Thursday, April 17, 2008

Career Mapping- The strategy you need to create positive career change

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

There is great power in having a road map to understand your ideal career. Think about how valuable it would be to have a detailed chart that maps out the combination of your unique life experiences with your education and skill set. Once you know your personal strengths, interests, motivations in combination with your personal career journey then you are literally set up to win at work; while experiencing positive change and growth on your way to a new level of career success. This information is valuable for students and seasoned professionals since it protects the limited resources of time and money in how to focus on the job to achieve fulfillment in life.

Most people don’t realize that we actually spend more hours of our life working than any other single activity. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know where you fit in your career, because if you are drifting and feel lost in your career, you literally are drifting and letting life slip through your fingers. Another reason why it’s important to have a clear career focus is because of some startling research which revealed that almost 80% of workers felt stress on the job, and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. 26% of workers said they were 'often or very often burned out or stressed by their work' (Gallup Management Journal).

Another survey reported that almost 8 out of ten US workers go to jobs every day that they don’t like or don’t feel well equipped to do. I suspect that one area of career drifting and weakness fuels the dissatisfaction in the other. Basically, if you don’t know where you fit, then you are set up for tremendous stress and disappointment that will ripple into every other area of life. Conversely, if you know where you fit, you life just got better and it will show in the joy on your face when it’s time to get up and go to a job that you love. When you know where you fit on your career path, you enjoy life more and worry less. So how can you tell if you are in the wrong job or the right one? One way is to take the checklist below to review the key career areas to see if you have more fulfillment on the job or just a lot of frustration as you begin your search for answers.


Career Roadblocks-

___Weak or wimpy leadership ___Little or no chance of career advancement
___Low or no company benefits ___Career burnout or continual job stress___Continually forced overtime ___Boring work
___Feeling burned out ___Continually feeling overwhelmed by work
___Too long of a daily commute ___Career is out of balance with rest of life___Not trusted by leadership ___Others are passing you by
___Not empowered or equipped ___Forced to do meaningless tasks___Low pay, low benefits ___Constant complaining about money
___Given too much responsibility ___Absent leaders who don’t lead___Mean or abusive managers ___Hostile work environment___Low or no employee morale ___Lone wolf syndrome vs. team approach
___No validation of progress ___No job stability or security

Here’s your Career Coaching Goal:
Find your “Fit” by mapping out and blending the key elements listed in this coaching resource onto a legal pad as you put together the pieces that can become a successful career for a lifetime. Each category will help shape your thinking as you do the final assignment to discover your ‘core’ career focus from the Career Kaleidoscope exercise. Then review the results with a family member, pastor, co-worker, trusted friend or coach so you can get some honest feedback to insure that you are on track as you develop a personalized career GPS or “Global Positioning System” of your greatest skills and strengths which will become your career map of a strategic path of greater success together.

► Directions:
Customize the categories below by listing out information from your own career journey. Place in facts, names, dates or a brief description of events as you give the details that describe your strengths learned through educational or life experiences. There are no wrong answers, and some categories will be longer than others, so add or adjust space as necessary to give an accurate description of your career development. The more detail you give, the more clearly you can uncover and discover your career strengths and where you can focus to achieve maximum results. This is the story of your journey, and it is an important one. Be honest with your successes, failures, wins and losses. If you won an award- bring it up, or if you were fired for poor performance, comment on what you learned from it. Most business people doing this exercise have strengths they don’t give themselves credit for, so just by listing out and then thinking through these topics should open your eyes to better see where you fit in your career. Answer these questions with an open mind to discover a new view of yourself and where you best fit in the world of work.

Dwight Bain’s coaching guide to discovering your ideal career placement by charting your life journey… this exercise reveals your personal strengths and areas of excellence. Find your “Fit” by mapping out and blending the following key elements onto a legal pad or the career Kalediscope exercise attached. Then sit down with a trusted mentor or coach to review the results as you develop a personalized “GPS” tracking system of positioning your skills and strengths onto a strategic career map leading to success.

“Be direct with change and you will take charge of your life”. -Dwight Bain

† Personality (e.g. introvert/extrovert, people person/loner, loud/quiet, sanguine, melancholic, choleric, phlegmatic or D.I.S.C., Meyers-Briggs, 5 Love Languages or other scores from personality profiles you may have taken)


† Energy level in personal & professional life (high, moderate, low)


† Organizational skills in personal & professional life (perfectionist, slob, motivated, disciplined, detailed, efficient, focused, timely, etc.)


†Career Stage (e.g. just starting, starting over, leader, novice, expert, etc.)


† Age, gender & birth order in family (or placement through adoption)


† Family background (e.g. traditional nuclear family, middle class, urban, suburbs, Army “brat”, single-parent, large/small family, raised by grand-parents, blended family, and so on.)


† Cultural background (Anglo, Asian, Black, Hispanic, first generation American, as well as the region of United States you grew up in.)


† Education & school background (loved school, barely passed, sports, extra-curricular activities or leadership, GED, military, public/private, went away to a state-university or stayed home for community college, etc.)


† Current roles & relationships (include both personal and professional roles like; student, employee, share-holder, CEO, vice-president, sales manager, as well as the relationship factors of single, married, divorced, husband, wife, mother, father, senior adult caregiver, dating, loner, committed or etc.)


† Mentors & role models (include the family members, teachers, pastors, authors or leaders who shaped your thinking with their influence and indicate how much time and energy they spent with you personally or how much you were influenced through their writing or speaking. In either case, try to rank who was the most influential in your life at different stages of your life, especially before age 30.)


† Individual life experiences (travel, meeting a well-known leader or celebrity, internships, moving out on your own, rebuilding after a crisis event- like the death of a friend or a DUI, winning an award for a sport or hobby, charity work- like Habitat for Humanity or the United Way, golfing with a sports star, being featured on TV, etc.)
† Group life experiences (being on a winning team, trips with family or friends, being affected by disasters like Hurricane Andrew or the terrorist attacks of 9/11, or helping accident victims after a wreck, being in the Navy reserve during wartime, driving cross-country to a concert, etc.)


† Stressful or Traumatic Experiences (any crisis events you may have experienced or lived through, such as a major accident, living through a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado, as well as any man made disasters like the terrorist attacks of 9/11. This might include the break up of a family through a highly contested divorce, a business failure, personal bankruptcy or a health crisis like battling against cancer. Note- these life altering events could have happened to you, or perhaps to someone else who experienced the trauma and you were their primary support through the crisis event.)


† Work Experiences (your first job, your worst job, your favorite job, being fired or having to fire a friend at work, going through a down-sizing or lay-off, being bought out by a competitor and being restructured with new owners, businesses you started or sold, etc.)


† Physical Values & Beliefs (your commitment to exercise, diet, sleep, fitness and use of healthy substances-while avoiding unhealthy ones, and the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area.)


† Spiritual Values & Beliefs (your commitment to personal character development and integrity through disciplined meditation, worship and religious involvement, as well as the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area.)


† Emotional Values & Beliefs (your commitment to develop personal maturity and self-control in managing the feelings of stress, worry, anger, fear, sadness, depression or anxiety, while displaying consistency with personal peace, kindness for others, impulse control and mental harmony as well as the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area.)


† Financial Values & Beliefs (your commitment to wise use of finances- both now and in the future, including budgeting to prevent impulse spending, buying or renting, cost analysis prior to major purchases, charitable giving, saving for future emergencies or investments, preventing debt, or managing current debt service and responsibility to taxes, insurances, retirement, and future expenses. Include a description of the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area)


† Skills & training (e.g. languages spoken, typing speed & accuracy, workshops or specialized training you have received, self-improvement groups you have participated in- like Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie, lessons taken, usage of special equipment or tools, computer programs or skills mastered, specialty products you have knowledge of, etc.)


† Certifications, licenses or earned degrees (e.g. CPA, MD, PhD, JD, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, lifeguard, CPR, certified product specialist, RN, or Reverend. Include any career training programs that you started but may have not completed and those you may have previously held at any level, including local, state, national or international. It is helpful to also note any professional goals that you may have that require future certifications or license requirements.


† Knowledge & information sources (types of books you seek out, favorite authors, primary media sources- like Internet, television, radio, newspaper or magazines. Comment on your choice of fiction/non-fiction or reality/happy ending themes, and why you choose your favorite entertainment, news, sit-coms, documentaries, how-to programs...is it to learn, relax, laugh, experience with others or escape daily life? As you list out this information be sure to indicate how much time or money you invest into your favorite information sources- for instance, “I read two books a month from the library, but spend $140 a month on cable television and high-speed Internet.)


† Talent, Natural Ability & Gifting (Honestly point out your strengths if you know them, since false humility gets in the way of this important exercise. Are you a ‘natural’ at leading others, does everyone find it easy to talk to you, or it is easy for you to stand up to give a speech? Do you love to do research, organize, or discover the hidden source of problems in people or organizations? Think about how you appear to others and describe any areas that you may have been praised for in your life; like natural physical size or strength, high intelligence or creativity, musical or athletic ability, an attractive or fit body, a great smile, expressive eyes, pretty hair, perfect teeth or a soothing or broadcast quality voice. Be sure to comment on the areas that come so easy to you, but seem to always draw admiration from others, such as; the ability to match colors in clothes, people or furnishings. Having the artistic ability to create or reproduce images with video, film, or photography or with the use of drawing, painting, sculpting or designing. Repairing things or skillfully working with your hands on any type of material, machine or equipment. Assess your ability to put anyone at ease, work with children or the elderly, wake up feeling friendly or positive in your mood, automatically reaching out to others in need, being a great team player, eager to learn new things, always active and eager to move forward, being quick at solving puzzles, games or people problems or being called the “fix-it” person. You have these qualities- but you do have to carefully look to really see them because what comes natural to you isn’t really noticed by you. Since our society doesn’t teach us to pay much attention to natural gifting, you may find this exercise the hardest of all, so ask a trusted friend if you get stuck.)


Career Kaleidoscope Exercise:

Spend less than a minute per category and go with your first response as you consider your life and career in the following areas to discover your career ‘fit’

Design or natural talent and ability, (people always say you are good at this)


Work that is highly Interesting to you, (never boring, you can’t wait to do it)


Important or valuable work to you, (issues or causes you deeply believe in)


Areas you are highly skilled or experienced in, (been there- done that well)


Areas you are educated or credentialed in, (degrees, licenses, certifications)


Your current career development plan, (audio learning, DVD’s, night school)


Marketplace and industry options available, (location, costs, age/stage, gender)


Groups or industries already looking for people with your background to improve the strength and depth of their team, (esp. networking organizations)




Next: What logical career conclusions fit into the Kaleidoscope “core” today?


Finally: What steps can you take today to make a positive career change? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

► Suggested resource:
Visit www.Crown.org and check out the “Career Direct” career assessment profile. It is a highly detailed resource to help students and working professionals find their exact career with dozens of pages of resources personalized just to you and your specific personality and career strength. (Note: students tend to benefit from the educational version, which includes school choices as you map out your career for lasting success.)

NOTE: you can freely redistribute this resource, electronically or in print, provided you leave the authors contact information below.

About the Author: Dwight Bain is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Family Law Mediator and Certified Life Coach in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,500 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and partners with major corporations and national organizations to make a difference in our culture with the positive message of Jesus Christ.
Visit our website with over 100 helpful counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time and reduce your stress by providing positive solutions at www.LifeWorksGroup.org

The Yoke's On You: Slavery to Sin or Freedom in Christ

By Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC

God has really been speaking to me lately. Yes, really. Amazing as it sounds for a man who has been a Christian for 31 years, I am just now learning that God still speaks to us, if we will only listen. For years, I don’t think I fully believed this…..that we could really hear the Lord’s voice. I just thought that God only spoke through the scripture….an attitude that results from being raised in “the age of reason” where anything of the heart is portrayed as na├»ve at best and, at worst, a trick of the devil. It never dawned on me, until recently, that this attitude does not fit the God portrayed in those very scriptures. A God that actually states, when choosing David as king, that He looks MOST to the heart, while man looks at the externals. A God who continued to speak to and through the disciples even after Christ ascended to His throne. The question I never asked myself is, “why would He stop now”? Well, I’m not sure why it took me so long (I guess I’m a little slow on the uptake) but I’m overjoyed that God is showing me that He does continue to speak to us, if we will learn to listen. I thank God for the writings of men who really knew Him and walked with Him. Men like Tozer, Lewis, Thomas a Kempis, and others. It is so refreshing to begin to really know God….not just know about God. I can see why God told Moses that nobody could look fully at Him or they would die because just going into a deeper walk with Him and hearing His voice has been almost overwhelming to me at times. How awesome that He is available to us!
One of the areas that He has really been working with me on is what it really means to be free in Christ. As a therapist, I see Christian men and women every day that truly are still slaves to their anger, their habits, their vices……to their sins. I look at the church in general and I still see so many people who look as if their yokes are truly heavy, not light as Jesus promised His yoke was. I even look at my own life and history and wonder why even my life has felt like such a heavy burden over the past few years. If Jesus’ yoke is light, if we are to truly experience freedom in Him, why is it that many Christians seem to lack that freedom?
Well, God is still working on me in understanding all of this more fully but I’ll tell you what He has shown me so far…
It is simply about where our focus is.
I have written previously about my opinion that much of the church’s teaching focuses on behavior control, or of how we can overcome certain sins we struggle with. I cannot tell you how many messages I have heard over the years on “3 steps to overcome sexual temptation” or “4 ways to tame the tongue” or “the 5 practices that enable us to be more obedient servants to God” or things like that. We certainly mention that Christ wants a personal relationship with us but even that teaching is intertwined with making sure we have devotions every morning (and we all know that God is more present early in the morning J ) and that we read a certain amount of scripture each year and other “behavior-oriented” teachings. But what I’m hearing from God is that this preoccupation with behavior is why we are remaining slaves to sin. It’s the focus. The tunnel-vision. I really cannot think of a better word than, once again, PREOCCUPATION. When we focus our hearts and our eyes on our behavior, on how we mess up, or even on trying NOT to mess up, this enables Satan to keep us shackled to sin. Even focusing on NOT sinning keeps us in slavery to it. Can we deny this, really? On one hand, if we are focused on our sin because we are indulging in it, then we know that we are allowing ourselves to be chained to that behavior. Few would argue with me on that point, I’m sure. We see this in those who are stuck in the addictive cycle, whether it is to alcohol, drugs, pornography, or sexual affairs. Much of their lives revolve around where they will get their next “fix”. It is blatant slavery to that sin. But, my friends, listen to me. When most of our focus is on how we will NOT sin, it still enslaves us. The truth is that we can only stop sinning through sheer willpower for so long. No matter how hard we try, we will eventually mess up. This is why the world needed Christ, because we were hopeless in ever trying to live up to the standards of the Law.
Yet, what God is showing me is that, much like the Galatian church, we are still trying to do our best to live up to the “standards” of both the Old Testament Law (the Ten Commandments) and a new law we have set up, based on New Testament principles of behavior. So much of our focus, both in and out of the church, is on how we can obey those commands. Even the world places this pressure on us. For instance, if a high-profile minister is caught in sin, the world jumps on his inability to live up to the very standards he teaches about. But that’s the point! We cannot live up to those standards. By trying to do so we are emulating the Galatian Christians, who were trying to get new converts to obey the Law even after accepting Christ. Even worse, by focusing on how we can keep these standards and by teaching others the same (and that it is actually possible) we mirror the very leaders that Christ was the most harsh with, the Pharisees. Christ said they placed a HEAVY yoke on the people, one that they were unable to bear. Without meaning to, I believe that many of us as leaders, preachers, teachers, elders, and laymen are doing the same. By focusing on behavior, we are placing a yoke on people; a yoke of shame (believing they are bad at their very core) caused by an emphasis on standards that we will never be able to live up to. This is slavery, pure and simple, because we are teaching people to either focus on what they are doing or we are teaching them that they are shameful beings, incapable of ever being who God wants them to be. This is a focus of bondage, and it is why most Christians have no clue about what it means to be free in Christ.
The freedom that Jesus spoke of is when our focus is completely different. That freedom is found when we focus our hearts on walking with God. It sounds so simple and yet rarely do I see it taught in detail. What does it mean to daily walk with Christ? How do we hear His voice? What does this relationship really look like? I fear that this kind of in-depth focus on our walk with God is glossed over because many of us as leaders aren’t really walking with Him ourselves. I don’t mean that as an attack at all. The truth is, as I noted to begin with, I am only just now beginning to walk with Him on this level. I’m confident that this article is incomplete and imperfect because these are truths I am just now beginning to understand. I’m hopeful (in that confident hope we can have in Christ) that He will continue to flesh out what all this means in the coming months and years. Yet, for now, what He is showing me is that freedom comes when we stop worrying about and focusing on our behavior and, instead, focus on our walk with God. Freedom is when we learn how to “give up” our hearts to Him and submit to His work in our lives. It is when we learn to slow down and be silent before Him, enabling Him to speak to every part of our lives. It is when we learn what it means to hear His voice…….a journey that does not seem natural to many in this age of “cognitive” religion.
You see, this is where the freedom comes in. When we focus on Him and learn to submit, HE will take care of our behavior as a natural result of walking with Him. As a counselor and as a minister, I am less concerned about people’s actions and more concerned about their heart. I know that a pornography addict, for instance, cannot control his impulses for very long in his own willpower. But, if we can work on turning his heart’s focus to his relationship with God, then I know that God will work on the healing and transformation of that heart……and his behavior will change as a result. The “freedom” is in the submission…….the releasing of our will and heart to God. That is the lighter yoke…..that we allow God to carry the burden of changing our hearts and behavior. That we allow Him to remove our shame (there is no condemnation in Christ) and we begin to see how valuable we are to Him. The freedom is in our heart’s knowledge (not just head knowledge) that we are so valuable to God that He desire’s to walk with us moment-to-moment in spite of our sins (thanks to Christ). The yoke is light because HE is carrying us….we are not carrying the yoke ourselves.
The illustration that comes to mind is when Peter stepped out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water. Remember, it was when his focus turned to external things (the waves, the wind, the circumstances) that he began to sink. He could not, no matter how diligently he tried, do this on his own. However, when his focus was on Christ, he was able to walk on the water. It was all about his focus.
The same is true for us. No matter how hard we work at it, we can never control our behavior for long. Even Paul testifies to this in Romans as he describes his own struggle with sin and behavior. However, Paul writes that we are no longer “slaves” to sin…not that we no longer sin. That is a powerful distinction that should free us up from shame and bondage. But only if we teach people how to walk with God. Only if we stop focusing so much on sin-control and more on hearing God’s voice and submitting to Him. Not just that people should have this kind of relationship, but showing them how to live in this way, day-by-day.
We really can lead people to freedom in Christ. We can show people how to escape the chains of addiction and sin. Not that we have the freedom to sin but that, because of finally realizing our value to God, we are free NOT to sin. We can lead people to this by changing our focus, and theirs. By giving up our need for control, submitting in relationship to Him, and letting Him carry the burden of changing us.
Until then, the yoke’s on us.
Career Mapping-
The strategy you need to create positive career change

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

There is great power in having a road map to understand your ideal career. Think about how valuable it would be to have a detailed chart that maps out the combination of your unique life experiences with your education and skill set. Once you know your personal strengths, interests, motivations in combination with your personal career journey then you are literally set up to win at work; while experiencing positive change and growth on your way to a new level of career success. This information is valuable for students and seasoned professionals since it protects the limited resources of time and money in how to focus on the job to achieve fulfillment in life.

Most people don’t realize that we actually spend more hours of our life working than any other single activity. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know where you fit in your career, because if you are drifting and feel lost in your career, you literally are drifting and letting life slip through your fingers. Another reason why it’s important to have a clear career focus is because of some startling research which revealed that almost 80% of workers felt stress on the job, and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. 26% of workers said they were 'often or very often burned out or stressed by their work' (Gallup Management Journal).

Another survey reported that almost 8 out of ten US workers go to jobs every day that they don’t like or don’t feel well equipped to do. I suspect that one area of career drifting and weakness fuels the dissatisfaction in the other. Basically, if you don’t know where you fit, then you are set up for tremendous stress and disappointment that will ripple into every other area of life. Conversely, if you know where you fit, you life just got better and it will show in the joy on your face when it’s time to get up and go to a job that you love. When you know where you fit on your career path, you enjoy life more and worry less. So how can you tell if you are in the wrong job or the right one? One way is to take the checklist below to review the key career areas to see if you have more fulfillment on the job or just a lot of frustration as you begin your search for answers.


Career Roadblocks-

___Weak or wimpy leadership ___Little or no chance of career advancement
___Low or no company benefits ___Career burnout or continual job stress___Continually forced overtime ___Boring work
___Feeling burned out ___Continually feeling overwhelmed by work
___Too long of a daily commute ___Career is out of balance with rest of life___Not trusted by leadership ___Others are passing you by
___Not empowered or equipped ___Forced to do meaningless tasks___Low pay, low benefits ___Constant complaining about money
___Given too much responsibility ___Absent leaders who don’t lead___Mean or abusive managers ___Hostile work environment___Low or no employee morale ___Lone wolf syndrome vs. team approach
___No validation of progress ___No job stability or security

Here’s your Career Coaching Goal:
Find your “Fit” by mapping out and blending the key elements listed in this coaching resource onto a legal pad as you put together the pieces that can become a successful career for a lifetime. Each category will help shape your thinking as you do the final assignment to discover your ‘core’ career focus from the Career Kaleidoscope exercise. Then review the results with a family member, pastor, co-worker, trusted friend or coach so you can get some honest feedback to insure that you are on track as you develop a personalized career GPS or “Global Positioning System” of your greatest skills and strengths which will become your career map of a strategic path of greater success together.

► Directions:
Customize the categories below by listing out information from your own career journey. Place in facts, names, dates or a brief description of events as you give the details that describe your strengths learned through educational or life experiences. There are no wrong answers, and some categories will be longer than others, so add or adjust space as necessary to give an accurate description of your career development. The more detail you give, the more clearly you can uncover and discover your career strengths and where you can focus to achieve maximum results. This is the story of your journey, and it is an important one. Be honest with your successes, failures, wins and losses. If you won an award- bring it up, or if you were fired for poor performance, comment on what you learned from it. Most business people doing this exercise have strengths they don’t give themselves credit for, so just by listing out and then thinking through these topics should open your eyes to better see where you fit in your career. Answer these questions with an open mind to discover a new view of yourself and where you best fit in the world of work.

Dwight Bain’s coaching guide to discovering your ideal career placement by charting your life journey… this exercise reveals your personal strengths and areas of excellence. Find your “Fit” by mapping out and blending the following key elements onto a legal pad or the career Kalediscope exercise attached. Then sit down with a trusted mentor or coach to review the results as you develop a personalized “GPS” tracking system of positioning your skills and strengths onto a strategic career map leading to success.

“Be direct with change and you will take charge of your life”. -Dwight Bain

† Personality (e.g. introvert/extrovert, people person/loner, loud/quiet, sanguine, melancholic, choleric, phlegmatic or D.I.S.C., Meyers-Briggs, 5 Love Languages or other scores from personality profiles you may have taken)


† Energy level in personal & professional life (high, moderate, low)


† Organizational skills in personal & professional life (perfectionist, slob, motivated, disciplined, detailed, efficient, focused, timely, etc.)


†Career Stage (e.g. just starting, starting over, leader, novice, expert, etc.)


† Age, gender & birth order in family (or placement through adoption)


† Family background (e.g. traditional nuclear family, middle class, urban, suburbs, Army “brat”, single-parent, large/small family, raised by grand-parents, blended family, and so on.)


† Cultural background (Anglo, Asian, Black, Hispanic, first generation American, as well as the region of United States you grew up in.)


† Education & school background (loved school, barely passed, sports, extra-curricular activities or leadership, GED, military, public/private, went away to a state-university or stayed home for community college, etc.)


† Current roles & relationships (include both personal and professional roles like; student, employee, share-holder, CEO, vice-president, sales manager, as well as the relationship factors of single, married, divorced, husband, wife, mother, father, senior adult caregiver, dating, loner, committed or etc.)


† Mentors & role models (include the family members, teachers, pastors, authors or leaders who shaped your thinking with their influence and indicate how much time and energy they spent with you personally or how much you were influenced through their writing or speaking. In either case, try to rank who was the most influential in your life at different stages of your life, especially before age 30.)


† Individual life experiences (travel, meeting a well-known leader or celebrity, internships, moving out on your own, rebuilding after a crisis event- like the death of a friend or a DUI, winning an award for a sport or hobby, charity work- like Habitat for Humanity or the United Way, golfing with a sports star, being featured on TV, etc.)


† Group life experiences (being on a winning team, trips with family or friends, being affected by disasters like Hurricane Andrew or the terrorist attacks of 9/11, or helping accident victims after a wreck, being in the Navy reserve during wartime, driving cross-country to a concert, etc.)


† Stressful or Traumatic Experiences (any crisis events you may have experienced or lived through, such as a major accident, living through a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado, as well as any man made disasters like the terrorist attacks of 9/11. This might include the break up of a family through a highly contested divorce, a business failure, personal bankruptcy or a health crisis like battling against cancer. Note- these life altering events could have happened to you, or perhaps to someone else who experienced the trauma and you were their primary support through the crisis event.)


† Work Experiences (your first job, your worst job, your favorite job, being fired or having to fire a friend at work, going through a down-sizing or lay-off, being bought out by a competitor and being restructured with new owners, businesses you started or sold, etc.)


† Physical Values & Beliefs (your commitment to exercise, diet, sleep, fitness and use of healthy substances-while avoiding unhealthy ones, and the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area.)


† Spiritual Values & Beliefs (your commitment to personal character development and integrity through disciplined meditation, worship and religious involvement, as well as the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area.)


† Emotional Values & Beliefs (your commitment to develop personal maturity and self-control in managing the feelings of stress, worry, anger, fear, sadness, depression or anxiety, while displaying consistency with personal peace, kindness for others, impulse control and mental harmony as well as the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area.)


† Financial Values & Beliefs (your commitment to wise use of finances- both now and in the future, including budgeting to prevent impulse spending, buying or renting, cost analysis prior to major purchases, charitable giving, saving for future emergencies or investments, preventing debt, or managing current debt service and responsibility to taxes, insurances, retirement, and future expenses. Include a description of the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area)


† Skills & training (e.g. languages spoken, typing speed & accuracy, workshops or specialized training you have received, self-improvement groups you have participated in- like Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie, lessons taken, usage of special equipment or tools, computer programs or skills mastered, specialty products you have knowledge of, etc.)


† Certifications, licenses or earned degrees (e.g. CPA, MD, PhD, JD, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, lifeguard, CPR, certified product specialist, RN, or Reverend. Include any career training programs that you started but may have not completed and those you may have previously held at any level, including local, state, national or international. It is helpful to also note any professional goals that you may have that require future certifications or license requirements.


† Knowledge & information sources (types of books you seek out, favorite authors, primary media sources- like Internet, television, radio, newspaper or magazines. Comment on your choice of fiction/non-fiction or reality/happy ending themes, and why you choose your favorite entertainment, news, sit-coms, documentaries, how-to programs...is it to learn, relax, laugh, experience with others or escape daily life? As you list out this information be sure to indicate how much time or money you invest into your favorite information sources- for instance, “I read two books a month from the library, but spend $140 a month on cable television and high-speed Internet.)


† Talent, Natural Ability & Gifting (Honestly point out your strengths if you know them, since false humility gets in the way of this important exercise. Are you a ‘natural’ at leading others, does everyone find it easy to talk to you, or it is easy for you to stand up to give a speech? Do you love to do research, organize, or discover the hidden source of problems in people or organizations? Think about how you appear to others and describe any areas that you may have been praised for in your life; like natural physical size or strength, high intelligence or creativity, musical or athletic ability, an attractive or fit body, a great smile, expressive eyes, pretty hair, perfect teeth or a soothing or broadcast quality voice. Be sure to comment on the areas that come so easy to you, but seem to always draw admiration from others, such as; the ability to match colors in clothes, people or furnishings. Having the artistic ability to create or reproduce images with video, film, or photography or with the use of drawing, painting, sculpting or designing. Repairing things or skillfully working with your hands on any type of material, machine or equipment. Assess your ability to put anyone at ease, work with children or the elderly, wake up feeling friendly or positive in your mood, automatically reaching out to others in need, being a great team player, eager to learn new things, always active and eager to move forward, being quick at solving puzzles, games or people problems or being called the “fix-it” person. You have these qualities- but you do have to carefully look to really see them because what comes natural to you isn’t really noticed by you. Since our society doesn’t teach us to pay much attention to natural gifting, you may find this exercise the hardest of all, so ask a trusted friend if you get stuck.)


NOTE: you can freely redistribute this resource, electronically or in print, provided you leave the authors contact information below.

About the Author: Dwight Bain is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Family Law Mediator and Certified Life Coach in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,500 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and partners with major corporations and national organizations to make a difference in our culture with the positive message of Jesus Christ.
Visit our website with over 100 helpful counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time and reduce your stress by providing positive solutions at www.LifeWorksGroup.org




Career Kaleidoscope Exercise:

Spend less than a minute per category and go with your first response as you consider your life and career in the following areas to discover your career ‘fit’

Design or natural talent and ability, (people always say you are good at this)
Work that is highly Interesting to you, (never boring, you can’t wait to do it)
Important or valuable work to you, (issues or causes you deeply believe in)
Areas you are highly skilled or experienced in, (been there- done that well)
Areas you are educated or credentialed in, (degrees, licenses, certifications)
Your current career development plan, (audio learning, DVD’s, night school)
Marketplace and industry options available, (location, costs, age/stage, gender)
Groups or industries already looking for people with your background to improve the strength and depth of their team, (esp. networking organizations)


1.
_______________________
_______________________
2.
_______________________
_______________________

3.




Next: What logical career conclusions fit into the Kaleidoscope “core” today?


Finally: What steps can you take today to make a positive career change?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

► Suggested resource:
Visit www.Crown.org and check out the “Career Direct” career assessment profile. It is a highly detailed resource to help students and working professionals find their exact career with dozens of pages of resources personalized just to you and your specific personality and career strength. (Note: students tend to benefit from the educational version, which includes school choices as you map out your career for lasting success.)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Moving Beyond the Pressures & Problems of Life- A Stress & Burnout Recovery Guide

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed with life? I sure have and you probably have at different times of your life too, since everyone feels pressure over problems in their life. However, problems and pressures are different at different life stages. For instance, a teenager’s greatest problem may be worrying that they don’t have a date for the prom, while a parent may worry that their daughter has a date with the wrong guy for the prom! Pressure for one person may be the feeling of panic from not having enough money, while pressure for another person is being overwhelmed by the amount of taxes they have to pay because of having more money than they expected. Increased stress comes from many different directions, often creating greater health challenges than we realize. Cary Cooper, a professor at Lancaster University in Great Britain, described it this way, “Stress as a health issue is probably the Black Plague of the 21st century.”

Stress often starts out small, which is why we don’t think about it much until it’s out of control. Picture a series of seemingly innocent little problems that seem to pop up throughout the day to then grow in intensity like a twister churning across a Kansas cornfield by bed-time. If they came at you one at a time you could handle it, but when they are bunched together in clusters and seem to be coming at you from a dozen different directions at once it feels like more than anyone could handle… that’s when you know you are on stress overload and headed toward burnout. And that’s what this stress recovery guide is designed to help you identify and more importantly, to solve.

Face it, daily stress affects every area of our lives and to some degree affects everybody, but not always in the same way. According to a recent Harris Poll 75 percent of people said they felt some to lots of stress, while 23 percent experienced lots of stress every day. Their research covered the 14 most common daily pressures that are believed to cause stress overload, like finances to being worried about health to feeling disconnected and lonely in relationships.

Over one in five people feel overloaded with stress every single day!
– Harris Research

Unresolved stress can lead to burnout because the pressures and problems that can build up in one area of life tend to spill over into all other areas of life. Which means that not dealing with stress and pressure in one area of life will eventually have a negative impact on the other areas of life like energy level, relationships, health, sleep, career, money, schedules, home-life or even harm our emotional and sense of spiritual well-being. Stress compounds the amount of internal psychological pressure that we have to deal with, whether we like it our not. That’s why we tend to avoid it, which only makes it worse because unresolved daily life stress can lead to an explosive level of panic and tension or if we choose to deal with it, these same pressures can be quickly solved to bring you to a position of greater peace and strength inside.

STRESS COMES FROM FEELING OUT OF CONTROL-

Here’s a foundational insight about moving beyond the normal changes of life to overcome stress and avoid burnout- you have more control than you think. You really do have a great deal more power to change than you could ever imagine. The Bible teaches a timeless principal about managing stress when it says, to “Count it all joy when trials and challenges come along,” (James 1:2). This is because the trials and challenges force us to deal with our character issues by growing and changing. A great deal of the pressures and problems in our lives is based on our perspective about those issues. Do you see those pressures and problems as something terrible that will only break you down and leave you weaker or as a positive pressure that will blast away insecurities and fears to push you toward reaching your potential?

Stress affects everyone from the cradle to the grave, which is good news for some and not so good news for others. The not so good news is only that there isn’t a place on this planet where you won’t have to deal with stress because it will never go away…it’s just part of life. If you see this as bad news, please balance it with the very good news that it’s a perfectly normal part of growing through every stage of life. Yes, I said perfectly normal because everyone has to deal with stress if they want to grow strong. It just feels overwhelming when there is too much in too short a period of time, and with the rapid pace of life these days, we are all prone to carry too much stress inside.

Stress researcher, David Posen, MD, describes the problem this way, “The problem causing stress is the rate of change in the modern world. You almost have no time to adjust to one change before the next one comes along.” Think of it as a process that looks like this flow chart:

Life causes Change
Change is Stressful
Stress is difficult to deal with
On the other side of Stress is Strength

We grow the strongest as we tackle issues to move forward through the stress and pressure to face our fears and go to an even deeper level of insight and maturity. So, if your goal in life is to try and do everything possible to avoid stress and pressure then in some ways your goal is short-sighted, because it is going to leave you weaker and more immature than others who face the stress with God’s help to grow stronger and become more of the person they were designed to be.


STRESS WARNING SYMPTOMS:

How can you tell if you are on stress ‘overload’ instead of just having a bad day? Take a minute to check off any of the following stress symptoms you have felt on a regular basis over the last month or so. The more symptoms you are experiencing in your physical, behavioral, emotional, relational or spiritual life, the greater the likelihood that you are being overwhelmed with stress leading to burnout or exhaustion, instead of growing stronger on the other side of stress. (Remember, some of these symptoms may indicate serious health problems and should be checked out by your medical doctor or by a qualified healthcare professional).


PHYSICAL or BEHAVIORAL STRESS SYMPTOMS:
__ Loss of Energy __ Sleep loss or Insomnia
__ Fatigue __ Listless or in a mental ‘fog’
__ Dry Mouth __ Ulcers
__ Headaches __ Migraines
__ Smoking __ Rapid/shallow breathing
__ No Appetite __ Alcohol or drug abuse to cope
__ Caffeine dependence __ Inability to rest
__ Over-eating __ High blood pressure
__ Hyper-tension __ I.B.S./Colitis
__ “Nervous energy” __ Tightness in chest or heart palpitations
__ Chronically sick __ Accelerated heart rate
__ Decreased libido __ Chronic joint pain
__ No time to relax __ Unkempt physical appearance
__ Chronic back pain __ Nightmares or night terrors
__ Restlessness __ Cries easily or can’t cry at all
__ Increased health worries __ Muscle tension (neck/shoulders/jaw)
__ Skin disorders __ Fainting or feeling like you will faint
__ Abdominal pain __ Sweating or really cold hands/feet
__ Nausea or diarrhea __ Increased cold or flu symptoms


EMOTIONAL or RELATIONAL STRESS SYMPTOMS:
__ Difficulty concentrating __ Uneasiness or nervousness
__ Defensive __ Easily angered
__ Withdrawal from others __ Criticism or Sarcasm
__ Holding problems inside __ TV addiction-Soaps, Sports, Sitcoms
__ Self-consciousness __ Anxiety or panic
__ Apathy __ Avoidance of emotions (esp. fear)
__ Financial worries __ Living in the past or future
__ Short temper __ “Clinging” or dependent behavior
__ No sense of humor __ Not sharing burdens with others
__ Feeling hopeless __ Over-committed or life is out of balance
__ Feeling helpless __ Life seems out of control
__ Trouble making decisions __ Feelings of failure
__ Forgetfulness __ “Type A” driven personality
__ Impatience __ Elevated shame or guilt
__ Unresolved loss or grief __ State of alarm
__ Tension __ Depression or overwhelming sadness
__ Irritability __ Apprehension or confusion
__ Overwhelmed __ Impulsive Decisions
__ Perfectionism __ Diminished productivity
__ Restlessness __ Easily distracted


SPIRITUAL STRESS SYMPTOMS:
__ Avoiding spiritual needs __ Loss of faith
__ No time to pray __ Increased doubts
__ Inner turmoil __ Spiritual aloneness
__ No peace or contentment __ Spiritual emptiness
__ No day of rest __ Tremendous anger at God
__ Unresolved past guilt __ Lack of inner peace
__ God seems a “million miles away” __ Believing that everyone is a hypocrite


The more warning indicators that are identified in a single category or across multiple categories, the more that person may be in a stress ‘overload’ situation. However, if only a few of these stress-related symptoms are present, then don’t worry about it. Life stress is common, so if only one or two symptoms are present, it is not usually a cause for alarm, but it is a sign that you are alive!


MOVING FROM STRESS TO STRENGTH

Once you have identified the primary factors that are fueling your stress, then it’s time to take positive action to change. Some situations are so complex that you can’t work out of it by yourself, but you can take action to move in the right direction. Do this by talking openly about what’s causing your pressure with others. Even if you feel like you can’t talk to anyone about your problems, you can pray about it, or write down your thoughts in a journal. Remember, no one can solve all their problems alone so don’t be afraid to reach out to the people around you who can help, like pastors, doctors, counselors or call a hotline, (you can call the number 211 in many cities to be connected to social service agencies that are available to help with many daily life stressors). You can always do something positive to face the stress and pressure in your life, but you have to decide to take action now before the pressure increases and things get worse.

Here are a number of proactive steps you can take every day to build your personal energy level with the use of stress coping strategies. The more positive actions you take, the faster you will move from stress to strength as you implement the skills necessary to make your life work better.


PHYSICAL & BEHAVIORAL STRESS COPING SKILLS:
__ Sleep (7-9 hours) __ Balanced diet
__ Regular meals __ Deep breathing
__ Regular exercise __ Tense/relax muscles
__ Hugs/affection __ Regular daily routines
__ Massage __ Plenty of water
__ Medical checkups or physicals __ Medication (prescribed by your MD)
__ Quiet times of rest or naps __ Get out into the sunshine
__ Brisk walking __ Organize time and schedule
__ Learn to use a planner __ Regular bedtime
__ Allow extra time to do things __ Simplify your lifestyle
__ Get rid of clutter __ Delegate or delete low priority events
__ Learn to organize tasks __ Leave earlier to avoid traffic jams


EMOTIONAL & RELATIONAL STRESS COPING SKILLS:
__ Personal planning time __ Positive relationships
__ Build positive esteem __ Share your burdens
__ Support groups __ Counseling
__ Deal directly with problems __ Talk openly about anger
__ Honestly face fears __ Laugh and have fun
__ Relax with family/friends __ Reading
__ Learn to say “No” __ Short term goals
__ Hobbies/activities __ Take on new challenges
__ Learn something new __ Leave work at work
__ Do good for others __ Victory list of achievements
__ Pace yourself __ Control spending with a budget
__ Journaling __ Manage your moods


SPIRITUAL STRESS COPING SKILLS:
__ Bible Study __ Apply biblical principles to life
__ Prayer __ Church socials or recreational events
__ Meditation __ Regular worship in a house of faith
__ Inspirational music __ Join a supportive church group
__ Memorize scripture __ Observe a day of rest
__ Spiritual landmarks __ Keep priorities balanced
__ Inspirational books __ Realize God loves you
__ “Re-create” Spiritual energy __ Listen to inspirational messages
__ Express more gratitude __ Experience quiet times with God
__ Spiritual concert events __ Spiritual workshops or classes
__ Forgive to really live __ Practice acts of random kindness


Finally, remember the old saying, that “Things come to pass – not stay”. No matter what problems you are facing today, they will eventually pass. If you are on the right road, moving in the right direction, you will get the right results. It is my hope that you will begin right now to build positive stress coping skills into your daily life and routines so that you can spend your time and energy really living life instead of feeling beat up by it. You can’t control the fact that stress comes into your life, but you can control how you manage it and how you will respond to the pressures and problems of daily life- with fear and dread or by facing it head on with discipline. One path leads to exhaustion and the other to being better equipped as a person of strength. It’s time to choose a path- choose wisely and your life and health will be better or choose poorly and live in quiet desperation. I challenge you to let this be your time to take bold action to live better as you move past your stress to live at a new level of success.


For further study on stress recovery, check out these sites:www.webmd.com www.Family.org
www.AACC.net www.eCounseling.com

NOTE: you can freely redistribute this helpful resource to friends, family, co-workers or at church, electronically or in print, provided you leave the authors contact information intact in the box below.

About the Author: Dwight Bain is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,500 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. He is a professional member of the National Speakers Association and partners with corporations and organizations to make a positive difference in our culture.
Access more complimentary counseling and coaching resources from The LifeWorks Group by visiting their extensive posting of blog’s and special reports designed to save you time by strategically solving problems at www.LifeworksGroup.org

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Moving Beyond the Pressures & Problems of Life- A Stress & Burnout Recovery Guide

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed with life? I sure have and you probably have at different times of your life too, since everyone feels pressure over problems in their life. However, problems and pressures are different at different life stages. For instance, a teenager’s greatest problem may be worrying that they don’t have a date for the prom, while a parent may worry that their daughter has a date with the wrong guy for the prom! Pressure for one person may be the feeling of panic from not having enough money, while pressure for another person is being overwhelmed by the amount of taxes they have to pay because of having more money than they expected. Increased stress comes from many different directions, often creating greater health challenges than we realize. Cary Cooper, a professor at Lancaster University in Great Britain, described it this way, “Stress as a health issue is probably the Black Plague of the 21st century.”

Stress often starts out small, which is why we don’t think about it much until it’s out of control. Picture a series of seemingly innocent little problems that seem to pop up throughout the day to then grow in intensity like a twister churning across a Kansas cornfield by bed-time. If they came at you one at a time you could handle it, but when they are bunched together in clusters and seem to be coming at you from a dozen different directions at once it feels like more than anyone could handle… that’s when you know you are on stress overload and headed toward burnout. And that’s what this stress recovery guide is designed to help you identify and more importantly, to solve.

Face it, daily stress affects every area of our lives and to some degree affects everybody, but not always in the same way. According to a recent Harris Poll 75 percent of people said they felt some to lots of stress, while 23 percent experienced lots of stress every day. Their research covered the 14 most common daily pressures that are believed to cause stress overload, like finances to being worried about health to feeling disconnected and lonely in relationships.

Over one in five people feel overloaded with stress every single day!
– Harris Research

Unresolved stress can lead to burnout because the pressures and problems that can build up in one area of life tend to spill over into all other areas of life. Which means that not dealing with stress and pressure in one area of life will eventually have a negative impact on the other areas of life like energy level, relationships, health, sleep, career, money, schedules, home-life or even harm our emotional and sense of spiritual well-being. Stress compounds the amount of internal psychological pressure that we have to deal with, whether we like it our not. That’s why we tend to avoid it, which only makes it worse because unresolved daily life stress can lead to an explosive level of panic and tension or if we choose to deal with it, these same pressures can be quickly solved to bring you to a position of greater peace and strength inside.

STRESS COMES FROM FEELING OUT OF CONTROL-

Here’s a foundational insight about moving beyond the normal changes of life to overcome stress and avoid burnout- you have more control than you think. You really do have a great deal more power to change than you could ever imagine. The Bible teaches a timeless principal about managing stress when it says, to “Count it all joy when trials and challenges come along,” (James 1:2). This is because the trials and challenges force us to deal with our character issues by growing and changing. A great deal of the pressures and problems in our lives is based on our perspective about those issues. Do you see those pressures and problems as something terrible that will only break you down and leave you weaker or as a positive pressure that will blast away insecurities and fears to push you toward reaching your potential?

Stress affects everyone from the cradle to the grave, which is good news for some and not so good news for others. The not so good news is only that there isn’t a place on this planet where you won’t have to deal with stress because it will never go away…it’s just part of life. If you see this as bad news, please balance it with the very good news that it’s a perfectly normal part of growing through every stage of life. Yes, I said perfectly normal because everyone has to deal with stress if they want to grow strong. It just feels overwhelming when there is too much in too short a period of time, and with the rapid pace of life these days, we are all prone to carry too much stress inside.

Stress researcher, David Posen, MD, describes the problem this way, “The problem causing stress is the rate of change in the modern world. You almost have no time to adjust to one change before the next one comes along.” Think of it as a process that looks like this flow chart:

Life causes Change
Change is Stressful
Stress is difficult to deal with
On the other side of Stress is Strength

We grow the strongest as we tackle issues to move forward through the stress and pressure to face our fears and go to an even deeper level of insight and maturity. So, if your goal in life is to try and do everything possible to avoid stress and pressure then in some ways your goal is short-sighted, because it is going to leave you weaker and more immature than others who face the stress with God’s help to grow stronger and become more of the person they were designed to be.


STRESS WARNING SYMPTOMS:

How can you tell if you are on stress ‘overload’ instead of just having a bad day? Take a minute to check off any of the following stress symptoms you have felt on a regular basis over the last month or so. The more symptoms you are experiencing in your physical, behavioral, emotional, relational or spiritual life, the greater the likelihood that you are being overwhelmed with stress leading to burnout or exhaustion, instead of growing stronger on the other side of stress. (Remember, some of these symptoms may indicate serious health problems and should be checked out by your medical doctor or by a qualified healthcare professional).


PHYSICAL or BEHAVIORAL STRESS SYMPTOMS:
__ Loss of Energy __ Sleep loss or Insomnia
__ Fatigue __ Listless or in a mental ‘fog’
__ Dry Mouth __ Ulcers
__ Headaches __ Migraines
__ Smoking __ Rapid/shallow breathing
__ No Appetite __ Alcohol or drug abuse to cope
__ Caffeine dependence __ Inability to rest
__ Over-eating __ High blood pressure
__ Hyper-tension __ I.B.S./Colitis
__ “Nervous energy” __ Tightness in chest or heart palpitations
__ Chronically sick __ Accelerated heart rate
__ Decreased libido __ Chronic joint pain
__ No time to relax __ Unkempt physical appearance
__ Chronic back pain __ Nightmares or night terrors
__ Restlessness __ Cries easily or can’t cry at all
__ Increased health worries __ Muscle tension (neck/shoulders/jaw)
__ Skin disorders __ Fainting or feeling like you will faint
__ Abdominal pain __ Sweating or really cold hands/feet
__ Nausea or diarrhea __ Increased cold or flu symptoms


EMOTIONAL or RELATIONAL STRESS SYMPTOMS:
__ Difficulty concentrating __ Uneasiness or nervousness
__ Defensive __ Easily angered
__ Withdrawal from others __ Criticism or Sarcasm
__ Holding problems inside __ TV addiction-Soaps, Sports, Sitcoms
__ Self-consciousness __ Anxiety or panic
__ Apathy __ Avoidance of emotions (esp. fear)
__ Financial worries __ Living in the past or future
__ Short temper __ “Clinging” or dependent behavior
__ No sense of humor __ Not sharing burdens with others
__ Feeling hopeless __ Over-committed or life is out of balance
__ Feeling helpless __ Life seems out of control
__ Trouble making decisions __ Feelings of failure
__ Forgetfulness __ “Type A” driven personality
__ Impatience __ Elevated shame or guilt
__ Unresolved loss or grief __ State of alarm
__ Tension __ Depression or overwhelming sadness
__ Irritability __ Apprehension or confusion
__ Overwhelmed __ Impulsive Decisions
__ Perfectionism __ Diminished productivity
__ Restlessness __ Easily distracted


SPIRITUAL STRESS SYMPTOMS:
__ Avoiding spiritual needs __ Loss of faith
__ No time to pray __ Increased doubts
__ Inner turmoil __ Spiritual aloneness
__ No peace or contentment __ Spiritual emptiness
__ No day of rest __ Tremendous anger at God
__ Unresolved past guilt __ Lack of inner peace
__ God seems a “million miles away” __ Believing that everyone is a hypocrite


The more warning indicators that are identified in a single category or across multiple categories, the more that person may be in a stress ‘overload’ situation. However, if only a few of these stress-related symptoms are present, then don’t worry about it. Life stress is common, so if only one or two symptoms are present, it is not usually a cause for alarm, but it is a sign that you are alive!


MOVING FROM STRESS TO STRENGTH

Once you have identified the primary factors that are fueling your stress, then it’s time to take positive action to change. Some situations are so complex that you can’t work out of it by yourself, but you can take action to move in the right direction. Do this by talking openly about what’s causing your pressure with others. Even if you feel like you can’t talk to anyone about your problems, you can pray about it, or write down your thoughts in a journal. Remember, no one can solve all their problems alone so don’t be afraid to reach out to the people around you who can help, like pastors, doctors, counselors or call a hotline, (you can call the number 211 in many cities to be connected to social service agencies that are available to help with many daily life stressors). You can always do something positive to face the stress and pressure in your life, but you have to decide to take action now before the pressure increases and things get worse.

Here are a number of proactive steps you can take every day to build your personal energy level with the use of stress coping strategies. The more positive actions you take, the faster you will move from stress to strength as you implement the skills necessary to make your life work better.


PHYSICAL & BEHAVIORAL STRESS COPING SKILLS:
__ Sleep (7-9 hours) __ Balanced diet
__ Regular meals __ Deep breathing
__ Regular exercise __ Tense/relax muscles
__ Hugs/affection __ Regular daily routines
__ Massage __ Plenty of water
__ Medical checkups or physicals __ Medication (prescribed by your MD)
__ Quiet times of rest or naps __ Get out into the sunshine
__ Brisk walking __ Organize time and schedule
__ Learn to use a planner __ Regular bedtime
__ Allow extra time to do things __ Simplify your lifestyle
__ Get rid of clutter __ Delegate or delete low priority events
__ Learn to organize tasks __ Leave earlier to avoid traffic jams


EMOTIONAL & RELATIONAL STRESS COPING SKILLS:
__ Personal planning time __ Positive relationships
__ Build positive esteem __ Share your burdens
__ Support groups __ Counseling
__ Deal directly with problems __ Talk openly about anger
__ Honestly face fears __ Laugh and have fun
__ Relax with family/friends __ Reading
__ Learn to say “No” __ Short term goals
__ Hobbies/activities __ Take on new challenges
__ Learn something new __ Leave work at work
__ Do good for others __ Victory list of achievements
__ Pace yourself __ Control spending with a budget
__ Journaling __ Manage your moods


SPIRITUAL STRESS COPING SKILLS:
__ Bible Study __ Apply biblical principles to life
__ Prayer __ Church socials or recreational events
__ Meditation __ Regular worship in a house of faith
__ Inspirational music __ Join a supportive church group
__ Memorize scripture __ Observe a day of rest
__ Spiritual landmarks __ Keep priorities balanced
__ Inspirational books __ Realize God loves you
__ “Re-create” Spiritual energy __ Listen to inspirational messages
__ Express more gratitude __ Experience quiet times with God
__ Spiritual concert events __ Spiritual workshops or classes
__ Forgive to really live __ Practice acts of random kindness


Finally, remember the old saying, that “Things come to pass – not stay”. No matter what problems you are facing today, they will eventually pass. If you are on the right road, moving in the right direction, you will get the right results. It is my hope that you will begin right now to build positive stress coping skills into your daily life and routines so that you can spend your time and energy really living life instead of feeling beat up by it. You can’t control the fact that stress comes into your life, but you can control how you manage it and how you will respond to the pressures and problems of daily life- with fear and dread or by facing it head on with discipline. One path leads to exhaustion and the other to being better equipped as a person of strength. It’s time to choose a path- choose wisely and your life and health will be better or choose poorly and live in quiet desperation. I challenge you to let this be your time to take bold action to live better as you move past your stress to live at a new level of success.


For further study on stress recovery, check out these sites:www.webmd.com www.Family.org
www.AACC.net www.eCounseling.com

NOTE: you can freely redistribute this helpful resource to friends, family, co-workers or at church, electronically or in print, provided you leave the authors contact information intact in the box below.

About the Author: Dwight Bain is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of StormStress.com and trainer for over 1,500 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. He is a professional member of the National Speakers Association and partners with corporations and organizations to make a positive difference in our culture.
Access more complimentary counseling and coaching resources from The LifeWorks Group by visiting their extensive posting of blog’s and special reports designed to save you time by strategically solving problems at www.LifeworksGroup.org

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Parenting Through Relationship

By John Wagner, M.S.
Certified Advanced Imago Relationship Therapist


So many parents think of the task of parenting as how can I discipline my kid and raise them so they can be responsible. The problem with that approach is we have forgotten the main ingredient of parenting. That wonderful ingredient I continually find in the role model of our Father and that is relationship. Dr. David and Teresa Ferguson in their book “Parenting With Intimacy” illustrates this concept to parenting in a powerful way. Some of their thoughts have been borrowed to illustrate the notion of relationship in parenting.[i]

Whenever you first entered into parenthood, God called you to be a wise steward of what and who He has entrusted to you. Perhaps we should look at parenting as discipleship and your kids are your dearest disciples. As we see in God’s Word there is far more to making disciples than discipline. All you have to see is the role model of Jesus and His disciples. I do not mean that discipline is not an important aspect of parenting, but rather it is not the #1 issue.

So, what is the #1 issue in parenting? Knowing your child, allowing him to know you, and then seeking to become “caringly involved in one another’s lives”. You see, as it is with the Father, it is one thing to know about God and another to know Him. We need to develop the intimate relationship with our kids where we know them and they know us not just about us.

Intimacy is our Father’s idea as Proverbs 3:32 and Genesis 2:18 tells us about our need to relate to our creator and to meaningful others. “God is intimate with the upright” and “It is not good for man to be alone.”[ii] All of us are on a mandate to be connected. For eternity that connectedness is with the Father, but while we are here on earth it is through covenant marriage and the intimacy between parents and kids.

Intimacy means you know me and care about me. Psalms 139:3 says, “Thou...art intimately acquainted with all my ways.” This is an old testament word transliterated as, Sakan, which speaks of beneficial or caring involvement as Dr. Ferguson states in his book “Parenting With Intimacy”. This is important to understand as it takes into account the motivation which is behind the “knowing”. In other words you might look at this as God puts a priority in knowing me so He can express His very nature of loving care. His Word also says, “in all my ways.” He knows our shortcomings, our failures, our faults, but still cares through unconditional love. It is not our nature as humans to understand the concept of unconditional love. It is a concept we have to learn. Christ was the only person who naturally understood unconditional love.

Proverbs 3:32 states, “But He is intimate with the upright.” This is transliterated from the word Sod which speaks of God disclosing Himself to us. In John 17:3 Jesus speaks to the eternal significance of this intimate “knowing” when He states, “And this is eternal life, that they may KNOW thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent.” It is this intimate knowing and humble worship that then manifests His love to others as the “love of Christ controls us” (II Cor 5:14) to love a spouse, children, and others.



Developing An Intimate Family

Parents need to understand that when they are dealing with teenagers who are defiant or have conduct issues, that their development began long before adolescent years. I really believe that our children are a mirror of the parents and those parents ask their children to do what they have never been able to.

Developing an intimate family needs to begin in early childhood. However, that may not have occurred and you now have kids who are approaching adolescence. One of the greatest ways to begin developing an intimate family is to have family meetings. This is not just a time of devotions, although devotions can be a part of a family meeting. It is a time to promote openness and transparency between family members. It is an opportunity to teach your kids that they can have a time to discuss (not be lectured) frustrations and affirmations.

I want to caution you that many parents “try” different approaches rather than “do” different approaches. What I mean by that is the common statement I hear from parents in counseling, “We tried that.” Don’t try, do it. The following are some characteristics of a successful family staff meeting. Approach your family meetings with the sense of urgency you would have if you were negotiating the biggest deal of your life. These are some ideas from the “Parenting With Intimacy” Workbook by Dr. David and Teresa Ferguson.



· Schedule a time - don’t leave it to when we get to it.
· Model the honoring of your commitment by protecting the time. It should be agreed there will be no interruptions nor distractions for anyone.
· Co-create weekly schedules for the family.
· Make listening to one another a priority without interrupting.
· Co-develop family goals as well as individual goals - monitor the progress of those goals.
· Discuss frustrations in a safe environment without defending.
· Practice being vulnerable - lovingly share areas of irritation, hurt, and disappointment.
· Develop affirmation time with each other.
· Develop family fun projects as well as being aware that each member also has other friends outside the family.
· Major on majors rather than major on minors. Look at what is working rather than what is not working.

Understand that it takes time to know someone and you may have to compensate for years of not developing this type of relationship with your kids. In other words they may not immediately respond. Don’t give up. Keep reevaluating your walk of unconditional love and acceptance of their world as it is for them, not as you would want it.

The rest of this book centers on a deeper look into some of these concepts as well as 10 basic skills of Godly parenting. Remember as you are looking at each skill, that the foundation of these skills lay on becoming an intimate parent focusing on relationship first and the idea of becoming a disciple to your kids through the role model of our heavenly Father.