Why “Me Time” & Self-Care need to be a priority in your life

Practising self-care and taking time out for yourself is something everyone should be doing.

The importance of “Me Time” should never be underestimated. Yet so many women in business fail to take care of themselves first and foremost.

It makes no sense and yet it is such a common practice.

Why is this?

We operate in a busy and demanding world. I understand the outside interferences that can make it tough to carve out time for yourself.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the hectic day to day. And then what happens is that we often put ourselves last on the list of important things to take care of.

I’ve been there myself and it’s definitely not a good way to operate.

Making yourself a priority is not a luxury. It’s an essential.

So why do we do this?

Feelings of Guilt & Fear

At a subconscious level, you may be experiencing a feeling of guilt. And of fear.

For instance, it’s common for working mothers to be feeling that time at home needs to be spent with their kids, or doing something for the family – things like cooking, baking a batch of cookies etc…you get the picture.

And, dare I say it, a sense of inability to leave “the team” to cope?  I mean your family, your staff and colleagues.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, you are not alone!

But, guess what? They’ll manage. You are not indispensable – no one is.

Yes, we are each unique and valuable, but that is not the same as being indispensable.

The world will go on without you

Yes, it really will.

I learnt this first-hand many years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Before my diagnosis, I would feel guilty of leaving the family. I felt I needed to be there for them all the time.

Time to pursue my own activities would be once they grew up; my daughter was 3 and my son 12 at that time.

I was a mother, a businesswoman and a homemaker. My life was busy and I was needed everywhere – I was the glue holding everything together.

Being diagnosed was a slap in the face and a case of a very rude awakening. The reality that I might not actually live to see my children grow up made me realise…

I was doing them no favours by making myself indispensable to the family.

Plus, I was also cheating myself out of my life. All those things on hold might NEVER happen. A very frightening thought!

Suffice it to say I went through an emotional roller coaster over the course of my treatment. It was no picnic.

But… as I emerged out the other end of the treatment tunnel – a dark and lonely place – I knew that I needed to make time for me. For lots of different reasons.

The world will not end if you step away for a few days.

In fact, being constantly “on” does no one any favours. Not you, not your Board, not your team, not your clients and definitely not your family.

Sure you might be there in body.

But being present means a lot more than just your physical presence.

You need to be there in mind too – to be able to enjoy and concentrate on the moments you are in.

Being on auto-pilot is cheating both yourself and those who you are with.

Me Time

Taking time for your own self-care is absolutely essential. It’s not always easy, but you know what?

Where there’s a will…there’s a way.

Nurturing yourself makes sense on so many different levels.

After all, if you’re not in tip-top condition – how will you service your clients or look after your family?

Making yourself a priority is fundamental to being happy in your life.

Happiness comes from within

No matter what surrounds you externally, it is how you feel within that makes you happy. It is not about money, other people or possessions.

People, places and things do not make you happy.

Yes, they might be giving you a short boost but it does not last…because it is driven by external factors. If you do not value yourself enough to create “Me Time” and practice self-care, you may appear outwardly happy, but internally it is a different story.

Part of being happy, at least in my experience, is making a date with yourself for “Me Time”.

It comes down to making a conscious effort to devote a part of each and every day to self-care. Time dedicated to you.

Using Your Me Time

How you choose to use that time is very much a personal decision.

It’s got to be a space or activity where you get to still the chattering monkeys in your mind and replenish your energy.

Speaking personally, I have a very busy schedule that includes travel, family to care for and a business to run.

This means I need to use a range of techniques that are quick and easy to practice depending on where I am. It’s not a lot of time, but it is some time each day and that is the key.

My Personal Practices

I usually practice 10 minutes of meditation when I first get up, go walking or paddling. Depending on where I am and what my schedule is like that particular day will determine my daily practice.

I never listen to music, podcasts etc as I walk. I like to be in the moment and absorb what is around me and allow my mind to just be. Nothing to think about.

I journal and write regularly as a way of clearing the brain, and I also take time out to sit outside for lunch whenever I can.

Working across time zones makes routines a challenge so I need to maximise my business days. My small daily self-care activities keep me in a positive mindset and allow me to rest and empty my brain sufficiently to have the space to give more of myself to those I am working with and looking after.

Need help getting started?

So often I hear “It’s alright for you Michelle, but I can’t do that”.

My answer is “YES, you can – if you really want to. ” 

It all begins with EMPOWERING YOURSELF! If you need help understanding HOW to do this – reach out to me for some additional tips.

Are taking care of yourself first and foremost? Let me know in the comments.

Fly like a dragon!

Michelle

Happiness – what makes you happy?

20th March (yesterday) was International Day of Happiness. Today, we are celebrating Harmony Day in Australia. It’s a day where we celebrate cultural diversity and the wonderful multiculturalism that makes up Australia.

I thought this would be a great day to give a big shout out to all my wonderful friends, family, clients and colleagues that I’ve worked with from all corners of the globe. You have contributed to my happiness metre. Knowing you has helped me develop, grow and become the person I am today.

What does happiness mean?

Happiness, in my book, is being contented with living in the moment. It’s all about embracing what you have and being grateful for each and every opportunity that comes your way.

Yes, I have experienced some tough times in both my personal life and business life. But each moment that I’ve been through has grown me as a person. It has made me who I am today.

If you are one of my clients or students, you’ll know I often refer to FAIL as First Attempt In Learning. If we do not fail, then we often miss out on extremely valuable lessons.

The biggest happiness lesson

Happiness is not measured by how much you have or by where you are. Rather it comes from within.

You and I are each responsible for our own happiness. We cannot blame others if we are unhappy, nor can we expect them to fix things for us.

I’ve met so many people with so very little in their lives, yet they are happy. In contrast I also know people surrounded by abundance, with not a monetary care in the world, yet they are desperately unhappy.

Of course our happiness metre can increase when in the company of certain people or doing certain activities, but that is just a short-term boost.

If you constantly feel unhappy, you may be suffering from depression, and there is no shame in that. There is help available and I would encourage anyone who has been feeling low for more than a couple of weeks to seek out professional support. You do not have to travel this road alone.

Happiness and business

Being in business is tough. Being in business for yourself is even tougher. It can be stressful. Heck, it is stressful.

BUT, it does come down to your attitude and outlook. Being willing to reach out, by maintaining a positive outlook and being prepared to adapt and change to suit circumstances all contribute to your internal happiness with your business.

Setting achievable goals, working with a business plan, utilising expertise and mapping out time for yourself to refresh, reframe and relax away from your business are all contributing to your happiness equation.

I’ve had my back to the wall, struggled to pay bills and had to negotiate payment plans. What I teach and espouse is all based on personal experience.

My personal experience is what has added to my knowledge base. It has actually been of benefit because I have gained capacity to truly understand the needs of my SME clients. I did not learn just via a course or text-book, but in the school of life, and this is what now affords me testimonials like these:

I have found working with Michelle to be very valuable. She provides clear, easy guidance with keen insight to your particular business needs.

Linda Emslie

Helping others

You may feel that in tough times you need to tighten your belt. Yes, you do.

But that does not mean you cannot afford to help others. Donating your time is one of the most valuable gifts of all.

As a business, at Dragon Sisters, we have always offered pro-bono support rather than cash. Our inkind services are far more valuable than any cash contribution we can afford to make, and as a result of the pro-bono support we get a nice warm and fuzzy feeling inside. It makes us feel happy to have helped someone else.

You can help out in so many different ways, a few hours a week, a month or a year. It’s all valuable and valued.

Your happiness metre

It’s a little place inside you.  A place where you store up all the wonderful feelings and experiences.

Each good thing you do, each experience and each achievement, all feed your happiness metre. The more you feed the metre, the more reserve you have to tap into when there are tough moments to encounter.

Wishing you happiness today and everyday.

Michelle

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.

 

7 Top Tips for Using Facebook Live

If you’re a journalist (or a politician!), you’re probably used to going live to camera. But for the rest of us, it is not something we’re so readily at ease with.

Facebook Live has been around since earlier this year in Australia. It’s a warts and all, live to camera experience. It’s kind of scary.

From a personal perspective as a smarketer, it’s very important to be on top of what is trending, and Facebook Live is definitely hot!

You’re feeding into Facebook in real time. Whoever is following you, will see you in their feed. Sure, you can edit it a bit later and post to other channels, but it did actually broadcast live at the time!

My very first effort was rather harrowing, and I had issues with the internet connection dropping out! It took 3 lots of Live to finish my message.

I have since discovered that you can switch the privacy setting to “Only Me” and that way no one will see the video except you. A good way to have a practice – or you can just go for it like I did!

Spontaneity, with mistakes and gaffes, makes it all more authentic, and audiences do love to see the real deal. That’s why those bloopers at the end of films are so popular.

So how exactly does it work?

Well, first of all, it’s really important to understand that you can only do this from your smart phone. It cannot be done on a desktop.

Open Facebook on your phone, and click Post. You’ll see there is a little pink icon with ‘Go Livë’ .  If you can’t see it readily, it’s below the Photo/Video icon.

Click the Go Live Icon.

If it’s your first time using this feature, Facebook will, very helpfully, prompt you on what to do. Once your phone is ready, it will flick up a blue button saying Go Live.

Once you cFacebookLive Anywherelick that blue button, the countdown timer will start to roll. It’s just like in the movies! 3, 2, 1 and then you’re the ACTION.

Yep, you’re the producer, star and director all at once!

 

7 tips to enhance your experience with Facebook Live

Tip 1– Make sure you have a fully charged battery and a good internet connection.

Tip 2 – If you’re broadcasting to people who don’t know you, or may not know where you are, make sure that you repeat where/who you are through the video. That way, if people join in part way through your feed, they get the picture pretty quickly.

Check out this feed on the Darwin Waterfront Warriors page and you’ll see how often the name was repeated.

You’ll also notice that there was a call to action, a shout out to those in other points of Australia and a thank you to the marina management.

It was just a very spontaneous decision to go live, but it got amazing results. This is what smarketing is all about – seeing an opportunity and grabbing it.

Tip 3 – when you are the person holding the phone or in front of it speaking, it’s very hard to see the comments – in fact, it’s impossible for me to see.

If you are using Facebook Live for business and want to interact and engage with your audience in real time, here’s a couple of tips for getting around this issue:

1. Make sure you have a computer logged into the same Facebook page.

2. Position it so you can see the larger screen during the broadcast.

3. Get a helper to answer comments as they pop up, and to flag you when you might want to do a shout out.

Tip 4 – the longer you are live, the better the chance of people finding you in their feed and interacting.

Naturally, you need to be mindful to be providing interesting, useful, informative or entertaining content. It’s not just about YOU – it’s about the viewers experience.

Tip 5 – Remember when you come off the Live to save the video to your camera roll. That way you can reuse it, load to YouTube, edit, etc. Another thing I didn’t know when I began!

Tip 6 – Check your lighting (as per tip below) – and sound.

I’m slowly getting better at this thanks to the tips from Ludwig Linnekogel, which I have been sharing on our blog.

Tip 7 – Nail your message.

To grab a copy of our very soon to be completed e-book on creating engagement through strategic content leave your details here and we’ll make sure you’re the first to receive it.

To your success!

Michelle




Success – A Different Perspective

WINNER1 cmpThis blog post was, in part, inspired by the speech Michelle gave almost 12 years ago as the 2004 Telstra NT Business Woman of the Year. It was first posted on Simple Team Meeting in April 2015.  We believe it is just as relevant now as it was then.  Wishing you every success in 2016.

Michelle & Yvonne

 

When you hear the word success what do you immediately think of?  Wealth, status or fame? I suppose the most common is the trappings of wealth but this is purely external.

Success, at least the monetary kind, and happiness do not go hand in hand. For numerous reasons. Sometimes individuals have a tendency to push themselves so hard to succeed that they do this at the risk of loosing everything else around them. This includes health, family and even themselves.

The more pressured your job is, the more important it becomes to take the time to ensure you are succeeding in all aspects of your life.

In my eyes you are a success when you are happy with where you are. In other words, being happy in the moment. That is not to say you should not have ambition, goals and dreams, rather it means accepting and enjoying the present as opposed to constantly looking ahead to the future, the next goal.

Now this may sound a bit strange to some, but based on personal experience, I believe this is absolutely the case. The epitome of success is allowing yourself to appreciate the present.

Accept and give yourself a pat on the back for what you are achieving at the moment.

Do not pay too much heed to what everyone else considers or thinks is appropriate.

Living in the moment means taking the time to enjoy what are often the very simple pleasures of life. I embrace moments when I walk to work. I admire the scenery and absorb the little details like the blossoms unfolding , the birds cheeping,  and the way the light changes in the sky at different times of day. I enjoy allowing my mind to wander where it chooses.  I take the time to appreciate the walk and see it as an exercise opportunity rather than a drudge. It is my choice to see these as a pleasure moment and it sets me up for the day with a positive mindset.

We are each responsible for our own success, for our own feelings.  It does take some time and effort to achieve the skills to be able to live in the moment, but it is definitely a skill worth developing.

Developing awareness of living in the moment is a skill which accompanies us through life. It gives us the power to embrace success in all its forms and allows us to experience the greatest success of all in life, personal happiness.

Michelle

PS – love to hear your thoughts on what represents success. Leave a comment here.

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.