entrepreneurship, mental health, Uncategorized

My War With Impostor Syndrome

This past week, I was invited to speak at the New England College Heath Association conference on my Empathy-Based Health Promotion work. Conferences to me are the young professional’s gold-mine. Not only do you get a week off from work to travel to a new state or country and eat food on the company’s dime, but you also get to grow and learn from the best of the best in your field. After presenting my work and receiving my first standing ovation, a peer health promotion professional asked me:

 “Where do you get your confidence from?”

I did not have an answer for her right away and I immediately felt myself combating my gendered programming urges to negate her compliment with a humbler statement along the lines of

“I’m not that confident… I was freaking out all last night about presenting in front of all you people.”

I managed to keep my mouth shut.

 The second thoughts that came to the surface were my insecurities:

Why and what was she asking exactly?

Was she asking…

  • Why am I confident… as a black girl?
  • Why am I confident… as a millennial?
  • Why am I confident… as a female-identified person?
  • Why am I confident…in general?

At first, I said that I didn’t know. But as she began to apologize, believing that my silence was a response to offence, it became clear to me that her intentions for asking the question were unimportant but identifying the source of my confidence so that I could share it with others was important.

Here it is:

My confidence is a product of four simple beliefs:

  1.  My belief that God has a plan and a purpose for me.
  2.  My understanding that the word “No” is just the antithesis of the word “Yes”, and not the end of the world.
  3. Fear is a prison that keeps you from reaching your true potential and freedom.
  4. Seizing every opportunity within and beyond my grasp is my responsibility, no one else’s.

An example from the conference, when I was asked to apply to host a workshop at NECHA, I was terrified. To this day, I get incredible stage fright, not because I am afraid of speaking in front of people but because

 I sometimes struggle with flexing my growth mindset.

 Don’t trust anyone that says it is easy or that they have transcended the fight with Impostor Syndrome and perfectionism, 100%. Although I refuse to let it hold me back, I do sometimes fall back into good ole, safe and comfortable fixed-mindset.

  • I worry about people judging me or not taking me seriously because of my age.
  • I worry people will think my work is stupid.

Or worse…

· I worry that someone will ask me a question that I can’t answer in front of people that are smarter than me.

Here’s the take-away Tribe:

I did not let that fear stifle me or keep me from applying. I literally looked myself in the mirror and said “Kris Mereigh, you are SMART, BRAVE and STRONG. There is nothing that anyone can say that can take that from you.”

 I am glad that I did not allow fear to hold me back, because not only did my presentation rock the house, but I was fielding requests for speaking gigs at other colleges for the next two days. I never imagined that speaking gigs would be an outcome of hosting this workshop but there was a grander plan at work for my life.

 What if I had allowed fear to keep me from applying?

Fear is meant to imprison you and keep you from reaching your potential. 

Tribe, You are stronger than the world wants you to believe. Your greatest enemies are your fears and your fixed mindset. They are meant to trap you within your comfort zones and keep you from reaching higher heights. Don’t let it! 

What are you afraid of?

  • Are you afraid to propose your new idea at work, because your supervisor might think it is stupid?
  • Are you afraid to ask for a raise or to negotiate for a higher salary because you fear you might not get the job if you do or they might say No?

I assure you, hearing the word has rarely lead to death. It might hurt but you, friend, are resilient. You will survive. Don’t wait for someone else to propose your idea or to start the business your heart has been pushing you towards. Plan, strategize and then go for it. You lose more of yourself when you allow fear to hold you back.

millennials, self-care, Uncategorized, work culture, work-life balance

Surviving Trump Sh*t-Storms w/ Radical Self-Care

Happy Almost Fall Tribe,

For many of us Fall is back to school time, whether you are a student, parent or a faculty/ staff member at a school or university. For me, late August and early September is a time to think retrospectively about the previous year, both professionally and personally, and make concrete decisions on ways to improve my life during this school year. I decided that this year, is my year of radical and rebellious self-care, where I put myself before all else.

Why Rebellious Self-Care?

Because… As a society, we are told to put our careers, families, and (fill in anything else here) first, before we take care of ourselves. We are taught that self-care is limited to two places in our lives: 1) As a luxury, or as 2) Reactionary Recovery for when we are amid crisis or after the fact.

I call BULLSHIT!

SELF-CARE is for every day. It is preventative care, the oxygen mask that keeps us sane, productive, happy and functional.

Not only is Back-To-School the craziest time of year for me professionally but the past two weeks have literally been political hell: Trump is repealing DACA, North Korea is testing hydrogen bombs, Hurricane Harvey is out here wiping out whole towns in Texas, Trump is preparing to withdraw from free-trade in South Korea. I mean, every day the world feels like it’s ending.

Although I was fazed by these overwhelming events, I was not defeated by them nor did I feel the need to call in “human” to work every time I read my politics feed.

Why Not? I had a self-care plan in place so that after my two weeks of professional and political hell, I could rejuvenate myself before the stress could truly build-up and set my school-year off to the wrong start.

How?

Pre-scheduling my personal days and/or vacation days. I anticipated when my most stressful weeks would be and pre-planned self-care day, before the fact. Every day, if anything went wrong or I felt overwhelmed or exhausted, I had a little secret to look forward to — my planned self-care weekend extravaganza.

I thought I would share what that my pre-planned self care weekend often looks like.

SELF CARE Weekend SCHEDULE:

Labor Day Weekend: Invited friends over for a sleepover to play games, drink wine and catch up.

Labor Day: Fruit and Veggie picking at the local Farm, afternoon of chic-fil-a, shopping and ice-cream with family and friends.

Labor Day Evening: Begin preparing for radical self-care day by cleaning my house, doing laundry and meal-prepping a big delicious, nutritious meal to last a few days. Lemon chicken, mushroom pilaf, sauteed veggies, and grilled salmon. (I do this for two reasons, I can’t truly relax or self-care if my house is a mess and I did not want to take time away from my self-caring to cook.)While dinner was cooking, I reviewed, wrote and pre-scheduled any work emails that I knew would need to be sent out the next day.

SELF CARE DAY SCHEDULE:

10:30am- Wake up and do a little in bed stretching and meditation

11:00am- Lit some candles for a Luxurious shower and hair wash. Oil my scalp and deep condition my hair

12:00pm- Make and eat delicious yogurt bowl

12:30pm- Casually finish folding laundry while watching Master Chef

1:15pm- Read for fun and write this article

3:00pm- Core workout and stretching

4:15pm- Deep tissue massage and body scrub

( Note : I have a massage fund that I save up $10 every two weeks or so for when I do need an emergency massage. There’s money already available.)

7:00pm- Warm and eat delicious dinner that I prepped the night before while watching Weeds

8:00pm- Sensual bath with candles

8:30pm- Self-pedicure

10:00pm- Hop into bed, do some light reading before bed

10:45- 15 minute guided meditation for deep sleep

11:00pm- Lights out

Self- care days do not have to be expensive. Many of these activities require light planning and can be replaced with more affordable options such as self-massage or massage with a partner.

Your body, and your mental health is important. Put them first. You are worthy of self love. Don’t wait till you are stressed to take care of yourself. By then, it’s often too late and waiting makes the events harder to enjoy. 

 

Uncategorized

How can I be more efficient at work?

n On Quora, I was asked to answer the question: How Can I be more efficient at work?
Here is my response.

Every individual has the potential to work smarter but first they must put in the time and effort to know themselves and their productivity frames. There are no cookie cutter answers for increasing efficiency because everyone has different work habits and needs. While there are apps that can help you to maximize time, and adaptable knowledge that one can acquire from reading experts such as Tim Ferris, Stephen Covey; in the end you have to try them out and see what works for you.

In my work, I have the opportunity to consult with diverse groups of people on increasing productivity and effectiveness, from young college aged people to seasoned executives. What separates my most productive clients from the wannabees are those that practice high levels of self awareness and self-care.

The Most successful people are the ones that incorporate self-care and mindfulness breaks into their work schedules. Self-care is not a luxury for them and they don’t compromise their bodies or minds in their work lives or private lives. They strictly take their lunch breaks and they plug activities like walks, mindfulness practice, etc. directly into their work calendars.

I work with software developers and students that have to sit and work for hours at a time. The individuals that take breaks while they work and use time management apps like Pomodoro, complete more tasks well than individuals that try to work for hours at a time. Taking conscious active breaks have been shown to increase productivity and creativity. The brain is an organ that works like a muscle.

The same way that when a person is weight training, they need rest days and protein for the muscle to develop, the brain needs time to rest and sort information. A resting brain also allows for new synaptic activity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning overloading your day with breaks . We have a word for that in the English language: procrastination. No friends, know yourself.

What to do: Complete a self- analysis:

  1. Assess: Study the amount of time that you are able to actively work and still be productive.
    1. Is that a 20 minutes, 30 minutes or 45 minutes time frame?
    2. How long of a break do you need in order to feel rejuvenated but not fall into the procrastination trap?
    3. Try different time periods and see what feels right to you.

2. Figure out what makes you happy and how you can incorporate those activities into your daily work life.

3. Find ways to be active even if that means taking the longer route to the bathroom that is farther away from your office space. Take that walk for your office poop with intention. Try not to read reddit on your phone, scroll social media or talk to coworkers. Just walk, mindfully walk. Put headphones in your ears to discourage interaction (NYer trick). Notice things around you, like the particularly ugly wall art and laugh about it.

4. Download a time management app that works for you if you are still navigating how to manage your time.

5. Remind yourself to take your lunch breaks. They are not luxuries. They are owed to you and your body needs food to function.

6. Get comfortable saying NO! Babies are so good at it, look how happy and productive they are.

7. Get a good night’s sleep! Research shows that work quality diminishes in relation to sleep quality. The project will still be there in the morning.

Finally, keep getting to know yourself. Be conscious of the changes in your body, mind and work space. You are growing and changing everyday so your habits should be growing and changing over time as well.

Cut yourselves some slack, you rock!

Uncategorized

4 tips for Thriving through Your Work Day when Triggered by Your Personal Kryptonite

One minute you are in your office doing mundane things, completing budget reports,  listening to Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Dont Kill my vybe”while eating your mid-afternoon snack. Happily checking tasks off of your extremely organized to-do list. When all of a sudden, RING, RING, RING… you get THE CALL. You know the one. The call that in 5 seconds or less changes the course of your previously smooth sailing day.

My blog focuses on the importance of self-care, and integrating wellness into your daily schedule so that when stressful situations rear their ugly heads, you are already equipped with wellness techniques to mitigate them. However, we all know that life has the tendency to throw curve balls at us, some big kahonas and other times little kahonitos. Regardless of the varied sizes of the annoying, untimely ball missiles. They all have one thing in common. They tend to show up when you least expect them to and without any warning.

For me the emotional curveball was a phone call of six words, ” I was sexually assaulted last night”. In my line of work, I regularly encounter scary health issues such as eating disorders, suicide attempts, drug overdoses, etc. None of these issues provide enough ammo to jettison my day. Sexual assault however tends to be my personal kryptonite.

Life does not provide you with trigger warningsImage result for rated r for sexual content

Those six words, triggered intense rage and sadness within me, not just because of the individual assault story but because of my multifaceted relationship with sexual assault. A few being as follows:

  •  A significant component of my previous work in NYC  was designing sexual assault programming for teens. Conducting the research for those programs,  I built strong relationships with young survivors that shared their stories of pain, isolation, survivorship and rebirth.
  • I have friends and family members that are also survivors of sexual assault.

Life’s kryptonite comes in an intimate combination of different shapes and sizes for each and every one of us and unfortunately life is a rude-ass that refuses to provide us with daily trigger warnings. Kryptonite can appear in the following forms but are not limited to this short list: Death of a friend/ family member, sick pet, an expensive broken transmission, questionable roommate situations, insensitive-out-of-touch bosses adding new projects on to your old ones but not extending the deadlines , snarky coworkers spreading rumors and lies, workplace bullying and much more. All of us have sensitive spots or situations that can derail us. It is important for your professional development to figure out how to deal with them, before the facts, so when they do happen you can complete your tasks in a professional manner.

When your kryptonite gets thrown, How do you get through your work day?

Here are Four tips that I use to regain my strength to continue thriving during my workday:

  • Acknowledge your feelings and take your own mental health pulse: In this situation, I took my pulse and realized that I was angry and sad. I wanted to find the culprit, smash their face in and then take the rest of the day off to be with the victim if that was what they needed. I recognized that this was a slightly irrational response. Instead, I took a moment to analyze the reasons why I was feeling triggered and re-evaluated what I needed to do to get through the rest of the work day.
  • Make a Plan for how you will get through the day: I was in the process of hiring new employees for my office and I had six interviews lined up that I needed to complete that afternoon to remain on top of the hiring process schedule. To give the candidates a fair chance to be memorable, I needed to right my emotions and put my hurt and concern on the backburner for a few hours to complete my work tasks.
    • Step 1: Clear MY HEAD and Deal with immediate emotions:
      •  I found a bathroom and cried. Then I washed my face and refreshed my makeup. I took a deep breath, returned to my office and did a five minute meditation breathing exercise.
    •  Step 2: RESTRUCTURE MENTAL TO DO LIST TO BE SELF COMPASSIONATE
      • I called the person that I had the last meeting with and explained that a situation had arisen that I urgently needed to attend to. I transparently asked if they would be open to meeting with me during an earlier time slot. They agreed.
      • On the way back to the office, I pulled out my calendar and shortened each of the candidate sessions by 10mins to expand the time that I had to work with. Cancelling 10 mins per session, provided me with an extra hour for me to move my last meeting of the day to an earlier slot.
      • Step 3: Do What You Can To Address The Issue: After my final meeting, I finally was able to meet with the person and help them in whichever ways they deemed appropriate.
  •  Utilize your confidantes: Talk to a friend or coworker you trust. Do not be afraid to be transparent. Be conscious of politics and bureaucracy but also know when to ask for help or to take actions that are self-compassionate. Letting someone know that you are having a rough time can be hard because no one likes to be vulnerable or seem weak, but reality check friends. WE ARE ALL WEAK SOMETIMES! I’m not implying that you have to share your whole life story or even the details of the situation but having someone know that you are only standing on one leg that day can provide you with a little extra support to get through your day.  
  • Know that the Self-Care Does Not End After the Situation or At the End of the Work day: Writing blogposts is one of the ways that I self-care on a continuous basis. I knew that I would have to bottle up most of my feelings at work to get through those interviews but I made a decision that when I got home, I would write a blogpost about my process dealing with this situation to honor the person and to further analyze my emotions. After being with them for a few hours after work, I felt a bit emotionally drained. To continue my self-care I called a friend and went out to dinner and drinks with a group of people. I did not tell them about my day but just being around them made me feel supported and more emotionally stable.

Remember Tribe, your body, your mind. Forget about how you look and what people think of you at work. When you are old and gray and thinking back on how you lived your life, I hope that you will be able to say that I am successful because I was authentic and self-compassionate.

Be well, Tribe. 

You got this.

Kris

Uncategorized

Introducing Live.Laugh.Boss

 

I was slowly dying, living paycheck to paycheck doing what I thought I loved and thought I was passionate about- helping people. I realized that I hated it-every minute of it. I hated myself for hating my passion. I even started looking at the people I was serving with contempt.  I had to escape.

FAST FORWARD TO THE PRESENT….

Kris, how did you land your position as a Director this early in your career? What is your secret to confidence in the workplace as a young professional boss, managing people twice your age? How do you deal with the constant micro-aggressions you encounter as a young, woman of color in the academic world?

Friends, you would be surprised how often I am asked questions about confidence and maintaining authenticity in my new role as Director of Wellness. People, both well-meaning and the ones that are less so, are confused about how I,

A….

1. Young,

                               2. Woman, 

                                                                   3. of color,  

managed to trapeze myself into the realm of independent, financially stable boss despite the obvious blocks stacked against me.

What’s the magic secret, Kris? What’s the trick? I hate to bust any bubbles but my success is not a fancy mystery series or a spell out of Harry Potter. My answers to rapid career growth and how I continue to shine and grow every day, both in my work atmosphere and in my personal life are simple.

Live. Laugh. Boss will share with you my tips, experiences and struggles of being a young, successful boss despite the odds. I do not think that I have all the answers or even most of the answers to being professionally successful while maintaining a healthy, well lifestyle but I do hope that this blogspace will be a learning forum for us to grow together through mutual sharing, listening and questioning. All of us have some expertise, I hope you’ll be willing to share it.

I’m looking forward to learning and growing with each and every one of you. Thank you for sharing your time with me.