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

What Do You Really Love?

There are only 3 more days in this month, can you believe it?  I’ve got a lot of changes happening in my life right now, maybe you do too.  In many ways the past few years have been leading up to this point, but you never really expect things to all happen at once when you consider the future.  As I look towards the months ahead and the changes that will happen, it got me thinking about how I want to get through those changes.  I could do it in a panic, I could do it in a rush, or I could do it with the lessons we’ve worked on this month as the foundation.

We’ve talked a lot this month about how love is a choice, just like so many other things in our lives.  We can choose to be bitter about the love we’ve lost or don’t have.  I think that many people who choose to live tainted by the love that has hurt them are wasting their lives, hurting themselves, and setting themselves up for continued pain and loss.  Love doesn’t make you perfect and no romantic partnership is perfect.  If you’ve set up the expectation that because love is involved so should be perfection, you’ll continue to be frustrated when you’re not seeing that perfect storybook love happen.

Real love is selfish at the same time as giving.  Love is about standing up for what you believe and what you need while doing your very best to support the person, people and things you love and love you back.  When you try to push through with fake love or love that is no longer what it used to be or what you want and need it to be not only can you lose faith in love but you can miss out on what love really can be.

As we dive into the weekend, the week ahead and the new month I encourage you to stand up for all that you love and not give in to the temptation to let your life remain at status quo when there is so much more to be had.

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” Rumi

What’s Your Motivation?

What is important to you in life?  Is it your friends? Your health? Your job? Your partner? Your family?  What are you willing to drop everything for, or maybe even die for?  Countless studies have been done over the past few decades of how we’re slowly killing ourselves with our bad habits and decisions.  While we’ve made lots of progress over the past few decades, we’ve also had some serious setbacks when it comes to the choices we’re making, especially in the health areas.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and working on is finding my motivation.  Why?  Because you can work a job, have a life, and do things all while looking and feeling like a robot. That’s not really living, that’s getting by.  And we’ve seen lots of examples this year of people who died while still very young, so it’s a big reminder that each and every day is valuable and any day could be your last.  So what’s the point in bringing up motivation, after all you kind of have to see to your responsibilities, whether you like them or not, right?

It’s about our emotional involvement and attachment to who we’re with and what we’re doing.  If we’re not motivated, invested or otherwise really interested and it’s just a cut-and-dry responsibility, often we don’t give it our best effort, and the effort we do give it is lackluster, lazy, or late.  So really, one of the things we’ve missed out on is choosing things that we’re properly motivated for and interested in.  Yes, sometimes you have to make a choice about a job or food because you’re desperate but even then more often than not you do have a choice (probably several) and you’ve chosen not to look for them or act on them.  But when you’re able to make a choice based on what you feel is truly best for you or what motivates you it will get done quicker, you’ll be less likely to complain about it, and even when you face challenges you’ll be in a better mind frame to deal with them because you’re really invested in what you’re doing or the person you’re helping.

If your life looks boring, distasteful or you have to drag yourself through your day, I’d say it’s a good time for a motivation check.  Are you really invested in things that are important to you, are you doing things because people have told you to or are you just doing what’s necessary to get by?

“You need to feel that the game is important to you. Lose that feeling and you lose your edge. There’s no faking that kind of emotion. You can’t invent the feeling. It’s got to be natural, real.”  Dan Marino

Committed to the Relationship

I believe that being in a relationship is a big commitment, one that most people don’t fully make. Sure when you’re getting started with a new relationship you don’t jump in with both feet in case you discover you’re really not compatible or not in it for the same reasons. But once you’ve been in the relationship for a while you have to either fully commit, agree how fully committed you’re going to be, or get out.

What does it mean to agree how fully committed you’re going to be? It means that you agree you’re going to be friends with benefits or you’re both committed to not having kids but having a lasting relationship, or staying together for the period of time that you have until life calls you in different directions for school or work. Some people try to get away with not discussing these limits, but I feel it’s really important to discuss these things in your relationship or you’ll be dealing with unrealistic expectations, unhappy people and unnecessary stress.

That said I do know that some relationships may be committed but something happens that drastically changes the dynamics of the relationship, or the commitment you agreed to. There are many things you can’t predict or can’t truly know how you’ll react when things happen, but you do have a choice when you begin the relationship to be open to the person you’re with and the natural change process we all go through during our lives. Talking about this stuff when it happens rather than 6 months later is important, as is trying to work through the changes rather than just giving up.

Whether you’ve truly committed to your partner or not can make a big difference in the relationship, in your attitude towards them and in the health and happiness of your relationship. I encourage you to think about your relationship and the commitment you’ve made to your partner this weekend. Is it a true commitment or a fair weather one?

“And in a marriage you can’t TRY and be married. You’re married or you’re not married… as far as I’m concerned.”  Ringo Starr

The Project of a Lifetime

This month we’re talking about teamwork and one thing that comes to mind when it comes to teamwork is projects. Now I know when I start a project I really want to finish it. I don’t like to leave things with unfinished and let them drag on endlessly, I like things to be finished. Maybe they won’t ever be perfect or polished, but I’ve done my best on them and am satisfied for the most part with the end result. However, there are some projects that can’t be completed in one lifetime.

I’m always amazed that a pyramid was able to be completed during the life of an Egyptian Pharaoh, they seem like such imposing and complicated structures, especially for the lack of technology and resources or tools they had back then compared to what we have now. We also just celebrated the 4th of July, also known as Independence Day, something that’s been in the works for some 400 years (if you consider that the Pilgrims landed in the US in the early 1600’s).  So this got me thinking about what their thoughts would be on where we’ve taken the country in these 400 years. Would they like what we’ve done or would they wish to be back in England and never have come over?

What do we do when faced with a vision or project that we know is impossible to complete in the time of our lifetimes? Do we work our hardest to set our successors up for success or do we give up hope that it will ever be completed?

Personally I think we owe the people who start something amazing a big debt because getting things started can be the hardest part of the process. Often once things are in motion it’s easy to keep them going, especially if the vision of the goal is convincing and enticing and worth the effort to make it happen even though the leadership has changed. It’s not about completing things for them but about completing things because they’re worth completing.

I encourage you this week to think about where you are in life and what you’ve got going, are your efforts and goals really worth it or do you need to do some course changes?

“My Dad was such an incredible person, and you have the option of just curling up in a dark corner and letting it all go or you have the option of standing strong, sticking together and carrying on what he lived and died for. And I think that’s what’s so important – to be able to carry on where he left off.” Bindi Irwin

A Strong and Supportive Relationship

It’s not easy to make a relationship work.  Any time you have more than one person involved there’s bound to be some disagreement, fighting, miscommunication and disappointment.  One thing I think makes a big difference is having multiple points of connection.  In other words, if all you have keeping you and your partner together is the fact that you made a kid together, you’ll have a lot more challenges than those who have similar interests, enjoy spending time together, like similar foods, enjoy similar movies, have kids and both like to travel.  There will always be differences because you’re two different people, but if you have a strong and large foundation to work with you’ll have a better shot at success.

I’m always amazed by the stories of people who say they met and knew the other person was ‘the one’ instantly.  I mean if this was a perfect world where no one had ex’s, trouble at work, health issues or financial worries it would be more believable, but in this day and age it seems almost like a fairy tale rather than reality. But with as many people are as in the world it seems more likely than ever that we would be able to find our ‘one,’ which is good news. However, sometimes we’re not ready for something that permanent.  And sometimes we discover that the person we thought we were with isn’t who they really are, even after knowing them for years.

So what’s a person to do?  I say start with friendships.  Have friends, meet new people, get out and live life, don’t jump in too quickly but don’t be afraid to make a decision, try to work things out when they get difficult but don’t stay with someone who is abusive, don’t assume that there’s someone better out there just because you’re afraid of doing the work it takes to make a relationship work, and don’t avoid relationships because you’re worried it won’t work out.

“Experts on romance say for a happy marriage there has to be more than a passionate love. For a lasting union, they insist, there must be a genuine liking for each other. Which, in my book, is a good definition for friendship.”
Marilyn Monroe

Communication Choices

The words we use are powerful.  The old saying is “Sticks and stones will break my bones, But words will never harm me,” but this is the farthest thing from the truth for most of us.  It’s not easy to separate ourselves from the words someone has said about us. Those words feel and can become personal.  Sometimes the words are said based on someone’s false assumptions, other times they’re just lashing out for no reason at all, sometimes their words do have validity, and other times their words make our day.

One thing I’ve always done and always tried to think about is being more positive and looking for possibilities.  The world has plenty of negative people and words in it, so I always look for a way I can help, to see things in a different perspective, or to use words that empower me and the people I work with.  These are phrases like: I can, I will, I know, I will make the time, I’m grateful, I’m confident, I believe, and it’s possible.

But over the past year I’ve made some changes with my vocabulary.  I’ve stopped apologizing for things as much; I’m not going to apologize for something I don’t want to do or don’t like.  I’ve become more decisive, saying yes and no rather than maybe or possibly. I’ve asked more questions, getting to the heart of the matter so I don’t make commitments I can’t keep or fulfill. One thing that hasn’t changed is that I’ve never really been one for filling the time with incessant and random chatter, I’d much rather get to the point so we can get to work.

It wasn’t easy to make those changes, they took time and effort.  I had to break the habits that I’ve lived with for so long, and as you probably know, most habits aren’t easy to break.  But I know that the changes I’ve made have made me into a better person, a better leader, a better business owner, and a better communicator, so they’re changes worth making.

What about you?  What words do you use on a regular basis?  How would your life change and improve if you were to use different words?

The Why of Success

What does your future hold? I’ve been debating this topic for a few months now as I know there are changes on my horizon in the next year or so. One thing I talk about often with business clients is their ‘why;’ the reason that they’re in business. Sometimes people start businesses or choose jobs simply because they have the skills. Other people choose based on love, passion and skills. Personally I believe that only those that are done with love and passion can be truly fulfilling in the ways that we need from a career. If it’s not something we have a personal investment in, passion behind or reason for getting involved it can become very tedious to do day in and out.

If you want to be the best, if you want potential customers to choose you over other businesses, if you want to get the recognition from customers you interact with at work, or if you want to make your mark on the world with a career I believe you need a ‘why’, and that why has to be shared prominently on your website, at your desk, or in your profile.

Why? Because having a ‘why’, loving and being passionate about your career/business, shows people that you’re human like them and honestly might care about their experience as a customer. Which means that you’re providing more than just a disposable product or passing service, you offer something that might just be for people like them. Last week we talked about social media and business being personal. As much as this is a continuation of that conversation, it’s really so much more. It’s about seeing the bigger picture of yourself, your [fellow] employees, your customers, and the world we all live in.

It’s great to offer a quality product or service to the world or be part of a business and team that does, but when the day is over money won’t technically keep you warm, only the satisfaction of knowing that you helped someone or made their day will, and that can only happen when you remember that we’re all humans going about our lives, not robots who don’t care or have feelings and needs.

“Vision gets the dreams started. Dreaming employs your God-given imagination to reinforce the vision. Both are part of something I believe is absolutely necessary to building the life of a champion, a winner, a person of high character who is consistently at the top of whatever game he or she is in.” Emmitt Smith

Remembering our Service People

Here in the USA on Monday and throughout this weekend we’re celebrating Memorial Day. It’s the day we take each year to remember those who died in military service to our country. It’s one of several patriotic holidays that we celebrate as a nation, just like other nations around the world take time each year to honor their armed service people. Whether you support the decisions we’ve made in the past or will make in the future to go into war, is not relevant to your ability to honor those who fought. To clarify, shame on you for not recognizing and thanking service men and women just because you don’t agree with going to war. Yes, I really believe that even if we don’t agree with the reason they’re out serving or the location they’re serving in it isn’t a reason to ignore them, the work they’ve done and portion of their life and the lives of their family they’ve given to serving the country. It’s about more than showing up for a parade or waving a flag. It’s about giving service people jobs, providing them with resources, supporting their return and re-integration into society and support of their family too.

Each day each of us make sacrifices. Sometimes it’s as insignificant as giving up your coffee so your kid can have a drink or letting someone else use the copier at work first. You won’t be recognized for those sacrifices, or for sacrifices like giving up gas-guzzling cars or wasteful and anti-nature spending habits, because those are things that we can and all should do as humans living and interacting together, even though sometimes you really feel like cheering for particularly tough sacrifices like being nice to mean coworkers and putting your partner first when you never go first. Those aren’t life-endangering sacrifices, you won’t die if you don’t have a cup of coffee (at least I haven’t heard of it yet), but too many soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice.

So this Memorial Day I encourage you to do something to support the veterans, and the families of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Here are a few of my favorite veteran support organizations (Wounded Warriors Project, Hope for the Warriors, Puppies Behind Bars, Homes for Our Troops, Fisher House Foundation, Patriot Paws, Hero Dogs, and Travis Mills), make a donation, get involved locally with one of them, or even share a Facebook/Twitter post of theirs to spread the word about what they’re doing, and don’t forget to thank a veteran when you see them out this weekend.