Archive for the ‘Self Improvement’ Category

Does One Small Voice Really Matter?

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

I was at a disturbing dinner table conversation with a group of young people the other day. (“Young,” in this case, meaning 20’s through 30’s.) The topic came up of whether one person’s voice speaking out was of any value. And the shocking consensus of the young people at that table was a resounding “no!”

I admit to being an idealist. I admit to having a vested interest in the topic since I tend to risk my job, welfare, or life speaking out against what is wrong. The latest book I wrote is just a recent example. But to hear these young people dismiss even the voices of Gandhi or Martin Luther King or JFK as meaningless! I was overwhelmed.

One of them even said “There were others saying the same thing. Gandhi just added to his voice to theirs.” That may be true, I acknowledged. But what if he hadn’t spoken? What if Martin Luther King hadn’t spoken? Would the course of history have been the same? At sixty years old, I’ve heard these people speak or seen the direct effect of their voices. It made a tremendous difference to my heart, soul, and mind. How could they be dismissed so casually?

One of the people at the table had recently passed the Bar Exam and was looking forward to working for Legal Aid. I asked her directly if she wouldn’t be one small voice speaking out for those who couldn’t speak for themselves. “Of course not” was her reply. I wondered how many real courtrooms she had been in, when the accused was too overwhelmed or scared or uneducated to speak for themselves. What happens when your lawyer disparages the very role of being that one voice who will speak for you?

At one point I had to go outside for some fresh air. The truth was that there were tears in my eyes, and I didn’t want to spoil an otherwise social evening. But I was terribly bothered. If you don’t speak up when there is an injustice, how do you know someone else will? What if there are other minds thinking the same thing, but afraid to speak their thoughts out loud?

Should I demean the achievements of President Obama because he only said what other people had said? Or should I applaud him for taking a strong public stance and trying for the chance to do something about what he thought was wrong? I believe that “Yes we can!” echoed the sentiments of many people but I’m still going to give credit to the man who said those words out loud and often enough that something changed. I don’t know yet how much he can accomplish in respecting what’s right about this country and fixing what’s broken, but I hope everybody begins to say to themselves “Yes I can!” when faced with something that needs repair.

I don’t want to think that “one small voice” doesn’t matter because my experience has taught me that it does!

Do I wish I had a louder voice or a bigger audience? Of course I do! I don’t have the money or the celebrity status to automatically be heard. And approaches to Attorney Generals, Grand Juries, and state representatives have just resulted in form letters saying “we don’t investigate individual cases.” I don’t understand that. If you don’t start by investigating one case, then how do you ever find the pattern of wrongdoing? But I’m not going to stop whistleblowing. To be silent in the face of venom would be worse.

I think the problems I’m working to call attention to are serious ones. They require resources and power to fix that I just don’t have by myself. So I do what I can, speak up whenever I can, and try to find the resources that can (and have the guts to!) investigate and fix a broken system.

By the way, I have no grandiose illusions of being Gandhi or any of the inspiring people I mentioned. But they are my heroes and they taught me that the worst sin of all is to be silent when you see what is broken or wrong. Those who don’t speak up become accomplices in the evil, whether it happens in Nazi Germany or your local street. One small voice it may be but I’d rather be small than silent!

Sometimes There is No Silver Lining

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

Clouds With a Silver LiningI once asked a pessimist friend of mine why he persisted in expecting the worst of every situation. He responded with a variation of an old proverb: “They told me to cheer up; things could get worse! So I cheered up. And they were right, things got worse!”

I have to admit he touched upon the roots of despair: the repetition of disaster. Oh sure, we can all deal with the occasional crisis, the one-time emergency. Even an out and out disaster can bring out the hero or heroine in us, the chance to show we have the right stuff. But give any of us a series of even minor failures, and the staunchest optimist begins to have trouble finding the silver lining.

People cope with these times in various ways. Some talk about “a run of bad luck.” Others blame it on “bad karma” and try to figure out what they did to deserve such trials. But eventually, faced with a long enough series of unexpected blows, most of us end up like Job wailing out a despairing “Why Me?”

There isn’t any good answer, of course. Well-meaning friends who spout off lines like “Into every life a little rain must fall,” are asking for a black eye! Let’s face it: everybody has times of despair when nothing will cheer them up. Climbing out of this kind of hopelessness doesn’t happen overnight. But there are steps you can take to nurture the seeds of hope, and to slow down the sense of impending doom.

The best kind of hope is based on reality. Trying to cheer up by pretending that a miracle will occur will only make things worse in the long run. Building your hopes on illusion will only set you up for a bigger fall. If you’re $20,000 in debt and your spouse has filed for divorce, don’t count on winning the Lottery this week, or on your spouse’s having a change of heart.

Above all, don’t fall prey to the Scarlett O’Hara Syndrome of “I won’t think about it now. I’ll think about it tomorrow.” If you’re sliding downhill into despair, complete denial of your problems will only rob you of a chance to minimize their destructive effects. Imagine what a different ending “Gone With The Wind” would have had if Scarlett had only thought about the effects of her actions!

Start by getting your problems into some manageable framework. Write down a list of the crises facing you. Such a list has limits: you’ll find it is not endless, and that itself can bring a sense of relief. Now list the worst possible effects or outcome of each problem. Find out exactly what it is you are dreading. Vague fears are often more unsettling than knowing exactly what it is you fear.

Now go over your list to see what you might do to deal with each situation, or at least to avoid its worst consequences Write down each idea that occurs to you. Remember that chances are that you could handle each situation on its own. It’s only their combined effect that has you feeling overwhelmed. Break them into small manageable pieces, and promise yourself to do at least one thing daily to improve the situation.

You don’t have to believe that things will get better overnight to build hope. Be realistic about accepting how bad they are, and start improving the situation one step at a time. You don’t have to pretend a cheeriness you don’t feel. Cry if you need to. Then start taking steps to make sure you have a little less to cry about tomorrow.

Who knows? One day soon, you may wake up and find that things are no longer getting worse. You may even realize that they seem to be getting better. And that day is worth working for!

Every Action Produces a Reaction

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Newton's CradleMost people accept that there is room for improvement in their lives and their behavior. Nobody’s life is perfect, and every unpleasant feeling or uncomfortable situation is a motivation for change. Why then do we often find it difficult to change?

Everybody who has tried to break a habit like smoking or chewing their fingernails knows this paradox. Every therapist who has watched clients resisting the very changes they said they wanted can attest to the strength of this dilemma.

We can often see clearly what we want to change, and yet have a devil of a time actually making those changes. Why?

There is an explanation. The process only seems mysterious because most people fail to realize how interconnected the parts of their life are. We tend to see things in separate pieces, as if they were in categories that existed in a vacuum. We don’t always make allowances for the way we have fitted all those pieces together. Changing one piece can disturb a subtle balance we have achieved. And that disturbance can be enough to derail our attempts to change.

Many people who complain of man unhappy marriage, for example, fail to realize how many adaptations they have made in order to keep that marriage going. People who have developed apparently self-destructive behaviors in order to cope with an abusive or severely disturbed spouse may find their marriage deteriorating as their personal health improves.

People with severe work or stress problems may find that the situation in their workplace is working against their attempts to build a satisfying life. People in families with unhealthy behavior patterns may find the rest of their family complaining as the so-called patient gets better.

We all live in a complex set of relationships. Trying to improve the parts of our lives that cause us pain requires that we also make adjustments in the parts of our lives that give us satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that we can’t change. And it doesn’t mean that we have to choose between old relationships and new ones.

Many people panic and stop making changes because they are afraid of suddenly having to choose between their old life and a new one.

Any program for change, whether done by yourself or with the aid of therapy, requires a careful evaluation of both the good and the bad parts of your life. Don’t expect the people around you to wholeheartedly accept your ‘improvements.’ They may see these changes as threatening to the status quo that they have come to depend on. You yourself may sometimes feel threatened by the changes you thought you wanted.

One reason that long-lasting change occurs slowly is that going slowly gives you time to make adjustments everywhere in your life. You can bring the best of the past with you, even as you build new ways of behaving. Let the other people in your life share in the process. Find out what adjustments they need to feel safer with your changes.

Evaluate your own priorities, and don’t be upset when you can’t change unwanted habits overnight. Working slowly to adapt your whole emotional and social environment can make changing easier and smoother. You don’t have to be a different person to improve your life. Subtle changes can be more rewarding than overnight makeovers!

Need Help?

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

A photo of someone reaching for helpOne of the ironies of life is that when we most need help, it’s often hard to know where to go to get it! As a psychologist, I am often faced with clients who are afraid to tell anyone that they are getting professional help. It’s a variation of the belief that ‘anyone who goes to a shrink is nuts.’

I personally feel that the opposite is usually the case. Someone who enters therapy is often healthier than average because they recognize their problems and are trying to work on them. Furthermore, they are smart enough to seek the help of an objective and experienced professional. But the old stigma attached to ‘emotional problems’ continues to haunt all of us.

Many people feel that they ought to be able to solve their problems all by themselves. They bottle up their anxieties until they are like a pressure cooker without a safety valve. They develop signs of stress, such as irritability, depression, or even physical complaints like headaches or ulcers. They may turn to alcohol or drug abuse to further mask the pain of their unshared problems. No one is an island, and none of us is so perfect that we can solve all out problems alone. It just doesn’t work!

Other people believe that it is a sign of weakness to consult an ‘outsider’ about their problems. They unburden themselves to family or friends. Unfortunately, those close to us are usually too close to be of much help. Our friends may not have the objectivity to help us choose between alternatives. They may not have the knowledge to know how to help us, even when their intentions are good.

No one can ‘tell’ you the answer to your problem. A good therapist will help you explore and understand your difficulties. He or she may even suggest things to try, and help you experiment with new behaviors and evaluate the results. But competent professionals know that you cannot wave a magic wand and solve problems instantly.

All too often our friends, precisely because they don’t like to see us in pain, offer advice or suggest simple solutions without really encouraging us to figure out exactly what is happening. This can be very dangerous. We may become more frustrated trying out ‘answers’ that don’t fit our specific situations. We may begin to resent friends who try to simplify problems we have been suffering with for weeks or months.

The next time you find yourself struggling with pent-up feelings and continuing unhappiness, ask yourself the following questions:

If your car had engine trouble, would you take it to an experienced mechanic or ask all your friends to offer their opinions on what is wrong?

If you broke your leg, would you insist on handling it by yourself?

The way to save time, money, and hassles is to invest in the services of a professional who has worked with these kinds of problems before. Are your health and happiness worth less than your body or your car? Think about it!

The Family Garden

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Holding HandsSummertime is the season for family vacations, family cookouts, family reunions, and visiting relatives. Whew! That’s a lot of family.

It can seem like visiting a well-planned flower garden, or a fearsome jungle filled with quicksand. I know people who look forward to the chance to renew family ties, and people who dread the very thought of seeing Aunt and Uncle So-and-So again.

It’s all relative. (Pardon the pun.) The more you like the people you’ll be seeing, the more fun you’ll have. But sometimes a sense of obligation gets in the way of just enjoying people.

When you go see your friends, you’re conscious that you choose them because of what you like about them. Sometimes we forget there are things to like about our families because we’re so busy thinking we ‘have to’ be nice to them.

It’s true there are many different kinds of people in every family gathering. Nowadays the problem is complicated by the variety of lifestyles. Divorce, remarriages, and blended families make for a multiplicity of personalities and interests. But instead of getting hung up on having to like all these people, why not relax and try to see the good things in each of them?

You may be so used to your own relatives that you haven’t given yourself a chance to see how you’ve all grown over the years. You may be so familiar with your family that you have your own expectations about them. And these assumptions become Self-Fulfilling Expectations, making us see the glass half-empty instead of half full.

Take the time to listen and look with the same courtesy you’d give a stranger. You might be surprised at how much more interesting they’ve become. Meeting new relatives through remarriage or family blending can make you nervous too. But don’t think of it as a chore or obligation. Pretend it’s a club or party that you’re thinking of joining. Instead of worrying about how they see you, look for what’s fun about them.

I was lucky enough to be welcomed into a family that already had a lot of love and tolerance for all its members. They taught me a lot about how families can let people grow and change, while still holding on to the special relationships developed in childhood. New members came and went, each judged on their own merits and each given the benefit of the doubt.

But even if your family has trouble adapting to changes, you can take a big role in encouraging a better family atmosphere. Start the ball rolling by taking the time to let your favorite relatives know how much you appreciate them. Then practice listening to your least favorite relatives and make it a treasure hunt to find something to like in every one of them.

See your family as a garden, with new plants coming up all the time. Stop worrying about your own image and don’t feel forced. Make it a conscious choice to weed out the negative thoughts and feelings that have sprouted over the years. You’ll be surprised at the richness of the crop you’ll harvest when the summer season is over.

Choosing to have a good relationship with your relatives takes effort on your part. A little consideration goes a long way toward ensuring pleasant family get-togethers. Look at your family members with a new perspective, and see them as potential friends. Find something to like in every one of them, and watch the family garden burst into bloom.

Have You Been Less Than Perfect Today?

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Rock GardenHave You Been Less Than Perfect Today?

A lot of readers found a chord touched by the book excerpt on Self-Fulfilling Prophecies (SFP). But I wrote that book from the perspective of a manager working with other people. Being a business manual, it was focused on the Other rather than the Self. It’s important to look at what we expect of ourselves, and how we fulfill that prophecy. In this article, we’ll explore the effect of high expectations; next time, we’ll explore the effect of ones that are too low.

But what about the expectations we have of ourselves, the SFP’s that affect every day of our own lives? Let’s talk today about tending your own garden. (With apologies to Voltaire.) I don’t mean literally, of course, but figuratively. Nor am I referring to those people who should be told to ‘Mind your own onions,’ as the French would say. (Of course, they say it en francais, naturalement.) No, I’m talking about setting limits to what you can expect from yourself.

Sometimes people forget the value of their own gardens. Instead of focusing on the joys and achievements of just getting through an ordinary day, they feel guilty because they haven’t been awarded the Nobel Prize or made the front cover of Time Magazine. They measure their self-worth by a mythical ideal of fame and fortune. (No, 10 seconds on YouTube doesn’t count!) The unreality of this boggles the mind. (I can say it this harshly because I often fall into this trap, and I’m the pot calling the kettle black.)

You can’t judge yourself by how many people are cheering for you. Hitler got millions to cheer for him, which doesn’t say much for the value of public opinion.

You can’t judge yourself by how much you’ve accumulated. Do I even have to mention Howard Hughes or Ferdinand Marcos?

You can’t judge yourself by age comparisons either. As the musical satirist Tom Lehrer once exclaimed in mock dismay, ‘When Mozart was my age, he’d been dead for ten years!’

Do you have to be perfect to matter in this world? If so, then no one matters, because famous people are not more perfect than the rest of us! (As recent news stories confirm!)

Making a positive impact on your small corner of the world may do more for world peace and happiness than a thousand famous efforts. Why make yourself a martyr to unrealistic expectations? If you compare your achievements to impossibly high standards, you are setting yourself up for low self-esteem and chronic disappointment.

I have found that reading honest accounts of famous people’s lives to be a good corrective for this kind of self-abuse. Measure for yourself decades of struggle against a few moments in the limelight. Can you really say that isolating a specific chemical is more valuable than raising a couple of happy, healthy children? What about heroes who neglected their families while they pursued a single goal? And then there are heroes who pursued lofty goals because they had lost someone special.

It can be an easy way out to ignore mundane responsibilities while pursuing lofty goals. If you do both, then you’re a rare person. As a veteran of the sixties, I have to admit that I feel I’ve accomplished more in raising three sons and helping my clients understand themselves than I ever did at marching and protesting. In the long run, my actions in my sphere of influence, my garden, have had more impact on the world than all my protesting over other people’s actions

Protest what’s wrong with public actions if you don’t approve of them. But don’t neglect your own impact while you do. Be fair to yourself. Give yourself credit for tending your own garden. You don’t need blue ribbons to prove it’s a beautiful place to be.

Climbing Out of That Barrel

Friday, June 1st, 2007

Unless you’re exceptionally lucky, you know what it’s like when the proverbial bottom falls out of things. It’s such an epidemic that we have lots of words to describe it: the pits, the dumps, so far down it feels like up, on our knees, flat on our back. Okay, okay, you get the picture, and it isn’t pretty. Some days it seems like we have more expressions for being down than being up. (Hmm, maybe we should take a count.)

This article isn’t about ‘Why Bad Things Happen to Good People,’ that’s already been done. Nope. I’m thinking more about why overwhelming things happen to ordinary people. And when you get to the bottom of that barrel, the worst thing may be finding those ugly clawed crabs — the kind that keep grabbing at your legs and dragging you back down again every time you try to pull yourself up.

Suddenly we want an ‘Easy Button’ — a minister, a therapist, a book — any magic potion that will take away the pain and make all the bad things less overwhelming. But nothing is easy at that point! And don’t let your friends fool you. Someone says ‘ But it will end,’ as though that makes the current pain go away. But it doesn’t!

One of the phrases I personally hate most is ‘God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.’ I find that highly debatable, especially since I can’t read Creator’s mind and right this minute may be totally unable to figure out what He/She was thinking when She/He decided to dump all this stuff on me at once!

It’s always fun to find like-minded people, and recently I read some great thoughts on the subject, so I’ll quote from Ellen Degeneres’ book ‘The Funny Thing Is.’ On page 126 she says:
‘1) What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. (Translation: what doesn’t kill you puts you in a whole lot of pain and makes you cry a lot and want to crawl into a hole forever and live with rodents.)
2) Adversity builds character. (Translation: you become bitter and angry and people hate you even more.)
3) God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle. (unless God’s in on it and doesn’t like you either.)’

Besides, most of your friends are going to get tired and cranky themselves because you don’t just cheer up at the sound of platitudes. Nobody likes to feel powerless to help. Well, sometimes we just have to grieve! Like it or not, we will have to cry it out, and nobody can say how long that will take.

And part of what makes the grieving so tangled and agonizing is that your feelings aren’t simple. They are all mixed up with sadness and grief, and even actual physical pain. You know, like ‘kick in the stomach’ or ’stabbed in the back’? Then add in the anger, the fury, the rage over how unfair this all is. Why me?! Multiply by the agony of wondering whether it’s happened to you because you did something wrong, you didn’t see the danger signals, or worst of all, the nagging fear that you are just so bad and worthless that you deserve all the rotten torture the universe can throw at you! Did I mention the feeling of powerlessness that compounds the problem?

These complicated feelings are what makes it so difficult to somehow swim past the hurricane around you. Your fear itself may add to the pain, agony, and guilt to make your feelings overwhelming. And let’s face it, it’s really your feelings that are overwhelming, not the outside events.

While there is no ‘Easy Button, ‘ there are things that can help. The most important to remember is that if you can make a 10% improvement in several areas, the cumulative effect may get closer to a 100% improvement!

Summoning every resource available to you is the beginning step, as long as you don’t assume that any one of them is the only solution. Talking to a psychologist or counselor helps. Choose a professional with a great deal of experience. Since they are not emotionally involved in your situation, they can use that objective view of options to help you plan your strategy for climbing out of the barrel. Their compassion and understanding of the ranges of human behavior can also be a comfort to you. You are neither alone nor unique. Human beings get upset when they are overwhelmed.

If you have a spiritual advisor or group that you respect and trust, you may also find some comfort in speaking to them about finding a broader meaning to the catastrophe that is happening to you. Talking to someone or reading books may help you remember that there is a greater meaning in all our lives. You may not figure out what lesson you are supposed to learn, but just considering the possibility that there is a greater lesson may bring about a small measure of reassurance and stability.

When I’m knocked on my butt by some terrible events, I personally find comfort in remembering the Chinese proverb: ‘Those whom the gods love, they teach with a heavy stick.’ I may wish the blows to get my attention weren’t so heavy, but it comforts me to believe that someday I will understand the lessons that seem so invisible right now!

As we’ve discussed before, this is a good time to make a plan. Break the overwhelming into small pieces and pick one small thing that will improve just that one piece. Setting priorities is important, but don’t be afraid to start with the lesser problems first. Getting back some sense of control will help you get your footing again.

And don’t listen to the ‘crabs’ who try to pull you down with discouraging words. Or to well-meaning friends who say ‘you’ve cried enough. Get over it.’ If you hide your pain and anger, and force yourself to move on before you’re ready, you may lose the chance to learn the lessons and find the meaning inherent in your current catastrophes.

It’s your life and your pain, and little by little, you’ll find yourself reducing some of your suffering to a manageable level while you learn just how powerful you can be in the case of disaster. Take it one step at a time, cry when you need to, and take the time to look at the things that have happened. Just don’t listen too much to those who tell you what you should do. Consider your options and choose for yourself.

Zen and The Art of Money Management

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Books on approaching sports, motorcycle repair, and job hunting with a Zen attitude were very popular for a while. I think it’s time I provided some guidelines for approaching money the same way!

You see, Zen is really an attitude towards life. It encourages people to be natural and spontaneous, yet controlled. It is a creed of doing yet not doing, of relaxing to create energy rather than trying too hard and wasting energy.

A lot of people seem to waste a lot of energy being tense about money. Yes, I know that jobs and resources are scarce. But nowhere in nature does any animal have access to unlimited resources without effort. Why should we expect things to be any different for humans? And is that sufficient reason to be so tense that you cease to enjoy the resources you do have?

I also know that the unexpected expense or catastrophe can come along at any time and wipe out savings. (Do I ever known that! Remind me to tell you about my catastrophes sometime!) But that only means it’s even more essential to develop a healthy attitude towards money that will carry you through the hard times as well as the high times!

Let’s face it. There’s been plenty of research that shows that while having a little more money may help you be happier if you have been struggling below the poverty level, if you’re already middle-class or higher, more money does not automatically result in more happiness.

How do you allow yourself to feel rich when your bank account says you’re not?
By relaxing and accepting your limitations with a certain Zen tolerance, and then letting yourself enjoy what you do have. Build in things that are fun. Don’t let your thoughts about money dominate you just because it’s scarce. If that seems too esoteric and mystical for you, try these tips:

1) Plan ahead and take stock of your assets. Many people find this the most difficult step. List all income, and don’t forget possible income and hidden assets, like things you can sell or services you can barter. Don’t be afraid to know where you stand financially. You might be better off than you think.

2) Set your priorities. Make note of all necessary outlays. And I do mean necessary! Check to see what’s really essential to your survival. Rent or mortgage may be fixed, but many other things are flexible. Look for creative ways to reduce expenses. There are many articles and websites that offer tips on how to cut food, utility, and other bills.

3) Keep a positive attitude. Make it a game to live well on less money, and be cheerful about it. This is a chance to show how much you can learn, and a chance to prove how adaptable you can really be. Make it a challenge to economize, not a choice. It’s really an adventure to see how much you can create from what you have already.

You may not have a choice about how much money you can make, but you do have a choice about the attitude you’re going to have towards money. Planning ahead, setting priorities, and keeping a positive attitude are things you can do. When it comes to money, a little Zen goes a long way. Don’t work so hard you forget to enjoy the adventure!

Dealing With Daily Chaos

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

I hear a lot from people who feel overwhelmed by the chaos they have to deal with each day. And I do understand. All of us can relate to feeling like there are too many things on our plate.

People tend to daydream about a better life. But with a busy schedule, they keep their dreams simple. They dream of winning the lottery, or encountering as rush hour without traffic. They want a better job, or a bigger house. When those things don’t materialize, they might feel tense and harried. But when they get home angry and frustrated, the mess there may have them screaming (at their family, or just screaming!)

One of the difficulties in not falling prey to this disastrous cycle is that it’s so easy to lose sight of our objectives. Like hamsters on a treadmill, we can forget where we’re running to. We feel out of control in our own lives.

Struggling to keep your head above water, and anxiously glancing around for the next tidal wave, you can feel powerless to swim towards a goal. Any goal!

There is a big difference between living and making a living. And sometimes we forget that the second thing has no purpose if we’re not doing the first!

Stop and take stock for a moment. What are the reasons for the thing you do? Remember the joy of your wedding day? Remember why you took that job: the pay was needed or the opportunity good? Think of the first time you saw your child, the swelling joy and pride.

Stay in touch with those memories for a while. Get in touch with those feelings again.

Now write a list of the goals in your most precious memories. List all the objectives: providing for yourself and your family, enjoying your family’s company, keeping your body healthy, keeping your mind active. Be specific. Is buying a house on your list? Or planning a vacation with the family? Often we think of a material thing that we think is our goal, when really it is something more special than the thing itself.

List even the very small things. Do you wish for more time with your hobbies? Do plants or pets give you a good feeling?

Go have a cup of coffee (or whatever your beverage is) and leave the list for a while. Relax and think of other things.

After a short break, come back to the list and evaluate the items. Put a checkmark next to the six most important items on your list. Keep the list. Think about what you can do to have these goals. Understand that some of the things you are doing now are bringing you closer to your heart’s desire.

Live with the assumption that you are in control of your own life. Every activity you are involved in represents a decision or choice on your part. Compare your daily actions with your list of desired goals. Consider the possibility of not wasting time on the things you are doing that don’t bring you any closer to your goals.

If you don’t enjoy an activity and it doesn’t bring you any closer to what you do want out of life, ask yourself why you are doing it? Make the choices that give your life meaning. Don’t waste it. Keep sight of things you value most and let them be a guiding star that keeps you from feeling lost in the chaos around you.