Why You Should Say “Yes” to More Opportunities

Do you want to be unstoppable?

Then say “Yes” to more opportunities.

Choosing to say “yes” to more opportunities makes you embrace the unknown, reach beyond your comfort zone, and ultimately allows you to grow in ways you wouldn’t otherwise. Opportunities are presented to us constantly in many different forms. The easiest type of opportunity to recognize is in the form of a question or statement from others such as: “We really need someone to take the lead on this new project initiative. Any volunteers?”, or “Although we can’t meet your salary requirements, we’d love to offer you this job, will you join our team?”, or “We’re going to start an annual conference to bring together speakers and thought leaders. If anyone has any ideas, let us know.”

When you are presented with a new opportunity, it’s common that many are immediately dismissed: “No way, I am not speaking in front of 500 people at a conference“, you think to yourself. “I’m not volunteering to lead the project, I can’t do that. People won’t listen to me anyway”, you tell yourself. 

For the opportunities you don’t immediately dismiss, you go back and forth in your mind for hours, days, sometimes weeks on whether or not you should do it. Ultimately we turn down 90% of most opportunities for one excuse or another, but essentially it comes down to fear; the fear of failure, fear of looking stupid, fear of losing money, fear of wasting time, or the fear of not having the answers keeps us from our dreams or goals.

If you want to be unstoppable and live a more personally and professionally satisfying life, then start saying “yes” to the opportunities that align with your values, goals, and dreams. What I have learned from turning down and accepting so many opportunities and later reflecting on them, is that part of being unstoppable is knowing when to recognize those opportunities and saying “yes!” to them. 

Remember these 5 things when facing a new opportunity

Unstoppable people are not motivated by money or anything external.

It’s not a matter of money, but a matter of how the opportunity will grow you in other ways. When you can see an opportunity for the intrinsic value it will provide you and not as a $ sign, you will make better decisions for yourself in the long-run. If the only thing keeping you from saying “yes” is pay, you’ve already lost.

Unstoppable people have clear goals and those goals exceed their current capabilities. 

Having a clear understanding of your personal values and dreams allows you to create specific goals. Not easy-to-reach goals, but goals that push you in new ways and deeply motivate you. And by knowing these specific goals you will have an easier time recognizing and seeking opportunities that will help you get there.

“You need to aim beyond what you are capable of. You need to develop a complete disregard for where your abilities end. Make your vision of where you want to be a reality. Nothing is impossible.”

Paul Arden

Unstoppable people work on their mental strength.

Saying “yes” to more opportunities allows you to work on your mental toughness. These means you can do things even though you are uncomfortable, even though so-and-so may think whatever it is they think (which they will regardless), and even though you may be nervous.

“Wherever your mind goes, your body follows. Wherever your thoughts go, your life follows.”

SUCCESS magazine

Unstoppable people start before their ready.

This one is exceedingly important. One can never be fully ready for anything in life. And if you spend all of those hours, days, weeks, months, or years “preparing”, a million opportunities will have passed by. You may not have it all figured out, but no one ever does. Life is a “learn as you go” kind of journey. If your “why” for this opportunity is strong enough, the “how” will work itself out over time. 

“The best time to plan a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Chinese Proverb

Unstoppable people take the shot every time.

You miss every shot that you don’t take. And you better believe someone else will be taking that shot that could be yours. Embrace “failure”, it’s the only way to get better. The only way.

“If I fail more than you, I win.”

Seth Godin

If you can remember those 5 things the next time you are presented with an opportunity, you’ll be in good shape. I know first-hand that new opportunities can be scary. If we’re living by our self-limiting beliefs, it makes it easy for us to think of excuses and dismiss everything that comes our way, no matter how satisfying or fulfilling an opportunity it is.

However, if you can recognize an opportunity that allows you to enrich your life in a way that aligns with your values and goals, say “yes” and you’ll be on the fast track to becoming completely unstoppable. Re-write your beliefs. Make decisions based on your values and dreams. Don’t let things get in your way and embrace the unknown. After all, if it’s unknown, you have the opportunity to write the ending. Who wouldn’t say “yes” to that?

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

How to Make the Most of Your Work Week (Hint: what you do on the weekend matters)

Sometimes weekends are boring. We may feel tired from the work week or just simply not know what to do with our time, wanting to make the most of our precious two days off. And other times, weekends are jammed packed with kids’ events, family obligations, social gatherings, and general errands that can eat up all of our time, leaving us to feel rushed, stressed, and frantic come Monday morning.

In both scenarios, when Monday comes, we feel ill-prepared. We can either be so overloaded from the weekend without being able to properly rest or stop moving for one second, that we are now burning out before work has even begun. On the more boring weekends where we aimlessly watch TV, sleep for hours, and just sit around, we can feel as though our weekend was wasted and have a hard time getting ourselves out of that mental rut and switching gears into work mode.

To feel both rested and ready for our work week ahead, it’s important to spend our weekends truly disconnecting from anything task related and fill our days instead with rejuvenating activities. If we practice the art of relaxing on the weekends (not TV watching, not going out with friends late at night), we can reap the benefits of a more productive work week, as well as have a more enjoyable weekend. Smart, happy people know how to do just this. They know the value of a truly rejuvenating weekend and how the benefits carry into their week ahead.

To get more from your work week while truly enjoying your weekend time, here are 9 things you can do this upcoming weekend and future weekends to come!

Exercise

Exercising will always be a recommend way to spend time. Not only is it necessary to maintain proper functioning of our bodies and minds, but it allows us to release endorphins, giving us that relaxed feelings, as well as clear our minds. Low impact exercises such as yoga, hiking, walking, biking, or swimming allows for a slower pace to reflect and be mindful of our movements, but any activity is good activity!

Spend Quality Time with Family

Time with our loved ones can create a sense of calm and peace when we choose to spend that time doing things we love as a family. This can be anything as simple as petting your cat and watching her play to taking the family on a walk at a nearby park. Not only does the time together strengthen the bond between your family (strong relationships are an indicator of happiness) but the playfulness can release some stress – the perfect combination for a disconnecting weekend.

Take Some Time to Reflect

Through journaling, writing, or simply sitting quietly in your own thoughts is a great way to spend time reflecting on your work week and on other areas of your life. By intentionally asking ourselves questions we increase our self-awareness and can gain a clear picture on what we may need or want to change in our lives. Not everything needs changing and this can also help us practice gratitude and reflect on things that we are grateful for in our lives, no matter how big or small.

Minimize Tasks and Errands

Because we deplete so much mental energy during the work week, it can be extremely beneficial to leave the work week for any other errands or tasks that need to be done such as grocery shopping, cleaning, dog washing, laundry pickup, and the like. If you can, pencil in these types of errands and tasks into your weeknights or for convenience, outsource some of these for low-cost by using an app like TaskRabbit (hire local people to complete errands for you). It’s amazing how much better we can feel waking up on a Saturday knowing we don’t have to get right out of bed to start taking care of things.

Go on A Mini Adventure

Go for a day-hike, book an afternoon at the spa, travel to a nearby city you have never been to, go to a concert in the park. Do this with your family, with your partner, by yourself – it doesn’t matter – the benefits are in the doing something different and new. It opens our senses, creates curiosity, excitement, and a sense of wonder that fills us up with good feelings. Call them what you’d like, but these mini-trips or day-cations work wonders for our psyche and mental health.

Pursue a Passion

You know those hobbies you loved years ago and started sort of doing recently but have been “too busy” to really devote time to? Well, the weekends are the best time to unleash your inner musician, artist, chef, sew-maker, woodsmith, photographer – you name it. Dedicate part of your weekend days to these things that bring you absolute joy and enjoy fully with no interruptions.

Have a Little ‘Me’ Time

This may seem redundant to the above passion pursing or even reflecting, but make no mistake – “Me Time” can be different. Studies have found that “Me Time” works best first thing in the morning, while your body is waking up and your mind is clear. This time essentially helps you start your day slowly and more mindfully, giving you a great sense of calm to begin your day with. What you do with this time doesn’t necessarily matter, but many have found more simpler activities such as writing, reading, enjoying 30 mins for a cup of coffee, meditating, taking a bath, sitting outside, listening to calming music, and the like have worked best.

Stick to Your Routines (even on the weekend)

This one is important. Waking up at the same time each day and going to bed at the same time each day, keeps us feeling grounded and rested – both of which are essential to maximum rejuvenating benefits. While the weekends should be spent intentionally relaxing, it doesn’t mean lose all sense of time and stay up into the wee hours of the night or sleep in until noon. By sticking to a few basic routines that you have all week long, it keeps us in our rhythm, making our transition from weekend to week, seamless.

Disconnect (even for part of a day or 1 day)

Sunday usually works best for this. It’s easier to power off our devices and disconnect from technology on Sundays. But, you can choose whichever day or part of a day that works best for you. Even if it’s for a few hours, staying off our phones, our laptops, and screens in general gives our eyes and minds a much needed break. There are so many other ways to find inspiration, so many other projects to work on, and so many other things to do; there is no need for us to spend so much time connected to everyone and everything, which can actually create additional stress for us.

Set your weekends with intention. By using our weekend days to fully recover and relax from the work week we are doing good things for our bodies and minds. The art of relaxing on the weekends and truly disconnecting creates an environment in which we can relax and feel whole, allowing us to welcome the work week ahead.

Relaxing doesn’t come so easily to people because we are shown that we need to constantly be working on something or be involved in something to get ahead or prove ourselves. By working past those feelings and allowing ourselves time to rest on the weekends we can be the best versions of ourselves and improve our overall productivity and happiness at work during the week.

Photo: Pixaby

Do You Have to be Friends with Your Coworkers?

It can be difficult to know how to navigate workplace relationships. We all put too much emphasis on the need to be friends with our coworkers, but it’s not for everyone. Some psychologists would actually argue against having true friends in the workplace, aside from maybe a few people whom you would likely be friends with outside of work if you didn’t work there. Why is this? 

Having friends at work can have many downsides, the biggest one being a significant decrease in productivity.

One of the top sources of distractions in the workplace is from having coworkers in close proximity. Layer in being friends with these coworkers and that can be disastrous to your work efficiency and productivity.  Close friends will want to catch up on personal and work gossip and that tends to take priority over deadlines or getting work done. This can be especially difficult in an open workplace environment where you share work space.

In order to make progress in the workplace, there is a need to have disagreements. It’s important that coworkers bring different viewpoints to the table and are able to have a healthy dialogue of opinions and innovative solutions. When there are nothing but close friends having this conversation it’s likely that everyone shares a similar mindset, which kills creativity. And when there happens to be a difference of opinions, people will without a doubt take work disagreements personally and then likely gossip about it later. Moreover, friends are not able to confront issues head on, because they are afraid of offending the other person or upsetting them. This all spells workplace disaster.

So, if you’re wondering if you have to be friends with your coworkers, the answer is No. Sure, there is a need to be accountable, communicate effectively, and be sincere, but it never has to cross the line into a true friendship. In fact, by being these things, but no true friends, you are able to separate your personal life from your professional life. This way small things like someone’s coldness or attitude can be ignored or looked past, but tangible work problems like not getting a task done or not answering an email, cannot.

There is a need to be accountable, communicate effectively, and be sincere, but it never has to cross the line into a true friendship.

Being emotionally removed from your coworkers makes it that much easier for you to put your best career interests first. If there is a tangible work problem that is affecting your work, you’re able to take action to resolve that without being too emotionally invested in the situation or feeling uncomfortable. It allows you to see the workplace exactly what it is meant to be, which is a workplace. And if and when you want to move on to new exciting opportunities, you won’t have to consider how your friends will feel if you leave. There will be no internal workplace influences over your decision making.

It’s also really nice to leave work at work and leave home at home. In many close friendships that are formed at work, chatting about work outside of work and chatting about personal life at work, is inevitable. There is typically no clear set of boundaries when you both share the common ground of work, so those conversations always creep up in your time away from work. This can make you feel as though you never truly get a break from work.

Not having close friends at work also allows you to form healthy professional relationships. Have you ever been in a situation where you may be senior to your coworkers, but because you have close friendships with them, they likely don’t see you or treat you as a senior? The days are filled with them making jokes, gossiping about workplace issues, or trying to just socialize or plan for outside of work events with you – which would otherwise be unacceptable workplace behavior with someone who is their senior. It would then be hard for you to keep that line of professionalism and authority with the team because they know too much about you personally, or because they feel you are one of them.

Coworkers may mean well when they try and pull you into the latest gossip or ask probing questions about your life, but it may not be appropriate or welcomed. Think about if workplace friendships are right for you and if you decide they are not, there are ways you can keep your relationships friendly and professional, without needing to be invested into a true friendship. And even if right now you are a little more close to your coworkers than you’d like, you can change it without coming across as rude or anti-social. By working to set some healthy boundaries for your workplace relationships, you can free your time and your mind to do what you’re there to do, which is work. 

Single-Tasking at Work

Multitasking splits your brain!

I had to research this to see what happens, scientifically speaking, when I try to multi-task. Whenever I try to do it, I may feel like a temporary powerhouse – oooh, look at what I am doing, so many tasks at once – but that feeling is quickly and always replaced with stress and an intense feeling of unproductivity. I end up leaving work thinking of all of the things I kind of, sort of worked on today, but how very little of them, or anything is actually completed. Sometimes, I can’t even think of something I accomplished that day. These are not good feelings.

Back to the Brain when it’s multitasking…

brain on multitasking

Your brain has halves, which I think we all knew. They’re most commonly referenced in one half is responsible for logical thinking and the other, creative. Well, you also have sections or compartments of the brain. Part of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, is the frontal section of your brain (still has a right and left side). Essentially when you carry out a task, both sides of the prefrontal cortex work in harmony to carry out that task. But when I try to work on a report, respond to an email, and finish up saving and fixing that other report, I force those sides of the prefrontal cortex to work independently of one another. In some studies, scientists have found that in doing so, we forget details and make 3 times more mistakes. So, not only does it lower our productivity, but could also be lowering our IQ, and definitely negatively impacts our productivity.

So what’s a girl to do? As chaotic of a world I work in being in Digital Advertising, I am determined to master the art of single-tasking. For whatever reason, we tell ourselves that we’re more productive when we work on a multitude of things in a day, vs finishing 1 or 2 things completely. But, I know that truly, the day is productive when I leave work feeling accomplished, calmer, focused, and can actually name something I completed that day. This is sort of a new approach for me, but I have been testing out a few strategies to make my work-life feel more controllable than it has been lately. Here are a few of my tips and findings that I can share with you!

remove-distractions-stay-focused

My tips for single-tasking mastery:

  1. Set your goals for tomorrow, today before you leave work. You know exactly where you left off, so now you can set and plan out your tomorrow with things you need to get done by the end of the next day. Many successful people (what is success, anyways) will tell you not to check email first thing in the morning or last thing at night. I agree with that, but also will add that setting your tomorrow up, today while you’re still at work is probably the best gift you can give yourself. While your mind is already in work-mode and you are about to head out, it’s the best time to effectively plan tomorrow without forgetting anything. Plus, it’s the perfect way to wind down the day, leaving you in a good mental place knowing you have a plan to attack tomorrow.
  2. Plan for only one day ahead. Instead of trying to plan what I was going to do tomorrow, this weekend, and even Wednesday of next week, I changed my approach to only plan tomorrow’s day. This doesn’t mean I am not thinking ahead. I am very aware of projects that I have a week out, by by focusing on just the next day, I strategically stay focused on the tasks at hand and then everything falls into place perfectly. This is because I know exactly what I need to do today to set the next day up for success, and on it goes.
  3. Do not put off roadblocks that prevent you from accomplishing your day’s priorities. Today, I had a goal of completing a specific client presentation. In reading the tasks and the information I was asked to report on, I didn’t agree with some of the specific details I was asked to provide. The person I needed to chat with was off-site for the rest of the day. Instead of waiting or putting it off, I booked a quick chat with my Manager, chatted through a game plan or some options and completed the presentation to what I felt was a better way to display the information. I sent a followup email to the original requester and laid out the reasons as to why I disagreed and then presented the alternative solution, including a link to the modified presentation. Chances are, they aren’t going to want to change it all after I’ve completed it.
  4. Block out your time and designate parts of your things to specific tasks. Nothing sets you up for failure like failing to plan out your day – not just what you’ll do, but when. Every evening before I leave work, I take a look at the next day’s calendar and my task list. I then block off chunks of my available time and designate them to specific tasks (10-11:30 AM, work on client presentation, 3-3:30 check emails last time for the day & respond immediately to urgent ones). In the times when  I am pinged on Google Hangouts, Slack or in-person for something that requires my attention and wasn’t planned for, I try to ask the urgency level and push it off until the next day when I can plan time to designate to that specific need/ask, etc. I can’t always do this because some things are just URGENT, but I am trying to get better about respecting my time and priorities and putting off things that can wait until the following day when I am clear headed and can focus on those items.
  5. Listen to classical music. This is a completely acceptable distraction that contrarily has proven to help increase focus on tasks, believe it or not. Not only that, but it helps eliminate environmental distractions like coworkers chatting, dogs barking, music playing from the loud speakers, laughter, etc.
  6. Speaking of distractions – silence them all, if you can. Slack, Hangouts, etc. Turn off your phone notifications or better yet, put the phone away. I just started recently keeping my phone in my purse in my filing cabinet when I have tasks that need all of my mental energy, and it completely helps! Even when my phone is out, but I don’t check it, it’s still such a mental distraction knowing it’s there, seeing it there, and wondering if I am potentially missing some urgent message.

What are your thoughts on these? Have you found any that help you stay focused and commit to one task at a time? Feel free to share and comment below, would love to hear how others are working this strategy into their daily work lives!

Stay focused, my friends.