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Entries in personal growth (20)


What About You?

Your spouse, children, boss, co-workers, direct reports, customers, vendors, in-laws, parents, siblings, neighbors,  community, church, charities…the list goes on and on of the people, organizations and outside things that are calling out for your time.  But what about you? 

It is important to look outside of yourself and be available for the groups listed above but how can you be available if you are not available.  What if you are sick, have no energy, are mentally exhausted and are constantly distracted that you can’t help others let alone yourself?

Consider right now what you can do to better take care of yourself.  Not just that one time spa trip that you know would make a difference but something ongoing and long term that will enable you to do something that you enjoy, improve your health and cause you to be refreshed. 

Block your activity regularly in your calendar and in your budget.  If the spa day is what you are in need of, schedule and budget to do it regularly.  Exercise regularly.  Take up a hobby.  Go golfing a couple of times each week.  Eat better.  Connect socially with your friends and family.  But, remember that you have to make time for it.  Protect that time.    It is your “me” time.

If you don’t actively plan to take time out for yourself, it will be either hit and miss (mostly miss) or it won’t happen at all. It is not being selfish (unless it turns to excess).  It is making sure that you are mentally and physically available to accomplish those other things that are also important.


"Johnny, It is Time to Practice"

You rushed home after a long day of school. You were thinking about all the fun things that you were going to do or the TV show that you wanted to watch. You pulled open the door, threw your books on the couch and were headed for your room when you heard the voice of your Mother from the kitchen, "Johnny, it's time to practice the piano." Oh no, not the piano!

It is an interesting fact that the best way to learn to play the piano is practice, practice, practice. It takes repetition to learn and improve. It is the same with a number of other skills; it takes time, practice and repetition. The challenge becomes finding the time and that you no longer have Mom there to remind/force you to practice.

If you want to learn a new skill, try blocking out 15-30 minutes a day, at a specific time, to learn and practice. Actually schedule it in your planner or electronic device so that you are reminded that it is time to focus on that talent. Protect that time. When others ask you if you are available, tell them that you already have something scheduled at that time. Whether it is learning to play the piano, writing a book, learning a new language, starting a home business or learning how to create your own website - block out the time and get started.


Getting Help with Your Circus

Confidant, Mentor, Sounding Board, Counselor, Tutor, Guide, Teacher, a Listening Ear, Guru or Advisor. Who do you turn to when you need advice, direction or to just relieve some steam? In a lot of situations, it may be a spouse, parent or significant other. You may turn to a professional counselor, therapist or life coach. On the other hand, you may be going it alone.

Consider formally creating a relationship with someone of your choosing to help you with your "circus." Even better, create a situation with someone where you can work together in supporting each other. Meet on a regular basis (monthly, weekly, daily?) to discuss those things that are important to you and that you might need help with. When you meet, consider these ideas:

  • At the beginning of your time together, allow for some sharing of frustrations and concerns. At the same time, don't spend too much time venting or complaining.

  • Focus on goals. Use the time to "return and report" about progress toward goals. We attended a session where a speaker shared that he has a daily call with his coach to report on his eating habits, exercise, progress on writing a book and a whole list of other items. Knowing that he will have to report on his progress to his coach provides him the healthy pressure that he needs to get things done
  • You have two ears and one mouth. Consider listening more than speaking. Sometimes people just need to share their feelings and be heard. Also, don't dominate the conversation. Be sure you are allowing for equal time.
  • Instead of burdening your spouse/significant other with work-related problems, consider finding a colleague that you can download with and share advice.
  • Keep a list. Create a place in your smart phone, planner or on a plain piece of paper that you carry with you where you can make a list of things that you would like to discuss and get feedback/advice on. This will make for more meaningful meetings.
  • Create boundaries. There may be some topics and subjects that you don't want to discuss or hear. Set these boundaries upfront so that awkward situations are avoided. You may want to be very focused with those things that you discuss
  • Set a timer. A timer will make sure that each person has an equal amount of time and forces you to keep to your allotted amount of time for the whole session together. Remember, the goals is to meet regularly. If you have marathon meetings, you might be hesitant to schedule a regular session

Continuous improvement is an important part of "creating the performance of a lifetime." Getting assistance, advice and feedback can be a great way to see things differently and assist you in your efforts to accomplish the things that are most important to you.


"Me Time"

After a program last week we had a participant write on their feedback form: "Today I learned that it's okay to take "me time." We so often neglect ourselves and wonder why we feel less than engaged at work or not as connected in our relationships.
To help you more often take some time for yourself, why not make a "Me Time List" that you keep on a note card on your desk, in a location that you see often or even on an electronic note on your smart phone. We so often neglect our "self ring" because it doesn't command our attention (until something goes wrong) like the other areas of our lives.
Make sure the list includes things that can be done in as little as 5 minutes and also ones that take a day or two.
As we say in Juggling Elephants, A successful circus has quality acts in all 3 rings.


Pushing Yourself

I have a pretty good routine of getting up in the morning and going to the gym 4-5 times per week. It is a great time for me to get the blood pumping. I try to do 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weight training. I am not saying that I am in great shape but I feel like I am doing pretty least until last weekend.

I went on an "intermission" to a mountain cabin. The only catch with visiting this cabin is that in the winter you have to walk about 200 yards off the main road, uphill, through the snow to reach the cabin. This also includes carrying any clothes, food and other essentials that you are going to use during your stay. We arrived at the parking lot late (just as it was getting dark) and started up hill with a cooler full of food plus a bag of clothes and essentials. We soon found the snow to be quite deep and because of a recent warming trend, very soft. This meant that with almost every step you would sink "thigh high" in snow. This is too long of a story to get the point across, but suffice it to say, by the time we reached the cabin, I thought I was going to die! My heart was pounding, I was soaked with sweat and 24 hours later it was impossible to move because my muscles were so sore.

What had happened to all of my exercise and weight training? Wasn't I in "good" shape? I reflected on my strolls on the elliptical machine and the rides on the stationary bike. It seems that they didn't prepare me for the exertion of climbing up the mountain. I realized that my routine at the gym was not pushing and strengthening me anymore and that I had reached a plateau.

What about your self, work and your relationship rings? Are you just maintaining and doing the minimal in your relationships to just get by? Maybe you are not even maintaining (being a couch potato). What happens when difficult times come along at work and you are expected to dig in and exert yourself? Will you be prepared? You need to stretch and push and improve your skills, muscles and mind. Life in not about maintenance-it is about improvement. How will you improve? No pain, no gain!