Balance your lifestyle. Your lifestyle is based on the various key components and/ or activities of your life. Habitually you should have at least four different key areas that drive your life’s purpose i.e. work, school, family, self, spiritual, etc.
As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Virginia Manning.
Virginia Manning is a licensed professional therapist with 12+ years of experience in education and mental health and addiction counseling. Her passion is to motivate, inspire, guide and support others to overcome life’s common challenges related to mental wellness and addiction. She is the CEO of GinMan Consulting and the founder of Prosper Under Pressure, a community of professional women who are empowered to live a lifestyle of calm and confidence. Her mission is to share knowledge and the keys to help you live your dream life.
She is the mother of four awesome children and the granny of seven adorable grandchildren. She enjoys cooking, traveling and family time. She lives each day of her life purpose driven and dedicated to living a life according to God’s will.
She has authored three must read motivational books:
Master Your Journey: Simple Ways to Push Pass Life
365 Pushes: Motivation to Overcome Any Challenge
Prosper Under Pressure: 8 Ways Women Level Up to Make More Money
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
My mother Minnie Lee suffered from mental illness. She attempted to take her life twice and fatally completed on the third attempt. Her relentless inspiration to my life is unforgettable.
Throughout my many years of maturing without my mother, I reached an epiphany to serve others based on the confusion and pain I experienced from her untimely death. Mental illness most definitely affects the family as much as the sufferer.
For so many years, I was unable to speak about the fatality of her life until I came to terms with the effects that mental wellness truly has on the lives of not only the sufferer but also the loved ones connected to the sufferer.
Fortunately, the effects which started with a negative impact in my life now leads my path to shine light onto others who experience feelings of hopelessness.
When I completed a Master’s in Counseling and Development from Lamar University in 2009, my outcry for relief was still mute. But eventually I realized that my mother’s death and the intuition that guided me to study mental wellness was so that I would have a voice and purpose. My presence within the mental wellness community enables others to live a more fulfilling journey despite mental health issues instead of a life with the stigma of shame.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
As a teenage victim of domestic violence, I remember one Fall morning of sitting on the front porch at the home of my abuser’s mother along with his aunt. The day started off gloomy and the wind was high as we were sitting in silence. Defeated, I sat with my head bowed down as if in prayer.
I’m sure she saw the misery on my face and was compelled to lift my spirit. While she was swaying back and forth on the porch’s swing, I remember the most encouraging statement that I really needed to hear at that very moment of darkness. She gave me a hesitant side glance, and I gave her a suspicious side eye while she said to me, “You know what Pookie, you look like a person that will have something out of life!”.
At that moment, I could hear the creaking of the porch swing going back and forward, and I felt the sunshine burn my eyes. I didn’t know what to say and don’t remember if I even responded but all I remember is that a guiding light started to radiate from behind those dark clouds from that day forward.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
One evening I had just arrived for about 10th school teacher interview scheduled for the week. It was 12:50 PM, I was on time for the 1PM interview and the school looked abandoned.
I knocked on the glass door and looked through the window, no one was there. My heart started pounded…”maybe they are at lunch”, I said to myself. I went back to my car confused waiting for another car to arrive.
I waited 30 minutes desperate for a job. Forty five minutes later a car pulled up and a male and a female jumped out laughing and bouncing towards the door. “That must be them.” I quickly jumped out so they wouldn’t think that I was late for the interview.
I introduced myself while the male was unlocking the door. And the female continued to laugh at his every joke. She looked at me and said “Oh, okay….come in”. They offered no acknowledgment or apology for my excruciatingly long wait.
I waited again in the reception area for 15 more minutes while hearing more laughter behind a closed door.
Then I’m called into the Principal’s office. I hand him my carefully composed resume. The male looks at me and says, “Why did you have to put so much stuff on your resume? All of that is unnecessary.” The wind left my body…What a blow to my self- esteem! I was just starting my career so there was not much to put on that piece of paper.
Days later with feelings of reject, I called to check on the open position status. Years later I realized I need to know my worth!
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
My biggest advice for a young person who aspires to walk in my footsteps is to always have confidence in yourself no matter what. You must believe in yourself no matter the outcome- good or bad because at the end of the day it’s up to you to celebrate a success or correct a mistake. You are responsible for your happiness and success.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
A book that has made a significant impact on me is “The Ugly Duckling”. My mother would tell me a fascinating story that I will never forget. She would optimistically tell me about how she was always teased as a child because she was not so cute.
She excitedly shared how as she became older, she blossomed into a beauty. Then the countless men and women who had ridiculed her were now flocking to her for a date and friendships.
She had one favorite line to end the amusing recollection she loved to tell me over and over again. With a great big Kool- Aid smile, she would laugh and say, “Now, The Ugly Duckling has turned into a Swan!”
I love hearing her story of triumph!
Currently, I have a collector’s edition of “The Ugly Duckling” proudly displayed on a bookshelf in my private practice office.
Every time I glance up at my memorabilia book, I radiate with the biggest Kool-Aid smile on Earth.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“People treat you the way you treat yourself”. This quote has resonated truth throughout my life. It started with showing low self- esteem during my battle with domestic violence. I was his prey for so long because he saw that I didn’t love myself enough to walk out so he didn’t love me enough to stop abusing me.
Additionally, this quote tells a tale about the hard and often disappointing struggle with establishing a career as a teacher when I received so many no’s. I realized the issue was not the interviewers, but I didn’t show and feel like I deserved it and it was displayed in my posture, voice and confidence for each and every interview.
I started treating myself like the Queen that I am, and the universe has returned the love.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
The Prosper Under Pressure Membership community for professional women has been a centerpiece in my life for the past 8 months. The mission of the Community is to empower women to build the calm and confidence to live their dream life and not settle for less.
Throughout my quest for success, I have overcome many struggles and barriers to rise. Now those strategies, tips and guidance are my gifts to help women have an easier path to gain what they want and deserve out of life.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?
It is essential to create good habits in order to establish a powerful blueprint to successfully navigate your way towards your goals. Habits are not necessarily always beneficial to your success but if you have a good routine you can pinpoint exactly which steps you make that are right and which steps are wrong.
If the habitual process works towards your goal’s success, you need to increase it. If the process is not beneficial to your goal, you must eliminate it or adjust it.
To randomly do things without consistency and a pattern is not a good habitual plan to live by for beneficial and continuous growth.
In my teenage mother days, I did not have any structured habits in place for parenting. Our day was discombobulated and unproductive. The children would be doing whatever they wanted throughout the day, and I was constantly chasing them for some order.
Along that overwhelming road of trying to raise children and failing miserably at it, I soon realized I needed to develop a habitual daily structure for us. Once structured habits were developed, our day flowed much easier. I had my tasks under control and accomplished successfully by the end of the day and was prepared for the next day.
How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
Habits have helped me to eliminate the unnecessary clutter in my life and focus in on the important things to drive my success. For example, as a single mother, my overwhelming routine was work, school, kids- over and over, day after day. Of course, I could not just get rid of those necessary life tasks, but I did need to develop habits that create balance so that I could skillfully and successfully maneuver my overwhelming cycle with more ease.
Now balance has become a necessary and essential factor throughout my journey. Habits are an essential key to success in any area of your life.
Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?
The truth is that you really never know if the habit is beneficial until you implement it. The key is to have an honest and realistic habit performance assessment tool. Make periodical assessments of your habit’s ability to help you reach your life goals.
Here are 4 useful assessment criteria: #1 assess what your needs are and how to successfully move forward; #2 once implemented, frequently reassess if the habit is working or not; #3 discard the habit immediately once the assessment deems that the habit is unfit to render success; #4 If the habit works, keep it and continue to refine the habit to work as life situations change.
Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.
3 Good Habits for Optimal Wellness
- Balance your lifestyle. Your lifestyle is based on the various key components and/ or activities of your life. Habitually you should have at least four different key areas that drive your life’s purpose i.e. work, school, family, self, spiritual, etc.
- Create flexibility. Be flexible in your life to avoid fixating on one area for too long. Ruminating causes stress and overwhelm. For example, working long hours every day will cause a breakdown in your mental and physical health. A healthy habit is to make overtime an exception and not a norm.
- Learn to say, “No”. Many people struggle with that word and think of it as selfish. But as part of your self- care wellness regime, saying “no” can free you from a lot of undue stress and frustrations accumulated from doing things that are not aligned with your time, money or wellness. A great self-care wellness practice and strategy to avoid feelings of selfishness is to simple say, “No, not right now”. Then plan to complete the favor when it’s convenient for your time, money or wellness.
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
To create balance, determine areas of flexibility and your capability to say yes or no to favors and use a balance wheel.
You can create your own balance wheel by drawing a circle and putting a plus sign in the middle to create 4 quadrants.
In each quadrant, write in an essential area of your life- one in each square for a total of four.
Write out some life tasks that you currently participate in for each area.
Realistically assess each area to determine if you are too heavy in any one of the areas and scarce in the others.
The key is to create balance in your life.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.
3 Habits for optimal performance at Work
- Avoid physical burnout.
- Avoid mental break downs.
- Avoid career fatigue.
Twenty years ago as an aspiring career woman, I functioned with an overwhelming routine of work, school, kids. I was being success but the hard way. I finally developed sound and stable habits to produce growth and success without having to work too hard. I developed the perfect blueprint of habitual balance in my life to avoid burnout, mental break downs and career fatigue.
Self- care was the one major component missing in my life. I learned to take breaks for myself to have fun and enjoy life. My lack of strategically taking breaks daily, weekly, monthly and yearly stunted my ability to increase and accelerate with growth and success more rapidly and with more ease.
There were plenty of days when I thought I was about to explode from overwhelm and frustration. I did not have a structured habit of releasing the accumulated stress and frustration I experienced daily. Mentally, I blew up far more than I would have liked to.
Additionally, I lost joy in certain job duties as a school teacher. I got tired of certain tasks because they did not align with my purpose. I participated in a lot of activities and events that were torturous because I did not intertwine my purpose as a part of my habitual routine. Instead of developing the habit of giving my energy to what is purposeful for my life, my habit was to look at the monetary benefits only. I lost sight of performing well because I did not enjoy 90% of what I signed up for.
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
#1 Avoid physical burnout by intentionally scheduling time for fun and to enjoy life with your family and friends. Your body needs a routine of breaks and stress relief.
#2 Journaling, writing and art are great ways to creatively reduce mental breakdown. Make creative outlets of stress and overwhelm a part of your lifestyle.
#3 Choose your career based on your purpose and passion. Money matters but when your life has meaning, the joy is more rewarding.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.
3 Good Habits that lead to Optimal Focus
#1 Reassess: Ask yourself… is this really working?
#2 Redirect: Ask yourself… is there a better way?
#3 Realign: Ask yourself… is this a part of my life’s mission?
Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?
Outline a daily habit of interval stops and check ins. Routinely stopping breaks the monotony and tunnel vision when you perform a task. Without breaks of patterns and time, you automatically and without even realizing it begin to perform robotically which decreases peak awareness and focus.
Optimal focus requires you to be freshly alert and aware of interval progress or lack thereof to shift thoughts, ideas and energy of what you are actually doing at that moment. Keep your focal performance working at optimal levels with refresher breaks. It is easy to get off track when you don’t make check ins a habit.
As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?
Scheduling and self- care are two essential habits to produce a productive flow in your lifestyle.
Too often people try to keep up with daily tasks and responsibilities by memory. Having multiple planning systems are beneficial with making sure your life flows with ease and less frustrations leaving you available for more creativity and greatness.
Self- care creates a euphoric flow because stress and overwhelm is eliminated from the equation. With self- care there will be freedom in your flow. Self- care allows the flow to be readily available and ready to use on the spot. With regular and routine self- care practices, you don’t have to force the flow! Take planned and frequent self- care breaks at different levels of daily, weekly, monthly and yearly time frames.
As a young mother and aspiring career woman, work, school and kids were my vicious cycle. But once I started utilizing scheduling systems and self- care into my lifestyle, I finally found a meaningful flow of freedom. I faithfully used strategies such as agenda books in hardcopy and electronic with the bells and whistles for reminders and alerts. This allowed my lifestyle to flow with ease and satisfaction. Scheduling my life did the complicated work of creating flow so that I only needed to focus on being innovative and creative.
Self- care routines allowed me to gain structured reliefs and breathers from overwhelm and frustrations. Taking care of me 1st was essential to being able to take care of all of my other responsibilities. Without the strains and constraints of neglecting self- care, my lifestyle began to flow with peace and calm.
Planning and self- care mentally sent my mind messages that alleviated unnecessary mental and physical stressors that prohibit flow. I mentally and internally told myself that I will not work on overload and overwhelm but my days will flow effortlessly.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Balance is Beautiful! A movement of the mindset where people viewed and valued balance of life as a necessary routine and habit of success and not as a restrictive obligation.
Balance has so many different perspectives and moving parts that people fail to realize the benefits. When people think of balance they think of creating numerical equality with each area of life but balance is having a routine of habits that flow consistently through all essential areas of your life. A lack of balance actually restricts your focus to only on one to two areas when there is so much more to living life.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I would love to meet Oprah! In my early twenties, a time of my most distress, I remember writing a letter to Oprah’s studio with tear filled eyes and while sobbing uncontrollably.
I wrote a sad letter to her about the anguish, hopelessness and hurt I was experiencing in my domestic violence situation. The response I got back was so disheartening, and for a while I regretted even sending the letter. After seemingly endless crying and feelings of disappointment, I finally understood why I received the pointless but polite turn down.
I had an AHA moment which I think explained the rejection (or so that’s what I told myself). They couldn’t even read the letter I sent.
My mind was so messed up at the time of writing the letter. I’m 110% sure the frustrated and jumbled words that my red pen spilled onto that letter probably can out as “BLAH” to the recipient who had to read that draining letter.
Many months afterwards I tried to seriously figure out why I didn’t receive a response of acceptance the way I expected. But even better, I realized it was time to get my pitiful life in order.
If I ever have the pleasure of a face to face chat with Oprah, I would say….”Thank you, Oprah!”
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