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!!

Reduce Overwhelm Fog With 10 Minute Tasks

ListTo-do lists, planners, planning pages – hard copy or electronic – are tools we use to manage the many details of our lives. The more segments of our lives there are, the more things there are to remember and to do. Home, school, work, volunteer commitments, side business, personal care and development… and more. Sometimes it is all pretty overwhelming. All of these things cause us to experience overwhelm fog.

There are major projects and undertakings that we need to do over weeks or months as well as simple tasks that are urgent and lots in between. The major projects have many smaller parts and tasks that ideally will be spread over time to avoid last minute overload, panic and less-than-ideal quality. How do you deal with all of this?

Are you someone who adopted a system of keeping track of and accomplishing things years ago, found that it worked at least adequately and have continued to use it to the present time?

Are you someone who tries different approaches and systems as you hear about them and never settle on one consistent way to operate?

Are you someone who eschews systems and may make simple lists but not much more?

Are you someone who absolutely writes down everything that you want to do and has voluminous lists all the time?

Looking at options to manage the details of life can be very beneficial to our focus and ability to feel at least moderately in control and to have some peace as we move through our busy days and weeks. There are multitudinous options available that are geared toward different people’s ways of thinking, organizing information, and even personality.

Rather than examine those major options, which is a huge undertaking, I suggest beginning with a short-term approach which can help with the tasks that really don’t take that long to do. Having a way to manage that seemingly unending volume of items, whether they are in the daily/weekly tasks that always need to be done or are steps to larger projects, can help clear the overwhelm fog.

I remember the idea of writing each of those tasks on a small slip of paper and putting them in a large jar. Then, as you have time to do a simple item or two, you reach into the jar and grab one out and get it done. I always thought that was a pretty good idea, but never actually did it.

Here’s a similar approach that I recommend, using a “10 Minute Tasks” tool. This is shorthand for tasks that are quick to do, usually 10 minutes or less. If it takes more than 10 minutes but is still brief, it can be completed. Or if once you start, it is clear that for some reason it will take longer, you can consider putting it off to when you have more time. The idea is to accomplish those short tasks and check them off. It can be amazing the impact this has on the overwhelm fog.

You can try this out with a sample journal page, which you can download and copy.  The sample also includes a list of 100 10 minute tasks to stimulate the creation of your own list.  Click here to get your samples:

10 Minute Tasks List

10 Minute Tasks Sample Sheet

Would you like the full set of pages to work with?  Email me at carol@carolbrusegar.com and request them. You can make multiple copies and use them as much as you would like.

Multi-Tasking: Is It As Beneficial as We Imagine?


multi-tasking
Multi-tasking seems to be a fact of life for most of us these days. With all there is to do, learn, and manage, it seems necessary. But as with so many other things, there are plusses and minuses; and it benefits us to consider those factors and manage our use of multi-tasking accordingly.

Does multi-tasking affect your health? It may seem like it is increasing productivity and saving you time and energy, and many of us are proud of our multi-tasking abilities. However, ongoing research has confirmed that multi-tasking can have negative effects on levels of productivity and, in some cases, of our overall brain health.

Multi-tasking Is Safe Only If Different Stimuli Are Used

Experts agree that multi-tasking is safer if the tasks involved do not use the same stimuli, such as reading a message from the laptop while listening to music. Our brain is not designed to deal with the same stimulus challenge at the exact same time.

That is why driving a vehicle and texting on a phone at the same time is considered extremely dangerous. You are using the same visual stimulus. They are both competing for the same limited focus. Although it appears you are multi-tasking, you can only be actively engaged with one or the other.

So instead of doing two things at once, you are actually rapidly switching from one to the other, and back again. If your attention is attracted to the phone for a second too long, the job of consciously controlling the vehicle ceases, and catastrophe can follow.

Another example is when you are attempting to listen to multiple conversations around you. I know I have tried to do that. But it is impossible to really listen to two people who are talking to you simultaneously, because your auditory stimulus becomes overwhelmed.

Multi-tasking Can Harm Your Memory Ability

If you find yourself multi-tasking, each task in which your mind is engaged will drain a part of your mental energy. As your mental energy drains, you become more absent-minded. This is because your mind begins to drift.

Even if you could complete the two tasks successfully, you will quite probably not recall how you completed the tasks. This is because our brain does not have the ability to fully focus on two or several tasks at the same time.

Each time you multi-task, your mind becomes a juggling act. When you multitask, you are diluting your mind’s investment towards each task.

When Multi-taskers Think They Perform Better

A study headed by Zheng Wang of Ohio State University (Multi-Tasking Study, Ohio State University)showed that people who were text messaging while being asked to focus on the images displayed on a computer monitor had decreased levels of performance.

What makes this finding even more troubling is that those subjects who were asked to multi-task using the same visual stimulus, believed they performed better, although the results showed the opposite.

Their ability to focus on images displayed on their computer monitor plummeted up to 50% even though they thought they were performing perfectly. The same study participants were asked to multi-task using different stimuli, such as visual and auditory, and even then were found to have reduced levels of performance as much as 30%.

Professor Wang stated that performance level perception when multi-tasking is not the same, as the results proved. Researchers have also found that media multi-tasking increases your risks of developing impaired cognitive control.

The most current research is confirming that multi-tasking means “performing multiple tasks sub-optimally”. Unfortunately, in addition to productivity losses, there is a compounding, taxing burden placed on the mental and emotional faculties. This results in accumulated stress, which is already a very real problem for many, if not most, to some degree.

Although technology today makes it difficult for us to avoid multi-tasking, we can manage the effect on our performance of tasks and on our health. Awareness and trying to remove the overload on your mind as much as possible can be very helpful.

There many approaches to productivity; check out some of the books available about multitasking and productivity:

Multitasking and Productivity

Regrouping for the Rest of the Year


Time to Regroup
Can it really be the middle of 2018? Six months completed, six months remaining.  Some of us may be feeling like the first half of the year was productive and satisfying. And some of us, myself included, may be nearly in shock that at the midpoint 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 six 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 next six months, through 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. We have two remaining 12 week periods in the rest of the year. 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 

The Power of Our Questions

Power of Our QuestionsHave you ever (often?) realized that your fleeting thoughts and questions were all of the ‘What if this negative thing happened…’ variety? We can easily fall into that deep, dark hole. With negativity a far too steady diet in our lives, there can be days when it is hard to maintain a positive, hopeful approach to life.

If you are thinking of your future as the years pass by, it is easy to have negative images of aging dominate our thoughts, consciously and/or subconsciously. One of the most powerful things we can do as we anticipate and transform our years after 50 is adopt practices and habits that counteract those thoughts, images and mindset.

I have long been an advocate of one simple strategy: consciously switching our “what if downer” questions to “what if upper” questions. I first learned of this from Mendhi Audlin in her book, What If It All Goes Right and recommend it as a powerful tool to shift our mindset.

Louise Foerster, writer, reader, marketer, business story teller and new product imaginer, writes about the impact of what questions we ask ourselves as we face decisions, especially those involving significant risk. Rather than asking what is the worst that can happen – a common approach of coaches and friends – she advocates the opposite approach.

What is the best that could happen?
Now, that question gets my juices flowing. I can’t wait to imagine the best, the brightest, and the most wonderful and then ten billion times better beyond that. It is so flipping amazing that I can’t stop.

I inhabit the dream. I revel in bliss. I smile, recognizing that the best is so far beyond my small, safe imagining that I’ll have to wait until I get there to grab it tight and hug it as hard as I can. I imagine the view from the top of the mountain, endless majesty, beckoning me forward.
That is where I want to be.  What is the Best That Can Happen?

Yes! That is where I want to be also! As we anticipate, investigate and explore what it means to reinvent and transform our years after 50, this is a powerful approach. Every day we can ask, What is the best that could happen?

I recommend Mendhi Audlin’s book, What If It All Goes Right?: Creating a New World of Peace, Prosperity & Possibility

Questions can be so powerful – for reflection, writing prompts, journaling, discussions with friends, etc. The Question Book: What Makes You Tick can be a great tool. 

Searching for Clues to Your 3rd Act

Interest in the worldIf you are thinking about what your 3rd Act might be and how you want to craft those years ahead, there are a variety of strategies to consider. One of them is looking back to identify those activities and efforts you loved, excelled at and were recognized for in earlier parts of your life. Part of the process will be simply nostalgic. But taking it to another level can provide clues to things you may want to explore for your future.

I discussed this idea this post, Recapture Dreams That Still Excite You.  Psychologist and freelance writer Holly Lawrence suggests a similar approach in this article:
For Boomers to Find Their Next Act, It’s Back to Childhood .

She shares her personal story of going back to childhood memorabilia to unearth achievements, passions and things to reflect upon and provides additional resource links. She suggests 3 steps to research your childhood keepsakes to help find your next act:

1. Study your main character: you, as a child. Conduct an objective character study. What is the main character’s demeanor? Hint: candid childhood photos reveal more about your personality than posed smiley photos. Do your notes or diaries describe your career dreams? What do your report cards show? What interests do you have in common with the character today? What did you abandon that you’d like to reclaim?

2. Consider repurposing your childhood dreams and passions…. So analyze the characteristics of your childhood dream profession. For example, firefighters rescue people in trouble and save and protect members of the community. You can repurpose your dream by volunteering at the local fire station, becoming a social worker with displaced families or taking a fire safety course and teaching students what you learned.

3. Revise your life narrative and adjust to fit your goals.

Enjoy the process of trying to get back into your experiences as a child and young person. You may find some great clues and possibilities for transforming your years after 50 into a joyful 3rd act.

To explore more of these possibilities, check out Too Young to be Old – Love, Learn, Word, and Play as You Age

The Space Between

the space betweenMany of us who are 50 or over are thinking a lot about what’s next? If you are 50 or 60 or 70, the questions and possible answers may be different, but they are all questions that lead to questions, that lead to more questions with no definitive answers. We can’t know all that will be facing us in the coming 10, 20, or 30 years, how the cultural and economic landscape will change, or how our family and friendship circles will change. This is not a unique situation for people in our age group, but we may experience it differently than younger generations do as we are transforming our lives after 50.

All of us ultimately, then, are confronted be the question of how do we live in between now and the unknown future? Karen Sands, gerofuturist, author of The Ageless Way and several other books, addresses this in “What’s Next? Midlife Questions We All Ask”:

We have to stay in the center of time and wait it out. … find a safe middle ground. A place within where time doesn’t exist, where it’s okay to not know . . . yet. That’s where real clarity is birthed….

But while I wait, my task is to keep striving for greater consciousness, stretching to unleash my greatness and to re-awaken the visionary within…. We must create our own eye in the storm of time, a place of inner calm, where we look objectively at the possibilities around us.

Waiting, striving, stretching, re-awakening…. great concepts, but we may not be sure quite how to do that! It begins with waiting. We have had periods of waiting throughout our lives – to become an adult, to find our life partner, to start a family – and on a daily basis. Waiting in line for things is a part of our lives. One of the pitfalls of all the waiting is that we can slide into inertia during these periods. Be alert for signs that this is happening to you, as I wrote in “The Cost of Inertia.”

Instead, we can accept and make the best of waiting periods. That space can be golden – a time to explore without pressure of immediate changes or decisions. One of the things we can do as we wait is stretch our minds and horizons by exploring how others have experienced and are transforming their years over 50. We can talk with people in our circles and read the increasing number of books and articles that are available. We can reflect through journaling, discovering through that process treasures within us to lead us forward. We can make the most of the space between.

I recommend these books written by Karen Sands as you wait:
 Visionaries Have Wrinkles
 The Ageless Way