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Are You Setting Yourself Up For Success?

Be aware… it is possible to keep yourself so busy helping others solve their problems that you successfully avoid facing your own.

Focusing on others instead of yourself is common a type of procrastination; one that brings you happiness because you are doing a good deed.  The short term benefits are obvious but the long term result is that you can remain stagnant and often in unhealthy situations.  Procrastination doesn’t make problems go away.  Delaying or avoiding taking action creates an opportunity for problems to intensify.

Altruism is fabulous and I am by no means suggesting that you stop helping people.  What I am suggesting is that you explore if there are added benefits to keeping yourself busy in this way.  Get really clear on ALL the reasons why you are making your choices.  See if this means you have no time to move forward in your own life.  I suggest you consider what this is costing you and find a healthy balance.

Living in this way is justifiable, just not helpful, to you.  What you are avoiding can be terrifying to face because it means you will be exploring what you may have been sweeping out of your consciousness and pretending would go away.  It may also feel nauseating if you have never attempted this before.  Maybe it is slightly paralyzing to you because you have not been able to conquer a specific issue in the past.  Whatever the reason, you may be avoiding without knowing it or you may be fully aware.  The bottom line is that the known often makes sense, even if it is making you unhappy or causing you pain, and change brings unknowns.  I suggest that you get completely clear on the negative effect of not changing.  What is it costing you today and how will that evolve if you keep avoiding it?  On the flip side what are the long term benefits that are waiting for you if you start to make changes now?

What you may not realize is that by continuing to help solve other peoples’ problems instead of working on your own; you also choosing to help others live their life, in place of living your own.  If you do NOT want to wake up a year from now wondering where the time has gone and still struggling with the same issues I suggest you start to take action.  Pushing your challenges aside can easily lead to months, years or a lifetime of staying in an unhealthy situation.  Stalling is a waste of time and can take a heavy toll on you.  Unfortunately you can’t get time back but you can stop repeating patterns that are not serving you and change the future.

Are you getting in your own way?  What do you want to do about it?

~ Action Ideas and Tips ~

Awareness that this could be going on will help you to recognize when you are doing so.  

When you see it happening start by asking yourself, “What am I avoiding?”

Next start to fill in the reason why.  

When you feel stuck your mind is most likely asking you questions like…

  • Is this the “right” time to make a change?
  • What if I fail?
  • What if change makes my life worse?
  • What if I am right about my worst fear?
  • What is the worst case scenario if I don’t do anything?

To provide a little impetus and inspiration I suggest you ask yourself a few more…

  • Will there ever really be a “right” time?
  • Am I getting in my own way?
  • What if I succeed?
  • What is the best case scenario if I figure this out?
  • What will life be like a year from now if I do nothing?

Remember…you deserve to be happy but you have to believe it, make choices that support you and take action.

~ Something to Think About ~

Whether You Think You Can or Think You Can Not, You Are Correct.~ Author Unknown

 


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Feeling Overcommitted & Stressed Out?

Seattle

On a beautiful Sunday morning a few weeks ago I woke up in a panic thinking about my upcoming schedule of commitments and my very long to-do list.   Once again I found myself overcommitted and my anxiety was building.  Have you been there?

Immediately I could see the red flags.  I was exhausted and overwhelmed with no true down time in sight.  I was unsure of what to do because I feared disappointing others.  In the past, my solution would be a “you can do this” pep talk and then push through.  This choice came with repercussions that typically left me feeling drained to the point where it seemed like I was crashing straight into a wall.  Rushing through everything and happily checking off the proverbial boxes, I sailed through the motions in a zombie like fashion.   Exhausted and unable to connect or engage with what I was doing prevented me from fully enjoying the moment.

This time was different.  I recognized the situation and knew the consequences.  Before I always believed that when I committed to anything, I had to stick with it, no matter what the cost.  Challenging this belief I realize this is not always the case.   It was ok to lighten up on myself and my schedule by setting more realistic expectations.

My next challenge was that I wanted to do most of the items on my schedule, so deciding what to cancel or postpone was not going to be an easy task.  Upon examination, it became clear that very few items on my “to-do list” had to be done as quickly as I originally thought.  Self imposed expectations and deadlines are hard to let go because I, like most people, are either anxious to reach the finish line or fear others will not approve my choices or be upset with me.  These can be powerful drivers with personal consequences.  Choosing what means the most to me and giving a little on my expectations allowed me to start cutting back on things.

As I cancelled plans and explained why, I found that others seemed to understand.   At times people were not overjoyed with my decisions, yet often they were not fazed at all.  In the end, I found relief which allowed me to be connected to my life and my energy level increased, too.  I broke free of survival mode, to enjoy my life again.

You have four weeks left of summer.  What changes do you want to make so you can truly ENJOY them

 

Action Ideas and Tips:

Next time you feel overcommitted try the steps below to find relief.

Step 1:  Stop & Evaluate the Situation

Ask yourself… 

  • How did I become overcommitted?
  • Is moving forward as planned worth the long term consequences?
  • What really really feels right to me versus what is based on others expectations?
  • What is most important to me?
  • What do me want to be different?

Step 2:  Explore the Reality & Possibilities

Ask yourself… 

  • Even though these are things that I want to get done now, what can be postponed for sanity sake?
  • What am I doing because I fear of disappointing others?
  • In the worst case scenario, if I made adjustments what could happen?  How likely is this?  How would I handle it?

Step 3: Make Choices & Adjustments  

Remember when we talked about Suzy Welch’s decision making tool called 10 10 10, which stands for 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years?  It suggests that when you are faced with tough decisions you consider the outcomes and consequences of your choices beyond the immediate, to see the, mid and long term effects as well.  Stepping out of the moment, where reactive decisions are made, and thinking through this in relation to your values allows you to make hard choices with a lot more clarity.

 


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Journalling Gave Me an Unexpected Gift You Can Give Yourself, Too!

Rodin's ~ The Thinker

I would have never believed my journals would ultimately become my most prized possession when I started journaling 5-years ago.  When I was recently asked, “What is your most prized possession, not a person but an object?” it clicked in me how valuable they had become to me and how lucky I am to have started this practice.  It was also confirmed that others feel the same.

Journaling allows me to take the thoughts, concerns, frustrations and fears that fly around in my head and give them a home to live and breathe.  It is safe place to express whatever I am feeling, work through concerns and divulge my desires without judgement.  It provides time and space to sit with my thoughts, and to connect to what matters most to me.  As a result I make clearer decisions.

I started journalling after my mom died, when a dear friend gave me a gorgeous soft brown leather journal embossed with a heart on the cover.  She works with hospitalized children and explained to me how journaling provides her patients a safe and helpful place to process the thoughts and emotions they were experiencing.   Even though journaling was foreign to me, I was drawn to the concept because I was going through the most difficult time in my life and it was a way to help me move forward.

Eventually, The Artist Way inspired me to make it a daily ritual.  Instead of sporadically capturing my thoughts and ideas, I was challenged to journal every morning for 3 pages.  At first I was a little skeptical about doing this EVERY day.  I remember thinking, what would I write about?  Do I really need to write every day?  Finally, I realized I didn’t need an earth shattering revelation every day.  Often I journal about what happened the day before or what I want out of today.  I have found that the daily ritual leads to my breakthroughs and I frequently learn from the days that I initially thought were less interesting.

How does journaling help me?    Overall, I know for sure that journaling helps see life differently and thinking through things in this way is calming.  Through journaling I am able to release many of my frustrations and process the emptiness created through the loss of my mom.  On days I feel confused or mad about anything I can reach for my journal, which has become a healthier way to work through my raw emotions and connect to solutions.  When I hear something that is thought provoking or inspirational, I preserve the thought in my journal.   It keeps me sane when life gets crazy and I whole heartedly believe that the 20 minutes a day I spend journaling is time well spent.

Similar to my favorite novels, I smile, laugh and cry when read back through my journals.  It is eye opening and motivational to see how I have evolved.  They capture the details of my journey and the memories I may have forgotten.   When I am working towards a goal, my journals provide insight for why I am avoiding taking action.  I can explore and see life more clearly as I learn from my experiences and celebrate how far I have come.

How often do you take time to think beyond what is in front of you?  How different do you think your life would be if you were able to be more proactive and less reactive?  Journaling creates time for you to be with your thoughts.

 

Action Ideas and Tips:

I admit, in the beginning journaling can feel a little odd.  I remember looking for the “right way” to journal.  The perfectionist in me wanted my journals to “look neat” and I was concerned that I could not tear out a page when I made a “mistake”.  There was also the fear that others would read my “private” thoughts.  What I found is that there is no “right way” to journal, done is better than perfect, and the benefits outweighed my fears.  Here are 5 easy tips to help you get started.

Tip 1-   Try it for 28 days

Trust me, if you put yourself into journaling you will get a lot out of it.  All you need is a place to capture your thoughts.  I suggest a fun journal that you can find at any bookstore or office supply store but don’t let that stop you from starting as a notebook or your computer can work too.  You may be asking why 28 days?  Research shows that is how long it takes to create a habit.

Tip 2 – Create time in your schedule

I suggest journaling first thing in the morning. This provides a very effective and refreshing way to start the day as everyday life is less likely to get in the way.  Some people have success journaling at lunch, before they go to bed, on their commute home, etc..  What I strongly suggest is that you find consistent time and make it routine.

Tip 3 – Find a place free of distractions

Set yourself up to resist temptation and avoid others.  Remember this is your time to be with your thoughts and ideas.  A few of the common distractions are the TV, computers and other people. Try to pick a place free of distractions.

Tip 4 – Choose either a time or a page goal

Most people spend about 20 minutes a day journaling, but it is completely up you.  I suggest starting with a goal for the number of pages that you want to accomplish each day or a time limit and then adjust as necessary until you find what works best for you.

Tip 5 – Start writing

The best advice I received was to write my stream of consciousness.  Forget about creating perfection and don’t worry about editing, spelling or punctuation.  Simply write out the voice that is thinking out loud in your mind, whatever comes to you even if it is… I can’t think of what to write or I need to get x, y and z done today.  Trust me it will evolve from there.


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Do You Remember a Time When Your Life Was Not Busy?

If  your answer is no, you are not alone!  I use to tell myself that once I complete (fill in the blank) or get through (fill in the blank), my life will slow down and I would have time to do what I really wanted to do.  I whole heartedly believed this to be true.  After years of putting my needs and desires on hold, I began to feel like a broken record when speaking of why I was not doing (fill in the blank).  Frustrated and feeling unconnected to my life challenged me to search my past to find a time when I didn’t feel like I was not sprinting through life.  I was surprised that I could not remember a time when my life was even a relaxing jog.

It hit me that I had been telling myself a big fat lie!  When I accepted that my life would continue to be busy, most likely for many decades, it enabled me to shift my perspective and drastically change the decisions I was making.  It brought oxygen to my lungs.   Negative health effects (like: a scalable need for a new wardrobe, the inability to run a blocks with out praying for relief and emotionally feeling like a water balloon about to be dropped) had snuck up on me slowly but in hindsight it was no mystery how they came about.  I had gradually stopped taking care of myself physically, mentally or emotionally and I knew if I didn’t start to make new choices it was only going to get worse.  I decided I was no longer willing to put everyone and everything in front of my present and my future.  I moved my health, and other things that keep me sane, to the TOP of MY priority list.  I started to explore new ways to live in my busy life and became much healthier and happier.

Suzy Welch developed one of my favorite decision making tools that I use personally and suggest to my clients.  Her powerful and thought provoking process is called 10 10 10, which stands for 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years.  In essence it suggests that when you are faced with a tough decision you consider the outcome and consequences of your choices in the the near, mid and long term.  Thinking through this in relation to your values allows you to make hard choices with a lot more clarity.  What I love about this technique is that it provides a simple framework to step out of the moment, where reactive decisions are made, so you can see a broader view.  People often don’t consider, or worse ignore, the mid and long term consequences and sometimes the impact can be irreversible.  Using this technique allows you to better understand your choices, so you can make proactive decision with greater clarity.

If you want to explore examples on how people have used 10 10 10 you can pick up Suzy Welch’s book or get in contact with me.  I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think!  I would love to hear your stories.

 


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The Next Best Thing to A Crystal Ball!

I was 10 years old when I watched the first Rocky movie with my Dad.  I remember being impressed that Rocky Balboa’s determination enabled him to overcome so many obstacles to survive 15 rounds in the ring with Apollo Creed.  Today as I sit ringside, I am even more impressed as I watch my Dad in the fight of his life with cancer.  I want to share with you some of the lessons he has taught me through this experience.

I call my Dad the bionic man.  Over the last two years I have watched him battle lung cancer, which spread to the left adrenal gland, then to his right adrenal gland and now to his liver.  In addition to having cancer he has diabetes and hypertension, and 10 years ago he had a kidney transplant.  He has had so many surgeries, treatments and tests, that I am convinced he is responsible for funding the new wing at his local hospital.  My dad has been in the ring fighting for his life and every time something tries to knock him down, he gets back up and keeps fighting.  His vast array of medical challenges adds  a layer of complexity for his treatment including the  numerous doctors which help keep him alive and at last count the 24 pills plus insulin he takes each day!  It seems like new issues, complications and set backs are common and I am continually impressed that with each round in the ring my Dad has responded like a champion.  His attitude and strength is a true inspiration.

My Dad, who is a sharp minded and detail oriented engineer, has taught me that in the game of life, you have to be your own head coach, especially when it comes to your health.  The team you put together is either going to win or lose the game for you.  When picking your quarterbacks (key doctors), players (the cadre of other doctors) and special teams (surgeons and nurses)  the key is to find players  you trust.  At the end of the day, nobody will care about winning quite like you do since you have the most to lose.  As the coach, you are the hub of communication.  Dad carries around his play book (records) to help everyone understand his unique situation.  It includes: a list of his medications, dates of his surgeries, doctors names and numbers, results of his tests, diet information etc…  It is up to you to make sure you understand and can communicate the information to your  team so they can do their best.

My Dad has often said that if he had a mulligan in life he would have been more diligent about his own health earlier.   Although he cannot go back in time, this knowledge can help us change our lives.  The priorities that seemed to get in my Dad’s way (family, career, etc…) were  really no different than  what we face today.  Proactively taking care of your health before any issues arise can make all the difference in the world.  If my Dad’s health had been a priority in his 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, he would have made different life choices and life may have been easier for him today.  I know how much time he spends in the hospital, taking tests, going to doctors appointments, visiting the pharmacist, etc…  and seeing this first-hand has motivated me to pay closer attention to my own health.  Now  I am more aware of the effect of stress, nutrition and exercise.  My Dad never expected managing his health  would be his full-time job in retirement. I hope you don’t let it become yours.

If you continued down your current health path, what possibilities do you see in your crystal ball?  What lessons can you learn from your family?  Through our daily choices we all have the ability to proactively take care of ourselves better and avoid future health issues.  How could you be choosing better?  How do you intend to take action?  I suggest you start with will one small change and continually build from there.

 


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“Calgon Take Me Away!”

Do you remember the old television ad …..

“The traffic… the boss… the baby… the dog.  That does it… Calgon take me away!…”

Do you ever feel like the woman in the Calgon ad… surrounded by stress and in serious need of a break?  If you do then I suggest you find way to take a vacation.  People often ask me how I have been able to travel as much as I do.  Here are three things Dave and I did to make our most recent dream trip a reality:

1.  Decide when, why and where?

There is rarely going to be the ideal time to take a vacation but there are always better times than others so that is where we start our planning.  Once this has been determined, we look at what our overall goals are for the trip and decide what our top priorities are (cost, climate, travel time, etc..).

Are you craving adventure or a beautiful beach?  How far are you willing to travel?  What is your budget?  Being clear on what you are flexible on and what you are not will help you find your location.

In January we looked at our calendars and for various reasons determined we wanted to get away in March but we were flexible.  I knew with certainty that I wanted to go to a unique, peaceful place that we had never been before.  Since this would be our honeymoon we were willing to splurge a little, too.  Dave has always dreamed of going to the South Pacific and the thought of spending time in those idyllic overwater bungalows eventually led us to Bora Bora and Moorea.

2.  Find an expert to help you with your research.

The internet enables us to plan a trip with out the help of an expert.  What I have learned is planning a trip alone can be frustrating and extremely time consuming and there is benefits to using a multi prong approach when planning a trip.

For Bora Bora and Moore we started off talking to a few people who had been there and  looked at books to get an idea of the type of experience we were looking for.  Then we found a couple travel agents to help us.  When we started to receive possible itineraries, the cost became clearer and  we both choked up a bit.  We quickly looked at it as a puzzle to solve and an opportunity to get creative.  I started to research options to make the trip more reasonable.  We were able to save a third of the total cost of the trip by using miles for our airfare and we also found lower hotels rates and opportunities to upgrade.  When you are flexible and willing to compromise on things that are less important, like traveling in April instead of March, it is amazing the opportunities you will be able to find.  Working with a great travel agent saved us a lot of time.

3.  Commit and then plan your life around your trip.

Once you have an itinerary, it was time to draw a line in the sand.  Deciding and committing are the most important steps to taking a vacation.  As we all know, goals and deadlines are powerful motivators.  When you are working towards that prize in the distance, it enables you to start thinking about how you going to get there.  When you are excited about where you are going it becomes easier to put yourself on a budget, spend a few extra hours working each week, etc…

In my experience, once we decide and commit by buying airline tickets and putting money down, everything else starts to work itself out.  To me there is no other option.  I knew this vacation was going to be a stretch for us from both a time and financial standpoint.  Even though we did not know how we were going to make it happen, we believed it was possible.  We were willing to make sacrafices and be flexible to figure it out.   As one of favorite quotes states….  “whether you think you can or think you can not-you are right” Henry Ford.

I believe people cannot afford to NOT take vacations.  With a quick Google search you will see that countless studies show that people who take regular time to relax have less stress, are less likely to experience burn out and their overall job performance increases.  A few other interesting findings in my research show that women who take vacations are more satisfied in their marriages and men have a 20% decrease in their risk of death.  Finally all work and no play can come at a steep price. When vacations are not taken, health problems arise including but not limited to hypertension, depression, obesity and diabetes.  It doesn’t matter if you are taking a once in a life time trip or a staycation, the key is to take a break from your norm and relax.

Need I say more?   I can’t wait to hear about your trip!

What do you think?  Add you comments below.

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Are You Setting Yourself Up For Success?

Be aware… it is possible to keep yourself so busy helping others solve their...
article post

Feeling Overcommitted & Stressed Out?

On a beautiful Sunday morning a few weeks ago I woke up in a panic thinking about my...
article post

Journalling Gave Me an Unexpected Gift You Can Give Yourself, Too!

I would have never believed my journals would ultimately become my most prized possession...
article post

Do You Remember a Time When Your Life Was Not Busy?

If  your answer is no, you are not alone!  I use to tell myself that once I complete...
article post

The Next Best Thing to A Crystal Ball!

I was 10 years old when I watched the first Rocky movie with my Dad.  I remember being...
article post

“Calgon Take Me Away!”

Do you remember the old television ad ….. “The traffic… the boss… the...
article post