Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Why Getting an Agent is Like Losing the Superbowl

164-pack13-021514-tmI now have an agent to represent my forthcoming book about Mussar, the 1000-year-old Jewish Spiritual practice of personal ethics. As I write, he is pitching it to publishers. Should I celebrate now?
On the one hand, it is an important milestone. I was unable to find an agent for my first book, and having an agent makes it possible that a traditional publisher will purchase the rights to the book. On the flip side, having an agent in and of itself doesn’t mean anything. What counts is having a publisher. So perhaps I should save the celebration until a publisher makes an offer. Then again, having a publisher is but a step in the book publishing process. Perhaps I should wait until the book is published? Or perhaps I should wait until the first sale, or appearing on the best seller lists, Fresh Air…
It is so easy to get caught up in what hasn’t happened yet. If only we have a promotion,  a managerial position, a raise, a new house… The list of things that we don’t have is infinite, and if we need something to happen in order to celebrate, we are missing out. As an alternative, we can cultivate Gratitude as a means to appreciate what we have right now. In that spirit, it is super cool to have an agent. I am grateful to have such a seasoned professional see something in my work. What happens next is out of my hands.
I fear that Seattle fans were celebrating a little too early in the Superbowl. Amazed that the vitriol that is going towards Pete Carol, the Seattle head coach for the last call. Second guessing is one thing, but calling for his job? Really? Even if he made the wrong call, do we really want to make it so that no one can make a mistake without getting fired? He has an amazing track record of success, and the fans would do well to cultivate Gratitude for making it to the Superbowl. The hard part is finding a way for being Grateful about losing in such a painful fashion. Maybe the loss has humanized Seattle fans, and prevented them from becoming arrogant jerks. I admit it – I don’t like Seattle. Now however, I can relate to the Seattle fan. I still feel the pain from the loss Syracuse basketball suffered at the hands of Keith Smart in the the 1987 basketball championship.
The Gratitude practice I suggest is hard, and we can’t start the day we suffer a loss. We need to start practicing Gratitude now. A gratitude journal is a great way to start. Every night, write down three things that you are grateful for. Be sure to include being grateful for the bad and the ordinary.  Then, when life takes a turn for the worse, we’ll have a healthy practice to help us get through.

How To Have Sustainable Success

Self Portrait By Jillian Corinne Via Flickr CC

A guest post by Health Coach Catherine Chen, Ph.D.

Do you sometimes fall into this trap?

If I finish this project, then I can relax.

If I get approval from my boss, then I will feel more competent.

If I work on what I want, then I’ll feel like I’m making a difference.

“If-then” thinking is problematic because we don’t actually focus on the present moment. By being concerned with the outcome, we don’t fully mentally engage with what we’re doing or the lessons presented to us. By the time we do achieve the result, we may not feel like we’ve accomplished anything meaningful because the entire journey felt like a blur (life crisis, anyone?).

If we continue to stay in this thought-trap and achieve our desired result, we never feel like we’ve gotten “there” because there is always more to follow. If you finish the project, there’s follow-up work to do, or if you get that promotion or the dream project, unforeseen responsibilities follow, making you wish that you took the time to enjoy what you were doing before. It’s like climbing a mountain quickly to reach the top, only realizing when you get there that there’s more to climb and that you didn’t get a chance to enjoy the views earlier (and now won’t have the energy to do so!). The key is to not bank on a result to make you feel a certain way. Feelings that arise from external accomplishments are fleeting, but attitudes independent of results will sustain you.

How can you relax/feel more confident/make a difference with the role you have right now? You can be as relaxed, confident, or impactful as you want to be, right now. Find friends or family (or a Health Coach!) to support you towards taking actions that give you a sense of mastery and pro-actively support you towards feeling what you desire. For example, engage with people you care about to relax. Offer to help a colleague with your expertise to be valuable.

Release self-induced pressure by taking action towards feeling what you desire right now, rather than making your feelings dependent on an outcome over which you have no control.

Catherine Chen, Ph.D., is a Health Coach who supports high-octane professionals to achieve with ease, have time for what they love, and live a balanced life. Prior to launching her wellness practice, she worked in the management consulting industry and at one of the leading cancer research biotechnology companies. She’d love to hear from you at Or, sign-up to get work-life balance tips at