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?

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.

Reasons of the Heart

What motivates you?  Today I’m thinking about motivation as I deal with unmotivated clients and have personally struggled to find my stride again after dealing with some life and health situations. I think the biggest challenge is that we say to ourselves that we’ll deal with “x” when we’re through this challenge.  But as soon as we get through a challenge we’re hit with something else and that thing, “x”, that seemed so important still seems really important, but is just getting further buried under the challenges of life, things that seem more pressing than “x”.

So what if we backed up a whole lot and thought about why we get up in the morning. And no, I’m not really talking about the fact that you get up because the sun is up or the alarm goes off or the kids run in and bounce on the bed or because you have to go to a job or because the kids are up and may be heading to school.  Some of those things can be indicators for why you get up, but in most cases if we really were honest, they’re not the reason we get out of bed.  The unfortunate thing is that many of us don’t get out of bed because we’re excited and thankful for a new day.  We get up because we have to, or at least that’s the attitude we have about it.

Sure, you could stay in bed, and maybe your boss or kids would be willing to work with you on that.  Maybe the kids are willing to climb in bed with you with cups with lids and watch a TV show or two for an hour so you can mentally wrap your head around the day ahead or just rest with them and maybe even catch up on your emails or read a book.   Maybe your boss would love someone to come in an hour later and leave an hour later because it will help deal with the client issues that always seem to crop up at the end of the day better.  You don’t know until you ask.

But now we’ve completely gotten sidetracked.  The question, if you remember, is why do you get out of bed in the morning?  What really and truly motivates you to live your life each day?  Is there anything that you’re really feeling motivated by, or have you let life get the best of you and you’ve stopped looking forward to what the day will bring.  I believe each and every day can hold some really amazing things, but we don’t always have the open eyes or heart to receive them.

As part of what we do for the last week of the month I do want to take a look at being motivated, but I really want to work on tapping back into our hearts and listening to them again, believing in them and ourselves and opening up to the best this world has to offer, rather than just floating along.

“The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.”  Blaise Pascal

Making the New Year Matter

What’s important to you? Is it that you meet your responsibilities, hang out and have fun, see the world, have lots of friends, your job or business, your pet(s), your kids, your health?  There’s no wrong answer really, unless it’s your passion for overeating or other really bad habits.  Everyone should find things in their own lives that matter to them and they would feel less fulfilled if they were without.

What matters to you doesn’t have to matter as much to me.  We don’t have to have the same interests or ways that we spend our time.  That’s one of the reasons why the world is great, the diversity of the people of the world makes it great.  But just because you like different things than I do, it doesn’t mean that some of the same things shouldn’t be important to both of us like family, contributing to the world and supporting ourselves.

As we get into this new year I encourage you to take time to think about what’s really important to you and if the way you’re spending your days  really backs that up.  Are you really spending your time and money on the things that matter to you?  Are you making choices that support the things and people that matter to you? Are you really aware of what goes on in your life or are you just trying to make it through the day?  If you’re ready to do more than just live day to day, I encourage you to start lining up your habits and life with the things that really matter to you.

Reality Reflection: What’s the Rush?

I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately and it’s one of the things that reminds me the most of what a rush so many people are in around the world. We rush while driving, eating, buying, working, relating and planning, not to mention the ways we depend on the internet and travel related technologies to connect us all. I can’t imagine what people from Titanic’s day when SOS was new “technology” would have thought about our big inter-connected world, and the speed at which we do things normally now.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the internet very much, and the ability to travel by car or plane rather than foot or horse, and to not have to grow all my own food. But the need to go 100 mph, turn at the last second on yellow/red, walk anywhere (not just crosswalks), have instant replies to our emails and calls, and expect gourmet food in 10 minutes or less is getting to be a bit much for me. It almost makes me reconsider living in such a busy area.

The irony of this discussion is that the places that remind me most of how busy the world is and what a rush so many of us are in, are places like highways that are on the side of a mountain so miles can be seen beyond, jobs where people just want to finish the day and not change the world, or restaurants where people are so busy trying to stuff their faces with their partners or families, rather than taking time to build their relationships with the people they’re with.

The increasing presence of violence in the news has been a reminder to me, and many others, of how uncertain life really is. You don’t know if you’ll get to see another sunset, hold another worm, have another lazy Sunday afternoon, watch another hummingbird fly from flower to flower, meet someone from a career you’ve always been curious about, try that exotic cuisine, be in a relationship that thrills you or watch your kids do their sports (or other activities) again. Stop saying you’ll do it “tomorrow” and step up today.

Learning to Be Free

Today is our last post on this month’s topic, lessons. Like so many other things in life the power of a lesson comes down to what you do with it. The choices we make determine not only what our personal futures will look like but also what the futures of all generations yet to come look like. I believe the lessons we learn should be applied so that we can make the world a better place for them and ourselves.

Yes, we can use the lessons as a reason to lash out on those that have hurt us, because it’s inevitable that we will be hurt by at least one person during our lives, after all, the concept of justice must exist for a reason. But constructively applying our lessons to our lives means that rather than destroying the world for future generations we may be seen as heroes to them. This is a lesson we have to work through during our lives, and will continue to be challenged by as long as we’re not learning it. We will be constantly challenged by things and people throughout our lives, it’s up to us to decide what to do with these lessons.

Why choose a constructive application of the lessons in your life? So you can be free. It’s that simple. When you choose to be empowered by your lessons rather than let them hold you back you open yourself up to a whole new world of possibilities that isn’t available to you unless you choose to release yourself from them. When you see things as opportunities rather than obstacles you take the actions that will bring you to new levels rather than keep you stuck where you are.

If we really want to see the world change we’ve got to do something different. If we really want to be like the heroes we watch on TV and in the movies we have to be courageous enough to learn from the lessons that life teaches us. If we want to be free and not wake up every day feeling trapped by the lives and ruts we’ve gotten stuck in we have to do something differently than we’ve been doing.

If you’re feeling stuck it’s time to reach out and ask for help. Don’t continue down that unending drain to nothingness, start fighting your way back to the surface. Decide that each and every day you will do something to make a difference for someone, and something that will make a difference in your life. Are you ready to be free?

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”  Christopher Reeve

Are You Happy Being Miserable?

Let’s face it: sometimes we just give in or give up rather than trying. It’s a lot of effort to get to the gym every morning, so you skip a couple each week. It’s a lot more work to eat healthy so you just grab whatever is quick and easy. It’s a lot harder to find a new job and acclimate so you stick it out at the job you don’t like and don’t make great money at. So we argue with ourselves over the pros and cons and experience more stress and frustration than we should, especially given that we know a solution to our problems and stressors.

So as I contemplated the back-to-school ads I’m already seeing everywhere and the rapidly escaping summer, it gets me thinking about what we enjoy in life and whether or not we’re living our lives to the fullest. Around the world countless individuals are just scraping by when they could be living a happy and thriving life, one that isn’t a constant barrage of issues, concerns and evidences of our failings or shortcomings. And the biggest reason they’re not happy and thriving is because they’re not taking action on what they know the issue to be or the solutions that have presented themselves.

So the question really becomes are we all happy being miserable and living lives that are pale shades of what they could be? Why else would we continue to live in misery and stress? While I haven’t come up with a good answer to this, the most popular one is one we’ve already discussed today: the amount of effort we feel it takes to get from where we are to where we want to be. I believe we’re all a lot more capable than we give ourselves credit for. Are you ready to stop suffering and start enjoying life?

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela

Thrive Today

We’re finishing out this month in the next week, can you believe we’re already at the end of April? This month the topic we’ve been discussing may have been less obvious: we’ve talked about living life and choosing and accepting the freedom to really live. Many of us don’t choose to live, we choose to just try to get by. Others of us are too busy living to appreciate life. But those who are living are at least choosing to live rather than choosing to let life pass them by.

This year I’m really working on making the most of each day. I shared on my business and family blog today about a recent experience with regards to one of my biggest priorities in life, my relationship with my partner. Unlike many couples we’re actually happy together, and we choose to approach each situation and opportunity with love, support and an open mind rather than judgment and suspicion. The decision to work through things together and love each other more each day was something we decided at the beginning of our relationship and has made all the difference years later.

I don’t deny that life can be challenging and have lots of twists and turns. But I believe that our acceptance of life and all that it means is the deciding factor in whether we just get through life or if we actually thrive. I don’t know about you but I would rather thrive in life. Yes, thriving does mean more responsibilities, obligations and risks, but when presented with the choice to live life or be miserable, I know what I would choose.

I believe that each of us has the power to have an amazing life. it’s just up to each of us to choose how we will face each and every day. What will today be for you?

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou

I Believe in Success

What you believe about yourself is one of the greatest indications of how successful you can be.  If you believe you can be successful you’ll have the motivation, the focus, the drive and the willingness to do what it will take to accomplish your goals.  If you don’t believe you have the abilities, the confidence, the means or are worth being successful you won’t get there.   Success means different things to each of us, some of us will find success in a monetary value, others in a family one, and others in making a difference in the world, so the definition of success isn’t what we’ll talk about today, but that I believe you have the ability to be successful, we all do.

Every day I see things in the news that are an unbelievable waste of time, from random crimes and large scale unprovoked violence, to physical abuse and cyber bullying.  They’re a waste of time because if life is all about the result that you achieve, the success you achieve, the success you achieve from any of these actions isn’t going to get you more than a passing rush and won’t make the world a better place for future generations.   I believe that everyone has something of value they can contribute to the daily workings of the world or to the future world.  It’s their choice, it’s your choice, what kind of future is created.

I believe in you.  I believe that you have abilities that are needed in the world, whether that’s in raising the next president, discovering a medical breakthrough, creating a business that gives people jobs, or just making someone else smile.  We won’t all believe the same thing or agree on everything, that’s the beauty of each of us being different.  The one thing we should all agree on is that we each have value and the potential to make an amazing difference in the world.  It’s unfortunate that there are so many people around the world who refuse to see or tap into that belief.  Take time this weekend to check your beliefs.  Are your beliefs holding back your success?

“We are what we believe we are.” CS Lewis

An Attitude of Action

We face a lot of challenges in our lives. Many of us harbor secret hopes that we can get home from work and not have any challenges to deal with at home with our partner or kids, but that’s not usually the case, even if it’s just the homework they got and we can’t understand (thank God for Google), and not anything more serious.

The thing that we aren’t always willing to realize is that the longer we put some of these challenges off the worse they will get. Our relationships won’t get better as time goes on and we continue to ignore them, our kids won’t love us more if we pass them off to the sitter more, our jobs won’t get better if we grumble more. No, these things will only get better when we start to make changes. Admittedly, changes can be really intimidating to us.

I think the intimidation is really mostly in the first step, as the saying goes “the first step is a doozie.” It’s really hard to get going for most of us because we’re daunted by the task ahead, the circumstances of our situation or even what others will think about the changes we’re making. So you know what the secret is, right? Yep: taking that first step.

The good news is that you don’t have to rip the whole band-aid off all at once, unless you know deep down inside that that’s the only thing that will get you out of the situation you’re in, or is the most necessary because of your sanity or health. Most of the time you can take little steps initially until you’re feeling the motivation and really getting into the excitement of trying new things and getting out of the situation that may have crippled you for too long.

You’re probably familiar with the saying “if you want something done you should do it yourself.” This is a really true statement, especially when it comes to things in your life that other people can’t do anything about for you. So this weekend choose one thing that has bothered you for too long and do something immediately about it, even if it’s something small.

“Have a bias toward action – let’s see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away.” Indira Gandhi