This year has been one of the most challenging years I have had in a really long time. It’s been filled with unbelievable highs, and some really low lows. It has tested and stretched me in ways I hadn’t expected, but in the end has made me a stronger person. And, miraculously, this will be the most successful year for my business.
I didn’t fully recognize the strategies I had deliberately used, until I was recently preparing for a speech about Handling Curveballs. It forced me to reflect about how I stayed on track and kept putting one foot in front of the other despite my challenges. Here are the five strategies that rose to the top of my list:
- Revamping my inner circle
That core group of people that I surround myself with and rely on is my inner circle. Over the years, I have learned to carefully select who I allow in it, and proactively adapt it over time, because it impacts my energy so much. We all have days when we know we need to distance ourselves from draining people and situations, and “fill the tank” with people who infuse more positive energy into our lives. Take a close look at your inner circle to ensure it includes people with a good balance of give and take and the right type of energy.
- Staying in the here and now
When anxiety kicks in, it’s easy to overwhelm and overload yourself with thoughts about what might happen. You may find yourself shifting out of the present moment to memories of the past when something left you scarred, or thoughts about the future which feels uncertain and unpredictable. I have become the queen of telling myself, “All you have to do is choose your next one or two steps. And then choose the next one or two. You don’t have to solve everything right now.”
- Managing my pace
Whether it’s about getting enough sleep or exercise, my physical health dramatically affects my ability to keep things in perspective and manage my stress. My typical go-to is being active outside – running or heading to the mountains and hiking (even when it’s a really bad time to be away from work). As long as I’m injury-free, that works. But some recurring ankle injuries this year forced me to find other ways to deal with life’s stressors. I have integrated daily guided meditations into my mornings and continue to be more disciplined about getting to bed earlier. By proactively slowing down my pace, I notice more of what’s going on for me and others, which has boosted my productivity and business success.
- Asking for help
Raised as an independent and self-sufficient woman, I don’t ask for help as often as I should. But when I remember that asking for help also provides others an opportunity to give and ultimately deepens my relationships, I can do it more easily. I know I’m still a work in progress and it is getting easier with practice. If it’s hard for you too, just try it on a smaller scale and notice how it impacts you and others.
- Serving others
No matter how busy my life gets, I make time to give back. I serve on nonprofit boards and committees at the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Dallas Women’s Foundation, Dallas Children’s Theater and Akola. It forces me to get out of my own world and into others. This year, I took a trip to Uganda with Akola. The women’s stories of hardship and resilience affected me so deeply. They have overcome challenges far beyond anything I will ever face, and are now paying it forward. So, my nonprofit work keeps my perspective in check, fills my heart with gratitude, and inspires me to do more. Whether you volunteer or not, make sure you have something in your life that gives you fulfillment.
Before you dash off to your busy day, I want to challenge you to choose one strategy to implement this week, whether it’s one from the list above or something else that helps you navigate through tough times. And, as always, remember that small steps lead to big results.