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Author: Ayanna Castro

Be Brave

Be Brave

When we face uncertainty, we often try to convince ourselves that we should be confident in our abilities to overcome any obstacle. The problem is depending on the obstacle, your confidence level can take a beating and it can take days, weeks or in the worse case, years to recover. Think about the last time you tried something and failed. How long did it take you to try again? Have you tried again? Courage is something that is deeply rooted in your heart. Courage allows you to have difficult conversations. Courage allows you to stand in your truth. Courage opens the door for you to pursue your passion and try something new. Courage is the pillar of which constant confidence is built. Being brave isn’t the absence of fear, it’s having the courage to do “it” anyway.

With love,

The Perfectionist Trap

The Perfectionist Trap

One of my favorite quotes by Aristotle is, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” I found this quote years ago and made it part of my email signature so that I could see it on a regular basis. It resonates with me because I have a bad habit of wanting things to be perfect.

The Perfectionism Trap is an ugly thing and can be a downward spiral. It can cause you to procrastinate and remain stuck in one place.  But here’s the rub, you can’t be successful if you don’t try and you don’t try if you are worried about being be perfect. It also fosters negative self-talk and unnecessary self-doubt.The quest for perfection diminishes the opportunity to have joy in the acting of “doing”. Don’t let the trap of perfectionism keep you from an opportunity to do something in a different way. It’s that difference that will lead to growth and new ideas which then fosters your creativity and pushes you forward to trying something new beyond your comfort zone.

With love,

 

Work Your Package Women’s Conference 2017

Work Your Package Women’s Conference 2017

I’m super excited about the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference! This purposely intimate conference was designed to create a space where attendees could have meaningful and lasting connections with subject matter experts.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing thoughts from the speakers so that you can get to know them better.

Visit www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com for more information.

With love,

It’s Not Fair

It’s Not Fair

“It’s not fair!!!” That’s how the argument started when my youngest realized my oldest had more money than she did. Between good grades on her final report card and her birthday, she had a nice piece of change in her purse. My youngest deemed it unfair but couldn’t articulate why and was then rendered speechless when reminded that she too had received money for her good grades as well.

How many times have we looked at someone who is seemingly flawless in their success and make a snarky comment? I would never. Cut the crap. No matter how supportive you are of other women, you have made a least one less than flattering comment about someone who you felt received a larger piece of the “pie”. How did she get promoted? How is she getting so many clients? How she afford to travel so much? Honey, you are asking the wrong questions. The only question you should ask is Why does it bother me? We’ve been taught that in order for someone to win, someone else has to lose and that’s just not true. When you take a minute to think about it, the promotion, clients or airline miles cannot do anything to dull your shine. Zero. Nada. Nunca. Zilch.

Don’t allow yourself to get so caught up in what is “not fair” that you forget to be thankful for everything that you do have. A little pang of jealousy is normal but don’t let it consume you. Let it fuel your determination to continue on your journey to being extraordinary.

With love,

Who Are You?

Who Are You?

Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic stated “Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am – and what I need – is something I have to find out myself.”

There seems to be a slew of professional, career and life coaches out there more than willing to “help” you find your passion, define your goals and create a career that you love. Coaches are great but if you don’t know who you are for yourself, you are wasting everyone’s time and specifically your money. Think of it this way, professional basketball players don’t need their coach to teach them how to play. The coaches are there to help them be better versions of yourself.

In my early twenties, I started my journey of personal development and began taking self-assessment and personality tests. Myers-Briggs and DiSC are my favorites and truly speak to who I am:

Myer Briggs profile: ENFJ [Extraverted (E), Intuitive (N), Feeling (F), Judging (J)] – Sincerely interested in other people and try to do their best to help them (Hello! Work Your Package), tend to have extraordinary social and networking skills, are usually quite sensitive and even somewhat idealistic, the same sensitivity draws them towards careers that reward high emotional intelligence; on the other hand, they are very vulnerable to criticism and should stay away from stressful careers (The reason why I’m no longer in social work).  Also really creative, organized and honest – this makes them excellent psychologists, event coordinators or politicians.  (I share this with President Barack Obama, President Abraham Lincoln, Oprah Winfrey and Ben Affleck)

DiSC profile: Influence (I) with equal Dominance (D) and Conscientiousness (C)  – Focused on shaping their environment by influencing or persuading others. Influence others through talking and activity and tend to be emotional, convincing, magnetic, political, enthusiastic, persuasive, warm, demonstrative, trusting, and optimistic. The dominance dimension includes being inquisitive, self-assured, calculated risk-taker and being self-critical. The conscientious dimension includes being analytical, sensitive, “own person” and mature.

Because I took these tests very early on in my adulthood, I had a better understanding of what I would and would not tolerate, deal with or allow in my personal or professional life. I’ve taken both assessments fairly recently and not much as changed. Either you love me because I’m always pushing you to be better or you hate me because I’m eternally optimistic that things will be better. Either way, the person you meet on a Sunday in August is the same person who will give you a hug on a Thursday in October. I’m consistent because I know who I am. I know my weaknesses. I know my strengths. No professional, career or life coach can teach me how to be me. What I want to know is how I can be an even better representation of myself as I Work My Package

Do you know who you are and why you tick the way you do? Click here to take a modified version of the Myers Briggs. Click here for DiSC.

With love,

 

 

 

 

P.S. Registration is open for the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference! Register today at www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com.

 

 

Yeah, You Are Busy. But Are You Productive?

Yeah, You Are Busy. But Are You Productive?

“So how are things going?”

“Oh my goodness. I’m just swamped. I’ve been so busy!”

“Really? What have you been doing?”

Insert crickets….

There is a difference between being busy and being productive. When you are “busy”, wheels are spinning and you get absolutely nowhere. When you are being productive, you can see your progress. Some people don’t know the difference so when they ask someone how things are going, they are impressed by the list of things that are rattled off. Here’s the difference between busy and productive people:

  • Busy people fake having a personal mission. Productive people live their mission every single day.
  • Busy people have several “priorities”. Productive people have a selective few.
  • Busy people say “yes” at the drop of a hat. Productive people have no problem saying “no”.
  • Busy people tell what they are doing. Productive people show you.
  • Busy people multitask. Productive people focus.

We have all been guilty of glorifying the “busy”. However, in order for you to be extraordinary and live a life that will inspire others, it’s time to start being productive.

With love,

 

 

 

 

Registration is open for the 4th annual Work Your Package Women’s Conference on October 7, 2017. Limited seating is available, register today at www.wyp2017.eventbrite.com.

 

Emotional Mooching Vampires

Emotional Mooching Vampires

 

In a perfect world, we would all be surrounded by people who support and love us without any strings attached. Our co-workers would be kind, considerate and thoughtful and offer constructive criticism. Our families would be able to assess your emotional state before piling on their worries onto your shoulders and our friends would try to solve some their problems all by themselves. Unfortunately, that is not reality. So how do you recognize and deal with the emotional moochers in your life?

According to PsychologyToday.com, there are five types of emotional “vampires”:

1. The Narcissist – It’s all about them…all the time. They have an inflated sense of self-important and entitlement and crave attention. These people lack empathy and have zero to no capacity for unconditional love. It’s their way or no way.

 

2. The Victim – The ENTIRE world is against them and that’s why they are unhappy. Even the best ideas that offer solutions to their misery are met with, “Yeah, but…” Every conversation with them leaves you feeling drained.

 

3. The Controller – Somehow these people think you are theirs to control and manipulate. They have an opinion about everything and will try to discount your feelings if they don’t believe you have a valid reason to feel that way…even if they caused it.

 

4. The Constant Talker – You might have initiated the conversation but they will dominate it and won’t let you get a word in edgewise. They are not interested in anything you have to say or how you may feel.

 

5. The Drama Queen/King – These people have a flair for small incidents into off-the-chart dramas or as my granny would say, “Making a mountain out of a molehill.”

So how do you protect yourself from this emotional mooching vampires? Take a minute to think about how you feel after interacting with people. Do you feel energized or optimistic? Or do you feel drained and defeated? If it’s the latter, then maybe you need to limit the amount of time, if any, that you spend with those type of people. Dealing with that type of negativity on a daily basis can weaken your emotional snapback and agility.

Here are four strategies on how to deal with emotional mooching vampires from the book Emotional Freedom by Judith Oroloff, MD:

Strategy #1: Am I Being Sapped by an Emotional Vampire? There are some common emotional side effects such as feeling put down or your mood takes a nosedive.

Strategy #2: Practice These General Dos and Don’ts With Emotional Vampires  Whenever possible, eliminate drainers from your life. However, with those, you can’t or don’t want to remove like friends going through a rough patch or relatives — follow these tips:

  • Do: Take a breath to center yourself. Stay calm and matter of fact instead of going for their bait. Communicate clearly and firmly, with a neutral tone when setting limits.
  • Don’t: Panic. Talk yourself out your intuitions or call yourself “neurotic.” Blurt out what you’ll regret later or use an accusatory tone.

Strategy #3: Could I Be an Emotional Vampire? How Do I Know? (Own your stuff!) Everyone has a little bit of vampire in them, especially when stressed. Cut yourself a break. The solution is always to own up to where you’re emotionally stuck and change the related behavior.

Strategy #4: Identify and Combat Emotional Vampires  To be free of vampires, you must know the nature of the beast. Each one has a special talent for emotionally disabling you. The good news is that vampires are predictable. Once you get their number, you won’t be caught off guard.

Take some time to assess who is around you and create strategies on how to deal with them if they are emotional moochers. Your peace of mind and emotional well-being will thank you.

With love,

Your Scars Are Your Credentials

Your Scars Are Your Credentials

Exhausted. Irritated. Overwhelmed. That was me last week. Multiple responsibilities from home and work collided and I was left feeling defeated and depleted. I had nothing else to give to anyone or to myself. I didn’t feel like working any of my “packages” and felt guilty about it. I shared my feelings online and received permission to be still. Understand this, I didn’t need or ask for permission. What blew me away was that the people who told me it was okay for me to take a day or several days off were the people who I serve. The people who have attended Work Your Package conferences, have bought the book, read the weekly blog and double-tap my images on Instagram. It was confirmation that I could be vulnerable and transparent to the people I was created to serve without being viewed negatively. Additional confirmation came in the form of a sermon preached by Pastor Battle of Zion Church. The name of the sermon was “A Wounded Witness”. Here are some of the lessons I learned from that sermon:

1. Your wounds are a witness.
2. Some of the stuff you’ve been through, you can’t hide.
3. Being transparent is one thing, being touchable is another. (Reminds me of Dr. Brene Brown’s teaching on vulnerability)
4. Sometimes you have to reopen a wound in order to help someone else.
6. Stop giving a censored version of your wounds.
7. Wisdom, grace, life, compassion come out your wounds.
8. Don’t ask why you went through what you did. Ask why you survived it. It’s your credentials. You’ve been to hell and back so that you can help others.

It looks great on social media to appear like you have everything together but behind closed doors that facade is exhausting and eventually, the truth will seep out and your authenticity will be in question. It’s okay to say that you are tired and feeling overwhelmed. Sharing the challenges of life doesn’t diminish who you are as a person, tarnish your “brand” or your effectiveness as a leader. Wounds lead to scars and scars lead to lessons that will help others.

With love,

Write Your Story

Write Your Story

How many times have you talked yourself out of taking the path that would have led you to something extraordinary? I have a friend who has a story that needs to be told to the world. I don’t say this because they’re my friend. I say this because when they told me a small part of their story, a piece of my heart wept and then I was in awe at how they were still standing. Recently I asked my friend when they going to tell their story. They told me they were too young to tell their life story and they were going to wait another 20 years. Insert major eye roll right here. My friend doesn’t know if they going to live another 20 years. Do you know the best stories ever told and the best advice that fit your exact situation are six feet under at the cemetery? If you aren’t ready to tell your story, find a way to document it. 

You are too young to do that. Who would want to learn from you? You haven’t lived yet. You are too old. That is an old-fashioned way of thinking. Write a book? No one would buy it. Go back to school? It’s not like you’ll get a promotion when you finish…if you finish. Lose weight? Haven’t you tried to do that already? Vacation by yourself? Are you crazy? Buy a house? You’ll never get approved for a mortgage. Start a business? Do you know how many fail in the first year? You aren’t doing anything original…

These aren’t the lies that other people tell you. These are the lies that you tell yourself.

Lies hold you hostage. Denying the potential positive impact of sharing your imperfect life serves no one. Lies keep you stagnant. I believe you are more resilient than a lie. But it doesn’t matter if I believe it. Do you?

With love,

Adulting Is Overrated

Adulting Is Overrated

I don’t know about you but I couldn’t wait until I became an adult. Remember when your only responsibility was doing your homework and maybe some chores on the weekend? Fast forward about 30 years and I realize every single day that being an adult is completely overrated and can be stressful. How I long for the days when school started at 9 in the morning and ended promptly at 3 in the afternoon. I just looked my schedule for the day and all I want to do is roll my eyes. The amount of homework I had as a child is laughable as I look at my desk wondering which task I’m going to tackle first. This isn’t a full-out adult temper tantrum contained within a blog post. I don’t complain without getting closer to a solution or a goal. Do you want to see how I deal with all of this “adulting” without losing my job, family, friends or mind?

Behold the sanity keeper, the conversation starter, the stress reliever, the spontaneous group activity that I bought for my office. This coloring sheet is a glorious 5 feet wide and 4 feet tall and it derails adult temper tantrums, negativity, and tendencies to be cranky. Did you know that adult coloring relieves stress, sparks creativity and encourages mindfulness? The act of coloring requires repetition and attention to detail, so you are able to focus on the activity, not on the meeting that ran over by 30 minutes. Is coloring not your thing? What about going outside and tossing around a football or lace up your sneakers and coordinate a group walk during lunch.  Find what works for your office to help you and your fellow co-workers alleviate the stress from all of that “adulting” that we are required to do while on the road to being extraordinary.

With love,