Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summertime and the Livin's Easy!

Two summers ago I went on a cruise with my family. Five days of relaxation and fun in the sun. Just being on the cruise would have been enough but I decided I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something fun and new. So I went parasailing in Key West, a first for me. And, I went horseback riding in Cozumel, something I hadn’t done since elementary school!

I had several wonderful experiences that I would have never had if I had stayed comfortably in my comfort zone. I ventured out and had a blast. None of my family went parasailing but several went horseback riding. We created some wonderful memories that day!

Summer is upon us. We have warm weather and the longest days of the year to look forward to. The kids are out of school, vacations are scheduled and beaches, amusement parks, and lakes abound. Enjoy this time. Take advantage of this time. Be comfortable but also do something that takes you out of that comfort zone.

Jet ski, go the mountains instead of the beach or the beach instead of the mountains, take a day trip or a weekend excursion to some place you’ve always wanted to visit but never got around to, sing karaoke. Do something new, do something different, do something you haven’t done since childhood!

Do something!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Front and Center

Here we are approaching the 6th month of 2010. When you look at the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of 2010, how are you doing? The business and busy-ness of life often gets in our way and stops us from making progress on our goals. I would argue that the busy-ness and not money and not time is the number one reason we don’t pursue our goals.

I’m not suggesting that anyone abandon the kids, leave the spouse and quit the day job to pursue their passion, but I am suggesting that you make some time for your dreams and your goals. You need to make what’s important to you a priority at least some of the time.

Here are some suggestions for doing just that.

Make the time. I’m not asking for a day or even an entire afternoon but somewhere in your week, you need to find at least an hour to pursue your passion. Depending on what it is, you might need more time and that’s fine. Regardless, look at your week and find the time.

If you can’t find the time, make it. Ask your spouse to fix dinner. Work out an arrangement with a friend where you can look after each other’s children while the other gets some much needed ‘me’ time. Get creative if you have to but you can figure out something.

Write it down. I live and die by my To Do list. So much so that if I write it down, I have to do it. I hate getting to the end of the day and having an item that hasn’t been crossed off. If you share my compulsive craziness for list making, on the day when you have made the time to pursue your goal, write it down. Trust me, you’ll do it. I put exercise on my list every day and I cross it out just about every day.

Tell a Taskmaster. If you have a friend, co-worker or family member that is good at holding you accountable, share your goal with them and tell them you want them to hold you to it. It helps if this is a person you talk to or interact with on a daily basis.

Savor it. When you finally make the time and commit to doing what you said you were going to do, enjoy it. Savor that feeling of accomplishment you have when you complete that work out or get to the end of the day and realize that you did it without a cigarette. Savor the feeling of enjoyment and satisfaction you get when you have made the time for a hobby or favorite activity. Really get into that run or that hike or taking those pictures or decorating that cake.

It’s never too late to start. Take that first step today. Start making your dreams come true.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2 Eyes, 2 Ears, 1 Mouth

My Dad used to tell me, "You have two eyes, two ears and one mouth, so you should watch and listen twice as much as you talk." A lot of us, myself included like to do the reverse. We like to talk twice as much as we watch and listen. Yet, there is a serious lesson we can learn from Dad.

Words, in the right hands, can inform, inspire and enlighten. Words, in the wrong hands, can deceive and mislead. Even those without nefarious intent can manipulate words, but the truths can be revealed through carefully and objectively watching their actions and really listening to what they say.

We've all heard the adage that actions speak louder than words and they do. Often we don't want to honestly evaluate what those actions are saying because it would lead to disappointment or heartbreak. So we close our eyes and plug our ears to the truth.

What are you looking for with your two eyes? You are looking for congruency. You are looking for actions that support what the person is saying. Do they do what they said they would do? Do they keep the promises they make? Are their actions in line with their words?

What are you listening for with your two ears? Are they constantly explaining themselves or justifying their behaviors? Are they really supporting you or are their words subtly (or not so subtly) discouraging or hurtful? Have you caught them in lies? Have you caught them backtracking or double-talking? Have they spoken the truth and told you how they feel and you just didn't want to hear it?

Sometimes the truth of a situation or a person's character or desires is right in front of us, we just refuse to see or hear it. At work, you see some questionable charges and your co-worker has been caught taking some expensive equipment home. She tells you she's got approval from the boss, but you can't see him giving her permission to do what she's doing. Yet, you believe her ... even though your gut tells you different. You see her questionable actions and you hear her flimsy explanations but you trust her anyway. You are letting her one mouth take precedence over what your eyes have seen and your ears have heard.

You are dating someone. You two are really connecting. You immediately see the potential in this 'relationship.' At dinner, he tells you, he really likes you but he's not looking for anything serious right now. He's said it loud and clear. Yet, you stop seeing other people and make yourself available to him exclusively. Several months down the line, you get upset when a friend tells you she saw him out with someone else. He was honest, but you chose not to hear his words.

We have to know what to look and listen for, but even more than that, we also have to be courageous enough to see what we see and hear what we hear and act accordingly.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What Is Life?

I attended a seminar recently and came across what I’m about to share with you. I tried to find out who originally wrote it. I’ve seen it attributed most frequently to Mother Teresa but I’m not so sure she wrote it. But I love it and I send my gratitude to whoever penned in!

Life is a challenge. Meet it.
Life is a gift. Accept it.
Life is an adventure. Dare it.
Life is a sorrow. Overcome it.
Life is a tragedy. Face it.
Life is a duty. Perform it.
Life is a game. Play it.
Life is a mystery. Unfold it.
Life is a song. Sing it.
Life is an opportunity. Take it.
Life is a journey. Complete it.
Life is a promise. Fulfill it.
Life is a love. Enjoy it.
Life is a beauty. Praise it.
Life is a spirit. Realize it.
Life is a struggle. Fight it.
Life is a puzzle. Solve it.
Life is a goal. Achieve it!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Recession Lessons?

There is an Allstate commercial I’ve seen frequently for a while now. In an ad called The Best Things in Life (view it here), Allstate spokesman (and former 24 President) Dennis Haysbert talks about the lessons that we’ve learned from the recession.

He says, “Who’s around the TV is more important than how big it is. Cars are not about showing how far we’ve come but for taking us where we need to go.” I understand what he’s saying but I’m not sure if we’ve really learned those lessons.

Kim, a good friend of mine, and her husband run a blog called Recession Lessons and she uses it to post great deals and incredible bargains. Kim is a huge advocate of coupons but when she broached the topic on her Facebook page, there was an immediate backlash to the idea of clipping coupons. Many people didn’t want to appear poor or look as if they were in need. Saving money was not as important as appearing as if they had money.

In spite of pay cuts and unemployment, a former co-worker and her husband are still willing to bend over backwards to make sure that their 15-year-old son has the latest and greatest i-Phone, X-Box or other electronic gadget as soon as it comes out. This is a source of pride for them.

I think the lessons he talks about in the commercial area admirable and if even a sizable minority of us learn them, we’ve made an impact. Here are some lessons, I’d like us (as a nation) to learn:
  1. Put People First: People matter much more than things. Cars depreciate, neighborhoods evolve, fashions change. Good friends and strong positive relationships never go out of style. Treasure them!
  2. It’s Who You Are NOT What You Have: A 60” TV is nice but it’s not necessary. As the Allstate commercials says it’s who is sitting with you watching TV and not the size of that TV that matters.
  3. Have an Attitude of Gratitude: Look around and be thankful for what you have because you have more than you think. I’m not saying not to want more or better, but be appreciative of what you have.
  4. Budgets Work: There is nothing wrong with having a budget, shopping sales or using coupons. Saving money should never fall out of fashion.
I guess I’m curious. What have you learned from this recession? What habits have you changed, altered or given up? Do you expect to go back to your old habits when things get better?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Step to Success

The Chinese proverb says it best, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” One step, and then another, and then another after that, it’s a series of small steps. The trouble is that we focus on the finish line before we even start the journey.

We get overwhelmed.”It’s a thousand miles! That’s over two million steps.”
We over think it. “What kind of shoes do I need and how many pairs will I go through? What about rain?”
We make it big, impossibly big. “1,000 miles is the distance from New York City to Daytona Beach, Florida!”

We need to take our thinking in the opposite direction. Think small. Small is doable. Small is realistic. Small actions can yield big results.

Whether it is paying off credit card debt, getting a degree, lowering cholesterol, or finding a soul mate, you have to start somewhere. You have to take the first step, and then the next step and then the step after that.

Little steps are deceptive because they are small and by themselves, they don’t seem like much of anything. One credit card payment seems like a minuscule drop in a very big bucket, but those drops can add up quickly. A pound of weight loss might not seem like much, but one pound will lead to another and another and soon, you’ll see a big difference.

Take small steps. Do not dismiss them. Make the goal smaller, too. In the journey of a thousand miles, set 10 mile, 50 mile and 100 mile milestones. Create small successes along the way and work towards those.

Take a step. Do it today. Take another tomorrow. And another, the day after that. You get the point. : )

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Have Something to Tell You...

You’re amazing!

Really you are. I just thought I should tell you.

If I asked you to list all of your faults, shortcomings and mistakes. You wouldn’t miss a beat, you’d start rattling them off immediately. If I asked you to write them down, you could fill pages.

Yet, if I asked you to list all of your strengths and successes, you’d pause for a second. Then when you finally did begin to speak, you wouldn’t be speaking for long. You wouldn’t start scribbling furiously like you did when I asked you to write out your successes either and your list would be a lot shorter.

We live rather intimately with our shortcomings. Like a security blanket, they are always close by. We replay our mistakes and missteps in our heads over and over again. We relive our biggest failures in bold bright colors.

We own our losses and disown our wins. We blame our successes on luck. We allow other people to take more credit than they deserve. We downplay our efforts and hard work. One of the things I do frequently as a coach is remind people of their successes. I point out what has gone right and what they have done correctly. And even still people are reluctant to accept the praise and the acknowledgement.

When I point out all the hard work and effort it took for them to succeed, when I show them the talent and the tenacity they’ve displayed, they literally have to take a moment to take it all in. It’s truly an aha moment.

In your life, you have graduated high school, maybe college. You put in the time and the hard work. You have managed a successful marriage or had the courage to leave a bad one. You've raised great kids. You've been promoted. You've received raises. You have great friends. You have learned to stand up for yourself. You have taken the time to find out what matters most to you. I could go on and on. And, if you stop to think about it, so can you.

On the ladder of success, there is always another rung to climb, and we are always climbing. As soon as we’ve made one step up, we immediately begin to tackle the next. It’s a good idea to stop climbing occasionally and take a look back down to see just how many rungs you’ve climbed, you are probably a lot higher up than you think.

Savor your successes for a moment … then continue the climb.