Archive for November, 2012

Less Holiday Stress? Join me LIVE! Simple TWEAK IT 4-Week Holiday Challenge (FREE-Limited Availability)

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Buy and wrap gifts.  Attend events.  Host guests.  Send cards. Complete year-end work projects.  And still get enough sleep, exercise and eat well so you don’t pay the price in the New Year!

The holiday season can be the most wonderful time of the year, but also the most difficult with everything we need to get done at work and at home.  Why not make this year different!

JOIN me LIVE for a private, special 4-week TWEAK IT Holiday Challenge!

This special preview of the TWEAK IT practice (not available to the public until January, 8, 2013!) will show you how to harness the power of small, deliberate actions and priorities to make what matters to you happen this holiday season!

How does the TWEAK IT Holiday Challenge work? The Holiday Challenge group (limit number of participants) will:

  • Join the private TWEAK IT Holiday Challenge Facebook group where we will communicate with each other.
  • Meet virtually once a week to check-in and review how we did with our holiday tweaks the previous seven days, including ME!

The schedule will be as follows:

KICK OFF:  1-Hour ; either Friday 11/30 12 pm est OR Sunday 12/2 at 7 pm est.  I will introduce you to the TWEAK IT practice, and we will set out goals for the coming week.

1st Check In: 30 minutes; either Friday 12/7 at 12 pm est OR Sunday 12/9 at 7 pm est.

2nd Check In: 30 minutes; either Friday 12/14 at 12 pm est, OR Sunday 12/16 at 7 pm est.

3rd Check In: 30 minutes; either Friday 12/21 at 12 pm est, OR Sunday 12/23 at 7 pm est.

WRAP UP / New Year Review: 1-Hour; Friday 1/4 at 12 pm est ONLY! We will review how the practice helped us over the holidays and how to take what we’ve learned and continue into 2013.

For participating in the TWEAK IT Holiday Challenge, you will:

  • Receive a FREE signed copy of TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day, for your participation in the kick off, one of the weekly check ins and wrap up session.
  • Have a chance to participate in the TWEAK IT national media campaign and share how small changes with big impact made what matters to you happen over the holidays.

To keep the group to a manageable size, we are limiting the number of participants, so sign up NOW!  Contact me at cali@flexstrategygroup.com or Linda Cannilla at linda@flexstrategygroup.com.

If you aren’t able to participate in the TWEAK IT Holiday Challenge, get on our mailing list to learn about the many upcoming opportunities to join in the TWEAK IT revolution when it launches officially on January 8, 2013!

Let’s TWEAK IT and make this holiday season better than ever!

Exciting News for a New Year and a New Day! TWEAK IT!

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I am excited to share news about my new book, TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day, which will be published by Center Street/Hachette on January 8, 2013!

I can’t express my deep gratitude to everyone who supported me throughout the TWEAK IT creation journey.  And here it is!

Why TWEAK IT?

Do these everyday work-life tradeoffs sound familiar?

  • Prepare for a meeting, or leave work a few minutes early to go to the gym?
  • Catch up on emails, or meet a friend for coffee?
  • Ask for overtime or take my mother to the doctor?
  • Finish some paperwork, or read at my son’s school?

We all wrestle with questions like these every day.  How do you do your job and take care of yourself, nurture your relationships, keep up your job skills, care for your loved ones and maintain your personal finances and home?

In TWEAK IT, I reveal the secrets of the work+life fit “naturals.”  These are the people I’ve met over the years who seem to fit all of the pieces of their personal and professional lives together with ease.

As I studied the naturals, I discovered they regularly follow four simple practical steps when managing their actions and priorities on and off the job; however, survey results confirmed most of us don’t.  We either don’t know how important these commonsense steps are or we ignore them.  That used to include me!

TWEAK IT shows all of us how to unleash the power of small changes that have a big impact!

How can TWEAK IT help you?

TWEAK IT translates the secrets of the work+life fit naturals into a doable weekly practice that’s accessible to everyone, whether you are a man, woman, mother, father, entrepreneur, millennial, caregiver or pre-retiree.

The weekly TWEAK IT practice of small changes, or “tweaks,” builds that solid foundation of everyday contentment and order we all crave—one step at a time.  You will learn how to:

  • Create a “TWEAK IT snapshot” that brings all of your work and personal realities together in one complete picture.
  • Use your current calendar & priority list to successfully manage this “snapshot” on a regular basis.
  • Choose the standard tweaks you would like to see happen consistently every week (going to the gym every morning, or making sure to sit down with the entire family for dinner four nights out of the week).
  • Pick your unique Tweaks of the Week – the new, periodic small actions and priorities you would like to add to your routine over the next seven days (reviewing household finances, setting up a LinkedIn profile or trying out a new sporting activity during the week).
  • Partner with your boss, coworkers and family members to make these tweaks a reality.
  • Review and revise their weekly Tweak It practices to keep it fresh and relevant.

To ensure your success, TWEAK IT includes the “get started” advice of experts from over fifty work and life related areas, like wellness, career relationships, personal finance, caregiving, and life and home maintenance.

Because I wanted the support and learning to continue even after you finished the book, we created the TWEAK IT TOGETHER mobile-friendly community site.  The site will launch on Monday, January 7th, the day before the book is released!

How can you get started?

Pre-order TWEAK IT! Order now through your favorite online retailer and be sure you are among the first to get it!  Amazon / Barnes&Noble / IndieBound

SPECIAL Limited Time Offer! If you pre-order three or more books, send us a copy of your receipt (cali@worklifefit.com) and we will send you a special thank you gift!

Like the NEW! TWEAK IT Community Facebook Page and Tell Your Friends!

Stay tuned for more updates!! If you haven’t already, be sure to join our mailing list.

As you can tell, I am so excited to share all that I have learned as I researched and wrote TWEAK IT, and I look forward to helping everyone “Just TWEAK IT” in the coming months!

5 Years Later, Reflecting Back on Life in the Eldercare Trenches

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Today begins a “week of action” for the bloggers who are part of  AARP’s caregiving “kitchen cabinet.”  Not only do I deal with eldercare/family caregiving issues professionally as a work+life strategy consultant, but I have been a caregiver myself.

As my call-to-action, I wanted to go back and reflect on how I felt in August, 2007 as I began to emerge from the eldercare trenches having just lost my mother to an 18 month fight with lung cancer.  I had written a blog post entitled “Mom’s Peaceful Passing–Eldercare True Confessions.”  Reading my words today, I am transported back to the exhaustion, complicated feelings and hard realizations.  But mostly, I am proud.

I am proud of my mom.  Proud of my sisters and even proud of myself.  My mom brought us into this world, and we can honestly say that we shepherded her through her final transition in as loving and peaceful a way as possible.

But we were lucky.  My sisters and I had very flexible jobs. My mother had enough money to get the care she needed (assuming it was available, which is a whole other issue.)  And it was still hard. Harder than I remember.  Clearly, time has softened the edges of the experience, but it hasn’t dimmed the insights and passion that continue to inform my work in this area.

Were you a caregiver in the past?  When you reflect back on the experience today, how do you feel?  What do you wish others knew that you may have learned the hard way?  Here is my story from August, 2007.  I would love to hear yours.

Mom’s Peaceful Passing–Eldercare True Confessions

My mom peacefully passed away on July 6th after waging a heroic eighteen-month battle with lung cancer. I want to thank everyone who has sent messages of support and shared their personal stories of caring for an adult they loved. It has meant so much to me and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Over the past six weeks as my sisters and I provided 24/7 care until her death, then arranged my mother’s funeral, I had no capacity for blogging. But now, two-weeks into my “re-entry,” I would like to share some personal observations about eldercare. My experience has radically changed how I will professionally approach this major work+life transition going forward.

I had to save my true confessions about eldercare until after her death, because reading them would have been too painful for her. Because the truth is that eldercare is one of the most difficult things I have ever done.While I would do it again in a heart beat, it’s a responsibility that exacts a tremendous toll—physically and emotionally—straining even the most well-thought-out work+life fit.

The best way to describe what I mean is to compare eldercare to working after having my children, who are now nine and six. (Note that for the purpose of this comparison, I’m assuming that the children do not have special needs. To learn more about those unique challenges, see guest blogger, Linda Roundtree’s, excellent posting).

Like eldercare, becoming a parent is a huge transition. In both circumstances you are often sleep deprived and have absolutely no time for yourself. But, in general, caring for your child is:

  • Happy and rewarding;
  • Based on a relatively predictable curve of development with care readily available, albeit for a price; and
  • Controlled by you. You say how, when, and where the child will be cared for and the child must comply, willingly or unwillingly.

In contrast eldercare is sad, unpredictable, and rarely, if ever, fully controlled by you. Let’s briefly look at each aspect of this comparison.

Sad

Even at its most difficult, caring for a child always involves the possibilities of the future. Caring for an aging or sick adult is about loss. Loss of the vibrant person. Loss of their pain-free existence and control over even the most mundane activities of life. And, ultimately, death. Because the work+life fit equation is based on time and energy, the pervasive sadness of eldercare is an energy drain that doesn’t exist with child care.

Unpredictable

Yes, my children will unexpectedly wake up sick and not be able to go school, we’ll have a snow day, or my nanny will be running late. But for the most part, things are pretty predictable. Not so with eldercare.

While every child is unique, there is a general developmental curve they will follow. With eldercare, there is no such curve. Every adult’s medical, family, financial, emotional, and community circumstance is completely unique. And there is a shocking lack of affordable care. For the most part, unless you are very poor, very wealthy, or have excellent long-term health care, you are on your own. In fact, I don’t think most people, or employers, have any idea just how on your own you will be when dealing with eldercare.

In our case, my mom was single so my sisters and I were her primary caregivers. Thankfully, she had a wonderful community of friends and enough resources to support the care she required. But even so, we had to provide a tremendous amount of care, because there are many things you still have to and want to do yourself. And, both my sisters and I had a great deal of job flexibility. We couldn’t have done it if we didn’t.

Even with the flexibility that comes from working for myself, trying to plan my work around my mom’s care was almost impossible. I just had to take my best guess, and my best guess wasn’t always accurate. I probably should have said “no” more than I did, but I just wasn’t sure what my capacity would be. (Success Blog posting).

As I recently explained to a friend, it was like holding my breath for the last 18 months, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, which it always did at the busiest time for work. Toward the end, when the level of unpredictability accelerated, I began to understand why people would be forced to give up working. The ability to plan anything beyond just making sure your loved one has what they need is almost impossible.

Not Being Fully in Control

Now perhaps I was naïve, but I failed to consider the fact that my mother would have very strong ideas about how, when, and where she would be cared for. Very often those ideas didn’t coordinate with what my sisters and I thought would be best for her and, perhaps, most convenient for us and our work+life fit realities.

It was just one more unique element of eldercare that often added more time, more worry, and more stress to the equation than anything I’d experienced with child care.

As much as I consider my children’s wishes and well-being, their father and I have the last word. When your parent is mentally lucid which my mom was until three days before she died, your ability to dictate the details of care are very limited. In fact, we came up with a mantra, “hey, it’s her journey,” just to help us not worry as much when we disagreed with her choices, which was often. But they were her choices.

I look forward to using my 18 months in the trenches learning first-hand about the unique challenges of eldercare. As a school psychologist who dedicated her life to helping others, my mom would have wanted that. And now, as she would say, “I’d love to hear what your experience has been.” Let me know. And it’s great to be back!

The Eldercare Cliff. It’s Coming. Are You Ready?

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(This post originally appeared in Forbes.com)

When I went to the polls, an issue that was barely mentioned during the campaign partially guided my vote. I favored the candidates nationally and locally whom I thought would begin to address the looming eldercare/adult caregiving cliff. Why?

Yes, jobs are very important, but increasingly people will struggle to keep a job as the demand to provide unpaid care for aging relatives (e.g. parents, aunts, uncles, friends, adult siblings) grows exponentially. Ultimately, this demand will far exceed the current level of supports in the community and the public funds available to pay for those minimal supports.

More and more individuals and employers will find they need to fill the gap financially and physically, and the worst is yet to come. But we aren’t talking about it. At least not yet; however, that’s going to have change.

What does eldercare/adult caregiving look like in action?

A couple of months ago, AARP in partnership with the Ad Council launched a three-year public service campaign to raise awareness of the tens of millions of unpaid family caregivers in the U.S. today.

When I first saw the powerful PSA, “Silent Scream” on television, it was so accurate in how it portrayed of the complicated emotions related to caring for another adult that it took my breath away. (My only wish it that they’d shown someone trying to rush out the door to work while figuring how to keep their mother safe when the caregiver doesn’t show up).

If you haven’t seen it, check it out here. It is worth three minutes.

What is the current state of eldercare/adult caregiving in the U.S.?

There are approximately 314 million people in the U.S. today. According to AARP, of that number, roughly 42 million were unpaid caregivers that provided $450 billion worth of unpaid care to adult relatives and friends in 2009. This is care that we, collectively, would have had to pay for otherwise.

In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over a three-month period, 39.8 million people over the age of 15 said they provided care to someone over 65 years old because of “a condition related to aging. Of that 39.8 million:

  • • One-third cared for two or more older people
  • • 23% also cared for a minor child.
  • • 85% of caregivers and elders did not live together
  • • 56% of caregivers were women (44% men)

In other words, today about 13% of the U.S. population provides some type of unpaid family caregiving.

What is the projected future of eldercare/adult caregiving in the U.S.? (Click here for more)

3 Reasons “Balance” Has Become a Dirty Word at Work

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(This post originally appeared in FastCompany.com)

Recently, as skeptical senior leader asked me to explain the business case for why organizations need to take a more coordinated, strategic approach to work flexibility.

I began to list all of the business benefits, including, “Millennials value their lives outside of work and expect to be able to do their jobs flexibly.” He responded, “The problem is that they don’t want to work hard. I would never have talk about work-life balance when I was their age. I just felt lucky to have a job.”

He is not alone in that thinking. The meme that Gen-Y/Millennials “don’t want to work hard” exists, in part, because they talk so openly about work-life balance. But is the bias fair?

First, there will always be people in every generation who who don’t want to work hard. The Gen-Y/Millennials are no exception, but is it accurate to ascribe that quality to an entire generation simply because they are open about how they want to make their lives both on and off the job a priority? It’s not, for the following reasons: (Click here for more)