When it’s tough to be positive, filter out the negative

When it’s tough to be positive, filter out the negative

I wouldn’t call myself an optimist. You know one of those people that seem to have rays of sunshine follow them wherever they go. I however wouldn’t call myself a pessimist either, but I certainly can feel negative at times.

Sometimes I get stuck in a perpetual cycle of negativity and guilt that is difficult to get out of and maybe you have experienced this too. “I should be positive about my privilege, food on the table, a job, health, family and have no right to feel negative about these trivial things etc. etc.”

To feel positive, you might try different techniques such as thinking positively or surrounding yourself with things that make you happy. However, often this forced focus on trying to develop a positive disposition leads you even further down the negativity path and by trying to push negativity out and force positivity in, you feed the guilt, strengthen the negativity and are left feeling emotionally drained!

 

Our feelings influence our behaviour and attitudes

How we feel affects our perception of a situation which gives rise to our attitude and behaviour. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge how people, things and situations make you feel in order to express the attitude and behaviour that you feel comfortable with. If this is sounding familiar, then read on for a different approach to filtering out the negative. This is a dynamic process and a constant journey, so this is food for thought from a person who is not a self-proclaimed expert on this but rather a person still navigating the methods of filtering out the negative.

 

Get rid of emotional pollution

Try this little exercise next time something or someone causes negative feelings, which I like to call emotional pollution. Instead of trying to force positive thinking, keep the negativity at the forefront of your thoughts and ask yourself what is making me feel negative today and what can I do about it? Is it a tarnished relationship, lack of sleep, an insurance claim, government policies? By analysing what it is about the situation that is making you uncomfortable you direct your focus on how and if you can change your situation. So, for example if a tarnished relationship is causing emotional pollution, think about how that can be changed, or weigh up the value of the relationship against the effort of maintaining or rectifying it. Should you find that the effort of maintaining the tarnished relationship far outweighs the benefit of keeping the relationship then it’s time for a change. Either the relationship needs to end or your role within the relationship needs adjusting. By shifting your focus – from being consumed by negativity and avoiding a forced, unnatural positive disposition to driving actionable change towards your negativity you will inadvertently make room for the positive.

 

Some things you cannot change

I know at this point you are saying ‘easier said than done’ and some things are just impossible to change and I agree, you can’t change or eliminate everything that doesn’t make you feel good.

At this point I remind myself of a very well-known mantra which I feel can be used by anyone, ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Some things are simply not in your control so identify those things that create negativity in your life and ask yourself is this something I can control? If yes, then take actionable steps to eliminate or change the negative aspect or causes of emotional pollution. If the answer is no, then ask yourself what can I control about this situation? The answer is to again focus on you and how you feel.

Aim to find a way to take the negative that you can’t control, change the way you feel about and accept that this is within the boundary of your control. Remember what is meant to be, will be and every day that you wake up and do your best to filter out the negative is a great start to letting the positivity in.

Photo by photokip.com from Pexels

How to reduce stress in the workplace with one simple exercise

How to reduce stress in the workplace with one simple exercise

STRESS, wow this is a word that can be easily thrown around in almost every workplace, anywhere in the world. What if I told you that you could reduce this by almost 70% with just one little thing?

Sound too good to be true? What if I told you that you could do it, by simply practicing something your body and mind is so attuned to and it is a perfectly natural action?

In the words of Mark Twain:

“[Humanity] has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand”.

 

Laughter has several amazing effects on the body.  It strengthens your immune system, reduces muscle tension and stress. It is good for your ticker and some say it can help you recover faster from injury or illness.

We all know the workplace can be a stressful environment and it may not be easy to get that hearty, healthy chuckle in, so I have compiled a short list of how you can make your day a tad happier.

  1. Use the Word: Check out http://www.wordthink.com/; word of the day, then try to naturally work it into a conversation.
  2. Have some Hula Fun: Hold a hula hoop contest with your desk neighbour or on a zoom call with your colleagues.
  3. Pull Yourself towards yourself: write a letter to yourself about how your stress is ridiculous “dear future me, can you believe how I wasted a day being stressed?”
  4. Jam it up: get up and dance, do it in the elevator, at your desk, in front of a mirror, just wiggle those hips for a minute
  5. Jam it up Together: Even better than a solo elevator jiggle, have a 2pm 30 second dance party with your co workers
  6. Halloween scream: put out a bowl of candy at your desk and offer people a sweet in exchange for a story or a joke.
  7. Employ some dark humour : Get a de-motivational poster for your desk or office.
  8. Glam it up: give any colleague (even the men) a new hairstyle with an online makeover.
  9. Poetry slam: Buy refrigerator magnets for the office kitchen.
  10. Pirate Ahoy: give everyone on your team a Pirate name
  11. Pass Notes: pass a note in the office like you did as a kid, better yet, fold it into a paper plane and see if you can land it on their desk
  12. DON’T laugh: have a don’t laugh don’t smile contest with your co-workers, see who breaks first

 

But remember life can’t always be fun and games, so there are some rules to follow when it comes to humour in the workplace:

Know your audience

Don’t use humour to insult or offend anyone. Anything that includes religion, sexuality, ethnic background, politics, or someone’s personal beliefs, is a no-go-zone.

Don’t forget to laugh at yourself

Life is short, don’t take yourself too seriously.

Include company anecdotes

This can make even the most disparaging audience feel involved.

Use humour to diffuse tension

But not at the cost of a covered insult.

 

There is still work to be done, so don’t go overboard!

The number one quality I look for in anyone, be it my manager, friend or colleague, is a sense of humour.  Life is stressful! Let’s all try and turn our frowns upside down, even if it is just for 5 minutes of the day.

Fast Your Way to the Future

Fast Your Way to the Future

For years, I have never been a true believer of fasting. The thought of not eating for 3 days or more is a concept- that I thought to believe –was only for monks up on the hills in Tibet. Why fast when there are so many people starving in the first place?

Well, years later, I found myself a boyfriend, who was well into new and trendy health theories, and who convinced me that this is just the perfect ingredient for a clear mind and healthy body. A couple of days later, and there I was – saying no to food for 3 days in my beautiful kitchen in the middle of Cape Town.

 

Why Fast? That’s a Perfectly Valid Question

I didn’t only begin fasting for the obvious reasons – losing weight. I was healthy and lean but I was curious to clear the so-called “brain fog” and a reboot of the immune system, which promised a true mental benefit and a test to my own strength of self-discipline.

Benjamin Hardy, a psychologist and best selling author says:

“Fasting is essentially the putting-off of the physical to tap into higher realms of meaning.”

To be honest, I didn’t reach my higher realms of meaning or any higher sense of self that is… but what I do know is, that it was an experience I urge every one to try.

Here are my 4 most loved benefits of fasting, which I hope will motivate you to start too.

 

1. Mental Clarity

I was on day 1 of my first fasting experience, and after having my last meal just 20 hours ago, I found myself hiking for 3 hours after just having a black coffee and some water. I never felt better. I was energized, the fog had cleared in my brain, and my endorphins were rushing through me like I was on my way to an exciting music festival. I was sharp, quick, and mentally structured, which I had never experienced before. Need a boost before an important presentation? Here is your tool.

 

2. Self-Control

Every decision one makes is important, isn’t it? If you have a track record of bad decisions, you end up with a ‘not so happy life’. This all comes down to lack of self-control. And if you cant control yourself, then what can you control?

If you need to learn self-discipline, let me tell you, fasting is the way to do it. You are constantly choosing NOT to eat, even when you are hungry. If you get good at fasting, you get good at discipline, you get good at life. Period.

 

3. Weight-loss & Detox

Although my goal wasn’t weight-loss, loosing a couple of pounds and water weight was an added benefit to this whole fasting-thing. (Lets be honest, ladies, who doesn’t love to wake up in the morning and feel like your pants are a little looser?) With that in mind, this brings more confidence in you, thus, more confidence in the workplace. On top of that, scientists say that it is a complete reboot of your entire immune system just after 24 hours. I am sure we all have years of guilty junk food eating habits, so the thought of clearing all those toxins sounded peachy.

 

4. Grit

As Angela Duckworth, psychologist and popular science author, put it in her TED Talk: “Grit is the power of passion and perseverance.” Why is this so important? It helps you focus on long-term and meaningful goals whilst giving you the ability to persist and move through difficult obstacles.

On day 2 of my fasting experience, I had a minor (well it was a major) emotional breakdown. Google said I had severe “carb withdrawal symptoms”. I felt like I was in rehab. I was literally crying on the couch wanting food and begging my partner to get me something to eat. I felt ridiculous. But I guess my ‘Grit’ got me through it, and I never felt better the next day.

Would I do it again? Probably not, but with the benefits I might consider it. Experts say you should be fasting 2-3 times a year. Practice makes perfect, right? I felt incredibly proud when I finished my 72 hours of fasting. This boosted my self-confidence and provided mental strength and assurance that I can deal with difficult situations and temptations. I feel incredibly focused and motivated,and have the willpower to push through anything – and so should you.

Driving Value – is it time to hire a Sales VA?

Driving Value – is it time to hire a Sales VA?

There is an old saying that 80% of your sales revenue come from 20% of your clients.  Also, another, not so great statistic, is that 80% of the work in your business is done by 20% of your staff.

These statistics bring to light two of the main complaints of any business looking to add to their team—the cost and investment it takes to bring on a new permanent employee.  When you factor in the hidden costs like training and employee benefits, it’s a hard pill to swallow, KNOWING that, give or take, 80% of your staff is not there giving their all, all the time.  This rings true especially when you are busting your behind getting your life-long-dream, still in that crazy roller-coaster ride called the start-up phase, off the ground.  Anyone who has ever started a business knows that you as the entrepreneur, is BUSY.  You are most probably dividing your time between operations, marketing, financial management & HR – heck you may just as well be the tea lady!

The dilemma which presents itself is that you need sales to grow the business.  Entrepreneurs are not necessarily great at selling.  Or perhaps you are a hot shot salesperson, but don’t have the time or desire to nurture and grow the relationships with your newly landed clients.  The great news is that a Virtual Assistant hire is a straightforward, simple way to add to your sales team, without having to worry about hidden costs.  Virtual Assistants are paid for the hours they work, whether it is 3 hours or 8 hours per day.  They will happily take over all the tasks that you don’t want to manage yourself.

A Sales VA can, to name a few, run with customer relationship management, customer support, prospecting, managing your sales funnel, managing leads through social media, and much more. The question you need to ask yourself is, what do I need my Virtual Sales Assistant to do to bring VALUE to my business? Once you have figured out this, you are ready to interview your selection of candidates and choose a Virtual Assistant with the exact required experience.

 

What Can You Outsource to a Virtual Sales Assistant?

At this stage you must be pondering the question – What exactly can I outsource to someone in this line of work? Surprisingly, there is a whole lot of work which you can hand over to a Sales VA. Think of a Virtual Sales Assistant as roughly a Marketing Assistant; they’re not only good at taking on tasks that you would rather not do, but they can add to yours as well as your existing sales team’s capacity in virtually (excuse the pun) anything that has to do with marketing and sales.

Let’s get a little more specific:

  • Telemarketing: This is not something you may always enjoy doing, but it’s often a necessary part of doing business. You can easily hire a remote worker who not only really loves calling people all day but is also highly skilled at this!  A virtual sales assistant can make outgoing calls to businesses on your behalf, as well as manage inbound calls.  Calling software such as Dialpad, has made this easy.  Gone are the days of having to onboard someone in a full-time capacity to sit in your office and make calls.  This way, qualified leads can be passed on to yourself or your top salespeople to do what they do best – close new deals!
  • CRM skills: The management of customer relationship software is usually key to adding to your sales funnel and creating a profitable and successful pipeline. This is something that you can outsource to an expert Virtual Sales Assistant. Give them the responsibility of making sure that every customer’s data entry is continuously updated with the latest information. You can also put your Sales VA in charge of following up with clients you haven’t heard from in a while or run email campaigns using your CRM software.
  • Outsourcing marketing strategy: Has your marketing strategy been stuck in a rut & aimless? Business owners can not only outsource basic marketing tasks but also outsource strategic thought when it comes to running the sales team and streamlining the sales processes. The fresh mind of an ‘outsider’ may just well be what your marketing strategy requires to give it a creative boost.
  • Sales assistant services: If your sales & marketing team needs an assistant who can grasp the basics of your most common sales & marketing tasks, a Virtual Sales Assistant can leverage their skills and experience to join your team nearly seamlessly.  The VA can even serve in an executive assistant role for the Sales or Marketing Manager.
  • Social Media Management:  Your Sales VA can be put in charge of managing all your social media platforms.  Think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Now, more than ever, business owners have to think creatively when it comes to running a successful, profitable business.  Making use of a qualified Virtual Assistant will unquestionably add great VALUE to your business sans the risk and hidden costs of permanent employees.

Hygge and why we all need it

Hygge and why we all need it

We are living in a very stressful time in the world while trying to protect our health as well as continue our day to day living and continue with business as usual.  As business owners and employees, we are often too busy to take time out for our own wellbeing and more often than not we tend to put our mental and emotional needs aside.

It is so important for us to ensure that we too feel safe and comforted as we are unable to perform optimally while feeling stressed and suffering from burnout and exhaustion.

I recently came across the Danish phenomenon of Hygge.  Although at first one might feel skeptical and dismiss such a “whimsical and artsy” idea.  Just try it and you will discover the change it can create in your life.

 

Recharge

One needs to only take a few minutes per day to recharge and remove ourselves from our lives in order to gain perspective.  All you need I a space to reconnect and be present.  In this way you will be able to recognize and enjoy the moment you are in and gain clarity on what is important.

Hygge is not something that you can buy, its existence is in the complete absence of stress and feeds off feelings of happiness and relaxation. There are many ways to practice Hygge from creating a space in your home where you can unwind without disturbance, where you feel comfortable and have things surrounding you that bring you comfort and joy.

Set aside a brief moment of time in your day where you know that you will not be disturbed and clear your mind thinking back on all the good that you have in your life and all you have achieved.  Remove the negative and do not think of what could or has gone wrong.  Just live in that moment of contentment. You can light a candle and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee in your favourite china cup.

Take the time to create a tasty, nutritious and aesthetically pleasing meal.  Use your good plates and candles, create a calming atmosphere and play your favourite music.  Don’t sit in front of the television or in front of your computer, don’t eat your hastily prepared meal in the kitchen before running off.  Go sit outside and eat your meal and enjoy nature.  Eat mindfully.

Clean out your home and office from clutter and only keep what is necessary.  By clearing out your living and working space you are clearing your mind to only what is important.

 

Be present

Take time to be present with those that are important in your life.  Remove all distractions such as phones and televisions.  You will be surprised at how your relationships evolve and what you can learn about each other.  Take time to listen to what they have to say instead of thinking of the next thing is you need to say.  Just listen and be.  Sometimes just being with another human and interacting mindfully can be more therapeutic and relaxing than any form of therapy.

Hygge should ultimately become a natural extension of your daily life and you will find that your 15 to 30 minutes per day in one corner of your living space can ultimately extend to your whole life so that you are living each day mindfully and being present in the now.