Self-Reliance is for Everyone

self reliance
Image Source

 

Imagine being in an emergency situation. Who are the people you want to be near? Or think about being deserted on an island with one person, who do you choose? You choose the ones who are self-reliant and have the skills to survive.

The idea of self-reliance is broad. When I talk about self-reliance in my blog posts, I don’t necessarily mean that you should have to go off the grid or put yourself in extreme survival situations. There are a lot of valuable self-reliant skills and tools that we can learn from others as well as teach ourselves that are important for our day to day lives. Doing things ourselves and becoming more handy is incredibly rewarding, and it seems as if we are becoming less and less self-reliant as we become more reliant on technology and other people.

 

Here are a few ways to boost your self-reliant skills:

Learn to fix things yourself: We live in a time where everything gets thrown away, many times without even a second thought. Try and minimize your impact while also saving money for yourself.

Learn to do jobs that you would normally hire someone else to do: Sew up that split seam in your clothes, or learn to change the oil in your car. Do your own yard work and small repairs around the home. Many of the entrepreneurs I have interviewed have a broad set of skills that allow them to fill in wherever they need within the operations of their businesses and are able to save money by resolving issues on their own. You don’t have to know how to do everything, but learning by doing is one of the best ways to build your skill sets.

Take responsibility for your health. We are the only ones who are responsible for our health, and it is our job to ensure that we have the strength to be self-reliant when we need to be. It is our job to look after our kids and teach them healthy lifestyles, and the best way to do so is by modeling that. Most of us can improve in this area, myself included. If we don’t take care of ourselves, who else is supposed to?

 

set of working tools on wooden boards
Image Source

Emergency preparedness: Okay, it is easy to laugh at the people who go overboard prepping for disaster, but it is actually pretty simple to develop the skills needed to assist you in an emergency. Learning how to use tools, change a flat tire, stop the toilet from overflowing, put chains on your car in a snowstorm; these are all skills that you will be so glad you have if you find yourself in one of these situations. Take a CPR certification class because CPR can be such a valuable skill to have. If an accident should happen, you will be able to rely on your skills to help you.

 

Outdoor skills: These are fun skills to develop and can be critical if you are in a situation where our luxuries are unavailable or taken away. Try backpacking or camping, as these are some of the best ways to test your own self-reliance and teach yourself things as they come to you in a natural environment. Sometimes these are the most rewarding skills to have because they involve instincts and exploring.

Education: Like many of these skills, education is something that can never be taken away from you, and something that you can always fall back on in hard times. This doesn’t have to be formal education, but seeking out continual education for yourself throughout your life will benefit you in so many ways. I went back to school for my master’s degree because I want to have my education to assist me if something happens to me financially or in terms of opportunity. I don’t want to worry about anyone having to help me or support me in a time of need.

I really admire the people who are really handy and seem to be able to fix anything and everything. Go out today and learn a new skill that can help make you more self-reliant. In most cases, a YouTube video can teach you how to do it! What can you do to become more self-reliant?

Own Your Decisions and Dissolve Your Defensive Ego

 

Quotefancy-1875772-3840x2160
Image Source

Do you ever find yourself making excuses for your choices or your current situation, whether it is the industry you are working in, why you never went back to school, why you do or don’t have kids, or why you are single? Self-defense in the form of personal justification can be toxic, and when we do it, we make ourselves sound even more guilty for no reason at all.  When we are unsure of our own decisions, we tend to go into defense mode about them, because we don’t know how other people are going to view them. Sometimes we don’t even know how we feel about them ourselves, and inviting criticism from others can be nerve racking.

 

The defending, explaining and justifying never seems to change anything and, instead, tends to anchor us more deeply in the issue that needs to be addressed.

Whatever you are doing, whether you are working, staying home with your kids, going to school; there is a reason why you decided to make that choice. Why did you want that for yourself? Stop questioning your choice. Remember your “why“. Write it down. Stop thinking about who is judging you, or looking at you, or questioning your worth. The only thing you should worry about is if you are making the right choice for you, your family, and your goals.

 

I still have the hardest time with this as I am finishing up my MBA as a stay at home mom. I feel like I am stuck between two worlds and have no idea what my future is going to look like. Will I be home with the kids? Will I be working or starting my own business? Where will my regrets lie? The truth is, I have no idea. I don’t know what the ideal future looks like for me and it took several years for me to stop feeling like I had to justify staying home with my babies by going to school or by saying that it is just a temporary situation. I took a real perspective change on my life and what I am grateful for now and I finally said, “I want this, I want to be home with my kids.” I don’t care who judges me for a gap in my resume or for putting my career on hold. I needed to stop making excuses that made me feel like it was okay to be doing it. I am staying home because this is what feels right…right now. Not forever, maybe not next year, but now. This is what I want.  I don’t have to pretend like it is some temporary free ride that I am taking. It is HARD work!

 

Ego 2
Image Source

Our ego is designed to protect and defend us from unpleasant feelings. The result of all of our defensive tactics is that we start to lose touch with ourselves. This makes it harder for us to deal with our deeper feelings and we drive them deeper where they feel hidden, but are never really resolved or understood.

 

We can dissolve our egos by standing by our decisions and stop feeling like we are doing things for the approval of other people.  Be the best working mom, stay at home mom, student, or corporate executive that you can be and OWN IT. Maybe next year or six months from now it wont be right anymore, and that’s okay. The fact that you are even worrying about it says that you are on the right path. But stop. Just enjoy where you are now. If you are working and feel like you are missing out on your kids lives, be grateful to have your expertise, and to be providing for your family. If you are staying home, stop associating your worth with a paycheck. You can always go back. Forget what people will think about you. You don’t work for them, you work for you!

EgoOnce you stop feeling sorry for your situation and realize that you don’t have to apologize or explain to anyone, you can ditch your ego and find your true path. Are you truly happy where you are? Forget what everyone thinks about you. Odds are, you are magnifying it in your mind. Everyone is too caught up in their own lives to sincerely worry about judging you 24/7. If you are worried about making a mistake; make it, and learn from it. It will help you grow.

Make your own decision that feels right to you and you might encourage someone to do the same by doing so.  Next time you feel like someone is judging you or questioning your path, own it. Tell them straight up what you are doing. No need to explain anything, just be proud because that’s where you are right now because that is the decision that you made for yourself, for your own reasons, and no one else’s.

Managing Your Circle of Influence

 

Photo Source

In our daily lives, we are surrounded by a wide range of concerns, so how do we know where to focus our time and energy? What is the difference between worrying about your fitness and worrying about third world hunger? Both are in our circle of concern, but only one is in our circle of influence.  In Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he writes about these two circles which contain our lives.

Our Circle of Concern encompasses all of the things that are important to us; that we care about. These can be personal concerns about our careers, our family, or our fitness, and can also include our global concerns such as politics, climate change and the state of the economy. In other words, these are all of the things that we care about and are concerned about.

Our Circle of Influence includes the things that we care about, but have control over. These are the things that we can actually do something about, and many times we are the only ones who can make a change over these concerns in our lives. Worries that are outside of the circle of influence are things that we might care about, but we don’t have control over.

Knowing what circle that our concerns belong in helps us to prioritize the things that we can truly influence so that we can focus our effort where it has the most impact. It can be overwhelming to try and solve all of our problems and that feeling can push people away from solving any of them, leaving them feeling like their life is not in their control. They begin to blame outside sources and feel victimized. This leads to negative thinking and causes our circle of influence to shrink.

Many times we don’t put things in our circle of influence because we underestimate ourselves and the control we have over certain situations when in reality, we do. On the other side, we put things in our circle of concern rather than in our circle of influence because we don’t feel that as an individual, we can make a real difference.

Photo Source 

Even further inside lies our Circle of Commitment. “This represents the area within your Circle of Influence where you are intentionally putting your time and energy (whether you do so for 10 minutes or the next year). This circle symbolizes the difference between the statements “I can” and “I will.”

“The problems all of us face fall in one of three areas: direct control (problems involving our own behavior); indirect control (problems involving other people’s behavior); or no control (problems we can do nothing about, such as our past, or situational realities).” – Stephen R. Covey

Rather than wasting our time working towards something we have no control or influence over, we should focus first on the things that we can change that have the greatest impact on us and then break it down to the things that we will do. When this happens, we realize that we have more control over our lives that we previously may have thought and thus, our circle of influence expands. Also, our circle of concern is widened because we start to realize that maybe we can learn to have some influence over the more challenging things that we care about.

“The proactive approach is to change from the inside-out; to be different, and by being different to effect positive change in what’s out there — I can be more resourceful, I can be more diligent, I can be a more creative, I can be more cooperative.” – Stephen R. Covey

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, try and think about the tasks you can tackle that you have real control over.

Try to recognize things that are weighing on your mind or making your life feel chaotic which are outside of your circle of influence. Personal development is about investing your time in ways that make you a better person on many levels, and if you can identify the things that you have influence over, you can make real changes and realize that you probably have more control than you think you do.

Being “Busy” is Holding You Back

How many times have you heard someone use the excuse “I can’t, I’m too busy” or “I just don’t have time”? I am sure we have all caught ourselves using these excuses, and probably fairly often in our lives, but when you think about it, why are we so busy? And what makes us so busy that we can’t find time to do things that others who are just as busy, if not more, can?

Photo Source

This is probably most common when it comes to relationships and dating, but when it becomes our go-to excuse to get out of doing things out of our routines, it can hold us back from personal growth in a way in which we don’t even realize is happening. Everyone is busy! Of course, there are days where we just cannot or do not want to fit another item on the agenda because we are just completely swamped, but that is not the busy I am talking about. It is the “busy” that surrounds our day to day lives that makes us feel like we don’t have time to take on anything new, such as start a new project, learn a new skill or even make a new friend. We all have times where we just don’t feel like doing something, and being busy is the easiest thing to say where others won’t question your excuse, but the more you do it, the more you fall into the routine of actually believing that you don’t have the time to do things and you create a habit of saying “no” to people and experiences.

Time Management

Photo Source

When I was just out of college, all of my time went towards working full time, overtime, buying a house, having a relationship, making time for my family and friends, and trying to squeeze everything in so that I made time for everyone in my life. Busy, no doubt. At another point in my life I was not working but staying home with my 1 year old son while pregnant with my second. There just weren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all of the things I wanted to, not to mention time for myself. Staying home with a child was extremely demanding and I looked back and felt like I had it so easy before, when I had no one to take care of everyday and had all of the time in the world to do what I wanted. Now, as a grad student with two kids, I look back again and think, “Wow, I had no idea what busy was”. It is so easy to look back and think about how it wasn’t really that hectic compared to what you are doing now, and that is because we survived that chapter of our lives and still made time to do more. Resilience builds up and we learn to manage our time so that we can do what we need to do and still have time to do what we want to
do.

Time is precious and everyone’s time is valuable. The important thing is to recognize that you are only too busy for the things you don’t want to make time for. If you care about something, you have to find the time to make it happen. Don’t believe that you are too busy to catch up with friends, take a trip, or go back to school. You will only set yourself up to miss out on something that could have been really fun or memorable, or even something that could have changed your path. There is a lot of power in taking control of our own time, and there are always ways to work smarter or faster to accomplish your goals. Here is a really helpful blog about time management that is definitely worth a read if you are looking to maximize the time in your day.

No Excuses

Photo Source

We are all busy because we are all students, teachers, business owners, employees, volunteers, parents, friends, athletes, and all of the other roles we play every single day. Make the time to develop yourself personally, socially, physically, etc.  Text your friends back, show up to girl’s night, call your mom, do the things you have been meaning to do but didn’t make the time. Recognize the times when you don’t have to be trying to do a million things at once and just be present.

Be truthful to yourself about what your priorities are so that you don’t have to use “busy” as an excuse.”

My challenge to everyone is to try and go a full day without using the word “busy”! Be conscious of how and when you are using it and notice how often others use it too.

Traveling for Change

Photo Source

Alright guys, I am taking my own advice and going way out of my comfort zone this week. A little over a month ago, a lovely classmate and friend, encouraged me to go to Australia with the Nevada Global Business program. I kept thinking about how amazing it would be, but had a feeling it wouldn’t happen because first off, I would be travelling by myself, or without my closest family members or friends, and second, I would be leaving my husband and two kids for two weeks which made me uncomfortable only because I knew I would miss them so much.  I had about a day to decide because the deadline was passing, so I just went for it and said, “Yes!”

Photo Source

Tomorrow I leave for Australia, and although I am anxious and incredibly nervous, I know that travel is such a great way to open your eyes to different cultures and perspectives. Equally as important to me will be the confidence that I build from stepping out of my comfort zone. Sometimes I can get in my own head about what to expect, but the only thing I can do is really to just DO it. Then I will know that it isn’t as scary as I thought it would be and I’ll find that the benefits of my personal growth outweigh the temporary anxiety of stepping out of my bubble.
Traveling gives you confidence to know that you can cope with new and challenging situations, whether it is a language barrier, losing your luggage, or getting lost. Overcoming the unexpected is very rewarding and shows yourself that you are more than capable of finding solutions. I am going into this adventure with an open mind and I am hoping to learn more about myself and others by getting out of my usual environment for two whole weeks. Maybe that isn’t a big deal for some, but for me it is substantial!

Social media makes the world feel much smaller than it is, and according to Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat, globalization will continue to shrink and flatten the world through insourcing and outsourcing, global supply chains, and the rise of digital and mobile technology. After my 18 hour flight, I will let you guys know if that feels true. Any tips on traveling around Sydney is greatly appreciated! I challenge everyone to say “Yes” this week to something that feels scary, or out of reach. You don’t have to travel around the world to grow yourself, but in the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take. I’d also like to note that without my friend’s encouragement, there would be no way that I would have embarked on this adventure. So I urge everyone to find someone that pushes them out of their comfort zone and inspires you to be adventurous.

Own Your Financial Future: Retirement Planning

Photo Source
Photo Source

If you are beginning or continuing to invest in yourself, there is a good chance that you are doing it to help ensure that you have more options for yourself personally and professionally in the future, and that in doing so you will improve your financial situation. Investing in yourself allows you to take control of your future by determining where you are today and identifying where you want to go and how to get there. Setting goals and measuring their progress is key to success in any area you are focusing on improving, especially your finances. Although there are many financial demands that we face every day, it is so important to begin saving, meet with a financial advisor and start investing your money. If you want to create a better life for yourself, you have to be smart about your finances and your future.

It can be hard to think about saving for retirement when you are in your 20’s or 30’s, but it is important to create a baseline for saving for retirement as soon as possible. According to Time, 1 in 3 Americans across all ages do not have any money saved for retirement, and 56% have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. For Millennials, saving as little as 5% each paycheck can add up to make a big difference long term. Make sure to take advantage of any employer matches, and automatically transfer funds from your paycheck to your retirement fund so that you do not even think of that money as disposable income.

Photo Source
Photo Source

It is so easy to focus on the present but I urge you not to procrastinate. Start today by talking to your employer or financial advisor about your options, or start consistently putting even a small amount each month into savings. A small amount may not feel like much is happening in terms of growth, but 20 or 30 years from now, you will be thankful that you started. Personal development is about seeing the potential for yourself in the future through things you are doing today to make it happen.

When you reach retirement age, you are still going to want to do all of the fun stuff you do now like travel, pick up new hobbies, or start a new business. Make sure you have enough saved up to finance your dreams. Start now! Don’t fall behind, your future self will thank you!

Connecting Hobbies With Career Success

Photo Source

Finding hobbies that you like to do outside of work is an important part of keeping work-life balance and nurturing the interests you have that you don’t necessarily deal with in a normal job. In our busy lives where we sometimes feel that we have just enough energy to make it through the day, hobbies may seem like more of a treat when you have spare time, rather than a necessity for balancing what you have to do with what you love to do. Hobbies are the things that we choose to do, that we are good at or enjoy learning about, and play an important role in many aspects of our lives including stress relief, allowing us to connect with people who share the same interests, and engaging us in activities that we choose to be doing that are purposeful and important to us. They give us the ability to develop new skills while balancing out what we need to do on a daily or weekly basis with what we love to do.

Many people have a hard time making hobbies a priority because they seemingly do not have a direct impact on our career development or financial success, but studies have shown that participating in hobbies outside of work that you are passionate about can actually have a measurable impact on your performance at work. “Maintaining such hobbies can make individuals seem more appealing to potential employers, improve their mood, increase their confidence, reduce stress, provide networking opportunities and help them work better with others.”

photographyThere is a reason, after all, why so many employers ask about hobbies in an interview. They are looking to see if you are well-rounded and if you may have skills such as leadership, and the ability to set goals and see them through. “It’s assumed that if you engage in a diverse assortment of hobbies, you may be better equipped to manage a broader array of experiences and people on the job.”

When you challenge yourself to do something new that you enjoy, and then you continually build upon those skills, you develop a sense of mastery. By breaking up routine in our daily lives we are challenged in a positive way without the stress of a work related challenge. Skills that you build through your hobbies can transfer to all aspects of your life including work and may include skills like time management, patience, decision making, networking, grit, creativity and confidence. Since our hobbies reflect our personal tastes, values and interests, they can also be important clues to direct us towards meaningful and successful career choices.

Photo Source

We are able to find what we are passionate about by exploring many different things and finding something that speaks to us on a personal level. Taking a class is one of the best ways to explore a new interest and expose yourself to something new without any commitment, and it is a great way to network with people who share the same interests. The more you explore, the more your interest in something meaningful to you will come naturally. I encourage everyone to try something new this week. Maybe it is a new yoga class you have been wanting to try, or taking a fun painting class with wine, or even going for a run. You might just find your passion and you won’t know if you love it or hate it until you try!