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What does luck have to do with it?

LuckThis blog post is the final of our “Day In the Life” series offered this summer.

“You are so lucky you can — take time off when you want / work from home.”

I never know what to say when someone says that to me and I have heard this often since I started my HR practice over a decade ago. Being self-employed, I get to work from home and take time off when I want, but does luck have anything to do with it?

I started my HR practice because I wanted to help create happy, healthy and productive workplaces. That is the business reason. The personal reason was to provide health care support and advocacy for my mother who had a stroke and I could not do this within the confines of a 9 to 5 job. The concept of Results-Oriented Work Environment (ROWE) not around at the time and compassionate care leave would not have helped since my mother was ill for five years before passing away. I was a typical member of the sandwich generation and I was on the scary path of building my practice around visits to the hospital to Joanne's picsupport and advocate for my mother balanced with being present with my husband and two teenagers when I was with them. To make a living, I worked on client projects sitting beside a hospital bed and in my home office after my husband and children went to sleep. The ability to work when and where I chose helped the daily juggling of priorities. It kept me functioning during a challenging time and it let me spend precious time with my mother who needed me, balanced with the needs of my own family.

As a self-employed HR professional, I can choose to work in my backyard, in my home office or at a client’s office. I can take time off when I want. But the reality, now as it was then, is that whenever I am not working, I am not getting paid. When I come back, I have to work harder at business development and other non-HR related tasks, like writing proposals and marketing, when I would really rather be doing HR, recruiting and training.

Whether changing a job, a career, or venturing out on your own, knowing “why” you are doing something will get you through the not-so-great times and will make the best times more awesome.

The most important things in life take conscious choice and effort. Luck has nothing to do with it.

The “ART” of Dealing with Stress in a Stressful Time!

Let’s get something straight, I am not a talented artist. Don’t get me wrong, I can draw a mean stick figure but that’s about it. So let’s relate that to how successful I have been with the “ART” of dealing with stress in a stressful time.

I should start off by telling you about my life over the last year. At the end of August 2011, Bonni Titgemeyer and I thought it would be a great idea for me to pursue the CHRP designation. Due to the fact that I earned my Human Resources Management certificate in California (Ahhh, the beaches, the palm trees, but I digress), I had to take some additional courses at Sheridan College. The total number of courses I completed between September and April….drum roll please… 6!!! That’s right, I said 6 courses. Each semester I took one in class, one online and completed a challenge exam at the HRPA. Plus I worked 3 days a week. Plus I have 2 kids (one of which is a competitive dancer) and a loving husband. (Thank you for your support Mike. And Bonni is happy that you still like her!). All the while I was trying to maintain my sanity amidst the assignments, textbooks, exams and, finally the NKE exam which I wrote on May 5. (That, my friends, was the exact opposite of FUN!).

During all this, Bonni and I were extremely busy with multiple projects which forced me to squeeze in the required reading and studying when I could manage it. My hubby helped a lot by providing me with some time to study and finish my assignments. There were a lot of late nights and, I’m not gonna lie, a few tears.

I found these next 10 techniques useful in managing my stress:

  1. Set realistic goals – if they are unrealistic your stress becomes multiplied.
  2. Delegate tasks to others (like house cleaning!)
  3. Take a break when you need it.
  4. Go for a walk and enjoy nature.
  5. Write your worries down and scratch off the ones you cannot control.
  6. Do some deep breathing.
  7. Meditate – who am I kidding – I couldn’t stop THINKING!!!
  8. Do something totally unexpected.
  9. LAUGH!
  10. Take Control!

Over the last year I have also learned a few things:

  1. When all else is said and done, family and friends count the most.
  2. It is ok to say “no” to things I cannot manage.
  3. Although I thought my schedule was super busy before, I managed to squeeze everything else in and still get everything done (and maintain an A average!). We are stronger than we think!
  4. Children bring a smile and a happy heart – most of the time, anyways.
  5. In my situation, balance in life seemed unachievable, but with practice I figured it out.
  6. When school ended, I felt that my accomplishment was much bigger than I originally thought it would be!
  7. Flexibility in life is just as important as organization.
  8. Although I have always been a bit of a book nerd, my approach to studying has matured over the years and I am very grateful for that! But don’t ask me to do it over right now…or ever again.
  9. Life is great, especially when you appreciate everyone in it!

What would I do differently next time? Knowing me like I do, probably nothing! I deal with stress how I deal with it and I think, overall, I did ok.

What are some techniques you have used to deal with stress? Take a minute to jot them down (and feel free to leave a comment!)

Remember, when life hands you a bowl of lemons, make lemonade. Just remember to share it with your family and friends because they will always be right by your side waiting for a cup.