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Stressed Employees? Six Ways to Reduce Stress in a Family Business

Monday, February 20, 2017


Stressed woman sitting at deskAs an entrepreneur, you are used to handling high stress levels. It comes with the job. But what about your employees? They deal with stress, too. High levels of stress can cause or compound a variety of physical and emotional health issues. As a result, stressed-out employees tend to take more time off and be less productive when they are in the office. Their stress can also rub off on you, customers and coworkers.
 
You may think it’s not your job, but savvy business owners recognize that helping employees reduce stress is a top priority. If you work with your family, it is more important than ever to create a positive work environment. The good news is there are many positive changes you can make to create a work environment that reduces the stress you and your employees feel.
 
How can you help reduce the stress felt by your employees? Consider these six ideas:
 
  1. Set a good example. Just as children imitate the example of their parents, so too do employees imitate the example of their boss. Demonstrate what work-life balance looks like. Take time for your family and your wellbeing. Avoid negative attitudes. If you establish a culture of balance and reasonableness at the office, your employees will follow suit and stress levels will go down.
  2. Help them find balance. Even if your employees see you taking time for yourself and trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance, they could struggle to achieve the same thing in their own life. So empower them with information about the benefits of staying healthy through exercise and good eating habits, and the importance of taking breaks. You may even want to create company policies that encourage health and wellbeing.
  3. Communicate openly. Be clear and open with everyone involved in the family business. Create an environment where people feel comfortable asking questions and making suggestions. Let each person know what is expected of them and how they can gauge their success. Stress is reduced when people feel heard and informed.
  4. Don’t be afraid of confrontation. In family firms, conflicts often get buried instead of being resolved. However, avoiding conflict can lead to serious problems. Issues can fester, and progress isn’t made. In order to get to the bottom of conflicts and move forward, you must respectfully and firmly confront the issue. Acknowledge that you may or may not be right, but insist that the family talk things out. Keep talking until you find a mutually agreeable solution.
  5. Create a pleasant work environment. Your employees will do their best work when their environment is free of clutter and full of life. Get to work organizing, filing, and putting things away. Encourage laughter, teamwork, and bonding. Bring in some art and plants. Plants purify the air, reduce blood pressure, and promote positive energy.
  6. Express appreciation. It is a good practice to daily look for opportunities to tell each person how much you appreciate them. Employees need to hear commendation. And if they hear you offering commendation, they will be more likely to express appreciation for the help their colleagues give them as well.
 
A positive work environment is vital when it comes to reducing job stress, forging strong family bonds, and increasing productivity. Sometimes it is easier said than done, especially when it comes to working with family. I am here to help you manage the unique challenges of working with your loved ones. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

Entrepreneurs – How to Conquer Your Own Worst Enemy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Shoe squishing the word impossibleWhat do you consider to be your worst enemy as an entrepreneur? The ever-changing market? Fickle customers? Your competition?
 
What about your own negative attitude?
 
You may have heard that attitude is everything, and indeed it is. The mind and body connection is very real and very powerful. Our emotions affect our bodies and dwelling on negative ones can cause many physical health problems.
 
But did you realize that optimism could also greatly impact the health and wellbeing of your business? Optimists tend to be solution-oriented. When they encounter a setback, instead of throwing their hands up, they continue to search for a way around the problem because they are convinced there is a solution. They are also willing to try new things because they recognize that what looks like failure is really a learning experience.
 
While optimism can positively impact your life and business in a very large way, negativity can quickly tear down what you have worked for. Negativity adds to the normal stress felt by entrepreneurs everywhere. It also has a debilitating effect, sometimes preventing people from moving forward and getting past a situation or starting something new.
 
Do you tend to have a pessimistic attitude about life or your business? Or perhaps all the negativity in the media of late is having an impact on your state of mind?
 
Let’s consider three steps that can help you turn your negative thoughts around:
 
Accept your thoughts and feelings. It is important not to dismiss your negative thoughts and worries. Worrying about worrying is not going to help you! Accept your thoughts and feelings and take time to examine them. When you accept the existence of the negative thought and take ownership of it, you take back power and control. The problem no longer feels so large.
 
I often suggest to my clients that they make the effort to practice mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. Focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you consider your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
 
Challenge your negative thoughts. Once you accept your negative thoughts, you are in the position to challenge them. Ask yourself: Is there real evidence for your frightening thoughts and predictions? Are they founded in unhelpful beliefs? What are the pros and cons of worrying or avoiding the thing I fear?
 
Replace negative thoughts with realistic thoughts. Once you’ve identified the irrational or negative distortions in your anxious thoughts, replace them with new thoughts that are more realistic and positive. It can be helpful to view your negative thoughts and worries as incentives to search for solutions. Especially in business, solutions do not come from worry or fear. They come from putting our attention on what is good and beneficial.
 
Often, negative thoughts are part of a lifelong pattern of thinking. It takes time and practice to break these habits. To help you adjust your thinking to a more positive perspective, I suggest starting each day with a positive thought. That may sound small, but it will help you set the tone for how you will choose to think for the day. It is also beneficial to practice gratitude every day. People who look for reasons to be grateful experience better mental health, emotional wellbeing and resiliency in the face of difficulties.
 
If you still feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts and you live near Portland OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment. I can help you put your negative thoughts into perspective and cultivate a positive attitude that will help you succeed in life and business.

6 Strategies to Make a Change in Your Career Path Payoff

Monday, January 23, 2017


Start written on road leading toward sunrise or sunsetSo, you’re ready for a career change. What led you to that decision? Are you feeling unsatisfied or trapped in your current position? Did you recently finish up some schooling? Have you been laid-off and are struggling with unemployment?
 
Whatever your reason, changing careers can be scary. I’ve counseled and coached many people through this transition and I’ve discovered there are some things you can do to simplify the process and overcome some of the challenges you face.
 
Here are six strategies I recommend to make a successful change in your career:
 
Don’t rush things, especially if you are dealing with unemployment. Being unemployed understandably causes anxiety and can leave you feeling panicked and desperate. Give yourself a few weeks to come to grips with this unexpected change. Use the time to consider where you want to go next in your life. Once the sting wears off, you can move on to the serious work of re-evaluating your priorities and finding a job that best uses your talents.
 
Examine your inner self. Whatever your reason for switching career paths, take some time to really look inside yourself and gain a deeper awareness of who you really are. Sometimes we are under so much pressure to excel, to meet other people’s expectations, or to pay the bills that we lose touch with who we are inside. Reflect on your past experiences, where you’ve been and what you’ve learned. What do you still want to learn?
 
Self-exploration is an important part of the process. We are all multi-layered, multi-talented people. These talents can be applied to many different positions, not just one. To learn more about yourself and what positions will best utilize your skills, research other professions and experiment with them. See if there are opportunities to shadow a person working in a field you are you interested in.
 
Ask others for help. Tell them what you are looking for. Ask them what strengths and talents they value in you. It is a good idea to ask them for names of people who may be in a positon to help you. When you reach out in this way, you are sending the message that you are valuable. An added bonus is that people, especially those who love you, like to help! Helping makes them feel important and needed, especially when they are needed by a competent individual with the courage and humility to ask.
 
Focus your search. As you research other fields, start to narrow your options. Success will hinge on finding a career that is compatible with your personal qualities and goals. When considering a job option, make sure it meets your criteria.
 
Make a decision and stick with it! Don’t wait too long, getting trapped in an endless cycle of “What ifs.” Once you’ve found your new job or career, evaluate your decision. Do you feel good about the move? What would you do differently next time? What factors contributed to your success?
 
Remember that not everyone wants or needs a major change. Some people want a smaller shift in their career path. If the prospect of changing careers completely is so daunting that your stomach is churning, you can’t sleep, or you have a constant headache, your body is trying to tell you to forgo the risk. Instead, try to find value in what you already do. Focus on how you help people or what you enjoy about your current job. Find balance in your life by maintaining out-of-office relationships and interests.
 
If you decide to go ahead with changing your job, you will experience some level of insecurity and apprehension. Try to think of the uncertainty as an opportunity for growth and learning. Instead of trying to control or eliminate it, view this uncertain time as a necessary part of your transition. Let yourself experience the feelings and work through them naturally.
 
You may decide that you would benefit from professional assistance with your career planning. I can help you get to know yourself and your priorities so you can make the best decision for where you are now. If you live near Portland OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

5 Ways to Ensure That a Mid-Life Change Doesn’t Turn Into a Crisis

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Businessman jumping from one rock to anotherWe’ve all heard about the stereotypical “mid-life crisis,” a time when people act out their frustrations with life in seemingly crazy ways. Maybe you know someone who dropped a lot of money on a pricey convertible, had an affair, or walked away from a perfectly good job. Or maybe an entrepreneur who took an uncalculated risk or decided to start three new businesses at once. Perhaps this risky behavior secretly sounds somewhat alluring to you?

What is it about the period of mid-life that causes some people to react so “crazy”?

It ultimately boils down to a feeling of panic when you’re lacking a sense of purpose. It usually takes a while to reach this point. Most people start to suffer from lack of energy and creativity. They think about dreams left behind and start to long for something different. They get anxious and unsettled. Feelings of being unfulfilled and unhappy with their home and business life start to creep in.

The crisis or transformation that is occurring during this stage of life involves reevaluating one’s life and mission. Those pursuits or accomplishments that seemed so important in earlier years are no longer challenging or appealing. At this time, people are looking for new ways to make or find meaning in their lives because they want to make the most of the second half of their life.

A mid-life crisis happens when the different aspects of a person’s life interacts to produce conflict, confusion, change, reorganization, and, ultimately, growth. Their own life, family developments, and entrepreneurial pursuits converge and results in change. To deal with these exterior changes, the entrepreneur in their mid-life must change and grow too.

How can you ensure that this life change doesn’t become a dramatic crisis? Here are 5 ways to make this transition gracefully:

1. It is critical to reclaim your sense of purpose. People with a strong sense of purpose live longer, happier, more fulfilling lives than their peers who feel aimless. Find what brings you joy and gives you a reason to live. Take time to learn new things and start new interests to keep your brain active and interested.

2. Stay connected with your partner, family and friends. If business pursuits have kept you away, or life in general has kept you apart, make the effort to reconnect. These are the people who truly love and support you.

3. Cultivate a grateful attitude. Gratitude has a greater effect on your emotions than you realize. Having a grateful attitude is linked to less stress and anxiety, better physical health, and greater satisfaction in life and relationships. Take note of what you are grateful for and express gratitude when you can.

4. Give back to your community. This can be by donating to charity, getting involved in your church, or volunteering with a non-profit. It helps you regain your sense of purpose when you are part of something bigger than yourself.

5. Take time to exercise and stay healthy. Part of staying healthy is having fun. Don’t take yourself, life, even your business, too seriously. View life with some levity, and it will help you avoid that panicked, crisis feeling.

The mid-life is an exciting time, personally and professionally. It is definitely a transition, but remember that transitions can be good. You just have to be aware of the transition, what to expect, and how to cope. If you need some help with this new stage of your life and business, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Entrepreneurs – Do You Need to Change Your Habits This Year?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Arrows pointing opposite directionsWe all have habits we don’t even notice anymore. Maybe you get up each morning and immediately make a cup coffee. When you get to the office, you might take a moment to organize your desk and plan your day. You could take the same path through the grocery store every time you shop.

Our days are made up of a series of habitual behaviors. We develop habits because they are convenient mechanisms for getting things done without having to think too much about them. This leaves us more time and mental energy to devote to other things. Entrepreneurs, who are pulled in so many different directions throughout the day, find mindless habit to be extremely helpful as it allows some things to just flow.

But what happens when your formerly good habits no longer serve your best interest?

When you come to realize that a habit, or even a series of them, is no longer serving its purpose, stop doing it. Once we get something working, an efficient routine, it can be hard to give it up. But the fact is that what works now, won’t work forever.

Our lives are ever changing, as is our environment and our business. Therefore, it is important to assess your habits from time to time. Ask yourself: Are my habits helping me? Or are they just comfortable? Have they gotten to the point of being counterproductive?

I worked with a couple who, for many years, had a great routine going. Don ran the family business and Maria cared for the home and the children. The problem came later, when the children were grown. Maria wanted to go back to work, but she had trouble seeing her husband taking care of some of her former household duties. Don was afraid to relinquish control of their family finances. They struggled because everything had worked so smoothly for so long, they were reluctant to change even though change was needed.

What they needed to do was examine their habits in the light of their values as a family. If traditional family roles were most important to them, then it would make sense for Maria to not work outside the home. However, if their traditional style was simply convenient when the children were young, they should have no problem changing their style and habits to suit a dual-career life.

Successful entrepreneurs are all about managing exterior change, but many forget that they have to change themselves sometimes. While it is not always a comfortable process, change is a part of life and it is vital to our progress and happiness. We all need to experience new things, overcome new challenges that take us outside of our comfort zones, to grow.

As this year draws to a close, it is the perfect time to step back and assess your habits, personally and professionally. Can you identify any of your habits that might be doing more harm than good? I’m sure you can recognize some of your habits as being helpful and moving you forward in the right direction. Are there any new habits you want to develop?

New Year’s Resolutions often get a bad rap for not lasting past January. It doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, try examining your priorities and resolve to establish habits and routines that maximize your values and beliefs. These are changes and habits that will last…until they need to change again!

Have your habits and routines stopped bringing you joy? If there is something about your life that’s not working, don’t settle for it! If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. I will help you get to the root of the problem and find a solution.

Drinking Safely During the Holidays

Monday, December 19, 2016


Woman declining a glass of wineIt’s the most wonderful time of the year – spending time with family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, and invitations to a lot of parties. With all this merriment, often comes more drinking. Even for people who generally drink in moderation, holiday celebrations can really impact their alcohol consumption and quickly lead to overindulgence.
 
What is it about the holidays that lend themselves to an increase in drinking? There is a festive feeling in the air at this time of year. It seems there are endless occasions for celebrations, from end-of-the-year office parties, to the reunion of long-lost friends and family.
 
The flip side of that, though, is the extra stress brought on by the holiday season. Family dinners do not always equate to relaxing, enjoyable evenings. Memories of those who are no longer with us can bring sadness. The sheer cost of the holidays can also make it tempting to escape in a glass of spiked eggnog!
 
Whether you’re celebrating, or trying to de-stress, it may be tempting to overindulge or even use the holidays as excuse for binge-drinking. It may seem like a good idea to help you cope with difficult family members or an uncomfortable office party, but the reality is over-drinking can have a detrimental physical effects and lead to behaviors you often regret later.
 
So how can you enjoy drinking during the holiday season wisely? Here are a few suggestions:
 
Have a plan. How much alcohol are you comfortable drinking? A martini? Two glasses of wine? Decide ahead of time how much you will drink, and stick to your decision. Don’t let others push you to drink more than you know you should.
 
This is especially important for recovering alcoholics. Go in to any gathering with two or three responses prepared for when you are inevitably offered a drink. You don’t have to tell anyone that you have struggled with addiction. A firm, “No, thank you. I’m fine,” can suffice.
 
Keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand. This helps space out the drinks you’ve already decided you can have. Instead of drinking two glasses of wine before dinner is even served, sip on some water or sparkling cider in-between glasses.
 
This is also a great way to avoid being offered a drink. If people see you with a glass already in your hand, they will be much less inclined to try to push something on you. Having something bubbly and delicious also helps you avoid feeling deprived.
 
Remind yourself why you plan to drink in moderation (or not at all!). Have you made bad choices in the past when you over-drink? Do you feel sick, tired, and weak the next day? Remember why it is important to you to make this choice.
 
Keep alcohol in its proper place. Instead of viewing the party as an opportunity to drink, look at it as a wonderful time to socialize and enjoy good conversation. Then if you choose to have a drink, it's just an addition to a lovely evening not the focal point.
 
Surround yourself with supportive loved ones. For those that deal with addiction, it is vital to get support from close friends and family. While they may not understand exactly what you are going through, they want the best for you and will help in any way they can. If you start to feel your willpower waning, reach out to them. If you make it through a tempting situation successfully, share it with them!
 
If one of your family members struggles with addiction, it is very important that you help them as much as they will accept. The function of the family unit is to nurture and protect its members. Family members tend to overlook, condone, deny, rationalize, or minimize the problem for the sake of keeping peace. No one wants to rock the boat, especially around the holidays. Of course, you can’t force anyone to do anything. But offer to help. Do not enable them, or ignore their addiction. And if they turn around and get their life back on track, celebrate with them and support them in their ongoing efforts!
 
If you feel that you need help dealing with addiction personally, or in your family, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, I can help! Please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Entrepreneurs – Reduce Stress by Caring for Your Mind, Body and Spirit

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Man standing on cliff with arms outstretchedWhile entrepreneurs are good at accomplishing goals, they're usually not very good at establishing healthy habits. You probably work tirelessly building your business, working long hours while simultaneously caring for your family. It’s no wonder that self-care quickly takes a backseat to more immediate priorities. With what result? A lot of built-up stress with no relief in sight.

What can you do to minimize the amount of stress in your busy entrepreneurial life? Stress comes when the different aspects of your life fall out of alignment. In order to keep all parts of your life in healthy productive alignment, you must attend to the whole person. That means caring for your mind, body and spirit.

Care for your mind. Take time to refocus and recharge. One way to do this is through the practice of mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. Focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you objectively consider your thoughts and feelings, a process that helps you be truly present and live in the moment.

The benefits of practicing mindfulness extend beyond the initial session of meditation. People who practice mindfulness experience greater focus and decreased stress, even beyond the meditation session. It keeps you from jumping from one thought to the next or dwelling on negative thoughts. Even just a few minutes can quiet your mind and reduce stress.

Care for your body. Physical needs are some of the first things left behind when entrepreneurs really get busy. But caring for your body is necessary for staying healthy and keeping your stress levels in check. Get some sleep. This is easier said than done, but it is important. Take time to prepare and eat nourishing foods. The vitamins and minerals in healthy foods keep your body working properly, enabling you to power through the daily demands of entrepreneurial life.

Also, move your body more. Exercise reduces stress, increases your energy levels, and helps you sleep better. Even small amounts of exercise can make a big difference. The mind and body are in state of constant communication. What the mind thinks and experiences is sent from the brain to the rest of the body. This is why you can often physically feel the effects of stress. The good news is that our bodies are also sending messages to the brain so exercise can help calm the mind.

Care for your spirit. The spirit is that part of each human that makes us a distinctive personality. It is the part of a person that defines us and yet connects us to others. Keeping our spirit healthy is essential to the process of achieving healthy balance in life. Some feed their spirit through belief in God and the practice of religion. Others maintain a spiritual connection in some other way. Find your sense of self that extends beyond the boundaries of this life and commit to it.

Stress is a part of life, especially for entrepreneurs. However, it can be managed by taking care of your entire being. When you balance your mind, body, and spirit, you will be able to have a more meaningful, and less stressful, life to share with the ones you love. If you’d like to achieve balance again and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

7 Ways to Teach Your Child to be a Leader

Monday, November 21, 2016


Mother and daughter spending time togetherIt probably goes without saying that parents want their children to be leaders rather than followers. Some children are natural leaders. They seem to inherently understand how to negotiate successfully, effectively give directions, and kindly offer help. These children bring peace and harmony to a group, and inspire others to do their best.
 
But for most children, these skills do not come naturally. They are skills that must be learned from you as a parent – the family leader! When you are running a family business, there’s an additional element to teaching leadership since your child might be called upon to lead the family business someday.
 
So how can you teach your child to be an effective leader? Fortunately, you don’t have to revamp your entire routine to teach leadership skills to your children. Small things you do every day can have a big effect.
 
Take a look at these seven ways you can help your children grow into great leaders:
 
Emphasize the value of perseverance. Leaders need to learn to handle failure gracefully. They may fail many times, but true leaders always get back up and move on quickly. It is important to allow your children to experience disappointment rather than protect them from it. When you shield your children from failure, they don’t learn to tolerate the inevitable failure they will experience later in life. Children need to learn how to deal with a setback and move forward with a positive attitude. When they do fail, be kind and show support. Let them know that you understand their feelings. This will help them understand that things will ultimately work out for them.
 
Don’t be so quick to offer praise. Children need praise to build their self-esteem, but not so much that they depend on praise from others to feel good about themselves. Their confidence must come from within. They need to learn to believe in themselves, especially in the face of opposition or naysayers. When you do praise your children, praise the effort they put in to something.
 
Let your children be self-sufficient. Don’t be quick to jump in and solve their problems for them. This applies to everything from school projects to a disagreement they have with a friend or sibling. Step back and let your children work through their issues. This empowers them to stand on their own two feet and take control. They learn to be responsible and accountable.
 
Focus on independence verses obedience. By no means am I advocating a parenting technique where the child can be disobedient, rude, or disrespectful. However, if you want your child to lead your company someday, they need to learn how to be independent and make good decisions now. Independence is a state of mind that children must conquer for themselves. In order to do this, children must eventually prove themselves in the adult world. This proof often comes by leaving home, perhaps even the family business for a time, and facing their fears of being on their own.
 
Don’t focus too much on achievement. Of course, you are proud of your child when they get good grades or excel in some other way. But are those individual achievements really what’s most important? Isn’t it the journey? True success, especially in the business world, comes from teamwork. The most successful people surround themselves with talented people who make up for what they lack. If you focus too much on the individual achievements of your children, they will not learn how to work with others, ask for help, and may give up out of discouragement.
 
Say no. It sounds simple, but it is very powerful. Successful leaders work hard for the things that are important to them. They don’t get everything they want, right this second. It is vital for children to develop this same patience. Help them set goals. They will experience the joy and gratification that comes from working hard to accomplish their goals and get what they want. Your children will learn to deal with the initial disappointment, and refocus on the goal ahead.
 
Model the behaviors you want to see in your children. Your children see everything you do, and soak it up like a sponge! Make sure your actions are saying what you want them to say. Be honest and authentic. Show your children that it is ok to be who you are. Show them that you aren’t infallible, that everyone makes mistakes. Then you can teach them how to work through, and learn from, their mistakes.
 
Parenting is no easy task, and we can all use some help from time-to-time. If you need help with your family, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

How Codependency May Secretly Be Hurting Your Family Business

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Codependency can be a problem in family businessesAre you in a codependent relationship? Perhaps you have no close family or friends that are suffering from addictions or illnesses, issues that commonly result in codependence. You are not enabling anyone, picking up the slack when they refuse to do their part, making excuses… wait a minute.
 
Maybe you aren’t doing these things in your personal life, but if you tend to do them as a business owner, you could very well be on the road to codependency, and it could be hurting your business.
 
Codependency occurs when a person consistently allows their own needs and rights to become secondary to someone else’s. They take the emotional needs of others onto themselves. As a business owner, this can include neglecting your business in order to take care of other people.
 
What does this actually look like? Maybe you have an employee or business partner who has to be reminded over and over, and over again, to get things done.  They aren’t doing their job. They aren’t fulfilling their commitment to the company. But then again, they don’t have to. You are there pushing, pulling, and reminding them to do their work. The result is wasted time, energy, resources, and money.
 
Things get trickier when we are talking about a family business. With regular employees, it tends to be easier to lay down the law, make cuts when necessary, and enforce consequences. When it comes to family – your spouse, your daughter, your cousin – we make more allowances and offer more assistance. But this can quickly go from being kind and loving to a family member to being codependent.
 
The reason it is so easy to confuse kindness and codependency is that they are essentially the same behavior, just within different contexts. To be kind means to give unconditionally, share, and show that you care. When this giving and caring is reciprocated in a healthy relationship, the condition is kindness. However, when the kindness is not reciprocated, and you find yourself constantly giving, it may be codependency.
 
How can you tell if you are a codependent business owner? Perhaps you see yourself in the scenarios mentioned above. Here are some other signs of codependence: 

  • Difficulty saying no or feeling guilty for being assertive

  • Extreme preoccupation with the opinions of others, perhaps even valuing their opinions over your own

  • Difficulty communicating, identifying your needs, or making decisions

  • Sacrificing your good reputation to help someone who doesn’t give back

  • Feeling unappreciated and resentful

  • Physical symptoms such as feeling tired or depressed, or experiencing headaches or stomach pain

  • Relying on food, shopping, alcohol or other drugs to give you a lift

As in personal relationships, a codependent business relationship will eventually result in burnout for you and/or your business. You can only go so long putting other people ahead of yourself and your business until something breaks down. Choose to have positive self-esteem, and realize your limitations and personal responsibilities. Give responsibility for other people’s actions back to them.
 
Breaking codependency is extremely difficult to do without help and support from others. Because codependent tendencies are rooted in childhood dysfunction, it is often necessary to consult a therapist to determine the cause. I can help you work you these issues and empower you to take back control of your life and your business. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

Can Entrepreneurial Women Measure Up to Their Definition of Success?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Entrepreneurial woman caring for business and familyAccording to the 2012 US Census, women own 36% of all businesses, which is a jump of 30% over 2007. This trend isn’t going away. However, the challenges for women entrepreneurs on how to deal with differences between themselves and their husbands, and find work/home balance remain.

Even in the 21st century, women are still often expected to take on a submissive, dependent, supportive role. They help their husbands, nurture their families, and care for their homes. Over time women, even successful entrepreneurs, have internalized this definition of womanhood. This can lead to women being less assertive, struggling with the choice between caring for her own needs and that of her business, and taking care of the needs of others.

Women are keenly aware of their identity in relation to others. They view themselves are caregivers, wives, and employers. Women develop their sense of self through connections with others. Their sense of worth is highly dependent on the status of their relationships.

For example, I worked with a woman named Sarah who was at a crossroads with her husband and her business. Sarah’s husband had begun helping her with her business, but the arrangement was not working. She needed to take back control of her business but still save her marriage. Despite being a successful entrepreneur, she was struggling because her sense of success was based on how her husband would adjust to the new developments.

The fact that women view the world in relational, or interpersonal terms, helps explain why many women downplay their business achievements. For example, I asked a co-entrepreneurial couple to tell me their official business titles. The wife, who had started the business five years before her husband began working with her, said she was a “sales associate,” while her husband referred to himself as the “vice president.”

Over time, our society has developed the notion that money and power are synonymous with success. Entrepreneurial women certainly find satisfaction in business accomplishments. To many women, however, true success comes from so much more. It comes from relationships, family, and personal connections, to name a few. Women have different values, and these values are significantly impacting how they design their businesses.

Women are encouraged, even expected, to marry and have children. If a woman only achieves success in business, she runs the risk of being considered a failure as a woman. Of course, each woman gets to choose if they will work, start a family, or do both. What if a woman wants to have both a family and a business venture? They have to find the balance between what they believe is required of them as a competent professional verses a good wife and mother.

Often, women end up working overtime. While maintaining, or even increasing, their commitment to secular work, they also increase the time they spend nurturing their families, relationships and caring for their homes. To make this work, many women design their business schedule around family needs. Since they are well aware of the challenges of raising a family while working, they are often willing to work with employees to maintain their own work/life balance.

In spite of the challenges, the number of woman entrepreneurs continues to rise. In fact, they often report a high level of satisfaction with both work and home life. They are successfully facing the challenge of balancing love and work.

Do you need help balancing your home life and work life? I’ve been there, and I can help! If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

I also encourage you to check out my book, Entrepreneurial Couples - Making It Work at Work and at Home. It explains why partners sometimes struggle to see eye-to-eye in business, but how to overcome differences and succeed. I encourage you to read it together as a couple and see how the suggestions can improve your home and business life.



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