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.

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

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

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

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

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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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 · 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”