everyday success

Blog Archive: Feb, 2014

What Kind of a Person are You?  A First Look

A fashion designer recently said that she knew what kind of woman she wanted to be before she knew what kind of career she’d have. That made me wonder, what kind of a woman am I?  What kind of woman/man are you?  Interesting to think about but it's a question with a gazillion answers.

We often use monikers about ourselves and others.  I’m musical.  She’s elegant.  He’s all business.  They’re the nerds.   He’s so much fun.  She tells the best stories.  They’re collectors.

Before we go any further, quick, what are the three words you’d use to describe you?   ______________,  ______________,  ______________.

There’s the physical.   Are you agile, quick on your feet?  Do you walk like a dancer, with rhythm or is your walk more athletic?  Do you move with purpose?  Are you energetic or slightly lethargic?  Do you stand tall or is your stance a bit rounded?  Before we even get to size and shape, there are so many physical descriptors.  What are yours?   

There’s personality.   There are as many personality styles as there are humans.  Actions, thoughts, feelings and attitudes – these are the things that make up a personality.

Thoughtful, kind, angry, hard-working, lazy, wise, thoughtless, caring, sweet, mean, bitter, friendly, unfriendly, leader, follower, doer.  We could fill pages with personality characteristics.  What describes your personality? 

Don’t forget that our personality may have different shades or degrees – our public style, our friends and family style, our business style and on.  Still, our basic personality crosses the many parts of our life. 

On Monday, we’ll continue our look at some of things that express the kind of person you choose to be.  In the meantime, you might collect the words that best describe you.

A Spot of Winter Cheer

Will this winter ever end?  Where are you on that question?  Right now, it’s 16 degrees at two in the afternoon and it’s snowing.  That should give you a sense of where I am on the subject.  We’ve done enough of the slog through slosh.  It’s time to put the boots away.  It’s time for a warm sun and the brilliance of spring flowers. 

Spring Arrives  in Three Weeks

That’s right; at about Noon on March 20, we’ll reach spring.  But, of course, that’s in name only.  Until those buds pop through the earth, until tulips populate our world, until then it’s really still winter.

What to do?  To begin, remember your smile.  Have you ever noticed that when you just plain smile, your body feels a bit easier?  It’s a simple act, to smile but it does lighten our heart.

Share your smile with the people in your life.  When you enter a room, when you pick up the phone, have your smile ready.  People will respond warmly and suddenly you’ll realize that your spirit is Spring-like even if the sky’s still grey and the temp below freezing.

Buy flowers.  Wear colorful clothing.  Maybe even buy a spring outfit.  Tell jokes.  Walk the mall if you can’t get outside.  Put a “spring” in your step.  Make a lemon meringue pie or a fruit salad.  Keep smiling even when another inch is on its way.  Laugh a lot.  Plan your garden.  Plan your summer vacation. 

As spring draws near, remember to celebrate the signs of new life, the leaf buds, the longer days, the flowers.  Spring is a time of hope; let’s hope it comes quickly!

Making Change Happen - That Uncomfortable Feeling

You can see it in your mind, the you who has taken time to be calm, the you who is fit and ready for action, the you who is climbing that ladder at work – in every case you are winning the day.  You’ve made your plan, you are set for action.  You are ready for the change that will take you to that new place.

But, wait!  Did you remember to plan for the fact that you are changing you?  That’s right, the you who is a jangle of nerves from overload, you are going to make a change.  The you who is at her desk all day at work and when home munches on popcorn in front of the tube, you are going to make a change.  The you who sells herself short at work, you are going to make a change.

This is the hardest part of change.  We all know what we “should” do to be fit or calm or get promotions, even to save that down payment.  The hard part is that YOU ARE CHANGING YOU.

What to do?  First, don’t start with too big a goal and pay close attention to yourself with your first steps.  Did you forget to do what you wanted to do?  Or, did it just feel not quite right?  If you are known as the ‘yes’ person people can count on, how do you learn to say no?  If it’s your habit to diminish your value at work, you may stumble over the words or actions that change that. 

It feels uncomfortable

Whether you seek 5 little minutes of daily calm or a promotion or to stop playing computer solitaire, change takes you outside your comfort zone.  It’s new and it often doesn’t feel quite right.   Certainly not at the start.

That brings us right back to the fact that to make a change means you are changing you.  Your goal, then, is to make it become “right” and the only way for that to happen is to practice your change enough, to make the change you seek yours.  Yes, you’ll feel uncomfortable or squirmy or even testy.  But that won’t last.  If you let yourself move through, you’ll get to the other side where your change becomes your reality.

Start small and accept that your change won’t feel like you at the beginning.  With practice, you’ll likely surprise yourself, you’ll make it yours. 

Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit, tells of his personal effort to replace an afternoon cookie.  To begin, he kept a watchful eye, noticing his physical and emotional sensations when it neared the time for his daily cookie.  He realized he wasn’t just hungry for food, there was something more.  Ultimately, he replaced that cookie with an apple and a brief chat with a friend.  He ended up fulfilling both the physical and emotional need.

Find the things that fulfill you as you make your change.  Day by day, practice the new and distance yourself from the old.  Soon, you’ll find you are becoming more and more comfortable with the new.  Still, keep an eye out for those old ways, they’ll keep coming after you.  Use the strength you gained in making the change to foil any challenges to your success.

Making Change Happen – When Will You Get There?

Today, we are connected and in control.  That’s just the way it is and that’s also one reason change can be difficult.  We want things to happen now not six months from now. 

Successful change, however, means you’ve been systematic - you've gotten to your goal a step at a time.  That’s not always easy; a slow march to a goal can make us impatient.  Instead of impatience, shoot for a lot of small successes. 

Setting timelines

Some goals come with a date attached.  Your goal may be tied to a special event like a wedding or a marathon.  Maybe it’s a trip you are planning.  Or, you may be saving to buy a home.

Whether you have a specific date in mind or not, setting a timeline will help you as you get to your goal.  This is where you begin to move your imagined goal to your reality.

For many goals, there’s likely a number involved.  How many pounds you want to lose, how much you want to save for your trip or down payment, those are easy numbers to imagine.  But, what about quitting smoking?  It’s easy; you can name the number of hours, days and weeks you go without smoking.  Getting to a career can even be translated into a timeline.

With an event deadline, your timing is obvious and comes down to a simple formula:

Divide your goal (number of miles, pounds, dollars, etc.) by the number of weeks or months to the event.

If you want to lose twenty pounds in five months, that’s

20 pounds / 5 months = 4 pounds a month

Simply divide your goal (20 pounds) by the amount of time you have to achieve your goal (5 months).  The result?  To lose 20 pounds in 5 months, you’ll want to lose 4 pounds each month. 

To take it further, 5 months is 20 weeks.  Dividing 20 pounds by 20 weeks shows that at 1 pound each week for 20 weeks, you’ll reach your 20 pound goal.

If you need $2,000 for your trip and you’re leaving in 6 months, you’ll want to save about $80 a week or $335 each month. 

$2,000 / 6 months = $355 in savings each month

If your goal is to quit cigarettes, you’ll look at your timeline just a bit differently.  In fact, you don’t even need math to use numbers when quitting smoking.  You just need to count.  It’s been fifteen minutes since I had a cigarette.  It’s been 15 hours since I had a cigarette.  It’s been 15 days . . . and on and on. 

Why a timeline?
  1. With a timeline, you’ll quickly see whether your goal is too big or too small.  If you’re training for your first marathon, you can’t start with a 5-mile run.  Rather, you’ll build your endurance over time.  The same is true for savings.  You may want to have a down payment by the end of the year but can you save enough each month to get you to your goal?
  2. By breaking your big goal into smaller actions, your likelihood for success grows.
  3. With a timeline, you’ll reach lots of smaller goals/successes - each one to be celebrated.  That’s right, make getting to your goal fun.  With plenty of smaller successes, you are creating a strong foundation for longer-term success.
  4. With a timeline, you’ll build your confidence that you can reach your goal.
  5. With a timeline and multiple smaller goals, should you slip-up and miss a small goal, you can get back on track without blowing your big goal.

With a timeline, you can allow for a moment of failure without failure becoming a habit.  Small steps are the building blocks of success.

I Blew my New Year’s Resolve

It’s an unintended demonstration – and a pretty public one.  I blew one of my most important New Year’s resolutions, to blog three times a week.  What happened?  I failed to succeed because I failed to plan.  Well, I planned to write, I just didn’t plan what I would write.

To make change happen, to take your goal or resolution from an idea to the real thing, means you need to think ahead, you need to figure out what actions to take before you even start.

What can I do about it?  I can sit myself down at my computer and PLAN.  It’s time to dust off my disappointment and the embarrassment.  It’s time to start again.  But first, the plan. 

In my particular case, I didn’t break my goal into small easy steps – I didn’t make a list of the specific blogs I planned to write over the next few weeks.  Instead, I wrote a lot of stuff at the start but without a plan, none of it took shape into real blogs. 

What happened next?  It’s what happens to so many resolutions, I stopped writing.

Does it sound familiar?  It’s much like starting a diet or an exercise program.  It takes more than just a decision to make the change happen; first you need to plan how you’ll make your change happen.  Otherwise, it is so easy to stop.

I’ve worked out a plan.  Every week, I have to imagine blog subjects and make a list of the blogs I won’t even start for another two weeks.  Every week, I’ll think up three or four ideas for blogs a couple weeks down the road.  That way, I’ll have time to think about them before I write.  And, when I sit down to write, I’ll know what I’m supposed to write about.

It’s exactly the same as deciding to prepare for a marathon.  You’ve got your running shoes.  You plan to start running four days a week.  But did you plan on that storm?  Are you going to run in snow and ice?  What’s your back-up plan for a rainy day?  To make it still harder, what will you do to make sure you get your runs in and keep up your demanding work schedule?  With a plan, you can make it happen.  If you don’t have a plan, then what will you do when you open your door and all you see is an icy cold? 

It’s the same for a diet.  Have you planned what your family will eat while you are making changes?  Have you planned for diet boredom?  What will you do when you go out to eat with friends?  If you ask yourself these kinds of questions, if you think ahead, you’ll be ready to take on the world.

The weird thing is, it’s so easy.  Once you work out how you are going to make change happen, all you have to do is work your plan.  It’s time to get back on track.