“Networking” is in times of social media on everyones lips …

What exactly is networking? How could we all benefit from it? On the flipside what are its risks and limitations? Why is it becoming increasingly important and how can you personally benefit from it in? These are all questions that we want to adress in our article.

Let´s start with a kind of a definition:

“Networking is an active structure with people as well the maintenance of contacts and relationships with different people, resulting in a network of relationships developed.  A network could comprise of personal contacts such as friends, neighbours, family and acquaintances, or colleagues, vendor partners in your professional contacts. The people within a network with diverse backgrounds, interest, knowledge, experiences, can be a good source of support.”

A good network is not only critical for success in professional life as good contacts often bring a decisive advantage but also could be really valuable in all situations of life. By and large, a good network brings two main advantages: it is an important source of information and allows the access to a pool of different abilities.

Even in this technology age where information is easily accessible, it is invaluable to “talk” to people, share experiences and best practice. The flood of information via the internet could become an endless jungle and leave individuals helpless and overwhelmed. To network with like-minded people, people facing similar challenges in life as you, learning from others’ experience will be very beneficial and helpful. First of all, you can find out that you are not alone in that situation and you can benefit from their recommendations. The contact persons might also have other skills, other perspectives and completely new recommendations and tips.

In order for you to successfully practice “networking”, here are some tips:

1.     Be patient! A good network takes time to build.

2.     Inform your contacts about your goals, plans, current challenges and why you are contacting that individual. With the clarity, your contacts know how they may be of assistance.

3.     Be selective! It is not the quantity, but the quality of each contact that counts! A small network of close contacts can sometimes be more useful than a large network with fewer close contacts and less frequent exchanges or sharing.

4.     If you are contacted by another person, please take this contact as seriously as you would have liked, as if you had reached out to someone.

5.     Be gracious and appreciative to those who have provided you with valuable information or good contacts and, if possible, inform them of any positive outcomes.

6.     Find out what your contacts need and try to help them as much as possible. Networking is not a one-way street!

7.     Do not rely solely on your network. It can be helpful but does not always solve all the problems. So explore other opportunities to get support, help or information as well.

8.     Keep an eye on the dangers and negative effects of networking. Minimize this by choosing your contacts carefully.

9.     Clearly distinguish between private and professional contacts.

10.   Create contact logs. It may be useful to be able review the list of contacts you have, on the challenges they face and the tips and support you have offered. You will come across as more invested and genuinely interested in supporting your contacts.

BreakYourPattern is also designed for members to become part of a community of like-minded people looking for whatever reasons for some change in life. Break Your Pattern allows you to speak openly about your challenges in a secured environment if you are a bit concerned about discussing your situation in your personal or professional surroundings. However it a platform to help you with your current problems and challenges and not to expand your group of friends.

With your FREE membership at Break Your Pattern you will find many networking opportunities and you will get fast & easy answers to your questions. There are like-minded people like you looking for some inspiration, recommendations from others. There is also a wide range of curated forum discussions around popular topics you could join. In addition to that, we have some closed group discussions focussing on certain topics which you could participate in. You will be able to sign up for Web Sessions and online meetups with experts. As a member of the community you will also get early updates about new training courses and new experts in the site.

Come explore and make the most out of the resources available to you!! Start to Meet & Chat right here:

  • Complete your profile!
  • Make connections!
  • Join a discussion!
  • Talk to experts …

Networking has many benefits and is really  helpful, but contacts do not solve all our problems and challenges in life. As a member of the platform you could also access a wide range of online trainings, self-study material und find some experts if you feel some personal support would be beneficial in your situation. Have a look!

Time to reflect on your good intentions and goals!

How time flies! The end of the year is already in sight. December is usually a good time in the year to take a moment to reflect on the year behind us and start looking forward to the New Year, make plans, set some personal goals. For many, the beginning of a New Year is usually the time to set New Year’s resolutions! What about you? Are you amongst the 40% or so who will set new year´s resolutions? Have you already reflect on your good intentions for this year? Did you achieve them? Have you also already thought about some potential resolutions or personal goals for next year?

Do you also fancy resolutions like: I want to avoid stress and live a more relaxed life, I want to spend more time with my family or finally take up sports again? Start a new diet, stop smoking or drink less alcohol are also popular plans for the New Year, according to a Forsa survey. In professional life, goals can look like this: I don’t want to be so sluggish anymore or I want to take on new tasks and projects. So, as you can see, there are tons of good resolutions to make. If you haven´t been successful reaching your goals for this year, here are some useful tipps, what you could do to be more successful next year!

Honesty is the best policy
New Year’s resolutions are actually nothing different then self-imposed goals. The essential question that you should ask yourself is, how do I achieve these goals? And right there, the challenge begins. It’s all about the question: Why do I set myself these goals? Does my spouse want me to stay healthy or invest more into my career and get more salary, or do I want that? Only when the intrinsic Motivation (your own, inner motivation) is given, then the intent could have a chance of success. In order to achieve your goals, you need to put in lots of effort and personal energy. You have to 100% committed to your own intent in order to take on the according inconveniences and also to accomplish your goal effectively.

Every year Groundhog Day
You know the game: Same procedure as every year. On 31st December the good intentions are made and forgotten no later than 2nd January. The reason might be that the resolution may be a bit too generic, because the success of resolutions also depends on where they stem from. Resolutions that formulate something new are more successful than those that express one’s avoidance. e.g. the resolution “I won’t eat sweets anymore.” is likely to be less successful than “I will eat more fruit”.

Good goals are SMART!
That the groundhog has no chance to dilute your resolutions and goals, it also helps to record the good intentions in writing. The following so-called SMART method helps you to achieve your goals to formulate certain criteria:

– Specific
It is important to the success of the new intentions to assure you are setting concrete goals. “I want to do more sport” that is not concrete enough. You will surely push that goal always in front of you according to the motto: “The year is still long. I am too busy right now. I will do it later in the year!” If you write down a concrete and detailed goal like “I want to join a gym, register in the Yoga beginners’ course on Tuesday in a weeks’ time” the success of your good intent is much more likely.

– Measurable
Measurable goals mean that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. You’ll need concrete evidence. Being happier is not evidence; not smoking anymore because you adhere to a healthy lifestyle where you eat vegetables twice a day and fat only once a week, is.

– Attainable
The goal must be acceptable, attractive, or motivating. What can you do with your yoga skills? For example, going on a great holiday trip to a Yoga retreat, join your best friends at their yoga professional course or even to take a professional break to be trained as a yoga teacher? Make your goal as attractive as possible.

– Relevant
Your goals should not be utopias, but represent achievable future prospects. Let´s stick with the yoga example for a moment: You will not be able to bring your yoga skills up to the level of yoga master within a year. Do not overburden yourself with your goals.

– Timely
Indefinite terms of time such as “in this Year” let your good intentions fail very quickly. Set clear time periods, for example, the summer course from April till July. In this way, you create a time commitment for yourself. Make a tentative plan of everything you do. Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. So install deadlines for yourself and go after them. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible, that way you can keep morale high.

There is still the “inner bastard”
The “inner bastard”, yes, we all know that too well. The “inner bastard” stands for old habits, which do not want to be expelled or are coming back quickly. Psychologists and Brain researchers have found out how old habits in our brain are so stable and why it is so hard to change them. First of all, the good news: The bastard can be tricked! One of the tricks would be: Instead of the old habit you must establish a new habit that really is anchored in the brain. So, for example instead of putting your feet’s up after work you need to establish a new routine to put on your runners or go to the gym. Even though that sounds so easy it’s really hard to do that. According to the researcher this “conversion process” could at least six months. However, your motto should be: persevere and fight! Unfortunately, without discipline and a firm will you will not reach the goal. You have to get on the often-stony way in order to make significant changes in your life or behaviour pattern. If you are being aware of this it makes it less of a problem.

The weak moments
For the weak moments which are for sure coming on your journey every now and then, it is important to retrieve the very good reasons why you want to change something and remind yourself about them. Make sure you reward yourself for an exhausting week in the office for example with a wellness day. In that example you can also link your several good intentions maybe with each other, in this case more commitment at work, new projects and on the other side more balance for your health. It has also an additional effect: The more positive emotions are associated with an action, the easier it will be for you to fulfil them and with less mental resistance. So, you see, the vicious circle with the bastard can break through.

Not too much at once
Also, keep in mind that you do not set too many goals at once. Scientists have found that the implementation capacity is limited. It’s not a surprise if you cannot achieve five parallel goals. Have a think  and prioritize your goals. Make yourself also aware of possible conflicting goals (e.g. if you want to get a bigger role in your job, more challenging etc and on the other side increase your time spend with your family etc). With that, you can avoid failures!

Outside support
Often, you cannot achieve the goals or resolutions you have set for yourself. Good company and support, for example, from a social community or professional coaching, can be helpful in achieving your goals.

You can find these resources by signing up as a member of our Website. If you aren’t a member yet, please feel free to sign up to your free membership. We very much look forward to share insights and views and best practice in one of our Community Exchange discussion group and offer professional coaching sessions!

We hope that we have given you a brief overview of the subject of “good intentions”. Even if you are not one of the 40% who make resolutions, it makes sense to examine your own goals, wishes and thoughts for the future.

Think positive!

Is your glass half-full or half-empty? What is your natural and go-to way of reacting? If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist – someone who practices positive thinking. Positive thinking, or an optimistic attitude, is the practice of focusing on the good in any given situation. That doesn’t mean you ignore reality or make light of problems. It simply means you approach the good and the bad in life with the expectation that things will go well.

There are a lot of benefits that are associated with positive thinking. When your state of mind is generally optimistic, you’re better able to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. A number of studies show that the risk of heart disease can be lowered through positive thinking and that positive thinking can increase a person’s life span and lower depression as well. That all sounds great, right? But what if you’re naturally more pessimistic, meaning that you tend to expect the worst? This isn’t always bad, of course. It can mean that you are prepared for the worst and always pleasantly surprised. However, too much negativity can be bad for the soul. But no worries – you can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. There are a number of different techniques and approaches that you can use to try and be more of a positive thinker. Here are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way.

Positive thinking often starts with positive self-talk
We tend to be the hardest on ourselves and be our own worst critic. Over time, this can cause you to form a negative opinion of yourself that can be hard to shake. To stop this, you’ll need to be mindful of the voice in your head and respond with positive messages, also known as positive self-talk.

Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information. Other common forms of negative self-talk may come from a “bad filter”. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. Another form could be “personalizing”, also called as “taking the blame”. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself or you take it personally. “Catastrophizing” or “predicting desaster” is also a very common form where you automatically anticipate the worst. The last form we want to mention here is “polarizing” also known as “black-and-white thinking” where you see things only as either good or bad.

Here are some examples of negative self-talk and how you can apply a positive thinking twist to them:

  • I’ve never done it before. – It’s an opportunity to learn something new.
  • It’s too complicated. – I’ll tackle it from a different angle.
  • I’m too lazy to get this done. – I wasn’t able to fit it into my schedule, but I can re-examine some priorities.
  • There’s no way it will work. – I can try to make it work.
  • It’s too radical a change. – Let’s take a chance.
  • I’m not going to get any better at this. – I’ll give it another try.

Start by following one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally. Research shows that even a small shift in the way you talk to yourself can influence your ability to regulate your feelings, thoughts, and behavior under stress.

Reframe your situation
If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, identify areas of your life in which you tend to be the most negative. If you find yourself having a negative reaction to something, try to change your perspective. When something bad happens that’s out of your control, instead of getting upset, try to appreciate the good parts of the situation.  Recognize that you are thinking about something from a negative standpoint.

Be open to humor and surround yourself with positive people
Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Look for humor and spend time with people or things that make you laugh. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed. It also improves coping skills, mood, and self-esteem. Consider the people with whom you’re spending time. Have you noticed how someone in a bad mood can bring down almost everyone in a room? A positive person has the opposite effect on others. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and help you see the bright side.

Focus on the good things
Challenging situations and obstacles are a part of life. When you’re faced with one, focus on the good things no matter how small or seemingly insignificant they seem. If you look for it, you can always find a silver lining in every cloud — even if it’s not immediately obvious. It is also important to try and let go your fear. At the bottom of your negative thoughts, you will probably find fear. So you need to focus on letting these fears go.

Picture your best possible future and focus on your strength
Think in detail about a bright vision for your future like your career, relationships, health, hobbies, etc. and write it down. When you imagine your life going well, research suggests, you’ll be happier in the present. Each day for a week, think about one of your personal strengths, like kindness, discipline, or creativity. Write down how you plan to use that strength in new ways that day and act on it.

Start every day on a positive note and practice gratitude
Create a ritual in which you start off each day with something uplifting and positive. When you notice a negative thought, try to stop it and shift your focus to the positive. Think rationally about the situation. Practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and foster resilience even in very difficult times. Writing down the things you’re grateful for can improve your optimism and sense of well-being. Think of people, moments, or things that bring you some kind of comfort or happiness and try to express your gratitude at least once a day.

Encourage yourself
You won’t be able to undo years of pessimism and negative thoughts overnight, but with some practice, you can learn how to approach things with a more positive outlook. Positive thinking isn’t just a soft and fluffy feel–good term. Yes, it’s great to simply “be happy,” but finding ways to build happiness and positive emotions into your life provides more than just a momentary decrease in stress and a few smiles. Those moments of happiness are also critical for opening your mind to explore and build the skills that become so valuable in other areas of your life. So, going forward each year on 13th September, and all other dates too, try to encourage yourself to think positively.

The power of resilience

Resilience is typically defined as the capacity to recover from difficult life events and is a protective factor against psychological distress in adverse situations involving loss or trauma. It can help in the management of stress and depressive symptoms and empowers people to accept and adapt to situations and move forward. Resilience therefore plays a major role in our mental health!

The word resilience is often used on its own to represent overall adaptability and coping, but it can be broken down into categories or types. There is emotional resilience, in which a person can tap into realistic optimism, even when dealing with a crisis. There is also psychological resilience which refers to the mental fortitude to handle challenges and adversity. Physical resilience refers to the body’s ability to adapt to challenges and recover quickly whilst community resilience refers to the ability of groups of people to respond to and recover from adverse situations, such as natural disasters, acts of violence, or economic hardship.

We want to focus only on psychological and emotional Resilience as both relate to the individual and her or his abilities to cope with life challenges.

Psychological resilience refers to the ability to mentally withstand or adapt to uncertainty, challenges, and adversity. It is sometimes referred to as “mental fortitude.” People who exhibit psychological resilience develop coping strategies and capabilities that enable them to remain calm and focused during a crisis and move on without long-term negative consequences.

Emotional resilience describes how well a person copes emotionally with stress and adversity. Some people are, by nature, more or less sensitive to change. How a person responds to a situation can trigger a flood of emotions. Emotionally resilient people understand what they’re feeling and why. They tap into realistic optimism, even when dealing with a crisis, and are proactive in using both internal and external resources. As a result, they are able to manage stressors as well as their emotions in a healthy, positive way.

Resilient people do experience stress, setbacks, and difficult emotions, but they tap into their strengths and seek help from support systems to overcome challenges and work through problems.
The good news is that resilience can be learned. Resilience isn’t something people tap into only during overwhelming moments of adversity. It builds as people encounter all kinds of stressors on a daily basis, and protective factors can be nurtured.

Developing resilience is both complex and personal. It involves a combination of inner strengths and outer resources, and there isn’t a universal formula for becoming more resilient. A combination of certain protective factors contributes to building resilience. These factors include social support, realistic planning, self-esteem, coping skills, communication skills and the capacity to manage potentially overwhelming emotions.

Building resilience is a process by which people utilize flexibility to reframe thought patterns and learn to tap into a strengths-based approach to working through obstacles. The following are steps that can help build resilience over time:

  • Problem-Solving Skills: Identify ways within your control to work and resolve a problem. Focus on how you, as opposed to external forces, can control the outcome of events.
  • Self-awareness: Understanding how you typically respond to stress and adversity is the first step toward learning more adaptive strategies. Self-awareness also includes understanding your strengths and knowing your weaknesses and how to put internal resources to work. People feel more capable and confident when they can identify and draw on their talents and strengths.
  • Self-Care: Make your mental, emotional, and physical health top priorities. Build self-regulation skills. Remaining focused in the face of stress and adversity is important but not easy. Stress-reduction techniques, such as guided imagery, breathing exercise, and mindfulness training, can help individuals regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
  • Coping skills: There are many coping skills that can help in dealing with stressful and challenging situations. They include journaling, reframing thoughts, exercising, spending time outdoors, socializing, improving sleep hygiene, and tapping into creative outlets. Find techniques to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Optimism: People who are more optimistic tend to feel more in control of their outcomes. To build optimism, focus on what you can do when faced with a challenge, and identify positive, problem-solving steps that you can take. When the going gets tough, believe in your ability to handle it.
  • Connections: Support systems can play a vital role in resilience. Bolster your existing social connections and find opportunities to build new ones. Rely on family, friends, and colleagues when needed.

Are you curious now, how resilient you are?
As a member of our platform breakyourpattern.net you will be able to find online courses to start to self-reflect and understand your strength. You could also find a professional coach and book a session if you feel expert support in developing coping skills, problem-solving skills or self-awareness would be helpful. You can access useful links to relevant videos and tips around self-care. If you are not a member yet, register here for your FREE membership and make use of the resources.

Feeling overwhelmed?

The past two years were really draining for most of us and it´s kind of understandable if we are feeling exhausted after all those pandemic-related changes, restrictions and stress. Anyone experiencing long-term stress can become emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed. However we need to get out of that and gain new energy and spirit!

Emotional exhaustion is often a result of accumulated stress from your personal or work lives, or a combination of both. People experiencing emotional exhaustion often feel like they have no influence or control over what happens in life. They may feel “stuck” or “trapped” in a situation and “it´s all over their head”. Lack of energy, poor sleep, and decreased motivation can make it more difficult to overcome emotional exhaustion. Our work lives have become increasingly demanding, presenting us with ever more complex challenges and a rigorous and stringent pace. In addition to that, there are also personal or family needs, so it´s no surprise that we may feel constantly overwhelmed.

Our typical response to ever-growing workloads is to work harder and put in longer hours, rather than to step back and examine what makes us feeling overwhelmed and find a new way of operating. The cognitive impact of feeling perpetually overwhelmed can range from mental slowness, forgetfulness, confusion or difficulty concentrating or thinking logically. When we have too many demands on our thinking over an extended period of time, cognitive fatigue can also happen, making us more prone to distractions and our thinking less agile. Any of these effects, alone, can make us less effective and leave us feeling even more overwhelmed.

 As a stressed-out state can over time cause permanent damage to our health we have to take it seriously and address it promptly. If you are feeling constantly overwhelmed, here are some key strategies to try:

Identify the main source of overwhelm.
Ask yourself the question, “What one or two things, if taken off my plate would alleviate 80% of the stress that I feel right now?” While you may still be responsible for these items and cannot actually take them off your plate, this question can still help you identify a significant source of your stress. If it’s a big project that’s almost done, finish it. Or, if it’s the sheer size of the task or project that is overwhelming you, break it down into more manageable components, ask for additional resources or renegotiate the deadline if you are able — or all of the above.

Set boundaries on your time and workload.
This can include “time boxing” the hours you spend on a task or project, leaving the office by a certain time, or saying no to specific types of work. Saying “no” to escalations and setting expectations creates more breathing room for to focus on priorities with fewer distractions.

Challenge your perfectionism.
Perfectionism can lead us to make tasks or projects bigger than they need to be, which can lead to procrastination and psychological distress. As things pile up, the sense of overwhelm grows, which can then lead to more procrastination and more overwhelm. Know when “good” is “good enough” by asking yourself, “What is the marginal benefit of spending more time on this task or project?” If the answer is very little, stop where you are and be done with it. Part of this is also recognizing that we cannot do everything perfectly.

Outsource or delegate.
Ask yourself, “What is the highest and best use of my time?” Activities that don’t fall within your answer can be taught and/or delegated to others. This can include managing selected projects, delegating attending certain meetings, having a team member conduct the initial conversations with a client, or outsourcing some of your domestic work.

Challenge your assumptions.
If feeling overwhelmed is an ongoing struggle, it is likely that you have assumptions that are keeping you stuck in unproductive behaviors. These could be beliefs like that “If I am not around something will fall through the cracks” or “If I’m not attending that meeting then I am not visible in the organisation”. While these big assumptions  are feeling real to you, these limiting beliefs are most of the time not true, but they keep you stuck in old patterns that significantly contribute to the sense of overwhelm.

While we may all feel overwhelmed from time to time in our demanding work and personal lives, employing the above strategies can help mitigate the frequency and extent to which we feel this way.

Do you want to find out more and get more practical tips? As a member of our website breakyourpattern.net you can join our FREE Expert Exchange Web Session “Feeling exhausted” to understand more about some of the possible reasons for feeling exhausted and get some practical tips how you could get out of that. The session will consist of a brief presentation and there will be time for you to comment and do a self-reflection before we will close with some practical tips on what you could start to do, in order to be fully energized, looking forward to your next challenges ahead! We would be delighted to see you there!

“To trust or not to trust*, that is the question from Shakespeare’s Hamlet”

– *if you are playing with the words “to be or not to be”

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them”, Ernest Hemingway

In this newsletter, we want to shed more light on trust in personal life but also in the professional environment. Trust is a word that is almost always present and accompanies us in all areas of life. Trust is necessary for society to function and it can play a large role in happiness.

Trust is the act of placing confidence in someone or something else. It is a fundamental human experience. Trust is not an either/or proposition, but a matter of degree. How often do you read sentences, such as “We treat each other with trust”, in brochures and on company websites? Trust has almost become a buzzword. Every company wants to broadcast it because it is important to be trusted. But what is really going on behind the scenes? Is there really a trusting working atmosphere in the office or is this just wishful thinking?

We can also read every day in the media, questions like “Can you still trust the vaccine?” or “Has President Smith gambled away his trust?” In the course of the past economic crisis, there was the talk of a “crisis of confidence”. If studies are to be believed, we are living in a decade of mistrust. And in times of fake news, sharing non-factual messages or half-truths, polemical messages and so on, via social media, a little caution and discretion in trusting all messages, is really helpful.

Mistrust on the other hand, encourages constructive scepticism, enables healthy suspicion but can cause fear, confusion, and anxiety, all of which make it difficult for building healthy relationships. This can lead to poor social support, isolation, loneliness, paranoia, scepticism, anxiety, anger, and/or self-doubt.

If we didn’t trust anyone, we would be left to our own capabilities, be very lonely and could hardly make a difference to others. As human beings, we strive for social networks, relationships and the ability to create and achieve something meaningful in life. All of that is not possible without trust, neither in our personal life nor consequently in our professional life. As a very social being, humans have a strong desire for trusting others.

Trust: We either have it or we don’t? We trust ourselves, trust other people, or institutions and organizations. To the sociologist Marek Korczynski, trust is “the confidence that the other party will not take advantage of one’s own vulnerability in an exchange.” Hence, trust always needs two parties.

Some life experiences can impact a person’s ability to trust others. If we encounter too many negative experiences in our lives, we might lose our ability to trust others. Self-esteem also plays a large role in a person’s capacity to trust. People with low self-esteem may be less likely to trust others. Those with higher self-esteem may be more self-assured. Traumatic life events may also cause issues with trust and safety. This may then lead to unhealthy behaviours, because we are constantly checking and controlling, causing others to feel insecure. We can hardly involve our partner or colleagues in our decision-making process. We often do everything ourselves, which will lead to overload of tasks and stress on our end but also for a reputation of being a non-team player, non-collaborative and difficult to manage.

How is trust built?
At the beginning of a relationship between two people, there is a “leap of faith”. Imagine you are meeting someone in the gym just around the corner of your street and you start talking to each other. She asked if you wanted to join her for a drink in the Pub next door after your workout. There is a leap of faith needed to say yes. In another example, imagine that you are responsible for hiring a new team assistant and that you have a one-hour interview with a candidate. The interview is positive and you decide to offer this person the job. By hiring him/her, you take a leap of faith. Now the ball is in this new team assistant’s court, to return the trust placed in him/her, in doing a great job.

Think of this as if you are building or losing trust like you would, with a bank account.

The “trust account”
Imagine the following scenario: You entrust your team member with a task that is important to you. If he/she fulfills this task to your complete satisfaction, a credit of trust is developed between the two of you. But what happens if the team member does a poor job? Then you lose your confidence in him/her. Same happens if you entrust one of your friends with a task supporting you, like helping you to move to a new house. If your friend is there on the day of the move and working hard the entire day, your trust in your friend grows. If your friend doesn’t show up on the day, you have lost confidence in your friend.

Coming back to the first scenario with the positive outcome, your team member has now gained a credit of trust that he/she can further develop on. He/she can lose the trust again if he/she disappoints you. On the flip side, you can gain even more trust and confidence in him/her through further trust building actions. Something similar would happen in the second scenario. After your friend’s help with your move, you may even trust him/her to babysit your kids.

In contrast, if you had a negative experience with trusting your team member and he/she has often disappointed you in the past, your trust in him/her is broken and he/she cannot build up a credit of trust anymore. In the best-case scenario, your team member can make up for your loss of trust in him/her. The same would happen from your own private life if we lost trust in our friends or partner. We would split up or stop the friendship and only after a while we could maybe re-establish some connection again.

It is also important to remember that every trust account has a “lower limit”. If this limit is reached, the trust is broken or destroyed. In contrast, there is no upper limit; there is “unlimited” trust. Our trust account is, of course, not openly monitored, the evaluation and the build of that account takes place in our subconscious.

How do you convey trust?
The good news is: people can relearn trust. With the scenario of a trust account, it may be obvious that trust can be built up and broken down. In the following section, we would like to show you how you can convey trust and thus gain credit of trust in your relationships.

Openness and reliability are the basis for a stable foundation of trust. It is important to establish transparent information and communication “rules”. People who only receive half of the important information, feel left out. It is also crucial that promises made are kept.

An example for the professional life could be: Managers should not promise a promotion if they cannot safely offer it to the employee, e.g. due to reorganization measures. Or to pick an example out of private life: Tell your partner why you don´t want to go on an adventurous holiday trip because you are concerned about losing your job or that you would need the money for an investment. This will help your partner understand your rationales instead of thinking you don´t want to go on holiday with him/her.

If people feel accepted, respected and valued by their partner, friends, parents, superiors, etc. more trust is built at the same time. A genuine interest in the individual and support in their personal development, are also helpful. Actively listen to your partner, friends, employees, etc. If you take them and their problems seriously, you will be trusted. But always keep in mind that the trust you have placed in them must also be “real”. Do not “play games” with them. People want authentic partner, friends, colleagues, managers, not actors. So it is not rocket science to instill trust with the presented rules of conduct.

The benefits of trust
Trust is wanted and needed, but what is the benefit of a trusting cooperation? Trust makes a lot of things easier. The greater the trust between “sender” and “recipient”, the smaller the loss of information in communication. For example, if you trust your partner, you will both split the daily tasks and routines between the two of you or according to the strengths of each individual. This will lead to less duties for yourself and free up some of your time to spend in a more relaxing way with your partner. It can also lead in professional life to faster and more efficient work processes and an improvement in the work atmosphere. The more the employees trust their executives, the higher the motivation and the effort put into work. This in turns generates higher profit. So, trust pays off – in two ways.

However, trust is not only of great importance between the manager and the employee, but also between the employees themselves. Teamwork is not possible without trust. Trust is the link between team members and the basis for successful cooperation. So it’s clear that exuding trust is a strong competitive advantage. In times of intense competition, it is the responsibility of managers to establish and convey trust in their company.

But why is trust so difficult?
If everyone has this wish, why is it not fulfilled? Why is there more and more distrust? If the trust has often been violated, a protective mechanism is set up which manifests itself in mistrust. This mistrust is often generalized and therefore applies to every person.

Trust is about control. In addition to the actual task, you also delegate competencies and responsibility for the result. In any case, a minimum of control is necessary. The lower your confidence in the skills or in the individual themselves, the greater the controls become. This in turn can lead to a domino effect that can completely destroy trust. This balancing act between control and trust is not easy and it is important to master it in all areas of life.

Measures for confidence
An important step towards more trust is to raise awareness of this topic. Make yourself aware of the importance of a trusting cooperation again and again, and try to live it in everyday life. Trust creates confidence, decreases uncertainty, fosters openness, supports psychological safety, and encourages knowledge sharing and joint problem solving.

As a member of our website BreakYourPattern, you could explore some of our self-reflection courses, which would be helpful in assessing your challenges in private or professional life that are caused from a lack of trust.  You could make use of the community exchange opportunity to get some feedback on your situations, which is also a good way of conveying more trust. Alternatively, you could consider expert support through coaching sessions in re-building a “culture of trust”.

Working in a performance orientated world – On the way from permanent stress to emotional exhaustion?

Globalization, digitalization, and re-organization: keywords in everyday work. Everything has to be fast, cost efficient, flexible and different. A continually accelerating change characterizes the labour market. Modern communication and information technologies drive the society. What is the result? A highly performance-orientated society. What you learned yesterday will be obsolete tomorrow. This fast-paced culture pushes us to achieve results even at the cost of our health and well-being. Performance reviews at the end of the year drive that system as well. We are led to compete with our co-workers and also with technology. No wonder we want to continually improve our performance, either to make a great career, to keep our job or for our own satisfaction.

By definition, performance orientation reflects the extent to which a community encourages and rewards innovation, high standards, excellence, and performance improvement. High performance orientated societies and companies value training and development, and competitiveness. They view a formal feedback process as necessary for performance improvement and establishes the value for what one does. The communication style is usually very direct and explicit.

What effects does this have on us as individuals? Does it allow personal freedom at work, encourages personal development and promotes individualism at the work place? Or does it lead to the increasing loss of security in an increasingly unsteady work context? Does it start to cause stress, uncertainty and lead to emotional exhaustion?

Many employees see their work as a duty and feel mentally and physically overwhelmed. Extrinsic incentives (salary, vacation) dominate the inner motivation. Colleagues are often seen as stumbling blocks and rivals. However, on the surface, the ability to work in a team is valued. The workaholic is a “good” role model for juniors and new joiners in such a working environment. Working late into the night deserves respect and appreciation. Many people have learned to suppress emotions such as excessive demands, fear, powerlessness and anger in the workplace.

Emotional exhaustion can arise when someone experiences a period of excessive stress in their work or personal life. The risk of emotional exhaustion increases for anyone who works in a job they dislike, has a poor job fit, works long hours, or feels a lack of control at work or if they may not be correctly balancing self-care with life’s demands. Those in demanding or stressful jobs are more likely to experience emotional exhaustion and burnout, compared to others. Other triggers could be significant life changes, such as, divorce or death of a loved one, financial distress, excessive multitasking, e.g. work, family, and school, working long hours, and working in a high-pressure environment.

When people experience emotional exhaustion, it can make them feel emotionally drained, overwhelmed and fatigued. These feelings tend to build up over a long period. People may not notice the early warning signs. It can have wide-ranging effects on a person’s physical and mental health, career, and relationships with others.

An alarming number of people experience stress, emotional exhaustion and burnouts. This number will continue to increase. While there are companies that understand the dangers of stress, exhaustion and burnout, and implement preventive actions, you have to take responsibility for yourself.

How can you take action? The way to handle it, is to create a lifestyle that allows you to sustain these high demands, while allowing you to recover: a kind of performance lifestyle! To reduce emotional exhaustion, you need to make lifestyle changes.

The underlying problem is that many people associate performance only to pushing themselves to great extends instead of as a combination of sustainability, happiness, and outcome. A performance lifestyle means living to the fullest of your potential. When you are not happy, you will simply not deliver the results expected.

So looking out for and recognizing the symptoms of emotional exhaustion in yourself and others, are necessary to start taking steps toward feeling better. Typical common symptoms are changing moods, like, being more cynical, pessimistic, less motivated to work or socialize. You may experience changes in thinking and memory, which is called “brain fog” as a symptom. Another typical symptom is that it can be challenging to maintain a regular sleep pattern. Emotional exhaustion can affect your relationships and your ability to function in your home and workplace. This could be seen in reduced ability to connect with others on a personal or emotional level, increased absences from work, a lack of enthusiasm in work and personal life, missed deadlines, poor work performance, and low self-esteem.

Where possible, you should try to reduce sources of stress. You may be able to take on fewer tasks, delegate to others, and ask for help. You could also consider moving to a different role or organization, if work is a significant source of your stress. Living a healthful life can improve physical and mental health, foster resilience and maintain a good work-life balance. Practicing mindfulness as a daily routine could also help. Social disconnection is both a symptom of and a risk factor for emotional exhaustion, hence try to connect with others whenever possible.

Changing directions of your thoughts can also alter your moods and behaviours. These could include
– focusing on what is going right in life rather than what is not,
– replacing negative thoughts with more positive or realistic ones,
– avoiding comparisons with others,
– accepting that sometimes negative feelings occur and not fighting them,
– staying in the present rather than focusing on the past, and
– avoid anticipating the future.

Revealing emotions is not a weakness! It is important to balance distance and control with emotional intelligence. Leaving the level of rationality for a moment and acknowledging that we all make an important contribution, both personally and commercially and also admitting that we are currently confronted with a lot of stress, is a good starting point. Such an open and communicative climate, ensures honesty, satisfaction and strengthens intrinsic motivation. These small changes can have a big impact on physical and emotional well-being.

Anyone who feels insecure at work, perceives work as unfree time. This leads to a strict separation of “work” and “life”. Ideally we experience personal satisfaction from our work and perceive it as part of “life”. One thing is key: the quality of our life! Fears have to be acknowledged, affirmed and dealt with. Performance is not only about the results, it is also about sustainability, happiness, and fulfillment.

As a member of our website Break Your Pattern, you will be able to join our Expert Exchange Web Session on “Feeling exhausted” and explore our online training offerings around stress management and work-life balance. You could also look to find a professional coach on our website, for personal expert support to work with on your lifestyle changes and on some stress reduction methods.

“The agony of choice – Head, stomach or heart? Make decisions and stick with them”

“It is our choice … that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Joanne K. Rowling

You may know the story of the donkey that stood between two equally large haystacks and sometimes tended to one side and sometimes the other, but couldn’t decide between the two. – What happened with him? He hesitated with his decision until finally, lingering in the middle, he starved to death.

It doesn’t have to be a matter of life and death, but if you don’t want to end up like the donkey, you have to make decisions. Every day we consciously and subconsciously make thousands of decisions, important and not important, trend-setting and banal. Sometimes it is easier for us, sometimes more difficult. Whether it’s about your career prospects, current projects or your lunch – turn it into an activity and train yourself to make the right decisions and stick to them.

Should I or should I not?
“I could… maybe I just have to… or what if I…?” Making a decision means choosing between two or more alternatives. In some shops, you occasionally throw a dice that to make the decision for you with options like “Yes, right now!”, “Wait for while” or “Not good”. They are nice gadgets to play around with, but when it comes down to decision making, we have to make them ourselves.

Gut decisions
There are people who make important decisions very quickly and often completely based on gut instincts. And interestingly, they turn out mostly as the right ones. Gut decisions save a lot of pondering and toggling between options, but in most decisions, especially at work, the intellect is involved. Animals usually act instinctively; in stressful situations, they unconsciously choose one of the three Fs: Fight, Flight, and Freeze. Depending on the situation, they decide to fight the attacker, to take a flight, or remain motionless until the danger is over. This pattern is immanent.

It is a bit more difficult for us as humans. What happens to us when we are spoiled with choices? According to the neuroscientist António R. Damásio, every person “marks” all events and things in memory with an emotional evaluation. These emotional markers enable us to make so-called gut decisions and create a subjective list of arguments when making decisions. That way we know spontaneously what we like and what we don’t. In other words, they represent personal experiences and are the basis of our intuition. However, the more important a decision, the sooner and more often we usually fall back on our intellect. Since we want to feel comfortable with the chosen alternative, heart, stomach and mind should “work” together whilst making a decision.

Deciding means being active
If you decide for yourself, you keep all the trump cards close to your heart. What this means for you: Don’t let anyone make the decisions that you are supposed to make. Deciding means being active! If you are faced with the decision to quit your unloved job in order to re-orientate yourself or to carry on in that job, then no one else can solve this conflict for you. Consider carefully, perhaps note down the positive and negative consequences of a decision. The smaller the uncertainty, the easier it is for us to make a decision. Take your time, but without putting off a due decision. Because a good decision quickly turns into a bad one if it was too late (remember the donkey …).

One tip: decide on the unimportant things as quickly as possible! Because: what can happen?

Don’t be afraid of wrong decisions!
Once you realise that in very few cases, life depends on a single decision, this one decision no longer weighs so heavily. It is hardly possible to find the perfect way out in a complex situation. So don’t expect the ultimate solution from yourself. That will take the pressure off. Nobody can anticipate all the consequences in advance, not even you. There is extremely rare or never with great certainty that you are making the right decision; after all, you cannot see into the future. A little courage is part of every decision. The main thing is that you don’t hold it against yourself, even for a decision that has turned out to be bad. Remember: “I have considered everything that was possible in advance and decided to the best of my ability.” Then the only thing that helps is, to look ahead and think about how to make the best of the situation.

Please everyone?
Harmony is good, peace of mind and success is better! Decisions have consequences, often unpleasant ones too. This can affect colleagues, co-workers, friends and partners, for example. If you always try to please everyone, in the end, it will not help anyone, because then, it was not your own decision. You will not be able to please everyone, especially with complex decisions. So don’t even try!

Stand by your decisions!
Once a decision has been made, you should hold on to it. Not at any price, but as long as nothing really significant changes. As a manager or senior executive member at work, you are always criticized by one or the other. So making a decision also means taking a firm stand for what you think is right. If the assumption turns out to be wrong, the decision must then be reversed.

What to do?
There are often more options to choose from. Every now and then you will find good combinations of different choices or options so that it is not a black or white decision, there is often also a middle ground even in difficult situations. The danger is, that the decision that is due will be weakened or postponed. If in doubt, it also helps to briefly describe the situation to colleagues or friends and to seek advice. Get used to asking yourself when decisions are due:

  • What is the rational for/against the various options?
  • What speaks emotionally for/against the one or the other option?

That helps a lot to become clear about advantages and disadvantages.

Start small: just make quick decisions at lunchtime in the restaurant that have a relatively narrow range of food. Fish option or vegetarian option? Gradually increase the difficulty. Spring time is also a good time for clearing out your wardrobe. You can start to practice decision making with that, like: should I keep the boots or not? Another tip: Buy a paper shredder! You have to make irrevocable decisions pieces of paper by pieces of paper. It will strengthen your awareness of the important and the unimportant stuff.

One last thing
Allow others to make completely unselfish decisions! You are always one decision away from a totally different life. “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” – Roy E. Disney

Find your personal stand point! – Only those who know their personal values and goals will find the right path

Everyone who, as a young person, thinks about a dream job looks forward to their career prospects with commitment and enthusiasm. The reality a few years later is usually different, when the routine has gained the upper hand and the enthusiasm has evaporated. The demands on the individual have increased. Above-average performance, continuous long-term commitment, flexibility, mobility, regular training and qualification have become “normal” parameters in a society in which performance and professional success are becoming increasingly important. In addition to the fear of losing one’s job, this creates a working atmosphere that for many people is characterized by tension and pressure. The number of sick days per year has been falling steadily for several years, but the proportion of psychosomatic illnesses is increasing. The performance led society demands a very high price to be paid from each individual.

We cannot change these growing demands in our professional life, but it is therefore really important to ask ourselves regularly:

  • Am I working in the job I have envisioned?
  • What wishes and needs for my personal and career do I have?
  • What do I want to achieve in my life and what priority should my work have in my life?
  • Does this company suit me and my values?
  • What challenges do I have within my department, with my boss, my colleagues?
  • Are my talents best used in my current professional role?
  • Am I stretched enough or too much in my current role?

The higher the demands in professional life, the more important it is to question yourself carefully and critically –

  • What is important to you in life and at work?
  • What would you like to change?
  • When does it make sense to look for alternatives?
  • Where could you compromise and where can´t you make compromises in order to respect your own values?
  • What of your current challenges (beyond dissatisfaction/stress/pressure) might lead to illness and professional disinterest?

Only those who have clearly defined their own values and point of view can go further and think about ways in which they can represent this point of view towards the company/manager/colleagues/partner/friends, and can represent it in such a way that there is no conflict, but rather a constructive exchange.

There are a multitude of possibilities that help you to determine your own values and point of view: whether via professional coaching, whether training courses to assess your talents, strength and potential, or to analyze your own work style and your self-perception and others up to the creation of a personality profile. Then it is important to make your own point of view understandable to others, to adhere to it and make the necessary changes in either your personal or professional life.

Knowledge of self-presentation and negotiation skills, self-management and time management, as well as crises management and conflict management skills will help. With those, you would have a good toolkit with which you could actively shape your environment. If you want to achieve full performance over decades and strive for a constant level of long term success, this would only be achievable if the place where you spend most of the day is designed in such a way that you feel comfortable. And even if you do not succeed in adapting your “working atmosphere” to your own basic needs and you no longer see any opportunity for yourself to be “happy” in your company or role, your self-assessment of the situation is important in order to then specifically look for a new task that better suits your talents. Because only those who know their personal values and goals will find the right path.

As a member of our website Break Your Pattern, you will be able to enroll in some self-reflection courses and online trainings. You could also look out to find a professional coach, if you think an expert support in your self-assessment would be beneficial.

Let stress go! But: How? – Save your resources through targeted stress management!

Attention deadline

Tomorrow is the deadline for the quarterly report, the boss asks to meet with you, and the documents for the client meeting are far from finished. Your colleague is travelling this week; the team assistant is sick off until further notice. What about you? Are you the sort who is panicking now or are thriving under pressure? How to best survive stressful stages in life, depends on your coping strategies and personal stress management. Better to reduce stress than to avoid stress … How? Continue reading stress-free!

Stress is in business

He is everywhere: stress is on everyone’s lips, and has now arrived in most areas of life. In addition to the stress at work. we also felt more often stressed in our personal life. Particularly in the current circumstances where our home has now also become our office, the school for our kids and the best place for exercises, activities and holiday. It seems we are running in a wheel and we all feel more and more exhausted and stressed! The word stress, has become the epitome of our fast-moving time and would easily win for the title “Bad Word of the Year”.

What happens to us when we are stressed has already been investigated by Richard Lazarus in the 1970s. The most important finding of his research is likely to be: The decisive factor for the emergence of stress is not the actual situation, but the perception of it and our personal handling of it. In other words, there is no stressful situation at all – we create the stress ourselves.

A question of attitude

On the other hand, there are so-called stressors, external influences that make life difficult for us. This can be an event such as the death of a loved one, illness, but also an interpersonal conflict, deadline pressure or fear of failure. Stress is only what we perceive as stressful. At the beginning there is always an assessment: is the situation to be mastered, the task to be handled? As soon as the feeling arises that one is not up to such a situation, the stress level automatically rises. The mental assessment of the current situation triggers emotions. The emotional reaction in turn burdens the nerves and often leads to muscular tension. Stress is therefore nothing but a biological response to the increasing stress, in which more and more epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol are released. This can be understood as a kind of physical turbo, which, however, only holds for a certain time and can cause long-term damage. Fear and stress are also the most common causes of cardiovascular disease. Every fifth person suffers at some point from such a heart failure. Cardiovascular disease is even the most common cause of death in the West. Most sufferers feel that stress is the main cause of their illness.

Stress has two faces

Although the word is mostly negative, there are two types of stress, the positive and the negative one. Some people simply need constant pressure to be productive, others are best off if they look after three large-scale projects at the same time and others need to spend some of their time exercising in the evening to be able to be productive. Stress is subjective. What would throw your colleagues off track; you may call as basic tension. If the motivation is right, you have fun and you are in the middle of flow, then nothing seems impossible and your power reserves are almost inexhaustible. Positive stress, the so-called Eustress, namely ensures more concentration, spurs on and promotes active behaviour. So stress can also be beneficial.

The personality decides

The negative stress, also called distress, is dangerous and makes you ill, especially if it becomes a permanent symptom. What was perceived as invigorating and positive yesterday can become negative stress through a single event today. If the joy of work is lost or the success is missing, our confidence dissipates. In the worst case scenario, the stress manifests itself in us mentally or physically. Above all, people who are beyond ambitious or a perfectionist, as well as those who have a low tolerance for frustration or who are poor at managing their emotions, are more vulnerable. Stress management is key here.

Ignite the turbo!

Basically, the longer the loading phase, the longer the rest period should be. Body and mind need time to reset to their normal level. In addition, the burden adds up. So if you repeatedly ignore the stress, the body tires faster. Everyone has to figure out for themselves when a period of rest is absolutely needed. Whether it’s enjoying a relaxed night out after a hard day’s work, doing exercise, taking power-naps, or short walks during lunchtime, if it helps you to relieve stress then any such activity can be right. Just five minutes of exercise in the fresh air, can improve the mood and even have a positive effect on self-esteem. Empirical studies confirm that the level of stress decreases afterwards. However, serious stress management starts much earlier, before the stress even occurs.

Break free!

As so often before, the road to success has three stages: to recognize, to understand, and to act. You cannot turn it off unless you know what puts you off stress. It is best to write down your specific stress factors for a week (or longer). Afterwards, consider a solution for each cause. Perhaps you ask for help from a friend or a friend for this task, a neutral third party observation from a professional coach, cannot hurt.

If you plan your time, then do it so that there are also moments of idleness in which you can just “bum around” without a guilty conscience. What protects the nerves is to be honest with yourself. So go to the bottom with your unfinished projects as well in private as in professional life: Either you complete them or admit to yourself they will be unfinished. In this way, you get the head free for the important things again. It is also helpful to note down the daily tasks and work consistently according to priority.

Turn the skewer!

Turn the negative stress into a positive one, by consciously incorporating activities into your day that give you strength. Find out what’s good for you and pay attention to the signals your body sends you. Set aside one evening a week for good friends or people close to you. It also helps some to seek so-called places of power, anywhere in nature, at home or elsewhere, where it is possible to recharge.

Stop the circulation!

On the journey to serenity, a little movement helps. The muscular relaxation through targeted exercises or a short walk in between activities, ensures the calming of your nerves. You will notice “It is not so bad” and you can confront the situation more calmly. Fear of possible failure subsides and you can again focus on the real problem with a clear mind.

So far the ideal case. We do not want to conceal the fact that this requires discipline and a firm will. If you come to the conclusion that targeted coaching in support of your work style could improve your situation, feel free to check out our virtual Coaching offerings in our Website BreakYourPattern and find the perfect coach for you. As a member of the network you might also find the following training courses in addition to the read, could also be helpful to you in managing stress: Online Training course “Life Balance”, Classroom Training course “Dealing with myself”.