Business Mentors · Family

A Custom-Tailored Life Restructures the Family Tree?

One December, I spent Christmas with family. I thought nothing of business and I stopping journal writing long enough to be in the moment, for once. I’m glad that I was, because I was attuned to an undergrad relative who clearly wanted to ask career questions.

I asked him, “Tossing aside the idea of what you are ‘supposed’ to do, what would you like your life to look like?” His answer had nothing to do with the major he was pursuing and had nothing to do with what would impress the folks. He smiled as if he had said something naughty.

His ideas were like a little seed; I gave him some tips on what to do to grow that seed once he returns to school after the holidays. His ideas were nebulous; I gave him ideas to clarify and structure his goals so that he can pursue his interests while also making money. He took notes.

Suddenly, I felt as if I were restructuring my family tree and, frankly, to give my ideas such importance is frightening. (You and I have discussed fear in goal setting before and how to deal with it. See “Prepare for Fear.”)

This conversation was a jolt for me. I realized that to succeed in creating a custom-tailored life is not just for me, it is also for others in my social sphere to understand their possibilities.

What a weighty responsibility.

Sincerely,

Deborah

Motivation · Writing

What Kind of Writer are You? (and other questions from SARK)

Author Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (AKA SARK) is someone whose books about writing and personal development are new to me. I’m currently reading her book, Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It.

The book is meant to be inspiration for the writer. In it there are interviews of writers with a series of questions. I will answer these questions so that you’ll get a better sense of who runs this website. Also, let me know how you would answer these questions.

What kind of writer are you? What do you love writing?

Non-fiction is the genre. Personal development, online changes, introversion, Scannerism, journaling are all the topic of choice for internet writing.

Journaling is where the seeds for this website’s articles are planted.

I delve into poetry occasionally, but not on this website.

Before writing or creating, what are some of your favorite rituals?

This writer is the type who will use a pre-writing ritual as a means to procrastinate and not actually write anything; it’s best that I not have any more decision points before writing. I just dive right in.

When an idea occurs, I jot it down immediately and, if I have time, expand on it; that’s usually in my journal. Later, I mine the idea to discover how it could be useful for the reader.

I love writing because:

I write in different ways.

Writing for myself – which is how I use journaling – has become something more than just what I love, it has become more of a necessity every year. Journal writing is a means to express all your thoughts, if you wish (“express” in the essential meaning of that term- to press out). It is rare these days not to jot down something in the journal on a daily basis, in the same way that it would be rare not to sweat in the summer heat. It must come out.

Writing for community is how I started writing online. I started a random blog in 2006, which I niched down into a classic movie blog and joined a classic movie association. I love connecting with like-minded individuals.

I also like to inspire people where I can, and remind them how their voice is necessary.

Writing for business purposes is a different beast. Or is it?

Worrying about SEO, making attractive images, wondering whether you should also start a concurrent Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest/Snapchat/Facebook account, whether you should blog on Medium.com or keep that info for your own blog -and that’s just putting out content so that people know that you exist- can be a pain. You haven’t even begun to talk about the goods or services that you offer.

As a certain businessman (whose name rhymes with Vary Gaynerchuk) has said,  these days your business should be a media company that is an expert in X. Meaning, if you sell garlic sausages, you should also be seen as the expert in adjacent things as well – how to cook the sausages, the best food pairings with sausage, etc.

It’s enough to tear out your hair!

Or at least I thought it was until recently when I realized that my original way to communicate online – writing for community- is my thing, is where I’m comfortable. Now I am learning to enjoy writing for business.

Do you ever dislike or feel frustrated by your writing? If so, what kinds of things help you?

Journal writing is only frustrating when I’m not in the position to do it – e.g. when someone is talking to you and you would rather write in your journal, but that’s rude. I patiently wait until I can make a respectful exit, then I go write something.

Writing for other people is frustrating when I don’t know if what I’m doing is useful, or whether it comes across as silly, frivolous or sales-y.

To get feedback, then, is crucial. Opening the comments section has helped. Having an account on Twitter -where people seem more likely to respond- has helped. Straight out asking in Facebook groups, “What is useful to you” also helps.

Do your night or day dreams contribute to your work? How?

Most of the time, I do not recall my nocturnal imaginings.

Day dreams are all about side projects. So, no, they do not seem to contribute to my work, except to indulge my Scanner nature.

Who is a writer?

Anyone who writes is a writer.

What words of support and encouragement can you share with other writers?

I love the word “share” these days, as that was the catalyst to revamp this website and business. If I’m sharing what I know rather than pontificating from on high, I am more likely to contribute. I feel better in that space- the space of sharing. (Your mileage may vary.)

/digression

Fellow writers,

It has usually been my experience that understanding why you write is bedrock for the best writing you will do. The “why” then guides you to timing, platform, content, whether or not to write for others or for yourself, etc.

Then you tweak and fiddle with all of these elements for years until you find something that works for you and your audience. If writing is not fun, then perhaps a different mode of communication is better for you – audio, video, or through one of the other senses. Try it.

What are your answers to SARK’s questions?

All the best,

Deborah

Overcoming Obstacles · Productivity

On Making Progress

The goal here is usually to write three times per week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday – for about a year, then scale back to once per week. I missed Wednesday due to pure fear. I have ideas, lists of things to talk about,  an editorial calendar, but nothing sparked my interest.

A problem with an editorial calendar is that when you make the calendar, you are interested in writing about that topic. When the day comes to write it, you are no longer interested. Does that ever happen to you?

Is the inner Scanner/Hummingbird/Multi-Potentialite sabotaging me again with her waning interest in a project? That’s a frightening thought.

Then worry sets in about reaching the goals, whether my system of organization is the right one, whether the articles are perfect enough. It’s a mess.

Nina Amir’s article on perfectionism spurred me on today. Mrs. Amir says to concentrate on making progress more than on making perfection. The author gives us a four-step program for that.  Head on over to her website to read the article titled “Make Progress, Not Perfection.”

Learning to wade through the mediocre or troubling parts of your project is always tough.  Sometimes you forget that your blog is necessary. To get through this, I find inspiration in the thoughts of other people who understand the struggle – whether a blog (like that of Mrs. Amir), or a book, or a close friend; they spur me on,  despite the problems.

Who or what spurs YOU on?

 

Sincerely,

Deborah

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Be the Best Aunt or Uncle That You Can Be (In 6 Tips)

Are you a new aunt or uncle?  Congratulations! You are in for a real treat. This relationship can be a treasure for you and the little one.

Yours truly has been an aunt for over a decade now, which means I know a lot of things that do not work and a few things that do. Let me share a few of those things that might benefit your relationship with your niece or nephew.

1. Be Excited!

Being an uncle or aunt is exciting. You are almost like mom or dad (But with the advantage of returning the kids to their parents when you’re finished babysitting ). You are a different version of grandma or grandpa. You are that perfect blend of authority figure, modernity and screwy fun to them. Celebrate it!

2. Get Your Bluff in Early; a Tantrum is Not Cute and Leads to Future Problems

I’m not saying that if you bribe the kid with an extra ice cream cone to compel her to stop screaming that she’ll one day murder the gardener in the basement.  However, she will learn from that kind of training that she will receive whatever she wants if she just yells loud enough and embarrasses you. What a terror to unleash on the world.

Do not do anything the parents will have to undo. You are there to help raise a responsible adult; you’re not there show how awesome you are (even though you are pretty cool).

3. Teach Them What You Know

Family traditions, your occupation, your hobbies, virtues – whatever you do, let your nieces and nephews in on your life. Tell them stories of when their parents were young.

Tell them the concepts that you believe to be imperative to know. You are giving them another perspective on life. You are imbuing them with the knowledge that has taken you years to glean so that they will not need to reinvent the wheel.

Teach them what you know


4. Always Respect the Parents

Right now the whole family is elated that the little bundle has arrived.

However, there might come a time in the future when you might not agree with everything the parents are doing, you might not raise your own children in that way. However, unless you have legal custody, the nephew or niece is not yours.

Barring some kind of extreme circumstance, like criminal behavior in the home, what you can do instead of contradicting the parent is influence the authority figures by creating a good relationship, a respectful relationship. Bite your tongue if you have to do so. Eventually, you will be able to make gentle observations and occasional suggestions, when appropriate.

Remember that to have access to the child, you must establish trust with the parent.

Now, let’s say your brother (your niece’s dad) likes to complain about his wife. Do not join in. Skirt around the disrespect as much as you can; that’s not your place. As you establish trust, suggest ways that the couple might mend their differences.

When you disrespect a child’s parent, you are bashing his or her hero. Not only is that a character flaw in you, the child is less likely to respect and listen to you.

Remember that an aunt or uncle is there to supplement parenting, not overhaul it.

5. Be There to Listen and Humbly Share Advice with Nephew or Niece

Develop a relationship with the ankle biters when they are younger; it’s easier for them to trust you when they are older. That ease will lead them to talk to you and consider your opinion when mulling over a problem.

In other words, be accessible. Learn their goals and objectives. What is important to them? How can you help them achieve what they want in life? At times, all they need is a listening ear. Be there.

6. Savor the Moments

Be in the moment. Take photos. Write in your journal about what little Timmy/little Kwame/ little SeokJin did today. Record little catchphrases and habits that they use as young children and remind them of same when they are a little older. Everybody likes to hear about themselves. It also shows that you care enough to pay attention.

My uncle would say to me on occasion, “Enjoy this time now, kid. Pretty soon you’ll be an adult with bills.” Frankly, as great as childhood was, I wouldn’t turn back the clock for anything. Still, I know what he meant – savor your moments, they are fleeting. Perhaps he was savoring a moment with his niece when he said it.

Now go forth and prosper as the best aunt or uncle that you can be!

Sincerely,

Deborah

Goal Setting · Motivation · Overcoming Obstacles · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Why You Procrastinate (& What to Do About It)

You have a goal to reach but you often procrastinate. Why?

Let’s look at the three aspects of achievement,  go through the process of elimination and determine where the problem of procrastination might exis so that you can get started again.

There are three aspects to reaching a goal:

1) Where you are

2) Where you want to be

3) The method to get there

Anything within these three spheres can be trip you up, prevent you from reaching the goal , encourage you to procrastinate.

Think of your goal as the far side of a lake. You are standing on this side of the lake. The lake itself is part of the journey to your goal.

Some people seem to jet ski right over to their destination quite easily. But you have barely dipped your toe into the lake, you have procrastinated.

So let’s look at where your biggest issue might be in the process of achievement.

WHERE YOU WANT TO BE/ YOUR GOAL/ THE FAR SIDE OF THE LAKE

One aspect of goal-setting and ridding yourself of procrastination is making sure that the goal is something you want. That might sound too simple, but -honestly- we’ve all been trained to believe that we should want this, we should pursue that. But do we really want those things?

Have you checked in with yourself to determine whether the goal is yours and not simply something others have told you that you should want? At times, we procrastinate because we do not want to achieve that goal and are in denial.

At other times, the problem is that what we wanted before isn’t exactly what we want now, but we haven’t noticed the change in desire.

Circumstances change. You change. The goal changes. Your attention, what’s valuable to you, changes. You should adjust as the variables shift.

Example – Let’s say you’re a bachelor who wants to climb the corporate ladder, so you work late on weekends and it’s no big deal. Suddenly you are engaged to be married.  Is working on Saturday still interesting to you or would you rather use that time to become better acquainted with your future spouse?

If circumstances have changed, account for what it means and how it affects your perspective of your goals.

Write down not only the goal but the purpose for it. Review the purpose regularly to determine whether it still fits.

WHERE YOU ARE/ THIS SIDE OF THE LAKE

You have determined that the goal you are pursuing is the right one for you. Great! Then, your procrastination might be induced by a second aspect of achievement – your current environment.

Your physical space and surrounding area might be uninspiring. (Alter it to be a place where you want to live. Or perhaps it’s time to move.)

How you arrange your physical space or items can help or hinder you in your goal,  they can induce procrastination.

Example – You have the goal of jogging more often. Arrange your life to make that more likely to happen. You might choose the CUE-ROUTINE-REWARD Method for this. You create a CUE  or signal which reminds you to work on your goal. That signal might be to see your jogging shoes next to the bed or next to the door. Then you engage in the desired ROUTINE – jogging. Then you REWARD yourself with something that you enjoy very much – perhaps finally finishing that novel you have not made time to read. Whatever works for you.  Eventually your mind and body anticipate the Reward just by interacting with the Cue. Voila! You have a habit and environment that helps you achieve your goal.

However, environment means not only the physical space.

That which you ingest mentally can be discouraging. ( Be careful of what music, movies, books and concepts you absorb. They could create self-defeating attitudes.)

That which you ingest physically can be energy-draining. (Eat the most health-giving food that you can afford.)

Those with whom you spend time can be knee-jerk negative people in general or those who find nothing beneficial in your goals. (Spend time with others who are more encouraging. You must counter-act the negativity with truth, of course, but also with the will and the team to help you see it through.)

Everything around you or in you is your environment.

You can use the CUE-ROUTINE-REWARD method on each aspect of your environment to help you create the habits you need to conquer procrastination.

THE METHOD TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL/ THE BOAT ON THE LAKE

You’ve decided that the goal you have set is the one you really want to reach. You have found ways to create an environment that will help launch you towards your goal.

But procrastination still has you by the throat.

Now let us consider the third aspect of achievement – the method to reach your goal. The method might trip you up.

Example – If you wish to rid your diet of all sugar, you might decide to toss out all sugar and anything else sweet from your house right now.  In two weeks, you’re still craving sweets and you sneak out to a store late at night to buy a forbidden Snickers bar.

The “no sweets” method doesn’t seem to work for you, at least not at this stage. But you don’t give up.

You try a different method.

You decide that you will keep something sweet in your life, as long as it’s not sugar or chemical sweetener substitutes.  You begin using exclusively Stevia Reboudiana – a naturally sweet plant with fewer calories than sugar. You hire a nutritionist to be your accountability partner.

You must continually tweak the variables that do not work for you with different methods.

Procrastination doesn’t necessarily mean you are a broken human; it simply means that the procrastinative behavior brings you something that you want. Do you want more time with your family, so you go home early, and that’s why you haven’t put in the time to turn in your TPS reports at work? Do you want not to smash your fingers again while hammering a nail and that’s why you’ve procrastinated on nailing those frames to the wall? Do you want to avoid a person at the party and that’s why you haven’t bothered to dress yet when it’s time to leave? Determine what procrastination gives to you and find another method to gain it.

——

Ridding yourself of procrastination and achieving your goal is like crossing a lake. How is the launching pad? Do you really want to get to the other side?  What about your method to travel across the lake? Would you rather take a jet ski?  A dingy? A paddle boat? Would you rather swim and test your mettle? Would you rather stay on this side of the lake –a familiar side- and make the best of it?

Understand that any one of these variables could be your stumbling block. Consider each of the three aspects of achievement, determine where the issues lie to get started again.

Above all, have patience with yourself and do not give up.

Sincerely,

Deborah

Further resources for stopping the habit of procrastination

JOURNALING · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Journal Prompts for Writing about Childhood

Hi! It’s Deborah.

I’m part of a journal writing group on Facebook. One of the members mentioned that he has used old family photos as journal prompts. You start writing whatever the photo brings to mind and get a glimpse into your own mind, or record an old memory. What a great idea!  Especially if you add a copy of the photo on the journal page.

Do you need journal prompts for writing about your childhood? Here are few to get you started:

  1. What is your earliest memory? [The other year, I read What Your Childhood Memories Say about You . . . and What You Can Do about It” by Dr. Kevin Leman. In it, the author posits that since the brain always remembers what happens to you, the memory that you subconsciously select as your earliest one reveals your true perspective on life.]
  2. What is one thing that you enjoyed doing as a child?
  3. Did you have pets as a child? Which was your favorite? Why?
  4. Choose a piece of childhood memorabilia. What stories does it bring to mind? How did it come into your possession?
  5. Where did you attend school? Did you enjoy it? Why? Why not?
  6. What did imagine you would do as an adult? Did you do it? Why? Why not?
  7. What foods did you enjoy as a child? Which ones did you dislike? Do you still enjoy/dislike them? Why?
  8. Write about your parents. What are their names? What are their occupations? How would you describe your childhood relationship to them? How does that compare with your adult relationship with them?
  9. Were your parents great with handling money? Why? Why not? Did you learn anything from the way they handled finances in your childhood?
  10. List 2 people other than your parents who stand prominent in your childhood memory. Who were they? What relation were they to you? Did you enjoy that relationship? Why? Why not?
  11. What were the family traditions? Have you changed any of them in your adult life? Would you like to change the traditions? Why?
  12. If you’re the letter writing type, write a letter to someone from your childhood in your journal. (You do not need to send it. This is simply a device to help you explore your past.)
  13. How is your spouse’s childhood similar to yours? Or does it differ? How have you dealt with this?
  14. What childhood would you like to provide for your children (or future children)?

That might hold you for a fortnight (or longer if you’d rather not write in your journal every day).

Peace be with you,

Deborah

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

It’s Deborah. [Content Revamp]

04-29-2017

Let’s get real.

One of the biggest blocks I’ve had to business success is believing that I am not an expert in anything. We are all expert in something, even if it’s merely being two steps ahead of someone in the blogging world or knowing the best restaurants in town. Still, my offers seemed to ring hollow to me. Could I really help you brainstorm your career? Yes. But what would be the rate of success? I don’t know.

My website and business have endured many different iterations:

  • Pivot Point Consulting – Helping you brainstorm your non-traditional career
  • Inspiration Haven – A lifestyle blog with vacation pictures
  • The Observer – Curating online business tips and making business-related observations
  • The Custom-Tailored Life – Helping you design a life that fits

I have never felt that I am an expert in any of it. However, I am an expert in being me. Thus, instead of promising you that I can help you achieve your goals, this website will become more show-and-tell oriented. I will share the things that I’m learning so that we learn together, rather than my pontificating from on high.

Today, I become more vulnerable and revamp this site into a journey, a journey into personal development, thoughts on introversion, musings on the scanner/multi-potentialite nature, coming to terms with being a highly sensitive person, and journaling (lots of journaling). We also might take occasional stabs at teaching blogging; since I’ve blogged for 10 years, I  know a lot of things that do not work and a few things that do. I’ll share the few things that I know on the subject.

The name will be “It’s Deborah.” [5-20-17 Update: The name is “Deborah Observes.”] I hope you will join me.

Sincerely,

Deborah

Goal Setting

Success is a Moving Target

The sweet spot of success lies somewhere between where your interests overlap with someone else’s needs or wants.

As you gain experience, as you discover what you really want and what the client or customer wants, the target moves.  It will forever move if you’re paying attention, want a meaningful business and want to be useful to your clients.

Goal Setting · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT · Stress Relief

How to Prepare for Fear

Dr. Susan Baili says in her book Live a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You”  that when embarking on a goal we must prepare to be afraid. When an opportunity that you want arrives, you might feel pangs of fear. This is not a signal that you will fail; it’s a natural reaction to something new.

Dr. Baili says she uses the fear to congratulate herself: “Well done! Fear means you’re getting closer your big dream.” This calms her down immediately.

Continue reading “How to Prepare for Fear”

Goal Setting · Motivation · Overcoming Obstacles

1 Tip to Understand Your Multiple Career Interests

Author Barbara Sher is known for coining the term “Scanner” to refer to people who wish to incorporate more than one interest in their careers or who wish to have multiple careers in a lifetime.

Through her books, including Refuse to Choose, Ms. Sher has helped to shift a paradigm for a number of people. The one which sticks out to me lately is the eating analogy.

When you wish to change careers, says Ms. Sher, you are not necessarily a quitter.

Continue reading “1 Tip to Understand Your Multiple Career Interests”

Goal Setting · Productivity

When to Stop Researching If You Are On a Deadline

One useful thing to learn in research is when to stop.

In this era of unprecedented information access, where the acronym TMI (Too Much Information) is used to ask someone to stop sharing, it’s great to know when to push away the plate of info and say, “Thank you; I’ve had enough.” Continue reading “When to Stop Researching If You Are On a Deadline”