Last updated March 5, 2018, 3:56 p.m.

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Title: Advice – Unstuck Main Feed

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Instant Insight: Taking on opportunity

Just like we all have the same 24 hours every day, each of us has control over the way we embark on opportunity. It’s true. No matter how daunting a challenge may seem or how wild a possibility may be, the ultimate difference between an accomplishment and a what if? is often forged in the approach.

To help when you’re feeling intimidated, we suggest relying on a little self-talk to help give you a little shift in perspective and steel your resolve.

With that inspiration in mind, we offer this week’s Instant Insight:

opportunity


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2018-03-05T15:56:00Z
Is it time for a big change?

big change

The old saying that ‘Life is change’ is more than a cliché. It’s a fundamental truth that life is composed of change in ways both large and small — sometimes when we don’t even want it.

But more than just leaning into inevitable change, it’s also important to understand when it might be the right time to initiate a big change on your own. Knowing when to move, when to change jobs, and when to implement larger changes in your life is a process that involves both brains and instincts. Here are a few simple tips to help you better “know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.”

Take your own temperature

Simply put, if you feel like you’re in a rut, then test that feeling out. Whether it’s possibly changing your job or leaving a relationship, an apartment, or a city, one key way to figure out whether you need a change is to give yourself a little space and perspective.

Of course, sometimes this is easier said than done. It could mean making yourself vulnerable by asking for advice or help, having a few conversations with people that you trust, or picturing yourself in another place or situation. For example, if you suspect you’re tired of where you live, try to get away for a little bit and see how it feels. If you come back feeling renewed, it could mean you that just needed a break.

Regardless, pay close attention to yourself and take the time to really explore what exactly you’re dissatisfied with. After all, it’s much harder to pick a new course of action until you have a proper diagnosis.

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Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” Now that might seem like a harsh sentiment, but if you’re feeling stuck, it’s crucial to have alternatives in mind. A good way to gauge whether you really want to make a big change is to plot out what a difference course would look like.

If it’s a career change, for example, think about all the factors — both positive and negative. (Unstuck even has a printable worksheet to help with that.) Talk to someone in the field or at the company you might want to join. Think about what you’ll need to do to make the change, be it new training or a set amount of savings. And, as you work to assess whether the possibilities outweigh the potential setbacks, be sure to reflect on it with your level of excitement in mind.

Ask if a smaller change would do

Sometimes bold, big change appeals even when a tiny adjustment might make a huge difference. For example, if where you live kind of bums you out, think about how you might initiate small changes to better customize your space to better meet your needs. Envisioning a different role at work might help or simply running through this printable job worksheet may remind you of what you like about where you are.

While you may ultimately decide that a big change is what you want, seeking out small incremental change can help you clarify what you want it and what you don’t want.

Run toward something new

If you think that you’re ready to make a shift, big or small, make sure you’re framing the change as forward progress. Leaving a stagnant situation behind can seem like a relief, but not if it means you’re going to feel aimless and encounter new forms of indecision or battle continued feelings of uncertainty.

Instead, consider the idea of running toward something new to help you set fresh excitement and expectations. This can be done by making a solid plan, plotting out meaningful goals, and visualizing future success. No matter what you decide, you’ll be on your way somewhere better.  

Set a deadline

A sense of being stuck only gets worse the longer you feel like you’re in limbo. To avoid perpetually postponing a big change, try setting a deadline. It doesn’t have to be anything special or symbolic, just enough amount of time for you to do your research, figure out what you want, cover all your logistical and emotional bases, and finally make your choice.

Once the deadline hits, make a decision that you can stand by, even if it means just revisiting the issue again at a later date. Then, take a breath and give yourself a little break.  

Keep your eyes open

Of course, one decision doesn’t mean that you should completely shut yourself off from future possibilities. Regardless of the timing, if you get offered your dream job, don’t be afraid to take it. If you find yourself in a position to move to the city where you’ve always wanted to live, move there.

Be brave. You’ve already done the hard work. When a moment presents itself, don’t be afraid grab it by the lapels.

 

Scott Beauchamp is a writer who lives in Maine. His work has previously appeared in The GuardianBookforumDublin Review of Books, and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter here.


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2018-03-02T16:27:02Z
Instant Insight: The joys of embracing your flaws

For all the talk of faking it ’til you make it, not much gets said about what it means to be real with yourself. About your limitations and expectations. And whether what you demand of yourself is really fair and realistic or whether it might just be a recipe for disappointment.

That’s where self-acceptance comes in. Self-acceptance is just another way of saying that you’re in touch with your own humanity. And it’s a way to let you understand what your weaknesses are, so that you might better flex your strengths. All without the pressure to be perfect all the time. Sounds nice, right?

With that inspiration in mind, we offer this week’s Instant Insight:

self-acceptance

 


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2018-02-26T14:55:41Z
5 easy ways to trick yourself into saving money

saving money

Many of us have felt the stress of living paycheck-to-paycheck. Ideally, we’re supposed to have the financial wiggle room to set aside money for both small pleasures and a sensible savings plan. But somehow, paychecks seem to get swallowed up like helpless prey.

The struggle with saving money is more normal than you might think. According to data from a non-partisan research organization at the University of Chicago, roughly two-thirds of Americans would have a hard time finding $1,000 for an emergency.

If this sounds like you, don’t fret. Just because saving money is difficult doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Especially if you apply these small, easy tricks to free up some extra cash.

1. Use an app to analyze your spending

Yes, I know, the thought of putting together an overview of your purchases outside a tax return filing doesn’t sound sexy at all. But if you did it just once, you may be surprised to discover how much of your money goes to expenses you might deem unnecessary. Maybe  you never saw how those extra take-out orders or daily lattes add up over a month. 

A detailed look at your spending habits can help you address your most glaring issues. But don’t picture a boring night of bank statements and Excel sheets. Apps such as Mint and Goodbudget are a much less time-consuming way to categorize your spending and identify  areas of concern. These apps also allow you to set budgets for specific categories. Whether it’s putting a cap on cab rides or taking out less money for take-out, it’s easy to trim those expenses. (We even have a printable worksheet to help you prioritize.)

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2. Automate your way to saving money 

If you have a specific goal (a vacation, a new car, or a certain savings threshold), you can use those as the dangling carrots to entice you to save more. And there’s an app for that, too. Qapital lets you set automated rules to make saving money for specific goals much easier. For example, you can set the app to round up all your purchases to the next dollar or two so, whenever you’re spending, you’re also saving money too. And over time, those small amounts really do add up.

You can also use set rules to regularly auto-draft money to your savings, whether it’s $20 every Sunday or $2 each time you check-in at your gym. 

3. Write down your purchases

For those of us who aren’t tech savvy (or even for those of us who are), there’s something to be said for writing down your purchases. Research demonstrates that recording your dreams down in writing makes you more conscious of them — and I would argue the same is true with your spending. (Remember the old days of balancing a checkbook?)

In the age of nano-second sales transactions, it’s easy to dismiss or overlook small, unconnected purchases. But if you take the time to quickly record them, whether by writing them down in a notebook or typing them into a smartphone note, you’re adding another step of financial cognizance.

4. Delay your gratification

While you’re using a notepad, let it also help you curb those impulse purchases. If there is something you’ve come across online or in a store, save the link or write it down to revisit at a later date. You may find after a day, a week, or even a few minutes, that you’ve lost interest in that purchase, which means you likely never needed it in the first place.

5. Plan out your deals instead

You planned to get one thing, but then you’re checking out a cart full of clearance items. Sounds familiar, right? When we happen upon deals, we’re spending money we hadn’t intended to spend. It’s hard to resist a good bargain, but those purchases can add up.

Instead, intentionally plot out your deals and discounts. For example, if you plan to go out twice a week, then try to make sure those dine-out dollars go toward a good deal — like a happy-hour special at your favorite bar or the cantina that actually has the taco Tuesday discount. Or set your browser to force you to look for better deals.

In other words, be the couponing, reward-chasing, money-stashing deal hunter that would make your grandmother proud. But whatever you do, do so with greater intention. Yes, some of these tips can be no-brainers, but just like any other life goal, a mindful approach to savings can make the difference in your success.

 

Nina Reeder is a journalist and media manager, who has contributed to outlets such as EbonyAOL.comMarriott Hotels, and more. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie, but also has passions for health/wellness (which doesn’t always work out well). You can follow her on Instagram here.


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2018-02-23T12:33:48Z
How to take your ego out of the process

ego

When one of my coaching clients, Alex, was passed over for a promotion, she had to reckon with a bruised ego. She felt like a failure and, in her embarrassment, she withdrew at work. She stopped speaking up in meetings, avoided her co-workers, and quit taking on new responsibilities. And, in the end, she only further hurt her chances of advancing in the company.

Like Alex, we all have egos made up of certain beliefs about our personalities, talents, and abilities. While the ego is a necessary part of our identities, it can also be something of a troublemaker. If left unchecked, your ego can cause you to act out in less-than-productive ways.

However, when used correctly, your ego can also help you build confidence in yourself and transform your relationships for the better. Here’s a short guide to finding the healthy balance.

How do you know if your ego is in control?

Your ego is crafty. You don’t always know when it’s taken over. If you find yourself relating to the following points, it’s likely that your ego is at the wheel:

  • You feel intense jealousy when others succeed.
  • You have a persistent need to be right during arguments.
  • You place a lot of emphasis on winning at all costs.
  • You’re eager to jump in with your idea, but are slow to seek input from others.

Sound familiar? Follow these few do’s and don’ts to keep your ego in check.

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DO acknowledge how your ego helps you

The ego pops up to protect you from hurt or rejection, which are deep human fears that everyone wrestles with. The goal is to acknowledge feelings when they arise without letting your ego get defensive.

When you realize you’re getting caught up in negativity, think of how your ego is doing its job by trying to protect you from pain. Then use the Name It and Reframe strategy to change the story and spur you toward positive action.

With practice you’ll discover that all those “what ifs” (What if I had tried harder?) and “shoulds” (I should have won that client/game/argument) are natural and harmless.

DON’T allow your ego to give you tunnel vision

Your ego can create an echo chamber. You might think you’re right, but if you’re the only voice speaking, who’s to say? Your ego can lead you to discredit the opinions of other people on your team or to tune out your partner during a discussion.

To build strong relationships, you have to nip this self-centeredness in the bud. That starts by appreciating valid, valuable ideas from others. They say two heads are better than one for a reason — because a diversity of opinions and viewpoints actually leads to more creative solutions.

At work:

  • Listen to your colleagues before chiming in during a meeting.
  • Ask permission before giving advice.
  • Improve your coaching skills so that you can help people arrive at their own solutions (rather than telling them what to do).

At home:

  • Ban blaming, shaming language like, “You always do that!”
  • Show appreciation for your partner’s perspective. Words of affirmation like, “That’s a great point” or “Thanks for sharing your feelings with me” help disagreements move along more productively.
  • Take a time out if things get heated and you need to recenter yourself.

DO look at the upside of letting go

When your defenses are up, it precludes learning and personal growth. Paradoxically, the ego often appears most strongly in situations where we stand to learn the most, like getting feedback or trying (and failing) to develop a new habit.

Instead of throwing walls up, consider what you stand to gain when you let yourself be vulnerable. How much could your relationship improve if you swallowed your pride and had a difficult conversation you’ve been putting off? What might be possible if you took the leap and followed your dreams?

Fear of the unknown is daunting, yes. But refusing to open yourself up to the possibilities life holds? That’s the biggest risk of all. Use your ego as a companion on the journey, but don’t be afraid to tell it to take a backseat if need be.

 

Melody Wilding

Melody Wilding is a coach and licensed social worker who helps ambitious high-achievers manage the emotional aspects of having a successful career. She also teaches Human Behavior at Hunter College in NYC. A popular speaker, Melody has delivered talks for TedX and others. 


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2018-02-21T14:48:22Z
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