A little advice from Abe

It seems lately that a lot of my inspiration to write comes from reading quotes.

Abraham Lincoln said “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Seems like a simple little quote as many of his quotes were, but look around you and you will see that most folks haven’t made up their minds to be very happy, in fact we are surrounded by a multitude of unhappy people. Certainly Abraham Lincoln had many challenges that would have kicked the crap out of anyone’s happiness, but he chose to look forward beyond his personal troubles and the incredible challenges of a civil war to become one of the greatest leaders of all time.

happy

In the past it was my philosophy that willing yourself into a positive mindset would not create any lasting optimistic outlook, but maybe I was wrong. Certainly happiness cannot be created by just wishing it so, or can it? We all face many pressures in our lives including financial, health related, death in the family, addictions, relationships that have gone off the tracks, and they pile up and have an impact on our peace of mind and subsequently our happiness.

There are many ways to combat the onslaught of negative things that life throws at you, but maybe President Lincoln was right, just maybe we are as happy as we make up our minds to be; well at least it might start there. Try as we may we cannot isolate ourselves avoiding bad things that will happen to us and we often have little control of how long these challenges will last.

I hope you can convince yourself that happiness is a choice and follow that bit of advice from Abe.

Namaste

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Maybe Tomorrow

You may think I don’t need to let my family know I love them, it can wait, they know how I feel and after all they aren’t going anywhere. Maybe I can spend time with my children later, some other day, after all there is always tomorrow. I don’t need to pursue my own desires and dreams because there is always time for that later. I don’t have time for all that crap, there is work to do, projects to complete and money to be made. You have become the machine that completes tasks, achieves goals, accumulates wealth, but you live in some alternate world where you leave the most important things for tomorrow. So what is important to you and can you really wait until tomorrow? I recall a quote by Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

As time passes by do you want to spend your time working on projects, completing tasks, making more money, or do you want those most important to you to never forget how you made them feel? When most of us are asked what we think is most important we usually say our family, health, friends, and personal development, but the reality of our lives is often much different. You may justify that what you do for your employer or business is for your family, and I’m sure to some degree that is true, but the fact remains that you defer what is most important to tomorrow.  We are ever changing and aging, once the picture of health, maybe not so much anymore. Those important people in your life that get so little attention will not be here forever, maybe not even tomorrow. Live in the moment, reach out to your family and friends. Ask yourself will the world crumble if I don’t get that project done, task, or make more money for myself or my employer?

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get my priorities in order, maybe tomorrow I’ll show my family and friends how much I care by giving them at least the same attention I devote to making a living. Forget about tomorrow, start anew today and I mean now! Create good karma now, and you will always be remembered for how you made them feel.

good karma

Namaste

What Lou Holtz said

Lou Holtz

A couple of days ago I posted the following quote on Twitter and here on my quotes page “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”  Lou Holtz

I remember earlier in the week when my wife called me and said that she thinks we have problems with our home’s foundation. There were tiles cracking in the kitchen, grout coming up, some cracks in the walls, and it appeared that some of the floors were not level. When I heard this I immediately overreacted whining about how much this would cost me, and what a piece of crap this old house of ours was. We had invested lots of money in air conditioning, pest control, and insulation; all things you cannot see but needed to be done. So clearly I had reacted very poorly, and to  prove this out a day later when the house was inspected we found that nothing was wrong. We live in Texas and it is common for some of these things to happen, and we were told to keep the ground around the foundation wet with a soak-er hose three days a week for 40-60 minutes during the summer months. I guess it is a Texas thing where the moisture seems to help maintain the integrity of the foundation preventing the ground from cracking and shifting here from the severe heat.

Not only had I reacted like a dumb ass, but my reaction was premature occurring before the inspection even took place. This is probably why I liked this quote from Lout Holtz so much. A persons true character is not something you exhibit when everything is going your way, but instead it is revealed when things are not going your way. I learned a lesson this week that it is how you respond to life that is most important. None of us can escape pain, misfortune, disappointments, and many of the other unpleasant things life has in store, but we can all control how we respond to these challenges.

It is extremely important that you have a cautious response when it comes to perceived bad news. Moving into a negative mind state where you imagine the worst only damages your peace of mind and sends a message to others that you are not a real leader. So the choice is always clear you can respond in a negative fashion or you can respond as a leader and make the best of the situation. Now my example pales in significance to the challenges some people face, but it does illustrate a point.

Don’t imagine the worst and think about the example you set for those around you. In addition to how your response affects others is the fact that a negative response only causes personal psychological damage tainting all your thoughts. Lou was right, it is about how you respond that matters.

Embracing the Monday Goals

If you have read some of my prior posts you know that I was advocating that you set a goal each Monday that will lead to making positive changes in you life. These might be losing weight, exercising more, eating better, overcoming some unhealthy addiction, starting a business, getting a new job, repairing a relationship, and the list goes on and on. I’ve been taking my own advice and am now on my fourth goal or fourth Monday. What I have begun to realize is that most of the goals I set are ongoing and require a frequent investment in time to achieve, so they tend to pile up and require a lot of dedication to achieve them. This is a good thing, but sometimes it might be wise to throw in some easier to achieve goals in the mix. Here is an example of how you might intersperse some goals that can be more easily achieved or at least require less ongoing time to support:

Week 1: Do something everyday towards a business you have started. Clearly this will be one of those ongoing goals that requires effort overtime, categorize this as a big goal.

Week 2: Make changes to your diet to include more fruits and vegetables. This is one of those easier to achieve goals and doesn’t have a lot of overhead associated with it.

Week 3: Practice yoga six days a week. Again this is a pretty big goal and has no end date, you achieve this goal 6 days a week so we might categorize this as a big goal.

Week 4: Make a commitment to donate $500 a year to the United Way. Here is a pretty easy to achieve goal that only requires minimal effort. For those of you who work for a corporation this is simply filling out the pledge card once a year.

Week 5: Commit to calling your parents or siblings once a week. This is somewhat of an in between goal, not a huge time commitment but it does require some discipline.

These are just a few examples of goals that have an ongoing cost, and those that are a bit easier to achieve. Does the fact that a goal requires a big commitment make it more important? Maybe but take the goal for Week 2 of adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, and Week 4 of donating $500 per year to the United Way; one might suggest these are both pretty important things to do. We all have limited time, so those goals with a high ongoing costs must be things you are extremely committed too. It is always a good idea to have some goals that you can achieve more quickly but that still have a positive impact on your life or the life of others.

Update on the Monday Challenge

I’ve posted a couple different times on how Monday is the ideal day to set a goal that you will work towards or maybe achieve depending of course on the nature of what you are seeking. My own score card is I have completed two of the three goals I set for myself. Instead of taking my own advice I set goals that were very difficult so 2 out of 3 is not so bad, and I have made some progress on the one that I cannot say I have completely mastered. This brings up another point about goal setting that we need to understand. It is vitally important that you set the goals so that you can begin to change your behavior, but realistically you will not always achieve them in the time frame you set for yourself. I’ve always liked the graphic below because it does a good job of simply depicting what really happens when we set a goal and work toward achieving it.

success looks like

Sometimes reaching your goals and the resulting success this brings you is a messy process, so I wanted to make sure you cut yourself some slack during this whole process. I found myself questioning the order of goals I set for the 4 or 5 weeks, re-ordering them, and even eliminating some to better suite my true desires when it comes to work and my personal life. I’m sure you will do the same as you make adjustments as you think about what you really want to achieve. While it is true that we will all struggle to achieve our goals, it is no reason to hesitate to move forward. The very fact that you may find the goals you set difficult to achieve means that you have set worthy goals. Continue to have faith in yourself and your dreams. Don’t fall back into old patterns of behavior as every Monday brings with it a new start, a new goal, and change.

Namaste

Comfort Zones

I’ve been reading a book by Joel Osteen called Break Out, and before you get judgmental regarding Mr. Osteen just hold on. In a previous post I talked about breaking patterns of behavior by using goal setting and then following up with the achievement of those goals. One of the things that is repeated throughout Break Out is the idea that we seem to settle in and get a bit too comfortable with our lives and we begin settling for less than what we are capable of. There may be other reasons like lack of self confidence, past failures, and our overall self image that holds us back, but what I am focused on is that success can also result in settling for the status quo.

Do Not Change

The graphic above really says it all. I’m doing well in my current position, or things are adequate in my relationships, so why make the effort to change it all up? Because you are stagnating, you are not living up to your potential, you are settling for the comfortable. Think about yourself does any of this ring true for you? Do the words stagnation or plateau describe your career or your relationships? Sometimes success brings with it complacency that can only be disrupted by leaving your comfort zone. I would suggest that most of our comfort zones are self imposed by our own thoughts about our abilities and potential. We reach a level of success, and we may say to ourselves this is adequate, I have found my niche and it would be the safe choice to remain right here. Wrong!

Use the Monday challenge I wrote about in Monday Motivation and Are You Repeating the Same Behavior? to break out of your comfort zone. Remember you have a vast amount of potential and should not be settling for anything less than utilizing it, in your work and in your relationships. Don’t settle for comfortable, adequate, or reaching some arbitrary plateau.

One other word of advice, don’t be surprised when you ask your friends or family if you should take a chance in your business life or personal relationships that they tell you to play it safe. Most people are risk adverse and will gravitate to a conservative approach; It’s best to just smile and thank them for the advice, and then go ahead and do what you wanted to do in the first place.

Life is short, so don’t let other people dictate what you do.

Namaste

Exercising Choice

choices the three C

No this is not about choosing the right exercise, although that could be a choice for you.  Really this post is more about breaking free of a habit based existence and exercising this little thing called choice in your life.  As human beings we tend to create habits for ourselves some good and some not so good, but nonetheless we live out these habits.  For many people breaking a bad habit is something that takes a crisis not because that is the best approach, but it is in our nature to stick with that habit even though it may have very negative consequences.  Consider the heroin addict, smoker, or alcoholic it often takes a dire consequence, a pretty severe wake up call for them to even think about moving away from the habit by choice.  We have all been there, following some bad habit that may be detrimental to our health, relationships, or careers.  I contend that we naturally stick with the habit and we are not exercising a choice but simply sticking with what is familiar.

Think about your day or your typical week, how much of it is made up of rituals you have developed.  What do you do in the morning, my guess is you follow a pretty regimented routine, preparing yourself for a work day, and then arriving at the office within a 15 minute window of time.  Of course these are not necessarily bad things, but they exemplify how we like to follow a pattern of behavior, a ritual if you like.

Life is about choices

Are there habits you should cling too?  Maybe, but don’t be to hasty, even what you perceive as good habits or patterns of behavior may be limiting you.  Let’s take the person who gets up every morning and goes running, sounds like a good habit doesn’t it.  Would another form of exercise be maybe even more beneficial from time to time?  Oh no I run every day, not by choice so much as I am now a runner and have created a daily habit and short of a pretty bad injury that is where I am headed in the morning.

See we create paradigms that we actually live out.  I am a project manager, I am a runner, I am a brick layer, I am a doctor, I am in law enforcement, I am a tax attorney, I am stock broker, I am something.  I have created a category, a role for myself, and thus limited my choices.  Regardless of all the silly ways that society reinforces the limitations that go along with your role and tries to box you in to a set of required skills, it does no define your potential.  A runner can lift weights or do yoga, a brick layer can be a florist, a tax attorney can be an artist, a college drop out at Harvard can create Microsoft.

The point of all of this is you have choices as to how you spend your time, hopefully you see yourself as more than a role you fulfill.  Choice is something we really don’t exercise much, but it is more available than you think.  Start with those negative habits that enslave you such as smoking, drinking, drugs, a poor diet, bad relationships, or a dead end job.  Start making a conscience choice to follow another path, an alternative action.  Otherwise let your habits consume you and dictate your future, you have a choice.

Namaste