What Everyone Needs in the Face of a Great Challenge

two friends practicing social distancing while smiling and hiking up a mountain

Our friend and happiness expert Shawn Achor once shared that if you view a mountain by yourself, your brain will perceive it to be 10 to 20 percent steeper than if you view it while standing next to a friend who is going to climb it with you.

Well, friends, we’re standing next to you (from six feet away, of course) as you view what might feel like a mountain of new challenges. Think of us as the friendly crew that’s helping find the best guides, tips, and inspiration to help you succeed.

That’s why this month we launched these new resources and initiatives:

We’ve also increased the frequency of our newsletter to keep you informed and connected to this vital community of women supporting women. If you know a friend or colleague who could benefit from joining us, please share this newsletter with them. New readers, sign up here.

One final note:

  • Young women from underserved communities who are prospective college students need our help now. Please consider giving to our partner, ScholarMatch.

More from the April 2020 Newsletter

If You’re Worried About Money, Think About This

Sometimes, one simple shift in thinking can help us know that, whatever the challenge before us, we’ll figure it out. This week, economist and Conference for Women speaker Teresa Ghilarducci provides that reassurance on our latest episode of Women Amplified.

Here it is: If you’re worried about money, think about your future self, and take action that supports that self—not the fearful self that may be activated in this moment.

Fear triggers chemicals in your brain that will make you want to do something to blast that fear away now. But those actions may not be in your long-term best interest.

So, what should you do—especially if you’re dealing with a loss of income or feeling rocked by the volatility in the stock market?

“You have to do something, but you have to do something for your medium-term and long-term self,” says Ghilarducci, a professor of economics at the New School for Social Research in New York City.

Focusing on the future, instead of this more anxious moment, will help you take charge. And from that more empowered mindset, you will be better positioned to take constructive action—on what Ghilarducci says should be three priority areas:

  1. Spending. If you don’t have a budget, this is the time to set it up—and watch it carefully. Fortunately, discretionary spending for many items—from Starbucks to hair care—is down. And we just might discover how many impulse purchases we don’t truly care about, which could help keep expenses permanently down.
  2. Debt. If you have credit card debt, ask the company to suspend payment without extra interest for the next two months—and to lower your interest rate while they’re at it. If you have a mortgage, do the same thing: ask for a two-month suspension without any extra interest accruing.
  3. Investments. If you can, look at your 401k accounts and make sure you know how much more you need to save to get on target. And, says Ghilarducci, remember that your asset values will probably come back in a year and a half. So, be patient.

Tune in to hear the full conversation with Theresa Ghilarducci on the Conferences for Women podcast, Women Amplified.

If You’re Worried About Money, Think About This

young woman expressing a perplexed look on her face while examining monthly bills and account balances

Sometimes, one simple shift in thinking can help us know that, whatever the challenge before us, we’ll figure it out. This week, economist and Conference for Women speaker Teresa Ghilarducci provides that reassurance on our latest episode of Women Amplified.

Here it is: If you’re worried about money, think about your future self, and take action that supports that self—not the fearful self that may be activated in this moment.

Fear triggers chemicals in your brain that will make you want to do something to blast that fear away now. But those actions may not be in your long-term best interest.

So, what should you do—especially if you’re dealing with a loss of income or feeling rocked by the volatility in the stock market?

“You have to do something, but you have to do something for your medium-term and long-term self,” says Ghilarducci, a professor of economics at the New School for Social Research in New York City.

Focusing on the future, instead of this more anxious moment, will help you take charge. And from that more empowered mindset, you will be better positioned to take constructive action—on what Ghilarducci says should be three priority areas:

  1. Spending. If you don’t have a budget, this is the time to set it up—and watch it carefully. Fortunately, discretionary spending for many items—from Starbucks to hair care—is down. And we just might discover how many impulse purchases we don’t truly care about, which could help keep expenses permanently down.
  2. Debt. If you have credit card debt, ask the company to suspend payment without extra interest for the next two months—and to lower your interest rate while they’re at it. If you have a mortgage, do the same thing: ask for a two-month suspension without any extra interest accruing.
  3. Investments. If you can, look at your 401k accounts and make sure you know how much more you need to save to get on target. And, says Ghilarducci, remember that your asset values will probably come back in a year and a half. So, be patient.

Tune in to hear the full conversation with Theresa Ghilarducci on the Conferences for Women podcast, Women Amplified.


More from the April 2020 Newsletter

10 Work-at-Home Tips from the CFW Team

Since the Conferences for Women team is a remote one, we thought it might be useful to share some of the lessons we have learned in how to work effectively at home. Here are some highlights from our team:

  1. Shower and dress in real clothes every day. I’ve done the “It’s 5 p.m. and I’m still in my PJs” and have learned it’s just not good for my energy or my family’s. (Laura H.)
  2. Don’t watch or listen to the news during work hours. That’s tough especially now. But world events are not going to change just because I am watching them happen real-time. (Laura H.)
  3. Pick up the phone and talk. It’s easy to get isolated by just emailing all day. It’s a simple thing, but picking up the phone to talk to a colleague for 10 minutes helps more than you would think! (Michelle V.)
  4. With kids, make a routine just like a school day. They have to wake up and shower and eat breakfast at a normal time. Depending on their age, morning is for school work then getting outside. After lunch, they can watch a movie and play computer games or go on social media. Then they help make dinner and, after dinner, is family time. I’m also all for keeping a normal bed time. When my son was in the hospital on and off for a year, routine was so important. We had reading time, movie time, music time, video game time, art time, normal bed time. I taped the schedule on the wall. It was everything. (Laura H.)
  5. Do your best to communicate clear boundaries to your children regarding your work time and space. Try color-coded signs to hang on your office door, or come up with hand signals to let them know when you shouldn’t be disturbed. (Danielle L.)
  6. Take advantage of breaktime with kids around. Don’t eat lunch in front of your computer. Eat with your family, take 10 minutes to play, or go for a walk together. (Carolyn G.)
  7. Find “safe spaces” when needed. When all else fails and its chaos at home with the kids being nuts, I can be found in my bathroom with locked doors hiding to conduct a call. HAHA. Wish I was joking but I am not. (Jess B.)
  8. Tap your friends and neighbors to entertain the kids via video chat. Set up a schedule and take turns leading. (Sarah S.)
  9. Shut down your computer at night. My desk is in the living room in a small house and if I hear or see emails come in, I will head to the computer instead of spending time with my family. Last fall my kids commented they had only seen the back of my head for days on end.  I started shutting down for real; if I still have work to do at night it is after kids are in bed. (Laura H.)
  10. Give yourself grace. It’s OK if your kids eat mac-n-cheese three nights in a row and watch too much TV if it gets your family through the day. (Laura H.)

Creating Financial Health Now with Teresa Ghilarducci

Life looks different right now and concerns over money and future financial stability are high. But that doesn’t make you powerless.

This episode features economist and author Teresa Ghilarducci, who offers invaluable and actionable ways you can take control of your finances in the short-term and create long-term financial health. Learn sustainable daily habits to maximize your paycheck and savings, help you budget in crisis-mode, manage debt, and continue planning for retirement.

 


This Month’s Guest:

TERESA GHILARDUCCI is an expert on retirement, pensions and personal savings. She is the Bernard L. and Irene Schwartz chair in economic policy analysis at The New School for Social Research. She has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and taught previously at the University of Notre Dame. Her book, When I’m Sixty-Four: The Plot Against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them, was recognized for containing the best economic idea of 2008 by The New York Times. Her book Labor’s Capital: The Politics and Economics of Private Pensions won The Association of American Publishers award for the best business book of 1992. She has written for and been featured in The New York Times, Money, Kiplinger’s, Businessweek, U.S. News & World Report, Parade and more. @tghilarducci

Our Host:

Celeste Headlee CELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as cohost of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @celesteheadlee


NOW AVAILABLE:

Do Nothing. How to break away from overworking, overdoing, and and underliving

How to Stay Meaningfully Connected

During another crazy time in our world, Emily Morgan had a husband suddenly out of work because of the financial crash of 2007-2008—and a newborn. She’d been working at the University of Pennsylvania but wanted to give remote work a try. Twelve years later, she is a successful entrepreneur who leads a team of 40—and an expert in the remote work that has suddenly become a reality for so many.

Here are five suggestions from Morgan, a Conference for Women speaker, about how to stay connected in meaningful ways and be a leader in times like this—followed by tips from the Conferences for Women team on how to make working at home work.

  • Create brief opportunities for everyone to see each other. Her entire team comes together over Zoom for 15 minutes once a week, with various team members taking a turn hosting. They cover core values, one positive development, organizational updates, shared learnings, and a story of values in action.
  • Offer small, more in-depth chances to connect. Morgan’s team is divided into packs of five to seven who meet on Zoom one hour a week where they have an opportunity to share—including, as she puts it, to “complain to and encourage”—one another. This, she says, helps create the culture they would have if working in the office together.
  • Think creatively about how you can support your team now. For example, she is organizing a virtual camp where volunteers teach topics that will aim to keep children engaged while their parents focus on work.
  • Establish clear boundaries and expectations. Being clear about metrics the team should be focused on over the next 30, 60 and 90 days. This helps everyone stay focused on priorities and know what they are accountable for.
  • Try to model calmness. Morgan says she meditates, limits her news intake, and reflects on whether how she is leading and acting is aligned with how she wants to see others act. “I don’t,” she adds, “want to be leading from a place of reaction.”

Morgan is the founder and CEO of Delegate Solutions, which offers premium-level virtual assistant services for entrepreneurs.

Real Ways to Banish the Stress That Causes Burnout

We all know what we generally should do to reduce stress—eat healthy, sleep more—“so the challenge is finding what that looks like for each of us,” says Leah Weiss, a lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business and author of How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind.

To help you reduce your stress, here are some strategies to consider:

Tune out of your head—and into your senses.

Doing this for just 30 seconds throughout the day helps Yunha Kim, founder and CEO of Simple Habit. Try “feeling your feet on the floor, looking at the colors around the room and just appreciating that you can see the colors, liking the smell that you can smell in the room and hearing all the sounds,” she says.

Build buffers into your day.

Kristin Wong, author of Get Money: Live the Life You Want, Not Just the Life You Can Afford, has found that intentionally overestimating how long things will take, and so build in buffers that way, helps keep her sane. She also advises scheduling an hour a week to do nothing. “It sounds silly, but it makes a big difference, because if it’s not there, you will fill it with something else,” she says.

Keep a daily journal.

Writing about her day helped Ali Stripling return from a serious case of burnout to her role as senior manager for community and inclusion at Arm. When she journals, she says she asks herself, “what has been great about today? What have I found challenging about today and what can I do differently about that tomorrow?”

Commit to not checking your email after office hours.

If you stop opening emails after work, people will stop expecting you to respond. And if you’re the boss, you can set the example for your whole team. Says Stripling: “We have to take back some control of our lives. I love my job; I could do it 24/7. But I also love my life and I’ve got to give to that.”


This article is based on the 2019 Watermark Conference for Women breakout session “Burnout Recovery: End Exhaustion and Regain Your Spark” Listen to it here.