New Year New…

1228281080_f40150c22fIt’s a new year! Have you made your resolutions? Isn’t that what everyone asks at this time of year?

I’ve made one. One single resolution: to make goals instead of resolutions!

If you’ve ever made New Year’s resolutions you probably have a drawer full of well intentioned resolutions that amounted to nothing much. Those 2 weeks at the gym were very expensive. We intended to go all year but let’s face it our resolve lasted about 2 weeks. And those small sized clothes? They’re still in the back of the closet. If resolutions worked, well we would be living a very different life than the one we are.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

res·o·lu·tion

noun \ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən\

: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something

: an answer or solution to something

Did you find a solution? Not by resolving to lose weight, or get fit, or make more money. No list of dreams for the coming year, no yellow sticky of affirmation, no frequently visited list of hopes will solve a problem just because we want it to.

Resolutions can lead to discouragement if they remain resolutions without being turned into action plans. We need clear steps and plans to turn those hopes into reality. Buying a gym membership is no guarantee of reaching your fitness goal. Opening a savings account will not change your finances. Cutting out photos of beautiful beaches will not whisk you to your dream vacation spot.

Let’s take the common resolution to lose weight this year. Ok, how much weight? How long will we keep it off? How will we do it? What are we willing to change in our life to accomplish this? What are we willing to get rid of? What are we willing to add to our life? Do we have the time? Is it that important? These are questions we need to ask before we begin the journey. Why? Because losing weight is not something that happens by accident or by good intention. It takes effort, and it takes change in a lot of areas of our lives. Just wanting to do it this year is likely to leave us disappointed.

How about getting out of debt? A great and noble desire, but without clear steps to do that we are likely to end up in a bigger hole at the end of 2014 than the one we started in. We need a plan with specific steps, tangible goals and measurable results in order to succeed.

The beginning of a new year is a great time to take stock of our lives and make course adjustments to help us reach the goals and dreams we have. It’s a great time to create sensible plans with manageable steps to achieve our goals. Sometimes we need help figuring out how to create those steps and plans. This is where having a great coach helps.

Buy a book from someone who truly has a track record of helping others achieve the same goals they claim to have reached. Take a class and learn about what it takes to make those dreams reality.  Ask questions.

This January you can begin a new year with new goals and dreams coming true. It’s going to take work and patience, but you can do it. This year instead of resolving to… let’s set goals make step by step plans for transformation.

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Finding my Groove

Photo by:  tdreyer1What’s the difference between a groove and a rut? Finding your groove is good, being stuck in a rut is bad. They’re both well worn indentations aren’t they? Both restrict you to a specific track. Both define where you are and, more importantly, where you’re not.

Maybe it’s perspective? When we say we’re stuck in a rut we imply that it’s a negative experience. We are doing something so mundane, boring, or undesired that we feel like we are stuck. When we say we’ve found our groove we seem to imply that we have found a way of doing, being and working that leaves us satisfied and fulfilled. Yet the groove we find by nature restricts us from doing things in other ways and in other places. Hmmmm.

These random thoughts come as a result of feeling like I have finally found my groove with homeschooling, keeping my home, working, writing, teaching and speaking. Well at least so far anyway. This past week or so I feel like I have accomplished a lot and knocked off large chunks off my to-do list. I realized that happened because I finally found a routine that works! And a routine, by nature, is a rut (or groove if you prefer). It’s a way of doing things that is predictable. It enables me to get the work done quickly and efficiently. I don’t waste time thinking about what should be done first. It’s just part of the routine.

So you could say my rut has made it easier for me to enjoy my life because it eliminates wasted time, provides predictability to the mundane and necessary, and creates space for me to do all the other things that make life meaningful. Perhaps my rut, er groove is not something that should have been avoided after all.

Marketing to Introverts

I’m an introvert. I like it that way.

For as long as I can remember I have been accused of being cold, stand-offish, unfriendly, unsocial. It used to bother me. It doesn’t anymore. I like who I am. I know I’m none of those things, I just don’t like big groups and loud crowds. I don’t need to socialize every day (being with people drains me), I quite like my own company. I do have a number of good friends with whom I enjoy spending time and having deep conversations. I just don’t need to be with them all the time and I need considerable alone time to restore my batteries in order to be around others again.

The other day I encountered some advertising that was obviously aimed at the extrovert’s need to be surrounded by people and involved in social activity. I reacted quite strongly and commented to my husband that obviously the marketing attempt failed because I wanted to do the exact opposite of what the advertisers were trying to make me do. I wanted to run far, far away from them and their product. Obviously marketers didn’t realize that introverts don’t need to ‘fit in’. And yes, I realize that the world is designed for extraverts so alienating a few introverts won’t really hurt the bottom line.

That moment got me thinking. Introverts don’t want to be part of the crowd. They don’t want to be just like everyone else and they don’t feel the need to have exactly the same things as everyone else has. We don’t want to be part of the group. The group is noisy, loud and way too close to each others personal space. Ewwww.

How many products have been written off by introverts? How many have refused to try or simply developed a negative association to certain products because they were marketed to extroverts in an overtly extrovert way?

Introverts, if you can summon up the energy to engage, are there any products you find yourself avoiding simply by association to the loud and extraverted advertising campaigns? If you could design an advertising campaign that truly appealed to you what would it be like? Would it highlight features? Would it give you facts? I’d love to know.

All or Nothing

Concert heads

I ALWAYS eat this and I NEVER eat that. I ALWAYS listen to artist A and I NEVER listen to artist B. I ALWAYS (fill in the blank) and I NEVER (fill in the blank). We divide into camps over seemingly unimportant things daily. I’m wondering if perhaps we’ve gone too far?

Being sold out to a cause is admirable (as long as the cause is admirable). It is important to know what we believe, where we stand and not to be easily persuaded by the mob. Do we need to be completely committed to everything in life? Do we have to belong to a camp about every mundane detail in life?

Last night I had a conversation with my husband about this very thing regarding music. Our daughter really, really likes a particular song by a certain artist. She heard it in a movie and she really likes the beat, the melody and the arrangement. She loves the way it makes her feel and the way she wants to dance when she hears it. After listening carefully to the lyrics (yes, I’m that mom), I downloaded the song for her to keep enjoying.

My husband, in his wonderful protective daddy role (something I adore about him), worried that our daughter would go from enjoying a song to idolizing the artist. I assured him no such thing was happening and as a matter of fact, other than knowing the artist’s name, she knew nothing about this artist nor was she researching them and idolizing them. She simply liked the song.

This conversation got me to thinking about why we seem to gravitate towards extremes.  If one song is good and enjoyable then the artists must be all good and we must collect all of their work. If the movie was good than the lead actor must be worthy of adoration and we must see all of the films they act in, regardless of the quality.  If we enjoyed one album of a particular style of music then we must only listen to that style. The reverse being true, if we didn’t like one song then we don’t like the artist. Must we be cornered? Can’t we be more eclectic?

Do we have to line up with a particular camp on everything in life? Can there be some areas where we can enjoy things on their own merits and not because they are a certain style or created by a certain artist? I like Monet’s paintings. I really like impressionist art as a whole, but I can appreciate and enjoy pieces in various styles. Musically I don’t think you can tie me down. I have classical, 80’s, country, gospel, pop and rock in my playlists. The pieces I listen to are ones I enjoy. I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed every single piece produced by the artists I have in my collection.

There are certainly things that should divide us into camps: values, beliefs and morals. These are non-negotiables for most people. When it comes to everything else maybe we can be a little less divided? Maybe we can try some variety? Except when it comes to ice-cream: it’s ALWAYS pistachio, and if that is not available then it must be vanilla, NEVER chocolate!

Photo by: Jakub Hlavaty, Creative Commons, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jakub_hlavaty/

Stop Digging!

If you find yourself in a hole, you’re going to want to get out. Nobody plans to fall into a hole. Nobody plans to spend their life in a hole. Nobody wants to be trapped, going down instead of up. Nobody!

So, if you should look around and find yourself in a hole don’t panic. Stop. Look around, and then STOP DIGGING!

You will NEVER dig your way out of a hole. You will never go up by going down. You will never fix the problem by continuing the actions that created the problem in the first place. You have to STOP doing what got  you there first before you can do anything to fix the problem and get yourself out.

If you’re in debt you’ll never get out by borrowing more money! Nope, never. The only way to get out of debt is to STOP BORROWING and START REPAYING! I know, it’s old-fashioned, crazy and so not what all the experts are telling you to do. It’s so plain ol’ boring that it works! Besides experts are just drips under pressure!

If your children keep putting up walls and you always find yourself yelling or arguing with them, then continuing to do what you are doing the way you have been doing it will only build bigger walls. STOP doing what you are doing and START relating and finding another approach to get the result you want.

If you and your spouse seem to be arguing more and enjoying each other less then STOP the actions that get you there and START communicating the way you did when you were dating. I know, crazy.

It’s a funny thing but you can’t go up by going down. You can’t get out of the hole by continuing to dig. The sooner you put the shovel down the less hole you will have to climb out of. So take a look around. If you’re in a hole, STOP DIGGING!

 

© Mmulligan | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Insert Appropriate Inspiration Here

Inspiration. We all need it. We all want it. We also roll our eyes at it when we are not feeling in the mood for it.

There are days when a Whim, a Meme or inspiration picture floats across my Facebook feed and I’m moved to tears. Then there are days when a similar inspirational thought (or even the same one) floats across my feed and I roll my eyes and grunt. We all have days that are a tougher go than others. Sometimes it’s not days, it’s weeks, months and even years.

Sometimes when our dreams, our goals and desires get foiled we feel lost, confused and bewildered. We can’t quite figure out which way is up anymore and what we should do next. Up until this moment we knew exactly what needed to be done, in what order and when. We knew the next step. We knew the plan. We knew the goal. Now everything seems to be changing and we just don’t know what to do next. It’s very disorienting.

For the last four years I knew exactly what I was doing, how I was doing it and what the outcome was to be. I had the goal in front of me. I knew how this goal fit into my life and how it would pave the way for the next step. I was in business not because I so believed in the business I was in I couldn’t help myself. I was in business because it aligned with my goals, dreams, values and visions and it was a vehicle to get me to where I wanted to go. It was a means to an end and not an end in itself.

Then over the last few months something so sure, so certain, so predictable felt like it was unraveling all around me. It wasn’t really, it was just shifting, but to me it felt like everything I saw for my future was coming apart. Lots of soul searching. Lots of questions. Lots of wisdom sought, counsel requested. Lots of talking it through, thinking, praying, wondering.

In the middle of it all a little thread began to appear. The thread that seemed so insignificant at first I almost ignored it. Answers weren’t forthcoming to my questions so I decided to focus on this little thread and see where it would lead. As I wound the thread into a little ball, the yarn grew and the path became clearer. An epiphany!

In the midst of what looked like a pause on the future I longed for was actually an opportunity! The business and the dream weren’t two sides of the same coin. They were, and are, two mutually beneficial parts, each whole and separate from the other. What looked like disappointment became fulfillment and redirection. One didn’t lead into the other. They are meant to work together, independently but cooperatively side by side.

Sometimes what looks like a delay, a disappointment or a step backwards is really a huge leap forward toward your dream and your destiny. Sometimes what looks like a delay is really a short cut.

Be brave!

I Should But…

ProcrastinationI should start my project, but the laundry needs to be folded. I should start my workout, but I feel so tired already. I should sit down and prepare the budget, but I don’t want to look at my statements. I should follow up with that client, but I really don’t feel like making any calls right now. I should schedule that appointment, but I don’t really want to see the doctor.

Why do we procrastinate the very things that will actually get us to our goals? Maybe you don’t, but I do and I’m pretty sure that most other people do too. We know working out will leave us feeling better, give us more energy and get us closer to our goal, but we put it off. We know that preparing a budget will help us keep on track for our financial goals, but the idea of seeing the bank statements in their current condition feels overwhelming and we put it off one more time. We would rather keep letting our money tell us where it’s been rather then us telling it where to go to work for us.

Yes, in the back of our mind we know that following up with our client will at least help build trust and could even potentially lead to a re-order, but we put off making the call using a variety of excuses to assure ourselves our procrastination is the wisest choice.

I’m not going to offer any psychological insights. I’m not going to offer any arguments for why we do this. All I am going to say is that I realize that if nothing changes, nothing changes. If I don’t put my big girl panties on, be an adult and do what I need to do then I don’t have any business wondering why life is not getting any better and I’m still chasing my tail, my life not improving and my reach staying small.

Change is scaring. The unknown is unknown. Truth be told though, staying put and not taking a risk is much more frightening than taking a risk, facing the unknown and staring fear down. So off I go… now where did I put those big girl panties?