Welcoming In Spring Changes

Today it was windy. It was one of those days where you don’t plan a hair style and you certainly don’t wear a hat or scarf because it would be four towns over before you could even think about trying to catch it. I know there’s the old saying about March how it can “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb” or “come in like a lamb and go out like a lion,” while the saying for April is supposed to be “April showers bring May flowers.” So while I’m glad it was a sunny day, it made me think of these sayings as well as one that fit better: the winds of change are coming.

I think we’re at the right time of year to really embrace change. Yes, there are different periods of time during the year that we talk about change more, and one of them is in the spring time with all the exciting new life around us. With this new month we’re also entering the second quarter of 2019, if you can believe the year is moving ahead that quickly. So now is a great time to not only be open to but also excited about changes that could be happening in your life.

Change happens for many different reasons, sometimes because we really encourage it to move forward, other times because we’ve taken actions that have put changes in motion, other times because the world around us is changing and growing, and sometimes there’s no real direction from change other than to see that it’s happening. I’ve been doing some planning and working ahead in anticipation of some things I already know are coming up this month and I’m open to change happening, so we’ll see if that brings along positive changes and improvements.

What about you? Could you use some ‘winds of change’ in your life, relationship or career?

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The Highway of Life

The other day I was driving down a 3 lane highway and had multiple cars come up quickly behind me in the middle lane and stay behind me. I was driving a little above the speed limit similar to other cars on the road, and while there were other cars on the road there weren’t so many that they couldn’t easily move to another lanes. You’ve probably experienced this, right? That there just doesn’t really seem to be a good reason for someone to be that close to the back of your car, not moving into another available lane, not to mention the drivers who consistently weave fast through several lanes of traffic.

Having this happen several times throughout a course of several days got me thinking about how we live our lives. We could talk about the issue some people have of rushing and never being on time for things. We could talk about how fast-paced life is and how much faster some people try to live it. We could talk about the inconsiderate nature of people expecting others to just get out of their way. Today what I wanted to talk about is in line with that last one, it’s about having multiple lanes in the highway of life.

I believe that there’s almost always more than one way to get things done, to get to a destination, to become successful, to improve yourself, or to work through an issue, with the most obvious exception being that of salvation through Jesus (that’s a one-way street). I believe that we should always have a ‘plan b’ and an alternative plan or direction if things don’t go as expected (and sometimes a ‘plan c’ and ‘plan d’). I don’t believe it’s smart to rely on one source of income unless you’re in an absolutely recession proof career. I believe you can be committed to just one partner (one marriage) as long as you are both on the same page about being committed to really working things through, tackling necessary changes, talking often, and working together.

With as many resources and options as are available to us, there’s no reason for us to force others to live our way or get in line with how we do things, nor should we expect them to. We also should not feel cornered or stuck in one option and not, at the very least, be aware of the options. Our life journeys can be full and rich, or they can be filled with frustration because we tried to do things one way and only one way when the fact of the matter is life is changing at a very rapid pace that doesn’t allow us to live in the past.

I would encourage you to take a minute and consider if you’re living life trying to force others into your way of living, if you’re feeling restricted by your current life path or if you’re trying to get things done in a way that isn’t truly productive. If any of those are true, I would encourage you to look into options and start opening up your mind to alternatives that are healthier and more satisfying for you and others.

New Year’s Analysis

I don’t do new year’s resolutions. I don’t find the new year to always be the most effective time to start something new or make such a big change. It works well for some people, but unfortunately too often the idea of new year’s resolutions doesn’t live up to the potential. Most of us do better with more concrete motivation than just a ‘new year.’ For example, people get in shape when faced with the upcoming summer outdoor season, they work on relationships when faced with a holiday or big life event, and they clean the house when they know company’s coming. That said, even if you do make a new year’s resolution, it doesn’t mean that you have to do it all year long, you may make the change in the next few weeks and not have to working on fixing it for the next 11 months.

So if you’re not into resolutions, or even if you are, the new year is a great time to evaluate where your life is at and what does need to change, whether the time is right to change things now or it’s coming up in the future. We don’t always take the time to do a serious evaluation of our lives, habits, relationships and plans, but a new year with a fresh and empty calendar, can be a great time to do so. A big part of dealing with dissatisfaction and making improvements in our lives has to do with taking the time to really evaluate where we’re at and exactly what the issue or cause is.

So this week I would encourage you to take some time to really think about what’s frustrating you or what you would like to improve or how you want to grow or ways that you’re hindering yourself. Take the time to write down each of these things and explore a little around the feelings, actions, reactions, frequency and situations of each and how they’re impacting your life. Maybe this list will motivate you to make changes or at least plan for changes in the near future, but even if it doesn’t I bet it will reveal some interesting things to you. What will you learn from a little introspection analysis?

30 Days of Thanksgiving: fresh starts

While many people struggle with change, it’s a fact of life, and sometimes the best thing is to have a fresh start. I’ve got several clients right now who are in the process of major life changes, and all around the US are people who are being handed a “fresh start” by the fires, hurricanes and other natural disasters that happened this past year. Fresh starts are opportunities, but they’re not without their growing pains.

I was talking with someone who had been to California on business recently and they were saying that they would get tired of not really having seasons anymore, as here in the Northeast we’ve got 4 every year. I think life is similar that most of us need change and variety in our lives, we aren’t at our healthiest or happiest if we’re not growing and changing. Maybe that’s typically just going out to new restaurants and doing new activities, but sometimes it means big fresh starts like job or relationship changes.

I’m thankful that in 2018 it’s easier to have a fresh start than ever before, and it’s also more accepted by society to do so. It often comes down to how willing are you to make those changes and get a fresh start in your life. It’s easy enough to just keep things status quo and just accept that life isn’t all you hoped it would be, but in this day and age there’s no reason that it has to be that way.

This Thanksgiving as you think about all the things you’re thankful for, I encourage you to take time to think about what you might want to be thankful for next Thanksgiving. How do you want your life to be different? What fresh starts do you want to be thankful for? What do you want to be thankful for that has been left behind in your life? What new people do you want gathered around you’re table that you’re thankful for? What fresh start will you start this Thanksgiving?

30 Days of Thanksgiving: thankful for change

One of the things I appreciate about this world and age we live in is our power to change.  Today many of us go through more in our lifetimes than people used to go through or experience in 2 or 3 lifetimes (or 2 or 3 people would experience in a lifetime).  I know a lot of time we complain or struggle with change, and part of that is because we’re working through so many changes at such a rapid pace and we don’t have as much time to process as we used to.

But today also so many of us have the chance to do more with our lives, to live more, see more, be more, do more than ever before. We’ve got the ability to go out and get a new job or start a business or move across the world or have our own clothing style or learn a new language or be a painter or find our perfect match in another country or cook food from a variety of countries whenever we feel like it.  We don’t have to be trapped in any situation or with any person, with just a few clicks we’ve got the ability to tap into resources and people around the world.

We’re at the beginning of a new month, a month filled with possibilities and the days and hours to bring them to fulfillment.  Think about the dreams you have for this month, the things that would make you happy this month, the things you want for yourself and your partner and/or your family.  Think about what you’ve got on your to-do list that you can and will finally cross off this month.  Think about finally taking the steps for change and betterment this month.  What good can change do in your life?

From Feeling Stuck to Freedom

Feeling stuck? Yes, we all get there at different points in time during our lives. Summer is a great time to work through being stuck because we’ve typically got some extra downtime to work with, and long drives or hours on the beach with which to do the thinking. So if you’re feeling stuck here are some things to consider:

First, start with honesty. If you’re really serious about moving past being stuck, it starts with being honest about why you’re stuck and what’s making you feel stuck. Part of that honesty is knowing whether or not you’re willing to take the necessary actions to get over being stuck, or if you’re just in need of some venting time (and there’s nothing wrong with that).

Once you’ve decided that you are ready to make changes in your life and you’re done with being stuck it may help if you journal out your feelings and situations and examples, that way you can just dump and consider each issue after you’ve gotten it all out. You may have an idea of what’s frustrating you and holding you back, but writing it out can help reveal things you didn’t even know were an issue.

Then it’s time to talk about getting free. Freedom from being stuck will include new actions you’ll include and things you’ll remove from your life. It’s not likely that you’ll just add some things to your life (like eating more fruits and vegetables), it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be removing, decreasing or stopping some things as well (like the number of times you stop for ice cream each week).

Moving forward it may be right for you to go cold turkey and make some really big changes all at once, but for other people they’re just as successful taking it one smaller step at a time. Regardless of how you do it, make sure you’ve got the support you need to do it and you’ve told the important people in your life about the change you’re making so that they can try to be considerate of the life change you’re working on. Who knows, they may want to join you in making those changes as well!

So what’s got you feeling stuck this week and what are you going to do about it?

Dealing with Difficult People

I’ve had conversations lately with some people about interpersonal relationships, especially with regards to dealing with difficult people. Sometimes you have to deal with these people because they’re coworkers or people in leadership at your job, others you can avoid or mostly avoid by not going to the same parties or events or just not being with them at the events. But before we get into dealing with these people I thought it would be important to talk about the ‘what if’ of what if you’re that difficult person?

For some people accepting or understanding that they’re the problem is difficult. Maybe they don’t realize how their words and behaviors affect others (which is usually easier to talk through) or maybe they believe they’re entitled and should be given special treatment and can treat people however they want (which means they may not care that you’re unhappy). It’s also never an easy conversation to have with someone, to tell them that they’re mean or disrespectful or inconsiderate. These types of conversations can go really poorly, they can go well and things can improve, and the conversation can go well but not lead to any real results or make any difference.

While I think everyone has room for improvement in their life, I don’t think we always have to point out to someone that there’s an issue. If it’s an issue that you can just vent to friends or family and you can just deal with it or you don’t really plan to stick around for long, you don’t really need to address it unless you really feel strongly about it.

Most people who deal with a difficult person can’t really lay down the law and be bluntly honest.  If you do it that way it’s a great way to get yourself in a lot of trouble or ruin a lot of relationships, unless that’s something you’re allowed to do, like a tough-love coach or consultant (think of Bar Rescue or some of the other TV shows with hosts who do company renovations).  In those cases they don’t have to be delicate about telling the difficult person how difficult they are. Sometimes they are completely aggressive about it, but typically they have the experience to be able to have a constructive but eye opening conversation with the difficult person about exactly how their behaviors are negatively impacting the people in their lives.

So for the rest of us, you want to address it, you’ve got a couple of options. If you think they’re receptive or they give you the opening (“I can’t understand why no one sticks around at this job?!”), you can start to bring it up and see how it goes. If you can’t wait for the potential opening and really feel that you have to say something, I would start with why you’re bothering to bring it up (for example that you’re really committed to the relationship you have with them or to the company you’re working for), tell them you’re not sure if they’re aware of it or not and politely explain how you feel, and then share some specific situations which have impacted you negatively, and what would be helpful to improving the situation.

In all honesty everyone has their difficult moments, but some people choose to make a lifestyle out of them, and some people fall into the bad habit of being difficult frequently.  I encourage you to take a moment this weekend and apologize to some people who you’re hurt recently when you were difficult, or consider if you’re one of those frequently difficult people who needs to make some changes.