The Success of Summer

Life can be overwhelming at times. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and you may be too as we get into this new month with school ending and kids being free for the summer. It’s challenging to think about how you’ll keep away the boredom after they’re not occupied in school all day and you probably are dreading hearing their whines, moans and fights. Summer tends to be the time when we all slow down and take a break, which is really important, but as adults we always have lots to keep us occupied, even though studies show that taking a true break or real time off not time-off-to-do-home-projects is important too. We need time off to recharge our batteries and give our brains time to be creative again.

So this summer whether kids or adults, here’s my advice for you: take time off, get stuff done, learn stuff, and have fun each day. Dividing your day into these categories can help to break it up and you’ll feel good when the summer is over too. Let’s take a quick look at each of these 4 aspects.

Taking time off can be done relaxing at the beach or pool side, taking a walk or doing meditation or contemplation, watching TV or a movie is OK too, but not as restful or as good at recharging you as the others.

Getting stuff done is about being productive. You probably can’t take off all summer, even if you are a stay-at-home parent, because there’s always housework to be done. So instead of getting frustrated that you’re still working, keep it in perspective that doing a little each day will keep you in shape for when things pick up again in the fall and you’ll feel good about getting stuff done each day too. For kids this is a great opportunity to clean their rooms and go through their stuff to give some away to charity.

Learning stuff is important whether your 5 or 95, there’s always something else you can learn. Taking at least 30 minutes each day to read an educational book, use an educational site or app, watch an educational program (no, “educational” does not include lifestyles of the rich and famous), or get some practice in on a sport, language or activity you’re learning. Like getting stuff done knowing that you’re going to do it each day, even if it’s only for 30 minutes helps set the precedence to be a life-long learner and keeps you busy too.

Having fun is what comes to mind first for most people when they think of summer. As adults we can get lost in trying to get stuff done, keep our kids happy and keeping up with everything that happiness is a pipe dream for too many. Devote time each day to having fun this summer: go on a weekly date night just you and your partner, do at least one fun activity with the kids each day, go out with friends and their kids, visit new places, explore places you’ve been before, and try to laugh at least daily.

What will you do this summer?

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5 Rules in Making Decisions

This week we’re going to talk about a leadership topic that isn’t just a challenge for the heads of companies, but for everyone who works there: making decisions. Here are 5 rules to help you make better decisions:

Don’t make uneducated decisions, but don’t ignore your gut either.
All decisions I make are made based on fact and feeling. Sometimes it’s 90% fact and 10% feeling, other times it’s more 60/40 or 40/60. But I don’t ignore the reality that I don’t know everything, and I take at least a few minutes to research and find out at least the basics of what I have to make a decision on. At the same time, a decision could line up great on paper but if I don’t feel right about it I’ll either ask someone else their thoughts or do a little more research, and then based on that I’ll either go with my gut and not move forward or go ahead with it.

Don’t waste time rehashing the past when what needs to be factored in is the present and future.
The past is an important consideration when making decisions, especially big ones. You don’t want to make the wrong decision, but if you only consider the past you’re missing out on the fact that it’s almost positive that things have changed since the past happened. Maybe we’re not talking extremes like 8 tracks vs mp3’s, but refusing to consider that things have changed and you need to adjust your decision making based on what’s current can make your decision a failure real quick.

Don’t (just) make decisions on popularity.
You’ve probably heard the jokes about lemmings who follow each other off the cliff if that’s the way the leader goes, so we know that what’s popular isn’t always the best decision. That’s not to say that the popular opinion knows nothing or shouldn’t be considered. Popularity shouldn’t be the only reason you make a decision, but it should be a factor.

Don’t make the decision by yourself but don’t try to involve everyone.
I’ve already mentioned bringing in someone when trying to figure out whether to go with gut or fact, but the majority of decisions we make in business affect others, like our employees, our partners, our boards and even our customers. So to make a decision that is major and affects a large number of people should be something that you review with or consult with them on before making the move. You don’t have to ask every last person that would or could be affected, but do check it over or get feedback from a representative sample first. Bringing them a few options is a great way to limit the discussion time and get to making a decision sooner.

Don’t take too long on making decisions.
Ultimately a decision is supposed to be the beginning of action, so if you wait forever while trying to decide what’s right you may miss the window of opportunity. You don’t have to chase down every lead, ask everyone’s opinion, research for weeks or agonize over what your gut tells you.  Instead limit yourself to a period of time in proportion with how large or important the decision is.

What decisions will you make and take action on this week?

Letting Go For Tomorrow

This month our topic of freedom is letting go. The topic of letting go will bring up a lot of the issues, feelings and challenges that the topic of change brings up for you, so be prepared. Why? Because any time you’re talking about letting something go, something will most likely change as a result. Maybe it will be something as seemingly insignificant as more space in your closet, but it could be something as big as finally embracing the life you could have by letting go of the crutches you’ve been living and leaning on.

Letting go can be scary because we worry that we won’t have enough when we let go or that we’ll let go of the wrong thing or that we’ll realize we made a mistake after releasing it. Sometimes we will let go of the wrong thing at the wrong time, that’s part of life. But if all we do is hold onto stuff we’ll eventually be too full to take more on and we’ll end up limiting ourselves and our freedom in that way.

You’ve probably seen the shows about hoarding before, these are people who don’t let go of anything, they’ve got rooms jam packed with, in many cases, garbage. They don’t understand that they’re running out of room for themselves or causing serious damage to their relationships and health in many cases by their habits. By refusing to let go of physical items they’re limiting themselves in many areas of life. But until they realize and accept that there is only so much room and that a full room does not a happy or complete life make, they won’t be able to fix it.

Learning to let go of things and people can be painful, but the pain and fear will be limited if you truly believe that we live in an abundant universe, that there is never truly a shortage of money, never truly a lack of stuff, and never truly a lack of good people to be friends with. Choosing to let go of the past gives you the opportunity to explore and embrace what the future holds. The past has happened and it has changed you, but the future is waiting for you to start living.

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”  Lyndon B. Johnson