Brave

Brave

I talk to my clients about courage and bravery a lot. It’s not because potential clients approach me and say they want to be more courageous or braver, but rather because most of them tell me they want to feel more confident.

But if you want to grow your confidence, first you have to show courage. You have to try new things, gain experience with success and failure, and be kind to yourself regardless of your results.

Usually I have people experiment with something small that sounds reasonably fun that they don’t think they will be very good at. They go try the new thing, get so-so results, notice how much they still enjoy themselves, and watch what their self-talk is like. Because once you can be kind to yourself even when you get a bad result, then you have the confidence to take bigger risks.

But it’s not always doing a new thing. Sometimes it takes courage to stop doing an old thing: taking a break from over-working; letting go of relationships that no longer fit; moving on from an old hobby that’s no longer of interest; or saying “no” to something you would usually have said “yes” to.

For example, “no, I’m sorry I can’t help you with that because I have too much on my plate right now.” Or “no, I can’t come to your out-of-state wedding during the pandemic because I can’t put vulnerable family members at risk.” (What takes more courage than a “no?” One without any explanation!)

Saying “no” and stopping old behaviors that no longer serve you takes real courage. Leaving empty space can feel really scary – the unknown often is. What will come to fill that space? What if nothing does?! What will other people think?!!

What’s the brave thing you need to do? Do you need the courage to try something new or let go of something old? What’s something you could say “no” to that would serve you? (Bonus points for not explaining why you really are a good person!) How will you take care of yourself in the discomfort of trying something new?

You can do it! Be brave!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching.

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So long, 2020…

So long, 2020…

I’m not going to lie; I’m really glad that 2020 is over.

The stress of the pandemic was a lot to deal with. From social isolation to figuring out new ways to work to the fear of going to the grocery store, stress was packed into every day — and I was fortunate enough not to be dealing with ailing parents, homeschooling children or being out of work.

But then at the beginning of November, it got more difficult when I broke my elbow. It wasn’t just physical pain, it was the constant discomfort of an unwieldy brace that was impossible to sleep in. I was unable to do things for myself and had to rely on other people (e.g., to cook, drive me to the doctor, wash my hair, open a pill bottle, etc). I had to inconvenience clients. I wasn’t my reliable, independent self, and I didn’t like it.

After several weeks of trying to keep a positive outlook and reporting the things I was grateful for, I was on a call with friends and got teary-eyed and said “this is hard.” They seem to breathe a collective sigh of relief that I had finally allowed myself to admit it. I guess I’d been going on about how grateful I was for all the support and how the elbow had helped me slow down and be more present. When really, my friends knew it was tough and were waiting for me not to cover it up or apologize for it.

2020, like my broken elbow, has been hard. And I do know that despite the difficulties, there have been gifts from the pandemic and there are things to be grateful for. But on the days when you’re having trouble seeing what those silver linings are, you don’t have to shame yourself for not feeling grateful every moment. Because this is hard.

The good news is, we can do hard things. (Any Glennon Doyle fans out there?)

While 2020 is over, the pandemic isn’t. So keep hanging on while finding new ways to take care of yourself. When in doubt, double down on your self-care and experiment with new healthy behaviors and routines (which may include asking for help). And if you’re having a bad day, you can try counting your blessings or go for a walk — or you can phone a friend and say “this is hard” and then go take a nap.

Wishing you the strength and courage to co-create a 2021 that is full of health, ease and prosperity.

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching.

p.p.s. If you need help getting some clarity around your career direction so you come out of the pandemic feeling confident, I have an online career coaching group starting in the 2nd half of January — and there is one spot left. Contact me for more information, and see: https://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group/

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Gratitude and a Broken Elbow

Gratitude and a Broken Elbow

Every year I write a blog about gratitude in November. This year it seemed especially important, with my right elbow in a post-surgery splint and sling…

On election night, I stepped on a stick, rolled my ankle, fell onto my knee, and then caught all of my weight on my right hand. The result was a dislocated, fractured elbow – an injury known as “the terrible triad.”

Since then, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks. Learning to navigate the day with my left hand has been frustrating and something of a comedy routine. It goes like this: open the refrigerator door with left hand, go back to counter and pick up container, go back to fridge to find the door closed. Walk back to the counter and set the container down again. Go back and open the fridge…

I’m not sure that I ever realized what a beautiful ballet our hands do all day long. Sometimes they’re both doing the same thing; for example, taking the turkey out of the oven. But often, they’re doing different things while still working together, like the left hand opening the refrigerator, while the right hand returns a container to the shelf. It’s an amazing dance that I hadn’t noticed and have taken for granted — just as I take for granted the coordination and grace of my right hand.

I have gotten better at feeding myself with my left hand (although I noticed dried grains of rice stuck to a shirt I put in the laundry the other day). My writing has not gotten better. It’s also a struggle to open containers of all kinds, to get contact lenses out of my right eye, and using plastic wrap is simply not an option.

In addition, everything takes a little longer. I’ve had to slow way down. Sometimes I just stand for a moment to think through if I can even do a thing with just one hand. In that slowing down, I’ve gotten really present. I can only do one thing at a time. And sometimes, I can’t even do that!

I’ve had to accept a lot of help. That isn’t easy for me; I’m used to being independent and self-sufficient. Now I can’t drive or grocery shop alone. I need help to wash my hair, to cook dinner, to change the sheets on the bed – again, every day things I’ve been taking for granted.

So while I wouldn’t choose a broken elbow to cap off 2020, I will say that I am grateful for all of the lessons. For a healthy and healing body that I am no longer taking for granted. For the slowing down and being present. And for all the help, support, understanding and love I’ve received.

And if you want a different kind of gratitude exercise, try this: use your non-dominant hand for daily tasks for the next hour or two!

Wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching.

p.p.s. If you’d like more thoughts on gratitude, here is last year’s blog, which contains links to the previous five years of gratitude posts: https://jenfrankcoaching.com/2019/11/the-season-of-giving-thanks/

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Networking during a pandemic (and an online career group starting Sept 15)

Networking during a pandemic (and an online career group starting Sept 15)

Right now may be a difficult time to search for a job, but it is a great time to build your network! And networking is career development that can absolutely be done during the pandemic.

Remember, you have to build your network before you need it, and networking is the difference maker when it comes to getting your resume read and landing an interview.

Currently, you can safely use both information interviews and online networking events to build your network.

Information interviews are my favorite networking tool, and more information about them can be found here:
https://jenfrankcoaching.com/2014/07/information-interviews/
https://jenfrankcoaching.com/2014/07/information-interviews-part-2/

As for online networking, I checked it out for myself – since I try to do the things that I ask my clients to do! Here’s what I experienced.

I attended events that were specific to my field (coaching) and an event in Memphis for which I received an invitation.

Here’s what happened:
– At each event, we briefly introduced ourselves.
– The events were heavily facilitated. (So there was none of the usual standing around awkwardly looking for someone to speak with.)
– We were sent into Zoom breakout rooms with a question to discuss. Sometimes there was a facilitator and sometimes we were left to lead ourselves.

Of course, events will vary. However, I would suggest:
– Have a great personal introduction that is more than just your profession; tell people what you care about.
– Be ready to participate. You can’t hide out or be distracted and expect to have a good experience.
– Keep a lookout for who you enjoy talking to or hearing from; get LinkedIn to them and/or send them a message.

If you need help networking or getting some clarity around your career direction so you come out the pandemic positioned for success, I have an online career coaching group starting September 15 – and there is one spot left. Contact me for more information, and see: https://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group/

Happy networking!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching.

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Technology = Stress

Technology = Stress

2020 has been a tough year in a lot of ways, and it got off to rocky start for me with technology. First my blog stopped working. Then my brand new computer couldn’t print and fixing the OS froze the computer…back to the store. The TV was next (ok, it was 12 years old). And then both my cable and phone lines went down; as in, the wires were physically ripped off my roof.

I imagine most folks wouldn’t find these glitches much fun, but it took my stress to the next level. Every time I solved one problem, calmed down and my neck relaxed again, a new thing went wrong – and my neck immediately was tight as a fist.

Technology is a big trigger for me, with all of my reactions being over-reactions and disproportionate to the actual problem. In my mind, however irrational, technology issues threaten my self reliance, my productivity, my financial stability, and my very self worth! What if I can’t fix these problems?! What if no one can?! Ever?!!

Like I said, it’s not very rational. But when I can stop for a moment and take a few breaths, here is what I know to be true:

  • I always seem to find a solution to a problem
  • Many problems require not just solutions, but patience
  • If I can’t figure something out, I can ask for help
  • There is always help
  • I’m grateful to have the means to replace old technology
  • I’m grateful for people who are willing and able to help me
  • My stress about most problems is wasted energy; it doesn’t change the problem or speed up the solution
  • What I see as a problem in the moment may be an actual blessing (i.e., all this stuff got resolved before COVID)

I’d like to say I handled this string of technology problems well. On one phone call, I thanked the technician for his patience, and he said, “I was just about to say the same thing to you!” So that was a good sign. However, I know that more patience and acceptance could have brought me more peace and less anxiety. I hope the next time I have a technology issue, I remember to read this post!

What’s that thing that tends to trigger you? Where a small problem feels huge or unmanageable, and you find yourself spinning out? What do you need to remind yourself in those times, so the problem gets right-sized?

Wishing you – and your technology – glitch-free operations!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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