Most of us spend far more hours at work than we do with the people we love. Some days, we give every last ounce of energy to our professions, and when the weekend finally arrives, we fear the loss of contact so much that we check our smartphones in between every paddle on the river, every step on a hike, or every song at a live music performance.

But the truth is, when many people are asked if they even like this work life that they are so deeply committed to, they give a kind of “meh” response.

So, what can executives do to get their employees recharged? How do they transform that “meh” into a “Hell, YEAH”?!

Here are a few ideas to consider that could very well be the game-changers you need to generate more excitement, more productivity, more connectedness, and more motivation. Every one of these is designed to improve morale for your team – but guess what? They could very well also improve your bottom line!

1.     Design a corporate community relations program. I developed a corporate community relations program with an employer group a few years ago, and witnessed first-hand the total transformation. We held a big meeting with the staff, and as a group, they picked a charitable organization who was most aligned with their values to be the benefactor of their program for that year. We then created a schedule for our volunteer corps; every employee was gifted company time to go out and make the world a better place. How awesome is that? They developed stronger relationships with one another on volunteer days, enjoyed being ambassadors of goodwill, and gave this publicist a bunch of awesome photo-opps to use for media placements! (Yep, companies can get the added value of serious publicity when they do good work in the community, elevating their image and raising awareness about their brands). It was a win for everyone. It made the employees proud to be associated with that company, and there were so many benefits for the employer as well - not to mention the not-for-profit organization, who were totally wowed by this wonderful group of people who came in to help them.

2.     Plan a team-building retreat. Here in the Hudson Valley region of New York State, the options are endless – but you can find great retreat venues no matter where you live - and they don't have to be fancy. Close the company for a day, and enjoy spending time as a group offsite, doing things that are TOTALLY UNRELATED TO WORK! My former employer took his entire staff to the Dutchess County Fair every year, and treated us to a day of rediscovering childlike wonder. He paid for all of the carnival rides and all of the fried food we consumed, and gave everyone the option to stay as long as they wanted. As a group, we created memories based on a shared experience that was total bliss, which stayed with us for weeks and months afterward when we were faced with challenging projects and clients that we needed to manage as a strong, solid team. Other corporate clients of mine have taken their groups to rock-climbing parks, spas, the beach, hiking trails, waterslides….you name it. No matter what, people love time away from the workspace, a few good belly laughs with colleagues, and an opportunity to just be themselves.

3.     Create atmosphere. That's right. Atmosphere is IMPORTANT. Change the mood of the workspace by painting the walls a new color, adding a few comfy chairs to make the break room feel more comfortable, or piping in music.  Music has universal appeal, and often generates some pretty incredible conversations between people who might not otherwise think they have much in common. If you want to use it to boost morale, get the employees involved - make them the DJs of sorts. Ask each employee to bring in his favorite CDs, and then give each person a set time or day to share their go-to tunes with their colleagues. You’d be surprised how music brings people together. “Wait, seriously? You love Springsteen? OMG! ME TOO!”… “Got my first vinyl in fifth grade; have followed him ever since – I think he winked at me when I saw him in Asbury Park!”…"No way"..."We should go to a concert together this year"....and the dialogue continues, bringing people together who share the soundtracks (and stories) of their lives - all because you created atmosphere! Yeah. When it comes to building morale, music pretty much rocks.

4.     Do something really special to incentivize your team. Look at their goals, and launch a contest to see who can be the first to meet or exceed expectations. Don’t necessarily throw cash their way as a reward, though – think of something unique that will be more memorable. Give the winner a half-day chartered sailing trip on the river, or make reservations for the winner to go to the Culinary Institute of America. Give the employee an EXPERIENCE, not just a bonus. They will remember that as being something unique and special, and think of you and your company as being unique and special too.

5.     Write thank-you notes. If you catch an employee going above and beyond, or you just notice that you have someone on the team who really gets the job done, take the time to express gratitude. Send some fan mail right to his or her home address to make it more personal. Thank-you notes seem to be a lost art form, but I am determined to resurrect them as a regular practice, because it feels pretty awesome to find a nice note in the mailbox instead of the typical stack of bills – especially from a boss! Hand-written notes are the best. Every leader should have a stack of blank notes in his or her desk, ready to be written, and should carve out a few hours a month to acknowledge employees in this way.

6.     Flex out time. If feasible, give your employees the chance to design their own schedules. By giving them the power to make their own hours (within reason, of course), you send the message that you honor their personal lives and that you want them to feel as balanced as possible. For people who want to go to the gym before work, maybe a 9am start time is better than the 8am start time that has been required of them for years. For the working parents, perhaps it would make life so much easier – and make their spirits so much happier – to be able to work 7am-3pm so that they can be present for homework and afterschool sports. Perks like flextime can breed greater productivity and build a healthier, happier corporate culture, which will ultimately make everyone more successful.

7.     Invest in training. When you invest in training, you send the message to your employees that they have tremendous potential and that you want to see them advance in their careers. By giving them professional development opportunities, you are empowering them with new skills, new perspectives, and often a newfound desire to be more successful. Trainings can be fun, motivational, and give members of your team a chance to get to know one another, discuss important workplace topics, communicate more effectively, share ideas, and experience the self-confidence that comes from learning and growing.

8.     Regularly show them the results of their hard work. What does your product or brand do to improve life for others? Share STORIES of human beings who have benefitted, either directly or indirectly, from the projects and products that are only possible because of their diligence. Give them examples of how their work has impacted others; demonstrate the importance of each and every role within your company by helping people understand that it takes every one of them to make these stories a reality for consumers and clients. It's a great way to open and close team meetings, by the way.

9.     Set the tone. As a leader or executive, you know that YOU can set the tone. Let employees know that you are accessible, open to their suggestions, and that you genuinely enjoy your work and your team. Remind them of the bigger vision that the company has, and that they are all a part of that. Ask them questions that show you care, and that will probably make them want to care more, too. If they’re happy, you and your customers will probably be happy too.

10. Honor the importance of time off. If a hardworking employee wants to use earned time off, he or she should be able to easily make that happen most of the time. Let your employees know that time off is important and that you encourage them to use it. Instant morale-booster? Build a new day off into the 2016 calendar for everyone: birthdays!

There are countless ways to boost morale and to help your team feel more connected to their work life. I would bet that if you put a few of these ideas into place, or some other versions of these concepts, you will see some exciting shifts take place pretty quickly.

Here’s to a successful 2016 for you and your team.

Be well,

Marybeth Cale

Marybeth Cale is a publicist and executive/life coach who offers comprehensive public relations and communications services, one-on-one professional and personal development coaching, and a full library of corporate trainings for clients from all over the country. Call 845.876.2220 to learn more.

PictureMom celebrating Dylan's birthday.
Whether I am coaching people one-on-one or in group settings, we always end up talking about the concept of JOY. 

I love that word. The coaching clients I have who make their life decisions based on what will make them most joyful tend to meet with the greatest success in all areas of their journey. My mom's name is also Joy.  And she has personified the definition of her name throughout her life, so it is extra-meaningful for me to talk about the concept. I think about joy in context of how she makes life more joyful for others, living her life in service to the people around her.

I could write a book full of examples that illustrate her wonderful ability to bring light and love to the world, but here are a few that fit into this little blog post. 

*Our holidays often included people she and Dad had invited to the table, who we may not have known very well, but needed a meal or some laughter around their weary souls during a difficult time. 

*There were four of us Gallagher kids, but throughout my childhood, there was usually another young person living with us whose parents were enduring some kind of hardship - someone who she helped to nourish - with food, a safe space and love - just as she did for her own children. Not to mention the countless friends who hung out at our house all the time after school and on the weekends, who she always welcomed wholeheartedly.

*She opened her heart to elderly relatives, one of whom, my Aunt Kay, lived with us for many years. Mom provided Aunt Kay with everything she needed to live the highest quality of life possible before she died.

*When we vacation at the beach, Mom often quietly struggles with migraines when sitting in the direct sunlight, but you would never know it - she focuses on the laughter of all of her kids and grandkids playing in the sand, listening to our stories and making us feel like we are the most important people in the world as we share them.

*Serving in a very public community role as the wife of a popular Episcopalian minister, she fields calls and welcomes visitors on his behalf from people who are in emotional distress, and then closely follows their stories, supporting them along the way and celebrating with them when happier times begin to take shape. 

*She is unfailingly loyal, compassionate, thoughtful, generous, sensitive and kind - to her family, her friends, and all who she meets - every day of her life, no matter what might be going on in her own life. She is truly one of the most amazing people you could ever meet, and I am deeply grateful for her. She listens intently and loves unconditionally - an example of goodness every day.

Joy is the perfect name for her - and joy is a perfect focal point for coaching sessions - because, if we have joy and share it as freely as she does, we feel fully alive. And even when things are out of place or we are facing challenges, if we continue living our lives as she and my dad do, connecting deeply with humanity by focusing on how we can bring joy to the people around us, we will tap into resiliency we never knew we had and awaken ourselves to meaning and purpose, which will carry us to greater fulfillment on our journey.

So, as her Irish daughter, I want to share something very special to me with all of you: the recipe for Irish Soda Bread she has long used to bring joy to others. While the recipe itself may not have been her creation originally, she prepares as many breads as she possibly can every year in the days leading up to St. Patrick's Day, and then delivers them to friends, neighbors and family with her beautiful smile.  I have cherished her Irish Soda Bread tradition since I was a young girl, just as I cherish her. The recipe is symbolic of the joy that she brings to others all year long - a total inspiration to all of us who know her.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, friends….it's never too early to start celebrating by sharing a little Joy and merriment with everyone around us!

Gallagher's World-Famous Irish Soda Bread Recipe
4 c. flour

1 c. sugar

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 stick of softened butter

2 eggs

1 1/4 c. buttermilk

1 tbsp. caraway seeds

1 c. raisins

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, and mix well. Beat on low speed until blended, then on high speed until smooth. Butter a 10" Pyrex pie dish (meant for baking) and pour batter in. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes. Serve warm with a very indulgent, unhealthy, over-the-top dose of real Irish butter. 

Enjoy with tea or coffee (and we like our coffee with Bailey's Irish Cream), in the company of someone you totally adore!

Marybeth Cale is a life coach and executive coach who works with clients to promote greater success, purpose, passion and satisfaction in business, life and love. Call 845.876.2220 for  free coaching strategy session.

Copyright 2015, Cale Communications: All Rights Reserved.

What is the question you were asked most frequently before the age of eighteen?

For me, and for almost everyone I know, it went something like this …

“so, Beth, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

At age forty, I wonder why people have stopped asking that question.

For those of you who know I stand at five feet small, you know I haven’t grown much taller since sixth grade, of course (:

…but, aren’t we all continuing to grow and evolve as human beings, throughout our life journeys?

As a life coach, so many people come to me ready for MORE in their lives. And while they don’t always know what “more” means, they are very much in tune with the fact that they have lost their spark, their joy – that sense of wonder that comes so effortlessly to us when we are children - when we believe that we can be whatever we want to be, in every stage of life.

One day when I was outside sledding with my kids, I was asking them what they envision for their lives. My older son, who is known for his unique ability to reciprocate in every conversation, posed the question back to me. “What about you, mom?” In that moment, I realized something. Some of the wonder and the joy that we experience in life comes from believing deeply that we can continue to grow, evolve, write and rewrite our life scripts, just as our kids do when people ask them about their future plans.

As children, when someone asks us what we want to be when we grow up, we are receiving the message that we can always keep dreaming and always keep aspiring to be something we haven’t yet become. In that moment, childlike wonder comes to life. But somewhere along the way, people stop asking us that question, assuming we are “grown-ups” and have already landed wherever we want to be. However, most of us still have many things we want to be or do, and would love nothing more than to share those thoughts and make them reality. But often, we keep them to ourselves, squelching our own dreams or letting fear or perceptions of others get in the way. So we keep on keeping on, and end up disillusioned or disconnected, which is just so very sad to me.

We all deserve to tap into that wonder we experience as children, when we feel on top of the world – when potential is limitless and the possibilities are endless – when we feel like we can carve out WHATEVER path we want in life.

And, why not? Why not assume that we can continue crafting our life script, with brand new chapters and stories that we write for ourselves?  That’s what coaching is about. It gives people a safe space to explore exactly what they want more of, and how they are going to get where they wish to go.

As we begin our journey into springtime, may it be a time of rebirth for all of you, my friends – a time when you can ask yourself not what you want to be when you grow up, but what you most envision for the next season of your life - when you reflect on the fact that we are always growing and changing, and that is something beautiful to embrace wholeheartedly.

Marybeth Cale is a publicist and life coach who works with clients to promote greater success and satisfaction in business and in life. Call 845.876.2220 to get started with confidential coaching designed to move your life forward.

Copyright 2015, Cale Communications: All Rights Reserved.

As we round the corner to mid-February, we are all inundated with messages about love. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I honestly can’t get enough of it. I fully enjoy every article, every meme, every picture on social media – even the corny commercials where couples rediscover magic in the eyes of one another over an unnecessary jewelry purchase. Just this morning, as I drank my coffee, a young man proposed to his girlfriend in New York City - right before my eyes, on national television. As I watched him get down on one knee, so sweetly declaring his love for her, I cried tears of joy. After all, nothing connects humanity like a great love story.

This year, though, there is a new dimension to my Valentine’s Day reflections, beyond such traditional stories of passionate romance. I have been thinking about all of the messages we get about love in context of my life coaching practice. When I consider the love stories that shape our lives, and think about what love means to the many different clients with whom I work, I am reminded of one very simple lesson that I have learned from those who have had the most success in this area – that of cultivating our relationships with ourselves first, in order to fully open our hearts to others.

Wait, you say…..self first? Before others? Okay, so maybe it sounds a little selfish, but think about it for a moment. 

Have you ever attended a yoga class, where you can visibly see a sense of peace and self-worth transcend every human spirit in the room, and then notice how those yogis lovingly approach the people around them afterward?

Have you ever been around someone who confidently follows his dreams, no matter what obstacles seem to be in his way? And just how much joy he is able to share with the world around him as a result of feeling happy with his own track in life? 

Did you ever notice what happens when your child feels totally on top of her game? When she can take the extraordinary energy that she feels inside of her to brighten up your life with a sincere smile or warm hug? 

All of these situations have one thing in common: when people feel centered, confident and capable, truly feeling love for themselves, they have more joy and kindness (aka, love) to share with the rest of the world.

By honoring the self, it seems like there is limitless potential to love others freely and deeply. From my experience, it seems that if we all cultivated the most important relationship we have first – the one with our own spirit - we would create the very energy that brightens the world around us – the energy that defines the experience of love. If we love ourselves first, we can show love to our spouses, our children, our siblings and parents, our colleagues, friends, neighbors – even the perfect strangers who cross paths with us. It seems to me that the love we feel within can shine in so many exciting ways, and reach countless people. As long as we first have a solid foundation of self-love.

So, this Valentine’s Day, I hope we can all learn to love ourselves a little more, knowing that it will create the foundation we need to radiate more love to the rest of the world.  So give yourself permission to get out there and do something that makes you feel the kind of self-love that will no doubt illuminate the lives of those around you. Because, ultimately, it is love that makes us feel ALIVE.

Marybeth Cale is a life coach and executive coach who works with clients to promote greater success, purpose, passion and satisfaction in business, life and love. Call 845.876.2220 for  free coaching strategy session.

Copyright 2015, Cale Communications: All Rights Reserved.

As a young girl, I spent many, many hours fantasizing about becoming an Olympic gymnast. When I watched Mary Lou Retton win gold medals galore in the 1984 summer games on behalf of our great United States of America, I was convinced that I could be next. I announced to my family that I planned to move to Texas to train with Bela Karolyi, famous coach of Retton and one of the other legends of gymnastics, the famous Nadia Comaneci.

Within weeks after I declared my intent to drop out of school to begin training for the Olympics, my parents, in their infinite wisdom, enrolled me in a highly intense gymnastics camp. After all, they felt that I might want to get a “taste” of what it might feel like to spend entire days of my life pounding away at my joints – just to be absolutely sure it was what I wanted. (And, in their infinite kindness, they never mentioned that I definitely didn't have the athleticism or grace to be a gymnast; I will always treasure the way they approached the situation.) So, I went to the camp and struggled. My body was NOT cut out for it. And, as I cried in pain trying to climb a small staircase in our home on day three of that trying experience, it was pretty clear that it was time to explore a new sport.

“If you stick with gymnastics”, my dad said, “you will most likely retire from the sport by the time you are eighteen.” He then continued, with a big smile, “learn tennis, however, and you will have a sport you can enjoy for your entire life.”

So, we began our days together at the Rhinebeck Rec Park courts, where he displayed unwavering patience with me as I learned the basics. And although I have never been any kind of superstar, I fell in love with the game and have enjoyed it immensely in the thirty years since I started playing.

As an adult, I realize that there’s so much to my love for the game.  It’s fun, lively, and a terrific workout – but it’s also full of life lessons and great metaphors – a game for the mind, the body and the spirit.

Some of what I have learned so far:

1.     Always start at a place of LOVE. We begin our games at 0-0, or LOVE-LOVE. (and sometimes, I stay at LOVE throughout the entire match!). But think about it. If we all started every dialogue, every exchange, every project, every transition, every DAY coming from a place of LOVE, we would all feel so much more alive. After all, love coexists with all of the happiest emotions we can possibly experience– joy, excitement, wonder, awe, peace, and so much more. If we start at love, and carry that with us throughout our day, we have the ability to embrace every opportunity that comes our way – totally wholeheartedly. Focusing on love first could transform life as we know it.

2.     Keep your eye on the ball. What is your goal? What is your mission? What is your purpose? Stay focused! Be present! Don’t get distracted by all of the things that try so desperately to pull you away from your game. By watching the ball as it comes your way, you can really prepare for it, and then smash it in such a way that it sails perfectly to the very place you envision it landing. 

3.     Go to the net. That’s right - play the net! In other words, move forward, lean in, lunge toward the challenge! We start back at the baseline, getting a rally going – but at some point we need to move forward with confidence. Go for it! Face the shot that is coming directly toward you in a big, courageous way! Put yourself right out there, and I bet you will probably surprise yourself with your abilities.

4.     Show respect. Many tennis clubs have serious protocol when it comes to etiquette. But it really comes down to the fact that we all need to respect one another, on and off the court. We need to uphold the golden rule we learned in kindergarten – treating others as we wish to be treated. Tennis reminds us to be polite, courteous and considerate of those around us. We get what we give, right?

5.     Be gentle on yourself. I was talking with a colleague at one point about how most of us go through life apologetically, and I immediately thought of myself on the tennis court. “I’m sorry”, “my bad”, “Oh no, I hope I didn’t totally ruin the game for you” – you get the picture. Pretty pitiful-sounding, isn't it? What if, for a moment, we all tried to be gentler on ourselves? I have often noticed that when I begin apologizing for every poor shot, I quickly lose the self-confidence required to play at my best. It happens in the blink of an eye. One “I’m sorry” and I have not only sent the message to the other player(s) that I am “less than”, but I have also absorbed that message myself. Needless to say, as soon as we adopt a general feeling of incompetence, it’s pretty tough to play well on the court – or in life. Maybe, just maybe, if we are a little gentler on ourselves, and forgive our own mistakes, we can look toward the next moment with the confidence we need to succeed.

6.    Surround yourself with better players who are also fantastic human beings. Get yourself on the court with people who are better than you - people who are more advanced players, who have greater accuracy, who know how to precisely time each shot and can run like the wind. But make sure they are also wonderful individuals who you enjoy being around – because there is no question that when we surround ourselves with awesomeness, it inspires us to be more awesome, too! Find people who challenge you to be your best on and off the court – who are patient, forgiving, positive, encouraging, caring – and, of course, downright fun to be around. To me, that’s one of the greatest lessons I have learned; when I am on the court with great people, I leave feeling really recharged – and I am lucky enough to do that pretty much every single time I play, because there are so many incredible people around me at Hudson Valley Indoor Tennis, where I play all winter long. They make my game a little better – but they also make my life a whole lot brighter. They are a reminder to be very deliberate about the people I surround myself with in all areas of my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that life lesson, which is one of the most important ones I have learned along the way. 

And, of course, in addition to being grateful for that lesson, I am big-time grateful to my dad for introducing me to this wonderful game, with all of its rich metaphors and life lessons.

Copyright 2015, Marybeth Cale, Cale Communications: All Rights Reserved.

What do you want more of in your life? Marybeth Cale coaches for success, purpose and satisfaction in business, life and love. Communications, relationship and professional coaching available to individuals and groups. Call 845 876 2220 or visit marybethcale.com to learn more.


The Resolution Revolution
Ah, dear friends, here we are. It’s the eve of a new year – 2015! How did that happen? I remember when Prince came out with the song “1999” and, not long after, we all thought the world could quite possibly end in Y2K. Wasn’t that all just, like, last week?

If I had a dollar for every time I heard the word “resolution” over the past month, I would finally be able to pay off the debt I have been resolving to eliminate every year on New Year’s Eve for the past 5 years. Yep – for me at least, resolutions tend to last until the ball in Times Square makes its way down to street level. And I happen to be an optimist, even though it doesn’t sound like it at the moment – so I am guessing that most people may be having similar experiences when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.

So, with that said, I am ready to revolutionize the way we approach the tradition of the new year’s resolution. See? Here's where my optimism kicks in. It's not that I don't believe that we can achieve every goal - I do - but I think we need to approach that to-do list of goals differently.

Maybe….just maybe….we need to go a little deeper than the classic resolution. Maybe if we had a little more substance behind our resolutions, or put them into context of VISION, we would enjoy greater success with them.

Let’s take a look at 3 of the most popular resolutions I hear from clients in my life coaching practice, and examine ways to revolutionize these resolutions by exploring them as part of a bigger vision for ourselves.

Resolution Revolution #1: Losing Weight.

No matter what your shape or size, I bet most of you have had this one on your list at some point. Sometime after we polish off the last of the gazillion holiday treats, we vow to “lose ten pounds in the new year”. It’s a noble goal of course – but how many of us actually make that happen? Do you think it is because we have focused on the quantifiable “ten pounds”, which leaves us feeling a little, well, uninspired?

What if we looked at it differently?

Instead of, “I want to lose 10 pounds”, how about this? “I value my health and I want to feel more energetic this year so that I can better enjoy my family, my friends, and my work. I am going to choose healthy every day. I am going to wake up in the morning, take three cleansing breaths, and envision myself as a healthier human being. Then, I am going to look at every option during the day as a chance to choose healthy – nourishing my body with nutrient-rich foods, and feeding my soul by surrounding myself with awesome individuals.”

Don’t you agree that by looking at a goal in terms of broader vision, we just might have a better shot at achieving it? I do. I bet those ten pounds would fall off without much effort if we were focused on a purposeful vision rather than the pounds themselves.

Resolution Revolution #2: Paying Down Debt.

Whether it is medical bills, living above our means, or running into periods of utter cash flow hell, most of us have tapped into credit lines at some point. And, sometimes we do it a few times over – and we wake up one day and say, “I’m done! That’s it! No more credit – everything gets paid in cash from this day forward.”

And, then the holidays come around and, well, enough said. The debt climbs and we wake up on the eve of a new year ready for change. So we resolve to pay it down. Until an opportunity comes up for an awesome vacation or some cool new furniture – oops, forgot about that resolution! Oh well, maybe next year.

So how do we stick to this goal? Once again, it’s about building some real substance around the resolution – revolutionizing it in such a way that it sticks!

Instead of, “I am going to pay off my credit card this year”, how about, “I want to control my money, instead of letting my money control me this year, because I feel healthier and happier when I am not burdened with debt – and ultimately, I will be a more joyful person who has more to share with the world.”

It’s not that we don’t already KNOW all that, but by virtue of developing a real VISION of ourselves debt-free, and just how awesome that will feel, we have something more meaningful to consider when the temptation to spend keeps rearing its head throughout the year.

Resolution Revolution #3 – Be a Better Person.

This is a wonderful resolution, to be a better person – but again, what is the VISION here? What does it mean to you to be “better”? Get specific, dear visionaries!

Do you want to be better for your family? Spend more time with them? How will you make that time? Where will you carve it out in your schedule, and how will you maximize it?

Do you want to be better in the workplace? Maybe stay clear of the office politics and mini-dramas this year? Produce more? Be more present to those who report to you? How will you do so? Specificity is your friend – think about how you define “better”, where you wish to carry out “being better”, and how you will go about doing it.

Do you want to be a better member of society? Contribute more to causes that matter to you? Get involved in a not-for-profit? Coach local youth sports? What does it mean to you to be a better person when you think of it in terms of community?

Perhaps you have said, “I want to be a better person” and you have had your neighborhood in your mind, knowing that there are others who are less fortunate all around you.

Well, in that case, in lieu of “I want to be a better person”, which, while lovely, almost sounds a little superficial, what about,

“This year, I will give more to my community by volunteering at the food pantry once a month. I will put it on my calendar, all year long, and will not bag on my commitment unless I am ill. I will be a better person if I do this, because I will be doing what I can to ensure the well-being of other human beings.”

You get the picture. Resolutions are fun, and they certainly give us a little “bucket list” of items we want to focus on in the new year. But, by revolutionizing the way we look at them, giving them real depth and considering them as action steps that should be done in context of our broader vision for our lives, we just might find that we will actually achieve them before the next new year’s eve of our journey.

Cheers to a vision that is all your own in the coming year – one that is well-thought-out and will keep you inspired every step of the way. Happy, happy new year, dear friends!

Would you like to figure out your vision, mission and purpose this year, in all components of your life? Call 845.876.2220 to schedule your first coaching session with life coach Marybeth Cale, and get ready to live a more fulfilling journey.

Copyright Marybeth Cale, 2014. All Rights Reserved.
Tis the season to be jolly….right?

As we search for the perfect sweater for Uncle so-and-so, which will likely be re-gifted not long after we have emptied our bank accounts to pay for that and other unnecessary gifts, many of us are also frantically putting together end-of-year work reports, lining up sitters for the not-to-be-missed client parties and unsuccessfully trying to carve out time to bake hundreds of cookies. No doubt the highly anticipated merriment can easily be trumped by stress during the holiday season, despite our best efforts.

So, how do we resurrect that childlike wonder we once knew?

I truly believe it is possible to get the twinkle back in your eyes. Here are a few tips that might help:

1.     Bring back the to-do list. Yes, I realize that most of you are hopelessly devoted to your technology – but how about the good old-fashioned paper and pen for this purpose? I am a huge fan of list-making. Not only does it keep me organized, but it prevents me from feeling overwhelmed, because everything gets laid out neatly.

For example, I went into the weekend with many responsibilities whirling through my head: Christmas shopping, Christmas card-writing, two client projects that were on deadline, three parties and cookie-making. When I thought about all of it as a collective group, my chest got tight.

Enter my spiral notebook – losing it would be my demise, but holding it in my hands makes everything right with the world. I decided that a few of the aforementioned tasks could be done during the week, and that I really only needed to attend the parties and get the cards out over the weekend. I wrote it out, designating time for the parties and time for the cards over the weekend, and then listing Monday-Friday with some of the other tasks built into each day. All of the sudden it didn’t seem so overwhelming anymore – I gave everything the time it deserved, but I spread it out, organized my time and suddenly it all seemed so incredibly doable!

Not only was I able to breathe again, but I enjoyed the parties – and the card-writing – and embraced each moment. Lists allow me to focus on one thing at a time, knowing that I have developed a strategy to make time for everything – lists empower, and it feels GREAT to cross things off as I get them done!

2.     Make the time for exercise and self-care. Here in upstate New York, the temps are dropping and the early-morning walks are not quite as appealing as they were in August. However, moving the body is critically important to feeling alive, energetic and ready to be productive. Join the gym, a pilates or yoga studio, or your local tennis club. Give yourself the gift of a workout – even just three times each week. Build it into your calendar and don’t let anything else get in the way of doing it. Even when we most dread putting on the workout clothes and getting out there, most of us can agree with some level of certainty that we always feel better afterwards.

Exercise is your gift to yourself. You deserve to feel amazing; make this a top priority. If you need motivation, get a friend involved. But stick to it to release stress and stay on top of your game. If you take care of yourself, everything else is easier to manage.

3.     Take a day off.  From everything. That’s right – mark a day on the calendar that is a true day off. Unplug the cell, the laptop, the Ipad, the phone and whatever other devices I am neglecting to mention. Make no plans for that day, except to wake up and allow yourself to do whatever it is you feel like doing. NO AGENDA.

If you wake up that day and feel like listening to your favorite holiday playlist and cleaning the house, great. Perhaps you will awaken with a strong desire for a day at the slopes – that is awesome too. Or maybe you just want to walk through your village and do some shopping, then grab lunch with your best friend. You might find yourself ready for a movie marathon with a big cup of hot cocoa. Whatever the case may be, it should be a day that frees you to listen to your mind, body and spirit and follow suit. It’s a lesson in being present, and you’ll want to do it monthly after you have tried it on for size, trust me!

In the Hudson Valley, we get the gift of a snow day here and there (and sometimes more) throughout the winter months. Those days are such a treat – everything is canceled and the world kind of stops for a moment, allowing us to listen to our hearts and follow the rhythms of the day. It’s a beautiful thing. But we shouldn’t wait for snow to renew ourselves in that way – we just need to take a simple day off once in awhile.

So, dear friends, it’s up to you. Make the season as magical as it was when you were a small child. There is absolutely no reason not to. We can choose stress, or we can choose happy. These tips are really about living in each moment, which is what kids do all year long - and if we want to live with the joy and wonder that they so naturally share with the world, we can do so by choosing happy this holiday season.

Marybeth Cale coaches for success, purpose and satisfaction in business, life and love. Communications, relationship and professional coaching available to individuals and groups. Call 845 876 2220 or visit marybethcale.com to learn more.

Copyright 2014 Cale Communications. All Rights Reserved.
The Pursuit of Work-Life Balance

Written by life coach Marybeth Cale

Several years ago, I experienced the game-changer I needed to better define “work-life balance”, the elusive but high-in-demand goal that mystifies most of us working parents on a daily basis.

At four years of age, my youngest son came home with a colorful painting representing his home life. Despite countless visits to sophisticated museums and galleries, I had never been so profoundly impacted by a piece of art. I will never forget how I felt when I saw his depiction of our family, and the powerful emotions it evoked that resonate today.

He, of course, smiled ear to ear as he presented the painting to me. To him, it was the perfect reflection of life in our happy home, and he was so very proud to share it. In the piece, he and his brother played happily on the kitchen floor while Daddy stood inches away making their favorite pizza for dinner.

Also pictured, though, was a mop of curly hair surrounding a laptop screen. There was no face. The screen covered the eyes and smile that would connect one to a human being, but I knew it was me. Yep, in his painting of his home life, I was seated at my desk, just a few feet away from the three wonderful guys in my life. While I was indeed in the same room, I can only imagine that my mind was a world away from them, lost somewhere in cyberspace, in a galaxy far away from dinnertime with my family.

Oddly enough, up until that day, I thought I had mastered the concept of “work-life balance.” I felt like a rock star; I had it all – a great career, a caring family, and exciting days full of cool projects and people. By working from our house, I could be “totally available” to our beautiful children. I only wore the power-suits for client meetings that were meticulously scheduled during school hours, and in the evenings, I could easily fire off emails before and after dinner, respond to texts while the rest of my family threw the football around in the yard, and answer calls as the kids were getting ready for bed.

I was present, and yet, much of the time, really very absent.

Every day, women and men from all over the world strive to figure out how to simultaneously fulfill the demands of personal and professional lives. For me, working from home seemed a perfect solution, but the poignant messages in my adoring four-year-old’s painting spoke loud and clear: I was failing on some level, quite miserably.

In the months that followed, I studied up on work-life balance and ended up making some transformative changes. I had heart-to-heart discussions with my husband, my children, my friends, my supervisor, and myself to determine what I could do to change that picture my son had of me. I then made a major career change, and while not perfect, strive toward a healthier balance between personal and professional life.

Like every working parent though, the work-life balance, five years later, is still a work in progress – and likely always will be. But I have learned a few key things that have made all of us far more joyful (and, ironically, have made my productivity at work grow exponentially.)

1.     Use quiet time wisely. I am, by nature, an early riser. I have learned to use that time to get work done before the sun (or my children) rise for the day. It’s peaceful, and it’s incredibly productive for me. My husband is the total opposite, a complete “night owl.” He has learned to save some of his projects for those hours when all is quiet in our home and he can tackle his work without distraction. What are your natural biorhythms? When do you accomplish the most? When can you work without getting sidetracked? Take those times of day to maximize your own success by knocking out projects that might otherwise take twice as long.

2.     Complete the most important tasks of the day first. For me, developing a to-do list before I begin each workday allows me to prioritize my projects. It’s not always easy, but I do follow a ritual now that has helped me immensely, which is that I spend the first two hours of my day getting one of the most intense, challenging projects done before I begin anything else. By doing this, I get to feel total gratification before I have even had lunch and that productivity tends to breed more productivity. Typically the to-do list is done before my kids return home from school, and I feel like I can be present to them because the most overwhelming tasks are behind me. The evenings can then be spent on more of the “mindless” maintenance-type activities, which allows me to relax and enjoy family life more during that time of day.

3.     Exercise your ability to work from home, but set very clear start and stop times. Working from home is, simply put, pretty awesome. Throw in a load of laundry while on a conference call, print out the kids’ permission slips from the school parent portal while developing a strategic plan – there’s no question you can do it all, and do it well. That said, though – give yourself a real work schedule, whatever the hours might be (even if they incorporate those blocks of time in the wee small hours of the morning or after midnight.) If you are working on projects that allow you to multi-task, great – head to the laundry room and do some ironing too. If not, though, keep your bottom planted in the chair at your desk for the hours you are officially working –and get the job done – so that when the children come running to you after school, you can embrace them fully.

4.     Unplug completely. Every day. Figure out what times of day you will set the devices aside. Walk away. Trust me, everyone who is trying to reach you will be okay while you enjoy dinner with your family and a bike ride in the neighborhood. And you will be better for it; you need that time to refresh and rejuvenate, and your family needs you to look them in the eyes when they are sharing stories from their own lives with you. Let’s face it - so long as there is a device in hand, it’s difficult to focus on the human beings in our midst.

5.     Go for a walk. I am big on walking. Walk alone, walk with a colleague if you need to meet with him or her to discuss something – just get away from the office (whether at home or in a cubicle) and breathe in the fresh air that makes everything right with the world again. I feel far more balance in my life when I carve out some time for the great outdoors – and I believe that is a fairly universal experience. Walk daily. It can make a world of difference in your life and can put everything into perspective, thus making you feel a little more centered than you felt before.

As technology evolves, our kids grow up, and our professional responsibilities change, so too will our interpretations of what it means to achieve ‘work-life balance.’ It’s not a destination – it really is a journey of constant self-evaluation. But if we listen to our children, and really consider their responses to us at different points in time, we can usually keep ourselves in check, redesigning our lives as needed along the way.

Most importantly, though, in order to stay balanced, we all need to be gentle with ourselves. As working parents, we are doing our best each and every day. 

I am sure he still sees the cellphone as an appendage to my body sometimes, but my hope is that the picture my son has of me will be one of me outside playing football with him, laughing as he tells his jokes and radiating the joy that comes from being a mom who is present to the wonder of her children.

Marybeth Cale is a life coach and speaker who lives in her hometown of Rhinebeck, New York. She conducts workshops on work-life balance and a number of other topics, in addition to offering one-on-one personal and executive coaching for clients nationwide. You can learn more by visiting her website: marybethcale.com. Copyright 2014, all rights reserved.

life coaching, executive coaching, relationship coaching, purpose, fulfillment, joy, life design, business success, executive success, relationship success, relationship satisfaction, communication skills, self-confidence, self-discovery, happiness, life meaning, life purpose