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Combining prosperous work lives and balanced personal lives
Fall 2008

Welcome to the Fall 2008 edition of Susan Robison's free e-mail newsletter for women business owners, executives, and professionals. Our goal is to bring you news, insights, and information about leading a balanced and prosperous life while making a difference.

In this issue, you'll find:

  1. Sustainability: Beyond Recycling
  2. BossWoman coaching
  3. Up and coming workshops

1. Sustainability: Beyond Recycling

While the concept of sustainability is usually applied in the context of saving the planet and global warming, it is also a useful one to apply to the human side of ecology.

Sustainability is defined as meeting today’s needs without sacrificing the ability to meet tomorrow’s needs. The human side of sustainability is being challenged by changes this fall in the U.S. and worldwide. First, evidence from environmental studies illustrates that the sustainability of the planet is being compromised by human behaviors. For example, if global warming melts the polar caps and raises the ocean levels it will directly affect the two billion people currently living within 60 miles of seashore. Second, economic changes are challenging the ability of the U.S. and other countries to sustain viable economies that bring quality of life to its citizens. Third, a change in federal administrations challenges citizens in its own country and worldwide. At a U.S. sponsored international conference of higher education professors that I attended last month, Australian educator, Dr. Erica McCormick said, "We have been watching you." She got a huge round of applause.She continued, "It is a time in the U.S. of great hope and of great fear.”

A natural response to rapid change is to feel out of control.You are not alone if you want to hide away and ignore the whole business. In many ways the above issues are out of your control. You are probably familiar with variations on the Serenity Prayer about “changing what I can change, accepting what I can’t change, and being wise about the differences between those two.” Consider that this might be a good time to take appropriate control of all this anxiety by working on the sustainability of yourself, your relationships, and your immediate environment. My hope for this issue of BossWoman eNews is that readers might implement some of suggestions below and forward this newsletter to others to remind them of what they can do to increase sustainability. The ripple effect of your efforts might change the world.


Just like we can’t keep depleting tomorrow’s resources without creating new supplies of energy and materials for the survival of the planet and its inhabitants, you can’t keep depleting your own human capital resources. Health problems previously thought to be associated with aging such as heart disease and strokes are now known to be caused instead by the cumulative effects of abuse and neglect. Treating yourself like you are running in a sprint that will soon end will prematurely wear out your body, mind, and spirit. Instead imagine doing what long-distance runners do – they pace themselves for the long haul. While you don’t have control over Wall Street or the new presidential administration, you can take control in this challenging time by increasing your self-care for your own body and mind.


  • Get adequate rest. You can’t function at the high level required for your work and your life if you are dragging yourself through the day. How much sleep is adequate? If you were on a relaxing vacation with interesting non-pressured activities and you gave yourself the first three nights to clear out your sleep deficit, how much sleep would it take to wake on the fourth day without an alarm and feeling refreshed? That number is what you need to get every night.

  • Eat a balanced diet with protein, fats, and carbs in foods close to their sources, that is, foods that have not been over-processed into frozen, canned or dehydrated form. Your body needs the correct chemical composition to sustain itself for building, repairing and maintaining itself for the long term. To get the right chemicals, include 8 glasses of water, 5-9 servings of fresh fruits and veggies, 2-4 servings of non-processed whole grains, and 2-4 small servings of meat, nuts, milk products, tofu, and other sources of protein. Add a little olive oil to your salads and your fat intake will be just about right. Avoid processed sugar, flour, cereals and products made from same.

  • Exercise regularly. Don’t try to find time for exercise. It won’t work. Instead, make time for exercise. Block your work and other obligations around that designated time.

  • Aerobic. Get your heart rate up for 20 minutes by running, walking, swimming, rowing, dancing or any other activity that works for you. You may only need three times a week to maintain good fitness but you need daily aerobic exercise to lower your stress.

  • Stretching. Yoga and other gentle non-bouncing stretching will keep your muscles and connective tissue working more efficiently.

  • Weightlifting. Using light weights with many repetitions will build your endurance and core strength so that your whole body works in unison to support all of your activities.


  • Keep up with your professional field by attending conferences that update your knowledge and give you a chance to network with interesting colleagues. Consider trying a conference that you have not previously attended to give you a fresh perspective.

  • Choose media carefully. Limit exposure to bad news that you can’t do anything about. Unless you’re a stock broker, you don’t need to follow the market’s closing number. If it’s good news, everyone will be talking about it at the water cooler or on the commuter train the next day. Instead, read uplifting materials. Subscribe to helpful periodicals and eNews. Take media breaks; try two hours of working at your desk without checking email or answering the phone. Go to a “third place” like the library or Café Joe’s to do think work without distractions.

  • Worry well. Nope, I didn’t say, “Stop worrying.” What I am suggesting is that you get more out of your worrying by always worrying with paper and pencil so you don’t have to repeat the worries over and over (we psychologists call that obsessing) and so you can work out some possible solutions on paper. Ask yourself:
  • Is this bad thing really happening or is it a merely a possibility?
  • How bad is it or would it be if it really happened?
  • What can I do to fix it, ignore it, or get help about it? What action steps do I want to take?

  • Think of three things you are grateful for each day. Research by positive psychologists has shown this gratitude exercise to be more effective in raising your overall happiness level than any other single intervention. In hard times, it is easy to focus on what is not working but can you also think of what is working well in your life?

  • Don’t let the status of the economy discourage you from good money habits such reducing your debt and saving money for your future. Consult your financial planner about keeping more of your savings in low risk investments if it helps you sleep better.

  • Do a good job at work but plan your next career move just in case. Cut some surplus expenses on things that aren’t essential and save six months income in ready savings and save the maximum in your retirement fund(s).

Your Relationships

  • Think long term. What can you do now or avoid doing in your marriage, family of origin, and other relationships if you want to keep each person’s long term good will.

  • Make your primary relationship sustainable by giving it time and attention. What rituals and traditions are inexpensive and non-demanding that you two can do on a regular basis to keep the good feelings alive? It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of life and forget to make each other feel special. When my husband and I first met we shared a dream to make ballroom dancing a part of our life together. About eight years into our marriage we started setting aside time weekly to study and practice ballroom dancing. We still keep up our skills with weekly group lessons and practice sessions. Several times a year we enjoy getting dressed up for elegant black tie dances that are fun and romantic.

  • Find easy, repeatable ways to sustain your circle of the family members that you like but don’t see regularly. Reunions are expensive; family blogs are not.

  • Limit contact with toxic people, even if you are related to them. They drain you and divert your energy from spending time with quality people who love and respect you. Pick your holiday activities carefully according to your values instead of out of obligation.

Your World

Yes, recycle, but in addition to the small things like switching to the low energy light bulbs and turning off lights when you leave the room, consider some Big Change strategies as well to help your immediate environment and the planet.

  • Buy energy efficient products. Energy researchers say the big energy saving comes with replacing cars and household appliances with the more energy efficient ones. It doesn’t mean you should rush out to do these things. When we did some remodeling a few years ago, we had a new energy efficient furnace and on-demand water heater installed. Our next change will probably be a washer/dryer set. Are there any new purchases that you are going to do anyway but could do in a sustainable way?

  • Reduce consumption. What do you really need to make yourself happy? If you exchange holiday gifts, how can you make them useful or relevant? Instead of stuff from those “$15 or less” bins in the stores, consider giving those close to you a gift certificate to the movies, a restaurant, or department store so that the recipient can make choices about how to enjoy your gift.

  • Consider supporting your community’s efforts towards sustainability by volunteering.

My best friend, Dr. Tracey Manning and her colleague Dr. Barbara Shmeckpeper have create the Howard Legacy Leadership Institute on the Environment in our county. A training program for people 50 or better who are retired or who just want to volunteer to help with sustainability in their community, the program will include presentations by top earth system scientists from NASA, policy makers of environmental organizations, and Chesapeake Bay experts. The nine-month long Institute begins in January with twelve weeks of interesting discussions, questions, and small action learning groups followed by a volunteer assignment with one of the partner organizations for six hours/week for six months. Applications from Central Maryland residents are still being accepted this week. If you wish to explore starting a similar program in your community or to apply to this one, check out their website http://sites.google.com/site/hollie09/ for a model of how to engage volunteers in work that makes a difference. You may also contact coordinators Dr. Barbara Schmeckpeper, 410-381-5279 or Cathy Hudson, 410-796-7232. Both can be reached at HocoLLIE@gmail.com.


Do simple, repeatable actions and occasionally some special projects that increase sustainability on the personal, interpersonal, and global levels.

Susan Robison

References: Riscard, J.F. (2002). High noon: 20 global problems, 20 years to solve them. New York: Basic Books.

2. BossWoman coaching

About the publisher: Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a professional coach, speaker, author and seminar leader. She loves to coach women who want improvement in:

  • work-life balance,
  • career transitions,
  • building your business or practice,
  • time management,
  • increasing productivity.

If you are feeling stuck on the way to your ideal life, give Susan a call for a complementary half-hour coaching session.

She provides keynotes and seminars to business and organizations on the topics of:

  • leadership strategies for women,
  • relationships,
  • work-life balance,
  • change.

She offers her audiences a follow-up coaching session because she knows that workshops don’t work.

Contact Susan for your coaching, speaking, or seminar needs at Susan@BossWoman.org or at 410-465-5892.

3. Up and coming workshops

I am currently accepting speaking invitations for work/life balance and leadership workshops for the spring and summer of 2009. Contact me if your group needs a speaker on any of the topics listed above.

Title: “Facilitating Individual and Organizational Change in Environmental Sustainability”
Date: February 26, 2009
Place: Howard Legacy Leadership Institute on the Environment http://sites.google.com/site/hollie09/

To start receiving the BossWoman e-Newsletter send an email with “Please send BossWoman” in the Subject to: Susan@BossWoman.org. To stop receiving send an email with “Stop BossWoman” in the Subject to: Susan@BossWoman.org.

BossWoman e-Newsletter is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Coaching should not be construed as a form of, or substitute for, counseling, psychotherapy, legal, or financial services.

© Copyright 2008 Susan Robison. All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site without the publisher’s permission.

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