always get when things heat up.

Second, waiting gives you an opportunity to consider the present moments.

I’ve been talking a lot about that lately because most of us spend our time way out in the future, worrying about things that aren’t even on the radar yet.

Waiting can give you the time to look around and focus on where you are right now. What can you do with what you have right now?

What if the thing you’re waiting for doesn’t come? What then?

Can you engage the moment you’re in right now? You’ll kick yourself later if you don’t.

Lastly, waiting is a gift.

We move so hard so fast that we just glance by the opportunity to sit still and just be in the life you’re in right now. Anything unexpected can be a gift if you reframe your perspective.

This is hard to do when you’re anxious to just get this thing going already. But there is so much available to you, to work out things in you, if you’ll submit to it.

No one can give you that gift except you. You can choose to get frustrated with all the waiting or you can choose to be grateful for the opportunity to be a little more engaged in your life.

That one’s up to you.

Waiting doesn’t have to be idle time. Use the time when nothing seems to be happening to assess what’s in front of you to make sure you have what you need to face what’s ahead.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, podcast or email.

You’ll also find videos and articles at mymentalhealthmoment.com.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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Ep 93: Does social media stress you out?

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After a little more than a decade on social media, the luster has rubbed off a bit. It’s become as much of a stressor as a stress reliever. Yet, we still feel obligated to keep up with it for some weird reason.

How can you find a rightful place for social media in your life? Here are a few of my thoughts.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

 

Ep 93: Does social media stress you out?

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Have you ever had a time where you’re like, “You know what? I’m just quitting all of social media? I’m done. If you need me, pin a message to a hacky sack and hurl it over my fence. I’ll give you a shout on the walkie talkie if I’m interested in what you have to say!” 😂

Social media has become such a deeply woven part of our days that it now feels like another thing we’re trying to wrangle and put into submission. Like we need any more wrangling in our days.

That’s kind of strange given that it started as a way to connect with others who share your interests or to make new friends, or whatever Tom over at MySpace was telling us at the time. It was all good and fun in those days.

It’s true. Social media can give us so much information, spread awareness of important issues and give us a powerful way to stay in each others lives in spite of where we live.

There are some really good things about social media.

But some days, it feels like an extra drain on our already overwhelmed psyches.

And if you’re prone to distraction, it’s even harder.

Social media feels very much like an either/or proposition. You’re either really into it or really fed up with it. Beyond just shutting it all down, how do you find some balance with it?

Understand that your tug of war with any technology is not about your device or the potential evil aspirations of Facebook.

It’s not even about Russia. 😲😂

It’s about you.

You always hold the power to choose where you place your attention. You are the gatekeeper for what you allow to enter your tired psyche. So it’s not so much about the fact that you own a device that gives you so much access. Or that what’s on it is so addictive.

I know there’s a ton of research on how addictive social media has become for so many. And the developers go out of their way to tap into our reward centers to keep us coming back.

But even with that, it doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility of managing our own attention. We still own that 100 percent of the time.

Your use of social media is still about the boundaries you choose to place on your time.

If you’re consistently evaluating your values and priorities, it’s a lot easier to find a more constructive role for social media. It finds its place in your life just like any other entertainment. You know when it’s time to set it aside.

The biggest problem is that social media has expertly given us a convenient way to avoid what we’re uncomfortable with. Instead of finding healthy ways to deal with your stress, you need only reach in your pocket to kill time and blow off some steam.

It’s just too easy.

That may defer the effects of the stress for a little while, but then you still have to re-enter the world where your life is actually happening. And that seems to be getting harder and harder for us to do because there are so many unique ways for us to escape.

Keep in mind that social media amplifies something that’s already there.

If you suffer from low self-esteem, for example, you have a ready-made product in your pocket to feed that insecurity. Whether it’s seeing others who you think look better than you or seeing others advance ahead of you, that comparison game brings out what you already feel you lack.

That insecurity may have started years ago. You may have formed rules in your own head about the value you bring to the world. That’s something you need to work on for yourself in order to feel good about who you are.

So it’s really less about what social media does to you as much as what it brings out of you.

This is yet another opportunity to draw some boundaries and do good work to improve how you see your world and your role in it.

Is social media adding to our stress?

The short answer is yes but only because we’ve chosen it. Consider that stress has been around long before social media. Imagine living in a time where your ability to hunt food and bring it home was your metric for the day.

How stressful do you think that was?

What we’re experiencing today isn’t the same kind of stress. Our stressors are typically not life-threatening on a daily basis. But we do have a lot of zingers coming our way every day, big and small. Social media has given us an easy way to forget about our stressors.

And that’s okay to a point. But when we prefer to escape over trying to solve our problems, that’s a problem. And we can do that with anything, not just social media.

In order to effectively handle our stress, we have to find the courage to interact with our problems and come up with solutions.

That’s where we start to feel like we have a little bit of control over what happens to us.

So is social media the evil it seems to be? The jury may still be out on that one. But it’s really not about social media.

It’s about knowing what we value and what’s important to us. That’s where we find a sense of purpose and meaning in spite of our stress.

And that is always in our pocket if we choose to engage with it.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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Ep 88: Take care of your own “at-bat”

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Okay, I managed to go 87 episodes without bringing up baseball…until today! ⚾😀 I was hoping for a comeback win in today’s Yankees game, but alas, it was not to be.

But if they had pulled it out, it would have been because each player owned his turn at the plate. You can find some parallels for this in your life outside the ballpark.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 88: Take care of your own "at-bat"

Photo credit: Me! Derek Jeter taking one of a bajillion at-bats at a game in Yankee stadium on April 10, 2010. I sure did love taking pictures at Yankee Stadium. 😊

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

If you’re a fan of baseball, or any sport, you know the feeling when the game’s almost over and your team’s down by a lot.

It’s not a fun feeling, and usually at this point of the game the concession stand is closed so there’s no way to distract yourself.

Your team’s down by six runs and it’s the bottom of the eighth inning. You appreciate your pitcher’s efforts to keep the other team where they are, but you have low expectations for that ninth inning coming up.

The other team’s lead looks insurmountable. I mean, physically a comeback in the bottom of the ninth could be possible, but not likely.

Heaven and earth would have to move to make that happen.

You wonder if you should join the trickle of fans you see heading towards the exits.

Maybe they’re right. It might be more practical to get out of the parking lot without a hassle than to witness the inevitable end.

While you’re scanning the expanse of empty seats around you, suddenly you hear that unmistakable cracking sound.

You whip your head around to see that the ninth inning started while you were doing all that looking around. And your team just got a hit.

You’re on base, yes!

Still, you’re not too pumped up. There’s a lot of room between where you are now and actually winning this thing.

There’s still a lot of baseball that has to happen in a short period of time.

And besides, how can the players even get themselves in a position mentally to do that? Don’t they see the bleak picture here, too?

You watch in stunned silence while your team racks up hit after hit, brings in a few runs, and works a few walks. Finally, the winning run walks up to the plate.

  • Now your expectations have come up.
  • Now a win seems doable and real.

But this player isn’t your big bopper, your clean up guy, or your superstar. It’s a utility player. A solid player for sure, but not the one that has the pitcher shaking in his cleats.

And then, CRACK! He gives that ball a ride! Right over the wall!

Game over and your team just came from being down six runs in the ninth to win this thing.

The remaining true fans like you rise to their feet, high fiving everyone in sight and saying how you knew it all along.

Your team just moved heaven and earth apparently.

While you were gazing around trying to figure out when to leave the ballpark, your team was focused on winning.

Kind of.

All teams would say they focus on winning.

But your team understood that winning is simply the result of each player taking care of his own at-bat.

What does that mean?

First of all, let me give credit to former Yankees pitcher David Cone for using that phrase a lot; which is ironic since he knows more about pitching a perfect game than focusing on at-bats.

Anyway, an “at-bat” is simply a player’s single turn at the plate. An at-bat could result in an out, a strikeout or a hit. If the player gets his bat in perfect position to the incoming ball, he might hit a home run.

Now he’s a hero.

But that doesn’t happen often. Statistically he’s more likely to strike out. That’s just the reality of baseball.

But if he’s a decent player there’s about a 25% chance he’ll get a hit that can put him in position for a run.

If he focuses on all that while standing in the batter’s box, though, he’s going to add to his strikeouts for sure.

He knows that his task is simply to keep his eye on each pitch as it comes.

Not the next pitch and not the one that came before.

And he’s certainly not thinking about his teammate’s at-bat just before him or whether or not the next batter will bring it home like a hero.

That’s not how you keep your head together when it looks hopeless.

He’s focused on being in HIS box with HIS pitch in HIS present moment.

He’s doing his very best to take care of what HE’s responsible for.

He’s taking care of his own at-bat.

The winning part isn’t really up to him.

How do you handle your days when you’re in a deep hole with no way to win outside of heaven and earth?

Do you trust in your ability to take care of what you can take care of? To keep your eye on what you know and trust your training?

Do you focus on what you bring to the plate in this moment for this situation and just execute that?

It’s easy to lose sight of all that when you feel like there’s no way you can win.

When things look pretty hopeless, it’s so easy to want to look outside of our own box.

We look for other people to blame and desperately grapple for any solution that doesn’t require us to just focus on our one part.

You can’t control how others play the game.

And you certainly can’t control how others standing behind you are seeing the pitches.

You can only focus on where you choose to place your attention right now and how you respond to each situation that comes across the plate, as it comes.

If you can relax and stay focused on what’s in front of you right now, you may look up and realize that you put yourself in a position to actually win.

Now you just need a little extra effort to get you over the wall.

Find ways today to focus on your own turn at the plate.

Do what you can do to inch this thing forward and stop worrying about the result.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

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Ep 84: Moving to the center of conflict

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We spend a lot of time avoiding conflict because we’re not always sure where it might take us. But avoiding conflict keeps you stagnant and can take you right off the board.

Learn how to embrace conflict and make it work for you to create the healthy relationships you want to have.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 84: Moving to the center of conflict

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

One of the hardest things to navigate in a relationship is conflict.

Not because it’s so difficult to resolve but because so few people are willing to to actually deal with conflict directly.

In a previous episode, I talked about passive aggressiveness, those indirect ways that we communicate to the people in our lives that there’s a problem to be solved.

Instead of approaching the issue with honest feelings, we let our actions speak for us. This puts us in a game of “guess what I’m feeling and I’m very angry that you can’t see what I’m feeling.”

This kind of interaction almost always misses the mark.

On the other end are people who go out of their way to avoid conflict altogether. They will take the responsibility for things that don’t belong to them just to keep the peace at any costs.

In both of these cases, conflict is seen as a threat.

If I tell you how I’m really feeling, then you may get upset.

And I may not know what to do with that.

Instead of coming to you with the idea of resolving the issue, I place my hope in the conflict magically going away.

That almost never works.

You may be able to slide by for a bit dancing around the issue but it almost always comes up in some way, somehow.

  • Your frustration with your boss works you up so much that you decide to leave the company looking for a less war-like situation.
  • Your spouse suddenly tells you the marriage is over and you didn’t see it coming at all because you had no idea there was even an issue.
  • You stop talking to your best friend because she made you really angry when she made that comment last month about your kids.

In each of these cases, there is a loss of an important relationship.

In each of these cases, issues boiled under the surface but never made their way to where you could interact with them and figure out what’s going on.

You just find out when you see the water suddenly moving and the steam burns you.

That’s the result of poor conflict resolution.

You see, the most important thing in your relationships isn’t communication.

I think we all know people who communicate constantly but never really say anything.

The most important thing in a relationship is the ability to resolve conflict. That’s where progress in a relationship happens.

Taking time to resolve an issue with someone means that you both put something in this and that you’re both invested in the relationship getting better.

Resolving conflict together brings you closer.

It forms a bond in the relationship because now you’ve been through something together.

Healthy relationships aren’t based on how well you get along. They come from the ability to hear and validate others in spite of your own feelings, and to have others do the same for you.

That’s not something to run from.

So how do you approach conflict in a way that grows your relationships?

A big way to start is to speak from your own experiences and emotions.

When we’re angry with someone, it’s so tempting to assign motives to their actions. That’s usually the first thing we want to get into when we do decide to approach someone.

And it’s the thing that makes conflict blow up, the thing we hate about it the most.

We make comments like, “You always make me feel like that.”

That’s a quick way to put someone on the defensive.

Instead of focusing on their actions, describe the actual emotion you felt as a result of that action.

“When you speak to me in that tone, it makes me feel hurt, angry, sad,”…whatever.

Describe your specific emotions without assigning motives. You’re just a reporter of information about you.

While they may not agree with you, they can’t take away your feelings. You own those.

Then, let them respond.

When they do, listen to understand, not to reply.

This is really hard.

We’ve all had those conversations where we’re crafting our witty response while the other person’s talking.

You may come up with a great response, but you just missed a whole bunch of great info coming from them while you were inside your own head playing speechwriter.

You’re listening so you can come up with your own response instead of really hearing them and validating their feelings.

That doesn’t help them feel heard either.

Listen to what they have to say and summarize it back to them to make sure you got it right.

This is an easy way to actively listen because you’ll have to pay attention to make sure you don’t miss something.

It also allows them to clarify the details so they can walk away feeling heard.

Above all, lean in to your own responsibility to keep the relationship healthy.

So many times we wait for the other person to kind of “get it” and come to us first.

If you value the relationship at all, you may need to make the first move. Maybe that doesn’t feel fair, especially if you feel like you’re not in the wrong here.

But making the first move says that you value this relationship enough to get this process going, even if it’s uncomfortable.

Waiting only serves to let the issues continue to bubble and increases the chance of a much bigger event later.

Besides, you’re part of this relationship and it’s on you to do what you can to keep it healthy. You play your part, too.

What the other person does or doesn’t do is on them.

The best part about approaching conflict in this way is that once you engage, you find that there are some things you just didn’t know.

You get knowledge that can help you understand their perspective sooner instead of stewing over assumptions and assigning motives.

You may not like the knowledge you get, and that’s fine.

Maybe you do decide to make a drastic change in the relationship after walking through this process.

But at least you can make a more informed decision before you just shut everything down.

Conflict resolution allows you to keep the air clear so you can move ahead together as a team instead of viewing each other with suspicion and anger.

This is the price of admission for healthy relationships.

It requires some humility and intention but it can bring you closer to more satisfying relationships.

Isn’t that all any of us want?

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Ep 79: Power blend: a lesson from my favorite coffee mug

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The small stuff can take us to powerlessness in a flash. We manage so much anymore that even one unexpected event can leave us scrambling to get some control.

I had a little mishap last weekend that illustrated this dynamic in my own life.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

 

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 79: Power Blend: a lesson from my favorite coffee mug

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

One of the hardest things about feeling stressed out is how powerless you can feel.

We never really have control over anything, but we like to convince ourselves we do.

This is why we plan and analyze, and for some of us, over plan and over analyze.

It’s all an attempt to wrestle some control from the universe and say you know what? This is MY little pony. I’ve got the reins now, sister universe.

And it’s pointless.

We know that, but still we carry on – taking care of our own stuff, other people’s stuff, and all points in between.

All while striving for that moment when we can stand on top of the mountain with our hands on our hips, our super cape flying behind us and proclaim that we are in charge now.

We talk a good game don’t we?

We sound pretty menacing up there until something comes along and kicks us off our mountain.

What knocks you off your mountain?

If you’re like me, it’s the small stuff.

  • A comment from a coworker that sounded a little too cutting.
  • Running late for an appointment and getting stuck in traffic.
  • An unexpected phone call from your child’s teacher.
  • An extra automatic draft from your checking account.
  • A less than ideal number on the scale – again.

For me, the small things are like a broken dish.

Last weekend I cleaned my house like a mad woman.

I never have time to clean the whole house in one day like I used to. So I’ve gotten more comfortable with just hitting a couple of things a day here and there.

Eventually it all gets clean but not at the same time. It’s not satisfying, but for me, right now, it’s the only way.

Well, last weekend I decided I’d had enough.

Nothing was spared.

Baseboards, tile and grout in the shower, pockets of piled up crap and clutter in every room. Mopping with a real mop and actual water.

It was a revolution.

I felt like Mr. Clean standing in my living room, my mop at my side like Excalibur surveying my efforts.

When I was done, I propped the mop up against this little shelf mounted on the wall in my coffee bar.

The shelf has four little pegs on the bottom where I like to hang my favorite coffee cups.

When I was done talking trash to the universe about how clean everything was, I grabbed the mop to wring it out for the last time.

In mere seconds ceramic pieces suddenly covered the floor and countertop and little shards were scattered everywhere, including one sticking out of one of my knuckles on my right hand.

WHAT just happened?

My now shattered favorite coffee cup has a quote on it:

“Nothing comes between a girl and her coffee..”

Except…for a marble countertop.

Somehow, I had managed to maneuver the top of the mop handle around this little peg in such a way that it lifted my favorite coffee cup from its resting place and sent it crashing to the marble countertop below.

Keep in mind that I have a pretty hard time backing an average sized car into a reasonably sized parking space.

Yet somehow I managed to thread this tiny little needle with the dexterity of an Ivy League brain surgeon.

I’m not sure I could do it again if I tried.

But there it was.

My housekeeping show of power and order now laid in a heap of ceramic dust.

My unbroken coffee cup

My coffee cup in better days!

I felt pretty powerless in that moment because I just didn’t see it coming.

And now I had to clean it up!

It occurred to me as I was vacuuming and mopping…for the second time that day, and looking for a band aid… that my run in with the coffee cup is a lot like an average modern day.

I mean, hopefully you’re not breaking coffee cups every day.

But you probably encounter all kinds of unexpected things in each day that can take you down a different path.

Or at least add to what you were already struggling with.

I think that’s when it’s easy to feel powerless because how can you get ahead with all these coffee cups getting thrown around you?

If you’re spending all your time cleaning up after your broken cups, then how are you getting to the good stuff?

What are your options here to find some power?

Well, you can accept that no matter how in-control you feel, something will come along to challenge that.

That is called life.

If you are living and moving in your deep values and chasing some strong goals, expect it.

Now when I say accept I don’t mean tolerate. There’s a difference.

Tolerating something means that you still think you will have some control but for now you’re just putting up. You’re still worked up about it, and there’s probably some judgmental comments and a lot of eye rolling on your part.

Acceptance is removing yourself from the entanglement with the thoughts and feelings in your situation.

You become more of an observer and acknowledge that, yes this is happening.

You take note of what you’re feeling but instead of wrapping yourself in those emotions, you let them go and move on to action.

What can be done now?

You trust that the answer will reveal itself in time.

Until then, you’re still able to function.

You can also allow your curiosity to enter the stage.

What can you learn from this?

Could this become a course correcting event instead of just an annoying and disruptive commercial break from the universe?

Curiosity opens you up to new possibilities because it forces you to consider other options behind the ceramic mess in front of you.

Some of my best ideas have come from my most powerless moments when I learned to lean in to my curiosity.

Learn to foster a curious attitude instead of allowing yourself to fall victim to the lamentations about how life isn’t fair.

Because when you look outward at others and the universe as the reason for your struggles, that’s when you lose your power.

Now you’re a victim and that’s a broken coffee cup all day long.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Ep 76: What do you want on your plate?

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We’ve gotten pretty good about identifying priorities. But how do you know those priorities are the ones that will take you where you want to go?

You need to understand your values first to know how to load your plate each day. Learn a few ways that better values can help you set your priorities and make decisions.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 76: What do you want on your plate?

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Do you focus on your priorities?

We definitely focus on making sure we’re not just doing unimportant tasks, things that don’t really lead anywhere.

We sit down and look at the activities that will give us the most value, maybe even putting them in a quadrant or matrix, if you roll like that.

But what happens when those priorities in their worthiness still don’t seem to be leading anywhere?

Maybe we haven’t really examined our values.

Not the easy stuff to identify like being a good parent, or being an accessible leader or serving the community.

Who doesn’t want to be those things?

But the harder stuff.

  • Like how do I develop self-control?
  • How do I become more assertive so that I have a voice in everything I do?
  • How do I live my life in such a way that I build trust and integrity?
  • How do I develop patience and persistence to power through my challenges?

Values are the driving force behind everything we do.

We don’t often write them out or memorize them.

And when life presents difficult challenges, we don’t stop and analyze whether or not our situation fits in with our overall values.

But this kind of analysis can actually make decision-making a whole lot easier.

Life today has evolved into a race to finish something that feels undefined.

  • We complete stuff.
  • We cross things off our list.
  • We accomplish.
  • We feel pretty good about all that.

But at the end of the day, sometimes we’re just not sure what all this is adding up to.

So we feel like we’re always struggling to get our priorities swimming in the same lane as our values. And we’re starting to get a little tired of all that moving around in the pool.

Maybe you need to be more productive and focused.

Or…maybe you need better values.

How do you define better values for yourself?

Values that you can point to in a pivotal moment that will light up your path forward like a summer carnival?

It’s really no different than breaking a project down into smaller chunks.

Instead of just wanting to be a good parent, what does that look like?

Close your eyes and imagine yourself being the parent you envisioned when you were waiting for this little creature to arrive.

Are you available to run alongside them as they learn the simple basics?

Are you patient in coaching them through challenges instead of just delivering a set of instructions?

Can you practice the humility to truly hear what’s in their heart as they navigate their own values, even if those values are a little different from yours?

If you want to be a more accessible leader, have you learned how to be an active listener?

Have you learned the skills to navigate conflict in healthy ways?

Do you know how to follow others in order to demonstrate your own respect for leadership?

What about serving your community?

Many good people value their ability to participate in keeping their community healthy and being a powerful force in the face of so much that seems to be going wrong in our communities.

But that can easily become another list of tasks and activities that compete for attention.

How can you better define this value to keep it from feeling like another drain on your time and energy?

  • Do you want those most vulnerable to better connect with their financial independence as a result of your work in this space?
  • Are you focused on helping others develop a spiritual practice that will help them through their own difficult times?
  • Do you want younger generations to have access to some well travelled knowledge to reach their own goals in a constantly changing world?

These are a lot more prescriptive than “serving my community.”

Find a half hour sometime this week to consider all the different areas and domains of your life.

Determine one or two values in each of these areas that speak to your skills, experiences and desires.

Where do you want each of these areas to end up?

If you are successful, what does it look like for you to be operating well in each of these areas?

See what interesting things you can come up with, things that excite you.

There are no right or wrong answers because other than math and some delicious bakery cookies in New York City, life isn’t always black-and-white.

You get to decide what you pay attention to, even if you’ve come to feel a bit trapped by ill-defined priorities.

When you put your focus on concrete values, values that are focused on specific skills and actions, you may find is that it’s easier to decide what stays on your plate on a Monday morning.

Because now you have a better picture of where you’re headed.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
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Ep 73: A river runs through it

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I had a bit of trouble staying focused on the present while writing this. Even using my usual tricks to keep me relaxed, I still found the weight of the coming days bearing down on my life right now, today.

Here are a couple of things that worked for me. Maybe they can help you be more mindful of your present moments. 😊🧘‍♀️

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 73: A river runs through it

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Right now I’m sitting in my office chair at home listening to the sounds of a South American river and rainforest. At least that’s the the title of the YouTube video I’m listening to.

I use these relaxing sounds to somewhat drown out the chatter in my head while I’m trying to write.

I like to pretend I’m sitting near a babbling brook, waxing poetic about mental health, because really who doesn’t do that? Meanwhile inquisitive tropical birds are landing on my shoulder while my pen flows freely. 🐦😜

I may have a too-vivid imagination.

But in real life, today, that picture is unfolding in a more Alfred Hitchcock-like fashion.

I have thoughts dive bombing at me in about five different domains right now, all at the same time.

I’m trying to write about being more mindful and aware of the present and how it can help you stay focused this week.

I wanted to talk about beautiful sunrises and how you can be mindful and present while chopping almonds and pecans. 😲

But instead I’m tossing around thoughts like:

  • how I’m dreading calling about the repairs to my car tomorrow, and
  • how I hope I’m able to fill my schedule with enough clients this week, and
  • how can I make sure I get to the gym at least three times this week for crying out loud, and
  • making sure I schedule time to write this week and
  • dang it…I just remembered we’re out of coffee creamer for tomorrow morning!

Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, this week, I hope, what if I forget…these are the thoughts chasing each other in my head right now like a school of feeding fish.

Does this sound familiar?

Do you have these kinds of thoughts swimming in your head, too?

Your thoughts may be even more challenging than mine.

  • You might be worried about a scary health diagnosis this week.
  • Or maybe you’re worried about a teenager who’s making really bad choices.
  • How much longer will your finances hold out since you haven’t been working in a while?

Why is it so hard to just be where you are right now, listening to a South American river and rainforest?

It’s hard because to a degree, we are wired to have these worried and negative thoughts.

Nature has infused us with the responses that will get us to take action. If we feel a certain amount of stress or worry from knowing things need to get done, we will take action on said things.

That’s good.

Otherwise we’d be sitting around with broken cars and drinking black coffee with no creamer.

At the same time, your life is happening in this moment, right now, right? Not later in the doctor’s office waiting for that diagnosis.

I mean, that day will be here eventually this week, and then that will be your present life.

So how do you connect with your current present moment and slow down the chase inside your head?

One thing that works is what I’m doing right now.

I’m simply writing about it.

Writing triggers a process that allows you to make meaning and find a way to take a mental deep breath.

Your brain handles information differently when you put written language on a problem than it does when you’re just thinking about it.

There is great insight and peace that comes from writing. It’s the best discovery process there is and a quick way to just be in the moment with yourself.

Another great way to connect with the present is to pull away from your thoughts a bit and be more of an observer than a participant.

Picture your thoughts in your mind as the words and phrases that they really are. You can even make sentences out of them.

  • But don’t judge them or try to understand them.
  • Just visualize them and observe their presence.
  • Then, imagine yourself holding them in your hands and releasing them in the air.
  • Or stand in the wind and imagine the wind pushing them through your mind.

Please note that there will be other thoughts that come in to your mind to replace those thoughts.

So the idea isn’t to eliminate the negative or worried thoughts. Good luck with that!

Just notice them, and watch them keep moving.

Now you’re just a person watching what your thoughts do and where they go.

This serves to separate YOU from your thoughts and your worry about the future so you’re not so connected to them.

Once you try this a few times you’ll find the present will come in to view a bit easier.

I can tell you that my mental feeding frenzy has diminished.

  • I’m super focused on my writing now.
  • I’m engaged and focused on finding the most helpful thing to tell you right now.
  • My car will get fixed this week, and I’ll figure out the coffee thing tomorrow.

And this is exactly where I want to be right now.

Where do you want to be right now?

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

You can find articles and videos about stress and mental health by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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Ep 69: Pear trees in Tulsa

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You don’t know how much you’ve grown until you have to step up and do something useful. Here’s a little lesson about growth from two little pear trees in Tulsa, OK.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 69: Pear Trees in Tulsa

I don’t think these trees are in Tulsa, but you get the idea. 😜

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

The first house my husband and I lived in was in Tulsa, OK. It was a small house, just a smidge less than 1,000 square feet, but it had pretty much what we needed at the time as a young dual income, no kids couple.

There were a couple of floor to ceiling windows on the front of the house that let in some nice light. They were my favorite because they made the house feel bigger than it was. So I was always pulling the shades up.

While those windows were the house’s best feature, in the afternoon they were the absolute worst feature.

You see, the front part of the house faced the west, which means we got some brutal sun and heat in the afternoon — right in those windows. If you’ve experienced Midwest summer heat you know what I’m talking about.

The best shades and blinds were no match for the hellish heat waves coming through that glass. In the afternoon I felt like Woody in Toy Story under Sid’s magnifying glass. It was a real bear cooling that house in the summer.

When we first moved in, we noticed two, awkward young trees planted in the front yard.

Two non-fruit-bearing pear trees I was told.

I couldn’t imagine why you would not want pears from your pear tree. I’m guessing maybe the landlord didn’t want the mess from uncollected ripe fruit.

Anyway, these two little guys were planted about 20 feet apart from each other. They weren’t impressive in any way and to be honest, they were pretty scrawny.

They offered no protection from anything really, you couldn’t sit under them, and honestly they weren’t even that pretty. And apparently they weren’t going to even produce any pears.

But they did grow.

Pear trees in my Tulsa yard

Sadly, this is the only picture of the little pear trees from those days. There’s another little tree just 20 feet to the right. This picture was taken about year three or four. Check out me and my pickup truck! 

Not quickly mind you, but you could see some new growth every year. And they did withstand the weight of Oklahoma ice storms.

So while they were unimpressive and kind of useless in their non-fruit-bearing state, they were hardy.

They became such a part of our yard that honestly I didn’t notice them too much anymore.

I think one year we hung some Christmas ornaments from the branches but that’s about it.

But over time, their canopies did slowly start to fill in and they took on a healthy roundness.

We had lived there about seven years, and I had now taken on a healthy roundness of my own. I was pregnant with our son.

One afternoon I was so exhausted I remember laying down on the couch for just a few minutes. I realized that I should probably close the blinds before I fell asleep so I wouldn’t wake up in the blistering heat. But I was just too exhausted to get up again, so I drifted off.

I woke up about an hour later to hear the sounds of sweet birds singing in those two trees. I laid there on my pillow and peacefully watched the branches sway back and forth in the wind. It was all very nice and Little House on the Prairie.

And suddenly it hit me.

Holy cow, there’s SHADE coming in the window.

The sun was completely blocked! I wasn’t sweating or anything.

After all those years, the canopies of those two trees had finally grown together to form a complete block against the sun coming in those windows.

Our little trees had matured to the point that they were now… useful.

The process of slow, steady growth that we didn’t even really notice that much had ushered those trees into a new phase that didn’t even seem palatable seven years ago.

But just because we couldn’t see their growth or find their usefulness right away doesn’t mean that potential wasn’t there the whole time.

We’re all so super focused on getting where we want to go and finding our purpose and manifesting an abundant life and all that sexy stuff.

But that’s not the point of it all.

At all.

The point is in the growth.

Your growth through the process is what allows you to step into your usefulness and your purpose.

But good, solid growth takes a long time.

A long time. Those two trees didn’t have the experience or the structure to shade my house in those early years.

They had to wait years to build the root system and longevity to support bigger branches with more leaves and ultimately….shade.

Those trees had the simple task of relying on nature to provide the resources for growth. And it wasn’t overnight.

Growth isn’t always noticeable to you until you need it.

You don’t always realize how much you’ve learned and assimilated experiences until you have to call on that stuff in a pivotal moment.

Like those trees, you don’t realize that your canopy is growing because you’re busy just trying to keep things going.

And you don’t always see how the specific shape you’re taking on is going to be useful to anyone, until the opportunity presents itself.

I needed shade that day, and those trees were in a position to step up and provide that.

No one saw that coming.

Here’s the fortune cookie part of all this:

Growth can serve you and others around you if you trust the process.

Isn’t that the point of growth? Not to heap on yourself but to provide the cooling shade of wisdom and hope to those who need it? To others who are blinded by the heat waves coming into their life?

Maybe you look at your life and don’t think that anything you’ve been through serves a purpose.

Maybe you feel like those trees.

Someone hangs an ornament on you from time to time but honestly you just feel like you’re existing. You’re going through stuff, but why?

Nothing is wasted and every experience matters.

You are growing. And one day you will step into your true role and some of this just may make sense.

Until then, keep growing.

Check out one of the trees today! 👇

It looks like one of the trees didn’t make it, but look how big our little friend is now!

Pear trees today

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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Check out the best of Mental Health Moment

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Mental Health Moment on break

It’s summer, and my son is getting married this month! 💞❤

So I’m taking a short break from new episodes of Mental Health Moment.

I’ll return with NEW EPISODES on June 24.

Until then, here’s a few early episodes you may have missed!

 

Episode 2: Sticky note wins the day

 

 

 

Episode 3: Don’t stress exercise

 

 

 

Episode 4: Deep breathing isn’t just “take a deep breath”

 

 

 

Episode 5: Five things (and also 20 things) to reduce stress

 

 

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

 

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

in your inbox every day.

 





 

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

How to simplify your week to reduce stress

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“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” Steve Jobs

I’m not one to quote Steve Jobs too much. He was brilliant, no question. But I’m not sure he’s the model to follow for a low-stress life in the workplace.

He seemed to ooze complexity. At least that’s what it looked like from my judg-ey overstuffed reading chair and ottoman.

I think he was onto something here, though, in understanding how we can simplify one of our real stressors at work — our workload.

Simplifying your work helps you do work that matters

If we think about the Apple products we use, they are dead simple.

My iPhone requires almost no instruction. The apps on it reduce complicated processes down to one or two steps I can do while I’m in the bathroom. (Don’t judge me, you do it too. 🙃)

In spite of the challenges the smartphone era has brought us, it’s also made so many things in life easier.

  • Don’t you remember what it was like trying to find answers to life’s big questions on Yahoo using your two-inch-thick Compaq laptop?
  • Remember scribbling tasks in your Monticello-themed, double-binded Franklin Planner?
  • Have you forgotten just how complicated it was to take your own pulse by using two fingers on one hand?

This was the crazy world the iPhone entered back in that dark age.

Apples’ development team started with the simplest version of what they thought could work and built on it from there. I’m sure they had a veritable scroll of features they probably could have included in that first phone (known then sweetly as “iPhone”).

But we’d probably still be waiting for that first iPhone, clumsily walking around with two fingers on our carotids and using hash marks to count our 10,000 steps.

The ensuing versions of the iPhone — all the way to today’s iPhone XR — came about once humans started actually using the phone.

I mean, who knew one day we would rarely even use these things as a phone? Who saw that one coming? 🤷

Use an MVP to simplify your work

You business-minded folks may recognize this process as a principle called “Minimum Viable Product,” or MVP.

(Bear with me. The therapist is using a business principle to make a point here.)

Entrepreneur Eric Ries was the first to toss this definition of MVP around in his book, “The Lean Startup:”

A Minimum Viable Product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

In regular-people speak:

  • Build the simplest version of your product that will let you learn how people use it,
  • Gather feedback from them while they’re using it, then
  • Add new features from what you learned.
  • And so on, and so on….

This can save you time and energy because you’re not trying to build the best product ever by just guessing what might work. That’s so old school.

  • MVP gives you a real-life lab to build a product that helps people solve the annoying problems in their lives.
  • MVP helps you see what really helps people, not just stuff you and your team think is cool.
  • People tend to celebrate and buy stuff that helps them solve problems.

Maybe you don’t build a tangible product per se.

(Actually you do! Your work is your product. Make work your product!)

Apply the MVP principle on this Monday to simplify the rest of this week

This frees you up to do the work that solves real problems and creates forward momentum.

I don’t know about you, but nothing stresses me out more than doing work that doesn’t matter.

Here’s a little MVP roadmap I made for you:

1. Create and plan a wicked simple baseline for what you want to accomplish this week

I’m showing my INFJ skin a bit here, but planning is essential to reduce stress at work. Sorry.

You have to create some buckets, even leaky ones, to capture your important work or you’ll just end up with a messy pile of pointless doo-doo on Friday.

I know that may fly in the face of your possibly more spontaneous nature, but spontaneity and joy are not mutually exclusive.

Don’t go crazy and overplan (see also: procrastination).

But do plan, please.

Give some thought ahead of time about how you want this week to end up.

  • What do you want to hold in your hand on Friday (besides a cold beer)?
  • What MVP product can you produce this week that you can then build on next week?
  • Put everything else on a “next release” list of some kind.

Be honest about what you can really do. This is an area where we create a lot of our own stress.

Our work eyes are sometimes bigger than our work stomachs, if you will. 😋

Create a workable plan that is do-able with the time and resources you have this week and focus the week on that.

2. Protect your plan by establishing boundaries around your work

I know what you’re thinking. That’s great and all, but what about when my boss runs in with a little project on fire, and I’m the one who’s supposed to put it out? 📝🔥

What happens to my well-crafted plan then, sister girlfriend?

In many cases, you can give your boss some options on how you put that fire out.

“Sorry this project is on fire, Susie. Take a deep breath. Here are a couple of things we could do. Which one do you like?”

  1. Use the fire extinguisher. This will put the fire out immediately but it will also trash everything around us. It will resolve the problem immediately but we’ll spend two days cleaning up. This will delay all our other projects.
  2. Use the sweater slung over the back of my office chair to put out the fire. This will suffocate the fire and ruin my sweater, but it will most likely resolve the problem and preserve the working environment. We’ll need a minute to regroup, and I’ll need a long lunch to go buy another sweater. But we can get back on track today.

(Fire people are going to kill me on this one. It’s an analogy. If there’s an actual fire in your office, please be safe and follow your company’s fire safety plan.)

Of course there are plenty of unexpected things that pop up in the work week. But they don’t have to completely derail your work.

Unless they truly have to.

The best part about having a plan is how you can adjust it to meet changing needs.

But you can also protect it by offering other options besides you always having to set everything else aside.

And you still have a shot at maintaining momentum with your plan while getting credit for helping put out a fire, too.

3. Capture feedback to build your next version

In building an MVP, capturing feedback is what drives the best new version of the product.

Thoughtful and engaging feedback makes your work better.

If you work in a team format, you absolutely should be open to feedback. Unless you’re freakin’ Leonardo da Vinci, you need other perspectives to do great work.

Here’s the dealio with feedback, though.

You’re not necessarily required to convert that feedback into action items. And certainly not this week.

If the feedback is a game changer for where your work is headed right now, then be for real and change your plan.

But don’t feel like it’s always required. Put the feedback on your “next version” list and see how it may fit in later.

Put a little fence around your work and be your own gatekeeper.

This serves to focus your best cognitive energy on the feedback you can use now to do your best work this week.

4. Make it your task to understand how your work ties in to a larger goal

Why do you do the work at your job? I don’t mean to start you on an existential quest here, but really … why are you doing this work?

Part of an MVP is knowing that your work is accomplishing a specific outcome. You can touch it, define it and explain it.

Apple’s slogan for the first iPhone was “Apple reinvents the phone.”

Apple reinvents the phone - 2007 Macworld Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone

“Apple reinvents the phone” by Nobuyuki Hayashi is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Did the developers working then understand that? I hope so because they did reinvent the phone. They absolutely did.

This is where Steve Jobs’ focus on simplicity comes to bear. He was obviously great at painting a vision, not just for customers but for the people doing the work.

And it made all the difference.

Many leadership teams lack the skills to communicate business goals in simple ways.

How does Allison in accounting understand how her weekly report contributes to the company’s quarterly success? To her, it may be just a thing she does on Monday before lunch.

Yes, the burden of that understanding should really fall on Allison’s company.

But remember, the power to reduce stress is in our hands, not waiting for someone else to figure it out for us.

So Allison may have to ask that question of her boss or someone else at her company who’s in the know.

This is an excellent way to make sure the work you’re doing is needed.

If not, you can apply your efforts toward something that will.

Now what?

Companies who use the MVP approach have seen enormous, even overwhelming success. It allows them to put great work out there and let others help them refine it.

You can do the same in your workweek if you resolve to keep your stuff simple and workable.

  • Be honest with yourself and others about what you can do.
  • Don’t be afraid to set boundaries around your work.
  • Let others use their perspective and knowledge to inform your work and make it better.
  • Seek out the larger picture for yourself, and bring it back to your desk every day.

 


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You’re busy at work and at home, and you take care of everyone else. You’re allowed to have a few minutes in each day to set your focus, regroup and feel a little more in control.

Join me every day as I bring you simple and practical tips you can use right now to gain a little more control over your life.

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