The office environment is changing. Know how to be equipped for it.
Now that the FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine and vaccines are widely available in the US, companies are preparing for employees’ return to the office. They’re doing this slowly and for good reason. The recent increase in COVID-19 cases is making them re-evaluate their protocols and timing. They want employees to feel “safe” AND they want to get back to a routine that benefits the business and employees.
The initial change and anxiety people felt in March 2020 with most forced to work from home is now factoring into how we feel about going back to the office. This is not unusual or unexpected because change is change. It’s always difficult to adapt when you feel you’re not in control.
We’ve gotten accustomed to isolating in our homes and working online. There was an element of safety in isolating. Now, we’re about to experience the change with returning to the office. Many companies are taking it slow and helping employees adapt to how they will be working in the future. And the resistance is present.
Large and small corporations are revisiting their workplace policies with the knowledge they’ve gained over the past 17 months. Several clients report an uptick in productivity because there is more trust and flexibility in getting the work done. There’s also a change in how managers are working with their employees. Over the past year, leaders have focused on outcome-based performance rather than time in the office or busy work.
Readjusting to working in the office along with workplace flexibility enhancements a company is offering has some issues. Here are three for you to consider.
Going back into an office environment where you’re around people you don’t live with will likely be uncomfortable at first. It may feel unsafe, like you’re doing something wrong. Fortunately, after a few days or experiences of being around others, most people get used to it and the anxiety goes away. If that doesn’t happen, talk to your family or friends to see if they’re experiencing the same challenge. If you still don’t feel better, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional to guide you through acclimating. There is no reason to suffer needlessly.
Your co-workers are going to return to the office with similar anxiety or differences of opinions on how to move forward. Co-workers may be territorial of their workspace or want specific precautions to be taken around them. For example, some people will want everyone to wear a mask, others won’t want to wear them at all. Consider the violence and confrontation happening on airplanes. People are getting into physical altercations over mask mandates. Don’t let this happen in your workplace.
Adding conflict to any anxiety you may have can cause situations to escalate quickly. You can de-escalate disagreements by being patient with others and showing compassion. Company leaders and managers can provide clear guidelines and expectations on behavior.
Changes in the workplace
Companies quickly adapted to remote work because the environment was universal–all office workers were working from home. With planning for the return to the office, however, many companies are establishing hybrid flexibility policies to address their employees’ needs. To be able to support a hybrid workplace, they need supportive hybrid technology. Many companies have some work to do to make the hybrid approach work so all employees (in person and remote) have the same access and quality to meetings and information. Until the appropriate technology is in place it may be frustrating or difficult to collaborate.
Other aspects of the office may change too. Coffee machines and water coolers may be touchless or there may be hygiene precautions put in place. Initially, visitors may not be allowed into the office. There are many considerations each company may adopt to ensure the safety of their employees. Adjusting to new technology, physical changes in the office and new protocols will quickly become routine.
What you can do
• Practice going into the office if you’re company permits it before the actual return date. The office will be less crowded and you’ll be more comfortable with the changes that have been implemented.
• Establish routines that help calm you.
• Pay attention to what triggers your anxiety or fear.
• Take the necessary precautions that make you feel safe.
• Avoid criticizing or judging others if they have different opinions or safety measures.
The most important action companies and employees can take is to be patient, show empathy and work together to create the best environment for their business.
Susan O’Connor is an internal communications expert and executive coach with experience working in various industries including pharmaceuticals, specialty chemicals and manufacturing. She currently leads Paradise Workplace Solutions where she helps businesses create or improve their communications to employees. She enjoys seeing her clients reach their goals, improve their business environment and lead rich and rewarding lives.
Employee trust and appreciation are on the rise. The COVID pandemic presented leaders a substantial opportunity to put their employees first, to communicate often and with authenticity. This has paid off in building trust and connection among employees, their managers and leaders.
With companies planning for the return to the office, maintaining these improved connections is paramount. One aspect of returning to the workplace you may not be thinking about is the span of opinions your employees have about the virus and how they will treat others whose views differ. You can lose your bump in engagement by not reinforcing respect in the office when it comes to employees’ diverse behavior, opinions and actions on the virus and safety guidance.
Learn from the media’s mistakes
If you haven’t completely stopped watching and reading the news, you’re aware of the conflict between people who diligently follow the guidance given to protect vulnerable populations and those who resist wearing the protective equipment. One cause of the conflict is that the directives given by health experts and our state, local and federal governments are inconsistent.
Complicating the guidance given is media headlines that convey an incomplete description. Recently, a USA Today headline read “New Jersey will require face masks to be worn outdoors, governor says.” Missing from the headline and first four paragraphs of the article was the critical additional information “if you can’t socially distance.” Disputes on social media were rampant. The initial headline and that of many news stations caused fear among those who feel vulnerable contrasted with outrage from the people that don’t believe you need a mask everywhere.
Preventing conflict among employees
For business leaders, have you considered how this could play out in your workplace when employees return to the office? People have very different fears and opinions for many reasons. Employee conflict around issues of safety and preference can erupt when least expected. Some employees will be extra cautious by wearing masks when they’re not required and others will want the restrictions lifted as early as possible. This can cause disagreements and ridicule among employees if not openly addressed. You want to avoid situations where employees are mocking a colleague for being extra cautious or blaming someone for not caring about others.
What you can do to reduce employee disagreements
Employees tend to be on their best behavior in the workplace but there are actions you can take to limit teasing or accusations from eroding the improvements you gained in employee trust and appreciation.
- Be clear on your mandatory expectations and where there is flexibility.
- Be upfront with employees on unacceptable behaviors and the consequences.
- Hold managers accountable for enforcing the expectations as soon as an issue arises.
- Provide a resource for employees to go to for consistent, accurate information.
- Let employees know that the health and safety guidelines will be adjusted over time and no changes will be effective until the company notifies them.
- Reinforce importance of respect in the workplace.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate.
You want to avoid contention, blaming and ridicule during this very sensitive time. And you want to enhance the positive culture you’ve gained so your employees like coming to work and building on their and the company’s success.
If you’re not openly communicating with your employees on the impact of COVID-19 you’re making a mistake. Frontline managers and business leaders are in a position to build trust, establish a culture of support and show empathy during this pandemic. The benefits of good communication now can payoff for years to come in strong employee engagement and trust.
Employers as trusted sources
Employees are relying on their companies as trusted sources of COVID-19 information according to an annual Edelman Trust Barometer. The global communications firm surveyed about 10,000 people from 10 countries including the U.S. on virus-related communications March 6-10.1 Employers rose to the top as the most credible source of information employees are receiving, over non-government organizations, the mainstream media, the government and social media.
Many companies took the lead to increase their communication to employees once businesses started shuttering offices and plants—reassuring employees their health and safety were of utmost importance; providing them information, resources and equipment they needed to work from home if possible; and furnishing updates on the business impact of COVID-19.
Return to work communications
Another shift is taking place in the content of communications with planning the return to work (physically), what the new normal for work could be and how to protect employees in the office or plant environment.
The physical workspace will change. Employers are talking about rotating in-office workers—one week in, one week at home; shortening the work week or the exact opposite–allowing the flexibility to work any of the seven days of the week; retrofitting common use areas like collaboration spaces, restrooms and conference rooms; rethinking building HVAC; reconsidering travel. Employees are concerned about these changes and want to hear more.
Frontline manager communications is changing
Many companies are reviewing their work from home stance now that it’s been proven that working from home can be done effectively. In addition to working from home, leaders are realizing the importance of flexibility for their employees’ work priorities, family circumstances and mental health issues. Many companies are placing more emphasis on communication and interactions between the frontline manager and his/her employees. Consideration is being given to equip managers with the skills to accept the fluidity, and what may be considered personal nature, of their employees’ circumstances.
Whereas many managers were trained to keep discussions about their employees’ personal lives to a minimum, they are now obligated to ask about their health, family and mental health situations as it relates to their work. This can be uncomfortable for managers whose focus has always been on the work relationship. Managers’ flexibility will be tested from the ever-changing daily situation of an employee who may have everything under control one day and then be unable to perform their duties the next. Daily, meaningful touchpoints are necessary. Long gone are the times of checking in once or twice a week if businesses are to shift work and priorities to accommodate what is taking place in the employee’s life.
Rely on your employees
Employees will tell you what they need given the chance and when they feel you can be trusted. Feedback mechanisms should be a major component of your communications plan. Focus groups, short surveys, virtual suggestion boxes, feedback from managers’ conversations should all factor into the direction your communications are taking. Employees can be your greatest resource to problem solving the issues your business is facing to get back to growth. Involve and listen to employees, customers, suppliers, and others in and outside your industry.
Basically, the way we work will change. And communicating these changes clearly and in a timely fashion is critical to a smooth-running business and a well informed employee.
3 take aways
Everyone is operating in the unknown right now.
- It’s the perfect time to talk with employees and other business owners to get solutions.
- Get on calls, hold virtual meetings, show empathy and compassion, get to know your employees on a deeper level.
- Listen with your ears, listen with your heart, listen with your eyes.
Engage your employees now and build a bond that is hard to break.
Social distancing has turned the world upside down for most people. Think about all the change that happened when states, then companies started to adapt the way they operated. I’m sure you and everyone around you felt the uneasiness, uncertainty and may even have been afraid of what could happen personally and for your work.
Resilience is the ability to move through such change or chaos quickly using the least amount of energy reserves. Many people equate resilience with “bouncing back” after being depleted. With change being constant in our daily lives, living in a state of persistent depletion will negatively impact your cells, your body, mind, family and co-workers. Consistently being in a state of high stress is not healthy or normal. Stress depletes your cells, muscles and mental capacity internally and likely impacts your family and work relationships. Fortunately, resilience is a skill that can be learned by anyone.
Preparation is key
You don’t have to wait to be depleted to prepare yourself with enough energy to adapt to changes/stress quickly and get back to living your best life. Having energy reserves is like having money in the bank. You’re being proactive and storing energy regularly to have it available when you need it.
Ways to build your resiliency
Here are 4 approaches to build your resilience that you can start today. Ideally, you will embed these four approaches into your life BEFORE you have a major change or issue. However, it’s never too late to start. As you practice these actions, they will become natural habits.
Consider your choices: We all have choices in how we deal with any situation. You can act/react out of fear and negativity or you can choose to look for the positive possibilities in the change. For example, you have a choice to learn about the COVID-19 virus or you can perpetuate the fear with everyone you talk to. Sharing accurate knowledge about the disease is more positive than being so fearful you become paralyzed.
Reassess your perspective: Are you seeing the whole picture in a difficult situation? Is it possible you’re missing information? Seek clarity to make sure your perspective is accurate so you don’t waste time worrying about something that doesn’t exist. How often have you assumed someone, maybe a boss, would be upset that you’re 10 minutes late in the morning because it took longer to get the kids to school? Your manager was likely too busy with his/her priorities to notice. That’s a wasted use of your reserves. Do the best you can during the moment.
Prioritize positivity: We create most of the stress we feel by allowing our negative thoughts to sabotage us. How often have you had an argument with someone in your head and it never materialized. Yet, you reduced your energy reserves to have that one-sided argument. How often do you feel not qualified for a job? How often do you tell yourself you’re not good enough of a parent? Replace negative self-talk with positivity to build your reserves. Tell yourself that you’re the best parent you can be. You are qualified for the job. Push aside the negative voices and replace them with positive affirmations of who you are. You will feel lighter and better about yourself.
Practice refueling: Consider mental, physical, emotional and spiritual activities that make you feel good. It can be as simple as sitting quietly for 15 minutes to change your perspective or breakthrough a mental roadblock you’re having. Reading or exercising may help you recharge. Find what works for you and give yourself the time to practice it. Refuel your energy daily or as often as possible. The energy you get out will be worth the investment.
Tips for success
- Pick one or two of the above tactics and practice them every day.
- Make small changes and build on them. Make the changes small so you feel the accomplishment and progress.
- Pause occasionally to look around you and appreciate what you do have.
- Spend time examining the values you hold. Have they changed? If so, consider changing where you’re focusing your energy and time to reflect your current values.
- Treat yourself kindly.
Changing your behavior to build energy reserves can be challenging. However, you will feel the difference with each tiny step you take. When you continue to build on each new habit, you’ll end up with more ways of energizing yourself that will benefit you to move through any change quicker and easier. This is not to say that building your resilience will prevent you from life’s difficult challenges but having positive, healthy habits to draw on will better equip you to move through them.
I’ve been talking with family and colleagues and am alarmed at the number of people working for mid to large organizations who are working harder, longer and with more distractions than ever. What is so concerning to me is that many of the organizations they work for are acknowledging the difficulties being faced and providing some additional time “off” or have lessened their work expectations. However, employees are still trying to work at peak performance while dealing with the havoc wreaked in their personal lives by the pandemic.
The stress of potential failure (whether real or perceived) is taking its toll on employee mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Our bodies aren’t built to sustain long periods of excessive stress without breaking down. These high performers, overachievers, workhorses are at risk for major fatigue in the coming months when a new normal emerges and they are expected to swing into the groove.
My question for business leaders is what more can you do to help your workers slow down, pause, take the time they need without worry or additional stress? Helping your employees take this respite now will allow them to come back stronger than ever when you get back to the new normal. They will engage, commit and be your biggest advocates if you take care of them now.
What will you do today, tomorrow and next week for your people?
Good afternoon everybody. Stressful times are certainly upon us
As you may be aware, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was just recently passed.
On March 18, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”). The FFCRA seeks to assist employees impacted by novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) and applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees. The U.S. House of Representatives originally passed the FFCRA on March 14, 2020; however, the House later made “technical corrections” to the bill, many of which were substantive—such as adding caps on the paid leave—prior to passing it to the U.S. Senate for approval. The pared down House version of the FFCRA approved by the Senate and signed by President Trump provides for, among other things, (1) one new category of paid FMLA leave related to child care disruption due to the current public health emergency and (2) paid sick time for certain reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will take effect not later than 15 days after enactment, i.e., April 2, 2020, and are scheduled to terminate December 31, 2020. The FFCRA also includes related employer tax credits.
SHRM just posted on its website today (March 25, 2020), several U.S. Dept. of Labor, Wage & Hour Division information sheets: 1 for employees, 1 for employers, and a combined Q&A sheet. This is probably the most definitive and “official” information concerning how to comply with the FFCRA. Note: if you find out about this via a SHRM e-mail, you probably won’t be able to follow its links/URLs to get to those sheets; I found it easier to go to the SHRM website directly, and even then it was a little slow loading, probably due to heavy demand/viewing.
SHRM will be having another webcast this Friday, specifically pertaining to the FFCRA. From various employment law firms’ emails, it looks like a lot of them will be offering their own webcasts/webinars on this subject, too.
If interested in the ENTIRE Bill under the Act, you can find it here:
The official US Department of Labor briefing on the Act can be found here:
Another source of information on the topic is this article that has some great information to assist employers in complying with the new legislation. In the article, there’s a link to a free webinar on the topic that gives extensive coverage.
Another source of free information is from ComplyHR:
We’re all in unchartered territory here, and unfortunately even the U.S. Dept. of Labor, SHRM, and our various employment law firm partners will not have all the answers, but from what I’ve seen they’ve taken a huge first step and I believe there will be more information/guidance to come.
If you need guidance and support with these new regulations, we are prepared to assist. Contact Randy Lumia at Paradise Workplace Solutions: 908-723-4609.
I don’t know of a single event in my lifetime that has had the world gripped in fear and was not as a result of the actions of one country or person.
Countries, businesses, and families have been affected.
Some people will wallow in the constant changing events or numbers of lives lost.
Some people will heed advice of doomsayer’s and continue to stock up unnecessarily on toilet paper.
Some people will sit back and see what happens.
What about you? The business owner? The solopreneur? You are not helpless in this situation!
I have long professed the use of the “CMD” Plan; also known as the Crisis Management Dozen Plan. I have modified it slightly based on current events.
Let me explain……
It is all centered around “Taking Care”. Taking care of what’s most important:
1. Care of Yourself and Your Family
2. Care of Your Business
3. Care of Your People
Each of these, has 4 components that each of us could, and should, focus on during any time of crisis.
1. Care of Yourself and Family
Very easily put, you are no use to yourself or anyone else unless you start by focusing on yourself. You do this by starting with 4 very simple, yet important steps:
A. Assure your safety and that of your family. Make sure that you and your family are healthy and safe and take the necessary precautions to assure that this continues. Keep yourself and family insulated (I prefer to use this word rather than isolate) from harm by assuring you have a safe place to call “home”. This includes assuring you have the necessary amount of food, supplies, medication, etc. to make it through the period of time that you may need to be sheltered and “insulated”.
B. Make prudent financial decisions. During times of crisis, financial instability abounds. It may not be the right time to buy that new car or book a vacation. Your source of income could be jeopardized and may need to put your “rainy-day fund” in play.
C. Keep calm and poised. You cannot change the actions or behaviors of others; you can only control your own. If you have a family, you may be setting the tone for others’ actions. Be mindful of what you do and say.
D. Keep growing. If you need to work remotely, or you happen to have a reduced workload or even lose your job. Never stop learning and growing. Use technology to your advantage. There are many FREE websites and sources for education and training. LinkedIn offers free training and development courses. Use this time to positively focus your energies on activities that move you forward.
2. Care of Your Business:
Once you have assured the safety and health of you and your family, you can turn your attention to that of your business.
A. Business Continuity. All businesses should have a business continuity plan. What happens if you experienced a blizzard? A hurricane? An earthquake? A system-wide computer virus? Will you continue to operate? If so, how and where? When world events like we are experiencing now, when we are being asked to assure social distancing, working in a normal business center may not be acceptable, but you need to continue operating your business. How do you do it? You can start now if you don’t already have a plan.
B. Current Financial Review. Current world events of business environment conditions may warrant an in-depth look at your short-term financial stability. Has your business suffered revenue loss? Can you make payroll this month? Will you need to cut expenses and/or staff? If so, when and how much?
C. Business Plan Review. When is the last time you looked at your business plan? I’m not talking about your annual plan or a review of your P&L statement, I’m talking about your strategic plan. If during times of crisis, your business is slowed, take the opportunity to brush the cobwebs off your (strategic) business plan. Are you where you wanted to be (under normal business conditions)? Do you need to adjust your plan or consider alternative strategies? Now is the time.
D. People Strategy Review. Those that know me know I preach about the need for a people strategy. Now is the time to review that strategy as well. Start with a review of your succession plan. Depending upon the severity of the world events, and the possible turnover of employees, you need to assure you have the right people, in the right jobs, at the right time, for the right reasons.
3. Care of Your People:
Once you have looked at the business, you need to look at your people; the heartbeat of your business.
A. Assure the Safety of Your Employees. If your business has employees that are in a brick and mortar facility, you need to assure the safety of your employees, customers and visitors under any circumstances. Under current events, if your business is still operating and not shut down, this means you need to assure that you take the necessary precautions of social distancing, extraordinary cleanliness procedures and perhaps even providing masks and/or hand sanitizers.
B. Use Virtual Offices or Work from Home Provisions. Whether your business has a formal telecommuting or work from home policy or not, you should consider the implementation of such programs to minimize the potential for spreading of any contagious conditions.
C. Support the Needs of Your Employees and Their Families. Employees with school-age children may be faced with the reality that they need to be home with their children as a result of school closures. The employee themself, or their family member, may be sick or contagious. Support, where possible the work from home provision. If the employee is a production worker or someone that needs to be in the workplace, perhaps there are on-line training courses that this individual can benefit from while completing from home.
D. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. In times of chaos, people (employees) are begging for information. Over the past week or so, I have received no less than 3 dozen emails from CEO’s of banks, financial institutions, public services, etc. explaining what they are doing to assure the safety of their customers, their employees and of their families. While they may all have similar messages, they all felt the need and importance for communicating to their customers. As a business owner, you need to assure ongoing communication with employees; whether you are open or closed! Ongoing communications to keep your employees abreast of the business, as well as to reinforce calm and a showing of support for all your employees is not optional, but mandatory during these unsettling times.
As I indicated earlier, I have modified the CMD Plan based upon current events. However, the basis for the CMD Plan are important and critical during any emergency situation.
For more information on our CMD Plan or any component within this article, please contact Randy Lumia, President and People Strategy Lead at Paradise Workplace Solutions, LLC. at Randy.Lumia@ParadiseWorkplaceSolutions.com
Guest blog: Paradise Workplace Solutions asked Gail Siggelakis, Speaker and Author of The Affirming Way of Life: See the Good, Speak the Good, Spread the Good to write this blog on how to thrive during this difficult time with positivity and self care.
Life as it is now, for every single one of us, is something we’ve never encountered before. Many of us are working from home and may be caring for kids and elder parents at the same time; work and home life have blended. And some of us aren’t even working.
We’re unsure how long our quarantined lifestyle will continue, we’re missing the freedom of freely going places, and mostly, we’re missing being with all the people we love and care about.
We will get through this, but like every challenge we face, we need a plan and framework for managing. Here’s my approach to living in confinement that’s helped me still feel like myself. I call it the 3 R’s for empowerment and peace during these crazy times: resources, routines, and relationships.
- Resources (Inner): We need to take care of ourselves, so that we have the energy and positive mind frame to feel capable of handling the new stresses in our life, and to be there for the people who are relying on us. This means paying attention to our needs physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Ask yourself, when can I steal even thirty minutes for me? The beginning or end of the day are good times to carve out time for yourself.
Here are some things I do that enable me to feel inwardly balanced.
- Physically: It’s really important to get exercise. Most of us had exercise routines before the coronavirus, and we know what a stress reliever it is and how good it makes us feel mentally and emotionally. I did Jazzercize and pilates and both programs have offered me online options that I’m taking advantage of. Here’s one link to many free online.
Get outside in the sun and fresh air daily, even for 15 minutes. Being in nature is so healing. My husband and I have begun sitting on our front stoop watching the sunset and enjoying the robins, wrens, and rabbits that make their home in the huge pine tree on our front lawn. In the 17 years we’ve lived in our home, we never knew we had such wonderful natural entertainment!
- Mentally/Emotionally: Our mind and emotions go hand in hand. Aside from reading, watching TV series’, and doing puzzles of some kind (my husband and I are doing jigsaw puzzles, a first since we’re married), there’s two biggies I do that nourish my mind and heart.
First, I have a daily gratitude practice. Focusing on all the good things we still do have in our life lifts our spirits. Research has shown not only does gratitude reduce stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. I give thanks now for having my safe comfortable home to live in, running water, the technology to stay connected with loved ones, the greenness of nature.
Second, I use positive self-talk. Throughout my day I applaud myself for efforts, “You put makeup on today to feel like yourself. I’m proud of you.” And I speak kindly to myself for screw-up’s, “It’s OK you went into fear mode again. It’s understandable after listening to the news.” If you can master these two practices during these extreme times, they can literally transform your life when things return to ‘normal’.
- Spiritually: A meditation practice trains our mind and emotions to not be reactive, and enables us to be more present-moment-focused (which can help us not get caught in gloomy future thoughts.) Research says meditation is a natural stress stabilizer and increases happiness. Who doesn’t want more of that now! I use the Insight Timer to meditate. I love it because there’s guided meditation, music and a timer to set my own background sounds. It gives me a structure and even rewards me with stars for every 10 days meditating. I’ve meditated 340 days in a row and I’m proud of it!
- Routines: A very comforting article I read at the start of our quarantine was by Scott Kelly, the astronaut. He gave tips for living in isolation, as he did when in space for a year. The first on his list was routines. Before our homebound life we had a routine that gave us order and a sense of control. Though we know how important routines are we may not have consciously created one yet. Creating a routine will help everyone in your family live better in the new normal. I follow most of the same schedule as before, except now when I would have met friends for lunch or dinner, I call, Face Time, or Zoom to feel like we’re together. Which leads me to…
- Relationships: The focus of my book, The Affirming Way of Life: See the Good, Speak the Good, Spread the Good is how to form and maintain the kind of strong, healthy relationships that lead to a happy, fulfilling life. Through personal stories and research I show readers that when we look with eyes for the best in others and are generous enough to tell them, we bring a flow of love and care to our relationships that brings the joy and connection we all are looking for.
Though we can’t be physically with most of our family and friends, we can reach out to them and let them know how much they mean to us. I’ve committed to doing just that. Each day I speak to 3 people and before the conversation is over, I tell them something I love or appreciate about them and how much our relationship means to me. The other day my son, Theo’s best friend, Wes, was helping me (via Face Time and computer sharing) learn to send group emails on my book. I said to him, “I can’t thank you enough for pointing out to me that I really am getting how to do this. You are such a wonderful teacher patiently explaining how the program works and having me practice the skills myself. Not only am I grateful Theo has you, I’m so lucky to have you, too!” Wes, affirmed me back, and we shared a moment of heart-warming connection. Though being affirmed back feels wonderful, each time I affirm someone I feel the love.
Wishing you all safety, health and finding moments of joy even during these crazy times!
Many people go a lifetime without being fulfilled because they get caught in their day-to-day responsibilities and don’t examine what is truly important to them. Imagine getting to the end of a long life and then being disappointed you didn’t do more. Building a personal vision can be the north star for the life you want to create for yourself. Now that the country is experiencing a slowdown, you have the opportunity to spend some time thinking about your personal vision and creating the life you want.
Some of the most successful people in the world have a vision and let it be the beacon when they make decisions in their life. Oprah Winfrey had a vision of her work representing a force for good. She was able to realize her vision through her own show. Around 1990, Oprah changed the direction of her show to be in line with her vision—to represent a force for good. She wouldn’t accept show concepts that didn’t have that intention. Once she started down this path, her shows became more meaningful and fulfilling for her. She was able to fill that vision and move on to a broader one of helping people connect to ideas that inspire and magnify their vision of who they can be. (Now, I don’t know Oprah personally, but she’s been clear this is her guiding principle.)
Creating your own personal vision
Let me start out by saying that you will not be creating your personal vision in one day. It takes time to reflect and think of the possibilities and beyond. Dare to dream and dream big. Pushing all other concerns aside, think about what would give you amazing satisfaction and joy as you were achieving it and a tremendous sense of accomplishment once you reached your aspirations. Think beyond your wildest dreams.
Questions to ask yourself
- What brings me joy?
- What are my values)?
- After I leave this world, what aspects of my life do I want people to talk about?
- What do I wish for this world?
- What can I contribute?
- What is unique about me? (Everyone has a uniqueness that makes them special.)
- In what parts of my life do I need to grow?
Consider the above questions and write down your answers. Ponder them. Make changes to accurately reflect what is in your heart and what resonates with you. If you’ve never taken the time to identify your values, read my blog on how to define them. Values are beliefs and principles most important to us, what motivates us and guides decisions we make. Don’t rush to define your values. Take the time to get them right. You will be using them throughout your life on a day-to-day basis and to help you make major decisions about what feels and is right for you.
Once you feel good about your values and answers to the above questions, start writing your vision statement. For example, my vision statement is to have all people experience their personal purpose in peace and balance with the ability to learn and reflect knowing that there is a higher being.
Write in the first person about what is most important to you, what you want to be, do and feel. Make sure you incorporate your values like I did above. Again, don’t worry about it being perfect. You will fine tune it. I tweaked my vision to have more of an impact on society when I realized I could do and be more than I was. Our values and vision evolve over time because of our experiences and opportunities.
Use your vision every day
Now that you have your vision, use it to guide how you live your life daily. In my case, one question I ask daily is how my life can be more peaceful and in better balance. Consider your vision statement when you’re making decisions on how you will volunteer in your community. When you get a new job offer, make sure that it sits right with your vision. Does it enable you to live out what is important? If not, no matter how much money you may be offered you won’t likely be happy. Your vision can help you live a happy and fulfilled life.
Most importantly, keep your vision and your values within view every day to remind yourself when you’re off track.
If you have questions you would like me to answer, contact me.
When in your life has your heart sung from joy? Can you remember the circumstances? Likely, your core values were aligned with whatever you were doing at that specific time. Unfortunately, most people haven’t spent time concentrating on their personal values. It’s not to say that we aren’t aware of the values (family, religious and societal) we were taught. Those values can be very different from the core ones we become more aware of when provided the opportunity to examine what is important and why. Let’s talk about the different values we hold and why.
Types of values
The definition Merriam Webster uses to define values is “something (such as a principle or quality) intrinsically desirable”. To be more precise, values are beliefs or philosophies that are important to how we live and work. Our values can drive our actions and decisions.
There are three categories of values every person is exposed to—superficial, chosen and core.
- Superficial values are those values we think we should live by because someone taught them to us. These are values that we have not challenged. For example, values a parent may have passed on like giving to others is more important than taking care of yourself. Many people spend most of their lives trying to take care of everyone else and end up disillusioned and unhappy because they thought taking care of others was more of a priority to caring for themselves.
- Chosen values are those that we select to uphold as consistently as possible. An example could be a Catholic going to church every Sunday or honoring the Sabbath if you’re Jewish. You may be disappointed in yourself for not celebrating your faith but you probably won’t be greatly dissatisfied if you miss a week.
- Core values are those on which we hold and base our lives. We know we’re living within our core values when we’re happy and satisfied with what we’re doing and the decisions we’ve made. We are dissatisfied, reluctant or embarrassed when we are not living them consistently. For example, if a person’s core value is teaching and he/she is not in a position to teach, he/she will likely feel disconnected or unhappy unless the need to teach can be fulfilled in other areas of life.
For years, I believed I knew my values. I was a family person, a hard worker, caring friend. I believed in being “good” and respectful, taking care of others. Some of these values ended up being superficial, ones that I took on but didn’t bring me satisfaction. I felt overwhelmed at times because I was taking care of others and ignoring my needs. It was when I was dissatisfied that I was not living within the core values important to me.
What you can do today to clarify your values
Write down your values as you believe them to be. Examine why they are important to you. Are they central to your happiness?
When I took a deep look at my values I realized there were a few that I had not been actively engaging with when I was making decisions. For many years, I had not been considering my spirituality in my decisions. This left me feeling adrift as if I didn’t have anything to anchor me. Once I was able to define what spirituality meant to me I was able to make decisions more easily and quickly.
If you’re not sure where to start in examining your values, Google “Defining Your Values”. There are many resources available to help you. Here’s one link from Wikihow that is a good place to start. https://www.wikihow.com/Define-Your-Personal-Values Don’t be discouraged by the time it takes to uncover your values. You will need to spend enough time thinking through where they come from and what purpose they serve you and if they will continue to help you make good decisions.
Living a values-based life
I’m much clearer on what I want, what I do and how I’ll go about achieving my goals and making decisions now that I’ve clarified my values. This past year one of my values came to life through starting Paradise Workplace Solutions. Learning is critical to my happiness. But it wasn’t until I was in a situation where I needed to gain knowledge as business owner that I realized the full energy and passion that was driving me to make this business successful. My heart sings every day because I’m working on my business and learning along the way.
Identifying your core values and living them out is what will make your heart sing, your life fulfilled and guide you to your true purpose.