Committed to Success

When is the best time to start doing something you’ve been meaning to do?  The joke answer to that would be yesterday, but that’s not really helpful to anyone.  It’s not helpful to sit around and judge yourself or beat yourself up for not doing what you’ve been meaning to do or what you keep putting off.  Yes, most of us do struggle with some guilt in our lives, but a life lived from a perspective of guilt and failure isn’t one that is healthy or encourages productivity.  In fact the more time you spend in that place, the more likely you’ll become depressed and do even less with your life.

The real answer to the question of the best time to start something you’ve been meaning to do is today, or even better: right now.  Don’t put off until another day what you can and should accomplish today.  The longer you put things off the less likely you are to get them done, and the more likely you’ll end up putting out fires instead of preventing them.

I know it can seem overwhelming sometimes, especially if it’s a big task, but there are more healthy ways of dealing with it than procrastinating.  First or second, make a step-by-step game plan.  If you can’t do that step then the first step is to become educated about your task.  The internet is filled with tons of educational materials including videos and different people’s perspectives on tackling hard activities.  So once you know what steps you should be taking, write them out.  Making a visible plan on how you’re going to accomplish your overwhelming task removes another barrier to actually completing it.  Then once you’ve got your game plan it’s time for some action!

The past is what it is.  Yes, it’s good to reflect on it from time to time, but spending tons of time in or on it isn’t helpful (unless you’re a historian).  Instead of reliving the past or wading through guilt, focus instead on how good it will feel to have completed that task, and how much you’ll have accomplished in your life by achieving that task.  What will you work on today?

“If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it.” John Mayer

Reality Reflection: Disappointments

Last night in the US we had the Superbowl.  One team ended up being a winner and one a loser.  We’ve done a reflection on winning vs. losing before, so today I thought we’d talk about a related topic: disappointment.  Just like winning and losing disappointment usually has two sides and what is seen as a disappointment by one is often not seen as such by another.  Just take a look at all the reviews posted online about different books, shows, movies and even businesses.  Some people absolutely love something and other people are really let down by the experience they had.

Disappointment isn’t limited to winning and losing though, it’s something that applies to many areas of our lives, from our relationships to our families to our careers to the articles and books we read and show and movies we watch.  There are also shades to disappointment, it’s not black and white like winning and losing almost always is.  I might have no real opinion of a movie, you might be mildly let down by how that movie turned out, while someone else might go home and post nasty comments on every review site and board they can find and feel forever ruined by that movie.

But like winning and losing, when you experience disappointment there’s always a next step: what will you do about that?  Sometimes we just chalk it up as an experience and move on.  Other times it really motivates and inspires us to do something about it and make changes in that aspect of our lives.  And sometimes we’re so crushed by the disappointment that it shakes our very foundation and we make radical decisions and changes as a result.

If it’s someone or something else that has disappointed you that you don’t have a ton of control over, like the election or a leader or a movie or a sports game, in some situations you look for ways you can continue to support that person/group/thing even though you weren’t thrilled with the latest happenings or something you learned (die hard sports fans don’t give up on their team just because they lost the big/final game of the season).  It’s not wrong to let them know that you’re disappointed, but in this case you’d include a bit of encouragement with the message as well.  In other situations it’s hard to see beyond the disappointment, especially if you feel personally betrayed or hurt.  In these cases it benefits you to take time to really think things over and not give an immediate reaction.  After serious reflection time, and maybe talking things through with some impartial parties (without alcohol involved), then make a decision on next steps.

But before you choose to cut all ties, I encourage you to think about the last time you screwed up and disappointed someone (and don’t say it hasn’t happened, because I know we’ve all done something at sometime).  Think about whether you were hoping for some forgiveness or leniency in your situation and how the other person/people reacted.  Think about how it felt to be the cause of disappointment. And think long and hard about never having this person or thing in your life again. If you can truly then answer that you’re OK letting go, take some baby steps backwards and away from the situation or person and let go.

I don’t believe disappointment has to be the end of what had been something great.  It may be a bump in the road or a detour in the journey, but if you really believe in something or someone, don’t let a disappointment stop you.

Reality Reflection: Winners and Losers

Tuesday this week in the US was election day.  When people woke up on Wednesday morning some were quite surprised with how it turned out and who won.  People were surprised for many reasons including the facts that winner has been someone who has said a lot of controversial things throughout the race and that the winner is not a traditional politician.  As with every race there has to be a winner and a loser, sometimes the underdog wins, sometimes the bad guy wins, and sometimes the winner is the one everyone thought was a shoe-in.  I’m not going to technically reflect on the result today. What I want to talk about is what we can learn from the result of the election, and there are tons of lessons regardless of which side of the very divisive fence you are on.

First and foremost I believe this is a wake-up call. If you listened to the news or lived in the US for the months and years leading up to the election you’re familiar with the unrest that is being experienced  most often as shown with shootings and between the police and minorities.  There have been countless calls for change and change has been slow moving, if it has really even happened. The reality is though that you can’t expect change to happen if you aren’t willing to do anything to change. Sometimes those changes are relatively easy like switching breads because your favorite company went out of business.  Others are much more difficult like learning how to walk again after spinal surgery or after you lost a leg.  The type of change that people have been calling for isn’t the bread type of change, it’s the learning to walk again type of change.  And as the well-known definition of insanity says: insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  (While that may work for flipping coins it doesn’t work in the situation of human life and tragedy.)

So this very real wake-up call, that the divisive non-politician would be elected, means that people are really sick of how things have been run for a very long time and are finally willing and able to step up and say so.  Maybe what we had wasn’t so bad and we were getting along OK with it, but I believe that we can do better as a people and as a country. Maybe what we need most is someone with a big set of brass balls to step up and make some changes. No one makes all good changes, but the hope is always that the majority of changes that are considered are given careful thought given to how other people will be affected by the intended result before changes are made, and that decisions aren’t made based on superficial qualities like money, skin color or sex.

The second lesson here is that there’s always a chance you’ll lose or fail.  We don’t like losing or failing especially on such a grand scale or in front of so many people, but sometimes it happens.  When the loss or failure happens it is important to take a step back and see why the loss or failure happened.  Maybe you weren’t the right person for the job, maybe you don’t have all the qualities that are needed, maybe you didn’t bring enough confidence to the table, maybe you were trying so hard to make yourself look good and fit the mold that you missed that the mold was no longer a mold, maybe you didn’t throw enough money in the ring, maybe you didn’t give it enough hours, maybe you didn’t try something new, maybe you secretly needed to fail so you could finally have a day off, maybe you needed to lose because there’s something bigger and better for you to work on, and maybe the reason you lost or failed isn’t apparent today but will be revealed years from now.

I close with a thought that I heard as part of one of the reactions to the election result: whether you agreed with the election result or not there’s nothing we can do about it now, it has been decided.  What we can do though is decide how we will live each and every day.  You still have control over the attitude you live with, the career you pursue, the people you’re in relationship with, what you do when you lose or fail, and how hard you work to accomplish your goals, dreams and purpose in life.  One leader can do a lot of good or a lot of harm, but they are only one person, just like you are only one person and I am only one person. We may not have the platform that the president has, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to do our part to make the world a better place, regardless of whatever hate or violence others around the world choose to try to throw around.  Don’t let a single loss or failure determine the rest of your life. Don’t stop working after a single victory.  Each day is a new opportunity to resolve to do your very best and make the very best impact on the world you can.

How Would You React?

It’s not something everyone does, but when I’m out driving, whether running errands or heading to meet with a client, I listen to the radio.  I’m one of those annoying radio control freaks who constantly changes the channel and only listens to commercials if there isn’t a better option.  As I was driving yesterday I heard that it was National Sandwich Day.  The radio personality said that he called a few sandwich shops in the city where he works (a major US city) to wish them a happy sandwich day.  He went on to mention the name of a sandwich shop and said that they had hung up on him when he called and delivered his cheerful greeting.  Yes, on a major radio station a deli was called out as a grumpy (which leads one to assume they’re not customer-friendly) business.

The other day while driving I heard another story of a little child who started up a conversation with a senior gentleman at the grocery store while she and her mom were shopping.  She told the gentleman that it was her birthday and she talked to/with him for a few minutes and before heading on to do the rest of their shopping the girl asked if she could take a picture with the man.  He agreed, and her mom posted it on Facebook.  After seeing the post a friend of a friend shared that they knew the man and that the man’s wife had recently died and he’d been lonely and struggling to adjust.   The mom reached out to the man through their mutual friends and since that incident they’ve had visits and the gentleman is now part of the little girl’s family.

Why do I share these 2 stories today? I share them because the differing reactions of the people really spoke to me.  Sure, we can react like the deli did and shut people down because we think they’re rude or weird or making fun of us.  Or we can choose to say even just a simple thank you “thank you” or do a little more and be willing to meet a new person and not just judge them for how they look, how old they are or a quirk they may have.

As you finish out this week I encourage you to take a breath before going with your initial reaction in situations that aren’t the norm for you (like in these 2 stories).  Don’t just react and be a jerk or dismiss someone as silly or not important.  That deli could have gotten great publicity, but instead they’re possibly losing business as a result of a snap judgment.  There’s now another family learning from the wisdom that seniors have to offer and sharing the gift of being alive and enjoying life with each other across multiple generations.  What will your reaction be today?

Reality Reflection: Rushing

This year we’ll be doing some things differently, on the family and business blog on Mondays I’ll be sharing some reflections about being thankful, and every Friday here we’ll be taking a look at a topic that is challenging, frustrating or part of the world we live in.  If you have topics you want to discuss feel free to add them in the comments below the post.

Today we’ll be starting with a topic that may not be as frustrating for you now that the new year is here and the holidays are over with but you’ll probably still be able to remember those nightmare moments.  Do you spend what seems like every moment of the day rushing from one thing to the next?  So far behind that you know you’ll never be on time or get it all in? If that’s the case why do you rush anyway?

One of my biggest challenges when it comes to being in a rush is with regards to cars.  I do my best to not ever be in a rush, car or not, always trying to plan ahead of time and make sure I’ve got plenty of time to take care of things properly, but with the way that some people drive and park you would think they’re late for a meeting with a respected world leader or 10 seconds away from having a baby.   Since both of those are less likely than not for most people (especially at a food store) you have to wonder why.

What will those extra 10 seconds of rushing to the line of cars waiting at the red light buy you?  What will complaining about the time it takes to checkout do for you?  What will being pushy and panicked get you?  Often the answer is simply nothing except 10 seconds of waiting somewhere else, but sometimes it ends up resulting in big damages, hurt relationships and high blood pressure.  My partner and I have lively discussions about those extra 10 seconds, and while we have yet to see eye to eye on them, we do agree that one way or the other you’re waiting.

This week I challenge you to think about your rushing and whether or not it’s really necessary to rush or if slowing down just a little bit will get you to the same place with less stress and frustration.

The Advantage of Attitude

In this month’s discussions on health it’s important to take time to talk about having a healthy attitude towards life. Yes, life will sometimes get the best of you and sometimes kick you where it counts. But not only can your attitude make a big difference, it can be the difference maker for your life. If you’ve been looking for the key to a happier, healthier, more successful life for some time this could be what you’ve been missing out on.

Attitude is often judged by considering whether you’re typically a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty person. It’s a good place to start for today’s discussion, because it indicates how you see the world. Do you see the world as a place full of opportunities and gifted people or are you hung up on the problems and believe there’s more bad than good in the world? If you’re a half-empty person I believe you’re missing out on a great deal of life today. No, having a half-full attitude won’t remove all the bad in the world, but it will give you the chance to see that there’s more to life than what’s wrong.

Your attitude might just be what does or doesn’t get you that job or client, the deciding factor in how quickly you get well when you’re sick, how many friends you have, how long your relationships last and how long you live. Attitude is so much more than the thoughts you think, it’s your outlook on life and influences how you live your life.

You may not believe that attitude, or the principles taught in the book/movie The Secret really can have an impact on life, but they can and do.  My experiences have taught me that while my attitude may not fix all my problems or cause them not to exist, a positive attitude does go a long way to helping me resolve them while still keeping my humor, soul, patience and relationships intact.  Is your attitude a help or hindrance for you?

Healthy Success

When it comes to health one of the things we think about often are how healthy are our finances. I shared some thoughts on money on my Business and Family blog last Friday, and today we’re going to talk about a topic that’s very closely connected to finances: success. We all think about success, we compare ourselves to our neighbors, family members and coworkers, the people we see on TV and strangers from around the globe that we read about in news reports. We’re obsessed with being successful. It’s not bad to want to be successful; if you’re successful you’re in a much more stable position when it comes to finances and your future which is something that many people wish they could say.

The first thing that needs to be established when it comes to success is that it has a million definitions, from having a successful family to career success to health success. Don’t let someone else define success for you. Choose success on your own terms.

We struggle with success for many reasons, some of the biggest include fears, laziness, our comparison habit, our unwillingness to change, and other people diverting our success journey. Of all the reasons we struggle for success the last reason, other people, is usually actually the least challenging reason, but we turn it into the biggest. Thanks to the internet though, many of the reasons we think we can’t be successful don’t exist, and things like choosing the wrong goal for you personally, or getting caught up in our areas of lack rather than what we can do are actually what hold us back from success most often.

If you’re ready to be successful it starts with believing in yourself. If you don’t think you can do it or you deserve to be successful you will have a very challenging time getting there, and it may even be impossible. Then you need to choose a smart success target. This means choosing something that’s not a scam or an almost unreachable target, but something you can be passionate about and are willing to be invested in building for a very long time. If possible get the support of your family on your project, but if not make sure you do have people who will support you in your success journey. Finally, don’t give up because it’s too hard.

If you’re really serious about being successful it will take long, hard work to achieve it. Yes, many of the days will be awesome because you’re working on something you believe in, but other days will be difficult and discouraging. But if you ask any of the most successful people in the world they will tell you that every tough day was worth it.