Choose to focus on your outputs, not your inputs: You can only control what you decide to do. There’s always going to be more that you can do, but realistically you can’t do everything. You need to make the decision to be happy with your current choices, not what ifs, or could haves.
I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Benjamin Ritter, a Chicago based social entrepreneur, coach, consultant, mentor, and expert in the fields of personal and professional internal leadership development. He is the founder Live for Yourself (LFY) Consulting, which offers events, focused on cultivating community, and personal coaching focused on guiding leaders and entrepreneurs toward finding more meaning in life and at work. LFY Consulting bases its coaching practices on the unique LIVE system, which integrates doctoral level applied learning theory, and curriculum and leadership development research. Dr. Benjamin Ritter is also the host of the Live for yourself podcast and Live for Yourself events, author of The Live for Yourself Workbook, and The Essentials, creator of The Breakup Supplement, and a freelance expert and writer.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for having me! It has been a long journey to where I am today and I’ll try and keep it short. During my undergraduate degree my personal life felt like it was in shambles. I was personally, professionally, and socially lost. I felt alone, ostracized, and uncool. That feeling you get when the cool kids don’t want you to sit with them at the lunchroom table. I had issues feeling and being “attractive” and to say I had ex-girlfriend issues and baggage is an understatement. My professional life was also crumbling in a variety of ways, and my levels of confidence and validation were intertwined with my career pursuits. All of this culminated into various mental health concerns, disorders, and I was truly lost.
This time in my life motivated me to dive into the fields of interpersonal development, mental health, social psychology, and work towards self-improvement. I had enough of feeling the way I did, losing time and years of my life, and it needed to change, I needed to change. The next four years were a journey focused on crafting the life I desired for myself personally and professionally. It consisted of countless hours, researching, graduate studies, introspection, and practice. When I say practice, I literally mean altering my behavior in personal and professional situations, from everything to how I would dress, to how I would speak to people, to the environments I would force myself to experience. I worked odd jobs that would test my social comfort zones and full-time professional jobs, on average 60–80 hours a week, and tried anything and everything that came my way. Eventually, in a serendipitous like moment, I was recruited to work for an organization to help others achieve the evolution I was implementing for myself, and the seed was planted to help others in a way I wish I was helped in the past.
At this point in time, after 9 years of professional and personal experiences, earning a doctorate in Organizational Leadership and coaching, I am unbelievably fulfilled, and that seed that was planted many years ago has grew into the tree that represents my business, LFY Consulting, and the LIVE system which is at the foundation of all coaching programs. Each day, I am grateful for the experiences that have led me to the opportunity to work with, empower, and help others build the skills they need to live the life that has forever been out of reach.
According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?
I can’t say how it’s “always” been, but I can say with great confidence that the majority of my coaching clients who tend to be leaders and entrepreneurs, feel rushed and are constantly under large amounts of stress. Feeling rushed is actually one of the main reasons my clients come to me for help. They feel rushed to do more, be more, and even though they are succeeding, they don’t feel happy.
Most of the time feeling rushed is caused by a lack of proper boundaries for people in their life and striving for an ideal that is unreachable.
Not having proper boundaries can lead to people accepting too many things to do, at work, or in their personal life, and not being able to say no when it comes to other people’s requests. This leads people to having too much on their late, and constantly feeling rushed.
Too often people also strive to reach a certain level of success which is just unreasonable. There is so much to learn and do today, an unlimited amount of options and opportunity. If you try to do it all, you are setting yourself up for failure.
People may also find themselves striving to be perfect, which can actually create an aversion for work, since perfectionism can create a fear of not meeting a specific standard. The more you avoid work, the more you end up feeling rushed.
Overall you make yourself feel rushed. You control your time through what you accept to do, what you decide to do, and how you decide to do it.
Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?
Feeling rushed can usually be associated with feeling stressed. Stress causes the body to release cortisol, which reduces the levels of dopamine and serotonin in your body. Your brain also enters into a fight or flight state which impairs your ability to think in new ways and critically, and thus you revert to actions and behaviors that your brain is used to and that take less effort. Since your levels of dopamine and serotonin are low, you don’t feel happy, and have a harder time controlling your impulses. Basically you may start to act like an addict looking for their next dose, and start to behave in less controlled and riskier ways in order to feel good again and find some relief.
This is a relatively simple summary of what happens when you are rushed, but it explains why your productivity, health, and happiness are severely affected. Large amounts of stress can severely impact your overall health and happiness, and your productivity can be affected if you need to think clearly and in a more complex manner.
On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down? We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
1. Choose to focus on your outputs, not your inputs: You can only control what you decide to do. There’s always going to be more that you can do, but realistically you can’t do everything. You need to make the decision to be happy with your current choices, not what ifs, or could haves.
2. Pick a time and schedule your work. It’s easy to feel rushed when you constantly switch between tasks such as email, browsing the web, a project, reading an article, etc. Time block certain moments throughout your day to do certain things and stick to it.
3. Decide on a social media strategy. Social media can be overwhelming in a variety of ways and can drain your mental capacity leaving you more prone to feeling stressed or rushed. There are so many different platforms that you can use for social media, and there’s a constant flow of new information. Pick the platform(s) that you want to use (think minimally or choose none), and pick certain times of day to use them.
4. Be more intentional with your life. Think about who you truly are at your core. Are you living a life that aligns with who you truly are? When you constantly live a life that isn’t in alignment with who you are it’s easy to become overwhelmed with work and people that cause you greater levels of stress and frustration. It’s also easy to do too much. Align your friends, work, and personal life to who you are and you will start feeling more fulfilled, calm, and satisfied with life.
5. Delegate or systematize your work tasks. Work can become overwhelming when you do too much, and because you are using processes that could be improved. Take an honest evaluation of your work. What are you doing that you can just stop? What are you doing that you can delegate to another person? What can you systemize? Also, what can you do that will get you to your goal sooner? Too often you feel rushed at work because we just work instead of taking more control over what you do.
6. Redefine success. The concept of success can drastically affect your feelings of being rushed. Constantly thinking you need to do more, achieve more, and be better, places an unmanageable level of stress on you. Take the time to celebrate what you have accomplished, find a sense of calm in that you are doing enough now, and that you are already successful.
How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?
Mindfulness is the action form of self-awareness. For example, self-awareness is knowing how you feel and being able to look at a situation from afar (objectively), and mindfulness is not only being aware but being able to alter how you feel and act.
Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?
The greatest way to integrate mindfulness into your everyday life is to pause. Pausing allows you to emotionally react without acting emotional. The pause gives you time to reflect on how you actually feel, how you want to feel, and how you should act in a situation.
Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?
You are able to pause more in a situation when you have greater knowledge of who you are at your core, and are living a more aligned life that match who you are. In other words, when you are aligned with yourself and your work, you will automatically be more mindful.
You need to take time to define your core values, the specific goals that align with those values, specific actions and mindsets to reach those goals, and finally specific relationships that will help you reach those goals. Make a plan related to the relationships, mindsets, behaviors, and goals that relate to your values at work and you will automatically become more mindful.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices
The book Reframing by Richard Bandler
The Live for Yourself Workbook by myself (Dr. Benjamin Ritter). I included this workbook to highlight that I need to revisit my own system and workbook at times when I’m starting to feel “off.” Mindfulness is an intentional practice.
Overall though, mindfulness comes from working on yourself with yourself. I can’t recommend any other resources other than a personal coach because listening to a podcast or reading something only takes you outside of where you should be looking and growing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
If there isn’t anything after life, then nothing you want to achieve externally truly matters, if there is something after this life, then nothing you want to achieve externally truly matters. This idea focuses on how you define your level of success or achievement. It ultimately implies that who you are cannot be defined and shouldn’t be defined by anything other than who you truly are.
The most important thing in life, are the moments, which we too often miss because we are so focused on something external. I thought of this concept when I was first starting off in the field of personal development. I was speaking about how the worst advice I ever believed was to follow my purpose, and I lost myself to it. I defined myself by my accomplishments and my purpose, instead of remembering that I created my purpose, and thus, I am so much more than my purpose, and YOU are so much more than your purpose.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The movement I want to inspire further is the movement I’m focusing on as the founder of Live for Yourself Consulting. I would love to inspire a movement for everyone to live truly for themselves. This movement involves diving into what matters to you, and then aligning your life to who you truly are. It isn’t as easy as it sounds but if this occurs it would vastly improve the amount of love and connection there is in the world.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!