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In the past few weeks, we’ve been awash with images of all the various holidays celebrated at this time of year: Christmas (the big one), Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, St. Lucia Day (being Swedish, I had to have that in there), Kwanzaa, and even Festivus. I’ve also been in a rather melancholy spirit this season. I’m not sure if it’s regarding my getting used to the loss of my mother (she died in September 2009 after a long illness), my own illness and hospitalization (cellulitis caught while in the hospital waiting for my mother to die after we took her off life support), or just where I am in life. I’m assuming it’s probably a combination of everything. Regardless, I’ve been in a bit of a reflective mood at this time, and haven’t actually gone to many parties or done much of anything that I normally would.
This has given me a bit of brain space to try to merge together in my brain how all this goes together. Now, most of us are aware that a major theme of this time of year is light, and bringing back the light when it it darkest outside, but what has struck me is the concept of this being a time of something which we have waited for a long time to finally be born. Almost everyone knows the story of Jesus’ birth that is celebrated mostly by the reenacting of searching for riches and depositing them upon friends, family, and anyone we can (whether they want said riches or not), but there’s also the concept in the pagan tradition that the Sun is born this time of year, and we also have the birth of the “New Me” that is so present in New Year’s Resolutions. I’m also aware in my own life that things have started to grow and come to fruition at this time, whereas I feel like I’ve been gestating them for months (this blog being one of them.)
I’m feeling relieved that there seems to be a releasing of energy, in that I can now develop all those things that I’ve been thinking about for a while. Of course, there’s the issue of moving forward on these great new baby plans that have finally come into the world.
At this time, how are you planning to care and feed these new parts of you?
As one who’s profession it is to help people bring their dreams into reality, I think a lot about how to help people move towards their goals. I’m giving a workshop at the New Year’s Celebration program at Easton Mountain this coming week, and my main focus is to make sure that participants look to their core spiritual values and then connect them with action steps that will allow success to flow. While I’m still finalizing the workshop, here are two steps that are critical to success in achieving goals:
- Make Your Goals Achievable Early: Don’t make your resolution that you will be 100 lbs. lighter by the end of the year. For one thing, it’s hard to see that goal in February because you might have only lost one lb. by that time. Some thing that you can achieve quickly, such as “walking 30 minutes a day, three days a week” or “not eating a donut every morning” is something that you can get a “quick win” and know that you’re doing something good for yourself.It takes about six weeks of doing something new to make it a habit, so allow for some things that you develop easily, and then build up them.
- Develop Your Support Network: Nothing keeps you honest like having someone else know your goals. You need to speak your dreams out loud and then follow that up with a conversation. Allow people to ask about it, in a loving, non-nagging way. If you know that your best friend will be checking in on you next week, you better make some progress by then!
So, what are my goals (I was afraid you would ask.) While these are bound to change, here’s what they are now.
- Get back on my eating plan so that I am mindful of what I am eating each day (and therefore make better food choices).
- Practice playing the hammered dulcimer at least twice a week.
- Continue my meditation practice (I’ve had a lot of people say they like my meditation tweets!)
- Continue to keep on top of my own “things to do” so that I never have a pile of unidentified stuff that I’m scared to address.
What are your goals and how are you getting to them?
With love and wishes for a new birth of a new you in 2010,
At this time of year, most of us are inundated with information from all sources, whether TV, radio, email, web pages, radio, and even blog posts. It can be overwhelming to try to process it all. I think that a major source of stress in all of our lives is having to deal with everything, and then figure out what to do with it all. We’re in the 21st century! We should be able to process volumes and volumes of data and know everything that’s going on, and be empowered by it to make decisions about our lives to lead us where we want to go. Problem is, more often that not we are left metaphorically hiding behind a rock trying not to get knocked over by all this, leaving us dazed and confused. How can you manage all this stuff?
Answer is: You can’t.
As much as we’re told we can multitask, what we’re really doing is just flipping our minds faster and faster from one item to the next, and not really giving anything enough attention. As Dave Crenshaw writes in his book Myth of Multitasking: How Doing It All Gets Nothing Done, most people are “switch tasking” (switching back and forth between two or more tasks). This constant back and forth just wastes energy (i.e. the “running around for nothing” feel). Haven’t you felt that while trying to get everything done? I certainly have.
So, what are our options? As I’ve found with people making career choices, it usually works better if you start with you, instead of trying to deal with everything outside.
What do you really want? In David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy, he talks about “Horizons of Focus”, which is everything from “The Runway” (what’s on your plate now) to “50,000 feet” (what’s your purpose in life.) While you might not be ready to answer that last question, you can start thinking about what’s important in your life, and from there start thinking about what actions will support that.
What would happen if you said to yourself that you are making a list of all the areas that are important to you and that you were going to not worry about all the stuff that comes at you that’s not related to those issues? You might actually be able to handle them. And when you were done with them, you’d know you’re done.
Everything else is a distraction. My spiritual practice recently is trying to keep my distractions at bay. I want to know where those things are (in case I need them later) but I don’t want to look at them right now.
There are many techniques to clear your mind and put your distractions aside. I’ve been doing meditation recently, but whatever works for you is best.
What are the things that are distracting you, forcing you to “multitask” and wearing you out?
As we come to the darkest days of the year, we also enter the time where most of us are running around to buy gifts for others. At this time, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best gift I can get for myself is to get rid of things.
As part of my professional and personal development, I’ve been looking to make myself more efficient, and a big part of that for me has been trying to incorporate the Getting Things Done (known as GTD) philosophy championed by David Allen. My take on the basic philosophy is that we are usually bogged down with so many possibilities in our lives, that we get paralyzed easily in that we just can’t deal with everything and don’t know where to start. GTD is all about getting things out of our heads, and just having in front of us clear action steps that we can do and not have to think about at the time. The thinking’s been done already and we can just (somewhat) mindlessly take action. (I’ve completely drunk the Kool-Aid on this, and will write about it more later.)
This has manifested itself in my life that I’ve got too much stuff around, and that I need to get rid of these things in order to not get so bogged down in things. Just knowing that that file drawer only has things that I need, or that that pile that’s been haunting me for months is now gone, has done tremendous things to free up energy in my life. I’m doing things now that I’ve been meaning to do for a while (like, starting this blog).
So, what’s hanging around and keeping you from taking action? What things/people/actions in your personal or professional lives are the road blocks that are in your way? Leave me your comments.
One of the things that I’ve been working on is consistency. I lost 40 lbs. last year through working with a nutritionist (go to Nutrition for You for more information about their program) and really had to be very consistent in watching what I ate. I’ve also been a race walking coach, and a musician (both singing and playing the hammered dulcimer). For all of these things, I had to practice to get better at things.
Practicing for me is more than just doing something over and over again, but also about the intention that goes in with it. I have to think about what I’m doing and decide if I’m going to do it a certain way or not, regardless of the activity I’m practicing. In order to get better at something, you’ve got to do it a lot so you get past the intentional part about it. You just do it. Malcolm Gladwell stated in his book Outliers that you need to practice something for approximately 10,000 hours in order to be an expert in a field. I’d be doing something by rote after that amount of practice.
So, what am I practicing? Well, as my goal is to merge this professional and spiritual development realm, I’m looking at what I can do to practice both at that same time. Here are the things I’m focusing in on (for the moment).
- Daily Meditation: I get up every morning and meditate for about 25 minutes. I pull a tarot card and read up on what some interpretations of that card, and then reflect on what’s going on in my life now. Then at the end of the meditation, I tweet about it. Yes, tweeting as a spiritual practice. I’m getting better at tweeting, and I’ve gotten some great responses to my tweets, so I’ve got to keep the fan base happy. (Note: if you see some characters at the end of each tweet, it’s the tarot card I pulled that day.)
- Health: I was really good at entering everything I eat into an online food log, and have gotten off the wagon. I’m also trying to get back into the gym and get some more exercise (which has been harder since I’m still recovering from my illness/hospitalization a few months ago). I’m being more consistent than I was, so it’s all about the improvement.
I practice so that I can hopefully do these things at times when my mind doesn’t have the capacity to think about them and make the right choice. I want it to be automatic.
So, what are you practicing?
I’ve got a lot to talk about, and a lot of thoughts on how people need to pay more attention to what their inner voices tell them is right for them, and then taking the steps to really make their dreams into realities. Those thoughts (and cool things I find floating around the net) will be listed here.
Stop back for more, and let me know what you’d like to see.