Asking For Help Is A Strength, Not A Weakness

 

I'm here to announce that I have a problem. And I'm not talking about my split ends, chewed fingernails, or my obsession with cheap bottles of wine. I'm talking about a real issue I've been dealing with probably forever that I've only just recently realized was actually holding me back, and probably causing me more stress than necessary (though, when you're in a constant state of mild anxiety-induced stress who even notices, right?).

I'm talking about asking for help. I am the worst at asking for help and the queen of proclaiming "I got this". I wear that phrase like a badge of honor, holding myself upright by it and planting my flag in its safe and familiar soil. In all honesty, that phrase has gotten me through the really tough days, the days I want to quit trying. The days that I’m too overwhelmed, too scared, too tired and beaten down. "I got this" is my mantra that keeps me going.

It's also one of my biggest weaknesses.

Carpet in the bedroom to rip up? I can do that. Large client at work need managing? I'm your girl. Mountain to climb on the other side of the country? I don't need you, I can do this by myself. That's me; independent, strong-willed, type-A, and drowning. Drowning because I, up until very recently, have had a really hard time letting go of control (ahem, still struggling). Until very recently, I haven’t been able to admit to myself that I was letting the ideas of how others might perceive me get in the way of my growth. And up until very recently, I haven’t felt vulnerable enough to share them.
 

Asking for help, in my mind, equates to:

  1. I’m being a burden to them

  2. They think this is a stupid question

  3. I’m too weak to do this on my own

  4. They trusted me with this and now I’m failing them

  5. They won’t trust me in the future if I can’t figure this out

  6. They’re already stressed/overwhelmed, I can’t add to it

  7. They’ll think I can’t do my job right

  8. I’ve already asked this question, if I ask again it’ll be annoying

  9. I want to be seen as a leader and leaders do things on their own

  10. I should be able to figure it out


All. Lies.

I’ve realized that the problem with these thoughts, beyond the fact that they’re downright toxic to my mental health, is that by me being too scared to ask for help when it’s necessary because I fear any of the things listed above, I'm doing more harm than good for all parties involved. I’m living in my comfort zone, the space in which notoriously nothing grows. I’m not getting new perspectives or ideas, nor am I being very productive with my time and resources. Do I want my hand held every step of the way? No. But I understand now that there are moments that I do need assistance, guidance, direction, moral support, emotional support, etc. because, let’s face it, I’ve not lived enough life yet to do all of it alone, at least not well.

I’m learning to be at peace with that.

We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone … and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.
— –Sandra Day O’Connor

I’ve always told myself that I’m brave, strong, capable, and able to do anything I set my mind to. To be clear, I still absolutely believe those things. But I’ve forgotten, so selfishly, that I have a lot of people to thank for helping me remember these things on the bad days, and many more people to thank for helping to guide me through the really tough problems, whether they knew they were helping or not. I know with absolute certainty that these people are on my side and ready to draw their swords at a moment’s notice, and I, them. What a beautiful feeling of security.

It's taken quite a bit of self-reflection, several professional performance reviews, and a few fall-flat-on-my-face moments lately to make me see this problem more clearly than ever before. But as you can guess, as with any problem that needs solved, I got this (now with a little help).

When Was The Last Time You Asked For Help?

6 Productivity-Killing Activities You're Wasting Time On

When's the last time you evaluated how you spend your time? Everyone has the same 24 hours to work with, yet remedying some very crucial time-wasters could help you unlock your full potential and ultimately reach your goals. Here are 6 easily-identifiable and sometimes silent productivity-killers that you should stop wasting time on right now.

1. Multitasking

The human brain was not meant for multi-tasking (as a woman who convinced myself otherwise, I'm deeply troubled). The mental juggling act that most of us do during the day often times costs us more time in the long run than we realize. Especially when it comes to more complex tasks and projects, taking a minute to jump over to your email, for example, can completely derail your focus, making it that much harder to come back to it. Schedule email and social breaks when possible and acceptable, and try working on just one task at a time to maximize your efficiency and focus. 

2. Dwelling On Mistakes

Think back to the last time you made a mistake. If you're like all human beings everywhere ever, it probably wasn't that long ago (hell, I can count 3 of my own just today). Even the best and the brightest of us make mistakes, and while it's not awesome to fail at something, it's also a huge opportunity to learn and grow, which will prevent the mistake from happening again, therefore, saving time on re-hashing the same problem. You become more productive and overall more successful in your professional and personal life when you stop wasting energy on the failure and focus instead on correcting it moving forward. Acknowledge, correct, take notes, move on, repeat. 

3. Watching TV

The average American watches up to 5 hours of TV a day, which adds up to about 35 hours a week spent not being productive. How much more could you get done if you limited yourself to 2 hours a day or less? How much more time could you have to create, read, learn, write, exercise, cook, play, and spend time with loved ones? And that's not to say taking time to wind-down after a long day is a bad thing (trust me, I'm all for binge-watching my favorite shows at the end of a workday), but if you have goals and you're willingly spending your precious free time on TV or other media, you're not doing yourself any favors. 

4. Spending Too Much Time On Social Media

Just like with TV, we as Americans spend an astonishing amount of time on social media. Even though it's often times used as an effective tool used for businesses to reach and engage with their audience, it can also become a very dark hole to get sucked into if not moderated. I'll be honest, I'm guilty of spending far too much time scrolling through my Instagram and Facebook feeds aimlessly, especially in the evenings when I am winding down. The trouble is that all too often 5 minutes becomes an hour and before you know it you've creeped through 6 different profiles to find out where your ex-boyfriends' brothers' friends' sister works because you're pretty sure you saw her at that restaurant the other day and you just need to know (don't lie to yourself we've all been there). Bottom line, don't waste time scrolling here when it could be spent living life out there. 

5. Being Unorganized

Even if you feel like you have a "method to the madness", most likely your "madness" is actually costing more time overall that could be spent more effectively. Being unorganized in your personal and professional life will make you less efficient, more stressed, and cause you to miss important deadlines. If you've ever missed a utility payment or an event invite in the pile of junk mail on your kitchen table then you know exactly what I mean. Set auto-payments, schedule calendar reminders, color-code notes, plan your meals weekly, or start your day with a small to-do list - whatever it takes to keep shit together. Because let's be honest, being an adult is hard and there's a lot to remember. 

6. Putting Others' Needs Above Yours

If you haven't taken the time to figure out what matters to you and what your goals are, you'll end up spending a lot of time worrying about other people's goals and to-do's. It might feel at the time that you're doing the right thing by being a good friend and showing up to the millionth brunch your friends have planned and invited you to, but if that Sunday morning you'd rather go to yoga because you told yourself you would, read a book because you haven't finished it yet, take your dog for a walk because she's hyper and you need fresh air, or otherwise do anything at all except brunch, then by all means, you do you. It feels selfish, because it is, and my point is that sometimes it's ok to be selfish with your time and energy. Holding onto your goals and values tightly will make them take center stage when it comes your decision-making on an every-day level, and you'll waste less of your time on others' priorities when those priorities become overwhelming and emotionally draining. 

 

What Could You Do With Extra Time In Your Day?

7 Ways Spring Clean Your Life

April is nearly over and if you're in the Midwest/Northeast like me, you understand the legitimate struggle that has been this spring season. Nonetheless, spring is here as is the season to refresh, clean out, and reflect. Time to shake off the snow (even if it means just metaphorically for some of us) and in the spirit of all things refreshing and clean, I have some tried and true tips on how to go about a little spring cleaning for your life. Since it's not my goal to add more to your to-do list, I narrowed this list to only 7 "cleaning" hacks I've found most helpful. Bonus: you'll get some on-going tricks to help you turn these actions into habits! 

If these don't leave you feeling as fresh as a daisy, I don't know what will.

 

1. Purge Your Closet

This is honestly one of my favorite ways to get that super satisfied, "I'm in control of my life" feeling. Have a hard time letting go of your stuff? Ask yourself these questions: "Have I worn this item within the year?", "Is it something I feel really good in?", "Would I trade this for that other item I've been eyeing?" Answer honestly! Once you've made your purge pile, decide what's worth selling (I love Poshmark & thredUP!), and what can be donated.

On-going habits: every few months scan your closet for items you're willing to sell/donate. This will keep you from having to do one big purge every year, and allow space for new items you buy throughout the season. Win-win!
 

2. Clean Up Your Inbox & Phone Apps

Photos, apps, emails, oh my! Boy, they pile up, don't they? I, for one, cannot stand getting those pesky reminders that my storage is full or filtering through the 5 million promotional emails in my inbox daily. First, unsubscribe to emails that you no longer open or care to see. Since this can often be a tedious process, use a service like Unroll to cut down on the hassle. Next, set up a digital storage system for your photos and other files you might have stored on your phone/computer. If you're an Apple user, iCloud automatically does this for you, but you probably want to check up on how much storage is available since it can be limited. Personally, I like Google Drive and Google Photos because I can access them anywhere and easily share albums with family members who lack Apple devices. Finally, take a look at the apps on your phone. When is the last time you actually played Candy Crush? Seriously, just delete the apps you're not using. If you need them again, you can always re-download them.

On-going habits: set limits on how many apps or photos you'll keep on your phone at a time, and create monthly reminders for yourself to back-up your phone. Get in the habit of unsubscribing to retailers you're not actively using, or create a new folder in your inbox specifically for promotional-type emails that clog your inbox from the important stuff.
 

3. Refine Your Relationships

This is probably one of the most difficult but most necessary evaluations you'll do for your spring/life cleaning. It's easy enough to identify - if someone leaves you feeling uncomfortable, unworthy, shameful, or otherwise bad, it's time to cut that toxicity out. Really take some time to narrow down who is a part of your life and what purpose they're serving. Feel confident and worthy enough in yourself to allow only people in your life that bring you joy, fulfillment, and comfort. Though the process may not be easy nor quick, those who no longer fit into your life will gently find the exit on their own over time.

On-going habits: do regular check-ins with yourself to evaluate how you feel about the relationships in your life. Getting into the habit of identifying whether you're feeling drained or fulfilled will help you prevent toxic relationships from forming in the first place. Set standards for yourself and stick to them. You're worth it!
 

4. Practice Gratitude

Often when we're feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or simply hustling hard, we sometimes forget to take necessary pauses for reflection. I'll be the first to admit I am guilty of this. One of the most effective ways I've found to ground myself in moments of anxiety, pressure, and chaos is to quickly list (whether verbally or written) the top 10 things I'm grateful for. Often they surround loved ones and the little moments of joy I find during the day. It centers me, grounds me, and reminds me why I'm working so hard. 

On-going habits: There's a lot of psychological and physical benefits to practicing gratitude routinely. Grab a journal and start making lists of the good things that happened today, what you're thankful for, or what makes you happy whenever it feels right. Challenge yourself to do this every week or even every day! 
 

5. Refresh Your Fitness Routine

Maybe you're fully committed to your gym schedule as it stands, or perhaps you're not quite sure where to start in the fitness world. Either way, switching up your schedule and creating new, positive habits can have a drastic effect on your health overall. You'll get into shape and feel actual achievement for your efforts. For example, never tried yoga? Pick up a yoga mat (or just grab a blanket) and test some at-home YouTube options! How about a spin class? Sign up for a trial class with a friend - it'll keep you both accountable and you can share your successes (or misery) with each other. Maybe you're hitting the gym 2 times a week already, so challenge yourself to go 3 or 4!

On-going habits: feeling burnt out in your fitness routine, especially if you're doing it alone, is easy to do. Go with a friend, share your successes online, or simply update your regime every couple months to help you stay feeling fresh and energized to reach your goals.
 

6. Set a Budget

If you're not budgeting already, you need to start now. No matter your status financially, you should know how much money is coming in and how much is going out each month. It's sometimes a hard habit to pick up - I personally struggled for years to find a method that worked for me (Mint is a great option to get you started!). Eventually, I worked out a simple daily checks and balances system that breaks down what extra spending money I can use for things like social outings, clothes, and traveling by month, week, and even down to the day.

As with most large tasks, start small. Start with notating your daily spending - everything from parking meters to dinner. Write down every time you buy something and how much you spent (pro tip: use the notes section of your phone for easy access). Do that every day for a week, then compare that to what you earned that week. Did you overspend? Figure out where you could've skipped that extra latte or perhaps waited to purchase the ever-growing shopping cart on Amazon and challenge yourself to cut down your spending by 1 or 2 non-necessary items next week. 

On-going habits: starting these habits that feel tedious now will make them so much simpler down the road, and you'll be amazed at how easily you'll start saving money for things you never thought you could afford. Adjust your budget as necessary - monthly expenses change, as will your goals. Allow yourself an every-once-in-a-while #treatyoself moment, too! 
 

7. Reevaluate Your Career Goals

This is so important. Checking in on your career goals will help you not only stay focused for the long-haul, but also will help to get through that daily grind and face the day. If you're like most people, your career path has been messy up to this point and probably will continue to be. Meaning, it hasn't gone in the linear projection you'd expected upon exiting school. You might not even be in the field you originally wanted. But hey, a girl's gotta pay the bills, right? (I, for one, have a very hungry dog to feed). So maybe the job you're in now isn't your dream job, and that's ok. But remember to stop and ask yourself these questions: "Am I fulfilled with what I'm doing?", "Am I learning something that will serve me in future roles?", "Are the opportunities here worth my time?". No to any of those? It might be time to reevaluate the job you're in, and perhaps the career path you're on. I left a well-paying, secure job in an industry I actually enjoyed (and still do) because I genuinely answered "no" to all of those questions. I discovered the world of marketing and rediscovered my love for writing shortly thereafter, and it's propelled me back into the creative atmosphere I'd forgotten I crave. 

On-going habits: make it a point to try new things, meet new people, and read new books. Do things that challenge you, educate you, and expand your horizons. There's a quote by Charlie Jones that I love that is, "You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read." Take the time to invest in yourself, and keep your mind open to the possibility of new opportunities as they arise. 

Happy cleaning, friends!
 

What are your favorite ways to feel refreshed & renewed? What are some on-going habits you've developed that you find most helpful?