Posts tagged ‘Action’

May 8, 2012

The Joys of Deadlines

Photo Credit: Emily Dolton amazing wife, mother and artist

Most people do not envision a joyful scene when they hear the word “deadline”. In fact, the word has “dead” right in it. If we said “lifeline” instead, you would think you were on “Who wants to be a Millionaire”.

All kidding aside, deadlines have their benefits. I imagine that most people have at least some aspect of their job that they find less enjoyable than other aspects of their work. Since most work situations require all of the tasks to be done, there are tasks that may need a little boost of motivations. That is where our friend the “deadline” comes in. Once we have established that a task has a deadline, it now has a perceived priority or urgency. This task will then find its’ way to our “to-do” list and placed in the cue to be worked on.

At work, if I did not have deadlines, I would most likely relegate assessment report writing to the status of perennial procrastination.  Luckily (for the fate of my reports) each of these reports come with tangible unyielding deadline. Fortunately for me, having a report deadline helps me prioritize my job responsibilities so I can make the most of my workday.

Recently, our family was motivated by a “deadline”. On May 5, 2012, our garden was a participant in the “Clairemont Garden Tour” (see video of garden here). Before even considering the Garden Tour, we had already accomplished a lot around the house. All the hard-scaping and structures were completed last summer. The main thing that we had not completed was painting our house.  Finishing painting the exterior of our home is the task that benefitted the most by the “deadline” of May 5, 2012. I had started painting our house last September. Over the winter, we had many wet weekends and our kid’s activities and other fun weekend events took priority. A month ago, just about one half of our home was completely painted. A week ago, only one side of the home remained. On May 4th, 2012. The task prioritizing effects of the magic “deadline” facilitated the painting of the complete exterior of our home. I am very thankful for the effect of this deadline since I now have a significant life task off my proverbial “plate”. I would be remiss to leave out that this deadline also helped get the entire home clean from inside and out. The house looks the best that I have seen it!

Another benefit of deadlines is that deadlines can stimulate the decision making process. When you are “down to the wire” on a deadline, you really need to consider what is essential to your mission and take the necessary action. When my wife (who is the creative genius behind the garden endeavor) was performing her finishing touches on the garden, she had to leave out a few artistic elements from the final reveal. She ultimately focused on the tasks that would generate the greatest amount of benefit for the moment fellow gardeners started visiting.

The next time you hear the word “deadline”, remember that this tool can actually help you decrease task stress by giving you a method to prioritize your work. Deadlines help kick things in gear and encourages you to make the “tough decisions”. Deadlines are just another form of a “lifeline”.

May 3, 2012

Embrace the continuum

I have found that life is rarely “black and white” and most things have at least some “shades of gray”. Though our brain typically likes to organize things into neat little categories such as “black or white” or “good or bad” since this easy heuristic helps us process 400 billions of pieces of information per second. We may notice that when we ponder situations that we are more familiar with, we are able to understand that these situations are best expressed in the forms of a continuum.

When I was a teenager, I was introduced to the “yin-yang” symbol. I felt that this symbol is an excellent representation of the balance of life. Some things are more “light” than “dark” and other things are more “dark” than “light”. For example, people are rarely “all bad” or “all good”. When considering the political spectrum, there are people that are “all the way to the right”, there are people “in the center” and people “all the way to the left”.

As I write my blog of “influence versus control”, I fully acknowledge that the line between influence and control can be expressed as a continuum as well. When we consider health, we have control of all the habits that lead to good health including getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating well. However, we cannot control if we get sick or not. When considering wealth, we can control how much we spend. If we earn a paycheck, we can control how much comes in each month. If we earn a commission, we have greater influence on how much money we could earn in a month, but we cannot control weather other will buy our product. We also do not have control of unforeseen expenses such as flying across country to visit a sick family member.

All in all, it is wise to consider the shades of gray. When considering an action, it is helpful to write a list of the pros and cons and see if this action has a greater chance of benefit than detriment. Life is too colorful to be seen as just “black and white”.

 

April 20, 2012

Get Back on The Horse!

On Day 18 of the “Habit Change Challenge”, life got in the way. I decided to stay up late playing “Ping Pong” with a couple of friends. When I got home, my youngest child kept me awake the remainder of the night and early morning since he had difficulty sleeping. I chose to sleep next to him so he would feel more comfortable and sleep better. Since I did not get much sleep, most of the night, I decided to sleep in to 7 AM. Therefore, I did not exercise or meditate in the morning. In the evening, my wife and I had a birthday party to go to after work. When we got home, I feel asleep with my youngest when I put him to sleep. So, I on this day I strayed from the habits of logging my gratitude, successes, meditating and exercising.

I almost made it! I hope that if you took up this challenge that you are still going. If this is a competition, I hope that you beat me.

I am not a victim of certain circumstances. I made decisions about life priorities that allowed my new habits to fall into the background. I chose to spend time with people that I do not see as much and I had a lot of fun doing so. I had a great time playing games with my friends and going to an adult birthday party without my kids. I choose to prioritize sleep over my target habits. The sleep that I got felt good! I do not feel badly about the choices that I made these last few days.

I am “jumping back on the horse”. I am not giving up on my new habits. I am starting over with the resolve of going another 21 days of being consistent exercising, meditating, listening or reading affirmations and logging my successes & gratitude. I have made progress and I choose to reflect on my “setback” as “feedback” instead of “failure”.

From this setback, I had a few thoughts about “falling off the horse”:

  • 1)   Get back on the habit as soon as possible!
  • 2)   Look at the larger goal of what you want to change
  • 3)   View the break of habit as a “blip on the screen” and start over
  • 4)   Commit to the new habit “one day at a time”
  • 5)   Avoid letting the exception become the rule! If you break a rule once, do not think that it is OK to do it again since you are already “off track”.
  • 6)   Focus on how awesome it feels to keep moving forward towards you goals instead of any possible shame of making a “mistake”
  • 7)   Analyze what happened that lead to you getting off track and use that feedback to get back on track
  • 8)   Forgive yourself!

Remember, the ultimate goal is to appreciate all the good that is a part of your life and make choices that bring more opportunities to appreciate what you have. Have fun with your own adventure!

-Andrew

 

April 13, 2012

Finding your Rhythm

When changing a habit or when adding a new activity to your lifestyle, it is helpful to find a time for this new habit/routine.  If we do not know where to place this new habit/routine into our schedule, it is very easy to forget to perform this activity. Once you habit becomes a part of your daily rhythm, it is a lot easier to maintain.

For my own “habit change challenge”, I found that that only way that I could be consistent with implementing my target habits was to find a regular place for them in my daily schedule. Since I have two young children, I found it was best to add my new activities during times of the day when my children are asleep. In the morning, I exercise, meditated and listen to positive meditation podcasts. At night, I blog, journal my successes and list the things for which I am grateful.  Having this structure in place has helped immensely. I have been waking up early and exercising for over a year. After exercising, I have just enough time to shower, get dressed, make lunch, eat breakfast, kiss the family goodbye and leave for work. I have found that I needed to meditate and perform my affirmations before my workout since it was better to have a slightly shorter workout than to miss the opportunity to perform these activities all together.

What works for you! Please share your ideas of ensuring that you have time for some positive time for yourself.

April 12, 2012

Success may come….

… when you least expect it

Sometimes progress or goal completion come to fruition in due time. There have been many moments in my life when things appear to “happen” without much effort.

For example, I will a bunch of items on my “To-Do” list and then forget to look at that specific list for a couple of weeks. The next time I look at the list, I notice that about 90% of the items have been completed. In this case, the items written on the initial list were likely incorporated into my unconscious processing. Therefore, I kept on working towards this list without much conscious thought. The thought behind the practice of looking at your goals / vision board/ mission statement / affirmations on a daily basis is that the more that we consider where we want to go, it is more likely that our unconscious thought processes will problem solve the way to our envisioned destination.

Other times, things just happen when the right conditions are in place. You may wait for years for a project or an idea to be approved. Once there has been a change of management, you find that your idea now has a lot of support.

Honestly, all I really wanted to say is that my son started riding his bike without training wheels yesterday. I am very appreciative for this accomplishment. We had been trying to get him to ride his bike a few times without training wheels with limited success. He would let the bike fall over or he would be completely resistant to the idea of riding his bike. Since he was not showing any interest in riding his bike, I did not think of asking him to ride his bike since last November. In the last few months, he has had more fun riding his kick-scooter. Yesterday, I thought we would just bring the bike to the park. At our local park, there is about a 100-yard path from the parking lot to the play structure. I thought practicing biking on the way to the play structure would be a worth attempt for the day. The first time my son started pedaling, he required some support on his seat. The 2nd through 5th attempts, he tried to pedal on his own. On his 6th attempt, he was up and running. For the rest of the day he did not need any help. He started pedaling the bike on his own and he demonstrated great balance. As we were packing up at the end of the trip, he asked to bike some more. Some things just need time.

The next time you “hit a wall” or roadblock, it may be helpful to place the project aside for a while to give yourself some breathing room. You may just find that when you come back to it, a solution to the roadblock will become apparent or the roadblock will no longer be there.

Good luck with all your endeavors.

April 7, 2012

Law of At(r)Action

Since the release of the movie “The Secret”, there has been considerable attention given to “The Law of Attraction“. Wikipedia describes “The law of Attraction”a metaphysical belief that “like attracts like“, that positive and negative thinking bring about positive and negative physical results, respectively. Although I believe that there is value to the concept of “The Law of Attraction”, I feel that many people may not achieve all that they desire since they may feel that all they need to do is sit in their home and imagine their desired future without taking an action. I feel that you will get more results from using “The Law of Attraction” if you look at is as “The Law of At Action”. You can only build “the life of your dreams” if you take consistent action in acquiring your goal. “The Law of Attraction” works because when you thinking positively about your goals you will have more thoughts about possible action steps to attain your goal.

One essential belief of the “law of attraction” is that you can manifest your desires if you have a clear picture of what you want and you believe that it is already on it’s way. If the word “metaphysical” makes you leary of the “Law of Attraction”, you can choose to look at the “Law of Attraction” pragmatically since you can observe how the “Law of Attraction” from a cause and effect perspective.

It all starts with belief. When you belief that you are worthy of having what you want in life, you will have more positive thoughts about your possibilities and more positive feelings about your actions. With any life goal, you need to believe that you can do it. It is always important to start by reflecting on your belief system as well your specific beliefs about your personal goals.  Belief makes it all possible. If you do not believe that you can do it, you are done! You will not even try to act towards your goal. If you believe you can, you will move forward.

Thoughts and feelings are also vital in creating what you want. Your brain is programmed as the ulitimate pattern recognition device. When you thoughts include a clear image of what you want, your brain starts looking for the patterns that are consistent with the picture of what you want. Feelings are vitally important in this process since our limbic system is highly tied to our memory system and we also pay more attenion to things that we have sting feelings about.
Action are the physical steps that we need to take to accomplish any goal. Once you start taking action, you will notice that you will have different choices that you had before. After each decision and each action, you will have another set of choices that you would not have even know about if you had not taken any action towards your goals. Even if you made a choice that may seem like a “mistake”, you can use the results of this choice as feedback of where you need to proceed to attain your goal.
We can use the idea of a map to conceptualize how the “Law of Attraction” can help us. First we visualize where we want to go. Next, we believe that it is possible to get there. We then use our thoughts and feelings to keep of following the route on the map. Our Actions move us down the road. When we make a “wrong turn”, we acknowledge this feedback and look at our map to see where we are. We then take consistent action and keep moving forward to our designation.
All comments are greatly appreciated!
March 31, 2012

A Dose of Inspiration

Hello all,
Tomorrow I am starting my own personal habit change challenge where I will: 1) List Daily Gratitudes 2) Journal Personal Successes 3) Find time to Meditate 4) Exercise! I huge “Thank You” for those who have agreed to join this challenge; Lynie L Vinyard Currie Rose , Sue,  and Lem .

To my personal challenge list, I am adding “read personal affirmations”. Daily affirmations are a great tool to work on one’s unconscious beliefs. “Affirmation Year”  already has a challenge for focusing on affirmations for the year.

Today, I am reblogging this inspirational story about Terry Fox! I hope this story motivates you to move forward towards any perceived obstacle!

Compassion Through Thoughts!

“Hope is the physician of each misery”.       Irish Proverb

The world faces pain each day.Some give in, but there are some who bear it, for others.Terry Fox is one such man of hope, whose hope blooms everyday, in the hearts of thousands, helping them stand and fight, never give up – not untill they achieve greatness, not till they soar high above, and till they achieve solitude and escape from pain!I feel so proud to share his story of ever-living hope, because for me the name “Terry Fox” means “DREAM” and “HOPE”.

“Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles”.     Alex Karras

“Disease is somatic; the suffering from it, psychic”.        Martin H. Fischer

Terry Fox was born on 28th july 1958 in Canada.He lost a leg to osteosarcoma when he was 18.He woke up one day with a dull pain…

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March 24, 2012

Events + Response = Outcome

One of the most influential equations that I have learned in my life has been:
E + R = O
For this equation;

  • E = Events
  • R = Your chosen response to an Event
  • O = The overall outcome

In the model, the “Event” is neutral. It is not “good” or “bad”, it is just a life circumstance. It is our Response to an event that will shape how we label or perceive the event in our minds. How we choose to Respond to an event directly effects the overall outcome.

For example, imagine you are a school-aged kid being called a name by one of your classmates. You choose to respond by calling the other kid a worse name. The outcome is that the other kid hits you.

Imagine this scenario with a different response. You are a school-aged kid being called a name by one of your classmates. You ignore the other kid and move to the other side of the playground to be with a group of your friends. The outcome is that you have moved on with your day without conflict.

Let us look at this equation from an “Influence versus Control” perspective

  • E = Events – These are things that you typically can’t control. You may be able to influence factors leading up to events, but the event would have happened without you. Life events can be the small events such as being cut off in traffic or misplacing your house keys to major life events such as your house burning down or losing a family member.
  • R = Response – This is where you have some control. You can choose your response. When a life event happens, you can remember that there are multiple ways to respond to any situation and you can practice taking the time needed to evaluate your response. Since your response has a strong influence on the outcome, it is important to take personal responsibility for your responses to all life events.
  • O = Outcomes- This is an areas where we have influence. If we react “positively” to a situation, we are more likely to experience a “positive” outcome.

The next time “life happens”, do your best to take the time to evaluate your response and observe how the outcome unfolds.

March 18, 2012

Blame vs. Personal Responsibility

 “The search for someone to blame is always successful.” – Robert Half

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”  –Dr. Robert Anthony

“Yes, there are times when something is legitimately not our fault. Blaming others, however, keeps us in a stuck state and is ultimately rough on our own self-esteem.”   Eric Allenbach

Blame

1. to hold responsible; find fault with; censure:

2. to place the responsibility for (a fault, error, etc.) (usually followed by on ): I blame the accident on her.

As exemplified from the definition and the quotes above, blame is the act of holding someone else or something else responsible. Every time we blame, we avoid personal responsibility. When we blame a circumstance or other people for our failings or our current state of dissatisfaction, we hinder out ability to move forward. It is very difficult to learn from the results of our thoughts, feelings, actions and beliefs if we continually blame “God”, “Nature”, or “Them” for our current reality.

Robert Half was correct when he said, “the search for someone to blame is always successful”. It is easy to blame others. When we do we no longer feel the possible emotional discomfort associated with  owning our mistakes. If our boss is angry about the result of a current project, it feels safer to blame a co-worker. In the workplace, blame can be harmful since it can facilitate a cycle of blame – defensiveness- attack –blame cycle.

Just think how easily blame can creep into our own lives. If we are late for work, it is customary to blame the traffic or other life circumstances. How many times have you been at work when a co-worker arrived and stated; “I apologize for being late. I did not adequately plan my time so I am responsible for my tardiness. Could you please write me up so I am discouraged from continuing my pattern of poor time management?”

When we blame, we have a negative influence on others. If we model the pattern of blaming at home, our children will imitate our pattern of avoiding accountability. When we blame our spouse/partner for our own emotional responses, our spouse/partner will likely feel resentful.

Blame is a habit that we are in control of. Once we become aware of our tendencies to blame, we can move away from blame and move towards personal responsibility.

Personal responsibility arises from acknowledgement that we are in control of our beliefs, habits, thoughts, feelings, responses, words and actions. When we accept personal responsibility, we understand that we are responsible for our general life circumstances. If we are dissatisfied with how things are, personal responsibility will lead us to changing our situation whereas blame will allow us to be complacent and stick with the status quo of dissatisfaction.

I accept full responsibility for this post!

March 14, 2012

Momentum

Some times, life presents obstacles that appear to stand in the way of your goals. However momentum can help us move forward.

For example, I have made a promise to myself that I would post something every day when I started my blog. When I hit my first obstacle (a major report deadline that took all the free time available to write), I only missed a day of posting. I have the momentum and the established habit of writing and I was able to get back into the routine once I had met all my report deadlines.

Another recent example was getting sick recently. It is very challenging to exercise when you have barely enough energy to get out of bed (and coffee did not help much either). To keep the momentum going, I needed to change my exercise pattern to light stretching and greatly reduce my exercise time.

When we are establishing a pattern, it is best to find some way to keep it going.  A moving object likes to stay in motion. When obstacles present themselves, it is better to slow down, do what you can and keep your pattern of behavior moving instead of stopping your pattern and hope that you will pick it up again later.

Blogging Irony – This blog was written to keep my own blogging momentum going. I am actually fighting sleep, but I must post!

I hope this post is valuable!