Make Work Great Again

Michelle Graham

We spend a great deal of our time at work. According to a recent Gallup Poll the average American spends almost 47 hours a week at work and salaried employees even more. Is your work environment a happy place or a dreaded place? Is your work like heaven or do you find yourself in hell most days? Perhaps you cannot change where you work but you can change your attitude, your mindset and your outlook. What each one of us brings to the table every day matters, in fact it matters a great deal. The question is how do we make the most of our time at work, how can we lift staff up instead of tear them down? 

    Whether your role where you work is big or small, the employer or the employee there are a few very simple things we can all do to make our work environment amazing and wonderful. 

    It goes without saying that praise and recognition are extremely important. Everyone wants to know that they matter, they are valued, and they are appreciated. A warm friendly greeting, a simple “thank you”, “we appreciate you” all have a monumental impact. Employees who are given praise and recognition are most likely to be loyal, long-term and reliable staff. Never underestimate the value of simply being kind to your employees and, in turn, employees being kind to their employer. The circle of impact has great rewards. In short, we reap what we sow; when you give away goodness it all comes back, and the reverse is also true. The moral of the story is be kind, be compassionate and be considerate always! 

    Come to work ready to always do your best. No matter the task, bring your best efforts to the table. Be your best self, dress your best and have your best attitude. A great attitude is contagious, a smile is contagious and positive outlook is contagious. Be the person everyone wants to be around. In our work environment we all have this great ability to impact those around us. Embrace the qualities that set you apart from others in the BEST way possible. 

    Build trust among your team. Prove that you are someone that the team can count on. That means be on time, follow through on tasks, be accountable, say what you mean, mean what you say, be honest, be hardworking, go the extra mile and most important be organized and responsible! Everyone wants to be trusted, trust your insight, trust that your staff team has your back, trust that they will make good decisions. Allow your staff to grow, learn and sometimes make mistakes, Don’t Micro-Manage. 

    Thread wellness and healthy living into your workplace. Show the team that you truly care about their health and well-being. Implement work-site wellness, have mini worksite wellness challenges to improve healthy living, do health focused lunch and learns, do monthly potluck gatherings that focus on healthy choices. Make your workplace a healthy place. Have healthy snacks and healthy drinks in your vending machines. Be the motivator, the role model, the cheerleader for good health. Perhaps having a wellness team can have great rewards for not only your company’s bottom line, but the team as well. 

    Be engaged, pay attention and interact with staff. Say hello, smile, make staff feel important each day. The little things, I am convinced, mean the most in the work place. Go out of your way to do something nice, a coffee, a small snack or a special note really matters. Be “That” person that lifts others up. It is through these small acts that our working environment and attitude change. Just a little shift in mindset can change the course of someone’s entire day. 

    I am absolutely convinced that attitude is a small thing that can make a BIG difference.  

    What can you do to make your workplace more enjoyable, happier? Praise your staff make them feel important. Do your level best each day, always putting your best foot forward. Trust each other, trust the team. Build trust through good leadership and a supportive work environment. Incorporate health into the workplace, your bottom line and staff will be grateful. Engage with staff, lift them up, smile and make them feel supported. At the end of the day a happy workplace can have profound impact. This season be “That” person everyone wants to be around. Be KIND always. Happy Fall. I hope this season of change motivates you to spread joy at your workplace and beyond! 

Kindness and respect: Are they lost forever?

Michelle Graham

Our world is changing at an alarming rate. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and the amount of negativity I see all around is absolutely alarming. The littlest things make us mad we lose our cool way too easy. We are looking for instant gratification in all things, at the restaurant, when we drive and even searching the world-wide web. The amount of yelling and screaming on television is sad. The news is almost always negative and condescending. Since when did we become so cold and callous and so self-absorbed? If we have a difference of opinion we cannot even have a conversation or discussion. We just yell and scream and throw a fit until we get our own way. I think there is a way to make things better and it will not happen over-night or in a month or a year but it can happen.

    Respect, if you want it than give people the respect they deserve. Start at home respect your parents, respect your teachers, respect the waitress and respect the teller at the bank. Say please and thank you. Kindness travels for miles, go out of your way to be kind to others. I send my girls off to school with a little saying each day it is simple “Be kind to yourself and be kind to others.” Practice small acts of kindness throughout your day, hold the door, buy a coffee for a friend you can even share your lunch and your time with others. None of us are perfect but I know for certain it is always the small things that we do for others that makes the biggest difference.

    Share your talent. We all have something to give. It is these times that teach us and our children the value of life. Teach your children the importance of volunteering. Do something with no intention of a reward. Give back to your community. It will make the place that you live BETTER. Volunteer opportunities are everywhere in our small town. How can you share your gifts, your time and your talent with others? Donate to organizations that make a difference in someone’s life. The donation does not have to be money, perhaps it is food for a food bank or a church. Help a neighbor with a project, perhaps offer to babysit for free. Offering a helping hand not a hand out has great value and rewards for both parties involved. It goes back to kindness, sprinkle it like confetti and it will certainly spread like wild fire.

    Perhaps this way of thinking is too singular too simple. If you think that one person or one act of kindness cannot change others think again. Think of the single mother who just needs a smile or an encouraging hello. Can you be the person to give her that? Or the busy person who has just dropped everything they have on the ground. Can you help them pick it up? Offer to help with no expectation of being rewarded. We can all do these small things. Let someone ahead of you in line just because. Be kind and do the right thing every chance you get. The rewards are endless. Be this example to others. Instead of picking a fight find a way to be the peace keeper. Instead of engaging in negative talk speak kindly about others and to others. It can be amazing the ripple effect this can have, but it has to start with you, the one and only you.

    I think of summer as this beautiful season of growth and transformation. Think of all the ways that you can impact others and ways to find personal growth for yourself. Kindness truly can start with you and the positive influence you can have on others can be transcending. Lead in life by example, find every way that you can to sprinkle love and friendship. It is with these acts that all the negativity in life can be lifted and then we can find our life renewed.

Stop Thinking Start Doing

Michelle Graham

Are you someone who thinks about making changes in your life?  Wow, the possibility to change is endless.  What is your 2017 plan for a positive, meaningful year? Is your goal to take college classes, learn how to quilt, get healthy or just become a better, more focused, more driven person. Whatever the dream, the goal, the doing, the planning has to start from within. You have heard the quote or a derivative of it “If you can dream it you can become it.”  Well now is your big chance to be and do all that you can be in 2017. No matter the goal big or small what path will you forge to get there?

                I personally like plans!  I like writing them out, I like keeping lists and then crossing things off my list. Anyone who knows me or who has taken our YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program has heard me say 100 or more times “when you have a plan you have everything.” This holds true not just with getting healthy or making improvements in eating, but with many situations or goals in life. Big LOFTY plans are not necessary; it is the little plans, the attention to small details that make the difference.

                Start at the beginning, be specific and describe your goal accordingly.  If you don’t know where you have been, how can you know where you are going? Think about your goal, perhaps document what you like about it and what brought you to this place of change.  Reflection is the key to progress and making your goal an evolving blueprint is the key. Determine what the goal is, define it and then set some short and long-term goals to coincide with the proposed goal. Now what is your plan to achieve that goal?  Are you going to take some chances to get there and will you go out on a limb to really make it happen? Get uncomfortable and begin to push yourself in a way that perhaps takes you out of your comfort level. This is where true inner growth, awareness and innate change can happen.  Be open to the amazing possibilities that can come and most important be open to changing your behavior.

                Not everything always goes according to our master plan. You will need to be patient, be open to a bump in the road. The bump can lead you to places you never imagined.  Learn from the bump and then adapt and adjust the blueprint.  It is these times, these moments, that can really move the needle in the direction we long to go. 

                Most important, adapt and re-evaluate the route chosen. Don’t get stuck, continue to progress forward and stay focused on the prize, the end result.  Keep those goals challenging, specific, positive and flexible. Continue to challenge yourself through this journey of discovery. Try something new; take a class just for the pure sake of learning. Keep your goal short, to the point and specific. This is how you will get to where you are going. Your blueprint needs to be precise and to the point.  Instead of focusing on making a change in 10 different things focus on just one or two items. Next, we spend far too much time putting ourselves down, living in a world of “could haves” and “would haves.”  Instead radiate positivity, spend some time celebrating all the great amazing changes that you have made so far.  Write them all down and then celebrate, I mean really find joy in your progress and the changes that you have made so far. Being positive and kind to your self is vital; you never know how your attitude can impact someone else. Last, be flexible, be open and learn to be free from the things that hold you back from being where you really want to go. 

                The enjoyment isn’t always in the destination; it is most often the journey itself that brings joy and contentment. What will your 2017 journey look like? Will you decide to get out of your comfort level and check off some things on your bucket list? Don’t wait for an opportunity to seize the beautiful, quiet moments and make your mark and leave your stamp today. 

Summer 2015 Wellness: Beat seasonal exercise boredom

Break up your routine with new, fun local foods this summer

Columnist Michelle Graham

Columnist Michelle Graham

Welcome summer at last. This may well be my favorite season of the year. I love being able to actually get outside for workouts and eat fresh, in-season natural foods. I am certain I am not alone. It seems the warm weather welcomes us to get out and be active. Also fresh fruits and vegetables are certainly plentiful. [Read more…]

Motivation: how to find and keep it

Michelle Graham

Path to a healthier, fitter version of yourself takes patience

What is your motivator for good health and better fitness? Is it your family, an upcoming athletic event or your doctor who just informed you that you’re at an increased risk for a specific disease? No matter what your reason, getting and staying motivated with regard to a better fitness plan and health can certainly seem overwhelming and daunting. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines motivation as a force or influence that causes someone to do something. The question is: What are you going to do and how will you get to your healthy destination? [Read more…]

A crisis looms with our children

Michelle Graham

As we approach fall, we embrace and look forward to structure and a more regular schedule. After the carefree days of summer, we almost crave it. Our children head back to school or college and the warm summer breezes of June, July and August give way to cool fall days and nights. Any way you look at it fall leads to change. There is a change in temperature, a change in season and yes, a change to our daily lives.

[Read more…]

Fall art classes at Watertown YMCA

The Watertown YMCA Arts Center has opened registration for fall art classes for preschool children, children ages 5 to 12, teens and adults ages 18 and older. Classes start the week of Sept. 10.

For preschool children, ages 2 to 6, the Y offers “Artstart,” “Parent-Tot Art” and preschool music classes.

For youths ages 5 to 12, there is are kids sketch,  paint box, studio art, “Claymania,” canvas painting, famous artist series, multi-cultural series, unusual art and holiday workshops.

Teen classes offered include “All About Me,” charcoal and drawing, “Teen Clay: Handbuilding and Wheel Throwing.”

For adults, ages 18 and older, the Y is offering a hands-on clay handbuilding and wheel throwing class. To register for any classes, visit www.watertownymca.com or call 775-9622.