[The following is one of my very first posts that I have now re-written. I AM DEDICATING IT TO MY SONS. Sometimes life hands us disappointments, but it is how we accept these disappointments that matter. Do we handle them with grace and still give our 100%?
What one of my sons learned this week is that showing up and giving your best DOES matter no matter what — YOU NEVER KNOW WHO IS WATCHING.]
When I was looking for a job, the following quote was said to me by my mother. I do not know the originator (would love to give credit where credit is due) but the words are absolutely true.
An employer, for example, when given the choice between a skilled but lazy worker and a hard working employee who is slightly less skilled will select the latter every time.
Sometimes, life will knock us down and our pride and ego can be hurt. Sometimes we are forced to ‘pay our dues’ when the effort seems futile and pointless. I learned this lesson . . . at a gas station.
When I was fresh out of college and looking for a job, the Persian Gulf War had just broken out. Living in a military-saturated area, more than 40,000 local military residents were deployed and jobs were scarce.
I ended up getting a job at a grocery store while I pursued more-desirable employment. I would feel so humiliated when people from my high school or college would come to the store. I knew what they were thinking—it was what I was thinking—you went to college for this? But I needed money. I was interning for free at a local chamber of commerce so that I could gain some marketable job experience. My dad at the time did not understand this: “why don’t you go back to get your master’s,” he would say. “Why are you working for free?”
I tried explaining that I needed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life first. I had been hitting a brick wall with my job search—the ol’ you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job—so I knew that I needed to find a way to gain work experience. The internship was my way.
So, with my head down, I went to my grocery store gig to earn money. I finally resigned myself to the fact that I would run into people I knew; my confidence was at rock bottom.
It was at this time that I learned a valuable lesson—one that I still remember to this day—and it happened at a gas station. In those days, full-service gas pumps were still an option. In fact at this station, every gas pump was full service. In high school, the service attendants were often my fellow classmates. Post-college and on this day, it was a man whose child I used to babysit. He was a bank executive, so seeing him wear the station’s uniform was surprising.
What impressed me the most was that he didn’t try hiding the fact that he worked there. Instead, he walked over cheerfully and helped me pump my gas. That was when it dawned on me that he must have lost his job in the throes of the Persian Gulf War recession.
Unlike me, some college graduate punk, who worked at a grocery store with shame, this man approached me with his head high. He had more reason than me to feel down. He had a wife, a child, and a prominent job. But you wouldn’t have known it. With a smile on his face and such a cheerful manner, he helped me—not just with my gas, but also with my perspective on life.
This man had experienced a disappointing and difficult set back. But instead of surrendering to his despair, he faced it, embraced it, and did what he needed to do at the time. This experience must have been so difficult and humbling for him. I am sure when he lost his job, he must have been devastated and felt as if someone punched him in the gut. I am sure that he was scared, depressed, and wanted to cry. He is human, after all. And no human is without challenges.
I don’t know what happened later with this man. I can only assume that his positive attitude allowed him to obtain another job.
Shortly after this incident, I had gotten a job in another city and moved away. The job? It was at a chamber of commerce; they said it was my nonpaying internship at the local chamber that made them take notice.
I regret not going back to thank this man, although I am sure he has no idea the impact he had on my life. It was on that day that I promised myself that I would always try to maintain a positive attitude and do whatever job I am given with a cheerful attitude.
As I wrote in the beginning, this post is dedicated to my sons. As a mom, it is hard to watch your children be disappointed, hurt, and upset. It takes everything out of you not to FIX IT, but instead, let your children work it out for themselves. You can only trust that you have empowered them to stay the course . . . and to do so with grace and a sense of self-worth. You hope that they will know how important it is to ALWAYS GIVE THEIR BEST despite the circumstances. Because, as I said above, you never know who is watching. . . it could be someone who can positively affect your future!
This posting will be simple but effective. I will ask six basic questions that are fundamentally important for achieving goals. My journalism schooling has engrained these questions into my psyche. When approaching any problem, they are the ones that I ask myself.
WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, and HOW.
These six questions will put you on a course for achieving your goal. Take the time to, not only answer these questions, but WRITE DOWN YOUR ANSWERS. . . and then start crushing it! You are here reading this – I hope – because there is something that you are looking to achieve.
If so, WHAT? That is my first question.
If you had to pick JUST ONE goal to focus on now, what would it be?
I have created this Goals Assessment Exercise to help you determine what that goal might be. It takes a snapshot look at all areas of your life to help you narrow down your priority goals. Click to download the Goals Assessment Exercise form.
What is the motivating force behind your desire? This answer is what you will need to cling on to when the doubt creeps in and perseverance is required. Why is this goal so important? Write your answer out.
This is your time to map our your plan. WHAT ARE THE STEPS needed to take make your goal a reality? Break down the steps and turn them into actionable milestones. This is will serve as your roadmap. Do not forget to SCHEDULE these milestones. . .as indicated in the WHEN.
Please be sure to download the attached .pdf to WRITE OUT the answers to these questions. Later, I will discuss just why it is so important to write out your goals. For starters, it WILL give you CLARITY.
What resources are needed to achieve our goal? Are there experts or even friends and/or associates who can help you? Perhaps groups (through Facebook or LinkedIn) that can be beneficial. I have found LinkedIn to be a wealth of information and resources. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Write down any resources that you can think of to help implement your goal and then reach out to them.
Visualize the setting. It will help you SEE THE END—the final outcome of where and when you achieve your goal. Where will you be when you achieve your goal? I do not mean just literally, but figuratively as well. . .where will you be in your life? What will achieving your goal do for you? See this wonderful final result.
Give yourself a deadline to avoid putting it off. After you have set this deadline, work backwards and write down the mini-steps needed to get you there. When will you accomplish those steps? Write those down as well.
Give it a try! WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW your #1 Priority Goal. I would love to hear back from you–share the results of just how you crushed your goal.
You may find this week’s Healthy Habit silly, but surprisingly, I have found that it does have an effect on my day. Case in point, my morning ritual of grabbing a Dunkin Donuts ice tea. I make it a point to hold the door for people coming in/out—and the people I encounter also do the same for me. Seriously, the customers at this Dunkin Donuts are the friendliest people ever. We all smile at each other, greet each other with a ‘good morning’ or a ‘have a good day’. And you know what? I always feel a little better—it actually perks me up from my morning grogginess and gives a lift to my day.
And then the smiling. That too, in itself, can have an effect. I’ve noticed this it at work. When I smile—and make a point to smile at people I pass in the hallway—my whole being follows suit. It’s like a trigger to tell me that I am happy. That smile – even if I am not ‘feeling it’ at the time – actually does make me feel happier.
And here’s the added bonus about smiling at, holding the door for, and saying hello to people . . . you are positively impacting others as well. That smile could be what brightens someone else’s day. Your friendly greeting could be what changes their mind about how sad they are feeling. You just never know.
And smiles are contagious. Your smile can make someone else smile, who then will make someone else smile, who will then . . .
Give it try!
Tapping into your creativity is not something that always comes easily. The stressors of life can often sabotage creative energy making pursuing your artistic craft challenging. Believe me, I know. There are so many times, especially after a long day at work, when writing is the last thing that I want to do.
But when the creativity flows, it is a wonderful thing. I was asked just recently what inspires my creativity and it got me thinking . . . what is the catalyst that triggers this creativity? In reflecting on this, I realized that there is one critical element . . . BEING OPEN. Read More
Make Exercise a Regular Practice
This week’s Healthy Habit involves the ugly big E-word. . .exercise. It is so easy to avoid. It is often dreaded and feared. It can be downright intimidating and hard to start doing. . .or sticking with. But, it is critical for so many reasons:
– Your overall health (it improves cardiovascular, weight issues, digestion, anxiety, etc.).
– It can provide mental clarity.
– It increases energy levels (maybe not at first, but stick with it and you will see a difference).
Start small if needed. . .take a walk through the woods, challenge your kids to a game of basketball, do a YouTube exercise video at home.
And then build from there. Make it fun. Give yourself small goals, increasing your duration and intensity along the way.
Look at your calendar and SCHEDULE the exercise.
The Bright Light Living Healthy Habits series is designed to help you live a well-rounded and happy life with exercise being its critical foundation. Exercise provides the energy, stamina, and strength to tackle other healthy habits and goals.
Recommended: Tips for Fitting Exercise Into Your Busy Schedule.
Procrastination is often the result of fear, the unknown, or downright lack of motivation. The hardest thing on your ‘To Do’ list is often the thing that is done last or put aside.
And what happens?
It looms, festers, and weighs on you like a nagging, anxiety-inducing annoyance.
But when you tackle it first – like ripping off a bandaid – you will immediately feel relieved. You may also find that doing THAT THING wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be. Having completed it, you will open the door to productivity because THAT THING is no longer blocking your flow and motivation.
Happy New Year!
It’s 2020—the beginning of a new decade—not just year, but decade. Wow. With this monumental event, it seems as if we all want our goals to be just as BIG. I believe in big goals. I love big goals. I believe that big goals can be achieved. . . . with big COMMITMENT.
If you are looking to accomplish some pretty amazing things, then roll up your sleeves and join me in answering some tough questions.
The first – and most obvious – is WHAT are your goals for this year?
Do you know CLEARLY know what you want? After all, you cannot get what you want if you do not KNOW what you want. You must be able to SEE the final outcome—it’s this vision that will get your through the rough spots. When doubt comes creeping in, close your eyes and picture yourself completing your goal—hold tight to that image.
Question #2: Do you REALLY believe that you can achieve your goal(s)? I touched on this Monday in Expect to Achieve Your Goals (as part of the 52 Weeks of Healthy Habits for Bright Light Living series). It is extremely important that we not only KNOW what we want, but also TRULY BELIEVE that we can achieve it—not just HOPE that we can achieve our goals.
Because you know what? Goals involve work. If you do not really believe your goal is possible than you can easily talk yourself out of continuing your pursuit.
Resolutions — as its name implies — require RESOLVE and commitment. Resolutions are different than wishes (we are not blowing out our birthday cake candles and hoping our dreams come true). WE ARE DOING THE WORK—what is required to achieve our goals.
Which brings me to the toughest question. . .
Do you want it bad enough to do the work?
Do you want it bad enough to make sacrifices?
Do you want it bad enough to say ‘no’ to things when you really want to say ‘yes’.
Do you want it bad enough to get up early?
Do you want it bad enough to go to the gym when you’d rather stay at home?
Do you want it bad enough to give up watching television to spend more time on your goals?
Do you want it bad enough to pick yourself up when it feels as if you failed?
The truth is we have to really want something to make it happen.
And if you really want it then YOU WILL ACHIEVE IT.
I ended this year having completed a major goal of mine. I finished the first draft of my next book–although there is lots and lots of editing needed. This was a BIG GOAL for me. Getting it published is my next big goal and you know what? I WANT IT BAD ENOUGH!
I am excited about the New Year and I hope you are as well. Join me in rocking it this year! Do not limit yourself–dream big and make it happen! I believe that you will.
That sounds so simple. BUT, ask yourself . . . are you REALLY expecting to accomplish your goals when you set them?
Or, are you setting goals that you HOPE will come true, but only HALF-BELIEVING that they will? With the New Year around the corner, resolutions are often set . . . and then broken over time.
Why is this?
There could be many reasons. One reason this happens is that people often make New Year’s Resolutions without truly believing and SEEING the outcome for themselves. Instead of resolutions, they are setting WISHES. These wishes are curtailed by mediocre effort and commitment. When the real commitment is needed (and demanded), the desire is often diminished because one’s belief is limited. They did not truly believe that the goal could happen—they only hoped that it would come true. The effort needed begins for a while until they talk themselves out of the outcome.
Be cognizant of this when you are setting your goals—are you really EXPECTING this of yourself?
You may wish to implement the habits each week If so, I encourage you to download the
BE PRESENT with your family and loved ones. Not just this holiday season, but as a daily practice. Christmas is such a wonderful time of year–for many of us. For some, it is a reminder of the loved ones they’ve lost or from whom they are separated. Sadly, this Christmas season will be tough for a lot of people I know. Their stories serve as reminders to me on how precious life truly is and how it should never be taken for granted.
Use the magic of this holiday season to give family and friends an extra tight hug and words of cheer. Be PRESENT with them, spending quality time, void of iphones. I speak for myself — it is easy to be distracted, busy, not giving the time that I should be giving to my family. But, those times when my family and I slow down, TALK, and show our love and affection–those times are priceless and truly are the best gifts ever.
You may wish to implement the habits each week (if so, I encourage you to download the
Drink AT LEAST 8 -10 Glasses of Water Per Day
This one little habit can make a world of difference in your health. There are so many benefits to drinking water—it keeps you hydrated, helps fight off infection (especially during this cold and flu season), improves your circulation and complexion, boosts your metabolism, and can serve as an appetite suppressant. These are just SOME of the benefits.
This week’s “Healthy Habit for Bright Light Living” may not be the easiest for some–there are some who claim that they just don’t like the taste of water—I recommend reading this post (8 Ways to Drink More Water ) to help you succeed in making this a “Healthy Habit” that you can stick with.
I was just reminded of an incident that happened a few years back when we were visiting our friends, Huck and Fulie (names have been changed to protect the innocent). We were hanging out while our kids were upstairs playing UNTIL their daughter came down crying and SCREAMING out my oldest son’s name.
Of course I think the worst — “great, what did my son do now?” — until I hear what their daughter is crying about. . . “HE TOUCHED THE ELF!”
Now, our household has never had an Elf on the Shelf — I guess that we’re not cool enough to hang out with. But, I get the magic of the elf. The elf is a reminder to BEHAVE; he is watching and will report your behavior back to Santa. For those unfamiliar with Santa’s little helper (AKA Spy), the elf moves around the house, keeping all little boys and girls occupying the house on their toes.
And there are rules — apparently — what we came to learn that night. The main rule is to NEVER touch the elf. If you do, they lose their magic and cannot go back to the North Pole. I’ve heard many theories of what happens, but what it meant to our friends’ daughter was that Christmas would be ruined. The horror! No wonder she was upset.
There are many things you can do to rectify the situation, starting with an apology letter. The elf, however, had his own way of making things right and he was hardcore. . .he toilet papered their house! Leaving a note, warning of the seriousness of my son’s action, he said that all was now forgiven but to learn from that experience. Hurray! Christmas was saved. All was restored and right in the world again.
Can you believe it? Well, the children did (and that is what mattered).
This story reminded me of the power of belief. The power of EXPECTATIONS — about what we believe to be true and what OUTCOME we EXPECT to happen. And . . .
Da da da dum — consider this a cliffhanger. I have lots to say about EXPECTATIONS, but will wait until my next posting to elaborate. (Feeling a bit under the weather and my brain cells aren’t on full cylinders.) If you don’t already, please SUBSCRIBE below so that you can get Part 2.
Make a conscious effort to seek the good in all situations.
Yesterday, my husband and son raked up the massive amount of leaves in our front yard (boo!), but in the process, they found my car registration that I had dropped and lost (yay). Raking leaves is definitely something to complain about (it was the trade off for me doing all the outside lights and Christmas tree), but in doing it, something good came from it. . .besides a much prettier front yard.
That is how being grateful works. Seeing good, brings about good. During this holiday season, let’s all soak up all the blessings around us. Immediately replace any instincts to complain with gratitude. While it’s easier said than done, recognizing the need to be grateful is a great first step. To read more on the subject: How Gratitude Brings Abundance
Be Brave Enough to Suck at Something New. The above image has been making its way around Facebook. In fact, I posted it. The message really resonated with me. It is something that I had already been pondering in my own journey of trying something new—with this blog and my other writing.
“Putting myself out there” is something that does not come easy for me, but is something that comes with the territory of pursuing my creative goals. My debut novel for example, which was published a few years ago, is by no means perfect. I wanted to publish it with a front page of disclaimers—basically asking readers to be kind and not too judgmental. It was my first attempt at writing a novel. And as I complete my first draft of my next novel (and then the sequel to my first novel), I am asking myself, “AM I (gulp) Brave Enough to Suck Again at Something New?”
In asking myself this question, I had some insights . . . starting with the realization that EVERY EXPERT OR PROFESSIONAL WAS ONCE A NOVICE. All the greats had to START somewhere. They weren’t instantly great. They had to put themselves “out there” and try, sometimes “sucking” but yet, BUILDING upon that initial attempt.
Take Michael Jordan, a basketball legend. Do you think he just showed up on the basketball court and impressed everyone immediately with his prowess? No, this gifted athlete as a sophomore in high school did not make the Varsity Basketball team. But he didn’t let that stop him.
As he states, “Whenever I was working out and got tired and ﬁgured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it. That usually got me going again.”
As a fan of the series, Mad Men, I love Jon Hamm, who portrayed Don Draper so masterfully. Do you think he started his career as a fearless and accomplished actor? No!
As he stated in an Entertainment Weekly interview, “I kept showing up and I kept trying. And I kept trying to push down the voice that was saying, ‘You’re terrible. Someone’s better than you. They’re going to give the part to the other guy.’ And elevate the part of me that said, like, ‘You’re worth it. You should be here’.”
Michael Jordan and Jon Hamm–and other accomplished greats–did not become instant successes; they weren’t child prodigies who mastered their craft their very first attempt at doing it.
But yet, we compare our fledgling starts with the top elite. We allow their success to intimidate us and convince us into thinking we must be perfect in order to present our work, which brings me to point #2. . . Read More