It’s Been 14 Years

img_3133
14 years ago today my Dad passed away. It was one day shy of my nephew, Ryan’s, 21st birthday and he was buried three days later on my birthday. I miss him as much today as I did the day he passed. 
 
The best way to describe my Dad is to say that he was a beautifully flawed human being. He was my hero. Not because he was perfect but because he faced his demons and overcame many challenges throughout his life.
 
The first challenge he overcame was weighing only 2 pounds when he was born in 1921. He was placed in a shoe box kept on the back of coal stove to keep him warm. Talk about a homemade incubator! He was the eldest of eight children and grew up during the Great Depression. He was drafted in 1942 and served in the 825th Tank Destroyer Unit of the Army during World War II. When he came back from the war in 1948 he was invited to workout with the Boston Braves. Baseball was his first love. He was signed to a Class C Baseball Contract by Billy Sullivan and was paid a whopping $175.00/month. (For those of you who are ardent baseball fans, he caught the famous 5 man starting pitching staff of the 1948 Champion Boston Braves; John Sain, Warren Span, Bill Voiselle,
Vern Bickford, and Red Barrett.) He worked in the airline business for several years before his job was abolished at which time he went to work at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute in Bridgewater, Massachusetts where he was the Recreation Officer in the convicted felon and drug addict unit until retiring in 1984. After retiring from the Corrections Department he worked part-time as the Coordinator of the Senior Center at Massasoit Community College. He suffered from coronary artery disease. Had a triple by-pass in 1985 and died from lung cancer at the age of 81.
 
He was a loving husband, father of 5, grandfather of 12, son, brother, cousin, uncle, and friend to many. Unfortunately he passed before meeting his beautiful great grandchildren but they will know him from the stories our family shares about him.
  
What I love most about my father was that he showed up as himself each and every day. He was headstrong, opinionated, fiercely loyal, friendly, a great singer, and most importantly, he was a good man. He made friends everywhere he went. He was a great story teller and no matter how often you heard his stories or jokes, you listened and laughed, every time. I inherited many of the qualities that admired in him and I am eternally grateful for that and all the lessons he taught me. I, and those who knew him, are better people for having known him.
  

I think of my Dad, hell, I talk to him most every day. Knowing he’s an angel watching over me and my family gives me a sense of comfort. Although it’s been 14 years, I still reach for the phone to call him when I want advice and especially when the world doesn’t make sense to me. It’s funny, no matter how old you are, there are times when you just want your Dad to tell you ‘it’s all going to be OK.’

I don’t remember exactly when he gave me this poem but I look at it when I need a reminder of what and who is important. Integrity and honesty are 2 of my core values which is why this poem speaks so loudly to me. Maybe you’ll find it helpful too.

 

The Guy in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for wealth

And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to a mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your father or mother or wife,

Who judgment upon you must pass;
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest.
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed the most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years.
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.Dale Wimbrow (c) 1934
1895-1954

We’re in the home stretch for 2016!

fullsizerenderCan you believe it’s November? Seriously, where did the year go? Whether it’s hitting your sales quota or getting ready for the upcoming holiday season, now is the time to get super clear on your goals for the remainder of 2016. And maybe do a little prep for 2017.

Let’s talk about your professional life first. Take a look at the 2016 goals you set last Fall or in January. Where are you on these things? What’s completed? What still needs to be done before you close out 2016? Keep in mind that people will be taking time off around the holidays so don’t think you have until December 31st to get everything done. Set a deadline to have everything wrapped up by December 15th. If there’s a customer you’ve been trying to close, get a meeting set up next week. A deal or project you need to complete this year? Create a list of everything that needs to be done to make that happen. Then break that list in small, doable steps so you can actually complete everything. It’s crunch time boys and girls, let’s get this done!

This process will also help you prepare for your annual review. Documenting what you’ve accomplished and the impact your contribution has on the bottom line will help you position yourself for a raise or possibly a promotion. Don’t assume your boss remembers everything you did this year. S/he is busy getting ready for their review with their boss.

Let’s take a look at your personal life. Now would be a great time to talk to your accountant. Tax laws change every year so be sure you’re taking full advantage of any available benefits. Do you need to adjust your W4 or 401K? Any major changes in your life in 2016? What about your charitable contributions? If you have a flexible spending account, find out if you can carry over all or some of the balance to next year. If you can’t, get those appointments scheduled so you don’t lose any of your hard earned money.

This is also the time to look at the upcoming holiday season and set a budget for spending so you won’t be shocked by a huge credit card bill in December and January. It’s not just presents (more on this in a minute) that you need to budget for, you also need to consider your availability. You know there are going to be invitations to parties and dinners – which ones will you accept and which ones will you pass on?

Here are some things people tend to overlook during the holidays.

Time – Regardless of what is happening, there’s still only 24 hours in a day. How are you going to spend your time? Wouldn’t you like to enjoy the holiday season rather than just get through it?

Prioritize – Which events you will attend? That friend or relative you would love to see but won’t get to talk to at that noisy party. Schedule a lunch or dinner after the holidays where you can spend time actually catching up. What are the things that “must” be done now and what can wait? Pick the things and events that are important to you.

Wellness – The first thing that usually gets sacrificed during the holidays is sleep. Don’t let that happen this year. Sleep isn’t an option, it’s critical to your health. The second thing is exercise. That’s a huge mistake. Exercise, even if it’s walking 30 minutes every day, needs to be a priority. You’ll be eating and drinking more than usual not to mention being around a lot of people who might be sick and you’re like to have elevated stress so keeping your regular fitness routine could be difference between surviving the holidays with your physical and mental health in check or getting sick. If you’re anything like me, you might want to treat your workouts like an appointment and schedule them on your calendar. Yes, it’s that important!

Money – Spending money you don’t have causes serious stress not only on you but it can add stress to relationships. Here are a few money related tips.

  • Set a budget for gifts and entertaining, after your regular expenses are covered, and STICK TO IT!
    • Make a list of everyone you would like to give gifts to. Notice I said “you would like to give gifts to” not everyone you must give gifts to. Once you have the list, decide how much you’ll spend on each person. Remember, it really is the thought that counts.
    • If you have a large family see if the family would be open to picking names rather than buying for everyone. Or if your siblings all have families, consider buying one gift for each family.
    • Ask your friends about picking names too or better yet, plan to get together before or after the holidays where you give the gift(s) of your time and attention shared over good food and wine.
    • At work, if everyone exchanges gifts, definitely go with picking names/Secret Santa. You can also do a happy hour instead of exchanging gifts.
    • In addition to setting your own budget for the holidays, set a budget within each group so everyone knows the max spending amount. Yes, someone will go over and that’s ok but that someone doesn’t have to be you.

Are you an office martyr?

woman making copies papers flyingDo you have a hand in everything happening in your office making you seem invaluable or maybe even irreplaceable? Have you often thought “if I leave tomorrow they’d have to replace me with 3 people?” If so, you may be the office martyr and you’re probably exhausted and burned out!

There are several reasons people become the office
martyr, mostly it’s about people pleasing and approval addiction. Office martyrs want everyone to like them and they go out of their way to get people to like, or at the very least, need them. Office Martyrs are also approval junkies.

Are you an approval junkie?

You’re always looking for approval from others – boss, peers, everyone. Both people pleasing and approval addiction typically start in childhood – keeping the peace in the family, making sure everyone else had what they needed usually at the expense of your own physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. And because you’re so worried about pleasing everyone else and making everything ok, you continually look to others for approval.

As a little kid you might have said “mommy/daddy, watch me/look at what I’m doing” you’re essentially saying “tell me I’m doing this well;” “tell me you approve of me;” “tell me you love me.” In the office you don’t use that language but the message is the same. “Boss, look at all the things I’m doing. Tell me I’m doing a good job.” All of this is done so you can feel good about yourself. If “they” are happy with me and approve of what I’m doing then I’m ok. I’m good enough. If you don’t get that feedback you tell yourself “I’m not worthy;” “I’m not good enough;” “I suck.”

There’s good news though! You can change without leaving your job or going into hiding! Want to know how? 

So you want to know how to stop being the office martyr?

You STOP doing those things that aren’t your responsibility!

Voila, problem fixed!!

OK, I’m only half serious here. The truth is, by reading this article you’re becoming aware that you are (or may be on the verge of becoming) the office martyr. As with changing any habit or treating any addiction, admitting or acknowledging this to yourself, you’ve already taken the first steps to recovery! Yay you!!

The next step really is to stop doing those things that are not your responsibility. To do this you need to be aware and stop yourself before you say “I’ll do that” or “sure, I’ll take your pet iguana to the vet.” Don’t do it.

Yes, it will feel awkward at first. You might break into a sweat or feel heart palpitations but know this – you are ok. You are going to survive this and you will be better for it. Once you stop saying yes to those extra tasks, you’ll feel better and you’ll notice that life goes on.

Believe me, when others realize you’re not going to do everything, they’ll get clear, real quick, on what really needs to be done and the rest will just fall away.

The next step to freeing yourself from office martyrdom may feel harder. It’s time to begin approving of yourself rather than seeking the approval of others. Once you master this part, you’re going to feel so good about yourself you’ll wish you had never taken on other people’s crap!

How do you approve of yourself?

You acknowledge the good in you, the kind, compassionate, generous, supportive, loving person you are. Because, you are all these and more.

Acknowledge, to and for yourself, all the things you do for others. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. When you do something well, regardless of how big or small it is, take notice

I have found working with clients that catching yourself doing little things well is more effective than when you notice the big things. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to acknowledge the big things you do well it’s just that it’s often easier to see them whereas the little things you do well can be easily overlooked or dismissed as “no big deal.”

But they are a big deal! Especially if you’ve spent your life up to this point doing for others. After a while you’ll find self-approval is easier to give and you won’t need the approval of others. Of course, you’ll still get acknowledgements and approval from others for doing a good job and it will still have meaning for you but you will have your own approval and that’s the one who matters!