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Financial Counseling For Couples

Financial Counseling For Couples

Financial Counseling For Couples

How to Build Trust Around Finances In Your Relationship

Here at Growing Self we often do financial counseling for couples with people seeking to get on the same page around money. Let’s face it: money is a loaded topic. From our younger years, we are taught that finances are not a polite dinner-time conversation. It’s poor etiquette to bring up your salary, your expenses, your debt, and your money goals even among your closest relations. Why is this?

Our personal finances often influence how we feel about ourselves. They can have a huge impact on how much freedom, power, security, and comfort we experience in our day-to-day lives. 

Finances impact our significant life and relationship milestones, like getting married, having a baby, or buying a house, and can also figure heavily into big decisions like pursuing education, addressing medical needs, and planning for retirement.  

Money, more than almost any other topic about which couples fight, directly bears on survival (some researchers have even noted that fights about money are more likely to end a relationship than fights around other topics).

In my experience as a couples therapist and relationship coach, there are several reasons why couples struggle to address their money woes both individually and as a team. Today I want to provide you with easy to incorporate tips on how to talk about the taboo topic of money with your partner.

Why Is Money Such An Uncomfortable Topic For Couples?

Most of us were taught early on that sharing financial specifics is rude, and clients have sometimes told me that talking about money makes them feel embarrassed or “exposed.” If you feel this way too, you’re not alone.

For those who are in a budding new relationship, talking about money may not be necessary. Then, when you get to the point in your relationship that it feels like the right time to start addressing this topic, it can feel so foreign and surreal that you just keep pushing it off.

Because expectations around sharing and transparency are unclear, couples are left asking lots of questions without any clear blueprint for the “right” way to proceed.  

Do we combine our finances, or keep separate accounts? 

And if we are going to combine them, when do we do that? When we move in? 

When we get engaged? When we get married? 

How much influence should we have over each other’s spending?

Do I have a right to know where my partner’s money is going?

The discomfort goes both ways. For those who have been successful with their finances, they may feel rude bringing it up (almost as if boasting their money success), even though they have worked hard to get to where they are, practiced self-control, and self-discipline with their money habits.

For those who feel less than successful with their finances, they may feel shame or regret around their finances and they don’t want to bring that into their relationship with their partner. Talking about finances is emotional. Telling your partner about a large accumulation of debt may feel shameful.

You may be fearful of how your partner may view your spending or saving habits, or worry that entering a discussion about finances will end in a fight. The way you manage your money reflects your values, and when partners criticize these choices in one another, it can feel uniquely threatening.

When To Discuss Finances As A Couple

Many of the  couples who come to me to find clarity around discussing their finances are at a loss for how to move forward. They have already exhausted the topic, fought over whose approach is better for the relationship, and have often felt unheard by their partner (or have experienced broken trust surrounding finances within the relationship).

You don’t have to wait until you get to that point. In fact, the earlier you start talking about finances, the easier it will be to create a plan together moving forward.

How Do I Bring The “Money Talk” Up In My Relationship?

Start by checking in with yourself. Getting an accurate and up-to-date sense of where your money is going on a regular basis will allow for you to approach the topic with confidence. 

Take stock of bills and scheduled payments, debt (including any student loans, a mortgage, and credit card debt), regular monthly expenses (like gas, groceries, etc.), and any miscellaneous spending (think: eating out, travel costs, buying Christmas presents, and so on). 

If you’re a little on the budget-avoidant side of the spectrum, it can be helpful to take your own financial pulse before raising the issue with your partner. That way you may be better prepared to answer their questions, and you’ll be more aware of whether or not you’re satisfied with your current spending habits. (If you’re already operating from shared accounts, you may be able to skip this step!)

Because finances can be an uncomfortable conversation (at first–it gets easier!) I recommend that you schedule a time to meet with your partner in a neutral zone – whether that’s at home, at a coffee shop, or maybe even out on a walk. Don’t spring the conversation on your partner in the middle of a romantic dinner, around friends, during work, or at your family reunion (although I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this!).

Financial Conversations Every Couple Should Have

You already know where you stand financially (hooray for finishing step one!), and maybe you now have a better sense of where you want to be. So, begin the conversation by sharing these details with your partner: be honest and transparent about where you are, and describe where you ultimately want to be financially as a couple.

Once you’ve shared, allow your partner to weigh in. If this conversation comes as a surprise to them, don’t expect them to have all their answers or point-of-view laid out clearly right away. They may need some time to think about what you’ve shared and to take stock of their own financial situation.

While you have this ongoing conversation with your partner, share your goals and listen respectfully to theirs (no matter how different they are from yours). Maintaining an open, nonjudgmental stance is the best way to keep the conversation from shutting down or spiraling into conflict.

Expectations From Financial Conversations As A Couple

Beginning this conversation will allow the two of you to set expectations around your money. The whole point of this conversation is to build trust, awareness, and success in your relationship and in your finances.

This conversation should lead you toward shared goals, an idea of what your future looks like, what you can each expect out of your current employment status, what changes you need to implement, and how you can achieve your financial and lifestyle goals over the next one, five, ten, or even fifty years.

Three Tips To Successful Communication Around Finances

Respecting your partner will be what gets you through any difficult conversation, especially when the conversation has to do with something as life-altering as money.

If there are large disagreements, try talking about the meaning behind your position and asking about what your partner’s position means to them. Example: having a higher eating-out and entertainment budget might be your way of prioritizing community and friendships, while saving that money might be your partner’s way of feeling secure in the face of potential future emergencies.

Here are three tips for successful money talks.

Be Patient

As discussed earlier, this is not a one-time-over-morning-coffee discussion. It’s an ongoing conversation that you may need to have weekly, or at the very least once a month. The more time and effort you put into discussing and implementing change in your finances as a team, the more successful you will be. It takes time, and that’s okay.

Be Realistic

Change is not going to happen overnight, and you’re not always going to see eye-to-eye but if you’re realistic with yourself, your partner, and with your bank balance, your relationship will have a better chance of moving forward at a manageable pace towards your goals.

Be Compassionate

Above all, be compassionate. People mess up. Have grace both for yourself and for your partner. Recognize that new habits take time to build, and that you probably won’t have everything figured out in your first month (or year) budgeting together. And guess what? That’s okay too.

Final Thoughts…

Do What’s Right For YOUR Relationship

There’s more than one way of handling your finances. If you are having trouble finding the right method for your relationship, maybe speaking with an expert to gain insight into what might work best is the right move for you and your partner. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Try Different Approaches

There is no one right way to talk about money or handle your finances. You don’t have to be a money expert to start making good money moves. Working together as a team is going to be the MOST important step to achieving your financial goals, and to maintaining trust in the relationship.

Avoid Financial Infidelity At All Costs

A good rule of thumb in relationships: the moment you feel an impulse to conceal something, that’s your cue to share it with your partner. Admitting that you made a poor decision is less harmful in the long run than getting caught hiding it.

Here’s to your financial success together!
Amanda Schaeffer, M.S., MFTC

P.S. Do you have any conversational tips to share about building trust around finances in your relationship? Share with us in the comments section below!

Amanda Schaeffer, M.S., MFTC is a marriage counselor, family therapist, life coach and individual therapist who creates a warm, safe environment, bringing out the best in you and your relationships. She empowers couples and individuals to heal and grow using evidence-based approaches that create real results and lasting change.

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You Deserve Compassionate Support

As a therapist, life coach, and marriage counselor, I admire each and every person who gathers the courage to schedule an appointment with me and seek support for themselves, their relationships, or their families. I know that they’re investing in themselves because they believe they are worthy of investing in. Such self-awareness, wisdom and healthy self-love is always inspiring.

Do You Prioritize Everything Except Yourself?

Too many people put themselves on the bottom of the heap, investing in every other aspect of their lives — their education, their career, their children, their friendships, their homes — but rarely their own personal wellness, or their hearts desire. Is this you?

If so, you probably put off investing in yourself, getting professional help, and taking positive action to improve your life… though you’re there for everyone else. You may think about it sometimes but quickly talk yourself out of it, minimize your feelings, or prioritize someone else’s needs

If this sounds familiar, my guess is that you would describe yourself as a naturally strong person, but the downside of “being strong” is that sometimes it comes with a price: Not taking care of you, the way you take care of others.

But it’s easy not to take care of you, isn’t it? Especially when it comes to things like getting involved in therapy, couples counseling or life coaching. There are so many persistent myths in our culture about all the reasons NOT to get support, and it’s time to bash them! 

What’s Keeping YOU From Investing In Yourself?

Let’s talk through some of the most common reasons I hear for why people avoid getting help and investing in themselves, and why they’re not true!

Myth #1: “Therapy should be reserved for times when you really need it, and I don’t have it ‘that bad.'” 

This is one I hear frequently, even when people have resolved to book a therapy or coaching appointment with me. 

Believe it or not, even people in a lot of pain sometimes feel guilty for doing something to help themselves. They tell me about challenges they face, or hard things they’re grappling with but then quickly say, “But so many others around the world have it so much worse. I’m really so lucky.” 

While being grateful and keeping things in perspective is a wonderful strength to have, it’s also a liability if it makes you feel like you don’t have a right to your feelings, or can’t feel sad, angry or hurt about something true for you. 

As a feminist-oriented therapist, I am always happy to have a conversation about power and privilege, and I firmly believe that we are all worthy of healing and belonging. 

If there is something in your life that feels painful or difficult to overcome, my hope for you is to feel like you deserve to be supported just as much as anyone else. 

If you feel guilty when you think about making your feelings a priority, think about it this way: investing in yourself as a way to make yourself even stronger, and more able to give empathy and compassion to other people. 

Truth: Your experience and your emotions matter. YOU matter. 

Myth #2: Therapy is for couples who are on the brink of ending their relationship or divorcing. We aren’t there yet, we can fix this on our own. 

Too many couples buy into this. 

Perhaps conflict in your relationship occurs fairly infrequently currently, yet when it does occur you notice that you and your partner tend to sweep things under the rug and avoid addressing the conflict. You might write this off to a one-time thing, or feel that because it’s infrequent, it won’t matter in the long run. 

However, each time we sweep conflict under the rug or avoid it all together, we are slowly solidifying the pattern of our relationship. This pattern makes it not only more likely that conflict will become more frequent, but potentially also increasingly eruptive and ultimately, more damaging to your bond over time. 

If you happen to notice early in your relationship that you and your partner are conflict avoidant, talk about reaching out to a therapist or a relationship coach so that you can identify effective ways to face conflict together and strengthen your bond and understanding of each other.

Myth #3: If we go to couples counseling we are admitting that our relationship is unhealthy. 

We know from marriage and family researchers Drs. John and Julie Gottman that conflict is inevitable in every relationship. What separates “healthy” couples from “unhealthy” couples is what they DO with it. 

The healthiest, happiest, strongest couples are the ones who openly address their differences and find ways of proactively, constructively working through things together. Couples who do this important growth work strengthen their relationships. Couples who seek support for their relationship, and who are open to learning how to communicate and compromise will have more positive outcomes. Investing in their relationships sets them up for success long-term.

Couples who avoid this work, or who allow unresolved conflict to simmer, fester, and become increasingly toxic are inadvertently damaging their relationship. By sweeping things under the rug and not getting help for their relationship, they are increasing the likelihood that their relationship will fail. 

Furthermore, research into couples and family therapy shows that the couples who choose to work together on their relationship sooner rather than later have better outcomes. Any marriage counselor will tell you that it’s much easier to work with a couple who still like, love, and trust each other. 

Couples who wait, ignore problems, and let anger and resentment build up often enter couples counseling on the brink of divorce. There is so much regrettable history between them, so much hurt, and so much damage done that — even with the best marriage counseling — sometimes their relationship is simply too far gone to repair. 

Investing in your marriage sooner rather than later is like taking care of your health: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Myth #4: I’m too busy, whatever I’m dealing with can wait, it will be too expensive, and / or there just isn’t any time. 

When I was in graduate school a common phrase we heard was “What we resist, persists,” and the more I sit with couples and individuals in my office, the more I find this to be true. 

I frequently meet with those that have been “avoiding” therapy by placing it lower and lower on their list of priorities and by the time they’re in my office, they are overwhelmed and exhausted from carrying their distress for so long. 

Often times, these are the individuals who spend a great deal of time taking care of others and rarely make time for themselves or their own needs. Or they are couples with children and stressful careers and aging parents who truly can’t fathom stepping away for an hour for fear of everything falling apart.

Or sometimes people put this off because they’re worried about how much therapy, life coaching or marriage counseling will cost…. Without considering the value investing in themselves will bring to their lives. They’ll spend money on furniture, vacations, or home improvement projects without much thought. But when it comes to investing in their own health and happiness, their success, or in their most cherished relationships… they stop themselves. 

One way to shift this self-limiting perspective is to think about this from the other side. Asking yourself questions like: 

  • “What is the cost of me NOT investing in myself?”
  • “What is the real price of me continuing to feel unhappy, or dissatisfied with my life?”
  •  “What am I losing, long term, by NOT investing in myself, or in my career, or in my marriage?”
  • “How is neglecting myself, my happiness and my relationship impacting my children?”
  • “How is the way I’m currently living impacting my health?”
  •  How much will it cost me — in dollars and cents — if we get divorced, or I never achieve my full earning potential in my career?”

When you put the short-term investment in yourself in context of the costs or benefits to aspects of your life that are genuinely priceless… it changes your perspective.

You Deserve Love, Happiness and Success

I want you to know that I see you, and that your well-being and happiness matters just as much as anyone else’s. You deserve space to cultivate growth and healing; you deserve time to rest and reset. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and you don’t have to carry this alone.   

 If you see yourself or your relationship in any of the myths above, my hope for you would be to spend some time reflecting on what is keeping you from this work. 

Remember though, whenever you are working with a coach or a therapist, you aren’t in this work alone. Are there other myths or beliefs you have that keep you from reaching out for support? Comment below and let’s continue this conversation!

Brittany Stewart, M.A., LMFT-C is a couples counselor, individual therapist, premarital counselor, and a life and relationship coach. She works with her clients to build connected relationships, restore emotional bonds, and grow in their capacity to love others as well as themselves.

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Re-Set and Re-Focus

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your life? Like you have so much to do and you’re always busy, but also like you’re not actually getting things done? This is incredibly stressful, and yet so many people are struggling with it: Especially conscientious, hardworking and responsible types. Many of my life coaching clients meet this description, yet here’s a a surprising thing: Ironically, even though they are the ones who are often viewed by others as being the MOST competent and productive, many secretly feel on the inside like they are failing.

How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

In our life coaching sessions I hear words like, “spiraling,” “drowning,” and “completely overwhelmed.” These amazing people are pushing themselves to exhaustion, feeling mentally and emotionally depleted, and continuing to heap more and more on themselves. Because it is not literally possible to do it all, they feel like they’re dropping balls in every direction. Their anxiety builds, their stress levels spike, and they start to feel out of control.

How about you? Can you relate?

This is SUCH a common experience, especially for slightly perfectionistic superstars. If this is a familiar feeling for you too, you’ve probably also tried the standard advice for getting it together: Making lists! Scheduling things! Organizing your home differently! Decluttering!

So why do you still feel crazed?

It’s because the issue is not actually about what you’re doing, and it never was. It’s about how you’re thinking and feeling about what you’re doing. Once you learn how to manage your thoughts and feelings differently, stress fades, calm control comes back, and things get done.

Getting “More Organized” Isn’t Going to Cut It

While this sounds easy, the struggle to do a hard reset on your approach to life and so that you can feel calm, centered, in control and genuinely productive is a real one. As a therapist, life coach (and human being who struggles with the same things) I’ve learned over the years that the path to real and lasting change is not about the latest productivity hack or organizational system, but rather a personal growth process that puts you back in contact with your authentic self — and then changes the relationship that you have with yourself. (Really!)

At the start of our work together, my hard-driving clients often have not yet come to terms with the fact that they are actually mortals like the rest of us, and that there are limits to what they can do. They are trying to do it all, often comparing themselves to others, and feeling like they’re doing nothing well. Things sometimes do start slipping though the cracks. People work faster, harder and more. They try new systems. But the harder they work, the less they get done.

Hardcore perfectionists hate hearing this, but it’s my duty as a therapist and life coach who is devoted to your wellbeing to say this anyway. The answer is not figuring out some “hack” to stuff more stuff into less time, or clone yourself: It’s about learning how to approach life (and yourself) in a more intentional, compassionate, reality-based, and mindful way.

Or not, and slide into the predictable consequences.

Burnout Is Real (And Awful)

Sometimes, if you don’t catch yourself soon enough, and keep pushing and working and going, you can develop a full-fledged case of burnout. Think about it this way: If overwhelm is the waterslide burnout is the pool that you land into at the end of the ride. If you don’t make a change — a real, lasting change that attends to the core issues of chronic stress and overwhelm — burnout is the final destination.

Real, clinical burnout is an experience akin to depression: People feel apathetic, they have no motivation, and feel exhausted even thinking about tackling the “to dos.” Then things start piling up for real, and the process of digging out needs to happen on every level: Physically, mentally, emotionally, AND in terms of all of the stuff that still needs to get done.

It takes a long time to bounce back from burnout. Better not to go there at all, honestly. By listening to what your emotional guidance system is telling you and taking your feelings of overwhelm and stress seriously, you can get back on track before you slide into burnout.

How to Get Your S**t Together, and Back In Control

“Okay Lisa,” you’re probably thinking, “Sure, sounds good. But how exactly do you propose that I do everything I need to do (so much!) and also stay balanced, calm and healthy?”

I’m here for you: Because so many people struggle with this, I’ve devoted a whole podcast episode to sharing my top tips for how to understand WHY you feel overwhelmed (knowledge is power) and then walking it back into a state of calm, focused control. Join me on this episode, to learn about:

  • What types of core belief and approaches to life lead to feelings of overwhelm
  • How perfectionism and over achievement is correlated with being LESS successful
  • How stress leads to anxiety (and too much anxiety leads to paralysis)
  • The type of mindset that helps you do more (and feel happier at the same time)
  • How to recognize when you’re spiraling into burnout and how to stop it
  • How to do a “hard reset” on overwhelm
  • How to get reconnected to your true values, goals and priorities
  • What to focus on first if you’re spiraling
  • Strategies to help you identify and focus on what is truly important (and say buh-bye to the rest)
  • Surprising tips and tricks to relax your body and mind, and enter a state of focused productivity

All for YOU, on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

xoxo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

PS: I mentioned a number of resources in this program. Here are some links:

 

 

 

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How to Get Your S**t Together When You Feel Overwhelmed

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

You are a good person.

Yes, you.

You deserve to be treated well by others. You deserve to be loved and respected. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to have your needs met. You are worth investing time and energy into. You are capable of great things. Your feelings are important. You have power and wisdom inside of you. What you want matters.

And all this is still true, even if you make mistakes. Even if you are not perfect.

As a therapist and life coach, I have sat with some of the most phenomenally put-together, objectively successful, gorgeous, talented, and intelligent people in the world who still genuinely believe that they are irredeemably flawed. They run multi-million dollar businesses, go on international adventures, and accomplish astounding things, yet they struggle to feel like are valuable and worthy of love and respect. The disconnect between how amazing they are and how they feel about themselves is as wide as the Grand Canyon.

So how about you? Take a second and re-read the paragraph at the top of the page. Do those statements feel true to you? Or does a part of you cringe away from them, thinking that such things might be true for others but not for you? Does your brain instantly reject these ideas, firing back with an endless catalogue of your many mistakes and short-comings: all the “evidence” to prove that you are less worthy somehow?

Why is it so easy to lose your confidence, and your self esteem?

You are a perfect, unique snowflake gliding through your time here on earth. There has never been anyone quite like you. You are smart, you are capable, and you are good. You are here to love and be loved. You have things about you that set you apart from other people. Maybe it’s your style, or your humor, or your tenacity. Maybe it’s the fearless way you’ve lived your life, or the heroic mountains you’ve climbed on your journey. Perhaps your most wonderful quality is the way you care so deeply for others.

But it’s easy to forget that when you have to fight for your right to be heard, respected and understood, in a world that pushes back.

Every single one of us has been bruised on this journey through life. We’ve all been disappointed by people. We’ve taken risks, only to fall flat and feel humiliated for our efforts. Maybe toxic relationships have made you feel diminished. Perhaps you didn’t get your needs met at a time that you desperately needed support, and you are still carrying the scars of those primary wounds.

Over time the injuries of life can erode your belief in yourself. You can get tricked into believing that your not-so-great life experiences define you. Niggling doubts like, “Maybe my [insert one: critical father / rejecting Ex / high school chemistry teacher] was right about me,” or “This is probably the best I can expect,” keep you from feeling that you deserve more.

But you cannot let the inevitable traumas of the human experience break you. You cannot allow yourself to be diminished by others. You must never allow your core self to be ground away by disappointment.

Why Your Healthy Self Esteem is So Vital

  1. Other people treat you the way you expect to be treated.
  2. You rise to meet your expectations of yourself.
  3. You make choices and take chances based on what you believe is possible.

Think about what could happen to you if you totally lost sight of your inner beauty, your worth, your potential, and your inherent right to be loved and respected? How chilling to consider the fate that might befall you if your life, and the people in it, began to conform to those expectations.

You must be your own hero. The world is hard enough without you tearing yourself down, beating yourself up for your failures, and punishing yourself. When you stop believing in yourself and your worth as a person, your abilities, and that you deserve to be treated well all is lost. No one else is going to be your champion — because no one can.

How to Heal Your Self Esteem

It’s time for you to take your power back. All faith is a choice. All beliefs are voluntary. You can decide to be your number one fan, and actively, intentionally build yourself up. You can support yourself from the inside out. In fact, you have to. No one else is going to be your champion — because no one can.

Remind yourself daily, hourly, or minute-by-minute on especially challenging days:

Only you get to decide what you are worth. Only you get to decide how you deserve to be treated by others. Only you decide what is possible for you.

Decide today: You are worthy of love and respect. You are capable of great things. You are a good, smart, strong person. Make those statements your mantra. Believe they are so. Act as if they are so. And watch as the world rises to meet YOU…

3 Quick Tips for Self-Care While Traveling For Work

3 Quick Tips for Self-Care While Traveling For Work

3 Quick Tips for Self-Care While Traveling For Work

Relationship Help

As a career coach, I have the opportunity to work with clients across different industries and required travel commitments. What a lot of my traveling career coaching clients face is the overwhelming reality that travel has a very real impact on your mind and body.

A career that requires you to travel might have sounded fun at first, but if you are starting to notice that the travel is feeling overwhelming you’re not alone. 

Your job is important, and with it comes responsibilities and implications that you’re going to get your work done. When traveling for work, there is so much to do before, during, and after travel that you may feel like you are working around the clock with little to no time for self-care.

You can’t keep running yourself into the ground if you plan to incorporate travel into your longterm career commitments. You must find balance with your busy schedule, and with a little practice and some helpful guidelines, you may just find a haven of zen in your otherwise exciting schedule.

Here are my favorite three tips for self-care while traveling for work!

#1. Set Yourself Up for Success

Traveling often requires you to go outside of your comfort zone. The familiarity of home and routine can feel lost the moment you step into travel mode. This means that spending time setting yourself up for success away from these familiarities will ensure that you show up as your best self. To do this, take control of what you can and let the rest go.

You are in control of when you get to the airport, what transportation you take to get there, what food you decide to eat, etc.. If left up to chance, the likelihood of stabilizing yourself for optimal performance at work is already lowered. Take time to iron out these small details; they all add up to help support your ultimate success and enjoyment.

Take your work and yourself seriously so that you can feel confident and competent no matter where your job is.

#2. HAVE and KEEP Work Hours

For most of those traveling for work, new environments and different people will often throw off polished routines and habitual activities. On a work trip, we might use our work to avoid the discomfort of a situational change. This sense of uncomfortableness can lead us to overwork, feel burnt out, and ultimately resent our job in the long run.

In order to prepare against this happening, keep boundaries. Instead of working around the clock, on the airplane, or skipping dinner – take time to go out to dinner or go for a walk in the morning by yourself. HAVE and KEEP work hours even while traveling.

#3. Keep Your Routines

When we travel, we tend to let go of routines. There’s just something about getting in that car or boarding that plane that throws our conventional lifestyle aside. I encourage you to lean into new opportunities when they arise but also be gentle with yourself with change. Slowly change your daily structure instead of jolting yourself into a new and temporary one.

If certain routines really work for you, don’t break them (or at least experiment with ways to adjust them). Exercise is a common routine I hear my clients regularly report breaking on work travel, even though they say exercising brings them joy. Foster your joy while traveling. Your time is valuable time – How you spend it matters.

Trust Me It Works!

For the best self-care while traveling for work, take control of what you can through preparation, routines, and time management. You will feel some discomfort, but all your resources will be well suited to tackle even the longest of work trips if you feel grounded in your ability to control your own success.

Self-care is more than just a face mask at bedtime, it’s a lifestyle.

Take care & enjoy your travel!
Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC

Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC is here to help you create authentic happiness and satisfaction in your life, your relationships, and your career. She supports you to create a deeper connection with others, find clarity and direction, and actualize your life’s purpose.

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How to Build Positive Coworker Relationships

How to Build Positive Coworker Relationships

How to Build Positive Coworker Relationships

Developing Your Soft Skills

Fewer things impact your overall satisfaction with your job than the quality of the coworker relationships you have with your peers and leadership. Research into workplace satisfaction reported by MIT’s Sloan Management Review indicates that having positive coworker relationships can increase your creativity, make you more resilient emotionally, and enjoy your work more. All of these help you feel more connected to your career, your workplace and enjoy your job. 

In contrast, feeling disconnected (or worse, in conflict) with your coworkers leads to disengagement from your work, reduced sense of satisfaction with or loyalty to your organization, lower productivity, more stress, and even a toxic workplace environment.

Having positive coworker relationships is vitally important. Playing well with others matters. Here are some tips to developing soft skills that I share with my career coaching clients on how to strengthen coworker relationships– no matter where your work takes place!

Prioritize Positive Interactions

It’s true, technology has interfered with building these important relationships at work. Messaging, email, and virtual meetings often replace chatting together in the breakroom or casual conversations in the hallway. This can create an absence of friendly small talk that leads to closer connections. Particularly if you work at home, you may feel that your interactions with your coworkers are limited to “all business, all the time.”

But even those working in a traditional workplace setting find building effective relationships to be difficult to create and navigate. Particularly when your day is packed with meetings and deliverables, it can be hard to find the time to connect with a coworker on a human-to-human level.

Thankfully, the simplest, most effective relationship-building tools take almost no time at all. Smiling (emojis count), friendly greetings, expressions of empathy, words of appreciation, and questions that convey your interest in the other person as a human being will go a long way in building trust and rapport with your coworkers.

Respect Differences

Not everyone views a work project the same as you do. It’s OK to disagree. Be sure you use a respectful tone and if you are angry, slow down. Consider the best time and approach for voicing your opinion.

Think Positive

Have you ever worked with someone who pretty much killed every idea you’ve ever presented? If so, you know how tough working on their team can be and how little engagement you’ll want with this coworker. Bring good questions and bring solutions to the table for your concerns.

Acknowledge Your Coworkers

A simple “good morning” or “how was your weekend?” is often all it takes. Planning a breaktime walk or coffee together can be a great way to get to know the people you work with everyday.

Practice Listening

Hear your coworkers out, don’t interrupt in meetings, ask for clarification of ideas and let your coworkers know you’re listening. Learning to effectively listen will open conversation up organically. 

Keep Your Commitments

Your work affects everyone on the team. If you commit to a timeline for completing a project, make it happen. Coworkers quickly learn who can be trusted to get their work finished on time.

Share Credit Where Credit is Due

Nothing kills trust like stealing coworkers’ ideas and presenting them as your own. It will be tough to rebuild trust, and your teammates may begin to withhold important ideas and information from you as a result. If it’s your idea, shine. If it’s not, let someone else shine.

What skill will you practice this week? Share with us in the comments section below!

Wishing you success,
Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT

Linda Pounds, M.A, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage/Family Therapist (LMFT) and Certified Emotional Intelligence Leadership Coach at Growing Self. She works with individuals and couples who face the challenge of merging their work lives with personal lives and the impact each has on the other. Her work with leaders and leadership teams includes Emotional Intelligence (EI) Coaching and assessments, leading to a positive impact on individuals and organizations.

Let’s  Talk

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