Posted by: Rachel Cates | May 2, 2011

How to Find a Job After Being at Home | eHow.com

How to Find a Job After Being at Home | eHow.com.

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Posted by: Rachel Cates | April 20, 2011

How to Release Strongholds in Your Life | eHow.com

How to Release Strongholds in Your Life | eHow.com.

Posted by: Rachel Cates | April 12, 2011

How to Break Away From an Unhealthy Relationship | eHow.com

How to Break Away From an Unhealthy Relationship | eHow.com.

How to Stop Negative Thoughts & Replace With Positive | eHow.com.

Posted by: Rachel Cates | February 3, 2011

How to Handle a Reprimand from Your Boss

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Posted by: Rachel Cates | January 24, 2011

Tips to Survive Multitasking Mayhem

Before you go patting yourself on the back for typing your memo and scheduling your massage at the same time, you might want to take a moment to observe new research that suggests multitasking is not only less effective than singletasking, but it can also lead to poor health.

In 2005, the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London conducted a study which revealed that workers distracted by e-mails and telephone calls suffered a drop in IQ more than double that of marijuana smokers.  That’s right! Potheads are more attentive than employees trying to do their work and talk on the phone at the same time!

The IQ drop is caused by the task-switching function in the brain that processes the rules associated with performing a specific task. The more complex the task, the more rules your brain will have to process, and if you are engaging in multiple activities simultaneously your brain will experience a delay ranging from mild to severe which will limit your ability to apply 100% of your brain power to any one activity.

Research conducted at Stanford University revealed that heavy multitaskers were less able to ignore irrelevant information and were less efficient at problem-solving than singletaskers.  In this study, singletaskers were able to disregard information unrelated to their goals.  Multitaskers were more distracted and failed to easily discern important versus trivial data, thus they were inefficient at problem solving and it took them longer to complete tasks.

These findings are a surprise to many people that have adopted multitasking as a way of life and feel that they are being creative and productive by doing two or more things at once.  Unlike times of boredom when you know that you have mentally checked-out and find yourself day-dreaming, when you multitask there is a release of the feel-good chemical dopamine which gives you a boost of energy and makes you feel as though you are being more effective than you actually are.  

Did you know that your brain processes new information differently when you multitask?  A region of the brain called striatum is activated when you are distracted or multitasking.  This area of the brain is used for processing habitual tasks such as driving a car or logging on to your computer, however, the knowledge is restrictive and is stored in your short-term memory which makes complex information difficult to recall or utilize fluidly.  When you are actively concentrating on one task, the hippocampus region is stimulated which enables you to store and remember information easily which builds knowledge.  This is the reason why professors say cramming for exams is never a good strategy for learning because students will often forget the material shortly after completing the test.

Are you stressed?  If so, this is another reason to stop multitasking.   Research has found that multitasking contributes to the release of stress hormones and adrenaline which can derail your health. Also, stress contributes to the loss of your short-term memory.  Sounds like a lose/lose situation to me.

I know what you’re thinking.  There is just not enough time in the day to do everything so multitasking makes sense!  While I understand that life will undoubtedly cause you to juggle several tasks at once from time to time, the idea is to allow that to be the exception and incorporate discipline and time management strategies on a continuous basis to optimize your productivity while reducing stress and anxiety.

Below I’ve listed some recommendations on how to shift from multitasking to singletasking. 

1.         Knowledge is Power –  Sometimes we multitask unconsciously.  Take a moment to determine when and how you multitask.  What are your multitasking habits?  Figure it out and write it down. Then create a new system describing creative ways that you can complete each task without multitasking.

2.         Create a to-do list and follow it – List the items that need to be done for the day.  Tackle your high priority projects first.  Having a list and only accomplishing half of it is still better than not having a list at all. The act of writing down your goals for the day is powerful because it allows you to set the intention in your mind, which is the biggest requirement for accomplishing goals.

3.         Resist the urge – Once you have established your goals work on each one until completed.  If you are a heavy multitasker you are probably addicted to the adrenaline rush that comes from doing a number of different things at once.  Once you get past your normal threshold of 2 to 15 minutes, or however long it takes you to focus on one project without getting bored or irritated, discipline yourself to persevere, resist the urge to distract yourself and keep going anyway for an extra 10 minutes or longer.  The longer you are able to concentrate past your peak of frustration the easier it will get.  When it gets difficult, stop what you are doing, take 5 deep breathes and allow yourself a few moments of silence, then continue with your project.

4.         Be Conscious of Now –  Try bringing to the current moment the full awareness of all of your senses.  Really observe the space and people around you. Hear what they are saying.  Smell it; feel it.   Try bringing 100% of your attention to whatever task you are focusing on.  For example: when you are spending quality time with your family or pets, put the Blackberry down. You can check your e-mails later.  

 5.        Manage Distractions – Multitaskers are less able to decipher an important vs. a trivial interruption.  Create a list of potential distractions such a call from your mom, an e-mail from your boss, or a coffee invitation from a co-worker.  Decide which types of interruptions will require your immediate attention and which ones can be put off for a later time.  For example, while working on your high-priority projects you may only want to be interrupted for important matters.  For your less priority projects, it’s ok to take a break and get coffee with your co-workers.

Just take it one day at a time and do your best.  Even if you just incorporate a few of these changes you may notice an improvement in your concentration levels and overall quality of life.  Remember, it takes at least 30 days to develop a new habit so try it out for at least a month and see if it works for you.

Posted by: Rachel Cates | October 9, 2010

How to Follow Your Life Path

Choosing the right path in life requires listening to that quiet voice within that is directing you towards higher ideas and states of being.

No one can tell you your life path.  You must learn to listen to that voice and honor what you know and feel to be true for you.  Everyone has a unique reality that they must live; their own truth in which they must recognize.   To live a happy life it is important to discern and invest time in actions that are aligned with your core values.

Core values are the beliefs that you develop overtime that represent how you feel about yourself and the world.  If freedom and passion are your core beliefs or values, then it would be difficult to find happiness in a career that is restrictive and boring.  Once you take time to identify your core values then you can devise a strategy to take actions that are aligned with your beliefs. 

Journaling is a powerful tool that can guide you in your process towards deeper self awareness and fulfillment.  Ask yourself questions on a daily basis and as you explore the answers through creative writing insights will be revealed that will help you to get closer to knowing and identifying what you really want out of life, which is the awareness that precedes discovering your life path.

Meditation is also a useful tool to help you transform into your authentic self.  Spend 10 minutes everyday in a quiet place imagining living your idea life.  Who are the people you would meet?  What kind of work would you be doing?  What thoughts do you hold?  How do you respond to your environment? 

Allow your emotions to guide you on your path towards greater self awareness.  If you notice any change in emotion throughout the day, that is an indication that something has activated your feelings which are either positive or negative.  Learn to honor your feelings by recognizing the source of your emotion and evaluate what the situation means for you.  That may mean doing more of the things that make you feel good and removing yourself from situations that make you feel bad. 

What did you enjoy doing as a child?  Did you have any hobbies or games that you enjoyed playing?  For some, it is beneficial to recall aspects of your childhood and remember what activities you enjoyed, particularly the function of the activity that excited you the most.  For example, If you liked to play hide-and-go seek, that may indicate that you love adventure or mystery.  If you liked to make things with Lego or Play-Doh, perhaps you love being creative.  Reconnect with your inner-child to discover hidden passions and interests.

Spend time practicing self affirmations such as “I am getting better every day”, “I love the work that I am doing”, and “I have the courage to follow my dreams!”.   Use these or any other positive statements to help you reinforce the new thoughts you are trying to habituate in your life.  

These exercises may seem silly or redundant at first, but they are necessary to expedite  the transformation that you will need in order to follow your life path.  It takes practice to undo years worth of unwanted behavioral conditioning, but with persistence you will learn conscious behaviors that will help you live your ideal life.

It takes courage to follow your heart, especially if that means going against the desires of family, friends, or a culture that expects you to live a certain way.  Many people go their whole lives being unhappy because they made choices to make others happy, only to realize much later in life that they never took the time to discover what REALLY makes them happy. 

It’s unwise to do things for the sake of impressing others because people are temperamental.  The things that you do to impress others today can cause jealousy and spite the next day.  So, the best thing is to discover what makes YOU happy and pursue those endeavors with passion and vigor.  Don’t allow anyone to tell you that you cannot do something.  Make a commitment to eradicate the words “can’t do” from your vocabulary.  Just because something didn’t work for one person, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.  That is why it so important to listen to yourself and get to know who you are. 

We are all here to live our lives and share our gifts with the world.  Others may serve as inspiration, but no path or person is the same.  The secret to following your path is to embrace your unique qualities and find a way to make them work for you.

 “To thine own self be true” — William Shakespeare

Posted by: Rachel Cates | October 7, 2010

Getting Back in the Game

I’m baaaack!!

Hello again.  After a break from blog world I decided to address to a topic that is near and dear to my heart — How to get your head back into the game when the unexpected throws your life off course. 

Whether it’s divorce, the birth of a child, the loss of a job, or even a financial windfall, life can sometimes take you down a road that leads you away from your plans.  What is the best way to get back on track?

The first thing is to recognize that change is a part of life.  Our lives are in constant flux and the only thing we can control are our thoughts and actions, therefore, it is beneficial to develop the ability to adapt to change quickly and make adjustments to your plans that align with your new circumstances.

Are you ready to get back on track?  Sometimes, you can be too mentally or emotionally overwhelmed to focus on your goals.  For example, the death of a loved one or a divorce or break-up are major transitional periods and time should be allowed for grieving.  In these situations it is best to honor your feelings, take it slow, and do what you have the energy to do and rid yourself of any guilt if you choose not to do anything for a while.

Revise your strategy. A lot of times it’s not your goals that need to change, but the methods by which you choose to accomplish them.  This may mean giving yourself more time to accomplish a goal or acquiring new resources.

If you’ve been out of touch with your plans for a while it may seem overwhelming to jump right in.  You can ease your way back in by taking classes, reading books on the subject, and networking with other people that are doing what you want to do.

The most important step is the first one. Commit to spending at least 15 minutes a day working towards your goal.  Success is contagious!  The more you do the better you will feel and before you know it you’ll be back on track.

Posted by: Rachel Cates | January 20, 2010

A New Reality for the New Year

It is the beginning of a New Year!  It is time to reflect on our lives, the decisions we’ve made, and an opportunity to choose the endeavors we will pursue in the days ahead.

Each moment is an opportunity to create a new reality.  The process starts by first realizing that your thoughts and actions have gotten you to where you are today.  When you are able to own up to the power you have to design the circumstances of your life, then you are able to shift from creating unconsciously to living a life of purpose. 

Take a serious look at where you are today emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, etc..  Do you feel that you are on the right path?  If so, what do you need to do to maintain your momentum?  If not, what steps do you need to take to get back on track.  Often, it’s not what you add to your life that makes the greatest impact, but what you take away.  Are there unhealthy habits that need to be broken?  Are there destructive relationships that need to be removed from your life?   The answers to these questions will provide you with insight which will help you create your new reality.

As you begin to clearly visualize your life the way you’d like for it to be, it is important to set S.M.A.R.T. Goals.  S.M.A.R.T. Goals are Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Time Bound.  

For example, it is not enough to say that you will lose weight in 2010.  If you are serious about this goal then you must be willing to make it a S.M.A.R.T. Goal. 

Here is the goal revised…

It is my goal to lose 40 lbs. by the end of 2010.  I will break this goal into manageable increments by losing 3.3 lbs per month.  I plan to accomplish this goal by exercising at least 4 days a week for 45 minutes and by sticking to the meal plan outlined by my nutritionist.  I will track my progress by weighing and measuring myself once a month. 

Once your goals have been established then it’s imperative to create a structure that will support your goals.  Identify the resources you have that can help you accomplish your goals as well as potential roadblocks that will get in your way.  Learn how to manage distractions and prioritize your daily activities so you will get the most important projects completed first. 

Having a solid plan also includes getting a support system or networking with like-minded individuals that can help you to stay on track when the going get’s tough.

You are powerful and capable of creating your new reality.  It is wise to spend a few minutes every day imagining your ideal life.  The more you do this the easier it will be and details and ideas will unfold to help you crystallize your plans.  Set your goals, but be willing to revise them, as you acquire more information propelling you towards success.

Remember: “If you can see it; you can achieve it”

Happy New Year!!  Happy New You!!

Rachel Cates, CLC

Work /Life Balance Coach

Posted by: Rachel Cates | October 24, 2009

How to Reframe a Negative Mind-State

Negative thinking is past and future based.  It is a result of our self-preservation instincts derived from the ego that want to protect us from experiencing pain by alerting us of every possible danger.  It is fueled by the perpetuation of negative images we encounter; especially in the media and entertainment industries.

We have virtually no control over the events that occur outside ourselves, but the one thing we can control is our mind. Understanding the power we have to manage our thoughts is the first step towards reframing a negative perspective.

Negative thinking involves judging a situation that has already occurred or worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. Negative thinking is exhausting and it can rob the mind of the cognitive space necessary to allow creativity, new ideas and solutions to flow.  

Stress is the end results of negative thinking. Studies have shown that chronic stress and anxiety can lead to a myriad of health problems including cancer, stroke and heart disease.

If you find yourself caught in a pessimistic mind trap, tune into the present moment by shifting your attention to the NOW.  Use your senses to observe all elements of your current reality.  This will help to snap you out of repetitive thought-patterns.

Learning to become a positive thinker will not solve all of your problems, nor is it alternative to hard work and taking action, but it can allow you to experience the journey of your life with more happiness and grace.

Everyone has to deal with obstacles at some point and sometimes those challenges can make us feel sad or uncomfortable, however, even during difficult times, it is better to shift your thoughts towards optimism.  

No matter what is going on in your life everyone has something for which they can be grateful. The proverbial half-filled glass is an adage that has been expressed for generations.  The glass – representing life and it’s manifestations – can be perceived from a perspective of lack or abundance.  At any moment we have the ability to choose. I recommend choosing the glass half full.  

In the United States today, we have a staggering unemployment rate that is reaching 10%.  Although some people undoubtedly experience unemployment as a hardship, there have been countless stories of people that have viewed their situation as an opportunity to start over and find careers that they enjoy.  

I remember the story of a corporate executive that turned her love of baking into a small enterprise. She is now successfully operating her own cupcake business.

Many people are realizing that it is never too late to reinvent themselves and are going back to school to start new careers.

Like most things, learning to become a positive thinker requires patience and practice.  Here are 10 simple tips to help you master the art of positive thinking.

1) Find a reason to laugh every day

2) Develop the Believe that “Everything is going to be ok” and that “Everything happens for a reason”

3) Practice believing the best of yourself and others

4) Mediate, Pray or embrace silence for at least 5 minutes a day

5) Replace a positive thought for every negative thought you have – example: “I am too fat!” to “I am beautiful just the way I am”

6) Surround yourself with positive people and be the positive influence around your negative friends

7) Forgive yourself and others… after all we are just human

8) Spend time outdoors… studies have confirmed that people are happier when they connect with nature

9) Practice daily affirmations of love, happiness, and gratitude

10) Remember – you have nothing to lose by thinking positively

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