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What I’ve Learned Navigating Work and Kids as a Digital Exec

When I took the CMO role at my organization mere weeks after returning from maternity leave for my second child last July, I had the typical working-mom apprehensions about the time and energy necessary to fulfill the obligations required of a C-suite executive. Was it selfish to prioritize my own career when I had a newborn and a toddler?

I ultimately decided that, while it’s unrealistic to tell mothers they can have it all, I could make a go at it.

Fast-forward four months, and my worlds are colliding in one Brooklyn apartment. In my rare quiet moments, I realize I’ve learned a few things that I — and hopefully others — can apply to work/life balance in the future.

Cutting Ourselves Some Slack Doesn’t Mean Lowering Productivity

This crisis has exposed how human we all are. Frozen has been the backdrop of many work calls. Even my colleagues who don’t have kids have had to figure out ways to balance work with their own home obligations, like checking in on elderly parents, learning strategies for quieting their dogs, or even handling their roommates.

Everyone’s “real” life is now fully exposed  — and it’s all for the better. I don’t feel any suppressed eye rolls when I tell people I have to go deal with a crying baby. I certainly don’t sigh when I hear about other people’s logistical challenges or their boredom and loneliness.

The reason to be hopeful about all of this runs deeper than simple human empathy. People are really stepping up. I’m seeing employees work more, not less, and that lesson will last. C-levels see that they can keep their expectations high while letting people be themselves and work from home, which will help us all create and maintain a better balance in the future.

Continue to Take Joy in the Small Things at Work and at Home

Working-parent narratives used to feel separate from digital advertising’s hard-driving lifestyle. Now, we no longer have to choose between kids and work because we’re forced to juggle both simultaneously.

Some of us have been able to experience our children’s firsts in person rather than through videos from childcare providers. Last week, I got to see my youngest son crawl for the first time, and I cheered him on as he army-crawled across the playmat to grab a rattle, grunting with determination and pride. Would it be so bad if a parent could stay home for a few days as their kids achieved these milestones once life returns to normal?

Among my colleagues, one is itching to get back to the gym, while another can’t wait to get back to volunteering. We should allow ourselves time in our days to balance these important things that make us human with our duties at work.

I often find myself building a Magna-Tile castle while responding to low-priority emails on my phone, but I’m 100 percent present for an important strategy brainstorm and still get to spend 30 minutes a day with my son’s virtual preschool class.

Let’s Continue to Be Present

In the immortal words of Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda (that’s where I get my wisdom these days), “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why they call it the ‘present.’” It’s important for us to take advantage of the time we have to be present. Some of us work too much, and we should take time away from our desks so we don’t feel like every day is Monday.

Slacking with colleagues around the globe at 5:30 a.m. is now a normal occurrence, and that allows our team to be nimbler and more efficient at client service through continual engagement. Many of us will be excited to dive back into our normal schedules once the bans are lifted, but there will also be mixed emotions. Will we still be able to admit that we have dogs and deliverymen while we’re on a conference call? Or that we actually have kids when 5 p.m. rolls around?

While I will miss some important firsts no matter what (I’ll likely be in a meeting sneaking a peek at my son’s first steps on video), I also want to make sure I can be present in both worlds going forward. I am so fortunate to still have a job during this unprecedented time, especially one that allows me to provide for my family while staying safe. I want to make sure I carry these lessons with me over the coming months, and I hope we can all use the things we learn during this time to make lasting improvements to our work/life balances.

Johanna Bauman is CMO of PubMatic.

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Should You Always Take the Promotion?

When we talk about happiness at work, we usually focus on ways to boost your satisfaction and land a position that offers a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

One tidbit that rarely makes headlines is that many employees are actually pretty content with their work. In fact, a CNBC/SurveyMonkey survey found that 85 percent of American workers are happy with their jobs.

With numbers like those, it stands to reason that most workers aren’t necessarily itching for a new position — but if you’re doing stellar work, a well-deserved promotion may be headed your way.

While recognition from higher-ups always feels good, moving up the food chain may not be something that interests you. And that’s okay.

Is That Promotion Right for You?

If your boss offers you a promotion, don’t accept it automatically. Instead, take some time to mull it over. Look out for these red flags that signal this step may not be in your best interest:

1. The New Role Won’t Advance Your Career

Take some time to think about where you’d like your job to take you over the long haul. Is this promotion a step in that direction? If it takes you on a detour or represents a lateral move, step back and look at the big picture. Some promotions can change your career trajectory, and that may not be a good thing.

“If [the job] is in a department or a role you didn’t envision yourself being in, think over whether it could be a good step up the career ladder or whether you’d prefer to move in another direction,” advises career expert Alison Doyle.

Another detail worth considering: If the promotion would put you in a managerial position, know that part of your job would involve overseeing junior workers. Not everyone enjoys that kind of work. In fact, research from leadership consulting firm DDI found that 18 percent of people in leadership roles outright regret taking the gig, and 41 percent question whether taking the promotion was a mistake.

2. The Position Will Take a Toll on Your Personal Life

We’re all striving to achieve work/life balance, or at least come close. When considering a promotion, get real about the new workload. Is it likely to eat into your life outside of work?

“You may have a lot of things going on in your personal life, and if this promotion is going to take more of your time and energy, you might not be able to juggle it all successfully,” Doyle says.

Close to two-thirds of American workers say their employers expect them to work over the weekend, according to a 2017 Enterprise Rent-A-Car survey, while 61 percent say they struggle to fully disconnect on their days off. Ask yourself how much work you’re willing to put in outside of the office before agreeing to the promotion.

For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

3. The Money Isn’t Worth It

Considering how much this promotion would increase your workload, does the corresponding pay make sense? Does it fit into your overall plan for growing your wealth?

“If the salary bump that comes along with the promotion doesn’t seem worth it, or if there isn’t an increase at all, you might prefer to stay in a job and with a team you’re comfortable with,” Doyle says.

That said, don’t be so quick to walk away if money is the only thing giving you pause. Everything’s open to negotiation. Come to the discussion ready to talk about concrete ways you plan on moving the needle on the company’s revenue goals, along with a number that would make the promotion worth your while.

How to Decline a Promotion Without Burning Bridges

So you’ve weighed the pros and cons, and you’ve ultimately decided this promotion isn’t for you. Now for the tough part: breaking the news to your boss.

Instead of delivering a hard no, Doyle suggests making it a two-way conversation.

“Start by saying thank you,” she says. “Then have a conversation about the new role and what would be expected of you in the position. Ask if it would make sense for you to stay in your current job for at least a while longer, for example. That way, you’re not just saying no. You’re discussing what the best option would be, with your manager’s input.”

In other words, make it a collaborative experience that shows your manager you respect their point of view. And remember: This promotion may not feel right today, but things could change later down the road. Leave the possibility open so that the offer may still be there when you’re ready.

“If you’re sure the promotion isn’t something you’d ever want, consider other ways you can grow your career if you’d like to,” Doyle adds. “Look at lateral moves to different departments within your company, for example, and explore opportunities outside the company if you get to the point where you’d like to move on.”

Ultimately, the key takeaway is that there’s more than one way to grow your career and improve your financial success. Don’t feel like you have to take the promotion if it’s not right for you.

Marianne Hayes is a longtime freelance writer and content marketing specialist.

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First Impressions Are a Matter of Style: 5 Tips on Controlling the Conversation and Getting the Job You Deserve 

Within the opening moments of a job interview, your first impression is made. Controlling that impression is often a matter of personal style.

Let’s talk about that one question we ask ourselves everyday: What am I going to wear? This question is never more important than it is on the day of a job interview.

Yes, yes — your personality and skills matter, too. However, if we’re talking about first impressions, your appearance is what your interviewer will notice first. It can go a long way in showing that you’re ambitious, knowledgeable, and most importantly, a great fit for the company.

Walking into an interview for any job can be intimidating, particularly if it’s a dream job or a company you believe in. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and — let’s be honest — a little queasy as you arrive at the office. A million questions flash through your mind: What will they ask? How will I answer? What is the right answer? Will I be the right fit? Can I really succeed in this role? Will I like my new boss?

However, there are steps you can take before you even leave your house to minimize your pre-interview stress and maximize your control of the conversation to come. Remember: Confidence looks good on anyone.

Here are five ways to prepare to get the job you want:

1. Do Your Research

Get to know the company you’re interviewing with — not just its products, services, and customers, but also its leadership. Who are they? What’s their story? What do they do? What did they do prior to this? What articles have they written? What are they sharing on LinkedIn? What causes do they support? Why do they do what they do?

Be sure to research the company culture as well: What are the company’s values? What is its reputation in the marketplace?

2. Know Your Story

Your resume bullet points outlining your professional goals and achievements are important. They helped you score the interview in the first place. But in my experience, many people fail to capitalize on another critical element of the job search. In fact, it may be the most essential factor in getting that coveted offer letter: your story.

Who are you? What is your personal brand? What do you bring to the company as a leader and team member? Answering these questions helps you formulate your story — and telling that story sets you apart from the other candidates walking through the door.

Telling that story also starts in the closet.

For more expert career insights, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

3. Shape Your Style With Intention

First impressions, as we’ve already acknowledged, are critical. What you wear can send immediate signals about how trustworthy, knowledgeable, and competent you are before you even mutter a word.

The most important thing to remember when choosing an outfit for an interview is the story you want to tell in the interview. So ask yourself: What story do I want to share today? How can I use my outfit to guide the conversation effectively and successfully? How can I establish a sense of trust and authenticity so that the interviewer really listens to what I have to say?

What you wear should reflect your own personal story and style, but it should also align with the company’s brand. In doing your research, your should have seen some images of the leadership team. Let those, along with your story, inform your style choices.

4. Prepare Your Own Questions

You are interviewing the company as much as you are being interviewed! What you learn about the organization is just as consequential as what it learns about you.

Researching in advance allows you to formulate thoughtful questions that prove your authentic interest in the company and create a genuine dialogue with your interviewer. Thoughtful questions are a great way to stand out from the other candidates in the process. After all, employers want engaged employees who are excited to come aboard. Good questions are also invaluable in gathering the information you need to decide whether you really want to work for this company.

5. Change Your Mindset

Interviewing can be stressful, nerve-wracking, and exhausting. Changing how you think about the interview — and what you say to yourself prior to walking through the front door — can alleviate that stress.

It’s a simple tweak, but the effect can be powerful. Instead of heading to the front desk with the belief I am here, change the order to Here I am. Believe in yourself. Own the room. Start the conversation you want to have.

Above all, remember that going in for an interview is simply the opportunity to have a conversation and explore whether you and the company are good fits for one another. A dream job isn’t just about the job title, the benefits, and the product — it’s about joining a strong culture that aligns with your values.

Janel Dyan founded Janel Dyan, Inc., (JD) and runs Beyond Us. Her book, Story. Style. Brand., is available now on Amazon. Connect with Dyan on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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How to Build a Side Hustle When You Have No Idea Where to Start

There’s a good chance you know someone who works a day job and also spends part of their free time working on a side hustle. In fact, according to a survey commissioned by Vistaprint, 27 percent of Americans have already turned their hobbies into side businesses, and 55 percent of us would like to make the same move.

Side hustles are a great way to make extra cash, but getting one off the ground can be difficult. How do you even get started?

If you want to establish a side hustle but are feeling overwhelmed, try beginning with these five steps:

1. Ask Yourself, ‘Why Do I Want to Start a Side Hustle?’

There are several reasons someone might want to pick up a side gig, and you should know going into it what your goals are. Do you want to pursue a passion that can also help pay the bills? Are you looking to someday replace your day job?

One of the most common reasons someone might start a second job is to boost their income. According to the Vistaprint survey, 62 percent of Americans share that motivation.

Sit down, get out a piece of paper, and write down your reasons for wanting a side hustle. Are you saving for a specific goal, like a new car or new flooring for your house? Do you want some extra fun money? Are you trying to pay down your debt? Or maybe your goals aren’t purely monetary. Maybe you’re hoping to meet new people and expand your network.

2. Figure Out What You’re Good At (and What You Want to Do)

A side hustle can be a refreshing break from the often repetitive tasks of your day job. Depending on the gig, you may have a chance to explore new things and build new skills outside the scope of your regular job. Alternatively, you might want to find a side hustle within the same industry as your regular work as a way to further hone your primary skill set.

In any case, choosing a side hustle that allows you to use the skills you already have lets you hit the ground running and start making money right away. For example, if you’re good with a hammer and know how to work a paintbrush, you could think about selling handyman services through a platform like TaskRabbit.

Once you have an idea of some of the side hustles you might be interested in, eliminate any gigs that might not be applicable to you. For instance, if you don’t have a car, it’s probably best to cross “driving for a rideshare service” off the list. Or maybe you do have a car but can’t imagine driving strangers from one place to another. Either way, eliminate any side hustle options that don’t sound appealing or feasible, and focus on the ones that do.

3. Decide on Your Commitment

Since you’ll be working this side hustle in addition to a primary job, you’ll have to consider how much time and effort you want to put into it. Are you hoping to find something you can do on nights and weekends? Do you want a side hustle you can jump right into, or are you okay with taking some time to learn something new first? How long do you plan to commit to working your side gig? Is it something you plan on sticking with for the long term or only a few months?

For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

Pull up your weekly calendar and block out the times you would be willing to spend on your hustle. Now look at the schedule you’ve set aside for this new endeavor. Will you be able to realistically hit your goals in the timeframe you’ve given yourself?

The answers to all of these questions might not necessarily exclude a particular side hustle, but they can help you determine how you want to devote your time.

4. Pinpoint Your Dream Side Hustle

You should now have a short list of potential side hustles. All that’s left to do is pin down a specific opportunity.

If you want to work in the rideshare industry or another aspect of the sharing economy, get signed up for a service or two and try it out. If you’re looking for a more traditional second job, then start searching through job sites and reaching out to the people in your network who might have valuable connections at a target company.

Or, simply be ambitious and contact local businesses to show them the value you can offer. For example, say you’re a web designer who has noticed a local business needs an updated website — try pitching your services. If the business is happy with your work, it could lead to other similar jobs, and before you know it, you could have a number of clients ready and willing to pay for your services.

5. Organize Your Finances to Keep Your Hustle Succeeding

Once you’ve decided on a side hustle, you should take some time to get your finances in order. Depending on your venture, you may have to consider important tax implications. For example, as a freelancer, you’d likely be responsible for making estimated quarterly payments to the IRS.

You may also want to consider opening a separate bank account and/or business credit card to keep your personal and business expenses separate. While it may not be illegal to use a business credit card for personal expenses, it can be against the card issuer’s policy. Keeping your expenses separate will allow you to track your progress toward your side-hustle goal, and it will be a big help come tax season.

A side hustle that works for one person won’t necessarily make sense for the next, but you can rest assured there’s one out there for just about anyone. Figure out what it is you want to get from taking on a side job, narrow down which gigs sound feasible or fun to you, and start hustling.

Matt Miczulski is an associate writer at FinanceBuzz.

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Money Is Good, but Skills Are Better: 5 Side Hustles That Can Make You Better at Your Day Job

When you think of the value a side hustle can bring to your life, what comes to mind? If one of your first thoughts is “making extra money,” you’re not wrong. Starting a side gig is a great way to bring in extra income during your time away from your primary job.

But you might also want to consider how the right side hustle can make you better and more productive at your day job. While extra money may be your priority, picking up a side gig that complements your main job may provide more long-term value beyond your bank account.

5 Side Hustles That Boost Your Skills

Here are five side hustles that can actually make you better at your day job, while also bringing in that extra cash.

1. Freelance Writing

A side gig as a freelance writer gives you a creative escape while helping you develop all sorts of skills that directly translate to your day job. For starters, honing your writing skills can make you a better communicator — something that matters in most roles.

Furthermore, being a freelance writer can drastically improve your time-management and organizational skills. Most (if not all) freelance writing work is deadline-driven. If you’re juggling multiple projects for different clients, being unorganized simply won’t cut it. As you grow as a freelance writer, these skills will become second nature — and the same systems you have in place for writing can be used in your day job.

Before you know it, you’ll have a writing portfolio you can use to showcase your talents and open doors to new opportunities, too.

2. Customer Service

Customer service and client-facing roles put you on the front lines of an organization. You deal with customers and clients directly, and your main goal is to solve problems in ways that benefit both the customer and the company. That isn’t always easy to do, as the people you deal with can range from wonderfully pleasant to downright rude.

Whether you’re working with a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft or making money with Postmates or Doordash, a customer service role gives you the chance to learn how to properly communicate with a range of people and respond effectively to various situations. It can be a great way to develop your flexibility, reliability, problem-solving skills, and ability to work under pressure.

For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

3. Teaching Fitness

There’s no denying the benefits of exercise for both your physical and mental state. However, sticking to an exercise regimen is not always easy to do. It takes time, energy, and most importantly, discipline.

But what if you could get paid to work out? Well, you can by becoming a fitness teacher. You’ll get to exercise while getting paid — and a regular workout schedule will help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp. Those qualities will all come in handy at your full-time job.

4. Tutoring

Tutoring on the side is not only a great way to make extra money — it’s also a great way to sharpen some critical soft skills. To be a successful tutor, you’ll need the ability to create personal relationships, to listen and communicate, and to teach and convey ideas. You’ll also need patience. These skills can be incredibly beneficial in your day job, especially if you manage people.

What’s more, all of these tutoring skills will make you a better coach. People will turn to you to when they need help learning new things, which can make you invaluable in the workplace.

5. Managing Social Media

If you know your way around various social media platforms and can make engaging content, consider picking up a side gig managing a small business’s social media accounts. There’s no shortage of companies that don’t have the time or expertise to stay on top of their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.

Take it upon yourself to contact local businesses and offer your services for a fee. This requires an enterprising spirit, negotiation skills, and reliability, not to mention knowledge of social media platforms, analytics, and optimization tools. All of that can easily translate to more value for your day job, too.

Side Hustles Are Also Good for Networking

Aside from expanding your hard and soft skill sets, most side hustles will also help you network in unexpected ways. You’ll meet new people from a variety of backgrounds, and you never know who might need your skills and resources. You may gain access to opportunities you would never have had otherwise — and even if you don’t, you can always bring the fresh insights and perspectives you gain from meeting new people back to your day job.

Side hustles help you break out of your routine, giving you new perspectives and new avenues for expanding your skills. That, in turn, can have a positive impact on your performance at your day job.

There’s no shortage of side hustles out there, so finding one that best compliments your full-time gig shouldn’t be an issue. While extra money is always nice, consider picking a side hustle that helps you get better at your job and feel better in life as well. That may ultimately provide the most value in the long run.

Matt Miczulski is an associate writer at FinanceBuzz.

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Success Starts With Self-Love: How to Appreciate Yourself

Article by Michael Pietrzak

John was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1954, but for him, life wasn’t much to be thankful for. A birth defect caused John to wear painful leg braces, and his first-grade teacher told his parents he would never read, write, or amount to anything in life. (Dyslexia and speech impediments, both of which John had, weren’t well understood in the ’50s.)

Accepting that he was worthless, John dropped out of school at age 14 and moved to Hawaii to live in a tent. After a near-death experience, fate brought John an enigmatic 93-year-old mentor who changed his life with a single statement: “Each of us, no matter how seemingly worthless, has genius within us.”

John’s self-image radically improved. He began to read voraciously. He put himself through college, where he graduated magna cum laude. Today, Dr. John Demartini is one of the world’s top human behavioral specialists, a sought-after speaker, and the author of more than 40 books.

Fear and Loathing in the Modern World

“I tell you, my man, this is the American Dream in action!” — Hunter S. Thompson

Most of us born in the West had a much easier start in life than Dr. Demartini, but we still laugh to think we have genius within ourselves. In fact, many of us suffer from low self-esteem.

At a personal development seminar I attended in 2016, one speaker asked the crowd, “How many of you feel like you’re not enough as human beings?” In a stadium packed with successful professionals, 95 percent of the audience raised a hand.

Epidemics of depression, anxiety, addiction, and social isolation are spreading. In a society that idolizes celebrities, athletes, and experts, why do we have so much trouble appreciating the most important people: ourselves?

How to Spot Low Self-Esteem

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” — Mark Twain

Poor self-esteem is subtle. People don’t generally interrupt your morning coffee to tell you how much they suck, nor do we often notice it in ourselves. Instead, unhealthy self-opinions manifest in sneaky ways:

• Depression, anxiety, and body image issues: At times the symptoms are overt, but sometimes you would have no idea a successful person was battling inner demons.
• Perfectionism: Perfectionism doesn’t stem from having high standards, but from wanting the approval of others. The fatal failing of this behavior is that, in striving to be flawless, you’ll always fall short.
• Constant anger: People often use anger to mask their pain. If you’re angry, you don’t need to deal with your shame, hurt, or guilt. It’s a way to pretend the opinions of others don’t actually affect you.
• People-pleasing: A genuine desire to serve others is commendable, but people-pleasing goes beyond service. It becomes a desperate attempt to get from others the love and respect we’re not giving ourselves.
• Addiction: Our society says moderate drug and alcohol use is harmless fun, but these behaviors can be the doors we use to escape from a reality in which we don’t like ourselves very much.
 Narcissism: Know people who are reeeal big on themselves? This self-promotion likely serves to cover up a deep sense of inadequacy. People who are genuinely confident don’t need to tweet about it.

Once you spot one or more of these traits in yourself, you can work to remove them. But then again, what’s the point? Doesn’t achievement require a little suffering?

What’s Self-Love Got to Do With It?

“[L]ove of one’s neighbor is not possible without love of oneself.” — Hermann Hesse

I see you over there, rolling your eyes. I know you. You’ve never missed a credit card payment, your ride still has that new-car smell after five years, and you get too few back-pats from the boss for staying late. Give yourself a hand, because civilization needs you to function.

To you, work and accomplishment are the ultimate successes. Yes, you love your family, but you believe the best way to serve them is to bring home the bacon.

It speaks volumes, then, that so many millennials whose immigrant parents worked 17 jobs to pay for their medical degrees at Harvard are opting out of 40 years of 100-hour weeks in order to enjoy life more. It’s not that they don’t appreciate their parents’ toil, but that they see the insanity of the game.

Our failure to be kind to ourselves has created all the world’s problems: the rampant overconsumption that now threatens the survival of our species, the consumer junk we blow all our disposable income on hoping to fill the void we should fill with genuine self-love.

Accomplishment is noble but empty without fulfillment. Self-love is not an optional frill, it’s the core of life. When it comes to appreciating yourself more, there are two key habits to adopt: words and deeds.

Habit No. 1: Self-Talk

“Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.” — Don Miguel Ruiz

“Honey, I love you, but you just don’t measure up to my expectations, you embarrass me in public, and you’re not making enough money.”

You wouldn’t talk to your partner this way, yet I bet you don’t hesitate to say such things to yourself. If you want to appreciate yourself, you need to start with the way you talk to yourself. Your mindset determines how you experience life.

Thought creates reality. When your self-talk is healthy, life will seem beautiful. Conversely, negative thoughts cause negative emotions and make life hell.

According to psychologist Dr. David Burns, negative self-talk manifests in distorted thoughts. Some common examples include:

• All-or-nothing thinking happens when we evaluate events as black and white. Example: I lost the sale; my career is over.
• Overgeneralization is a belief that one instance of failure means you will always fail. Example: I asked a woman out and she said no; I’ll be forever alone.
• Mental filters cause us to focus on a single failure and ignore our many successes. Example: I missed that one free throw; I’m not cut out for basketball.
• Disqualifying the positive happens when we turn a good thing into a bad thing. Example: You receive a compliment and think, “They’re patronizing me.”
• Mind reading happens when you pretend to know what someone else is thinking. Example: My audience looks tired. I must be boring!
• The fortune-teller error takes place when you convince yourself that you just know something will go wrong. Example: I’m definitely going to fail this exam.

Low self-esteem always starts with negative self-talk. Pull this thinking up by the weeds and you’ll eliminate negative moods.

A word of caution: In your quest for a healthy self-image, avoid taking a wrong turn down the road to narcissism. Healthy self-esteem does not require that you feel superior to others. All players lose that zero-sum game. Don’t confuse loving yourself with loving your ego.

Habit No. 2: Self-Care

“A field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.” — Ovid

Practicing healthy self-talk is how you start to appreciate yourself, but it’s not enough on its own. If your boss constantly told you how great you were but forced you to work 18-hour days, the praise would become worthless.

Action needs to follow your words. Think of positive self-talk as the foundation for healthy self-esteem and self-care as the structure you build on top of that foundation. First, you tell yourself you’re worth it; then you prove it.

Self-care is the act of recharging your battery and topping up your tank. Each of us has unique needs, but we all know intuitively what fills us up. There’s no shortage of self-care ideas out there if you need inspiration. Google usually returns a list like: get a massage, eat healthy, or go for a walk.

Rather than write a prescription for you, I’d like to share some strategies to help you create space in your life for self-care. But first, a word of warning.

Adulting Is Not Self-Care

Self-care is not self-maintenance. You know that getting a regular checkup and brushing your teeth will make a better you, but self-care includes only those activities that truly give you joy and recharge your energy — things that simultaneously plant your feet on the ground and lift your soul to the clouds.

In my case, an hour walking alone in the woods takes me out of the fray of an ambitious to-do list and moves my focus to my heart. I re-enter civilization with new ideas and energy, but also with the peace of knowing my biggest challenges are trivial in a 14-billion-year-old universe. If you don’t come away feeling at least half this good, you may be choosing the wrong self-care acts.

Beware: Numbing is also not self-care. The right acts will make you feel more — more alive, more connected, more calm, more excited, and more appreciative. Self-care that numbs you can’t recharge you. Escaping into TV, alcohol, or Instagram can be a welcome break from work stress, but too much escaping is about as wholesome as eating a box of cardboard and can be a quick route to self-loathing. If you’re drawn to this kind of escapism, it may signal a need to change your relaxation habits.

Self-Care Strategies

These practices will help you create space for self-care in your life. Pick whichever works for you.

1. The Artist Date

“If we don’t give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked.” — Julia Cameron

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron teaches two fundamental self-care practices: morning pages (journaling) and the artist date (or “me time,” if you prefer). These work for everyone, not just artists.

Cameron defines the artist date as “an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers.” Two hours a week is enough for such a date.

What do you do in this time? Anything you want! The only rules are you have to do it alone and it has to be fun. The activity doesn’t need to be edifying (e.g., taking a class or reading), and it works better when you chase your curiosity. In this space, you can start to hear your inner voice again, the one that’s always there, ready to tell you how to be good to yourself.

2. The Deloading Phase

“Music is the silence between the notes.” — Claude Debussy

Top athletes tend to claim they’re always giving 110 percent, but they know results do not come from constantly running at the redline.

All effective training includes a deload phase, usually a week, during which you scale back your efforts. In my own weightlifting, this means loading up with only 50 or 70 percent of my training weight. It feels ridiculous, like throwing around a sack of feathers, and my mind fights it. However, all things have a rhythm, including your body, which needs a lighter week to “prepare … for the increased demand of the next phase.”

Work life guru Tim Ferriss has applied the deloading concept to his professional activities. He batches intense periods of similar tasks (writing blog posts and recording podcasts, for example), which he balances with periods of what he calls “unplugging and f—ing around.”

Like Ferriss, I defend my deload time. By working less, I accomplish more. Build a deload phase into your calendar now (it doesn’t have to be an entire week), and you’ll learn that by slowing down from time to time, you can go faster overall.

3. Just Play More

“[S]eriousness is someone speaking in the context of the possibility of tragedy.” — Alan Watts

Jane McGonigal turned her recovery from a concussion into a game, then a graduate school project, and then a viral TED Talk with 6 million views. Today, she’s the world’s foremost advocate of play.

When we face failures and challenges, we feel overwhelmed, anxious, and maybe depressed, McGonigal says — but “we never have those feelings when we’re playing games.”

In the same way that it’s impossible to experience negative feelings when we’re filled with gratitude, play can help us trade self-flagellation for self-love. When we play games, we experience “eustress,” or positive stress, which makes us feel optimized and energized. On the other hand, the stress caused by real-world problems can dominate our consciousness when we neglect self-care.

Play is a human need, a loving act of self-care that can make our lives feel less like work. Psychologist Dr. Neil Fiore suggests scheduling play before work each week as a prescription for procrastination. It worked for Albert Einstein: It is said that, when stuck on a problem, he would play the violin.

When Guilt Attacks!

“There’s no problem so awful that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse.” — Bill Watterson

For those of us who believe our work equals our worth (all of us), you can bet you’ll feel some guilt when you first adopt a policy of intentionally creating me time. The decision to take the afternoon off to be “selfish” will meet mental resistance at first. For example: “I’m a mother of three kids under 5 who need me all the time! How could I just abandon them to go get a massage?”

You do it by recognizing that self-care is child-care. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Want to be a great mother/father/employee/partner? Then take an artist date to go play during your deload week. The people around you, and your work, will benefit from a happier, more creative, and more effective you.

Appreciating yourself might sound like a luxury you can afford only when all the chores are done, but having compassion for yourself is the most practical, responsible approach to life because it lets you serve at your maximum potential.

A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.

Michael Pietrzak is a mindset and habits coach to entrepreneurs. He founded So You Want to Write? Inc., which helps writers improve and get published. Michael is passionate about weightlifting, great books, and playing guitar.

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What Are You Willing to Be Fired For?

When we work hard on something we believe in, it’s called passion. When we work hard on something we don’t believe in, it’s called stress. – Simon Sinek

When searching for the next dream job, we often consider factors like the type of work we will be doing, compensation, and title. Too often, we fail to dig deeper and learn what it would truly be like to work in that organization, what the cultural norms are, and whether they align or conflict with our own core values. Alignment will allow you to show up fully at work and thrive. Misalignment can create conditions for stress, underperformance, and disengagement, which may ultimately lead to you quitting or being fired.

Knowing your own core values — those fundamental beliefs that guide your behaviors and decisions — allows you to set boundaries. Boundaries, as defined by loveisrespect, are “where we personally draw the line between what is and is not okay with us.” They indicate how we want to be treated by ourselves and by others. For example, if you value family connection, you may set a boundary that you will not regularly work into the night or on weekends. If the norm of a company is that all hands should be on deck all of the time, that company may not be a fit for you. Whether or not a company is going to respect your boundaries should be a primary concern during any job hunt.

Stand Up for What You Believe In

Whether you are fulfilled in your current role or on the hunt for a new opportunity, defining your core values will help you operate with strength and clarity every day. You will be able to define the choices you make, the company you keep, and what you are willing to stand up for despite the consequences.

Here’s a real-world example. In one particular company, I (Nancy) faced a circumstance that involved my boss asking me to deploy a large marketing campaign that would hurt the business while my boss would personally and financially benefit. Fear set in. This was my boss, so if I didn’t do it, I could be fired for insubordination. But if I did the marketing campaign, it would be unethical. I felt paralyzed.

I had to ask myself what my core values were. At first, I thought of the core values of the company, not my personal values. This wasn’t right. So I sat down with a piece of blank paper and tried to come up with my own, but the words I wrote were not connecting with me. They were nice words, but they didn’t feel authentic.

Finally, for more clarity, I asked myself one simple question: “What are you willing to be fired for?”

Being fired was my biggest fear and, given the scenario, a reality staring me in the face. If I had values that were more powerful than my biggest fear, what would they be? The moment I asked myself this question, the answers came naturally without hesitation: family, freedom, and physical strength.

Was I willing to follow through with the campaign if it meant compromising these three values? The answer was no. If I didn’t follow through with the campaign, would I be willing to get fired over it? The answer was heck yeah!

Boom! I was suddenly grounded in what would become the most powerful foundation of my life. These were my new parameters, my boundaries: family, freedom, and physical strength.

Rather than saying no to the campaign ask, I chose to leave the company entirely. I left without hesitation and immediately found balance with my core values. Since then, I have encountered a handful of similar situations and applied my core value filter each time. Decisions became easier; I was in control of my own destiny. These values are now part of my personal identity. People know they can count on me to always stand up for what’s right instead of taking the easy route.

For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

4 Ways to Connect With Your Core Values

How present are you to your values? How intentional are you in making choices that align with your values? How intentional have you been in the past? To find out, consider the degree to which your choices and actions have led you to fulfillment, engagement, presence, and strength — or frustration, fatigue, smallness, and inauthenticity.

Here are four exercises you can use to get in touch with your core values:

1. Analyze

Create a checklist of questions that reflect your values to ask yourself when making a decision. Rate on a scale of 1-10 how well the decision would reflect what is most important to you.

2. Envision

Fill in the blank: I have made the decision to ________.

Now, look 10 years — or perhaps just one week — into the future. From the eyes of your wise and knowing self, what is happening? Is this really what you wanted? How are you feeling? Are you operating at your best?

3. Connect

Engage those who know you best, those who hold the vision of who you truly are and won’t be derailed by your shoulds, fears, or sabotaging thoughts. Ask them how well your choice would reflect who you are.

4. Ponder

Take a minute. A day. A week. Consider what you really want. If it’s a new job, think — and be honest with yourself — about the must-haves, the nice-to-haves, the extra-cherry-on-tops, and the can-not-tolerates.

How does this potential opportunity fit with your criteria? If it aligns, fantastic. If it does not, don’t try to justify, downplay, or acquiesce. Consider the consequences down the road (see the envisioning exercise above). There is an opportunity out there that will give you what you need and want. Be patient.

Living your life without active consideration of your core values is like paddling a rudderless boat. You might be moving, but you are not moving with purpose. Defining your values will give more meaning to your work, make difficult decisions easier, and lend clarity to your actions in the face of challenges.

Nancy Richardson is the founder and principal strategist of Dragon Lady and CEO of Mom ‘n’ Pop ShopRochelle Davidson, CPCC, ACC, is chief embolden officer at Rochelle Davidson Coaching. Their new book, Work Freely: Love Your Job. Love Your Life., is available at WorkFreely.co, Amazon, and other fine booksellers.

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Everyone Thrives Somewhere: 3 Ways to Find the Right Company Culture for You

Article by Jeff Thompson

I had always wanted to work at a place that had fun: lots of laughter and smiling faces, an open-door policy, people working together. In short, I wanted to work at a place I could call home.

So, in the ’80s, when I was working for a frozen pizza brand, I took it upon myself to seek out my ideal company culture, the one I knew I’d thrive in. I carefully observed how district leaders’ behaviors and communication habits created distinct cultures within their districts. When I was promoted to a district manager position at 26, I was able to use my observations to begin building the specific culture I wanted to be part of and provide for those around me. I’ve been curating the cultures of my companies ever since.

According to Gallup’s “2017 State of the American Workplace” report, only about half of professionals are currently engaged at work. Company culture drives engagement, and engaged employees are more productive, happier, and more empowered to perform at optimal levels. I believe company culture may be the single biggest determinant of success for employees.

But company culture is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Different people thrive in different cultures, and you need to determine what style will keep you engaged and motivated at work.

Throughout my career, I’ve personally encountered three distinct types of cultures:

1. The Competitive Culture

When I worked at the pizza company, highly competitive cultures were the easiest to recognize. Competitive leaders believe success is entirely up to them. They believe if they don’t win, they lose, and they look out for themselves first. These were the managers who attracted salespeople who wanted to be No. 1 in the district — and wanted it at any cost. Anything less than an all-out drive to be at the top meant you probably wouldn’t survive. Managers fired their lowest-producing workers every 12 months (if they couldn’t force them into quitting first).

Though this competitive culture was riveting for thrill seekers, it also created a distrustful environment. Everyone was working against each other, and district managers encouraged the competition. People who lead this way can be successful in the short term, but eventually, the competitive culture will instill fear in employees, whether that’s fear of being fired or fear of not measuring up. Such fear leads to low employee confidence and, ultimately, low retention. In fact, 43 percent of employees say they’d leave their current job if the environment became too competitive.

2. The Hands-Off Culture

If you tend to think people put too much pressure on themselves and your top priorities aren’t money and success, you’ll feel right at home in a hands-off culture. At the pizza company, the district managers who paid the most attention to themselves, their families, and their jobs built this type of culture.

These managers didn’t micromanage their salespeople or push them to compete; they simply let them do their own thing. This was good and bad: While the managers didn’t foster toxic competition, they tended to have a “do your job to make me look good” mindset and didn’t put much effort into the management aspect of their jobs.

As a result, mediocrity reigned supreme in these cultures. There was minimal pressure to succeed, and nobody pushed anybody. In effect, this culture was really more of an absence of culture. The district managers rarely showed up in their territories, mostly kept in touch by phone, and often rewarded employees with perks like dinner or parties when they did well. No one really grew within this culture.

3. The Collaborative Culture

In a collaborative culture, managers put their employees first. I most admired the district managers who built this kind of culture. They visited every territory equally (even the less profitable ones) and went to bat for their employees if a corporate goal was unachievable or they needed additional promotional time. They refused to fire good workers, even if it meant putting their own jobs on the line.

A collaborative culture is one that builds trust and support between all employees. According to the “Slack Future of Work Study,” 91 percent of employees want to feel more connected to their coworkers. A collaborative culture is founded on such connection. When your coworkers and managers are committed to helping the people around them succeed, it means more success for both the company and the individuals within it.

When I became district manager at the pizza company and began forming the culture on my own, I focused on the collaborative style. Since then, I’ve stuck with it. I’ve now been instilling a collaborative culture in my current company for more than 25 years. My company’s management team engages our company values of integrity, knowledge, care, communication, and commitment to create a business where we balance our reputation, our agents’ needs, and our clients’ happiness.

Those who welcome support in their careers and want to collaborate rather than compete are drawn to this kind of culture. These are people who want to be part of something bigger than themselves, value shared leadership, and raise others’ voices up.

Finding Your Cultural Match

How can you evaluate a company’s true culture when exploring new job opportunities? It seems like a tall task, but it may actually be easier than you think. I find that the simplest, most accurate way to get a good gauge on a culture is by visiting the company in person. Ask to tour the office when you visit and make mental notes of things that stand out to you.

For instance, what do people’s workspaces look like? Are they messy, fun, or rigidly organized? If desk spaces look barren and include very few personal touches, you’ve likely found a competitive culture where employees tend to be more focused on one-upping each other than on creating a warm, inviting space. The desk spaces in hands-off and collaborative cultures will similarly vary: some sparsely decorated and others laden with personal touches.

Be sure to listen or talk to the employees you come across on your tour. If the space is dead silent, it’s more likely to be a competitive atmosphere than a collaborative one. Conversely, if it seems a bit too rowdy and unfocused, the culture might be a little too hands-off.

Even front-desk staff members can give you an excellent idea of what it’s really like to work at a company. Sure, they’re welcoming when you first enter the building, but hang around for five minutes and see if they still give you the same smile. Listen carefully when they answer the phones and talk with other employees.

Pay attention to what you hear, see, and most importantly, feel as you walk through the office. It might not be a tangible metric, but the vibe of a place goes a long way in conveying its true personality. In my experience, the feeling you get when you first walk into an office is generally an accurate reflection of the company’s culture.

Here are three more steps to help you find the company with the perfect culture for you:

1. Know Thyself

It’s hard to change your personality. Just because you want to be in a collaborative culture doesn’t mean you’ll actually fit in there.

Once, I interviewed someone who had a reputation for being competitive, hard-nosed, and difficult to work with. I addressed this during her interview, and she expressed her desire to change, saying she wanted to work with our office because of our reputation for collaborating with other offices. She wanted to change her image, and she believed we could help. Though we worked hard at it — and I believe she did, too — the task proved too difficult. She could not change who she was, so she moved on.

Know yourself well enough to choose a culture that fits you, and everyone will be happier. Take the time to self-reflect, and ask your friends for their opinions, too. You may not think you’re highly competitive, but those closest to you could have a different opinion!

2. Check the Company’s Footprint

Do some research on the company — and I’m not just talking about service lines or revenue projections. Take a good look at a potential employer’s website and social media channels to see how the company presents itself and how it interacts with others online.

For example, let’s say you value a sense of humor. If you get 10 posts into a prospective employer’s social media profile without seeing anything more than sales content full of industry jargon, chances are the company isn’t the best fit for you.

3. Buy Someone Lunch

If you know someone at a company you’re looking into, do some networking and invite that person out to lunch. If you don’t know anyone there, this step will require you to go out on a limb, but it will be worth it. Research the company to find employees who are doing what you want to do. Then, reach out via LinkedIn or email. Tell them you’re interested in learning more about the company, and invite them to meet you somewhere close to the office.

Don’t bombard a person, but do come prepared with questions that will help you determine whether the culture is the right fit for you. If you like to chat with coworkers, for example, ask if employees spend time together outside the office. If you like to flex your creative muscles, ask if employees are allowed to decorate their cubicles. Don’t look past the little things.

The bottom line? Listen to your gut when it comes to culture fit. I’ve had successful new hires tell us our office “just felt right” when they walked in, and that was how they knew they wanted to work with us. A company’s vibe is hard to miss if you’re paying attention to the right things.

A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.

Jeff Thompson is managing partner at Windermere Group One (WGO). WGO is a member of Windermere Real Estate, a real estate network comprising 300 offices and more than 6,000 agents throughout the western United States. Jeff is truly passionate about helping build companies by building their people. He leverages his 25+ years of experience in real estate to coach other managers and brokers. Jeff credits much of his success to hard work and a willingness to partner with good people.

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The Heart-Mind Alliance: Find Your Core Values and Let Them Guide You at Work

What comes to mind when you think about your morals and values? Is it plausible to think these very basic principles could quite possibly be responsible for your perception of the world around you? What about the effect they have on your job or your work ethic?

Family development expert Stephen J. Bavolek defines our morals as a code of conduct with identified rights and wrongs; he defines our values as set of beliefs that have worth. Our values and morals were developed even before we were born by our families of origin, and we contribute a few minor tweaks here and there along the way.

These core beliefs are deeply rooted and highly individualized. They help make up and define who we are when no one is watching, and they have a serious impact on how effective or ineffective we are at our jobs. Regardless of the type of work you do or where you work, understanding this complex belief system that guides you is essential when it comes to meeting your goals and being successful in your career.

But how does one determine what one’s core values are? And how does one then use those values to become a better employee or boss? Here are three steps to get you started:

1. Understand Who You Are

Understanding who you are is the first step in uncovering your core values. Start by identifying your likes, dislikes, interests, etc.

Note that negative experiences can cause some individuals to struggle when they attempt to pinpoint a few positives about themselves. These same individuals, however, are very quick to identify and point out all the negatives about themselves. They also tend to say what they think others want to hear. In light of all of this, they are unable to be true to themselves and, by definition, are unable to ever really understand their core identities. This lack of self-awareness or self-confidence can deter an individual from becoming the best version of themselves.

How does this affect your career? By understanding who you are, you can consciously work to obtain a position or career that matches your core values. Such a career would be intrinsically rewarding to you, and you would have an easier time putting in the effort and advancing in that field.

Society can be very negative these days, and all the negativity around us can trigger a negative self-concept and a lack of self-esteem. The constant pressure we feel to be what society wants us to be is in direct conflict with who we would become if we were able to simply focus that energy inward. You cannot find yourself if you pursue the dreams of another.

For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

So ask yourself: Who am I? What field of work would I be successful in? Once you know the answers, pursue them.

If you need additional guidance, it may be beneficial to complete an aptitude test of some sort in order to determine what field of work would best match your core values. That said, be sure to always listen to your intuition. It isn’t a gift you were given on accident.

2. Accept Who You Are

Once you understand who you are, you must accept it and the career path that matches it. This has to be done without exception or hesitation. More than that, you have to love yourself unconditionally.

Please hear me when I say it is not possible to truly succeed in your line of work if the career path you choose does not match your personality or core values. Because your neighbor is a bank manager does not mean you should be a bank manager (unless that is truly your calling). Sure, you might be able to do the work competently, but you will never truly excel at it.

Excellence is born from passion. True passion and love for what you are doing cannot be manufactured based on another person’s ideal of what you should be doing.

3. Listen to Your Intuition

Once you understand who you are and learn to accept it, take note of what your intuition is telling you. It is important that you take a personal inventory here so you can be sure that your heart is in alignment with your mind. Do not rush the process.

The heart-mind alliance is necessary if you want to stay true to your core values and be successful in what you do. Impulsive decisions can lead to unknowingly compromising your value system, resulting in unnecessary frustration and unaccomplished goals.

Do not sell yourself short. Be a leader, and be proud of who you are in the workplace. Your morals and values will be a guiding light throughout your career and your life as a whole.

Emeka Anyiam PhD, LMFT, is founder and CEO of Embridge Counseling Services. To learn more, please visit embracinglifebook.com and embridgecounselingservices.com.

Mind Over Moment: 6 Tools to Build Resilience, Happiness, and Success

Article by Anne Grady

Do you often feel like you have spent your whole day chipping away at your to-do list without accomplishing any of the things that are most important to you? You are not alone.

As a CEO, mom, wife, volunteer, friend, daughter, and overachiever, I know how that feels. It’s like you’re on a hamster wheel, never making any progress. You go through the week looking forward to Friday, and then you spend the weekend catching up on all the stuff you didn’t get done during the week. Monday comes, and the vicious cycle starts again.

While you can’t control the chaos, you can control how you respond to it. Although there is no simple solution to the frenetic pace of life today, there are things you can do to continually bring yourself back to what matters most in your life. I call these tools, collectively, “Mind Over Moment,” and they are all about making sure you are living life on purpose rather than slipping into autopilot.

Mind Over Moment means paying attention in each moment to decisions you would otherwise make unwittingly. It’s about stopping to ask, “Is the way I am thinking and behaving going to get me the result I want?”

How can you keep your grip, even when the demands of life feel like fast-rising floodwaters, trying to pull you off balance and sweep you downstream? There are some proven tools for building resilience, happiness, and success — but they work only when practiced. Let’s take a look at how:

1. Mindset

How are you interpreting the situations that happen to you? Our beliefs about ourselves, and the stories we tell ourselves as a result of those beliefs, have a profound effect on our happiness and relationships.

Many of us have what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck calls a “fixed mindset.” That is, we believe we are unable to grow or change, and we are endlessly trying to prove ourselves as a result. Dweck contrasts that with a “growth mindset,” the belief that we can change and grow to meet the challenges we face.

Cultivating a growth mindset frees you from believing that your happiness is based on your performance and allows you to measure your progress according to your ability to grow. When you adopt a growth mindset, you can understand failure as a sign that you need to get better at a particular task rather than a crushing defeat.

What stories have you been telling yourself about yourself? If they are not moving you toward your goals, it’s time to tell some new stories based on your ability to grow.

2. Optimism

Scientific research has verified that when we look at life through a lens of positivity, we are more likely to enjoy better mental and physical health. Optimism is also a key component of business success: Entrepreneurs who are able to maintain a positive outlook are better positioned to attain goals such as profitability, business growth, and innovation, according to an analysis of 17 studies.

Optimism isn’t about wearing rose-colored glasses. It’s about choosing how you interpret the events in your life. Crappy things happen to good people every day. How you choose to learn from those experiences is a large factor in determining your resilience.

3. Gratitude

Closely connected with optimism, gratitude for the good in our lives keeps us focused on the positive. The simple act of looking for things to be grateful for attunes our brains to the good. Gratitude is closely linked to our sense of well-being and makes us more resilient in the face of adversity. Expressing gratitude reduces toxic emotions, diminishes depression, increases happiness, and enriches relationships. We find what we look for, so make sure you are looking for the right things.

4. Connection

Like optimism and gratitude, the happiness boost you get from connection with others is crucial to your health and well-being and a key element in building resilience. Friendship and belonging are considered core psychological needs, and they have big impacts on our physical health.

One study found that loneliness can be more harmful to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. On the flip side, people who are more connected to friends and family are “happier, healthier, and live longer than people who are less well connected,” says Dr. Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. They also enjoy better brain health as they age.

5. Humor

Finding ways to laugh at challenges, stressful situations, and even personal tragedy is one way resilient people cope and grow through misfortune. Humor broadens our focus of attention and helps us face our fears while “foster[ing] exploration, creativity, and flexibility in thinking,” according to Steven Southwick and Dennis Charney, psychiatry professors and coauthors of Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges. Being able to laugh at challenges “provides distance and perspective, but does so without denying pain or fear,” they write. “It manages to present the positive and negative wrapped into one package.”

6. Acts of Service

Growing evidence suggests helping others benefits the giver as much as those on the receiving end. For example, a recent study looked at how New Zealanders helped survivors of the Christchurch terror attacks that killed 51 people. The researchers found actions like providing home-cooked meals, sending flowers, and other small acts of kindness actually strengthened the resilience of those who performed them. Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal calls this the “tend-and-befriend response”: “Caring for others triggers the biology of courage and creates hope.”

Most of us are a lot better at prioritizing our schedules than scheduling our priorities. If I tracked your time for a week, would it be representative of what you say is most important to you? Do your actions match your intentions?

Write down what is most important to you, then track how much of your time each day you are actually devoting to these priorities. If the answer is little or none, that’s a clear indication you need to make some changes.

The only way to get off the hamster wheel is to gain control of your life rather than having it control you. Mind Over Moment is about being deliberate about where we invest the limited time and energy we have so we can make the most of each day.

A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.

Anne Grady is an internationally recognized speaker and author. She shares humor, humility, refreshing honesty, and practical strategies anyone can use to triumph over adversity and master change. With a master’s degree in organizational communication, Anne started her own company as a speaker and consultant to top organizations despite challenges she outlines in her new TEDx talk. Her new book is Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience, and Triumph. She is also the author of 52 Strategies for Life, Love, and Work. For more information, visit GetStrongEnough.com.