How aligned are your aspirations with your career? Your success depends on it!

Stop whatever you’re doing. Ask yourself this question: How aligned are your aspirations with your career? Only when they are in sync will you feel fulfilled, centered and successful. Read on!

As simple as this may sound, it’s an issue that affects a large percentage of people, particularly women. Why? Because many of us are so busy pushing forward with our lives and professional careers that we don’t take the time to stop and reevaluate where we are and how we are feeling about it. And if we find that we are not happy, even fewer of us commit to making the necessary changes to redirect our careers.

Synchronize intention and attention. Johannes Plenio. Unsplash

Always remember to synchronize your intention with your attention. Photo Credit: Johannes Plenio. Unsplash

How to identify potential misalignments?

There are several symptoms that point to a lack of alignment. Here are a few to watch out for:

  • Frustration at not getting what you want
  • Envy of other people’s achievements
  • Anger at the huge effort you have to make to get anything from recognition to a promotion
  • Feeling frequently tired, in a bad mood, or lack enthusiasm for your job

I saw it recently in a highly educated, very smart colleague who was complaining about working too much and not having enough to show for it. When we dived deeper into the reasons why she thought this was happening, I could hear that her goals and her professional activity were not in sync. She wanted to achieve A but was putting a lot of efforts in a direction that pointed her to B. As we continued our conversation it became evident that she experienced a similar pattern in other aspects of her life.

How to do less and achieve more. A great read!
Post its with dreams by Kyle Glenn

Creating a vision board or a wall full of your dreams on post it notes can help keep you focused! Photo Credit: Kyle Glenn. Unsplash

How to align your aspirations and your career goals

There is a process by which you synchronize your intention with your attention. You see, when you are not clear about what you want, your attention is dispersed. You get pulled into a million different directions, as you have no sense of priority or what serves your purpose. It becomes more about staying busy, occupying your mind than anything else.  Now when you define what it is you want, what truly gives you a sense of fulfillment, then you develop a sharp focus.

Here’s a simple way to go about it: Spell out what you want

The best way to stop envying other people’s lives and successes is by zeroing in on what you want and how willing you are to get it. Because these two things go hand in hand. You may want to live in a four-bedroom home overlooking the ocean but not willing to do anything to change your current five-digits salary. So, grab a notebook and a pen. Sit in a quiet place. As a header write “The career I want.”

Then write 100 things that you want your career to be like. Describe in detail (one detail per line) the kind of job you want, the type of activities you’d like to do, the sort of bosses, colleagues, organization’s culture, industry, how far from home you are willing to go, and so on. The more detailed you are, the better.

This exercise works for all different aspects of life and work. You could create the same kind of list for an executive search your company is conducting or for a romantic partner.

It works incredibly well because when you’ve written down 50 things, and you think you have nothing else to add to the list, more items pop up until you have an incredibly sharp idea of what you’re looking for. What would fulfill you and what would not. It helps you keep your goals front and center and this in turns helps you make better decisions. You learn how to say no to things that would derail you and yes to things that will contribute to your objectives.

The more deliberate you are in your choices, the more your life and your career get aligned with your goals and this is the shortest path to achieving them. It also keeps the focus on you and your attainments rather than on other people and theirs. Thus reducing your envious impulses or any sense of not being good enough or deserving enough to get what you want.

Try it and then let me know how it goes. Sometimes the simplest solutions unexpectedly bring us the biggest satisfaction.

And if you’d like help with this process, consider our Step Up Program.

How aligned are your aspirations. Christopher Campbell. Unsplash

How aligned are your aspirations? Photo credit: Christopher Campbell. Unsplash

4 Steps to do less and achieve more to feel better

I’ve spent many years working long days and weekends building one company or another. Finally, I figured out how to do less and achieve more.  In the process I found my passion and time to live my life. Here are my insights.

“Do less and achieve more” may not come naturally

I had just finished my Master’s degree when I first arrived in the U.S. So not only did I have to work hard to get my career going but I also had to learn a new culture, improve my English and do it all as a newly wed away from my family. Hard work and effort was a given. I had to pave my way, pay my dues, and all that.

But the truth is that perseverance and a strong will to succeed had always been part of my DNA. I had worked hard to get good grades in school and had done a ton of extra curricular activities since I have memory. So it was only natural that I’d continue in that vein once I entered the workplace.

After I worked at a company for a couple of years my now ex husband and I purchased it from the owner. It was about to go bankrupt so it looked like a good idea to restructure and re-launch an existing company rather than start from scratch.  It wasn’t any easier, though. With the bankruptcy looming over us, it meant we had to work 16 hour-days and 7 days a week to keep the company afloat. All the while taking very little money out and investing in marketing new programs and services.

That was my first professional taste of an imbalanced life. We worked all the time.  We took no days off, no vacations. We did nothing for pleasure. It was work, work work. And when I look back, the results we got for the amount of work we did were not commensurate. Not even close.

The idea to “do less and achieve more” never even crossed my mind back then. It would take many more years for it to sink in.

So, let me save you the learning curve and share the insights I gained along the way.

You've got this. Photo Credit: Emma Matthews. Unsplash

You’ve got this. Photo Credit: Emma Matthews. Unsplash

1 De-glorify busyness

The one thing you learn pretty quickly when you enter the U.S. workspace is that being busy is considered good. It’s the only acceptable answer to the question: “How are you?” If you’re not busy people immediately think you’re not successful. So even when you are taking a well-deserved break, you may automatically answer “Busy, very busy.”

The truth is that being busy for the sake of being busy is like being famous for the sake of being famous. It’s empty. It’s shallow and it’s completely and utterly unfulfilling.

So if you want to do less and achieve more, my first suggestion is that you take a personal stand against busyness. Its only function is to occupy your time with things that may not be relevant at best and may distance you from your real goals at worst.  So, when someone asks you how you are doing, try any of the following answers:

  • I’m enjoying every minute of my life
  • I’m involved in a very interesting project
  • I’m thinking about my next step
  • I’m spending quality time with the people I care about
  • I’m evaluating my priorities so I can focus on what really matters

You will see how by training yourself to give one of these more thoughtful responses, you will give yourself permission to actually do all those things.

When you learn to do less you achieve more and find more time for what you love. Photo Credit: Joanna Kosinska. Unsplash

When you learn to do less you achieve more and find more time for what you love. Photo Credit: Joanna Kosinska. Unsplash

Learn how to flow

2 Figure out what you enjoy most in order to go with the flow

It’s not a simple thing, but figuring out what you most enjoy doing in life and for work is a cataclysmic discovery. It can throw everything upside down, that’s how infrequently you’re likely to give this any serious consideration. Ask yourself right now:

  • What comes naturally to me?
  • When do I feel I’m in the zone? In a psychological flow?
  • Where do my ability, knowledge, experience and joy intersect? Doing what?
  • If I was given five years to live and the only way to extend my life were to work in something I love, what would that be?

When you uncover what it is that you like to do and you figure out a way to enter that space, you’ll start going with the flow so you are overcome by a feeling of effortlessness. Rather than making efforts against what comes naturally (upstream efforts as Bethany Butzer calls them in her Ted talk,) you’ll be making an effort in the same direction as the current.

I tell you, many people spend their entire lives moving from job to job or developing a career someone else designed for them. Stop. Think. Decide for yourself. Start the path towards doing what you enjoy. It may take a while to course-correct to get there, but it’s worth it.

Learn to do less and achieve more. Photo Credit: Katie Moum. Unsplash

Learn to do less and achieve more. Photo Credit: Katie Moum. Unsplash

3 Start enjoying the process

You’ve heard me say before that success is a journey, not a destination. And although that may sound cliché, the idea is profound. Most of us have arrived to our definition of success through our parents, our culture, our media… We’re so focused on the end result that quite often when you achieve it, it feels meaningless. Why? Because it wasn’t you who gave that goal a meaning. You just went after it because someone out there said it was important. Or it would make you feel important.

To really do less and achieve more, you have to enjoy the process, the path that leads to wherever you are going. And if you’re the one who sets up the direction and you are doing what you like, that path will be much more enjoyable. Granted, it won’t be all smooth sailing all the time. That’s not what this is about. But even when you encounter setbacks and obstacles, you will feel okay. You will have the internal resources to help you navigate through anything. You will have a naturally built-in resilience that comes from doing something you find meaningful.

4 Share the stories you create

In the last few years I realized that because I’ve aligned what I enjoy doing with what I do, my life has gotten much more interesting. I’m having lots of fun, doing less, achieving more, and I have a lot more free time to engage in activities outside of work. I also noticed that the stars seem to align seamlessly and things fall into place with a minimum amount of effort.

What’s happening? I’ve reached a point where the only thing I do is share with those who are interested the stories of what we’ve done at my company, the Red Shoe Movement, and the impact our work has had. I don’t need to convince anyone, I let the stories do the talking. I focus on listening to what people need and then I share what we may be able to do. But I don’t push, I don’t insist, I don’t proselytize. When someone feels we are the right fit and I feel they are the right fit for my organization, things work out beautifully. Everything flows, we become great partners and then, inevitable friends for life.

Because in the end, it’s about creating the conditions that allow everyone to be their best selves and live their most fulfilled lives. Figure out what those conditions look like for you and you’ll feel that it all comes to you effortlessly.

De-glorify busyness and you'll be much happier. Photo Credit: Unsplash

De-glorify busyness and you’ll be much happier. Photo Credit: Unsplash

Beyond networking: Building Alliances

Most everyone knows the power of building and maintaining a network for your career. Today we focus on going beyond networking to build alliances. The most effective way to grow professionally.

The meaning of going beyond networking

For starters, and as a matter of course, for me networking is never about going out there to collect business cards. It should be seamlessly integrated into your daily life and not be a separate activity that you do when you need a job. Going on a conference spree so that you can meet as many people in as short a period of time as possible is never the way to go. Not only it’s unlikely to produce the results you seek, but it can become frustrating as few leads will turn out to be true leads.

People can tell when you’re under pressure or desperate to get a job. It is the worst position to be in whenever you need something. So, when I suggest that you think beyond networking, I mean that you 1) Turn networking into a lifestyle 2) Start building alliances rather than collecting business cards.

Networking for shy professionals
Going beyond networking

Develop a real interest in the people. It’s the first step to build alliances. Photo Credit: Annie Spratt. Unsplash.

Beyond Networking = Long Term

To identify current or potential allies and conscientiously develop a relationship with them you must have a long-term mindset. A mentality that sees every potential ally as someone who will be in your life for a very long time and who is worth investing in. And just as you would invest in a friend by learning about their life, their goals, their likes and dislikes, their skills, knowledge, experience and by spending time with them, you should invest time in your allies. This has been true throughout my life and career and the only reason why I’ve been able to flourish in my space. Not only Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nobody builds Rome alone.

What is an ally?

Before we go any further, let’s agree on our definition of an ally. In the context of this post, an ally is someone who can help you excel in your career and fulfill your goals. Someone who has your back and your best interests in mind.

Building mutual alliances quote

Always try to build two-way relationships.

Develop mutually beneficial alliances

Because one of the Red Shoe Movement’s methodology pillars is Mutual Mentoring, I encourage you to develop mutually beneficial alliances. In other words, identify people who can support your career growth and whose career you can support. This win-win situation is much more natural than a one-way street relationship where you expect someone to support you without reciprocating. It potentiates each party by helping both of you flourish in the organization. It’s also a contagious phenomenon. Once your colleagues see the results you get from your partnership, they’ll want to emulate you. This in turn is likely to attract more allies to you while it reinforces your leadership brand.

Who could be potential allies?

Anyone in your ecosystem is an ally candidate. Here’s a list to make it perfectly clear:

  • Colleagues who are part of your team
  • Bosses
  • Administrative & support staff
  • Members of various executive committees
  • Members of Business Resource Groups
  • Senior Management
  • Your friends & family
  • Vendors
  • Customers & corporate clients
  • Members of Professional Associations to which you belong or that your company supports
  • Members of Trade Associations

As you see, there’s no shortage of potential allies with whom to develop a strong, mutually beneficial alliance. Going beyond networking means, however, that you shouldn’t just know their names but that you get to know them well. Because time is a limited resource, it behooves you to be selective and strategic.

Networking for people who hate networking

A rising tide lifts all boats

Photo Credit: Lexie Jenney. Unsplash

How do you build an alliance?

First you must comb through your network to identify who’s already in it and with whom you may want to deepen the current relationship. Second, you must look at the above list of potential allies and decide where there may be opportunities to connect with certain individuals with whom to establish new relationships. Once these two first steps are taken care of, you can get down to the business of building an alliance.

1Be relentlessly generous

This is a basic principle for going beyond networking. If you want to build a strong foundation for your relationships, begin by thinking of ways in which you can help the other person. What can you offer them that might be beneficial? Time? Resources? Information? A helping hand in a project for which they have a tight deadline? Connections? By keeping a generous mindset, you’ll show your potential allies that you honestly care about them and their goals. This leads to trust and likely, to a desire to reciprocate. But keep in mind that to build a true alliance, generosity can’t be a one-time occurrence and it can’t be something you do with an agenda. Be relentlessly generous and your alliance will build over time.

2Include your allies in key decisions

It’s easier to get people’s support when they feel they are part of a decision you’re making. Or when you consult them about a project so that you can make the right decision. So if you know you’ll need your allies to stand by your side, it’s a good idea to fill them in ahead of time. Blindsiding anyone makes it harder for them to support you even if they would have, had you told them about your plans.

3Offer recognition whenever you get a chance

One of the best ways to nurture your allies is by recognizing them publicly whenever appropriate. Many people take their allies for granted, making it look like everything they accomplished they’ve done on their own. How about the boss who provided air cover at every turn? Or the assistant who worked until the wee hours of the morning and weekends to get the reports ready for the presentation? Or the spouse who took over picking up the kids in school for a month so that the person could focus on the project? Nobody, nobody does everything on their own. Remember this and always offer credit when credit is due. It’s one of the most valuable and inexpensive ways to maintain strong ties to your allies.

4Don’t overdo it

As with any relationship respect your allies’ time and goodwill. Just as you wouldn’t ask of your best friend to pick up your dry cleaning every time you’re out of town, avoid abusing your allies. Don’t ask for support when you could do things on your own or when you could have someone else do something. For instance, if one of your allies is an executive who helps you get high level visibility, don’t ask them to be your reference every time you’re trying to get a stretch assignment. Measure how much you ask of each ally and always try to do for them more than they do for you, so they are always willing to do whatever it is you ask.

To have a robust and fulfilling career requires you to go way beyond networking. It entails an investment in the people who will invest in you. It won’t happen overnight but once it happens, wow. Will your career take off in the most amazing ways!

Supporting each other is key in going beyond networking

Supporting each other is key in going beyond networking. Photo Credit: Hans M. Unsplash.

And as usual, if you’re looking to learn more about skills like building allies, come join our community!

 

How to overcome anxiety inside and outside of work

We live at a time when anxiety is one of the most common disorders. Today I invite you to identify some triggers and explore how to overcome anxiety to live a fuller life.

The feeling of anxiety goes beyond a diagnosis. Here some questions to detect if you feel anxious.

  • Do you feel nervous?
  • Are you always in a hurry or running against the clock?
  • Do you constantly have more things to do than you can?
  • Do you feel the need to do more and more?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions you have probably felt anxious in recent times.

Ferris wheel, a great way to slow down.

Find ways to slow down. Photo Credit: Johannes Daleng. Unsplash.

Anxiety crisis

Sometimes anxiety can end up in a crisis. You may cry, or binge eat, or feel overwhelmed. There are even those who experience panic attacks. We live in an era when time seems to have accelerated, and we seem to speed behind it. We could say that we live WITHOUT time. Everything is NOW, everything has to be IMMEDIATE.

Let’s do an exercise: Pay attention to commercials. How many of them highlight the value of speed, the famous “you can have it now” for a service, for a medication or for a meal? How many ads underscore that by using this or that product, you can continue to do anything without stopping?

None of those ads will tell you: “if your head hurts, rest for a bit,” or “if you’re exhausted, go to sleep.” No. They will tell you what to do if you have a headache so you can go on for a while longer without interruption.

How to overcome anxiety caused by our current work style?

Most people who work in an organization tend to live against the clock. That is, having to deliver projects always faster than is possible. We have the perception that there are more and more demands placed upon us and that whatever we do, it will never be enough. In fact, this is partly true because work is inexhaustible. That “more” that we constantly hear is what causes us anxiety.

New policies being developed in leading companies

Pioneer companies, however, are using research that suggests that working 24/7 and being always “on” is counterproductive to encourage leisure time. Many are forcing their associates to take vacations in order to disconnect and recharge batteries because they know that without these regular breaks you can’t think, produce, endure. Without these recovery intervals, anxiety takes hold.

What to do when we feel anxious?

Candle and book

If you want to overcome anxiety, take time to do what you enjoy like reading a book, or enjoying the smell of a candle. Photo Credit: Ellieelien. Unsplash.

If you’re wondering how to overcome anxiety, there are several ideas you can explore. Hopefully they will trigger others.

1Stop. Check where you are at. Breathe.

We could define the feeling of anxiety as “not having time”, that is, living in a hurry. It is necessary, however, to have time to do something for and for you. And when I say “have time” I don’t mean simply having chronological hours. If the day had one more hour, you would likely do more of the same. You would work harder and you would continue to hurry because you would still not have enough time for all your activities. That’s why I emphasize the lack of time is not just about not having extra chronological time. You need to create human time.

2Humanize time

The only being with time is the human being. Animals do not “have time,” they exist. Time becomes humanized when you find things to do that bring you satisfaction, when you do something you want, that you like, that you love. Have you done something like this in recent times? Or is it an exception for you to take time every so often to do something that is pleasing to you and that has nothing to do with your work?

3Get Bored

Boredom has bad press. But we have seen how important it is for kids and teenagers to get bored. It enables them to find their own resources, develop, discover or invent them. If we are constantly entertaining kids with activities or gadgets, if we never let them get bored, they are likely to become adults who won’t know what to do when they are not working. This is also true for you. Getting bored gives you the opportunity to discover new aspects about yourself and unleashes your creativity. Have you allowed yourself to get bored lately? Or do you spend all your time working or filling up your calendar with various activities?

4Explore slow movements

Human activities require time: cooking, painting, dancing, or practicing a sport. Going to the movies, strolling, sleeping. Building relationships. None of these activities can be done without time. Many have an almost meditative effect. Perhaps some of this is what the slow movements are trying to bring back. Films that last the entire length of a transcontinental trip, filmed with a camera attached to the fuselage of an airplane, invite you to sit and watch for hours as the landscape slowly changes. It is not always possible to live like this, but it is important to make time for yourself.

How to overcome anxiety tip explore slow movements

Watching birds fly can be a great way to slow down time. Photo Credit: Husen Siraaj. Unsplash.

How to overcome anxiety generated by changes at work?

Joining a new company, changing sectors or starting a supervisory role requires certain amount of time to fit, to understand the organization’s culture, to feel that you belong, to develop relationships. And frequently, you don’t control that timing as you depend on others to do their jobs. It is common for people to want to skip these stages. You may feel bad because you started your new job a month ago and you think you should’ve already overcome this or that milestone. Or assume you should have already adapted to the new role or culture. Stop! Respect the process and respect your times.

How to help reduce anxiety in your organization?

Bring cooking courses to your company

If you have a chance to bring ideas to your organization, try this: Cooking classes! Photo Credit: Kloe Arledge. Unsplash.

If you have a chance to offer new ideas in your company you could create a list of activities and interests of your teammates, department or division. This would lead to hiring experts to carry them out and perhaps to establish a series of rotating courses. Here are some options

Painting, sculpting, drawing

Getting involved in any of the art disciplines during working hours can release stress and expand creativity in an unconscious way.

Cooking

Organizations are expressing an increasing interest in fostering good health. What better way to promote your company’s support for healthy eating habits than to offer cooking classes? People can prepare their lunch to eat at work or cook dinner to take home. (Thus alleviating the time it takes to prepare dinner once employees get home.) It is also an excellent opportunity to learn about other cultures and strengthen ties between people from diverse backgrounds.

Literary or film clubs

This type of course leads employees to take time to watch a movie or read a book together or on their own and then meet to have a meaningful conversation.

Knitting & weaving

Knitting and weaving groups have shown excellent results to establish and strengthen connections in different communities. It is also an activity that has an almost meditative rhythm that forces you to slow down.

As you can see, there are many alternatives to foster spaces to create time for yourself. Paradoxically, this time that may seem unproductive at first is critical for your health. It helps reduce the anxiety caused by the feeling of lack of time and it promotes your well-being at work and in your personal life. So take time to make time.

To overcome anxiety take time to make time

How to overcome anxiety: Mainly, take time to make time for yourself. Photo Credit: Roxanne Desgagnes. Unsplash.

Elderly parents: The one thing that works for me

As women, one of the roles most of us face at some point in our lives is caring for our elderly parents. And even if you’re not involved in the daily routine of care giving, as your parents age everyone must adapt to a new situation and embrace change.  Here’s what is working for me.

Let me first qualify my advice: This is my perspective as a daughter. And as such, I’m making everything up as I go. Just like children don’t come with an instruction’s manual neither do parents. And granted, my situation is particular, given that my parents live in Buenos Aires (where my brother and sister live as well) and I live in New York.  But many of you may be able to relate to the story even if your parents didn’t move to Florida to retire or they don’t live far away from you.

For the last thirty years my parents and I have had a consistent pattern: Once a year they come to visit me and once a year I go see them.

You got this sign

You got this sign- Photo Credit: Sidney Rae- Unsplash

In recent years, my mom’s been suffering from severe back pain. Her spine has practically collapsed and she has little cushion left between several of her vertebrae, which has limited her mobility. As walking became increasingly painful, I suggested that she get a wheelchair. Call it prejudice, push back to keep her independence, or hard-headedness, she wouldn’t budge. Of all the changes life requires as we age, this was one she wasn’t ready to make yet.

She still drives, goes food shopping and runs errands daily, and as she’s very sociable, she remains involved in many activities. The problem has been that what she can and can’t do depends on how close to where she’s going she can park her car. As you can imagine, that’s not always possible, so her activities have become more limited.

A few days ago my parents arrived in New York for their annual trip. On the second day I took my mom to an orthopedic pharmacy to rent a portable wheelchair. And as we tried the various kinds and I lifted them to select the lightest one so it would be easy to maneuver in and out of a car we found the perfect one. It was small, light, and comfortable. I said, casually:

“I think you should buy it.”

“But what would I do with it when I leave?” She asked.

“Either you leave it at my house for next year or you take it to Argentina with you,” I replied matter of factly.

And at that moment, without hesitation my mom replied:

“Let’s buy it, and I’ll bring it with me to Argentina.”

End of story. A decision that had seemed so difficult a few years ago, had suddenly become possible given the right circumstances. She was on vacation, relaxed, her mind was more open and her pain had become increasingly unbearable.

True. It was the end of one story and the beginning of a new chapter. Here’s what happened next.

Elderly parents wheelchair bound

Elderly parents wheelchair bound- Photo Credit: Steven Hwg- Unsplash

Helping your elderly parents’s adjust to changes naturally

Right after we purchased the chair, I took my mom to a strip mall nearby, where we proceeded to make several stops. I got the wheelchair out of the trunk, sat my mom down and ran around the strip mall, speeding, laughing, engaging in conversations with people who told her how pretty she was, and who tried to speak Spanish to her as they heard the two of us chatting animatedly. We went in and out of a shoe store, the supermarket, the pharmacy and a restaurant.

I get it: If someone in your family uses a wheelchair, this will all sound trivial to you. Or you may have an entirely different experience than we did. As I said, this is a personal story and it was the first time both for me seeing and pushing my mother in a wheelchair and her first time (other than at airports) out and about in one.

The next day, I enrolled one of her closest friends, who happened to be also visiting New York. She played a critical role in helping my mom feel that having the wheelchair was the best thing that could’ve happened to her. As her friend easily wheeled my mom around, took her to the pool and then to lunch, it proved that the wheelchair gave her a wider access to activities she had given up on.  They immediately started making plans to go out shopping, to art galleries and to the movies together when they both returned from their trips.

My parents and I in the Meatpacking district

My parents and I in the Meatpacking district

Two days later we engaged my dad who, for reasons of his own, had probably also been a bit reluctant to give into the idea of his wife being wheelchair-bound. We drove into Manhattan, parked the car and visited the beautiful Hudson Yards. We shopped and had lunch, took pictures, drove to the Meatpacking district and then we took a leisurely walk around the neighborhood. By the end of the day, we had clearly incorporated this new tool that would make my mom’s life easier from now on.

Of course it will be different when she goes back home. For one, the sidewalks in Buenos Aires leave a lot to be desired, but also, because it won’t be all fun and games like it is when she’s here on vacations. There’ll be doctor’s appointments and banking and all the daily things to which she’ll have to adapt with her new chair. But having taken the first step while in a relaxed environment helps.

Staying cool under pressure always helps in times of change.
Wheelchair sign

Wheelchair sign- Photo Credit: Matt Arts. Unsplash

I’m sure part of the fun was that according to my mother, I “drove” the wheelchair like I drive my Mini Cooper: Fast. But here’s my big reveal:By de-dramatizing, de-stigmatizing the fact that she now needs a wheelchair, we made it possible for her to admit it. To take the step and sit on the driver’s seat of her new situation. She could still be her social self, engage with friends and strangers alike, and be an active participant of the world around her. She could see her new circumstances in a brighter light. And most importantly, we were all part of the process rather than have her go through this change alone.

I’m sure some of her fears had to do with becoming less independent as she’d need others to take her places. (She doesn’t have the strength to put a wheelchair in and out of the car herself so she’d always need someone with her.) But by helping her experience this new stage of life in a natural, no-drama way, she was also able to see that having someone who pushes her wherever she wants to go, is not that bad. It may offer a new kind of wind beneath her wings that enables her to continue to live her best life with the necessary adjustments along the way.