Turning garbage into gold

It has been a long time since I’ve actually written anything myself on this blog site, and while I could reel off a list of excuses it would be pointless. Well back to the actual purpose for this post. I have recently been burning the candle at both ends working some crazy hours, partying too much, and driving myself into the ground if you will. As with any stupid behavior things eventually catch up with you and a week before the holiday I catch a pretty bad cold and am literally bed ridden. To add to my list of bad habits I have been smoking for years, not a lot, but enough to worry me about what might be the long term affects.

I had been gearing up for another attempt at quitting, but this time I thought the timing could not be better, since I felt so terrible from the cold. It turns out the severe discomfort from the respiratory illness created a great opportunity to kick this rotten smoking addiction. I felt so bad that the first 3 days which are usually incredibly difficult were actually a breeze. As terrible as the respiratory infection had been it turned out to be a blessing in disguise and helped me break a four decade long habit. The lesson here is that each time you suffer a set back of some sort their is usually an opportunity buried in the pile somewhere, but you need to be aware enough to sift through things and seize it.

I recently landed the job of my life, both in terms of compensation and challenge, but my previous job had been a mental beat down for nearly a year and half before landing my new job. You would not have thought given the turmoil, lack of progress, and utter incompetent leadership that I would ever have the opportunity to work for the company I do today. One thing that my previous position held for me was an opportunity to work in what is one of the hottest technologies, and I knew if I could hang in there for over a year this pathetic job would turn into a much greater opportunity somewhere else and it did. My short term discomfort was traded for a much longer term gain.

Difficult situations provide the most fertile grounds for change and growth in your life; the key is to take advantage of these situations and not let them become something that drags you down. If you can see something like a layoff, an illness, a divorce, conflict with family members, bad investments, or any other difficulty as a chance to learn and start over then you become resilient and resilient people thrive in this environment.

Let’s be honest with ourselves when things are going great and we are cruising through life as fun as it is, we are not making great progress. The great improvements in our life come from overcoming or adapting to difficult situations. If you think back at the greatest lessons you learned in your life; they came when things didn’t go so well, in fact they have occurred during days or years of great pain. The greater the difficulty the greater the insight that can be gained, but only if you look at it as an opportunity.

I like the Jim Rohn quote:

Jim-Rohn-Quote-Don-t-wish-it-was-easier-wish-you-were-better-Don-t.jpg

Be resilient my friends.

Bend but not break.

Each setback in an opportunity.

It’s not a failure if you learned something from it.

Namaste

 

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It’s Thanksgiving again

It’s is Thanksgiving again, so what does that mean to most of you, watching 15 hours of NFL football, spending time with your family, eating turkey and all the things that come with it? I received an email from my mother today, and where she was thankful for her children and I thought maybe there is more to this day than just stuffing my face and watching 3 football games in a row.

Maybe this holiday is really about acknowledging what we are thankful for, and in that case let me give it a shot:

  • I am thankful for my family who always has my back no matter how stupid I act or whatever I do.
  • I am thankful for my wife who accepts me for all my faults.
  • I am thankful for my work that has provided for me and my immediate family for so many years.
  • I am thankful for living in the U.S.A. where I have been blessed with so much opportunity.
  • I am thankful for those who follow my blog and read my rambling philosophical writing.
  • I am thankful for having a comfortable place to sleep and enough food to eat.

While I am thankful for so much that has been bestowed on me, I am also concerned about the many who do not share my good fortune. My wish for all of you is that you can be grateful for what you have this thanksgiving day.

Hopefully we can all find something to be thankful for. Even when we struggle there is always something we can be grateful for. I wish you all the best this holiday weekend!

Namaste

 

Stop wasting time on Friday

As the week winds down you finally get to Friday, which for many employees turns out to be the most unproductive day of the week. Most of us are looking forward to the week being over and may be even a bit burned out, and by noon productivity begins to dip. I’ve experienced this many times myself as we use what is left of our precious energy to get through the remaining hours of the day so we can get out of there. I’m going to suggest an alternative for the Friday malaise, and it has to do with using what you have left in the tank mentally and physically to do something that produces value for you and your employer.

Friday1

The suggestion is to devote as much of the day as possible to planning and cleanup activities. So instead of watching the clock and generally wasting time waiting to get the hell out of there you have something to do that occupies your time and can help you achieve your goals. The following activities and benefits provide the basis for making Friday a productive day versus a waste of time:

  • Activity: Plan out all your meetings for the upcoming week, schedule your conference rooms, and align your calendar with your to do list. Benefit: This sets you up for success on Monday and you now have a well thought out plan of attack for the week.
  • Activity: Cleanup your email, file everything in folders, respond to any outstanding emails, and delete all the stuff you don’t need. I try to get it down to maybe a dozen messages in my inbox. Benefit: Again you are doing some pretty easy work, and when you come in on Monday you start with a clean inbox. This allows you to focus on the present and the future and not have to deal with unread emails from the previous week.
  • Activity: Update your to do list or project schedules, adjusting due dates, adding tasks, and marking tasks complete. Benefit: Now instead of spending precious time next week you have a current to do list and project schedules. While this takes a bit of thought and planning it is not overly taxing.
  • Activity: Last but not least plan out what you will do this weekend, if you are like me you have been so busy all week that you haven’t had time to think about what you want to accomplish this weekend. I use an app called Wunderlist for my personal to do list manager because it is simple and works on various devices like my notebook computer, chrome book, and my android phone. Benefit: Instead of ending the day and having no plans for the weekend you now have a pretty good idea of the things you would like to accomplish and planned some recreational time.

None of the above mentioned activities require a lot of brain power, but they all provide value and set the stage for a more productive upcoming week. Because we are generally low on energy, focus on the planning and cleanup activities if you can, and save the stuff that takes real effort for Monday through Thursday. We all need some time to reflect and plan; contrary to what you may think this investment will pay dividends over time. The trick is to take care of the critical things on Friday morning and then if possible devote the afternoon to these these planning and cleanup activities.

I realize this doesn’t apply to all roles and jobs, but there are an awful lot of occupations where this can work.

Have a great weekend, I need to start planning.

Are you all in?

I lived a great many years in a dual existence; on one side was the healthy Joe who worked out almost every day, took vitamins and supplements, and tried to eat the right foods, and on the other side was Joe the party-er.  Joe the party-er seemed to be happiest spending time smoking and drinking.  Both the good and the not so good Joe had firmly entrenched habits, and this continued on for many years. More recently there came a time when I asked himself are you all in? With one foot in the fitness and health world and one foot in bad habit land, a choice had to be made.

We all find ourselves in this situation where our positive actions are in conflict with some negative behaviors that we cling on to. These don’t need to be an addiction to substances, they may be a toxic relationship, a going nowhere job, or some other action that is contrary to the positive path you are on.

Being all in means you are willing to abandon that other side, thus ending the conflict. Every time you say no to the negative behavior you move closer to being all in. For myself I struggle with being mostly committed, and if anything I tend to go too far, but that is my psychological make-up. Some people can live a dual lifestyle, but for me this just led to self loathing and regret for every time that I failed to be all in. In Texas Hold’em going all in can mean winning or being eliminated from the game. In terms of life choices going all in can only mean winning. If you can’t live a life of making great choices 80% time, and going the opposite direction the other 20% of the time then you must make a choice. Am I all in? Am I totally committed?

So are you all in?

Perseverance

According to Merriam Webster perseverance is defined as “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition : the action or condition or an instance of persevering”.  Another definition from the Oxford Dictionaries states that perseverance is “Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. Essentially perseverance is needed for something that is difficult and without it you will not achieve success. Now perseverance doesn’t gaurantee success, but without it you are almost certainly gauranteed to fail.

Persaverance Steve Jobs

A couple synonyms for persevere are persist and hang on; I would add a dogged determination to see something through, to give it your best effort, and to not give up. Now let me also state that there is a difference between between perseverance and being stupid. One perseveres when pursuing a goal that is attainable, and usually perseverance comes from passion or a deep seeded belief that what you are seeking must be achieved. We all have lots of great ideas and most of the time we pass on them because we lack the desire to make the long term investment or to persevere. Perseverance can apply to all aspects of our lives, but let’s take physical fitness as an example. If my goal is to run a marathon, and I’m just starting a running regime then one would need one hell of a lot of perseverance to make the investment in training required to achieve this goal. I’m no expert in marathon running, but I know some people who are and they train for many months to get in shape to run the 26+ miles required to complete this race. Apply that level of determination to other activities like strength training where you are using progressive resistance and every workout gets more difficult, or your yoga practice when you crawl out of bed at 5:00 a.m. and get on the mat challenging yourself time and time again. So you want to be more physically fit, you want to have a better body, more strength, improved aerobic endurance, but are you willing to pay the price?  I would guess that we tend to prematurely call it quits when in reality we are so close to achieving our goal and that’s where perseverance comes in. Only you know when you need to persevere and when what you are attempting is not worth the effort.

perseverance Author Unknown

Namaste

 

 

 

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