PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

4 Steps to the Life You Want

Bronnie Ware worked in palliative care for years and discovered that those who are slowly dying have many regrets. She codified them into a list of five regrets (which you can read on Bronnie’s website by clicking here).

However, what I want to discuss is just the number one regret of the dying on the list.

The number 1 regret of the dying is this: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

A life true to myself… This is what I call a custom-tailored life. It is not easy to live in a way that fit you perfectly.

It is difficult to push beyond the expectations of others. To change careers, for instance, is oftentimes to change identities. Not only are you stepping away from something, you are stepping into something.   You find yourself asking, “If THAT is not who I am, then who am I?”

At times it is difficult to know what you want because you have been told what you should want for so long. This is what I call the “Shackles of the Shoulds.” You feel bound to a certain way of life before you have given it any thought.

At times you do not make the move you want because you fear making a mistake in front of everyone, in front of all the naysayers and people who were concerned that you will fail, or who would not change to THAT career and who do not believe that anyone else should either.

So What Do You Do?

Here are 4 steps to the life you want

Step 1 – Ask yourself “What Would I Like My Life to Look Like?”

Step 2 – Record the answers (there may be several)

Step 3 – Look for ongoing support for your idea in your social circle, in your online circle (Facebook can be good for this), with a therapist, and/or with a career consultant.

Step 4 – Practice continued kindness… with yourself and others.

 

The steps are simple, the practice is difficult. These facts render a strong support system necessary.

Are you living a life that works for you?

Peace,

Deborah

Are you considering a career change? Are you an introvert?  Let me brainstorm with you to find your new career. Sign up for my free consultation.  Just send me your career change challenge by clicking here and Become a Consulting Beta Tester. This offer ends November 10, 2018.

JOURNALING · Organize Self and Home · Productivity

Templates Create Efficiency in Your Journal’s To-Do List

If your journal also houses your to-do list, then efficiency in creating those lists is necessary to get the job done.

One of the biggest culprits of to-do list failure, of not achieving the goal, is the tedium of having to write and rewrite your list on tasks to complete on a regular basis. Delay writing burnout by creating templates.

If you know that you will create a to-do list every day or every week in your journal, it might be a good idea to type a list template that you can print and affix to your paper journal.e.g. If you have a weekly to-do list for the foreseeable future that has as its focus Housing goals, Blogging goals, and Financial goals, then type those headings in a simple table, leaving blanks for you to write in the specific goal each week.

If you are using a digital journal for your list, create a to-do list template that you can copy and paste every day or every week.

Continue tweaking your journal and your lists until it fits your life. Pay attention to what fatigues you about your writing and what brings you  a sense of well-being.

And remember that what worked for you in a different phase of life might need to be tweaked for your current phase of life.

Peace,

Deborah

 

JOURNALING · Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Write a 5-Minute Journal

When Tim Ferriss mentions his daily writing routine in Tools of Titans, I was intrigued. He calls the routine the 5-Minute Journal.

The 5-Minute Journal is a series of writing prompts that Ferris uses every day – morning and evening- to recall daily highlights and to improve himself for the next day.

These are the 5-Minute Journal Prompts:

Morning Questions

  1. I am grateful for…
  2. What would make today great?
  3. Daily Affirmations

Evening Questions

  1. 3 amazing things that happened today
  2. How could I have made today better?

 

I have incorporated the 5-Minute Journal Prompts into my daily writing routine for ten days. There is already a weekly goals list incorporated into my journal; I was searching for a way to remind myself daily of the tasks that should be completed by Saturday. The 5-Minute Journal Prompts bend to this purpose.

Early on, I would often write in the Evening Questions section that nothing amazing has happened today. It was then that I realized that I associate the word “amazing” with momentous and often unexpected occasions. I substituted it with the word “awesome,” which I associate with any size event or occurrence. That prompted me to change the wording in other places in the prompts to fit my life and the way that I speak.  I would encourage you to do the same.

After a few days, writing the same questions over and over became tedious, so I typed the questions, leaving a space for writing underneath each one. I then printed out a bunch of the pages to glue one every day to my journal. Then I start writing. That has been so much better than handwriting the questions every day.

Of course, if you’re already digital journaling, this series of  prompts can more easily fit into your daily writing without so many steps, and without the tedium of writing the same words every day. Just copy and paste.

What do you think of the 5-Minute Journal?

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

What has prevented you from reaching your goals? Is part of it fear? Fear of what? Writing it all down in private, in a journal  (paper or digital) helps to process what’s going on internally. From there, you have a better stance from which to address the issue.

A journal can also help you to understand your patterns of fear as well as the things you continue to say that you want, the goals you continue to claim will be completed. Following the patterns of behavior recorded in your journal can help you  understand what you fear, at what points you tend to fail and why.

Reading my old journals where I would write that I plan to do X, Y or Z, and then seeing how little of that I had accomplished was devastating. I determined to discover where I continue to fail. A lot of it was allowing fear to make my decisions, or just not making a decision at all (which is a decision by omission).

Use your journal to help you understand what you would do if you were not afraid.

Peace,

Deborah

 

Motivation · Overcoming Obstacles · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Stop Imitating Your Heroes and Just Get Started Already

In a Facebook group, a business owner asked how to become “unstuck” in the planning stage. There are projects waiting to be finished, but she’s busy reading more content from other business owners who inspire her. How can she become “unstuck” and not just copy someone else?

I struggle through the same issues. However, I have found ways to think about them which have helped me to “unstick” myself and get something done.

REMEMBER THAT IMITATION IS A COMMON STARTING LINE

It is common to EMULATE YOUR HEROES when you start out. Children play dress up in their mother’s shoes, for instance.

Eventually, if you are self-aware, you develop what fits you, you create a custom-tailored business or life. I find that you start creating content that is unique to you when you distance yourself a bit from someone else’s content.

Whatever you ruminate on the most tends to be the most easily-accessible content that your mind can produce. Thus, to create content that is unique to your perspective, it is crucial to stop and consider what YOU think about a subject, what experiences YOU have had. Then, if you wish, go check out what someone else has to say on the subject.

Your heroes are a good jumping off point, but be sure to jump off, otherwise you become a copy.

To answer this question on Facebook, for instance, and to make sure I wasn’t copying what I had read in the comment section, I just dived in, writing from the perspective of  my own experience with the topic; I did not read the preceding replies first. After posting my comment, I then proceeded to read a few others. I’m glad that I did it that way; some of the other answers were so brilliant, I would have been intimidated had I read theirs first. When intimidated, I hesitate sharing my thoughts, thinking that I cannot help anyone. Many people tend to have this issue.

TO REDUCE PROCRASTINATION, CREATE A 1:1 RATIO OF PRODUCTION TO CONSUMPTION

To get started on a few projects, the following is something that I’ve done recently. For every hour that I consume business content, I must use an hour to produce something for my own business. For every hour I spend consuming Youtube videos or reading a book, I must spend an hour writing in my journal or typing an article. When I follow this rule, I usually end up creating more than that minimum 1:1 ratio.

In this way, I’m tipping the scales in favor of being a PRODUCER more than being a CONSUMER. You might choose to do it in a different way, but developing the habit of becoming a producer is what you’re after to become “unstuck.”

I fail at this all the time, mostly due to a lack of confidence in my own production. But the best way to barrel through the lack of confidence is to revisit your WHY -your reason for starting the project in the first place- then continue to produce. Wade through what you consider dreck until it’s not dreck any more.

[If you’re worried about what other people think about you or your content, read this article, based on a Cornell study, about how to handle social disapproval. I needed to be reminded of this information just yesterday.]

Peace,

Deborah

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Thoughts on Influence

As we looked through Aunt C’s personal property the other day, preparing to give away most of it, I noticed items here and there that I had given to her through the years.

  • Aunt C displayed prominently a personalized birthday card that I sent her 6 years ago. I had never noticed that on her shelf before.
  • A handful of DVDs, which I loaned to her long before her hospitalization, were next to the television. I had forgotten about them.
  • Sari fabric that I brought home from Brixton 15 years ago was right there as well.

Whether I had a positive influence on my aunt’s life, I never thought to ask. It must have been pleasant enough for Aunt C to hold on to a few items from me. However, you never know.

One thing I do know: I have sent notes to people describing what a wonderful influence they have had on me. They have those words in black and white, so there will be no mistake about how dear they are to me or how they have helped me.

From personal notes given to janitors and supervisors during summer internships in my student days, to personalized birthday cards, to random letters to a relative sent because it’s Tuesday, letter writing has been my way of expressing gratitude for the positive encounter provided by another person.

I’m not saying that you need to go out and buy new stationary and a fountain pen or sky write “I love you.” However, I would encourage you to find your way of expressing to someone else how they have helped you in life and make a habit of it.

You may never know your full effect on another person, but help other people to understand their influence on you.

Peace,

Deborah

Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Handle Social Disapproval [Cornell Study]

According to a Cornell study, social approval (or lack of it) does not affect people who have a sense of purpose. Or, rather, it does not affect them as much as it does those whose self-esteem hangs on being liked.

Anthony Burrow, a co-author of the study, defines a sense of purpose as

“ongoing motivation that is self-directed, oriented toward the future and beneficial to others.”

How do you develop a stronger sense of purpose to create a sustainable and healthier mindset?

Let’s look at the first area of purpose in Burrow’s definition.

Sense of Purpose Factor #1 – Ongoing motivation that is self-directed.

Check these areas of your plans to make sure you have a strong enough sense of purpose:

  1. Define (or re-define) why you do what you do –  Is your purpose well-defined? Do you know when you’ve reached your goals? Are they measurable by something other than social media likes?
  2. Focus -Is your business purpose always at the forefront of your workspace? Zig Ziglar, the famed motivational speaker, motivated himself for weight loss by having the picture of a person at his ideal size somewhere where he could see it often.
  3. Set Your Goals – Make sure there are big pictures goals as well as daily goals. If daily goals are nebulous, you run the risk of being distracted by blog stats and such.
  4. Plan regular meetings with mentors and accountability partners – Everyone is ignorant, just in different subjects. Your mentor can see what you might not see about how you run your life or business. Your accountability partner helps you run the extra mile.
  5. Understand how you function.  e.g. What’s your personality type? In what sort of environment do you do your best work?
  6. Regular self-examination and paying attention to the results of your goals.

Let’s take a look at the second and third areas in Burrow’s definition of a sense of purpose – oriented towards the future and beneficial to others

Sense of Purpose Factor#2 – Ongoing motivation that is oriented toward the future.

To develop a sense of purpose and not give way to the fickleness of social likes,  the second thing we must have is an ongoing motivation with a future orientation, according to Burrow.

The past is great -it can teach us many things, it can help us not to reinvent the wheel.  As C.S. Lewis says,

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”

In other words, strike a balance between now and then.

We must also appreciate and anticipate the future, moving ever forward if we are to have a sense of purpose and not be swayed by social likes (or a lack of them).

How do we gain and maintain this future orientation in our motives?

Neil Patel has written The 7 Secrets of Self-Motivated Entrepreneurs. His article can be useful even if you are not a businessperson, no matter what your goals might be. The biggest takeaway I see in his article is this – to keep looking forward, make your goal a part of your daily routine in someway (emphasis on daily). Put it in your face, in the mirror, in your pocket, on your desk. Wherever you need to encounter your goal, put it there and interact with it or chip away at it every single day.

 

Sense of Purpose Factor #3 – Ongoing motivation that is beneficial to others.

We have discussed before how the sweet spot of success lies where your interests overlap with the needs of others. This seems to be Burrows’ conclusion as well. Ongoing motivation that helps you to weather social disapproval is not only self-directed and future oriented, it is also beneficial to other people.

It has been my experience that when I’m concerned so heavily about what people think of me, I might achieve something, but I am miserable the whole time. When you seek to help others with their problems, you’re not concentrating so heavily on your own issues. In a way, you have derailed your mind from the “woe is me” track that it was on.

This is not to say that your challenges are not important. They are. However, a totally self-involved set of goals will not help you create that sense of purpose  which helps you to weather the storm of social dislikes. There must be some outer direction in your plans.

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

P.S. How do you handle social dislikes? Let me know.

Goal Setting · Motivation · Overcoming Obstacles

Ziglar Quotes for Motivation

Hilary “Zig” Ziglar (1926-2012) was an author and motivational speaker filled with pithy quotes for overcoming obstacles and continuing with your goals. Here are a few that I hope will be helpful to you.

Sincerely,

Deborah

Zig Ziglar Quotes

“Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.”

“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”

“You cannot tailor make the situations in life, but you can tailor make the attitudes to fit those situations before they arise.”

“You are a success when you have made friends with your past, are focused on the present, and are optimistic about your future.”

“[Move] from survival to stability, from stability to success, from success to significance.”

“Success is not measured by what you do compared to what others do. It is measured by what you do with the ability God gave you.”

“Success is not a destination, it’s a journey.”

“Don’t count the things you do, do the things that count.”

“Opportunity does not lie in the job; it lies in the individual who looks at the possibilities instead of the problems.”

Bonus:

In the video below, Ziglar quotes another person -Joe Sabah- who says, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT · Unchain Your Brain

How to Think about Regret

Thoughts on regret.

  • It seems that regret should be handled like pain – it’s a warning that something is wrong and should be addressed immediately.
  • Regret seems to be useless beyond that initial stab of discomfort. Otherwise, you’ll end up trying to change what is unchangeable- the past- when you could move forward on some aspect of life.
  • Mistakes are lessons, sometimes expensive lessons, sometimes opportunities are lost, sometimes people who you cared about are no longer responding in the way that you prefer because of what you’ve done (or omitted doing). These are tough circumstances, but think of them as lessons. What can you learn from this? Glean what is beneficial from the situation.
  • When you train yourself to see a rough spot as potentially beneficial to you, you begin not to fear making a mistake as much.
  • Note that you do not need to be born this way. (I’m not sure that anyone is born thinking this way). You can train yourself to start seeing problems as opportunities for improvement, instead of pits of despair and regret.
  • How do you train yourself to see problems, not as potential things to regret, but as lessons that benefit you? Well, how do you build muscles? Daily. It will not be easy. Remember to practice patience with yourself. And try not to do all of this alone.
  • To train yourself to see problems as benefits, it helps to write down what is good about the terrible situation. It might take a while to write this list, because your brain might be stubbornly stuck in pouting mode, but it can be done. Review that list regularly. You are rewiring your brain to focus on what’s good.
  • This rewiring of your brain does not mean you should keep doing the thing that led to your situation in the first place, it is simply a way of viewing life to get you out of the rut of regret.

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

What Would You Like Your Life to Look Like?

Picture your ideal life. What does it look like? Are you working 6 months then off to explore other interests for the rest of the year? Are you speaking at conferences, sharing your experiences in life? Are you simply making twice as much as your current salary, but from home?

Pause to think about what you want, what you actually want, not what you think you should want. (We’ve talked about the “shackles of the shoulds” before.)  Write down your answer and then seek a career coach (non-traditional coach or otherwise) to help.  To paraphrase Barbara Sher, the author of I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was,  attitude is not the dream killer, isolation is.

Start on your ideal life today.

Peace,

Deborah

Overcoming Obstacles · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

If you need one more reason NOT to procrastinate, here’s one.

There once was a person -let’s call the person Mr. X- who had a fatal disease. Mr. X spoke of all the things he still wanted to do in life. They were not improbable things – he wasn’t asking to vacation on Saturn. They were fairly common things that can be completed within a month or a year.

Why had he not done them?

  • He was waiting for the right time.
  • Other things came up.
  • He didn’t make them a priority.
  • Other people wanted his time and attention.

So he dithered.  The disease led to hospitalization, where he was even less likely to accomplish his goals. It was difficult for friends and family to watch this state of events.

One More Reason Not to Procrastinate

The story of Mr. X. hasn’t resolved itself yet. I hope he pulls through and can have another chance at those goals. But this story is part of the impetus for this article.

If you need one more reason not to procrastinate on something, here’s one: life doesn’t stop for your plans and your circumstances to become “perfect.”

When we procrastinate, it’s as if we are that kid who’s tagging behind a friend, then bends down to tie her shoelace, expecting her friend TIME to wait for her while she sorts things out.

Nope.

While we dither in the research stage, prolonging a plan, not getting things done, life goes on and we wake up with another month, another year, another decade that is gone. In place of the opportunities, sometimes, are now greater hurdles.

Research is good, but spending too much time in research mode can be a form of procrastination. I know. I do it all the time. When do we know that we are spending too much time in research? I’ll address that below under the heading, “You Might Be Imperfect, But You’re Not Useless.”

A Possible Solution

To combat procrastination, the other month, I told myself to spend as much time producing as consuming.  A 1:1 ratio, as much as possible. In this way, if I spend an hour doing research for business, that doesn’t count as production. If I let that count as producing something,  research is all that I will do; I will accomplish nothing.

So, if I’m consuming business-related content for an hour, then I must spend an hour producing  something – e.g. content for this website, or an hour editing my upcoming book, etc.

This has worked tremendously well for me. It’s part of what has led to this website running consistently for a month.

Questioning the Perfection in Perfectionism

Lots of procrastination occurs when perfectionists smile wistfully, give a sigh, and claim -with a faint air of misplaced pride- that they can’t stand to start without planning everything to the hilt. Great! But did you accomplish anything? That’s what planning is for – to accomplish the task. Did you do it?

What’s with this notion of perfection that perfectionists bandy about like a badge of honor? Who do we think we are? We are delusional if we think we can be perfect.

Listen and listen well: nothing you have ever done or will ever do will be perfect. Why? Because we are flawed creatures. So anything you or I do will be stained by that fact.

Excelling at a thing is good, but that’s not the same thing as perfection. To excel is to go beyond an implied limit. We can do that. Perfection, however, is basically saying we are flawless, sinless, infallible, and a bunch of other stuff that you and I are not.

When you blame your perfectionist nature for lack of action, you might be admitting to delusions of grandeur. It’s not something to proud of; it’s something that holds us back.

You Might Be Imperfect, But You’re Not Useless

Let’s be clear: just because a project or task comes from an imperfect person (That’s everyone. Everyone is imperfect.), this does not mean that what you offer is useless.

What you and I offer may not be perfect, but it can be just the thing that you or someone else needs. We might be further along on some aspect of life than another person; let’s not waste time dithering when we could use our imperfect plans to bring about positive change for ourselves and others.

I understand the drive to know every jot and tittle that can or will happen to avoid the pains of life. Planning is good, but you must press forward.  To help you to know when to stop planning and move forward, here’s a brief article on knowing when to stop researching.

Look, I’ve been there. I AM there. I’m battling procrastination on a couple of tasks now (tasks that I might discuss with you later once the fog has settled). I empathize with you. I just want you to reach your goal before an illness (or worse) robs you of the chance to do what could have been done earlier, as it has done with Mr. X.

I’m saying this as much to myself as I am to you: You must stop the dithering and ACT. Courage!

Sincerely,

Deborah

Goal Setting · Overcoming Obstacles

Just Start Already? How?

You might have a goal. You might make plans. You might hear people tell you “just start already,” but if you have internal hangups,  you still might remain exactly where you are despite your plans.

How do you get over whatever is preventing you from accomplishing a goal?

It depends on the reason you’ve held back in the first place.

Although I have given you a way to think about procrastination (Click here to read it.), it’s still not a cure-all. I cannot give you a blanket statement that is a panacea for what’s troubling you. Your problem may have some universal qualities that I can address, but the combination of factors will be specific to you. Plus, how you overcome them might not be the way that others around you have done it.

Still, I’ll give you a few ideas to consider.

Finding the cause of your procrastination often requires a thorough look at your process.

Where in the funnel from idea to execution do you trip up on this goal? Create an environment – physical and otherwise- which encourages you to reach the goal.

For instance, I once had a deep craving for a particular pizza every time I drove near the pizza place. I would stop almost every day and buy one; this did not help my health goals. Instead, I  began to drive down a different street just to avoid that one temptation. Eventually, perhaps months later, I stopped craving it and could drive down that street again without withdrawal symptoms.

Other elements which helped me to drive away from the temptation were (1) making sure that I wasn’t ravenous when passing by that place. I could be hungry, but not eat-the-couch-ravenous, (2) keeping a well-stocked larder at home. Knowing that I had something at home that I enjoyed eating helped me to drive on and reach my health goals.

Finding the cause of your lack of achievement might require deep introspection.

Perhaps some similar incident in childhood still grips you today and you can’t move any further on that goal/idea because your brain still anticipates the pain. It might be time to dig deep and find out.

That introspection might come from professional counseling, maybe one of your online groups can hash out some ideas with you, perhaps family and friends can brainstorm with you, maybe you could avail yourself of a consulting service, perhaps journal writing is what you need.

It’s been my experience that goal-setting and achievement are won or lost psychologically before you even start.

Perhaps today is the day that you dig out the culprit for what prevents you from achieving your goals. Your hangups have been rough on you, so remember to be kind and patient with yourself. Use whatever methods are available to you; they don’t have to be perfect.

Peace be with you,

Deborah

 

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT · Scanner

The 3 Phases of Excitement (According to Barbara Sher)

We’ve discussed scanners before – people with varied interests. (You may also know them as hummingbirds, polymaths, multi-potentialites). When a scanner is interested or excited about something, she/he has unstoppable energy and enthusiasm and can’t wait for the idea to be realized.

Barbara Sher, author of Refuse to Choose who coined the term “scanner,” says that we should be aware of the 3 phases of excitement. (This might apply to you even if you’re not a scanner, by the way.):

1.  Initial Excitement – In phase 1, you think your idea is pretty good to the point of elation.*  Barbara Sher says that when you are deep into this honeymoon phase with your idea, write it all down, record as much of it as you can. Not outlines, but details that you will still understand in the future. You’ll need this information later.

2. The Crash into Cynicism / Resting Phase– This second phase sees you thinking that the idea is now rubbish. Who are you to think it would work? You think that you must stop doing this unrealistic stuff.  “When you crash, try to understand that you have crashed because you’ve expended too much energy,” says Sher.

In this phase you’re gathering more energy. Be aware that this phase might last a day, a week, months or years. Be patient with yourself.  Barbara Sher suggests you let this period occur for as long as it needs to do so.

3. Re-igniting the Excitement –  At some point, you become interested in your idea again. This third phase resembles the first one. However,  this time you’re not flying so high. You’re also not crashing into cynicism. Go back to the details that you’ve written down in the first phase. It is in this more reasonable phase where you -finally- get things done.

I personally would not like that resting period to last too long; I want to get stuff done. But then, that might be my problem – pushing things that shouldn’t happen yet. What do you think?

Check out the video of the author on a casual walk in the woods discussing this topic: Barbara Sher on 3 Phases of Excitement .

 

Peace be with you,

Deborah

*Random Trivia: When the fictional character Anne Shirley says, ” I can’t help flying up on the wings of anticipation; it’s as glorious as soaring through a sunset,” she’s talking about phase 1. That’s a reference for all the fans of Kevin Sullivan’s film version of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne books. Watch the scene here.

Brain Drops · Goal Setting · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

The Baby Steps for Your Goals are an Amuse-Bouche (And Other Thoughts about Goals)

Thoughts about goals. Let’s bullet point them for clarity.

  • Sometimes it takes a while to understand who you are and what you want because you are unique; there is no blueprint for you. If you do not happen to be that person who has known all of her life that she wanted to be an astronaut, then give yourself some slack. Nobody has ever lived YOU before.
  • Sometimes it takes a while to understand who you are and what you want because you have been told what you SHOULD want, where you SHOULD live, where you SHOULD send your children to school, what clothing you SHOULD wear, etc. Those are what I deem the “shackles of the shoulds.” Perhaps your brain has not yet been unchained from the shackles, and that’s why you aren’t living the life you want…yet.
  • Always throw a “yet” in there. It gives your brain an open door to possibilities. Watch Carol Dweck’s TEDx Talk on “The Power of Yet” by clicking here.
  • But the above is no excuse for not trying. They are just reasons that you might be stuck every now and then when pursuing a goal.
  • Make a plan for what you want and how you will achieve your goal. Perhaps you’ve always wanted a garden; perhaps you would like to give away millions of dollars in scholarships; perhaps you have health issues to conquer; perhaps you want to fly to Korea and finally meet your favorite pop star. Whatever it is. Make the plan; have daily steps -daily, I say- which map your behavior from where you are to where you want to be.
  • Your daily baby steps towards the goal might feel like annoyingly small steps. (That’s one of the “dirt sandwiches” of pursuing anything.) However, they provide a glimpse of what your life could be. Enjoy the glimpses; they are an amuse-bouche of what’s to come if you keep going.
  • Now, let’s say something happens, and the opportunity you wanted is no longer available. Figure out – and this all goes back to your plans in the first place- what drew you to make that plan. What is the essence of what you want? Is it possible to find that essence elsewhere?
  • The great thing about knowing what you want is that you are willing give it a go, even if you die still trying. You are going in the right direction, and that journey might have to suffice.

 

Some thoughts for the day.

Peace,

Deborah

Overcoming Obstacles · Writing

Your Words and Stories Are a Gift to the World (According to SARK)

I’m in the midst of reading SARK’s Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper. It’s one of those books about writing which causes you to pause and digest the meaning. Sometimes for days.

One of the sentences which stands out to me is this one on page 49:

All of our words and stories are gifts, to and from the world.

I paused and thought. Is that true?

Something in me recoiled. Is it true that ALL of our words are gifts? Some words cut like a knife. Some words make you feel as if someone has chopped of your right arm.

But then, searing words can be a gift too, if you search for the benefits of the situation. If nothing else, biting words coming your way suggest that perhaps you should remove yourself from the situation. After words come action, you see. So even biting words have their use- as a warning from those whose company you might not need to keep.

Still, I think I see what the author is saying.When the words are meant to be helpful, the fact that they are a gift to the world is more obvious.

For example, I recently suffered through a strong bout of IMPOSTER SYNDROME. It happened just as I planned to launch something that I have never had the guts to do before. So I asked my group if anyone can share a story of conquering Imposter Syndrome.

A story. I was asking for a story.

Why? Because I was hoping to follow in the footsteps of people just like me. I had hoped to make their story of success my story. There is something powerful in seeing or hearing someone else conquer what seems insurmountable for you.

I thought too of my own article here on this website – Why Your Blog is Necessary. To sum it up, I say in that article that your blog is necessary because the marketplace of ideas is bare without you. Someone might need to hear from you. You never know who can use your story right at that moment. So stick your neck out and say something.

I needed to take my own advice.

I ended up agreeing with SARK after all. Your words and stories can become a gift to the world.  Someone might need to see your shoe prints where they would like to tread. What’s your story?

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

P.S. This goes back to what we’ve discussed earlier – What is your primary gift to the world?  Your gift could be words.

JOURNALING · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Here’s One Way to Savor a Moment

Use your five senses to help create vivid memories and savor your moments.

Ask yourself the following:

What do I smell?

What do I see?

What do I hear?

What do I taste?

What textures do I feel?

 

It has been my experience that slowing down to think these questions and answer them helps to remember the moment a bit more. I usually ask about 5 things that I see,  5 things that I hear, and so forth. This is to give myself even more moments for instant recall.

I do this all the time anywhere – at weddings, family reunions, funerals, or just on a lovely morning in quiet. I want to remember the atmosphere. I also tend to write down the resulting observations into my ever-present journal.

There was a trip to Virginia wherein we stayed in a cabin near a lake. I still remember having early morning quiet time on the pier, watching fisherman in small motor boats, feeling the sun rise and warm my face in the cool morning air, hearing the pages turn in my journal. It was a beautiful moment and I remember feeling grateful to be alive.

How do you savor a moment?

Peace,

Deborah

 

Motivation

Your Many Ideas Have a Golden Thread

Hi,

It’s Deborah.

I’ve talked about my previous businesses before [See Content Revamp Article]. But I did not tell you this.

One of my previous business ideas, one that predates this website- was that of online used bookseller. There are 5 elements to such an enterprise – Sourcing, Sorting, Storing, Selling and Shipping. The first one -sourcing- didn’t work for me since I lived too far away from the books I wanted to sell, shrinking the profit margin. It was just all down hill from there.

After 6 months, I realized it was not the business for me. In a rare moment of accepting sunk cost, I stepped away from it.

However, part of what drew me into the business was being a matchmaker between readers and the information they might find useful.  It was honestly a thrill knowing that a person made the decision to get something they wanted and I made it available.

After closing down my shop – It was called Clay Books, for a reason lost with time.- I realized that my blogs do all of this matchmaking without my having to check for silver fish, dust mites or mold.

I bumped up the time that I spent on my blogs. My early blogs eventually zig-zagged into the website you are reading today.

Why an I telling you this? Because I learned something.

I learned that the thing you were drawn to, but ultimately turns out not to be for you, has something to it that you thought would be useful. What was that something? These could be clues to what you want and who you want to be.

An experience does not need to be a waste of time, it does not have to be completely sunk cost if you can glean a lesson out of it, if it can help you put together the puzzle pieces of your business (or your life in general).

Now,

call me bookseller,

call me blogger,

call me online consultant,

but ultimately, they all mean that I am a matchmaker between reader and content.

It has taken years to really understand that and then not stray from that. It will take many more years to cultivate this into a business. But, that’s my golden thread. What’s yours?

Peace be with you,

Deborah

BLOGGING · Motivation · Productivity

David Bowie on an Artist’s Popularity

There is an illustrated interview series on Youtube called Blank on Blank. One of the interviews I’ve recently run across is of rock star David Bowie on the subject of popularity and your own artistry.  What he says might apply to writers/bloggers, as well.

“An audience appreciation is only going to be periodic at the best of times. You fall in and out of favor continually. I don’t think it should be something one should be looking for. I think you should turn around at the end of the day and say, ‘I really like that piece of work,’ or ‘That piece of work [is terrible].’ Not, ‘Was that popular or wasn’t that popular?'”

This goes back to what we’ve said before about social media likes and what to do if you experience anxiety over becoming less popular in your art, or when someone unsubscribes from your blog.

The idea is to have a sense of purpose beyond being liked, and that’s what Bowie seems to say here. Making the best work you can should be enough; the rest is gravy.

Peace,

Deborah

Organize Self and Home · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Is Your Home a Museum of Grief?

Author Elizabeth Gilbert has a thought-provoking question which might help you and me de-clutter and grieve at the same time: Is your home a museum of grief?

Do you hang on to mementos and journals that make you cringe every time you see them? Are you crestfallen every time you step into your storage area and see all the unfinished projects you could have-would have-should have done?

It might be time to let go. The things that are not helping you reach your goals, the items which drain your energy are taking up space in your house and in your life. Space that can be used for the people and things that you love.

Last year, I began to give away, recycle or toss all the things I just haven’t gotten around to doing, or the things that caused me unhealthy grief to keep.

The hardest part for me was ridding myself of a few rejection notices that I had received for internships in school many years ago. I had carefully organized, alphabetized and labeled the rejection notes in a binder with other old school papers. I think the idea was to have them in case of a documentary about my life after I had become a successful screenwriter. It would make for great drama.

I finally tossed them and I haven’t missed them for a second. I don’t know why I kept them. I suppose formal institutions were a part of my identity, even the unpleasant parts. I did keep the one acceptance notice which, combined with my hard work that summer, lead to another summer internship the next year. You only need the one acceptance to begin.

A problem area for me has been THE OUTFIT! The Outfit is what I wore on the evening that a person whose company I enjoyed first called me “gorgeous.” Circumstances are such that we’ve since parted ways, never really knowing each other, but the The Outfit remains a stronghold. As if keeping it will bring back an opportunity. It won’t. But somehow I’m attached to it. I carried it around for nearly a decade before I finally gave it away to charity last year. Have I missed it? Every now and then, but for the most part, no.

Is your home a museum to grief? What ideas do you have to de-clutter these kinds of items? Do you have any prevention ideas?

Still need help? Find great de-cluttering ideas from Taylor over at Home Storage Solutions.

Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

What is Your Primary Gift to the World?

Author of The Introvert Entrepreneur, Beth Buelow, asked on Facebook the other day, What is your primary gift to the world?

Of course, you do not need to be an introvert nor a businessperson to answer this question.

The primary gift that yours truly brings into the world seems to be that of Chief Appreciator or Curator. I’m no expert on anything; I rarely have one identity in any situation. (Hello. I’m a scanner/hummingbird/multi-potentialite.)

But if I stumble across something fascinating or useful, I’ll point to it. Basically, my life at its most fitting is show-and-tell, it’s appreciating stuff created by someone else. How to develop this into a business is quite a process. I’m glad that you’re along for the journey.

What about you? How would you answer this question?

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT · Productivity

Not a Morning Person? This might help.

When you are told during childhood that you are a night owl, not a morning person – that you are more energized at night then during the day- for the longest time you stick to that identity like a gnat on an overripe peach. It also means that you have difficulty waking up for school without being grumpy.

Doomed. I thought I was doomed to dislike mornings forever. Then, as a teen, I stumbled upon a solution. I set the alarm to sound -not the default buzz- but one of my favorite albums- The Best of Tchaikovsky. When you hear the cannons of the “1812 Overture,” you do not remain asleep. It was fun.

Later in life,  I found the same problem occurred, only this time I did not want to go to work. I would go anyway, of course, and do an excellent job. However,  I realized the issue all this time had not been mornings, but with forcing myself to live a life that I did not want. With this newer situation, as in my teens, mornings became easier when I would do this one thing – front load my favorite things to do.

I know we are supposed to reward ourselves only after a job well done, if at all. I know we are supposed to reserve dessert for last. (That’s what we are told.)

Well, to get myself up and excited to be alive, I would eat mental dessert first. I would wake up and conduct my morning rituals, work on only the things that were important to me. This might mean getting up super early, but when you are getting up to work on your own projects, life is great; it’s not such a problem.

You are awakening to do things that you like. Then, through the course of a day,  you make your way to the job. Then, you go home and, again participate in what you like. The job you may or may not like is sandwiched between a life that fits you.

Then, you gradually make plans to reduce that middle part – the part that doesn’t fit your life.

Today, the title of night owl does not seem to fit any more, nor do I wish to replace it with another label. It is more accurate to say this: I do as I please when awake.  I am far less interested in the circadian rhythm label.

How about you? How have you weathered the mornings if you do not like them?

Peace Be With you,

Deborah

 

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Spot Opportunities

At Psychology Today, Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. teaches us How to Get Better at Spotting Opportunities.

To spot opportunities, you must be promotion-focused. Says Dr. Halvorson,

“You are promotion-focused when you think about what you might gain if you are successful — how you might end up better off.”

Those who search for the benefits of a situation are more likely to understand the opportunities or advantages in front of them.

Alternatively, says Dr. Halvorson,

“if you approach your venture focused on not losing everything you’ve worked so hard for, on avoiding danger and keeping things running smoothly, you have a prevention focus. Prevention focus is good for many things—careful planning, accuracy, reliability, and thoroughness, just to name a few. But it doesn’t lead to creativity, open-mindedness, and the confidence to take chances the way promotion focus does.”

How does one develop this habit of being promotion-focused?

  • List the benefits of a situation, goal or task.
  • Picture your ideal self.
  • Reflect on past successes.

See more information from Dr. Halvorson by clicking here.

All the Best,

Deborah

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

What is your scent?

A couple of years ago, I attended a weekend women’s conference. I was there to enjoy the company of friends, not really expecting much more than a restful mini vacation.

While there, a speaker -whose name I wish I could remember- asked a question that has stayed with me for a while.

What is your scent?

When you enter or leave a room, is the place better for your contribution or worse? Are you a rose or a skunk?

This comparison drew a few chuckles. However, in this simple question is something profound – the idea that your presence can change the atmosphere of the room.

Of course, we cannot control the minds of people who would like to find fault with us. However, we can be aware of what we are doing, and try to create a sweet-smelling savor in a place, like a rose, or perhaps like a honeysuckle, which is far more pleasant to the senses.

That interaction you and I have with a random stranger at the supermarket, for instance, is not as insignificant as we think. It’s part of a larger fabric of human encounters that creates a culture.

It can be a culture of kindness, a culture of indifference, a culture of unpleasantness and resentment; the choices are endless. It all starts with individual moments that you and I have with each other.

You are important. What you do is important, partly because it creates a precedent for the next person and the next generation.

What is your scent?  How will you and I create a honeysuckle moment today?

 

Peace be with you,

Deborah

Introverts · Overcoming Obstacles · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

An Introvert with Roommates (6 Tips)

Yours truly has had roommates, dorm mates, apartment mates, house mates, duplex mates… you name it. It was torture. Hello, I am an introvert.

I’m not blaming my roommates; they were all fine. It’s me. It’s the way I am built – I need more solitude than most people.

I cannot tell you how best to live as an introvert with people in your home, because, frankly, I was terrible at it. But I did learn a few things that made me less miserable in a crowd.

Tip#1 Find the benefits

Write it down, embroider it on a pillow, slap it on your face if that’s what it takes to remember benefits of having people in your house.

You can endure almost anything well if you think it’s for your good. This doesn’t mean you should remain there with those people; it just a tactic to endure with less stress.

Tip#2 Carve out a space for yourself

You can have a special place in your home. (Your room, perhaps. Or an extra long time in the bathroom). A place that’s just your own – your own mini home within a home. This is where you are free to do as you please. Savor that.

Now, let’s say there is no place like this in your home. Can you find such a place outside of your home, like a park, or a stand of trees, or a coffee shop, or a corn field? Can you stay there for as long as you need to, then  eventually go to your room to sleep?

Sometimes writing in a journal -even in a crowd- can be that mental home within a home, a space that is just your own (like a turtle toting its shell).

Tip#3 Stretch your socializing muscles and get out there with your roommates more

Come out to the common area and say  “Hi” to your roommates for a few minutes. Catch up on the day. (I know you don’t like chit chat, but non-introverts often do. It suggests you care.) Then dip back out into your introvert space. If you are having fun, stay longer.

You’re establishing good will and stretching yourself a bit. This is also practice for when you have your own space and there is no longer the roommate to be a social buffer, to answer the door for repair personnel and what not.

Tip#4 Anticipate -in writing- the day that you will have your own space.

I laid out plans that I called THE GREAT ESCAPE. It has three phases – “Out of,” “Through” and “Into.” It’s not enough to want to escape FROM. You can escape and go anywhere, perhaps even to a worse situation. You must also plan and anticipate running TO something that you want. In that way your planning isn’t all negative.

I slowly chipped away at the items listed under each phase. It felt good to accomplish a little bit of independence. This small progress helped to sustain me. When a chance to grab a space to myself cropped up, I leaped at it since I already knew that is was close to what I wanted. Which brings me to the next point.

Tip#5 Sometimes the escape route isn’t the most ideal, but can be a stepping stone

Knowing what you want is great. But don’t dismiss what could be the stepping stone to your next phase just because it’s not THE dream space.

This is why it is crucial to understand your escape plan in detail so you’ll know a portion of it when you see it.

Tip#6 Prepare for fear when you do finally have your own space

Sometimes when you get what you want you start to become  a little afraid. You are, after all, changing your identity from one with roommates to one without. Everything is on you.

We’ve already discussed how to Prepare for Fear, on this website. Basically, you remind yourself that this fear means you are getting closer to your dream. Also, use this fear to remind yourself of other success in your life. You succeeded then, you can handle this new season of  life as well.

Once you have your own space to yourself, it is wonderful. You can still socialize with people during the work hours and social hours, but once you come home… Ah! Sanctuary!

Sincerely,

Deborah, Introvert

P.S. I have just found this article. Check out the Introvert’s Guide to Dealing with Roommates over at Dear, Introvert for more ideas.

P.P.S. You might also try The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World”  by Marti Laney, Psy.D. There isn’t a section specifically for roommates, but try Part 2, Section 6 which is about Socializing and think in terms of housemates. That might help.

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PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Dale Carnegie on Why you Should Be Yourself

In Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, one of the seven ways to peace and happiness is to be yourself.

Several times Carnegie tried to imitate others and failed.

“…I set out to write what I hoped would be the best book on public speaking for businessmen that had ever been written…. I was going to borrow the ideas of a lot of other writers and put them all in one book – a book that would have everything. So I got scores of books on public speaking and spent a year incorporating their ideas into my manuscript. But it finally dawned on me once again that I was playing the fool. This hodgepodge of other men ‘s ideas that I had written was so synthetic, so dull, that no businessman would ever plod through it. So I tossed a year’s work into the wastebasket, and started all over again. This time I said to myself: ‘You’ve got to be Dale Carnegie, with all his faults and limitations. You can’t possibly be anybody else.’ So I quit trying to be a combination of other men, and… wrote a textbook on public speaking out of my own experiences….”

That book became a best seller.

When he tosses a year’s work into the wastebasket… that must have hurt.

Starting over is one of the toughest decisions to make, especially if it is not the first time reinventing yourself, or your business, or your project. You’ve put in a lot of time and effort, and other resources into something.

Sometimes you must count those mistakes as sunk costs so that you can move towards what you should be doing.

Let’s be clear: those previous experiences are not a complete waste (or at least, they don’t have to be). It has usually been my experience that there are some elements of  your past mistakes which prove to be transferable, that prove to be useful today or in the future.

One of the things which has prevented me from being myself career-wise, is that my true self did not seem welcome anywhere. So you mimic the “successful” people and squeeze yourself into in pre-established molds. I was only fooling myself. (I’ll tell you my life story at another time.)

Whatever your goals, whatever my goals, let’s you and I take a page from Carnegie and be ourselves. We have to start there.

 

Peace be with you,

Deborah