Processes and Procrastination

As we head towards the end of another week you may be thinking about what you can toss onto the piles on your desk or mark so that you deal with it next week and not today or tomorrow.  I’m familiar with the process, everyone does it to some extent. And to some extent it’s necessary to do because there are only so many hours in a day and while you may have something sudden and time-sensitive come up today, you may not have that tomorrow and be able to deal with things from today tomorrow.  The danger comes in when you never get to “tomorrow” and you keep having to put out fires and deal with emergencies today and never get to that other stuff you keep putting off.

The good news is that a portion of what you keep putting off can be handled by someone else.  You can get someone else to file the papers or place/pack orders or refill supplies or input data to a spreadsheet or program or app.  The bad news is, as you probably guessed, they can only do so much as they are not you. All that help is great to a point, then you have to step back in and choose or approve purchases, reply to clients, or confirm the data.

But what it comes back to is that you need to stop and realize that there’s a problem and you’re tired of seeing the problem day after day and not being able to do what you want to with or about it.  Maybe it’s as simple as changing the software, program or procedure that you do things with/through.  Maybe it’s creating a schedule and following it 95% of the time.  Maybe it’s just hiring someone to help out a few hours a week (on either the personal or the professional side).  But I believe that for many of the things that we’re putting off, there’s a simple solution that can make it much easier and much less painful to do the job and get it done quicker and with the results you’re looking for (or at the very least results which is something you didn’t have before).

If you’re struggling with the never ending search for tomorrow in your work or home, I encourage you to take an important first step before the end of the week.  Maybe it’s reaching out to an organizer or coach like myself who is local to you and getting the conversation going.  Maybe it’s taking 30 minutes to investigate other program/procedure options.   Maybe it’s sitting down with your team and talking about who’s doing what and who would rather do what and who can help you clear things off your plate (making things easier for everyone).   What will you do?

To Do or Not To Do

I read an inspiring quote recently that I want to share with you today.  It shares a simple but challenging message, one that we talk about but aren’t always able to follow through with:

“Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, “I did it again.”  James Altucher

Have you felt that way before?  I know sometimes we force ourselves to do something and it turns out better than we expected, but other times we’re busy telling ourselves all the lies about why this has to happen or why we have to help this person or why this might be/may be/could be/should be something we should do.  I get it, we’ve got pressure from society and the people around us every day trying to (and sometimes succeeding in) affecting our choices.  Sometimes that’s a good thing, but other times we’re just caving.

Taking risks is part of having a healthy life and healthy self esteem.  So you do need to determine if you’re hesitant because you’re worried about the risk or because deep down you know it’s not the right choice for you.  This week I encourage you to take at least one risk and say no to at least one thing you feel won’t be right for you.  I’d love to hear what you learn!

A Job Well Done?

Today I’m writing from a friend’s kitchen.  I’m seeing the inside of their house for the first time after they began a big renovation a year or so ago.  As I walked through the house I looked for places and spaces that would connect me with the old house, because they built up and around the old one.  Now, I don’t know all the details and do know that there were some issues that delayed the finish, but I was surprised how much of the house wasn’t done yet.  Painting, area rugs and furniture I could understand, but I can’t understand the missing back splash in the kitchen, a missing shower door and temporary fixtures in a bathroom.

As we talk about health this month one of the important areas of our lives to talk about is our work lives.  Whether you look at it from the perspective of owning a business or working for someone else, I would not feel good about leaving the house in the condition that it is in and calling the job complete.  Yes, I would be proud of what has been accomplished so far, but not as satisfied or proud of what it could be if the job had really been completed.  I’m not talking about perfection here, but about completing the entire task to the best of your ability, being able to look at what should be the finished product and be satisfied with the work I have done.

I believe it’s important to be proud of the work you do and to celebrate the work you do.   Too many people don’t seem to get any recognition for a job well done, even if they were doing just what they were asked to do.  But I believe all of it should be celebrated, not just the big stuff or the stuff done by the big bosses.  But you can’t celebrate what isn’t complete or what isn’t done well, it’s just not right.  We don’t celebrate when we get some of the cancer or beat 20% of the other teams in the league, we celebrate most when all of the cancer is gone or beat all the other teams, because we know we’ve done our best and accomplished what we set out to do. So I guess the question is are you satisfied with what you have done and what you’re doing in your life or are you dragging through the day because you don’t have any pride for what you’re doing?  If you aren’t satisfied what are you going to do or think different to change that?

Are You Settling or Smart?

Do you want things to be better or are you happy with the way things are? I think on many levels there are things that we’re OK with, and I’m not talking about the kind of OK where you’re really settling. Many of us settle for things because we don’t think we can get something better or don’t know there’s something better or don’t want to do the work to get something better. If you choose to settle for something you can of course choose to change your mind and go for something better, or you can accept what you have. Neither is wrong, not all of us are filled with super-dreams and goals of being the next big whatever.

But all of us have things that we are OK with and don’t do anything about, but not because we choose to settle for less than what we could have with a little extra work or effort. Sometimes we choose the best that we can have for the time being, we choose a good option of several choices, or we make a quick decision so that we can get onto more important things. It’s not bad to choose a “good” option, sometimes choosing the “good” option is the right thing to do. Don’t feel guilty that you haven’t pursued things to their very furthest, deepest and biggest opportunity as long as you’re satisfied with what you have chosen.

Satisfaction is often the way we can tell whether we’ve settled for something or if we’re OK, or even happy, with the decision we’ve made. Are you satisfied with your life? You probably aren’t satisfied with all areas, and that’s OK. Start this week off celebrating the good things you have in your life and make a plan for which of the things you’ve settled on and want to improve and how you’re going to do that. Don’t wait until next week to find the satisfaction, peace and happiness in your life, choose to take the steps you need to this week.

Creativity for the Future

Today as we finish out this month I wanted to share one last thought for Memorial Day and one last thought on creativity, too, as inspired by this quote from Robert Reich: “True patriotism isn’t cheap. It’s about taking on a fair share of the burden of keeping America going.”

Life isn’t easy.  We keep asking for it to be and expecting that our requests will not only be heard but answered as well.  Yes, there are things we can do to make life easier for ourselves, but there will always be challenges and obstacles we’ll face. They’re good because they help us grow and learn new things and make new connections, but they also can put a lot of stress on our lives and relationships.  One of the ways to make those challenges easier is to work together.  On a day like Memorial Day we’re all reminded of what it is to be a team, be part of a country, and challenged to do better.

The only way the world will improve and we’ll enjoy our lives even more is if we make a point of doing things differently.  You’re familiar with the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results), it’s one that we’ve talked about before and is well known, yet there are so many people who believe it’s not insanity and keep trying the same thing.

To what distances are you willing to go for your passions and for the country you call home?  Are you willing to make some small changes like trying to waste less energy and being more conscious of how you’re treating others?  Are you willing to work long hours and try things that others may call crazy to share your creativity with the world? Change starts with the few and grows to the many when others see what an awesome difference the changes you’ve made have had on your life.

Are you willing to do what it takes to be great?  Don’t give up because it hasn’t happened yet, keep trying things and telling others what you’re trying to do.  There are people out there who believe what you believe and can be that source of encouragement you need when things get tough, and you can be an encouragement for them as well.

Today is a New Day

You may not think about it often but today is a brand new day. Today has never happened before and today will never happen again.  You have the opportunity to do anything and everything with this new day.  You can get out in nature, take a walk and listen to and observe the spring changes.  You can choose to listen to your partner when they tell you they’re stressed out and ask how you can help (or just do something).  You can choose to play with your kids rather than ignoring them in favor of playing an app on your phone.  You can choose to pick up healthy food at the store rather than just the good looking junk food.  You can choose to get stuff done rather than procrastinating and putting them off again.

Today is a new day with new opportunities.  But those opportunities are only open to those who are open to them.  Are you open to seeing those opportunities in your life or are you so stuck in your current rhythm that you can’t see beyond it, or are you willing to go through the possibly painful and definitely challenging experience of changing it? Once you’ve made the choice to be open to the opportunity, to be open to the needs and desires of the people in your life you have to take action on your decision.

Start making the changes in your life that you know deep down in your gut that need to happen today.  Start with the little things if you’re intimidated by the big ones, like checking your phone less often, picking up after yourself, making healthier life choices, and treating others with more respect.   Do it because you love them and yourself and want the very best for your life.

Giving Thanks for Time

Today as we discuss being thankful I want to talk about something that I’m struggling with and you may be too: time.  It’s a tricky beast, isn’t it!?  Many of us spend a lot of time talking about it, berating it, bemoaning it and trying to squeeze every last second we can from the hours we’re given.  Some people do waste the time they have or don’t use it very well, but even they tend to talk about how little time they seem to have.

So why be thankful for time? Why talk about it on Monday instead of another day when we could talk about productivity strategies and time stealers (no worries, we will make time for this in the near future)?  Because time is one of the most valuable gifts, tools, opportunities and resources we have. It, along with health, is one of the things that we take most for granted.  When people are told they’re dying in the near future they often write and try to make it through a bucket list.  When people are on their death beds they comment that they wish they had more time to spend with those they’re leaving behind.  When people we know die too soon we say that we wish we had more time with them.

So as much as this discussions is about the value and importance of managing your time well and making time for the things that really matter in life like your health and relationships, it’s also about being grateful for the time that you do have.  We’re so blessed to be living in a day and age when we’re expected to live 80+ years.  I can’t imagine what it used to be like hundreds of years ago when the average lifespan was much less.

So this week make time to appreciate being alive, that you have the time to panic over and stress about, and do your best to use your time and life wisely.

“It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”   Seneca

Thankful for Heroes

Today in the USA is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s the day each year we take time to celebrate this brave man who led a charge for better civil rights for everyone and awareness of how poorly people were treated on basis on things like race. Why do we set aside time each year to honor some people but other people don’t get as much recognition? Is it because they didn’t make as big of a contribution or weren’t as revolutionary?  I don’t think that’s the case, and I think we should keep trying to make an impact regardless of whether we get a holiday in our honor or not.

First, everyone has value and can contribute to the world. That’s not to say that we all do. Some of us don’t tap into our courage or aren’t willing to do the work necessary to make the kind of contribution to the world like Dr. King did. You too can transform the world, and you can start today.

Second, just because you’re not a celebrity or included in the history books doesn’t mean you didn’t make an impact. Sometimes you’re only known for your contributions within your immediate community, whether it’s the community where you physically live or your online community. And just because you’re not a celebrity it’s not to say you’re not making a big impact.  Big is a matter of perspective. If you help one person step back from a ledge or get over a mountain you’ve done something amazing. Don’t try to make a difference for the purpose of being recognized.

Finally, I do want to take time to recognize the work of Dr. King. He stood for what he believed in, led with courage, inspired others and started a movement that transformed a nation. He should be recognized not only for what he stood for but for his ability to finally rally people around the injustice of judging on basis of color.

I’m thankful for people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who are willing to stand up for what they believe. What are you standing up for?

A Parent Was Once A Kid

Recently I heard about a survey given to a group of 10 year olds about “what’s wrong with grownups.”  Here were some of their answers:

1. Grownups make promises, then forget them, or say it wasn’t a promise, just a “maybe.”
2. Grownups don’t do the things they tell their children to do—like pick up their things or always tell the truth.
3. Grownups don’t listen. They decide ahead of time what they’re going to answer.
4. Grownups make mistakes, but won’t admit them. They pretend they weren’t mistakes at all—or that somebody else made them.
5. Grownups always talk about what they did and what they knew when they were ten-years-old, but they don’t try to think what it’s like to be ten-years-old right now.

There are a ton of things we could discuss from this incredibly insightful (and embarrassing) survey, but I just want to focus on a few key things we can do to set better examples for the kids in our lives.

First: perfection and aiming for the moon are great, but usually unrealistic.  Instead, promise what you know you can deliver, and if possible surprise them with something extra.

Second: words are powerful, so when we do or don’t follow through with what we’ve said kids think they don’t have to either (which leads to lots of fights and usually punishments).

Third: be open to all possibilities.  The more you close yourself off to what could be the less likely that you’ll get what you really want in life.  You’ll also end up alienating yourself from friends and family the less you’re willing to listen to and/or accept them for who they are and what they say.

Fourth: life has changed.  Kids today live a different life than even college students today did when they were their age.  So if that’s the case imagine how much has changed since when you were a kid!

Much has changed since you and I were kids, some things for the better and others not, and some things haven’t changed, like the value of love, honesty and family.  This weekend I encourage you to pay more attention to how you’re interacting with your kids, what you’re teaching them about responsibility, and which of your own advice you need to follow more.

Dreams and Fears

We start off our lives with lots of ideas and ideals about the world, some are shaped based on who are parents are or what society tells us is cool or right.  Girls are taught that they should be nurses or teachers, cook and have babies.  Boys are taught about sports, cars, and tools.  Yes, some kids break the mold and have more unique preferences, but even in our much-more-open society kids today still face some expectation about who they’re supposed to be and like.

But the new truth that we’re seeing in the world today is that it’s not about what you’re doing, but that you’re doing something, something that will make a difference in the world in a positive and helpful way. Yes, the push to follow societal norms is still present in our world, it’s something that will always be part of our world.  But more and more we’re seeing people making their own choices about what is right for them, about what they want to do with their lives and less about the expectation that others have for them.

As you raise your kids or interact with other’s kids, don’t discourage their imaginations, dreams and ideals for the world.  The only way the world will become a place that we’re proud to leave for our great grand children will be if we allow the changes we know need to happen, but are too scared or lazy to make, to happen.

If we let kids have their own dreams and become what they want to be rather than forcing on them our reality of frustration, being stuck, being unable to change, and being unwilling to take action, maybe we’ll finally get the message and start making changes and dreaming dreams again ourselves.

When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.”  Jim Henson