A New Decade — Opportunity for Perspective and Moving Forward Powerfully

2020 20302020 – we are leaving the 2010s and beginning the 2020s! What does that mean to you? Perhaps not much. A year is a year, you may think. However, you might consider this an opportunity to do some reflection backward and anticipation forward on a broader scale than one year. Another decade, another 10 years of life is ending; another decade is beginning. I find that these mileposts can provide valuable chances to celebrate, learn, focus and refocus.

Looking Back on the 2010s

For some of us, the decade ending has a particular meaning. For example for me, the beginning of March 2020, marks the completion of 10 years living in Nashville, Tennessee. I am taking the opportunity to reflect on that decade of living in a location I had never imagined as my home. What has that meant to me and what does it mean going forward?

Do you have aspects of your life that coincide with the years 2010 to 2020? They may not be as obvious as mine; see if you can identify any. For all of us, taking a longer view backwards can be beneficial. Try to take an aerial view. Perhaps it’s from a helicopter, or a hot air balloon, or on the wings of an eagle.

Grab a pen and paper and start jotting things you remember as you look back on those years from that higher perspective. You might do this by category: successes, disappointments, family highlights, family struggles, illuminations or learnings. Add categories that resonate with you. If you have things to reference that will jog your memory, use them. For example, every year during this decade, I have included a list of highlights of the past year in my Christmas cards and they are a great memory booster in this process. Do you have something like this? Perhaps you journal or keep planners and calendars from past years – they can provide memory jogs.

NOTE: you may write these things in lists and other linear modes or use visual tools like mind mapping. If you’d like more information, go to: https://carolbrusegar.com/mindmapping-multi-faceted-tool/

Once you have written as much as you can think of for now, spend some time reviewing it. Pull out particularly significant things and translate them into learnings that can inform your looking toward a new decade. For example, after six years in Nashville I intended to follow my family who had moved back to California. I am still here (for multiple reasons) and digging into why is an important part of my consideration of the past decade.

Looking Forward

Now shift your perspective toward the coming decade. This time we will start at the end of the decade – 2030 (YIKES) – and create a picture of what we would like to have as our reality at that point. Think about family, financial status, location, relationships, career/job/business/activities. Add any other categories you choose. Take some time with this.

After you have some things recorded that you are excited about, you can jump back into your helicopter, hot air balloon or onto the wings of the eagle. From that aerial view, start jotting down some milestones along the way between your desired 2030 reality and where you are now in 2020. Exactly the kinds of things you include is your choice. It might be intermediate steps toward the outcome, resources needed, things you need to learn, people to involve in various ways, etc.

What we are creating is a background for more specific planning. Are you getting excited? I hope so!

After you have gleaned useable information from the past decade and have a stimulating vision with milestones for the coming decade, it’s time to look at the new year of 2020 in that context.

What do you want to create and develop that will move you into the new decade with power? Again, use linear or more visual tools, depending on what is most useful and inspiring for you.

Look at what you have recorded. Think of a word or phrase that can be your Word for the Year to help keep you focused and on track for this fabulous year. If you have not used a Word for the Year tool, you can learn more about its value here: https://carolbrusegar.com/choose-your-word-for-the-year/

To fully benefit from use of this practice, grab a copy of the book here:  One Word That Will Change Your Life

Watch for specific planning resources in future posts.

What is Holding You Back From Retiring When You Feel Ready?

blocks

Suppose you are eligible to retire from your job – you are eligible for Social Security payments and have worked enough years to qualify for a good pension (if there is one with your employment). Financially, you could do it. And yet you don’t. Can you identify what is holding you back?

I recently had a conversation with someone in that precise situation. As we talked, she was able to identify several things that were keeping her from doing what she was in some ways quite ready to do – retire.

Blocks to Making the Move to Retirement

One factor was concern that she wouldn’t be contributing to the betterment of society anymore. Her career had focused on things that made a difference and she wanted to continue to do that in the coming years. Would she settle into a lifestyle that was narrower and not connected to the needs and issues?

A somewhat connected thought was that despite all she has done in a 40-year career, she hadn’t done enough in that area of interest. Should she stay and do more?

Then there was a practical thing: with workdays of 8 or more hours and a commute of an hour each way, all her focus had been on that job. She didn’t quite know how to shift focus and find new outlets for her commitment and energy.

The prospect of losing the relationships related to the job was another pull to continue working. Retirement inevitably changes or severs relationships with people with whom we have worked. In this case, they have been significant and in fact the majority of her personal relationships.

A final item was facing the overwhelming job of leaving records and the office in condition for someone to easily step in and do the work. There seems to be no time in the current pace of the job to get this done. Ultimately it became another reason to postpone retirement.

Can you relate to any of these as reasons you are putting off retirement, what is holding you back? Can you identify others?

As we talked, we identified some steps to take. Perhaps these could help you take some steps toward the goal of retirement on terms that are satisfying to you.

Steps to Removing Blocks

First, take inventory of the things you have accomplished and been involved in during your years of active employment. Write them down, think about the impacts and celebrate them. It is easy to lose track of all we have done after a long career and valuable to look back at them.

Second, look again at this list and consider what possibilities for post-retirement activity come to mind. How could your career be a launching pad for the next phase of your contribution? Perhaps there is something that you enjoyed and excelled at 20 years ago. What related things could you do? Could you take something to another level through volunteer work or even part time work in some organization? Do some creative brainstorming of ideas.

Third, take concrete steps to explore new opportunities. If it is difficult to fit into your current schedule, explore ways to carve out time to totally focus on the things you want to check out. It could mean using a day a week of your vacation time for a few weeks, or a day every other week, or even one full day to get started. Decide ahead of time what you will do with this time that will provide information you need about future possibilities.

Fourth, as you are looking at these options, look for people to build relationships with in these new organizations or groups. Even if you don’t ultimately go in some of the directions you are checking out, you may find people to connect with in various ways.

Fifth, create a plan for leaving your files, records and workplace in a condition that you will be proud of. This can apply to anything you consider unfinished in your current position. List the major components and then make a general timeline. Start chipping away by making a list of tasks divided by an estimated time each will take: 10 minutes, 15 minutes, an hour, etc. Start doing them as you have snippets and blocks of time on a weekly basis. Post that list where you see it continually and will be reminded that you can indeed achieve your overall goal a bit at a time.

Here’s a free worksheet based on the steps above. You will be able to download and print it directly from this link.  WORKSHEET for Clearing Out Blocks

How About a Midyear Check-in?

check inIf you are anything like me, you are amazed to realize that the midpoint of the year is upon us. It’s a great time to do a check-in with ourselves. It can be about personal goals and situations, family or groups in which you are involved, work, business or any other area of life. As the days, weeks and months seem to whiz past us – or we whiz through time on a roller coaster – a milestone like mid-point of the year can be a good reason to assess and refocus.

(If you are reading this at another point of the year, you will probably see that similar questions can be used at any point when you want to assess and regroup.)

I suggest a few simple questions to get started. Here they are:

What do you consider your accomplishments and high points of the first half of the year?
What attitudes, habits or practices helped those things happen?
What held you back from being at a different point at mid-year in each of the areas you are reviewing?
What needs to change so those things don’t hold you back in the second half of the year?
What are your major goals for the next six months? (or three months)
What do you need to do to make them happen?
What additional resources (of any kind) do you need?
When will you do your next check-in?

I am finding this very helpful. I am ending the first half of the year with a very productive last month. By actually writing down what contributed to that will help me build in things to maintain and accelerate my momentum. Identifying what held me back earlier in the year allows me to make sure those same things don’t sabotage me in the coming months.

Although it is easier to read through questions like this, think of some responses and move on, the impact will be so much greater if we write down answers. The resulting document can be kept where it is a visible reminder on those days and even weeks when life takes us off course.
May your second half of the year be enhanced by your thoughtful assessment and planning!

The link below will take you to a free PDF of the questions – a worksheet you can use for your check-in.

Midyear Check-in

Have You Discovered Timeboxing?

timeboxingI have used a variety of time management techniques over the years but somehow had never discovered Timeboxing. The idea behind it – of establishing blocks of time for certain tasks, sections of projects, etc. – certainly isn’t a brand new idea. But I’ve learned that it is ‘a thing’ in a way I had not known.

Perhaps you are like me: the likelihood of me trying a new technique or practice is increased if I know the benefits I may gain ahead of time. I need the ‘sales pitch.’ Thus finding Red Tani’s article, “5 Reasons to Practice Timeboxing” was really helpful.

Here are two of the five reasons; more explanation and the rest of the reasons are in the article:

+ Timeboxing is flexible and customizable – you can be as specific (“Write a 100 word description of my main character.”) or as vague (“Make some progress on my novel.”) as you like. …Timeboxes can also be used for activities other than work. You can timebox chores to turn them into games….(and) timebox unproductive activities.

 

+ Timeboxing lets you flow – …During flow, you focus all your emotional and intellectual capacity on the task at hand, allowing you to achieve your best work.

The only thing you need to use this technique is some kind of timer. It can be on your phone, watch, or computer; there are lots of options for timer software online. It’s much better to set a timer than to be checking your clock to see what time it is. Just work on your task until you hear or see the signal indicating the end of the appointed timeframe.

I’m looking forward to using this technique as I move into the new year. I would love to hear your comments if you already are a Timeboxer (is that a word?)!!

Tips for Making Resolutions & Planning That Succeed

resolutionsWhether you are a resolution maker or a planner (there is a difference), lots of advice is floating around the internet at this time of year. In fact, I suggested an approach in an earlier post: Would Kaizen Concepts Enhance Your Planning and Goal Achievement?

Melody Wilding on her blog, melodywilding.com offers us some great ideas. First, she gives several reasons why many resolutions made at the beginning of the year fail, and then offers four approaches to integrate into your process that can increase your chances of success. Using those approaches can move your resolutions into the realm of real planning that can move you forward in the areas you choose.

One of her suggestions is to “bulletproof your resolution …. Bolster it against the craziness of daily life.” Check out her post : Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Suck (And How to Create Goals that Actually Work).

 

 

Would Kaizen Concepts Enhance Your Planning and Goal Achievement?


KaizenAt this time of year, most of us are making plans for the coming year at some level. It may be strictly personal – how we want 2019 to be as far as health, relationships, spiritual and self-development, and so on. We may also be planning for our job/career/business. There are a variety of approaches from which to choose. Perhaps you have a way to set goals and plan that has worked for you and you use that basic approach each year. Perhaps you try new angles or tools each year. Or perhaps you combine approaches.

You may be feeling overwhelmed with the options. Many approaches to planning focus on identifying large goals that will stretch you as you work toward their achievement. This has benefits and often great results. I recently read an article that advocates for a different approach.

Melissa Ricker proposes the use of the Japanese technique called Kaizen – a focus on continuous improvement which keeps you moving forward without burning out or becoming discouraged if pursuing the huge goals feels overwhelming. Melissa describes the benefits this way:

Looking for small, continuous improvements means resisting the lure of magic bullet solutions that are destined to fail. It means accepting that small wins are just as important as big wins. It means facing up to challenges rather than shrinking away from them. Kaizen will shift your thought patterns to see opportunities where you once saw problems.

Does that sound appealing to you? I encourage you to explore Kaizen and see if it fits for you as your main approach as you plan for 2019, or if you want to try it in conjunction with something else that works for you.

Planning for continuous improvement can indeed be incorporated into the process of achieving the large goals. If you include those improvement steps into the process, acknowledge and celebrate them as you go along, it can move you along in a profound way.
Kaizen is also a mindset for daily living. If we are always looking for ways to make small improvements in ways we do even the most mundane things, it enhances our everyday experience.

Melissa Ricker’s blog is http://aconsciousrethink.com.

Looking Back and Moving Forward


As one year ends and another begins, we have an opportunity to pause and decide how we want the next twelve months to be different than the past twelve.  Or perhaps this year has been incredible in every way for you and you want to increase the likelihood that this year will be equally good. We don’t always have to make things different; we want to enjoy what we experienced again. Constantly pushing for better, bigger, more flashy can be exhausting and not at all fulfilling.

The year end/year beginning hoopla is artificial at one level, but generations of people have used this time to intentionally decide on directions rather than flow from one month to the next, one year to the next, and one decade to the next. If the past year was not one of your happiest, most productive, most fulfilled, you may be especially thinking about how to turn things in other directions.  In fact, if that is the case, I encourage you to use some of the great ideas and strategies that are being promoted all around us to design your fresh start.

If you had a great year, reflect on what it made it that way and how to sustain or even boost the reality to another level.

For many of us, we are completing neither a particularly challenging year nor a spectacular year.  It was somewhere in between. Depending on your attitude and aspirations, you may either continue along the same paths or decide you want to change some things that will boost your overall experience.

Often a tool or strategy can get us going on a process that we have thought about but not really begun. A Year-End Review Journal is one of those tools.  Print it out and set aside some time – one extended period, or spread out over a few days – to respond to the questions that will help you reflect on the past twelve months.  The questions help you to think beyond the obvious events or high/lowlights to some meanings and what was significant. These will move you toward setting some priorities, parameters, intentions and plans for the coming year.

Please provide your name and email address in the box above so you can get this digital download and start the process. I hope you enjoy it and find it beneficial!!

Regrouping for the Rest of the Year


Time to Regroup
Whew! How time flies!  Some of us may be feeling like the year so far was productive and satisfying. And some of us, myself included, may be nearly in shock that at this point of the year so little of what we hoped to accomplish is a reality. The good news is that this is a good time to make a fresh start. Regrouping for the rest of the year now can bear much fruit in the months to come.

Here are five steps  that each of us can take to get a fresh start and make the rest of the year great.

Step #1: Take a brief time to list the things that you believe got in the way of making the past months what you had hoped.  Some would call these excuses, and there are no valid excuses.  Others view them as just a reality: life happens, and as it does, we make choices.  So that we can focus on the future, let’s get these excuses/reasons out on the table.

Step #2: Again briefly, think of ways you could have done things differently so that you could have moved forward despite the factors that got in your way.

Step #3: Commit to using these strategies if these or similar things threaten to derail your intentions for the rest of the year.

Step #4: Decide on your intentions and goals for the rest of the year.

Step #5: Use this resource to help you accomplish your priorities: The 12 Week Year – Get More Done In 12 Weeks Than Other Do In 12 Months

This resource not only provides easy to follow strategies, it actually gives a whole new perspective on time and how to use it to get where you want to go. It is effective in the workplace and personally. The process and framework focuses us on 12 week time periods. No matter the point in the year, we can focus on the next 12 week periods in the rest of this year and into the next. Think how much we can accomplish!

Here are comments posted on Amazon about this resource:

+ The book is an excellent guide for how to compress our goals into timeframes that allow us to get more done, sooner. Three authors clearly establish WHY the 12-week will help you and more importantly, HOW to implement a 12-week year.
Case studies across verticals show how the concepts can be applied both individually and corporately.

+ I accomplished more with this program than I ever would have without it. I am applying this not only to my business, but our homeschool year and my homemaking/home improvement efforts.

I highly recommend you check out this book through my affiliate link and join me in making the rest of 2018 spectacular.  I would love to hear from you as you use this framework and process! Here’s the link again: The 12 Week Year


12 Week Year

PROCRASTINATION: IS IT HAMPERING YOUR TRANSFORMATION?

Now and laterAll of us procrastinate sometimes….don’t we? I surely do. In fact I am in a pressure situation right now because of my procrastination. I have continually put off a task that includes a learning curve to be able to use a software program. There are always plenty of things to do that I can just DO, regardless of their priority. In this case, the task is related to a part time job I have; in other cases I delay doing things I know will help me transform my life in one way or another.

I have allowed myself to think of much procrastination as benign, and in fact it can be useful. By procrastinating on some things, it may turn out that they weren’t necessary or important in the first place. That can be true; it can be a passive way to prioritize.

Timothy Pychyl, who has done much research on the topic, points out that “all procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination.” Procrastination is a very special type of postponement.

The dictionary definitions of procrastination do not reflect the more benign approach. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary calls it “To put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.” Oxford English Dictionary defines procrastination as a postponement, “often with the sense of deferring though indecision, when early action would have been preferable,” or as “defer[ing] action, especially without good reason.”

This is causing me to look at how I think of my “delays” in doing things. I want to be more intention in sorting out things that are priority – important and important and urgent – from those that are not. That will allow the things I truly don’t need to do now, or perhaps ever, to be on a list but not nagging me as much. And those things I truly need to do sooner rather than later will be clear.
Of course that doesn’t mean that I will automatically stop procrastinating on those important tasks! So I found an article by Alexandra Sutcliffe that included these four suggestions for how to deal with procrastination:

  • “Write down you list of goals, breaking them into manageable chunks. Too big a goal and your eyes will gloss over it on the list, but broken into segments and you’ll feel more like tackling one at a time.
  • Set up a reward for later. Try disconnecting your laptop from the internet for a set period, after which you can relax and reconnect. This way you’re not denying yourself, you’re merely deferring the pleasure until you’ve got something done.
  • Attach one task to another, such as, a daily walk you enjoy, followed by the ten minutes of language study you keep putting off. Creating a routine will make any task feel more achievable.
  • If you constantly catch yourself admitting how you never get things done, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, use affirmations to spur yourself on. Remember, affirmations must always be positive, and in the present tense. Try, ‘I take charge and get things done. I seize the moment and take action’.”

Perhaps you will find these tips helpful, also. Here is the link to the entire article: Top Tips for Dealing With Procrastination

If you are interested in a good resource about this topic, I recommend
this concise book by Timothy A. Pychyl (quoted above):
Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change 

Have You Chosen Your Word for the Year?

BreakthroughIf you haven’t chosen your word for the year yet, it is likely that you have heard people talking about doing it. You may have seen posts on social media of the words people have chosen and why.  I am a relative newcomer to the practice and am still working on implementation that continues throughout the year.

I was particularly inspired to use the one word for the year practice by my mentor, Connie Ragen Green, in her blog post on the topic, Connie Ragen Green: Theme 2020 . You will find more information there.

As I look at it, one of the great values of this practice is to assist in FOCUS. I don’t know about you, but I have disappointed myself over and over when I didn’t end the year having accomplished the things I said I would do.  At the beginning of multiple years, I have said to myself: THIS is the year when I really create a functioning, profitable online business.  And for the past few years, I have said: THIS is the year when I will make the move to California to be near my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren again. And I could go on….

For some people, the time has passed for setting a focus and doing the beginning of the year rituals and preparation.  But it is never too late to make a fresh start. Maybe you – as I have been – were involved in so many other things at the very end of last year. We can just do those things now.  I have chosen my Word for the Year as BREAKTHROUGH.  It applies to several areas of my life and I look forward to seeing these breakthroughs become reality!

As you will see in the book, key to this being an effective strategy is keeping the word visible constantly.  Be creative in how you keep it in front of you – on your computer, on your phone, in your office, on a mirror, as the central word on a vision or dream board, etc. Each time I see “BREAKTHROUGH” I want it to give me a little jolt out of the auto pilot I may be falling into.  Simple and powerful!

I encourage you to check out a book that is the main source for this growing strategy for getting where you want to go.  Here is my affiliate link:   One Word That Will Change Your Life