Blog Index
The journal that this archive was targeting has been deleted. Please update your configuration.

Entries in self-improvement (27)


Ask the Hard Questions

Consider these questions for a moment:

  • What kind of a spouse and parent am I going to be?
  • Am I going to excel at my job or just do the minimum to collect a pay check?
  • What do I stand for?
  • Do I have a plan to reach my dreams and/or goals? Do I have goals?
  • Am I following the path of least resistance or do I dare to stretch myself with hard things?
  • Do I flounder trying to keep up with the "thick of thin things" or focus on what is most important to me?
  • How much time do I really waste?
  • Am I taking time for good recreation and intermissions?
  • How well am I taking care of myself? Sleep? Nutrition? Exercise?
  • Do I know my standards and stick to them - unwavering?
Hard questions? Maybe. Are questions like these important? Yes! Continually, at any age, you need to ask the hard questions that matter to you and dare to have an opinion. If you don't like the answers, you can change. You are the ringmaster of your circus!


You Must Find Some Pain!

One of the many "aha" moments in the Juggling Elephants training program comes when we discuss the need to stop juggling elephants-that is, to stop working from the mindset that everything can get done. We then work with the individuals on finding the "pain" associated with attempting the juggling elephants routine on a daily basis. Some potential answers include:

  • Reduced productivity
  • Lack of sense of accomplishment
  • Physical stress
  • Mental distraction
  • Isolation from friends/family
Few of us are willing to change unless we find a source of pain that is so prominent we seek a better way. If you are struggling with the juggling elephants routine today, what's the pain you can identify that would drive you to seek the solutions offered by the perspective of the circus?


Go to the Bottom of Things

We talk a lot about distractions such as email, phone calls, people interrupting you, having a cluttered workspace, etc. But, have you ever considered that having too many things to do can be a big distraction as well? If you are worried about all the things you have to do you may find it difficult to be focused, thorough and able to do individual tasks to the best of your ability.
Consider the words of Lord Chesterfield, "Whatever you do, do it to the purpose; do it thoroughly, not superficially. Go to the bottom of things. Any thing half done, or half known, is in my mind, neither done nor known at all. Nay, worse, for it often misleads."
If you find that you're doing things "superficially", consider these recommendations:
  • Take the time each day to write down the things that you need to get done. Get them out of your head and down on paper
  • From your list of things to do, determine what you have time to accomplish today. This is your list to focus on
  • Now that you have a smaller list (hopefully it is smaller), slow down, focus and do it right the first time

There are so many great opportunities that you can and should fully engage in. Don't allow your sometime overwhelming list of things to do "mislead", distract or slow you down.


Use Your Brain

Would you rather your brain "rust out" or "wear out"? The truth is that you are more apt to rust out your brain from lack of use than you are to wear it out from too much use (if there is such a thing).

Consider some ideas:

  • Read! Read! Read!

  • Work on challenging puzzles

  • Sign up for a course and/or attend a conference that is related to your profession

  • Sign up for a course and/or attend a conference that is not related to your profession

  • Watch a documentary

  • Meditate. Think deep thoughts in a quiet atmosphere

  • Pick a topic and write a paper or book on it. Research and learn everything that you can on the topic. Become an expert

  • Play brain games that sharpen your mind and make you think. (AARP has a wide selection of free games and quizzes for the brain see: or do a web search on "Brain Games")

Unlike your knee, hip, shoulder, or elbow that could eventually wear out and need replacement the brain grows stronger and more proficient when it is active. What are you going to do to grow your brain? Make a plan and schedule each day to increase your knowledge and thinking ability.


Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

One of my all-time favorite books is Judith Viorst's book, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." It is a children's book but it has a wonderful message for adults as well. Alexander is a young man who very simply put, has a bad day. He has gum in his hair when he wakes up, he trips on his skateboard, he has a run in with his brothers, a dessertless lunch and a cavity at the dentist. As his day continues, he faces challenge after challenge. Because of his challenges, he resolves several times throughout the book to escape by moving to Australia.

Do you ever have days like that? Days where everything seems to go wrong and you just want to curl up in a ball, take a nap or run away to Australia? Life can be discouraging at times. You have challenges that can ruin your day, week, month or even your year. I often find comfort in the quote by Mary Anne Radmacher who said, Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'

Don't give up. Push through it. Try again tomorrow! As Alexander's Mom wisely states at the end of the book, "Some days are like that. Even in Australia."