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Thursday, June 28, 2012

It Starts Today

I want to briefly challenge the belief that success starts tomorrow. There are people who believe that getting by is good enough because they aren't where they want to be. They believe that they will start behaving differently when they attain a certain level of success. These people are wrong.

I will give you an example of what I'm talking about. A young woman is dissatisfied with her low-paying job. Because she isn't being paid what she feels she deserves, in her mind, the menial job she has isn't  good enough to merit any real effort. So she calls off when she wants to, does just enough to get by, pushes the dress code envelope with her choices and exhibits an attitude that can rarely be called professional. She doesn't understand why someone hired after her can get promoted over her.

I've seen this same lackadaisical attitude with people who don't live where they imagine they should or drive what they feel they should be driving. They treat their property badly. Their payments and rent are often late. They just don't care. 

It's sad, tragic even, because that attitude insures that nothing better will be on the horizon. If, by some miracle, they do get something better, it rarely lasts, because their attitudes and behaviors don't change.

You see people who based decisions, actions and thought patterns on what they think they deserve and imagine they should have are not living in the real world. They don't realize that current behavior sets the precedence for what is to come. I've always been amazed how often others are watching us and making judgments about us based on how they see us conduct ourselves. 

From an external perspective, you are always performing in front of an audience. You may never hear the applause, or the boos for that matter, but that doesn't mean you aren't being watched. You know this is true because you do it as well. So do I. We all do. This is why you will stick your neck out for one person and not the other. 

From an internal perspective, how you behave regularly and what you think on a consistent basis is habit-forming and habits, unlike light switches cannot easily be turned off and on. A poor outlook or work ethic will not magically change when circumstances do, without a ton of self-awareness and hard work.

Lay the groundwork for success for adopting a successful behaviors and thoughts now.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Don't Hate ... Appreciate!

This blog is dedicated to the people who hate their jobs. I have had the misfortune time and time again of encountering them in stores, check-out lines and drive-thru windows. I dread having to work with them on my job but there are a few there (fortunately I don’t have to work with them often).

While I enjoy my job and have enjoyed many of my jobs, I have had my share of abhorrent jobs. I’ve actually had nightmares about work on occasion! However there are three things I have learned that I would like to pass on.

First, thinking about how terrible it is only makes it worse. When you leave work and immediately start dreading it that will never make it any better. I’m not saying you have to think shiny, happy thoughts about a job you hate, just don’t spend extra time dwelling on it. Here’s a technique to use. As you pull out of the parking lot at the end of the day, watch in your rear view mirror, the building get smaller and smaller. As it decreases in size, it should decrease in your thinking. If you really need to vent about it, set a time limit. Vent for 15 minutes and then forget about it. Focus on things you like to do and the people you want to spend time with.

Second, while you are at work, find something about it you like, can tolerate or just don’t hate. One of my first jobs was a checkout girl at a grocery store. There was very little I liked about that job. However, I realized I did like talking to the people for the most part. I also made a game of seeing how fast I could get people though the line. I found that those two things made the day go faster. Since then, I have realized to focus and attitude can make a bad day better. Again, I am not expecting giddiness but just a lack of negativity.

If you are having problem with the second part, consider my third point. Be thankful. Gratitude is the missing link. Be grateful to have a job, a steady income, something to do all day, or be grateful for the friends and co-workers you have on the job, the restaurant you love having lunch at or the fact that your schedule avoids rush hour traffic. The more you have to be grateful for, the more likely you are to find something enjoyable or bearable about your job.

This three-pronged approach works for more than mere job dissatisfaction. If you don’t like your current home, or car, try this approach. Look on the bright side, you probably won’t make it any worse!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Become a Lifeaholic

Everyone knows what a workaholic is. These are people for whom work has become an addiction.

I had a boss who was so focused on work that after singing in the choir on Easter Sunday, she came into the office and put in six hours. While vacationing with her husband, we'd get no less than four calls a day to 'see how things were going.' On several occasions, she tracked me down, while I was in the bathroom, to have a quick 'discussion' with me. It was no surprise to anyone that she ended up losing her marriage and even her job because her singular focus was just too much. However, never one to learn a lesson, she went on to the next job and the cycle continued.

It's great if you love what you do. In fact, I consider enjoying your work to be a blessing. However, work should never be the
only thing you do. I remember very distinctly reading an article where nurses recalled the top regrets people shared on their death beds. Almost everyone regretted working too much. Their workaholism resulted in lost time with their spouses, children, and in general just time spent enjoying life. 

At my job, using our intranet, people were asked what they would do with their time when they retired. Respondents talked about spending time with family, traveling, or indulging a hobby. Me? I didn't respond. I don't have any intention of waiting until I'm 65 (or older) to start living. I want to do those things

Go ahead and devote yourself to work. I'm going to devote myself to life. I want to be a

Don't get me wrong. I understand the importance of work and will always work hard and give it my best. I'll work overtime when needed to get the job done, but that won't be all I do. 

I will always make time to laugh (or cry) with friends, keep in touch with family, travel when I can, enjoy a dance lesson or a cooking a new recipe. I will savor a beautiful sunset or a rainbow after a thunderstorm. I'll play with my dog. I'll make small talk with strangers in line at the store.

I will live every day as if it's my last because one day it will be. And when that day comes, I want to close my eyes and have little to no regrets when I do so because I lived, everyday, on my terms in my way ... and I had a grand time doing it!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Good Luck with those Ducks!

Terri keeps saying that she needs to start exercising; and she will, once she gets a gym membership, and buys some home gym equipment. Then, she’ll need to get some new workout clothes and a few pairs of shoes. How can she ever get started when it’s just so expensive?

Every day as he pulls into the parking lot, Paul dreams of getting a new job. But those dreams are deferred. Between his current job and his family he simply does not have the time. He’d have to rework his resume, get a few new suits to interview in, and possibly hire a head hunter. It wouldn’t hurt, if he took a few classes at the community college to brush up on Excel and Access first.  Who has time to put together a long, protracted job search?

Both Terri and Paul want all their ‘ducks in a row’ before they begin. And let’s be honest, both of them have a lot of ducks. The phrase refers to a shooting range. You have to have all the little wooden ducks in a row for the person to shoot at. Yet, life isn’t a shooting range. In real life, ducks don’t line up in straight rows, yet we try in vain to line all of our hypothetical duck in a perfect line.

The truth is that getting those ducks in a row or waiting until the stars are in perfect alignment is really just a form of procrastination. It’s an elaborate way to keep you from doing what you know you should do. It’s procrastination cloaked in a pretty blanket of good intentions.

Terri doesn’t need a gym membership or a designer wardrobe to begin exercising. She needs some comfortable clothing and shoes so she can begin walking. Paul’s job search doesn’t have to be another job; he could spend a few minutes each day reworking his resume. Then over the course of several nights, he could upload it to one job search site at a time.

The need to overhaul isn’t confined to just exercise and job search. You can find it in any area where one wants to make a change. By making a big change even more massive in our minds, we stop ourselves from even really making an attempt at it.

The need to overhaul is rooted in the notion that change has to be radical. It has to be a personal revolution. The root of revolution is to revolt. To revolt
is to go again something. And often times, it’s our inner being, who is happy with the status quo and who revolts at our attempts at massive change.

The opposite of revolution is evolution. Evolution is a much slower but equally powerful process. To evolve is to go through a slow and peaceful process of change. Slower changes are easier for us to accept and therefore more likely to stick.

There used to be a commercial that said, “You can’t fool Mother Nature.” Well, she can’t be rushed either. Despite our technological advances, it still takes roughly nine months for a baby to grow to full-term. It still takes a rose bush one to two months to bloom, but we think we can rush to change our own behaviors and habits.

It sounds sneaky but slower changes allow you to sneak up on your psyche and get those changes by it with a lot less resistance.

Going from zero to 60 miles an hour in five seconds is great for a car commercial but not so great in real life. Massive change, especially physical change, can be jarring to your body, even injurious. Ever try quitting caffeine cold turkey? The headaches and irritability can be terrible. Gradual is better.

Slower change is always better than rapid change. When you try to change too rapidly, you’ll run into more resistance, more overwhelm and more frustration. The goal with any goal is to stick with it until you get the results you want. In order to do that you need to find ways to make it easier to stick with the plan than it is to quit it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

DAD = Dependable and Devoted

There is a lot of talk nowadays about what makes a good father. All too often the role of father has been negated or reduced to just a financial obligation. However, fathers, and father-figures, can and do play an invaluable role in the lives of children. It’s a role that doesn’t stop when a child turns 18, but that lasts a lifetime.

So in honor of Father’s Day, I want to take a moment to talk about two qualities good dads share.

Dad is dependable. He shows up when he says he’s going to show up. He does what he says he’s going to do. His word truly is his bond. Children crave certainty and security and the good dad recognizes that promises he makes are meant to be kept. Sure, things do come up and not every promise can be kept. Yet when those times arise, Dad has shown up often enough that those rare occasions can be forgiven.

Basically, Dads strive not to disappoint. They recognize that their child takes their words seriously so they will move heaven and earth to be there for their children. They can be counted on. When necessary, they, like the good mom, will go without so their children won’t have to. Kids that grow up with dependable parents often grow into people who can be depended on. They have seen a great example and they, in turn, become reliable, dependable adults.

Dad is devoted. His love for his children is never questioned – not by the child and not by others. He is there to support and encourage, to offer assistance and advice and to love and to listen. This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t ever feel impatient or angry or disappointed, of course he does, he’s human. Yet despite setbacks and heartaches, he always comes back. After all, dad is devoted.

So Happy Father’s Day to all the D.A.D’s out there. You deserve a special day for all of the special days you have given.

Monday, June 11, 2012

We Got the Magic!

I am a music competition junkie. I watch American Idol, The Voice and The X-Factor. So naturally, I’m now watching Duets. During the first week, all of the judges (Robin Thicke, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Nettles (from the band Sugarland)), sang one of their hits with one of their unknown contestants.
Robin Thicke did one of my favorite songs of recent years, Magic. I love this song! 

What the heck does this have to do with life coaching you ask? Shouldn’t this entry go on my other blog, DivaSoulSista, which is all about movies and TV? Well, no.

I love this song because of its positive message. We’ve all got that magic. The second verse says, “All I got is concrete all around me /  But I can see the countryside / You can be rich when you’re poor/ Poor when you’re rich / It can be raining and I can make the sun shine.”

Check it out for yourself. This is a version he did with Mary J. Blige.

Oh and if you want to check out my other blog, it’s over at

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Welcome to My Nightmare!

My major was journalism in college. Okay, it was broadcast journalism. Still, writing is what I spend a lot of time doing. In my day job, as an instructional designer, I write manuals, job aids and eLearning courses. In my spare time, I write four blogs. I use my life coaching skills to blog and in my Get It Together Girl workbooks. So, I’m always writing. I love it. I’ve managed to craft a life around something that I love to do and as essential to my preservation as breathing. Everyone should be so lucky.

Over the years, I’ve witnessed, what I’ve always suspected, to be a decline in the importance of writing academically. Math and science take precedence. Teaching to the test is the rule and not the exception and most test don’t include writing. And, please don’t get me started as to what texting and spell check has done to the average person's writing ability!

In an article posted on MSN, my suspicions were confirmed. Please read the following article on the decline of writing. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Forest, Trees and Elephant Eaters

The saying ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’ is used to describe those detail-driven, exception-finding, micro-managing types among us. Those who are so consumed with the little things that not only do they miss the forest but often the trees too – focusing instead on the branches, leaves and even the roots! During Thanksgiving, the tree types, concentrate on creating a Martha Stewart-inspired centerpiece or carving the perfect turkey instead of spending time with friends and family or just enjoying the day.

Yet, there isn’t a good adage to describe the opposite phenomenon – those who get so completely overwhelmed by the overall size of the forest until something like a tree seems like a nothing. “Look at that forest! It’s so dense! How could one ever navigate through THAT! You could really get lost in there. I bet it gets really dark and creepy at night too.”

Before Thanksgiving arrives, forest types have already talked themselves out of cooking dinner. Think of the time it takes to cook the turkey, add to that the stuffing, the green beans, the sweet potatoes, the mashed potatoes and the rolls. Oh, and then there’s dessert, too! It’s just too much!

In fact, I maintain that many of us do both. You might be a tree when it comes to your job or scheduling tasks for the kids but hopelessly forest when it comes to being on time or lowering your credit card debt.
Don’t believe me? Review the following statements and see if you hear anything vaguely familiar.
  • “Fifty pounds? I have to lose 50 pounds? That’s a small child! That’s 10 sacks of potatoes.”
  • “I’ve smoked for 20 years, a pack a day. How will I ever change 20 years of smoking 20 cigarettes a day?”
  • “We owe over $50,000. That’s more than I make in a year!”
  • “It takes the average student over 4 years to get a degree going full-time. It’s going to take me a lifetime to finish going part-time.”
  • “I can barely run up the stairs, how can I ever expect to run more than a tub of water?”

The problem with focusing on the forest is that when you see it in its awe-inspiring totality, it is a very scary place. It is massive. It seems impossible to tackle. Somehow we have to strike a balance. We have to see the forest for what it is and then realize that to make it through it will take one step, one tree at a time.
It’s a corny joke, but it’s true. “How do you eat an elephant?”

Easy. One bite at a time.

When it comes to the goals we set for ourselves, we can be very forest. The goal seems so big, so grand, so time-consuming, and so impossible that we could never, ever possibly accomplish it. Like that Thanksgiving dinner, we talk ourselves out of it before we even begin.

Having a plan is one way can be an antidote to overwhelm. Sit down and make a plan, create a path. Your steps become mini-goals and all of the sudden, you goal becomes doable, a lot more manageable.

A plan also helps you improve your focus. Focusing exclusively on the final outcome while ignoring the other, smaller, signs of progress can lead to frustration. Acknowledge when you achieve your smaller goals and you will be motivated to greater successes.

During a television interview, a marathon runner explained his approach to running. He said, “I don’t run 26 miles. I run one mile, 26 times. It’s easier that way.” We can all succeed my running a mile at a time.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fill Up Your Piggy Banks!

There is a concept that I read in a Stephen Covey book that I thought was so profound in the basic way it explained establishing relationships. Each person in your life has an emotional bank account with you. Envision a line of piggy banks, one for each family member, friend, co-worker and others. With each positive action, kind word or gesture, you are making a deposit of goodwill into that piggy bank. However, for each time you don’t follow-through on a promise, you strike out in anger or speak negatively or rudely, you are making a withdrawal from that account.

Now, anyone that knows anything about money or math knows that you can’t make a $50 withdrawal from an account with a $5 balance.

The key to successful relationships in any realm (marriage, family, work, friendship) is to have a healthy and growing balance without to many large withdrawals. It’s true that none of us are perfect and a few withdrawals are inevitable. However, we should be quick to try to replenish that account as soon as possible.

Here is what irks me: people who have a negative balance or who just have never bothered to put anything into your bank but feel entitled to make large demands. Think of the professional athlete whose father left years ago, but who shows up after the multi-million dollar contract and wants to ‘reestablish the relationship.’ Maybe it’s the sibling who has a bad habit of selfishly taking time after time and lashes out in anger when you are finally emotionally or financially tapped out.

The amount of goodwill in that piggy bank far outweighs basic ‘roles.’ The fact that the person with the negative balance is a family member or friend does nothing to add to that bank balance. The relationship role means nothing if, over time, there have been too many withdrawals.

Likewise, length of time has nothing to do with the balance of that account. Recently, a co-worker was passed over for a promotion. She was angry and thought being on that job for over five years should have been enough. Adding insult to injury, the person who was promoted had been there for less than two years.

However, if she had looked a little deeper, the answer to the promotion would have become apparent. One stayed late and accepted extra assignments. One routinely came in late and took long lunches. One actively helped her co-workers, one would respond to request for help with “that’s not my job.” Basically, the one who got the job had a full piggy bank and the other’s was virtually empty.

Think of your rows of piggy banks? Which ones have a healthy balance and which ones need more of your attention?