An Enemy of Freedom

As we talk about the topic of freedom this month today I want to talk about the challenging topic of indecision. I talked about what indecision means in your business on my other blog, but here today I want to talk about indecision in your personal life. Let’s face it, sometimes we really stink at making decisions. I get it, we’re tired or there’s too many choices, or not enough choices, or there’s too many opinions, or we’re feeling lazy, or we don’t feel it’s really a priority. But when you don’t make a decision you actually do make a decision, it’s just not the decision you may have made if you actually made a decision. Not having an active role in making the decision leaves you up to the whims of the universe. I like a little luck in my life, but some things are too important to leave up to luck.

Indecision and decision making is an important part of freedom, because without making decisions you’ll never have the freedoms you want, or help others get to that freedom. If others are making decision for you, you may end up at what someone would consider freedom, but not what you want as your freedom in life. So if you’re really serious about having those freedoms in your life, you’re going to have to make some decisions and take action on those decisions.

If you want to beat your struggle with indecision, a really effective way is kind of a trick. Ready? Make more decisions. Yep, that sounds really dumb but if you’re consciously making more decisions you’ll learn how to make decisions through experience so when the big decisions come your way you’ll be prepared to make those decisions quicker and better.

If you’re not sure how to make a decision about something, part of that decision making practice should be to make a step-by-step plan. This should be more of a strategy or plan framework so that you can apply it to other decisions you make. It will probably include listing the options you have, researching your options, setting goals/steps, asking for or finding opinions, and trying things out, and maybe even role playing so you can get a feel for how things might go if you make a particular decision. Of course the last step of every plan or strategy you create is taking action!

As I mentioned in the last point, one of the ways you can make better and quicker decisions, and make decisions at all, is to better tap into the available resources. I hear from too many people in this internet age that they have no clue about being a parent or being in a relationship or starting a business or using social media. There’s almost no excuse for not having or getting some foundational knowledge about any topic you’re experiencing in your life with all the blogs, podcasts, videos, courses, webinars and classes available both online and offline. There are also tons of people in your physical circle as well as online that you can talk to about topics that confuse you, and give you some of the information you need to make your decisions.

But as we’ve said throughout the post today, the biggest aspect of indecision that has to be addressed is action. It’s great to make a decision, but once you make that decision you have to take action on it. Yes, sometimes that will mean you’re not taking action because you decided not to pursue the options that were presented to you, but more often than not you’ll have some things to do, buy or change as a result of the decision you’ve made. Don’t let the fear of taking action or worry about commitment be the reason you are indecisive. I encourage you to decide to choose your future today.

Making Room for Freedom

If you talk to most people and ask them if they want more freedom in their life, they’ll say yes!  Just about everyone wants a little (or a lot) more of whatever freedom means to them.  So today we’re going to take a look at a few things you can do if you want more freedom in your life.  Unfortunately they’re not as sexy or cool as the freedom will be, but if with just a little work you’re able to have that freedom, I’d say it’s worth a try.

As a small business owner I am fortunate to have a lot more flexibility in my life than someone who works a traditional 9-5 job.  But it’s still important for me to have schedules in my life and business.  Schedules help keep me on track and it’s always awesome to be able to check things off the to-do list.  Creating and sticking to a schedule means that you can schedule in the freedoms you want in your life as part of what you do on a regular basis.

We’ve all got some no-so-great habits, but if you can get control over some of those bad habits you’ll have more financial, time or relationship freedom to pursue the things you enjoy and want more of in your life.

Plan Ahead:
This is one of the biggest factors in whether or not you’re able to have more freedom in your life.  There are so many of us who live day-to-day and don’t have a whole lot of consideration for the future, certainly not a plan that we’re working on.  But if you’re able to come up with a plan for how you’re saving money, how you’re paying for upcoming big expenses, how you’re spending your time, where you want to be in the future and making a plan to achieve the freedoms you want, your future will be a lot less uncertain and you’ll be more likely to actually get to those freedoms because you’ve got a plan for how you’re going to get there.

Know your Goals:
In line with the previous point, if you don’t know your goals you can’t make a plan to accomplish them.  I know that we don’t always think about goals because we’re wrapped up in life today (including today’s issues), but tomorrow does arrive, and someday you may be wondering how you got to where you are and why you aren’t somewhere else.  If you want the freedom to say where/what your future holds, the only way to choose it is to set goals and then plan ahead and put those plans into action.

Get Organized:
One of the biggest time wasters for people who have stuff and lead busy lives is lack of organization.  Whether it’s putting things away in a rush or not putting them away at all, over time things build up pretty quick.  In line with our first point of scheduling, the same is true for our lives, if we’re not getting organized about what’s happening when and how we’re fitting it all in, it’s a lot harder to get stuff done and you’ll feel like you get less done at the end of the day.  If you’re disorganized it’s also easier to put off those things you don’t want to deal with but really need to be dealt with if you want that freedom in your life.

This weekend I encourage you to put in some effort into making room in your life for the freedoms you want, and even deciding what those freedoms are if you don’t know that yet.

A Little Quiet Health

When it comes to health we spend a lot of time talking about what to do, or the actions to take to become healthier.  In 2016 that’s a really important thing to do because of all our technology, desk jobs, TV habits and other sedentary pleasures.  Don’t get me wrong, I love those activities (I love reading), do them myself and spend a lot of my day sitting or being less mobile (it’s not great to be huffing and puffing on the phone with a client).  So it’s important that during the hours we are mobile and “doing” health activities that we really do make the most of it.

That said, just doing, blindly or not, isn’t the goal with health.  Health isn’t just about “doing” the right thing (though sometimes actions are required), it’s about a state of being, about how you feel and about how you see and interact with the world.  If you have your day scheduled from one health activity to the next you may be missing out on the opportunity to find peace and mental health.  That’s only found when you take breaks and have fun.

I know it may not seem fun to do things like meditating, napping and sitting quietly, but those times of peace and reflection help you understand your goals and if they’re really what you want or if you need to make an adjustment, and work through the challenges and situations you are experiencing in your life (rather than just reacting to them), as well as take a break from the action of the world.  Let’s be honest: when was the last time you had a good break?  Do you make time for them on a regular basis?  If not you should, even if it means you have to get a sitter for the kids or trade off with another family or your partner.  Some people choose to get up early or stay up late because that’s the best time they know to find quiet.

The other thing I mentioned was fun.  Having health means you have more opportunities for fun, and health isn’t just about ‘chores’ that have to be done.  You can make them fun family activities, like getting dinner ready together, taking hikes in the national parks near you or visiting farmer’s markets to check out new foods to try.  Health is also a great couple’s activity, like long walks, cooking classes and quiet time together.

But before you run off and get active this weekend, take some time to consider how you can work a little rest, reflection and relaxation into your life.  You’ll find it easier to get through the challenges as they happen and feel better about all the things you have to do to be healthy or become healthier.

“Ceaseless activity, constant mental and emotional commotion, is not just the avoidance of our unwanted sense of emptiness, but (it is) also complicit in its continuing cause.” Guy Finley

Reality Reflections: Failure and Loss

This week in the news we’ve been hearing lots about the Olympics.  I’ve shared some thoughts on how awesome the concept of the Olympics is (bringing people together to celebrate talents and victories we can have), but today I want to talk about the darker side of the Olympics, and I’m not talking about what happens after the games end and everyone goes home.  What I’m talking about are the countless athletes who don’t get the medals and glory for their country.  We go through a similar experience when we don’t get the job, when we don’t get the house or when we don’t get the person, so this type of loss isn’t something that is reserved for only those on a world stage.

The reality is that there are lots of talented people on this planet.  Sometimes it will be the right thing for someone else to get the victory.  Maybe you were having an off day or they were better qualified in certain ways.  Other times the other person has an unfair advantage.  Maybe the boss is sexist, maybe someone decided to point and shoot to make their decision, or maybe you just got screwed.  I would like to believe that more often than not the right person is the one who wins, but we all know that the right person doesn’t always win because most of us can think of at least one situation where you were the person who “should” win but didn’t.

So what’s the answer?  I say you should always do your very best, try your hardest and practice mentally and physically so that you have the very best chance to win or be on top.  But don’t pretend that there isn’t anyone else who could come out on top, even if you think there’s no one else in the field.  If it happens that you don’t win, figure out how you can do better next time.  Or if it happens that the loss is not talent related, congratulate them and move on to your next goal.

Reality Reflection: What do you Want?

There’s something that most of us do but don’t really have the right things in mind when doing it.  What am I talking about? Wanting.  Do you really want that jelly doughnut, or do you want something sweet in general (could be healthy like summer raspberries) but the doughnut happens to be handy, are you trying to procrastinate or avoid something by eating it, or are you ignoring what your body really wants to eat by having the doughnut?  I know, it’s a really simple example, but food is one of the areas that we’re most confused in about our real wants.

Every day we use the word “want” countless times.  ‘I want to do this.’ ‘I want that one.’ ‘I want this more than you.’ ‘I want you to do it.’ The list could go on.  And on the surface the question I bring up today is about whether or not you really want what you think you want.  But it’s also about something so much bigger and deeper.

Last Friday was the Brexit vote, something that’s still being talked about and debated, and will be for some time.  And coming up on Monday in the US we’ve got Independence Day, the day we remember when in 1776 the people of the US signed the Declaration of Independence from Britain.  My point? It would be easy for people in pre-Brexit UK or Pre-Independence Day US to say ‘I want a better job’ or ‘I want a better house’ or ‘I want to make things work better between our countries.’  And none of those things are wrong.  But the people of the UK and US in 1776 made some really big choices that they don’t want to just work on improving in the current (or what was current) situation, they want a new set of rules, new set of opportunities and future that doesn’t line up with how things are (were) going in the present.

As I said, it’s not wrong to want to improve within the confines of your current situation.  But if you have the ability to want for something more, something bigger, something different, something new, something better for not just you but many people, why wouldn’t you want that?  As we look towards the 4th in the US and the future of the UK, I encourage you to consider your life.  What do you really want from and in your life?

Make 2016 Your Year

Welcome to a new year! The year before us will be filled with lots of choices to make, people to meet, and opportunities to thrive. We’ll be faced with more choices than ever and in many ways that’s a good thing. It means that there are more ways than ever for us to stand out and be who we are without having to settle and fit into the box the world tries to fit us in. But it also means we’ll have to be more decisive than ever and more willing to stand up for what we want and what we believe is right. There’s no time like the present to stand up for ourselves, each other and the world we live in.

It’s my hope and prayer that you go into this year choosing to accept yourself, own up to your mistakes and failures, and choose to make empowering decisions each day that will allow you to love, thrive and grow in more ways than ever. Don’t let your past hold you back with fears and regrets, instead choose to move into the new year knowing that you were born with gifts and a purpose that when embraced is essential to the world becoming a better place.

Will 2016 be your year? Will you let this new year be the year you finally choose to love and accept yourself? Will it be the year when you finally move into all that you were born to be? Will you finally see the positive results of what you’ve been working on for the past few years? What are your hopes and dreams for 2016?

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”  Brené Brown

A Better Future Begins with Change Today

There are lots of bad things that happen in the world.  Some say that a violent offensive and approach is appropriate, others say that the way to change is peaceful discussions.  Regardless, something has to be done so that the future is less scary than the past and we worry less about bringing another generation into the world.

The first place to start is the cause.  If we don’t know what the cause of the unhappiness it’s very difficult to fix it or do anything about it in any way that will have lasting and positive results.  Trying to fix a leak without going to the source will always lead to more problems in the future rather than a resolution now.

Once the cause is known practical, logical and doable measures must be put into place that everyone can work with.  That doesn’t mean a free ride, or throwing a bomb to start fresh, it means tools, resources and education to empower the people to do things differently along with good leaders who can support them through the transition and into a better future, as well as judgments and punishments for those who committed crimes against humanity.

The biggest challenge of this though is that not everyone wants everyone healthy and happy.  Some people have serious issues with people groups for whatever reason and don’t have world peace as their goal but rather destruction and chaos.  Why they think that the world will be a better place with destruction and chaos I haven’t figured out yet, but I do know that the more people who choose the side of making positive change the harder it will be for those people groups to keep a foothold in the world.

Maybe the change won’t be seen today or even in your or my lifetime but if we don’t start today there’s no hope of a better future for anyone.

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”  Nelson Henderson

Imagining the Future

The past couple weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about what life holds for you and me. I received an email recently about a blogger I enjoy reading who has decided to stop publishing; somehow it didn’t occur to me that at some point in time someone I enjoy reading from would choose to pack it in. It got me thinking about life and how things change. But that’s the way life goes: we travel a path for a season and when it ends we go in a different direction. It’s not bad to end things, but we don’t always think about the end or when it’s coming. When things end all too often we’re at odds with life. We ask ourselves “what do we do now?” and “what’s next?” and we don’t have an answer.

So as I was thinking about this I was reminded how important it is to see life as a journey. Journeys aren’t made up of one part, they’re made up of stretches and seasons, of moving from place to place until the final destination (death) has been reached. The journey doesn’t end because you reach an age or an accomplishment, that’s only the end of that part of the journey, which is why it’s so important to keep the bigger picture in mind at all times and not exclude parts of your life while you’re on that part of the journey.

The other thing I was reminded about was how important it is to dream throughout our lives. We can get so wrapped up in things that we forget what it’s like to have passion and dreams. I’m not (just) talking pipe dreams and dreams of retiring to our own private island, I’m talking about the realistic ones like being in a long-term happy and healthy relationship or raising kids or making a difference in the world in a way that’s personal to you. The past 2 weeks have reminded me how little I’ve been dreaming and as a result I’ve started again. I’ve started reaching for that which makes me feel and that which excites me rather than just plodding through where I am.

What about you? Where is life taking you right now and are you prepared for the changes that are coming, or will they take you unawares?

“Einstein was entirely correct when he said that imagination is more important than knowledge. You are where you are today as a result of where you’ve allowed your imagination to take you. It either spirals you down to greater depths of despair or propels you upward to greater levels of success” Chris Howard

Productivity Plans

Summer’s here and I want you to make the most of your summer.  So today I thought I would share about productivity.  I know, it sounds strange to talk about productivity when summer is about having fun and relaxing like we talked about on Wednesday.  But let’s be honest, we’re not in school anymore where we’re guaranteed the summer off, most of us are still working.  Knowing how to be productive is important especially in the summer because it means that you’ll be able to complete your work and commitments sooner and get to the fun stuff.  Sounds good, right?!  While I don’t advocate dragging things out at anytime, summer’s the time you really don’t want to drag things out.  So let’s talk about what we can do to be more productive.

First we need to establish what productivity is: it’s really a commitment to getting stuff done.  It’s more than knowing you have deadlines and you’ll have work to do that day, it’s being committed to getting that work done.  Some people feel they’re productive if they get stuff done however it gets done, but I believe that if you want to be truly productive you have to do decent work, not a shoddy half-ass job.  If you’re really making a commitment to get something done, do it and do it right the first time.

To be more productive there are lots of things you can try.  Everyone is different so you have to find the productivity techniques that work for you.  Most people commit to working certain hours each day.  To make the most of that commitment you should schedule within those hours meetings, private time for you to get your work done, time for connecting with clients, and time for emails.  If you’re working more than 3-4 hours make sure to schedule in food and stretch breaks so you don’t get overwhelmed.  The scheduling aspect is important so you can pace yourself and make sure it all gets done (or as much as possible).

Other people find they’re more productive when they start out doing the hardest or most important and valuable tasks each day.  Once those are out of the way they can then focus on the other tasks.  Some people start by getting the easiest and quickest tasks out of the way so they feel encourage that they can get stuff done.  Lists are another great tool to being productive, they keeps you on track for what has to get done and you get the satisfaction of crossing things off the list.

What about you? What are your productivity tips?

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Paul J. Meyer

Make Love Not War

This coming weekend we’re celebrating Memorial Day here in the USA, and I’ll be sharing more about that on Friday, but today I wanted to talk about how we make our contributions to the world. Obviously with Memorial Day coming up we’re thinking about people who go to parts of the world on planes and ships and travel through dangerous regions to fight wars and people who are doing evil in the world. We won’t all agree on whether to go to war or not, whether we started the fight or not, but some of us feel that our differences need to be worked out using weapons and violence rather than discussion and teamwork. There are few situations that I unanimously support a violent approach, typically when dealing with someone truly evil like Hitler or situations of domestic and genocide type violence.  All those people know are how to be violent, they won’t respond to talks.

However, I do believe that countless more situations can and should be worked out through words and negotiations rather than fists and guns. When destruction becomes the initial goal there’s always recovery, rebuilding and reconstruction that will have to be done, much of which wasn’t necessary destruction in the first place.

So what’s the answer? First, get better at our communication skills. “You suck,” “I hate you,” tears, yelling and bullying aren’t good communication methods or skills but most of us use them. Second, learn the art of negotiation. Everyone wants something, and most times there’s a way for everyone to be mostly satisfied if a little effort is put into it. Third, think win-win-win. This means that the goal of any meeting should be to get the most wins for the most people involved possible, for the most people to be helped by what you’re doing and working towards rather than hurt. It’s unrealistic to imagine that no one ever will get hurt or get the short end of the stick, but I believe that more often than not we can do a lot more to create satisfactory solutions than we do.

What area of your life do you need to work on most when it comes to getting your goals accomplished in a way that helps rather than hurts?

“I definitely prefer being a lover than a fighter.”  Billy Joel