Charles Benayon

Founder & CEO of Aspiria


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Getting Out of a Rut

stuck-in-a-rutAlthough we move along in our lives at a frenetic pace, we don’t often stop to take time to reflect. When things change in our environment, like the sun setting earlier or tragedies like the Ottawa shooting just last week, or the Ebola world crisis, we can wear down. Days of feeling lost, confused and less hopeful can turn into weeks, and before you know it, you’re in a rut and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Sometimes in life we find ourselves feeling lost, confused, unmotivated, and simply “blah”. Things feel like they may not be going your way, and each day you feel less hopeful about that changing. Before you know it, you’re in a full-on rut, and unsure of how to get out of it.

External factors can contribute to your rut, like feeling the effects of cooling temperatures and less sunshine each day. We turn on the news and are bombarded with tragic and disheartening events of terror and fear, like the previously mentioned Ottawa terror of last week. It should come as no surprise that the world definitely has a hand in how motivated and inspired you are in getting out of your rut.

So with all that is happening around us, how do we manage to self-motivate and return to a place of peace and happiness? I’ve provided some tips designed to help you turn things around quickly:

  1. Rediscover what you love doing.

Make a list of the activities you love most, and choose one to do each week. If it’s something big, work on setting small goals/taking small steps towards making it happen.

  1. Actively change your thinking.

Think of a few areas of your life where you’re feeling “stuck”, and write down exactly what is making you feel that way. Then, think about the same area in a different way, this time shedding a positive light on it. Contrast your first statement with a new, optimistic one!

  1. Do something different.

Being in a rut means you are in a negative pattern of thinking. They always say you can’t expect different results with the same actions, so do something different, something you may not otherwise think of doing, like booking that massage, going for a brisk walk, or savouring that orange, one piece at a time. You don’t have to make major changes, think about your behaviour and what you can change to produce better results for you!

  1. Say “yes” more!

If we all said “yes” to the many opportunities, big or small, that we have presented to us each day, we’d open ourselves up to so many exciting experiences and be able to learn and understand so much about ourselves. Make the most of your time each day.

  1. Embrace change.

Accept change as a good factor in life, not one that causes discomfort or disarray. Routines are not always your friend! Taking the fear out of change will help you feel calmer and more prepared for curveballs in life.

It is important to remember that being in a rut is not necessarily a bad thing – it signifies a chance for growth and positive adjustment. We will all go through periods where we must realign ourselves to our surroundings in an effort to settle back into a place of peace and comfort. It is much like a spaceship that has veered off course. If it is not corrected, it could lead to disastrous results. Use these tips to help you find your happy place!

Do you have any personal techniques you use to get yourself out of a rut? Share with us in the comments!


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How Do You Find the Time for Work-Life Balance?

Work-Life BalanceIt seems that in these times, more than in our parents’ day, we are trying to be everyone for everybody. The majority of Canadians have reported feeling overloaded with too many roles to juggle – employees, parents, partners, students, friends, siblings, caregivers of older relatives, volunteers…and we keep adding to the list. If we are not mindful of the stress that is inherent in managing each of these roles, it can take a serious toll on our physical and mental health. Technology has only increased expectations, with many employers expecting worker availability around the clock, never mind staying on top of your email and cleaning up your inbox on a regular basis! Staying connected doesn’t allow for as much downtime as we need and we don’t always see the signs of when good stress that motivates us becomes harmful stress that exhausts us. Ask yourself:

  1. Do I feel like I’ve lost control in areas of my life?
  2. Do I often feel guilty that I have neglected some roles at the expense of others?
  3. Do I find it increasingly difficult to focus on the task at hand?
  4. Does it seem like I always feel tired?

I’ve always believed we are unique individuals, sharing similar experiences. Thus, work-life balance has a different meaning for each of us, but the majority of us know when we’re not feeling balanced.

I’ve compiled some suggestions on how to find some ways to achieve that balance, whether at work or at home, that I’d like to share with you.

With wage freezes and budget cuts, I understand that getting your employer’s support can be achieved when you are clear on what YOU need to ensure optimal work-life balance. Take some time to look into the programs, benefits, and policies available to you.

During the daily grind, keep these strategies top of mind to help you balance:

  • Schedule 10-minute breaks every two hours (even a walk to the cafeteria or outside for fresh air). This will increase what you accomplish at the end of each day.
  • The to-do list you prepare for the next day needs to be realistic given the hours to do the tasks.
  • Turn off your email program to avoid distractions while focusing on tasks.
  • Turn off electronic devices when you are not scheduled to work, so there is no distraction during your “downtime”.

Prioritization is a key to balancing our obligations and desires. We want to be a successful employee, have a healthy and dedicated relationship with our partner, be an involved parent to our children and supportive caregiver to our elderly parents, and have time to spend with friends. When we determine what is important to us (eg. spending time reading with our children at the end of the day instead of working overtime to finance the dream house), we can put some things aside to do (or not to do) at a later date. . There are only 24 hours in a day, so if we are working towards our goals of achieving our masters degree while holding on to our 9-5 job, we need to check in with ourselves periodically to set ourselves back on a balanced track.

According to Statistics Canada, employees who considered most of their days to be quite a bit or extremely stressful were over three times more likely to suffer a major depressive episode, compared with those who reported low levels of general stress. I encourage you to take steps to protect your mental and physical health by bringing all aspects of your life into balance.

Do you think you have a good work-life balance? Is it possible in our world today to achieve work-life balance? I look forward to hearing what works for you for balancing work and family in “Comments” below.