Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Own the Day

Today is your day. Yesterday is history and tomorrow has not arrived. You are in the here and now. The question is: “What are you going to do with the day?”

Are you simply going to ride along with whatever happens? Are you going to allow yourself and your emotions to be blown by the winds of the day to a destination not of your choosing? OR are you going to have a plan and work that plan? Are you going to choose to step up and own it?

This is your life you are living. And this day, today, could be your last. That statement is not meant to be a downer. But a reminder that time is precious and that you need to be conscious of the fact that every second, every minute, and every hour that goes by is lost forever. You cannot back up, you can only move forward. There is no rewind button for time. You must be fully engaged in the now or you’ll find yourself somewhere down the road (perhaps a road not eve of your choosing) asking yourself how did I get here.

Only you can own your day. Only you can choose what is most important this day. Only you can choose where to focus your time, your energy and your passion. We all live in a world of choices – they are all around us. You control your attitude and you have a choice – Am I going to be happy, energetic and excited throughout this day or am I going to again be a victim to the whims and emotions of others. You will never be able to control what goes on around you or what happens to you but you ALWAYS have the choice on how you respond.

You have to deal with the facts of any situation. I am not suggesting that you ignore reality. You cannot simply whistle a happy tune and make everything better. But you do have a choice. Do you wallow in self pity or do you take ownership of the day and move forward with a plan of action. Making a plan and working the plan is not necessarily easy but you have to own each day and continue to push forward.

You know you have the internal resources to not let the criticisms or comments of others, or the events of the day bring you down. Maintain a positive narrative in your head. By rising above the muck and the mire you show not only yourself, but all those around you just what you are made of and how truly awesome you are.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quote for the Week

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” - Frederick Keonig

Friday, August 24, 2012

In a Rut? - 10 Ways To Break Out

Vance Harner is quoted as saying “Many people are in a rut and a rut is nothing but a grave with both ends kicked out.” Vance could not be any more accurate. Spending your days in a rut is mind numbing and mind dumbing. Your brain craves change, it craves new stimuli. This stimuli helps create new pathways in the brain, helps improve overall mood, and adds variety to keep you sharp.

Need some suggestions on breaking out of your rut? Here are 10 quick suggestions:

1. Take a new route to work or when running errands. Have you ever driven to or from work, arrived at your destination and realized that you do not remember part of the trip? You have followed the same route so often your brain is in autopilot. Change the route and you force your brain to pay attention.

2. Try new restaurants, or, at the very least, try something different on the menu. It’s easy to pick your old reliable restaurant or entree. You know what you are going to get and you know you are not going to be disappointed. But again your brain (and taste buds) can remain in autopilot. Shake things up and you’ll discover new flavor combinations and add to your list of favorites.

3. Attend a sporting event or the theatre. Live events require more attention. You are not sitting in your living room and you do not have control over the outcome. Your senses become more fully engaged when you are in the environment of the activity and not watching it on a screen.

4. Take on a new project at work. You need variety at the office/work site as well. Ask to get involved in something not necessarily in your normal range of duties. The novelty of the assignment helps get your mind fully engaged. Plus, you get bonus points for being a go-getter.

5. Travel. Even a long three-day weekend to a rented cabin changes your everyday routine and helps re-charge your batteries. Take a 12 month calendar and divide your vacation time equally. Every 90 to 120 days get way. You will enjoy the off time and the planning/anticipation also help to stimulate your mind.

6. Plan a Date Night. Weekly or monthly you and your significant other need time together as a couple. Take turns planning. The anticipation and the surprise of the evening will definitely lift you out of your rut.

7. Start/Expand a hobby. New skills engage your mind. Think about painting, gardening, cooking, woodworking, golf, fishing, etc., etc. Expanding the variety of activities you are involved in keep the synapses in your brain firing and strengthening.

8. Re-arrange your furniture. How long has your office or living room been the same? Move the furniture around. Change is good. And if after a few weeks you don’t like it – change it back.

9. Change seating/parking arrangements. Do you have a particular seat at the dining table? Sit in a different seat. A different position changes your view of the room. Do you park on the same side of the garage every day? Switch to the other side for a while. Try it tonight. You’ll be surprised on how “odd” it feels at first but that is just your brain becoming re-engaged. Change it up and your brain is forced to take notice.

10. Expand you social circle. New friends have lots to share with us, lots of new information to take in a process. It’s hard to stay in a rut when your brain is absorbing new information and learning all about these new people.

The goal is to get your brain dealing with a familiar subject/task/activity in a new way. When you change things up your brain is forced to take notice. You cannot operate on autopilot when dealing with a change or when learning something new. Change things up starting today and that narrow rut will become a wide expanse of super highway that can take you anywhere you want to go. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Quote for the Week

“Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"They" Are Not On The Payroll

It gets very old listening to people talk about how they want a better life but blame others for what has or is happening to them. These folks want things to change but when it comes time to look squarely in the mirror these same people are no where to be seen. It’s so much easier to blame others. “They” are the reason for my problems; “They” just don’t understand. I hear “they” in my workplace quite often and I am quick to point out that “they” are not on the payroll. People are often confused and ask what I mean. I tell them flat out that “they” are not an employee and do not get a paycheck.  I tell them that if they have an objection with a policy or established procedure they need to speak to the person who created it.

Let’s focus in on your and your life. Instead of casting blame in the generic you should be getting specific. And of course by specific I mean on you. By blaming “them” you can more easily ignore the part that you play in your life. You need to realize that you have the starring role in your life. You are the lead character and you are ultimately responsible for how things turn out.

And yes, I know bad things happen to good people (just watch the news each evening) but you cannot become a victim to circumstance. There will always be things that you cannot control, but the one thing you can ALWAYS control is how you choose to react to what is going on around you. “They” are not out to get you. You may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time or you may have made poor decisions in the past, but that was then and this is now. You cannot go backwards and change history so stop complaining about what has happened and get focused on what you are going to do moving forward.

“They” are not out to get you and “they” do not have the responsibility to improve your life. You are responsible for your life. You are responsible for how you affect the lives of those around you. Are you a build everyone up type of person or tear everyone down type? No one wants to be around a tear everyone down type. No one wants to help a tear everyone down type. But if you are a person who accepts responsibility for your life and truly are working to make improvements you will be amazed at how much help comes your way. Positive people are like magnets attracting other positive people. And by working on yourself and with these like minded positive individuals you will find your life altered and improved and a wide variety of ways.

Push the “they” mentality out of your head. Get specific, get focused, and get busy changing your life.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Quote for the Week

"One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching." -- Gerard Way

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Better Time Choices for a Better Life

So, did you do it? Did you keep a notebook with you to track your activities for the last week? (See previous post here). I sure hope you did because if you are like most people you discovered that you spend a lot more time in non-productive activities than you thought.

    According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day. Do you realize that equates out to 2 months of non-stop TV watching per year? Just think how much farther you would be on your road to success if you had just half of that time back. A whole month of time to devote to improving your education and skills, or a whole month for new experiences and challenges. 720 hours of “found” time.  

    And that’s just the average TV time. Don’t even get me going on surfing the net or reading gossip magazines.  Free time is all around us if we just stop, realize what we are doing, and make some better choices.

    Now, let’s talk about these better choices. I am not living your life. I do not know what long-term interests, challenges or goals you have. But I do know that the only way you are going to end up where your heart truly desires is by taking action. You have made a start. You have decided that you need to spend your time much more wisely. My suggestion is to start slowly. Don’t try to go all cold-turkey on TV or internet use. It may not sound like it but I do watch some TV and I am online as well. But I keep balance and have slowly weaned myself off the dependence of easy and cheap entertainment and info-tainment. 

    I suggest you go slow. Decide the one or two things you want to do more of. Maybe it’s going for a walk each evening with a loved one, maybe it’s reading more, or maybe it’s developing a new skill. It’s up to you to decide but please keep a few things in mind:

3 Steps to Better Time Choices

1)    Decide on what you want to do and make a schedule.
Decide where you are going to stop wasting time and what you are going to do in its place. You must       have a replacement activity lined up and ready to go or you will just slip right back into your old routine. 

2)    Give it 30 days. 
Studies have shown that is takes a minimum of 21 days for habits to form. I like to give it a full month. Four full weeks of daily focused practice will help establish a new routine.

3)    Make only one or two changes per month.
Don’t try to make a whole host of changes all at once. You’ll likely get frustrated if you try too much to fast. Yes, the brain thrives and grows on challenge and change but that is with practice. If you have been in a set routine for a while then change will take more commitment and practice. Set yourself up to win by initially taking smaller steps.

Only you can make the choices on how to live your best life. And only you can follow through to make it happen. Make now the moment that you take action. Make now the moment that you start the journey to a happier and more successful life. The main question is: If not now, when?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Quote for the Week

One tree can start a forest; One smile can begin a friendship; One hand can lift a soul; One word can frame a goal; One candle can wipe out darkness; One laugh can conquer gloom; One hope can raise our spirits; One touch can show you care; One life can make a difference, Be that one today. - Unknown

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How well are you budgeting your time?

One of my favorite quotes is from Jim Rohn who said “Unless you change how you are, you’ll always have what you’ve got.” You have to change what you are thinking and what you are doing if you expect to change the results you have been getting.

I do not care what your present circumstances are. You cannot let your present dictate your future. As the saying goes, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Your brain is a wonder of nature, a wonder we have yet to fully understand, and your brain wants to be used. The more you challenge your mind the more it develops. Scientific studies have shown that the brain is not static at all; the brain is elastic and can continue to develop throughout your life – as long as it is worked. Your biceps will only get bigger if you continually add weight and stress the muscle. Over time the muscle gets stronger and larger. (ask Arnold Swarchenegger if you don’t believe me.) Your brain is similar – it may not get larger (so no, you will not be able to impress the chicks by flexing your brain) but it will get better at calculating, creating, expressing, wondering, exploring, etc., etc.

The biggest obstacle to developing your mind and drastically improving your life is you, and the way you budget your time. Do you even think about time in terms of budgeting or do you simply let each day float on past. Do you come home in the evening and plunk down in front of the television. TV is junk food to your brain. There is no challenge to watching a bachelor slowly weed out prospective mates, or starry-eyed want-to-be’s audition and compete for a recording contract.

You need to STOP! Stop wasting time, stop wasting your life. We all get only so much time on this planet. 24 hours a day until our time is over – and the real kicker is that you have no idea when your time runs out. There is no countdown clock on your forehead or chest (although that might help with motivation). Everyone gets 86,400 seconds per day. Richard Branson gets 86,400 seconds and he has used them day after day to start and run 300 different businesses and amass a fortune over a billion dollars. What have you done day in and day out with your precious seconds? We will not all be a Richard Branson, but I know we can all make huge strides in our lives when we focus on what we want.

You have to get out of the mindset of not having time. Bull-pucky! You have the time; you are simply not using it to your advantage. Perhaps by choice, perhaps by ignorance.
You will never “have the time” to do what you need to do in order to change your life if you do not get focused and stop wasting your time. When you stop a time wasting activity you open up a chunk of time. The more you stop unproductive activities, the more time you suddenly have available. You have not created more time on the clock, but you have taken control of the time you have. And with this control comes the opportunity to completely change your life: to improve relationships, to expand your understanding of business and finance, to regain your health and vigor, or to become the person and have the life you have always wanted.

Think you are not wasting time? Try this for the next week. Keep a small notebook with you and make a note every 30 to 60 minutes about what you are doing. You have to be honest with yourself here – do not alter your routine just because you have to keep track. At the end of the week add up the time spent on various activities. Look at the list of activities and ask yourself the following question about each one – Is this activity helping me to attain the type of lifestyle or become the person I truly want to be? If the answer is not a responding yes you have found an activity you should stop.

Next week’s post will discuss how to start using all the time you are going to discover you have. Until then, get your notebooks and start recording.