Do You Know What’s Important to You?

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Are you living your best life?  There are many aspects that are important in helping you achieve the happiest, healthiest life possible.  Identifying your values and goals is essential to having a more satisfying life.    How can you attain the life you want if you are not clear about what is most important to you?  Fundamentally, that is what values are:  what is important to you.  Just going through the motions of daily life is living passively.   As I state in my book, “one is often so busy doing life that it is easy to avoid evaluating whether you are putting your energy in the directions you value most.”  Taking time to gain clarity about what is important to you is imperative.  As you are more aware of what you value, then you can create goals that will adhere to and reinforce these values.  Goal setting is a way of assuring that you are progressing in a manner that aligns with your values.

One simple way to begin evaluating if you’re living in alignment with what you value most is to write down what you do in your average 24-hour workday, and then again write down how you typically spend a weekend day.  How much of your time and energy is in expended on what is most important to you?  It is easy to get so busy that you don’t realize how little energy you are putting towards what is important to you.  I realize most of us have to work and that takes a large portion of our time.  However, how are you using your time when you’re not working?  I encourage you to use this exercise as a tool to help direct you in ways you can adjust your energies so that you are more in harmony with what is most important to you.

If you recognize areas that need to be adjusted, then make small goals to begin changing them.  Maybe you notice that you spend two-hours from 8-10pm watching TV.  You may make it your goal to spend only one-hour watching TV and the other hour exercising, working on a personal project, spending time with your children or putting your energy into something else that is very important to you.  It is easy to let time get the best of you!  Better to make the best of your time!

 

 

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Are You Proactive or Reactive?

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There seem to be many people these days that express a general dissatisfaction with their lives. Often they seem unclear about how to change or even wonder if change is possible. We all get into “ruts”, however, I am speaking more of a perpetual feeling of discontent. If you are struggling with this feeling you may be living in a reactive versus proactive manner.

What do I mean by the above statement? You are being reactive when life happens and you ebb and flow wherever and whichever way it takes you. Life and all of its circumstances control you. When you approach life more proactively you are alert and consciously aware of the direction you choose to move with the circumstances life brings. When you are proactive you take the initiative and responsibility for directing your life. Of course there are many aspects of life one cannot control (natural disasters, deaths, etc.), but I am talking about being proactive in attitude; a general stance towards life. A proactive person will not let life and its happenings win.

In what areas of your life do you need to take more responsibility and ownership? I have developed what is called “The Circle of Life” which describes various components of your life. These areas are: emotional, social, physical, spiritual, occupational and intellectual. Emotional entails your emotional and mental health. Social includes all aspects of your social lives, such as, close friends, acquaintances, lovers and family. Physical includes your physical health and also your need for physical touch and your sexual self. Spiritual is about seeking your highest level of spiritual truth and growth. Occupational involves all aspects of occupational well-being and balance including one’s financial security. Intellectual has to do with your mind’s need to be stimulated and enhanced.

The “Circle of Life” is best when seen as a whole. If you are lacking in any area and especially if you have a deficit in several areas, then you probably feel unsettled or discontent. I find it useful to review this “Circle of Life” at a minimum every six-months as a ‘self-check’ on how you are doing. It is meant to help you take responsibility for the areas that are out-of-balance so you can feel more fulfilled. Balancing your life so you can be more fulfilled is a constant challenge!

If you allow yourself to stay stagnant and do not take responsibility for the areas in which you are most lacking then you will usually feel like a victim. Victims generally feel powerless and unable to succeed. It’s unlikely that anyone would feel fulfilled with this kind of outlook or approach to life.

 

Four Sure Ways To Sabotage Your New Year’s Resolutions!

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Sabotaging method number one:  Aim High!    While aiming high can be advantageous in many endeavors I find that New Year’s resolutions stand a better chance of succeeding when they are more specific and realistic.  After all, the goal is to succeed at achieving these resolutions, correct?  The popular resolutions often involve losing weight and exercising more.  Aiming high might be saying “I am going to lose 60 pounds by summer.”  Or “I am going to work out six days a week.”  I would recommend you set smaller goals such as committing to losing five pounds at a time until you get to a weight you are comfortable with.  Or committing to working out a minimum of three times per week.  These are very attainable goals that you are likely to achieve.

Being Spontaneous in and of itself is a wonderful ability.  However, when it comes to succeeding with your New Year’s resolutions you will need a plan.  The idea of losing weight or working out more or spending less money, etc. are just that:  great ideas.  To make them more tangible you will need a thought out plan of action.  How will you lose weight?  Are you going to use a certain diet program?  Have you researched the program and made sure it is for you?  Also, I suggest you have back up plan in case you don’t like the initial program.  Quitting isn’t an option so having a second choice gives you some flexibility!

Devaluing yourself is sabotaging method number three!  While it is true there will usually be too much to do and too little time you have to make a conscious decision to prioritizing yourself if you want to be successful with your goals.  You have to decide you are worth it!  No guilt tripping yourself!  You will have to make your new goals a high priority.  For instance, if you decided to start a diet program to lose weight then it is critical that during the first six weeks you arrange your life so that outside of work and family duties you will be focusing on making you and your program a top priority.  For example, I started on a new diet December 27 last year.  A friend of mine was having a New Year’s Eve party.  I chose not to go because I knew there was no way I could follow my strict food program there.  It would have been a quick trip down the failure road.

Lastly, the command “Be Independent” is another path to failing at meeting your new goals.  While learning to be independent in general is a good thing, when you are seeking to learn new behaviors now is the time to ask for help.  Find a partner or two who also want to achieve similar goals.  Whether it be diet buddies or workout partners reach out and ask for support.  It is important to have emotional support with your goals.  A person you can call or text who can encourage you and help you stay motivated.   Or maybe you need to ask for additional professional help such as hiring a personal trainer, using hypnosis, a life coach or even therapy.

Are You Having A Positive Impact On This World?

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It is getting harder and harder to come up with creative ideas each week for my blog. Would love to hear from you! What do you want to hear more about? What do you want to learn more about? What interests you? I am here to be a blessing to you after all! I appreciate any feedback on potential topics of interest.
This week I have been thinking about the small things; the small things we do that may have a big impact on others. It seems all too easy to minimize who we are; minimize the value we each have. Have you often wondered what you are contributing to this world? Maybe not; maybe you are actively engaged in some sort of ministry like Marianne Williamson or Wayne Dyer. Well, if neither Marianne nor Wayne is reading this (and the countless other who are in the public eye) then sometimes you may wonder if you matter; if you are contributing enough.
I don’t think this is a bad question to ask. It is good to evaluate where your energies are directed and if you are happy with that direction. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget the bigger picture. The ‘whole’ if you will. You are more than just your daily routine. However, in that daily routine you can contribute much in ways you may not imagine as significant. Often it is the small things that may matter most.
Maybe it’s giving the person in line the few extra cents they needed to pay their bill. Or maybe it is helping someone pick up their mess after they dropped their bag. Maybe it is letting the person who has fewer groceries than you go ahead of you in line. The smile you shared with the woman on the elevator may be just enough to brighten her day. Taking time to make and deliver a welcome pie to your new neighbors. These may all seem too simple however, you never know what kind of day or week that person has had. You may be just the friendly gesture she or he needs to make it another day. Never minimize these small caring acts.
I remember when I was in graduate school (a long time ago) and I was in need of money. Someone anonymously left me $20.00 in an envelope! I still remember it today! I imagine you can think of small things that meant a lot to you. I am not saying that the big gestures aren’t important too, however, today I want to remind you the importance random acts of kindness. I read a quote yesterday that sums it up. It is written by Desmond Tutu and reads “Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put all together that overwhelm the world.” How awesome is that! Post this quote someone where you can read it daily.

What Does It Mean To Be Spiritual?

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In my book I describe something called The Circle of Life, which describes various areas of our lives that are important and need to be in balance. One area is one’s Spiritual Life. This aspect of the circle entails seeking your highest level of spiritual truth and growth. For many of us this area is associated with our religious life. That certainly can be a big part of this piece. However, I want to broaden that view. According to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, spiritual can mean “of or relating to sacred matters; ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal; relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit; concerned with religious values.” There were several more definitions too. You can see that spiritual life is more than just the church we attend.

Abraham Maslow created a concept called self-actualization. He spoke of self-actualization as a person’s innate need. Self-actualization, he proposed, is our need for the full development of our potentialities. I believe this is our highest level of spiritual growth. Developing our spiritual self involves deepening our self-knowledge and taking time to cultivate our creative selves. Igniting your creative potentials opens you up to new learnings and insights. This involves becoming more spontaneous in your life. This will mean something different to each of you.

In her book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron states, “Creativity is an experience-to my eye, a spiritual experience. It does not matter which way you think of it: creativity leading to spirituality or spirituality leading to creativity. In fact, I do not make a distinction between the two.” I love this view that the more we are each aware of our creative selves the more potential we have to reach our fullest spiritual being.

If many of the other areas of our life are out of balance, it is often hard to have a sound spiritual self. On the flip side, if we have a firmly developed spiritual self, it can help us survive various crises in the other areas. What does your spiritual life mean to you?

Savor The Moment!

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There are many stages in life that each of us goes through and lessons we are meant to learn during those times. And at this point in my life I am reflecting on some of where I have been and some about where I am. As my dear children are now teenagers (which I am still in disbelief) it brings me to reflect on the past, and a part of me wonders if I really enjoyed those earlier times when they were younger; if I savored them enough.

When you’re the mother of young children you are the center of their universe; the apple of their eye. There is no greater love to me than when those boys would run up to greet me because they were so excited for me to arrive. I read a quote recently that said something to the effect of “Every parent of a teenager must own a dog so that when they come home someone will be glad to see them.” I just thought that was great. And that is how my life is different now.

Although I know my boys love me it’s not as cool to be around mom; they don’t talk as much; and I definitely am not the center of their universe. They are growing up and things are changing. This really does cause me to reflect on how quick time goes by. And during the younger years my husband and I were so busy; as I know most of you are. We certainly spend much time with our kids. However, there are times that I want to go back and go through those days more slowly, now that I know what I know.

And this is the message I want to share with you today; whether it be with your children or other loved ones in your life today; to savor the moment, to go more slowly and enjoy the moment. To try and focus on the person you are with when you are together. To not allow the many demands of life to take this from you, as time will continue on and I don’t want you to miss the joy and experience of that time with your special loved one.

There is so much wisdom that does come with age, if we choose to learn the lessons needed. And this would be a piece of wisdom I would want to pass along; wisdom that is well known and many books written about it; embracing the moment. Being completely and utterly engrossed in the experience of the moment you are presently in.

It is so easy to be distracted by the multiply demands that today’s life brings. And while we do have to pay attention to the necessities of life don’t do it at the sacrifice of your most important relationships. These people are more important in the long run than any worldly rewards or possessions. Cherish the moment!

Does Your Life Reflect What You Value Most?

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As you go through your day today I encourage you to ask yourself, “Does this day reflect what I value most?” Values are important because living in harmony with them brings fulfillment and contentment. If you are not aware of what you value most, then how will you have a harmonious life? When you are out of harmony with your values, you will be unhappy and unfulfilled. I am sure many of us would like to just not work or not have to worry about money and then we will be happy. I am not talking about living unrealistically. I am talking about becoming your own director in your life instead of feelings as if you have no power. Knowing how you really feel and what matters to you most is the first step in empowering yourself.

Living in a way that reflects one’s values is not just about what you do, it is also about how you do things. For instance, my life is very hectic. Between working full-time, managing my own business, and raising two very active boys-along with fitting in working out, my husband, chores, etc.-life can be challenging. However, how I do all these activities needs to reflect my core values.

Identifying your values is one of the first steps to writing your own script in life. You will have fewer regrets in life if you start focusing and taking responsibility for where you are and where you want to be. You will be your best self when you take time to understand what you really need, feel, and want. You are the only one who can do that.

So as you go through your day and your week, take time to pause and ask yourself, “Am I behaving and living in a way that honors what I value?” The more often your answer is yes, the more content you will be.

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