Posts tagged ‘habits’

July 7, 2012

Locus Of Control

In 1954, Julian B. Rotter created the personality psychology theory of Locus of control. This concept referred to the extent individuals believes they can control their life circumstances. The term “locus” is derived from the Latin word for “place”.

As with many of our discussions about either/or concepts, one’s internal locus of control is not absolute. Some may adopt an internal locus of control for some situations and an external locus of control

If one has an “internal locus of control”, that person believes that they have the ability to control their lives since their life events are a direct result of their behaviors and actions.

If one has an “external locus of control”, that person believes that the causes of their life circumstances are a result of external factors such as other the actions of others, the environment, luck, fate, or a higher power.

Some reported benefits of an internal locus of control include better control of one’s behavior, more attempts to influence other’s behavior, assumption that actions will be successful, and actively seeking information (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locus_of_control). According to About.com, (http://stress.about.com/od/psychologicalconditions/ht/locus.htm) research has shown that those with an internal locus of control-tend to be happier, less depressed, and less stressed.

I feel that it is reasonable to extrapolate that people with a greater internal locus of control will assume more responsibility for their beliefs, thoughts feelings and actions. I feel that it is very important for someone with a strong internal locus of control to  adopt an appreciative view of the world and commit to positive self talk. If we believe that we are responsible, do poorly on a task and then deride ourselves on the outcome of the task, we would surely be depressed.

There are also some benefits of an external locus of control. For example, if there were a situation that you cannot control directly, it would be beneficial to emotionally “let go” of the situation and “give it up to fate”. For example, we working on an academic paper it is valuable to adopt and internal locus of control of all the steps that you need to perform in the data collection and writing process. Since you cannot control the results of your experiment, you need to let go of your exceptions. It is also beneficial to “let go” when you send the article for peer review since you cannot control the opinion of others.

There are many tests of “Locus of Control” online. Psychology Today has such a test at http://psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com/take_test.php?idRegTest=1317

Like most things, one’s “Locus of Control” is not black and white. There are times where we feel we have a much greater control of our destiny and other times where we may feel blown around by the winds of fate.

It is my belief that it is best to have a strong internal locus of control for all of those elements that can only be controlled by ourselves including thoughts, habits, beliefs, actions, attitudes and chosen responses to our life events. There are many elements of life, from the weather to the stock market, that we can not control. However, we can do our best to own our responses to our outlook on life as well as our responses to live events.

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May 28, 2012

Other People’s Stories – 2

Welcome to the continuing saga of “Other People’s Stories”.

Since our last episode, I have had a few interesting conversations about this issue. I was informed that there was more to tell with regards to responding to complaints as well as co-dependency. I also realize that I did not cover other people’s expectations or the danger of continually comparing your life performance to the lives of others around you.

Problem Solving versus a Complaint Driven Life

Complaints are all around us. Every day we hear people complain about the weather or about some political issue. One main tactic to addressing life complaints is to consider if the complaint was just stated to “let off steam” or if the complaint was an indirect (or even direct) request for problem solving. Most of the time, it is easy to determine if someone is complaining to “let off steam” since this complaint focuses on their feelings and contains statements such as “well, whatcha going do?” If you have the feeling that the complaint is a request for problem solving, it would be valuable to run it through a few questions:

–       Is this something I have the influence to change?

–       Is this something that is important to me?

–       Is it my job or responsibility to change?

In my work, it is my professional responsibility to sift through other people’s complaints on a regular basis. When I am interacting with a staff member who is talking about a work issue that is negatively impacting their ability to perform his or her job, it is my professional responsibility to act on it. However, if someone is talking about an issue that I have no influence to change, I will listen compassionately and do my best to encourage the other person to consider their emotional response to that situation.

Co Dependent Directors

There are many co-dependents that do not see themselves as either “co-dependent” or as someone prioritizing someone else’s issues. Co-dependents can identify themselves, as caring are responsible people. One possible red flag for co-dependency is becoming a “director” of another person’s life. This is the tendency of setting situations up so that other people act or feel a certain way or expecting others to act or feel a certain way. If you constantly find yourself feeling a great feeling of dis-ease when someone is not feeling/acting the way you want, you may just be a co-dependent.

Other People’s Expectations

Remember, you are in control of your own character and your own life’s path. Own this responsibility! If we do not firmly take responsibility of our own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, habits or actions, we are prone to undue influence of other people’s expectations. The expectations that I am referring to are not the common social expectations that we are all subject to. I am talking about the expectations of others that lead us into action that we may not want. For example, if you know deeply that you are intrinsically an artist, but your father always though of you as a great candidate for medical school, you will most likely be fulfilled if you followed your true passion instead of donning the role of “doctor” to meet your dad’s expectations.

Healthy Comparison

There is an element of comparing yourselves to others that can serve a purpose. Most of the time the tendency of comparing ourselves to others in our peer group offers us a form of social feedback. However, once we establish a pattern of habitually comparing ourselves to others, we can lose our internal locus of control and begin to define ourselves by others’ around us. We are NOT the other people around us! We are our unique personality. If Johnny is better at basketball, that’s good for Johnny. We should not view ourselves as inferior if our performance at basketball is not as good as Johnny. If we are looking at our own performance, it is best if we measure our current performance versus our past performance. Otherwise, we are in danger of losing important aspects of our own identity.

It is wonderful to have other people in our lives. Other people can have a positive influence. It is beneficial to remember to remain in charge of our own identity and to be the best that we can be.

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”.

April 29, 2012

Responding to Life Events

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 affects 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.

One Saturday, I experienced an opportunity to reflect on my responses to a common life situation. While playing with my children at the beach, I noticed that I no longer had my car keys. I could not use my phone to call my wife since my phone was locked in my car. My kids had just come out of the water and they were cold. There was a storm coming and rain was just minutes away.

In the past, this situation would have freaked me out. I would have become extremely frustrated and my blood pressure would have risen. Most likely, I would have started using expletives at an increasingly frequent level.

When I reflected on the fact that the only thing that I could control in this situation was my response to this situation, I was in a much better place for problem solving. I knew that there were just a limited amount of possible actions. First I unpacked all of our stuff to look for the key. Then I backtracked everywhere that we had been at the beach that day. Once I felt that I had just about exhausted all my options. I asked a fellow beach goer to barrow their cell phone. I called my wife to see if she could come pick us up. My wife’s phone went straight to voicemail, so the option of being “rescued” appeared off the table. While the kids played on a play structure, I went back to an area of the play area  that we had been playing before the key was lost and I started a grid search of the sand area looking for the key. After a while of searching,I found the key.

In this scenario, if had chosen to respond with anger, I could have “ruined” the day for my children and myself. By remaining calm, our family fun day continued on without incident. The next time “life happens”, remember you have the ability evaluate your response before you take action. When we chose to remain calm in a problematic situation, we are more likely to consider all of our options and problem solve effectively.

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 17, 2012

Priorities

It is very challenging to get where you want to go without establishing some priorities. Without establishing priorities, everything has equal weight or equal urgency. This could result in either a) everything needs to be done NOW and you feel overwhelmed and panicked or b) everything could be done “whenever” and progress is easily procrastinated.

In my job, I have had more experience working with people who have difficulty placing everything in the “oh no it’s a crisis and everything needs to be done now” category. In my opinion, these folks are easier to help than the class of “why should I bother performing my basic job duties” or the “if I procrastinate long enough, someone else will do it” group. People in the “crisis now” category are motivated to take action; they just have more difficulty knowing what to do first. Setting priorities helps classify work tasks into “what needs to be done now” versus “I will get to this when I can”. By establishing what needs to be accomplished first, we can focus on one thing at a time and give our full attention to the present moment.

When working in an organization, it is helpful to understand that organization’s institutional priorities. In almost all jobs, there are essential tasks that absolutely must be completed. Additionally, most jobs have time sensitive projects and tasks with absolute deadlines. We can also determine what aspects are important to our supervisor. Therefore, in most job situations we can determine the job priorities just by paying attention to our work environment or by collaborating with our co-workers.

Setting life priorities help us organize all aspects of our daily routines. Priorities help us budget time, energy and finances to the things that we hold to be most important. A very important element of setting our own life’s priorities is being honest. We need to reflect on what is truly meaningful in our lives instead of following a dream that was dictated to us by our parents or by copying the lifestyle of our peer group without some level of reflection. For myself, time with my family is the highest priority. If will re-arrange my work schedule (if allowed by my supervisor) to make sure that my family is taken care of. I make sure that I spend time each day to spend with my children. There are other people that I know that do not have children and prioritize engaging in leisure activities. In this example, our life priorities are just different and it is pointless to label one’s priorities as “good” or “bad”. However, I do feel that it would be harmful to prioritize a life activity that has little meaning in our life.

Many people know Randy Pausch for his book and viral YouTube video “The Last Lecture”. However Randy Pausch also gave a great lecture on time management during the last year of his life. One of the best strategies he shared on time management was based on priorities. The first step of this exercise is to establish you basic “to do list”. Once you have everything listed, you sort each item into four categories; important, due now, unimportant due now, important, due later, unimportant, due later. Most people habitually prioritize based on due date. The crucial point of this exercise is that you prioritize based on importance! Therefore, your classification would be:

  1. Important, due now
  2. Important, due later
  3. Unimportant, due now
  4. Unimportant, due later

Once we understand what is important to us, we can allocate our resources appropriately. Since our time is described as our most valuable resource, it is best that we spend it wisely.

I hope that you are able to find the time to do the things you find most valuable in your life!

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 2, 2012

Acceptance (Habit Change Challenge Day 2)

Hello Beautiful Blogging World,

I was successful for day one with all of my target goals. I meditated. I exercised. I read affirmations and I journaled my gratitudes and my successes. I am going on a vacation with the family and I am very excited.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about acceptance. I plan on spending more time on “acceptance” in a later post. Today, I will just share my affirmation about “acceptance”

I accept everything element that is a part of my life.

I accept all aspects about this  moment in time.

I accept that all my previous thoughts feelings and actions have brought me to where I am in this present time and place.

I accept all forms of feedback from my environment.

I realize that when I resist all those factors that I can not control, I feel “stressed” and powerless.

When I accept all that I can not control and realize that I can always control how I react, I feel empowered.

–Have a great day!

 

April 1, 2012

I am Accountable (Day 1 Habit Change Challenge)

Here is an affirmation for Day 1 of my Habit Change Challenge

I am accountable for all of my decisions.

I am in control of all my actions.

I am in charge all of my responses to my daily life events.

I am responsible for all of my assumptions that can affect how I respond to others in my life.

I am accountable for the result of the messages to others either through my words or through my actions.

I am responsible for seeking feedback from all those in my zone of influence.

I am in charge of my sense of satisfaction, happiness, gratitude and appreciation.

I am in control of the story that I write for myself on a daily basis.

I am accountable for my perception of life.

 

March 28, 2012

Habit Change Challenge

 We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ~ Aristotle

Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going.  ~Jim Ryun

A habit is something you can do without thinking – which is why most of us have so many of them.  ~Frank A. Clark

The unfortunate thing about this world is that good habits are so much easier to give up than bad ones.  ~Somerset Maugham

I have heard so much about the notion that it takes 21 days to change a habit, that I just thought of this as fact. As I was getting ready to write this, I discovered the that notion of the 21-day habit change theory only goes back to one primary source, Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s book titled, ”Psycho-Cybernetics”. One source is hardly hard science. However, committing to 21 days of working on a habit can at the very least develop a pattern.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been working on helping people change destructive habits one day at a time. When we focus on making a commitment on a daily basis, we can focus on the moment and we reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by our goal.

Whether it is 21 days in a row or just a day at a time, I had the following suggestions of some positive habits to try on:

  • –       Meditate, pray or find some quiet time for yourself for one minute or more per day.
  • –       Exercise for at least 10 minutes per day
  • –       Create a journal with at least one item of gratitude per day
  • –       Create a journal with at least one item of Success per day.

Of course these four items could be expanded. I am all for more exercise, more meditation, more success and more gratitude. In fact, you could add more habits such as getting adequate sleep and eating right. Sometimes it is good to start with sustainable habits to get the momentum going.

Want to join me for 21 days?