Category: Life Balance

Four Ways to Change

“There are only four ways that you can change anything about yourself, your life, your work, or your relationships with others.” – Brian Tracy, self development author and coach

Brian Tracy says that to change you need to:

Do more of something
Do less of something
Start something
Stop something

We all have things that we would like to do more of but never seem to have the time.  The flip side of that coin is that we find the time to do things that perhaps don’t bring us all that much joy or aren’t of any great value in our achieving goals.  You might want to exercise more, do more yoga, spend more time with family, read more books but can’t fit it into your busy schedule.  On the other hand,  do you watch mindless TV, play hours of video games, spend too much time chatting on the phone?  So why can’t you do less of those things and therefore spend more time on the things you DO want to do.

The same holds true for starting something.  Perhaps you have to stop something in order to start something else.

If you find you are stuck and not moving forward, ask yourself “If I do X, what will that get me?”  For example, if you stop playing video games and read more books about investing, what will that get you? Perhaps that house on the beach when you retire, or a new car because your current one has 250,000 miles on the speedometer and may not last much longer. If the house or the car are important enough, you will stop playing the games and start reading.

If your answer is something that you deeply want or care about, then you WILL find a way to make the change. If you have a passion for something, it will drive you to do whatever is necessary.  If not, then it probably wasn’t all that important in the first place.

Action Steps

What do you need to do more of?
What will that get you?

What do you need to do less of?
What will that get you?

What do you need to begin?
What will that get you?

What do you need to stop?
What will that get you?

Include behaviors and attitudes in your list.
Ask those around you what they think you should stop, start, do more/less of.
Start small. Pick one thing and work on that.
Start today and change your life!

Attitude is a Matter of Choice

What are you sculpting today?

What are you sculpting today?

The Sculptor’s Attitude

“I woke up early today, excited over all I get to do before the clock strikes midnight. I have responsibilities to fulfill today. I am important. My job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have.

Today I can complain because the weather is rainy or … I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.

Today I can feel sad that I don’t have more money or … I can be glad that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wisely and guide me away from waste.

Today I can grumble about my health or … I can rejoice that I am alive.

Today I can lament over all that my parents didn’t give me when I was growing up or … I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.

Today I can cry because roses have thorns or … I can celebrate that the thorns have roses.

Today I can mourn my lack of friends or … I can excitedly embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.

Today I can whine because I have to go to work or … I can shout for joy because I have a job to do.

Today I can complain because I have to go to school or … eagerly open my mind and fill it with rich new tidbits of knowledge.

Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have to do housework or … I can feel honored because God has provided shelter for my mind, body and soul.

Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped. And here I am, the sculptor who gets to do the shaping. What today will be like is up to me. I get to choose what kind of day I will have!

Have a GREAT DAY … unless you have other plans.”

—Author Unknown

This piece spoke to me because of a recent client. He had just completed an assessment which pinpointed how his THINKING, (not the situations) was not only causing stress in his life and leading to health issues but also keeping him from being successful. Seeing it “on paper” was a real AHA moment for him.

We talk to ourselves all day and 90% of it is negative. If you’re at all familiar with some of the quantum physics concepts, you know that what you put out into the world is what you get back. The more negativity you put out there, the more negative situations you will find around you.

So next time you have a negative thought, STOP, and turn it into a positive one. It can’t hurt and it might just change your life. It’s your choice!

Midlife: Do You Let Your Inner Child Come Out and Play?

Most of us feel we are supposed to be one personality and wonder why we often feel like life is not working out the way we want it to. One minute we feel one way and then a few minutes or hours later we feel another way. The thing is, we are not just one person but a multitude of different sub-personalities who all want their “time in the sun.”

The work personality wants to get the job done while the play personality wants to relax and enjoy life. So we bounce back and forward feeling guilty when one runs the show and won’t let the other one out. Perhaps it is time you let the “playful child” lead you by the hand.

Some people are in touch with their playful inner child but many of us have suppressed or buried that personality because somewhere along the way we discovered that it wasn’t safe. Over the years we built stronger defense systems as a means of protection till the needs of “the child” were nowhere near being fulfilled. So the challenge is getting back in touch with your playful self.

There are many ways to do this but one of my favorites is playing with a puppy. Perhaps for you it’s a kitten. Any young animal is a delight to watch. Their carefree playfulness, their antics and the unconditional love they display can bring out that inner child, make you smile and warm your heart.

Start to think about some things that are fun and that you can include in your daily life. Even if it’s just a few minutes in the morning or the evening, find out what your “child” likes to do. You will bring more balance, joy, fulfillment and harmony into your life.

(The photo is one of my niece’s new puppies.  She and her husband breed Alaskan Malamutes in Australia.  Isn’t he just the cutest!)

Stressed Out? Let Blue Calm You

Feeling Stressed?Spring is such a beautiful time of the year – it’s my favorite season. Nature provides us with an abundance of colors and fragrances. Don’t all the yellows, pinks, whites and other colors of the blossoms give your mood a boost? They do mine!

You can use these colors to change your mood just by looking around you.  For example, when you’re stressed out, a color you can use is blue.  When you notice you’re starting to go into overload, find something blue … perhaps the sky, a pillow, car, picture, envelope etc.  Keep your eyes on the blue, allowing it to soak into your very being.  Focus on it, feel the blue in every cell of your body.

If you’re with others and someone happens to comment on your weird stare, just respond with “Oh I’m fine, just daydreaming.”

Breathe in that wonderfully tranquil blue color. Let it wrap you in its protective cocoon … through you, around you, within you.  Feel yourself going into a deeper state of tranquillity. Blue brings relaxation and calmness. If any part of your body feels irritated, tense or tied up in knots, breathe in and envision the blue light flowing in and out of that area.

Blue calms and cools.  Feel the stress and tension slip out of your body as you continue to focus on that wonderfully relaxing blue color. Notice how you’re slowing down your breathing and allowing every muscle group in your body to become loose and relaxed.

Immerse yourself in blue for a few minutes.  Notice how you’re not feeling as overwhelmed as you were before you started this exercise.  Aren’t you feeling more relaxed now?

Silence is Golden

Silence is Golden

The Sound of Silence

The Sound of Silence

Speech needs company; silence needs solitude.
Speech wants to conquer others; silence helps conquer oneself.

Speech makes friends or foes; silence befriends all.
Speech demands respect; silence commands it.

Speech is earth-bound; silence is heaven-bound.
Speech educates; silence exalts.
Speech is subjective; silence objective.

Speech has regrets; silence none.
Speech has limitations; silence is boundless.
Speech needs effort; silence a lot more.

Speech is human; silence is Divine.
While speaking you are heard by creatures; in silence you hear the creator.

Silence leads to a stillness of the mind,
Then to introspection,
Then to self-cleansing,
Finally to liberation.

— Prema Pandurang

I live alongside a busy highway where the constant sound of vehicles, sirens and horns fills the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  It is so noisy that if I leave the bedroom window open, sleep is almost impossible.  There are times when I search for silence, when I crave it. It rejuvenates my jangling mind like nothing else can.

And it’s not just physical noise that ramps up the stress levels.  There’s also the constant chatter of your own mind, racing from one thought to the next. Those thoughts that keep on going, just like the energizer bunny.  Perhaps you need some silence, some stillness of the mind. Even just a brief period of silence can lower your blood pressure, slow down the heart and lessen some of that adrenaline flowing through your veins.

So right now, find a quiet spot and for just a few minutes let go of your “to do” list and close your eyes, breathing in deeply and slowly once, twice and a third time. Find the silence and let it heal you!

Passion Deficit Disorder in the Workplace

A recent Careerbuilder survey found that 40% of workers say they have had difficulty staying motivated at work in the last year. As a result, employee turnover is expected to rise in the next year as disgruntled employees look for better positions and more flexibility in the workplace.

While the recession has caused employers to reorganize their operations to remain viable, it seems that many employees have felt neglected in the process. PDD (Passion Deficit Disorder) is obviously rife in the workplace. Or expressed another way, employees are not engaged! Does this apply to you and what are you going to do about it? Wishing and hoping that your employer will fix it for you, is not going to get you very far. And finding a new job may not happen for some foreseeable future.

One thing you might do is start living in the here and now. When we compare what we have now to how much more we had in the past or how much better off we were, we are going to become disgruntled. The past is over. Life is a series of cycles. They are not good or bad unless we decide to view them that way.

“It is neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so” – William Shakespeare

At the other end of the spectrum, perhaps you are engaged in wishful thinking about how much better it could be. Planning for a better future is one thing. Constantly wishing you could already be living that future, without taking any sort of positive action, leads to dissatisfaction with the present. It leads to a life where the present is never good enough. Where you never even see the “silver lining” that might be hiding there because all your energy is being placed in the “good old days” or the “brighter future.”

If you start adopting the mindset to find the positive in the present, giving it your full attention and best efforts, that positive energy will help draw you to the better opportunities you are looking for. Continuing to find fault, blame and unhappiness with the current moment will only keep you locked in negative energies and attracting more of the same.

I recently watched a client go through an amazing transformation after she took notice of how her thoughts were keeping her stuck in unhappiness. Locked in a job she hated, she was spiraling out of control, finding it an immense chore to get up for work every morning. When she started focusing on doing her very best, even when faced with the most mundane of tasks, she felt more at peace. Soon thereafter, once her superiors started to notice a change in her attitude and demeanor, she was given greater responsibility and more fun duties. As a result she is now well on the way to getting a promotion that will bring her much more fulfillment.

So remember, to change your life, you have to change your thoughts! When you change your thoughts, you can change PDD (Passion Deficit Disorder) to PED (Passion Every Day).

If you are stuck on figuring out what you’re passionate about, the following book can give you some clues.

WorkLife Balance: Getting the Most out of Life

During the course of every day we are faced with numerous challenges and opportunities.  Very often we react out of habit without stopping to think whether or not we are taking the best course of action.  To help you decide if you are on track, here are some questions you might want to ask yourself:

What is my responsibility here?
— your responsibility is to see the situation clearly, in a detached manner, without being unduly influenced by overblown emotion. Perhaps you need to involve others, perhaps not.

Is this situation part of a pattern?
— many of our challenges are issues that we haven’t resolved in the past.  Do you finally need to get to the bottom of it and resolve it?

What am I resisting?
— the things we resist usually are the ones that help us grow the most. Do you need to let go of something?

What lessons can I learn here?
— are you willing to seek out the lesson, hear it and act on the subtle guidance you receive?

Have I lost focus and energy?
— negative thoughts impact our energy.  Let go of the anger, frustration and anxiety and find a place of peace.

To act or not to act?
— sometimes it’s important to let the fog clear before taking action. Don’t act out of fear that if you don’t do something, the situation will get worse.

Am I seeing the big picture?
— there is always a choice and more than one way to deal with a challenge.  Setting up expectations, conditions, demands and prejudices can keep us stuck.

Am I at peace with this?
— being at peace is the key to gaining closure and knowing that the situation is complete. You have done the very best you could under the circumstances. You are on track!

Living your Passions: One Step at a Time

Do the things you need to do when you need to do them, and eventually you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them – Zig Ziglar

In following up with some of my clients who have taken The Passion Test I hear comments like I know what my passions are and what I must do but I have too much on my plate right now or I’m frustrated, I don’t know what to do first

I know how my clients feel because my frustration at the moment is related to spending too much time in front of the computer and not being able to get out there and enjoy the summer.

What to do?  “Roman wasn’t built in a day” … yet we tend to want to do everything all at once. So what if it doesn’t ALL get done this week?  Will it really be such a catastrophe?  What’s the worst thing that can happen (it doesn’t usually happen anyway) if you don’t complete your WHOLE “To-Do” list? Can you handle it if the worst does happen? 

If the answer is yes, then step back and take just ONE important thing you have been putting off and commit to doing it this week. It’s much easier to do one thing … if you think about doing all 10, you’ll most likely not do any of them.  Eventually you will have completed all the steps and be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  It’s a step-by-step process.

Tips for Healthy Work/Life Balance

Part of my business is providing work/life balance consulting services to NASA HQ. I find myself frequently talking to clients about how to get off the “hamster wheel of life” so I thought I would share a few thoughts from those conversations with you here.

The first step involves self-reflection. If you are a workaholic who is caught up in too much work and too many personal commitments here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself:

Am I being honest with myself? 
The first step in curing any addiction is an honest self-appraisal.  We all suffer from feelings of insecurity at certain times.  The workaholic deals with these feelings by proving that he/she can work harder and faster.  What insecurity is hiding behind all the running around?  Are you only worthwhile if you achieve things? 

How can I take more of a holistic approach? 
Attend to your personal as well as professional goals.  Focus on being a person first – play, laugh, dream, revive your curiosity.

Am I focusing on what is truly important to me? 
If you only had one more month to live, what would you do?  Don’t wait – do it now!

Am I living from my heart or my head?
Don’t continue to be seduced by power, money and size.  Let the less fortunate, the humble, sick, or very old teach you about matters of the heart.  They will accept you for who you are – they probably won’t be impressed by your achievements.

Do I understand that life is an ongoing project? 
Tell yourself that it’s okay not to complete everything today.  Practice leaving partially completed work on your desk.  Remember, life is a journey, not a destination.

Self reflection can sometimes take some digging to get to the core issue but it’s worth it if it leaves you one step closer to living a happier life!

Give Yourself Permission to Take a Break

Back from Oz

Back from Oz

I just returned from a few weeks visiting family in Canberra, Australia. You may have noticed the gap in blog posts!!!

It was a busy time particularly as most days were spent driving more than 20 miles, each way, from where we were staying at my niece’s to my mother’s place in the city. In the past we’ve been able to stay together in one house but due to family relocations, this is no longer possible.

One of my passions is being as healthy and fit as I can be.  Consequently, I take a portable yoga mat whenever I travel for more than a few days. I have found yoga to be of tremendous benefit, not only for mind/body balance but also for keeping my body limber and free from most aches and pains. Especially helpful as we age!

So, as usual, my yoga mat accompanied me to Australia but not once did it see the light of day. I just couldn’t seem to find the extra 30-45 minutes to get into my practice. Initially this really bothered me and I felt rather guilty.  After contemplating the issue for a few days I realized that spending quality time with my mother, whom I only see every two years, was more important.  I was letting my I should be doing yoga get the better of my I want to be spending time with Mum.

Sometimes we allow our shoulds to overcome our wants. So I gave myself permission to let go of the guilt, be in the moment, and enjoy the precious times with family. Yoga would still be there when I returned home!

Have you forgotten the last time you took a break without feeling guilty? 

The last time you were out of sorts because you felt you should be doing something else?

Don’t let guilt deprive you of life’s beautiful moments. Give yourself permission to take a break and lighten the load of guilt and frustration, replacing it with all sorts of wonderful, positive feelings like joy, fun, connection, friendship and love.

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