Afraid To Leave Your Job?

Is fear stopping you from leaving your job? For some people, leaving a job is easy to talk about but not so easy to do. Even if you know it’s time to leave, fear may get in the way. Kathi and Katherine explore the challenge of leaving a job and discuss tactics for managing the fears that come with making this kind of change.

Dealing with Uncertainty at Work

The world is changing at a rapid pace. The pandemic shook up the way we do business, our work routines, and how we think about our lives. Add war, inflation, political unrest, and climate change, and you’ve got a lot of uncertainty. In this episode of My Crazy Office, Kathi and Katherine offer concrete ways to manage uncertainty on the job and in general.

“Normal” Activity Anxiety: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 8

Kathi and Katherine talk about anxiety on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

Are you anxious about returning to normal activity?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

Best Of: Uncertainty At Work: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 7

Kathi and Katherine talk about uncertainty on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

How should you deal with uncertainty at work and in what ways can it show up?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

The Importance of Praise

This is a stressful time. As we continue to live with uncertainty, nerves can fray, hope can turn to fear, and disappointment can turn to deep sadness and depression. As the weeks of our pandemic quarantine pass, our initial response of being on our best behavior may be giving way to more normal reactions to work annoyances and unrealistic expectations. 

So, without sounding sappy – and those who know me know I’m not sappy – what if we all tried to be nicer to one another? I’m talking about kindness and respect. There may be certain days where remembering to be nice to your co-workers, clients, vendors or management could pose a challenge, but you can forgive yourself for those days and start again tomorrow.

What takes a few seconds to do could make someone’s day. You have no idea what people are dealing with in their personal lives so just be nice, it’s that simple.

Consider the following:

  • How about asking everyone you come in contact with – “How is your day going?” And wait for their answer.  Let’s go a little deeper than the usual, exchange of “How are you?” “Fine.” 
  • When on a Zoom call, why not say, “You look good today.” Then wait to see the other person smile.
  • Reach out to people via text, phone or email and say – “I was thinking about you” especially to those co-workers who live alone.
  • Take a moment to tell your coworkers, “Nice job on that project.” Of course, you do need to mean it.  Acknowledging the effort someone puts into their work can help them feel good – especially during these difficult days.
  • Practice saying, “Thank you,” even for the small things. Most of the time, we don’t need to thank others daily.  We’re usually working at a fast pace, moving from one thing to the next. Offering an unexpected “Thank you,” can create a much-needed positive moment in someone’s day.
  • When in a virtual or in-person meeting try saying, “I appreciate your input.” So often we don’t take the time to acknowledge the ideas that other people contribute. Whether we use that input or not, praising another person for their ideas helps them flourish and get better at offering ideas over time.

I know that not all corporate cultures will find these practices comfortable, so pick and choose wisely.  But kindness and praise never hurt anyone, so give it a try.

Kathi Elster – Executive Coach and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Managing Our Brain’s Response To Uncertainty

As our world, our country, our states, our towns, and our communities work hard to address the many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, each of us has another internal challenge that requires our constant attention – How do we manage living with so much uncertainty? 

It’s one thing to be unsure about tomorrow’s weather or the time of a flight arrival, but the uncertainty that COVID-19 brings is over the top. We don’t know when the economy will get going again, when or if we will return to our former workplaces, whether we will have a second wave of the virus, what will happen to cities that re-open prematurely, how schools will function. The list of unknowns is daunting.

In an article titled, Science Explains Why Uncertainty Is So Hard on Our Brain, writer Markham Heid explains why we human beings struggle with uncertainty. Apparently, fear of uncertainty (AKA fear of the unknown) is one of strongest fears that human beings have. It is at the root of many anxiety disorders, panic attacks and depressed states.

Uncertainty is a disruptor. It interrupts the brain’s routine and habitual thoughts, assumptions, and decision-making processes. Uncertainty makes planning difficult and creates a sense of danger or foreboding. Tasked with trying to figure out what will happen next, the brain kicks into high gear. It generates survival-oriented mental processes such as hyper-vigilance, emotional reactivity, catastrophic thinking and obsessive worry. 

What helps the brain manage uncertainty? Anything that takes it (and you) out of worry, obsession, emotional reactivity, and catastrophic thinking. Anything that puts it (and you) in the present moment.   

Plan for the day – not for the year. Jot down manageable goals of things that you can accomplish here and now (or over the next few days) that will make you feel a sense of accomplishment and control. Examples: clean one room, clear out one closet, reconcile your bank account, put away your clothes, fix something that’s broken, start one creative project, plan a Zoom get-together. 

Focus on the things you can influence, not the things you can’t. You can’t control which states open their businesses at what point in time. You can’t control whether your industry is going through a rough time. You can look for opportunities to reconfigure your work life in a way that makes more sense to you. Look for where your power lies, and focus there.

Slow down. This may sound silly. Why would you want to slow down when your brains tells you to hurry up? Because slowing down will help you manage uncertainty from a clearer, calmer place. Worry, anxiety and obsessive thinking do not help with uncertainty. Being present does. Slowing down may mean that you stop, breathe, and enjoy the breakfast you’re eating. It could involve watching the birds outside your window as they fly and perch. Slowing down may mean you take just a few minutes to practice meditation every morning, or it could entail a break from work where you breathe slowly and deeply three times. The idea is to slow your system down enough to reduce the chatter in your brain. 

Limit your intake of news. Afraid of what could lie ahead, the brain projects gloomy hypotheticals and worse case scenarios. It then looks for confirmation. News outlets often feed into that anxiety with their attempts at predicting future events. Studies show that too much information overwhelms the brain, leaving it confused and distressed. Try to put strict limits on the amount of news that you ingest. It will improve your ability to manage uncertainty.

Living with this degree of uncertainty is challenging for everyone. Appreciating that our brains have trouble with the unknown can inspire us to manage the anxiety and emotional reactivity that comes with the many unknown outcomes of the current pandemic.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Living in the Waiting Room

I don’t know about you, but I hate to wait. When faced with a long line at a store, a movie, a food bar or even a gas station, I’m the person who opts out, returning at another time when I won’t have to wait. In fact, until March of this year, waiting for anything seemed like an immense waste of time to me.

That was before the pandemic hit. Before we were all told to shelter in place. Before we understood the importance of social distancing. And before we were asked to wait in line at stores, at banks, at any place where people congregate to conduct their essential business.

Now, waiting is a form of caring, of preventing, of dealing with a situation we don’t yet have under control. We’re waiting for signs that it’s safe for the economy to slowly re-open. We’re waiting to see how schools will operate. We’re waiting to discover when and how sports teams, service businesses, and the entire entertainment industry will re-emerge.

It’s hard to be waiting in so many ways for so many things. The human brain is a planning brain and we desperately want to know what comes next. That unquenchable thirst for answers can mutate into uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, frustration, impatience, agitation, restlessness and even depression.

Today, we are all Living in the Waiting Room. We won’t have to be here forever, but it will be a while before we can re-launch our lives in any significant way. What follows are some thoughts about making the Waiting Room more tolerable:

Bring many forms of entertainment to the Waiting Room– good books, fun movies, knitting projects, crossword puzzles, word games, musical instruments, dance routines, sketch pads, new recipes – anything that takes your attention away from fretting, worrying or obsessing and allows your mind to be creative.

Take physical breaks from sitting in the Waiting Room – Go outside, take a run, go for a hike, yawn, stretch, shake your head and arms, walk around, pound a pillow. Physical movement helps move emotions through your body. Feelings of impatience, frustration and agitation can be reduced by increasing blood flow.

Connect with other people in the Waiting Room – We’ve heard over and over that we are in this together. Nothing confirms that more than striking up conversations with others who are waiting. Even if the novelty of video conferencing has worn off, it’s still essential to reach out to the people you care about and make contact. Human connection lessens anxiety and makes us feel less adrift.

Try not to obsess about when you’re getting out of the Waiting Room – This is a hard request. You know that person in the waiting room who paces back and forth, looks at the time, stares at their phone, insists on being the first to be informed? Don’t be that person. Understand the limits of endless news briefings, medical predictions, scare tactics, and conspiracy theories. None of those items are going to get us out of here faster. And everyone is working on getting things moving again.

One other thing about the Waiting Room – each person, each family has their own set of concerns, their own set of pressures that they are juggling.  Appreciating that we are all dealing with different conditions is part of living in the Waiting Room. You don’t have to feel guilty if your conditions are less difficult than others, but you can be respectful and appreciate the wide range of challenges that each person in the Waiting Room is managing.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

The Silver Lining – Things I Appreciate About This Quarantine

As an executive coach, I try to show my clients that with every awful business occurrence there is usually a silver lining. You may not see that lining at first, but with time you can see there was a lesson of value.

Not everyone is experiencing or seeing the silver lining at this time. Some of you are losing cherished members of your family and dear friends. Some of you may have lost your job and much needed income.

Some of you may feel angry because your gym is closed.  Most of us desperately need a haircut.  With that said, this quarantine and pause from life, as usual, can be a catalyst for each of us to take stock regarding what might actually be the silver lining.

Below is a list of silver lining comments that my clients have made over the last few weeks:

1 – I don’t miss many of my co-workers.

2 – I’m cooking all my meals and I like it.

3 – I’m sleeping better and don’t feel the pressure to get up earlier than needed.

4 – I like the relaxed attire I get to wear while working.

5 – I have so many fewer emails that my job is more doable.

6 – I’m learning that I like being by myself – I like me.

7 – I’m an introvert so I’m OK dealing with fewer people daily.

8 – I don’t have to commute.

9 – I’m hearing from friends and family that I haven’t spoken to for a while.

10 – I’m reading more, cleaning more, and finding it relaxing.

11 – I’m more appreciative of the essential workers in my city.

12 – Spending more time with my cat/dog and family is really nice.

13 – I can hear the birds singing because there are less cars on the road.

14 – It feels like the planet is healing itself.

15 – I have the opportunity to rethink my values.

16 – I’m realizing how important my supermarket workers are.

17 – I can take care of myself on my schedule throughout the day.

18 – I appreciate my job.

19 – I get to take classes for the job I really want.

20 – I’m learning how to connect with people on line.

21 – I like having access to people and places virtually that are not local.

Hard times teach us valuable lessons that help us grow and plan for the future. What are your silver linings?  If you don’t see them at this time I promise they are there.  You will see them when the time is right.

Kathi Elster – Executive Coach and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.