How to measure your trade-offs in work-life balance.

A coaching client of mine asked me a pertinent question the other day, “aren’t there so many trade-offs” in work-life balance?” She sincerely asked me, “Don’t you think that we can never achieve this so-called balance of work and life. One always weighs more than another. It is frustrating to even try to “balance” it.” I agreed and I disagreed. I asked if she’d follow my blog this week, for a response? “Of course,” she said and agreed. So, here’s my story.

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I was a manic workaholic, going back ten years, during my publishing/media days, I’d work till wee hours in the night, up till early mornings, sometime. This went on for 4-5 years. I would work for 18-20 hours in a day and come back to work again the next day, by 8! I didn’t bother or have any understanding of what LIFE meant. I ignored my social life and any form of self-care. It didn’t matter. I was interested in getting the work done, gaining experience, and of course making the money (this was almost 10 years back). However, if I move the timeline to 6 years back, I had chosen a job, which I felt would consume less time and allow me a buffer for myself, my family, and my friends. But that didn’t happen!

Even though my work hours reduced, I was still continuously working at a stretch of 8-12 hours a day, six times a week. And while this was happening I was also doing my doctorate, which is very important to me. I struggled to strike a balance between work and personal life then. “It was frustrating!” It took a toll on my health. Finally, I was craving downtime and even some time off the “work routine.” I’ve always been a good multitasker with the self-inflicted go-getter attitude. I could manage work, my doctoral education, my household chores without any help until it hit my performance and health. The physical and mental stress consumed my body. I had to weigh in my priorities.

Eventually, I made the decision, calculated all my odds… and then left my well-paying job. Of course, I had to pay my bills and earn my own money too. So, I had to hustle more and life has been far from easy. I had to trade-off a good paying job, to my micro-business, for less money and more control over my time. It allowed me to pay more attention to my doctoral program, my health, and of course to do something that I truly, truly, love, which is my human performance coaching practice (I get to help so many people in the bargain).

It has been two years since then that I’ve Continue reading “How to measure your trade-offs in work-life balance.”

How to be compassionate to others, who may be “douche.”

A couple of months back, a coaching client of mine, (an awesome human being, a lovely leader, beautiful businesswoman)… asked me a pretty genuine question. She said, “Priyanka, how can you be “nice” to someone who clearly hates you?” I looked at her for a bit and asked? What exactly happened. She told me, “I have a few folks in my social space, who continuously try to undermine my efforts and think no end of themselves. Recently, I had some big wins with a few personal and professional projects and I got some crazy flak, for reasons I JUST DONT UNDERSTAND. Some even went behind my back to inquire if, I was actually putting in the work to have the wins or was I just flaking it.” I hugged her and told her to “shake it off like T-Swift.” We both laughed about it… but then I shared my own story with her.

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Of late, after bringing in a lot of changes in my life and work… I’ve been receiving a lot of flak from various sources. Often I receive indirect flak, regarding my work, my social posts, my workouts, and some other efforts that I’ve been consistently putting towards my own well-being. To give you an example, a person followed me on social media, only to criticize me (I wondered, why would anyone “opt-in,” in the first place if they don’t like someone). Another one was, regarding my fitness journey, a girl who follows me on Instagram, actually went to “check on me” with my trainer, if I was actually doing the work because it felt too good to be true. My trainer and I laughed so hard! It was hilarious!!!! I know!!! But these things happen. People’ve got enough time to NOT do the actual work but condemn those who are actually putting in the effort in different spheres of life.

Of course, by now, we know that these are just the naysayers, the ones who barely produce anything of their own but are the first ones to criticize the efforts of others, for whatever personal reasons. Even though there are many who would genuinely compliment and be happy for you, some can’t be nice. And it is the quintessential human nature to get affected by the naysayers and dwell on it. As Robin Sharma’s puts it, “leave the culture of mediocrity to get into the club of mastery.” As powerful as it may sound, it is quite difficult to practice. And those who do practice it to embrace a positive change, it may not be appreciated by many other. Let’s face it, people don’t respond to change very well.

Nevertheless, we do know that there are manyyyy who would genuinely compliment and be happy for us, for all our hard work and effort… So in this case, there are two kinds of situations, things we can control and things we cannot control. The things we can control are Continue reading “How to be compassionate to others, who may be “douche.””

How relaxation can actually make you more creative and energetic.

I’d always been the type who’d choose to continuously keep working. I took up two jobs when I was just in college, while everyone was having the time of their life: partying and hanging out with friends; I chose to sit back and find ways to either gain more knowledge, or study harder, or earn some money. I was constantly working. I remember my first year was wreck because of this.

I thought all those things, which a lot of my friends and colleagues did were a waste of my time. For this driven nature of mine, I came across as someone who was “snooty” or “snobby” to go out, or even rude, or someone who didn’t wanna make friends. [Well don’t take me wrong, I don’t think what others did was wrong, instead I feel I needed to do things differently. AND, I did make my set of groupies, who really understood why I did what I did. AND till date, I am super thick with them and a call away.]

Woman relaxing lying on a couch at home

But, for a very very very long time, I was the type who would choose to not have “fun”, or go out or really know what it meant to enjoy myself. I didn’t know what relaxation meant. I had a clear vision in my mind and I knew I had to achieve a my goals, faster. This attitude did help me initially, but it drained me completely, after a couple of years. I lost my mojo to work. Because of which, I started questioning myself. I started questioning my ambitions too. In that moment, I realized that I truly needed to sit back, take some time off and truly evaluate what I needed to do.

To truly explain where I’m going with this, I’ll tell you a story. I recently learned how to swim. And I am soooo thankful for my teacher because, I’ve picked up all the strokes quite well, in just one month’s time. I practice them daily. One day, while I was swimming, something hit me. I’d swim better if I am relaxed in water. I knowwww, it isn’t some rocket science or a big revelation, however, it did teach me a big lesson. When we’re in a relaxed state, (which comes from conscious decision making in the moment), we can achieve our targets better and more easily. Our life is fluid like the water, therefore, if we panic more, we don’t allow the environment around us to keep us afloat, instead we allow it to pull us down and drown us. When we are calm in the fluid state, we’re automatically buoyant, so we’re afloat.

After reflecting upon this simple Continue reading “How relaxation can actually make you more creative and energetic.”

Let’s handle criticisms like a pro.

If you’ve ever struggled with criticisms and have found that you feel disheartened, dejected, lost, troubled, agitated, angry, bugged, jealous, even anxious, or have started doubting yourself… then my friend, this post is for you.

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Before we head on the juicy stuff, I’ll specify what do I mean by the term “pro.” I’ll borrow the explanation, which Steven Pressfield uses in his books, War of Art and Turning Pro. He uses the word pro as an indicative of ‘a professional.’ When we are a professional, we are ready to leave the amateurish behavior behind us, i.e. we’re ready to deal with every situation in a way as though it pays us forward. And there is no scope for mediocrity, in our pursuit. We are ready to acknowledge the fact that we’re the best at what we pursue, in any sphere of life, which is why we’d hire ourselves to do the job we wanna do. And give it all that we can.

When we are pros, we understand that criticisms are simply comments that we may, or may not, consider. It depends upon the source or even the context. We know that external criticisms are primarily a reflection of that person’s thoughts or inner being. Instead of dwelling on someone’s disapproval, or condemnation, or evaluation, or eve jealousy, we need to truly evaluate how are we dealing with the situation? We know it that the only thing we can change or modify is our thoughts, reaction and action, in any given situation.

Imagine yourself at work Continue reading “Let’s handle criticisms like a pro.”

Turn your negative emotions into positive results.

An ex-colleague came to me for some advice. She felt that she was always irritated with people around her, she was getting jealous of those in her immediate circle within the organization, who’d climbed the ladder and she felt she hadn’t. She said, she didn’t feel good about herself and constantly felt jealous and angry. She told me, “Priyanka I am stuck in my own negativity. I should’ve been further ahead by now.” She’d get so stuck with her own negative emotion that it even affected her work and added to her stress.

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I heard her out completely. Then, instead of simply giving her advice I shared a story. Recently, a family member really really close to me commented on my business and lifestyle. He said that I’m constantly in the kitchen and had no other work in life. I was wasting my intellect and time. At that time, I almost got offended [because not only do I run my own independent consultancy, I also do coaching, I’m doing my doctorate, and also taking care of my family & health (for which I, of course, need to be in my healthy kitchen and in the gym. My rituals are pretty much non-negotiable)]. After being angry for the whole day, I realized my negative emotion isn’t taking me anywhere. I also realized it is a reflection of my own insecurities and not his. It was only affecting me. After being in that angry state for a few hours, I turned my anger into a consumable fuel for Continue reading “Turn your negative emotions into positive results.”

Do we [really] need a social media detox?

I’ve been receiving a lot of emails these days with comments and some good questions from people who follow my blog. There was a common pattern that I observed. Apparently, EVERYONE IS SICK OF SOCIAL MEDIA!

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That is true! And my initial reaction to this was, “Don’t blame it on the social media tools.” People are unable to control their own negative emotions and blaming it on social media. I also questioned myself, “how can people get sick of social media? It is not social media’s fault?” However, I cringed at the thought of this, shook my head and consciously changed my thoughts. I pulled myself back from my “tough” ENTJ personality to really understand the underlying feelings. I immediately reflected upon this, through an empathetic lens, “why would so many people feel irritated with someone else’s posts, pictures, and more?” The most common emotions that emerged from the “social-media-led comparison syndrome” were jealousy, the feeling of not being “good enough,” low self-confidence, less self-worth and in some cases clinical depression (above linked HBR study, states a few more).

I felt like I had to take sides in this argument, whether Continue reading “Do we [really] need a social media detox?”

How to not let other’s opinion of you affect you too much.

One of my friends in the gym (let’s call her Reena) asked me a serious question. When she got to know I was a performance coach, she came running, feeling angst and conflicted and saddened by a situation. She asked me to make her more “approachable as a personality.”

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I was surprised by this and said, why does she think she isn’t approachable? I found her to be pretty straighforward. She said, not that she truly cared about what people thought about her… but it did matter to her that the others shouldn’t feel intimidated. Reena felt that a lot of people found her either daunting or even irritating. She looked quite approachable to me and personally, I felt we were quite alike (and I know I’m pretty approachable, so to say).

I’ve known her for a while and I see Reena as a strong and motivated individual. She is intelligent, courageous and driven to get results. She has been brutally honest, always consciously looked at the bright side of things, she had firm respect for herself, personal ethics and courtesies, just as I did. She gave the benefit of doubt wherever necessary and chose to not get involved in the “drama” or conflict too much, unless, she could turn it into something positively creative (more on that later). She loved to stick around with people who emitted a positive vibe and sort of detached herself from those who didn’t. She was quite introspective and loved to grow. She was always direct and to the point (personally, the kind of people I like as part of my tribe). When she approached me with her concern thinking that something was perhaps wrong with her… because people might be getting intimidated… I looked her in the eye and I said, really, is that what you think…? Does it really matter what the

Continue reading “How to not let other’s opinion of you affect you too much.”

Excuses: Why do we make them… and aren’t we better than that?

As a coach, the primary purpose of my work is to help my clients reach their goals (no matter what they are). Actually, honestly, that is my ONLY goal. I have to help every individual who comes to me: First, to get clear about what do they truly want; second, analyze the most authentic ways, by which they can achieve their goals. Third, then help them take action to actually do the work. The latter is the toughest part but that’s what gets them the results.

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Recently, while interacting with a potential client of mine, I realized that she was resisting everything in her life and making excuses to show why things aren’t working in any sphere. She was rapidly gaining weight, was unable to keep herself happy, didn’t want to go to work and kept blaming others, would always come late for any events and always have an excuse ready for any kind of situation. She started getting perceived as someone negative, ingenuine and dishonest too. She was becoming a holistic package of excuses. She was making excuses, thinking that she would be liked by someone else. She also felt that she will easily get by, without putting any effort into her work, personal life and even relationships. She couldn’t come to terms that her excuses weren’t taking her anywhere and were making her quite pessimistic. Eventually, making her feel that she wasn’t “good enough”.

We’ve all been in the above situation some time or another, have we not? We know that these excuses are nothing else but forms of resistance to change from our lizard brain. We somewhat start getting solace in our negatives. It is as though we don’t want to take ownership. So we make an excuse for not being able to keep up with a diet because we might be sick; or not going to the gym, or an excuse for not completing a project you’d committed to; or an excuse for canceling a meetup; or just being late; or an excuse for not reaching your targets… you get the gist, right?

 

Excuses are largely a way of telling Continue reading “Excuses: Why do we make them… and aren’t we better than that?”

Actions that you can take NOW, to be your happiest self.

Throughout my late teens and early twenties, I felt like I was my saddest self. I often felt depressed, didn’t enjoy life, didn’t know how to have fun or even live in the moment. I was conflicted between the past and the future. It was as though being sad and unhappy was a better way to live. Sometimes, I would whine and complain… I felt moody, easily irritated, felt like crying often. I was neither fun, nor did I know the IDEA of fun. I felt like I didn’t have the permission to have a good time. I was anxious and not so productive, too. To add to it, my multi-aspirational and over-ambitious attitude didn’t really help. In fact, I was almost always overwhelmed, irritated and moody. Most of my reactions came from an emotional baggage of the past, however, it soon dawned upon me that if I didn’t take action now, I’d never change my situations.

A few years back, I took it upon myself to make a few conscious choices, to retrain my brain. It was years of baggage that I had to get rid of but I had to start somewhere, immediately. External factors play a huge role in shaping us. However, we can’t control the situations around us but only our own emotions.

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What I can take charge of, right now, is my own situations. The smaller steps that I take today, can help me shape more positive environment. You know, they say,  Continue reading “Actions that you can take NOW, to be your happiest self.”

The art of committing to the present moment.

The struggle is real! We’re either living in the past or the future. What happens NOW? It has been my personal journey to consciously choose to live every moment to the best of my ability. Trust me, it has not been easy for me. I’ve always been overly ambitious, multi-aspirational (while being good at all of them) and driven. But, I can say that this trait, even though seemed like a boon, was actually a bane. It constantly made me worry about my future, I never enjoyed the present moment and would more often ponder over my past mistakes. It isn’t the ideal life, right? As Steven Pressfield calls it, this behavior is just resistance showing up. It is a way to procrastinate the things that I wanted to do.

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As mentioned in the last blog of mine, the impermanence of life hit me hard when my mother in law passed away. In that month, when I was in mourning, I still had professional (coaching and ID clients) and academic commitments (my ongoing doctorate). I didn’t feel like doing anything. I felt drained and literally had no energy or capacity to work. But I had no option! When things have to be done, they get done! The energy then comes from within, even if it means I need to stay up till 4 in the morning. It took me a while to understand that all I can do is live in the moment and churn out the things, one at a time.

So, when one of my clients asked me that how do I commit to tasks, stay true all that I do… still eat clean, still deliver the work and academic projects, stay calm in tough situations and genuinely commit to people… I knew I had to write this post!

One thing is for sure, it all seems tough until Continue reading “The art of committing to the present moment.”