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A Lesson in Resiliency: How to be Focused at Work When Your Life is in Chaos

Dealing with disaster in your personal life? These tips from leadership expert Beth Caldwell will help you stay focused at work.

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Sometimes life gives us circumstances that prevent us from being our best selves at work. During those times, women are often very hard on themselves and worsen the situation with unrealistic expectations and perfectionism. I’m not a big fan of “crushing it” or being a “bad-a$$ boss-babe” any day of the week but when you’re dealing with overwhelm, these unrealistic demands can be especially difficult.

Life isn’t always perfect. On any day one of us is dealing with heartbreak, caring for a family member, a frightening health diagnosis, disappointment, financial issues, death, divorce, addiction, difficult teacher, difficult mother-in-law, ex-spouse, tax bill……AHHH, I’m getting anxious just thinking about what might be on your mind right now.

The truth is, when things aren’t going well at home, most of us still need to show up and be effective at work. Over the past two years, my family has navigated cancer, job loss, health scares, breakups, financial challenges, and two funerals. During difficult times we’re not at our best and I don’t want you expecting that of yourself. Here are some practical tips to help you stay focused and effective at work while you’re dealing with challenges at home.

Cancel Everything That Isn’t Necessary Even though you enjoy mentoring, volunteering, organizing and generally doing good for others, now is the time to focus entirely on yourself and your family. If it’s not income-producing, it’s a no. If your desk is piled with papers and things to do, sort through the pile and do the things that make you (or your company) a profit. Everything else can wait or be delegated. If you struggle with saying no, then practice saying “not right now.”

Self-Care is The New Number One Priority My mom was recently hospitalized for several days and her room was right next to the hospital cafeteria. Eating that fast food was convenient and saved time but after a few days, I began feeling achy and lethargic. I quickly realized that it was necessary to prioritize healthy eating and other self-care habits. My chiropractor and naturopath keep me healthy and strong, so I honor those appointments for myself. Remember that being selfless is not the same as self-centered and it’s critically important that you take good care of yourself. For me, that means preparing and eating healthy meals, sleeping, moving, necessary appointments, supplements, and sunshine.

Do Two Things a Day to Grow Your Business As a self-employed single mom, sick days were not a possibility. On the days when I was feeling my absolute worst, I committed to completing two tasks a day that would grow my business and I’d get them done by 10 am. On good days, I’d do more. Soon there were more good days than bad. This ritual prevented me from having to start all over again. I believe it saved my business and eventually helped me to thrive.

Get Good at Saying YES (to help) When it comes to helping others, I’ve always been great at saying yes. When it comes to accepting help, not so much. Do you know the feeling you get when a friend or loved one is going through a tough time and you do something nice for them? When you refuse help from others, you deny them those feelings. It is hard to let your guard down and allow someone to help, but like all difficult things, this gets easier with experience. Practice receiving help as much as you give it.

Laugh Every Day I can remember a particularly difficult time, years ago, when it seemed as though nothing would ever be right again. My teenage son emailed me this two-minute video of funny texts. We watched it together and laughed until we cried. We spent a good part of that evening watching funny videos and laughing together. Things seemed a little brighter the next day. Smiling became easier and more natural again. I later learned that laughter reduces stress, aids in longevity, and improves your immune system. Now we make it a point to laugh every day. If you need a smile today, click here for some of my favorite happy thoughts and little laughs.

When we look back on our lives, hopefully, the difficult days will be few. It doesn’t seem that way when you’re going through them. Some days you will feel overwhelmed by pain and indecision. During those times, remember to focus on what is most important. Remember to ask for help when you need it, be patient with yourself and others. And always remember that you are loved and cared for.

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