Category Archives: work-life balance

7 Principles for Extracting the Extraordinary in You

extraordinaryWhat does it take to live an extraordinary life? What would that mean for you on a day-to-day basis?

I was recently reminded of some simple (yet not necessarily easy-to-do) concepts that if installed in your life would place you squarely on the higher road, the road less traveled.

I’m still working on some aspect of each of these myself. It’s a lifelong discipline. Not for the faint of heart, but surely well worth the effort.

1. Be truthful.
Being truthful is about honesty and accuracy. The accuracy aspect is about re-conveying an experience such that your words evoke the thoughts and emotions you experienced in the person you’re sharing with. While each of us has our own perspective of life and interpretation  of events, if your intention is to have them experience what you did, you’re on the right track. No shading of the truth to make yourself look better.

Additionally, the honesty aspect will likely cause you so alter your behavior. You may have heard the phrase, ‘Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper.’ Living your commitment to transparency encourages good behavior and lack of deception at work and home.

2. Give more than you take.
Give freely of your time, love and money. Give generously and not with the expectation that your gifts will be repaid. Purposeful giving fulfills you. It’s almost like you’re not giving for the benefit of the recipient. Make life easier for yourself and others. Don’t forget yourself. The problem some over-givers encounter is that they deplete themselves in the process and end up feeling resentful.

3. Don’t take what isn’t yours.
This is more than just ‘don’t steal’. It’s about not benefiting from ‘mistakes’. Now I’m all for serendipity and miracles and to be honest, I don’t know that I can tell you how to distinguish between those incidents and the ones that are to be avoided. I think the barometer here may be how you feel internally although the internal barometers of habitual ‘takers’ are probably flawed.

Here’s an example…My husband and I were shopping in a store last week. We bought something together and each paid for half in cash. The cashier gave us both our change back, but it seemed like too much. I didn’t say anything, not sure there was a problem, but the more I thought about it, the more I was pretty sure we got too much change. My mind tried to justify it by telling me ‘It’s a big store. They won’t notice it.’ But my heart felt something else. So I went back to the store, found the clerk and reminded him of the transaction. He couldn’t really validate the error with their sales system and ended up telling me to keep the $5 for my honesty.

I left feeling happier, but I still feel like giving that $5 to someone who needs it more will make me even happier. Think “Pay it forward.”

4. Make the world a better place
Do your actions make life easier for those around you? Is the world a better place because of what you think, do and say each day?

Or do you make people jump through hoops to get your favor? Do you consistently ‘block’ other people’s progress?

How would you behave differently if you knew your purpose was to leave the world in a better place because you lived here? Be constructive. Be helpful.

5. Honor life.
All living beings have the right to their lives. Respect them. This applies to not only to humans (even the ones you don’t like) but to non-human creatures as well. Last summer, I accidentally severed a praying mantis while pruning some plants. I was heartsick as he stared at me mournfully it seemed, with half of his abdominal cavity missing.

While I carefully carry spiders out of my home, I still intentionally kill crickets and scorpions when I find them inside. I guess now, I’ll work on finding some non-lethal way to rid them from my home when I encounter them.

6. Do no harm.
Intentionally ending the life of another (even an ant), when living rigorously, is an extreme measure. But what about the ‘little’ harms we do during the course of life?

Have you ever tried to get someone in trouble at home or work without first discussing the situation with them with the intent to resolve it? Do you gossip?  Do you have nasty, judgmental thoughts about others?

Once I took this discipline on, I had to confront the judgments I made of others. Casting frequent silent aspersions seemed automatic at times. I’ve taken on the practice now of blessing people, especially those my internal judge initially denounces.

7. Recognize that you are the source of everything.
It’s easy to blame others for the status of the world and even for your experience of your own personal life. In the training and coaching I do, I often share the concept of “Those idiots over there…”. When you place blame on your co-workers, spouse, children, parents, siblings, neighbors, strangers, political opponents, you rob yourself of power. You pine for changes in them. You want to ‘fix’ them.

You can’t change them. You’ll never change them. And if you wait for that, you’ll be in misery forever.

The only person you can change is you. The only person who can change the experience of the life you are living is you.

When you shift your thinking, emotional responses and actions, you will start having a new experience of life. Additionally, your new perspective, behavior and words will eventually impact the people around you and their response to you will likely change as well. The dynamic of your relationship will be different.

So stop trying to fix them. Work on improving yourself.

One of my favorite sayings is, “We all have more options that we generally see and more control than we tend to take”. So I challenge you to implement the ideas mentioned here. Open your eyes to options that are currently hidden from your view and take control of the way you live your life.

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The #1 Factor that Contributes to Living a Long Life

I knew I was getting ‘old’ when I realized NPR was my favorite radio station!

Anyway, I was particularly engaged by one interview discussion on a study conducted with octogenarians around the world. One of the significant findings was the revelation of the most important thing that helps people live very long lives.

The guest cited several contributing factors which I will summarize in a bit. But I want to encourage you to imagine what the top factor was.

Here are 5 of the factors:

1) Octogenarians eat largely a plant-based diet
I’ve been moving in this direction recently, striving for ever more veggies, fruits and beans. I must admit though, I’m a carnivore by blood type and the satisfaction that chewing on muscle provides is hard for me to replicate. But I have seen enough other studies confirming this to actually start shifting my intake mix. In this study, fava beans were seen repeatedly as a dietary staple.

2) When they eat meat (once a month or so), pork was the meat of choice
This finding shocked me. Pork has had somewhat of a ‘branding issue’ with a somewhat negative reputation although it’s a staple in our house as my husband has food allergies to many other meat protein sources. However, this is what people who live long around the world  eat.

3) Physical activity promotes longevity
We know this, right? But our lifestyle makes it challenging to get in the physical activity our bodies truly need. Many of us go to the office, sit in front of our computers all day, network at lunches and dinners and then go home. If we’re good, we walk, run, bike, do yoga, workout at the gym, do Pilates or Zuumba.

Around the world though, people have different lifestyles that incorporate movement. They garden and walk frequently. Their lives are done in motion.

4)  Daily napping contributes to a long life
This is another practice that seems challenging, even wasteful to me (the overachieving, always-working-on-something person that I am.) I know the value of getting enough sleep and have begun going to bed earlier at least. But napping in the middle of the day?!?!?

Hmmm. However, evidence shows that getting plenty of rest keeps the body going longer. So take heed.

5) Octogenarians have a supportive ecosystem
People who live long don’t do so alone. They are connected to a social network (no, not Facebook), a live network of real people who know and support them. They get encouragement and love from their families and communities and just as important, give love to their communities.

They have a strong sense of faith and likely belong to a faith-based community. They are connected to others, here and ‘above’.

The top contributing aspect of this supportive ecosystem is having a clear sense of purpose. In many of the communities in which octogenarians prosper, the concept of retirement is non existence. People do their life’s work their entire lives. Even if they have jobs in their earlier years, they have a sense of personal purpose that incorporates, envelops or transcends their wage-earning means. It gives meaning to their lives. It gives them a reason to be here.

So my question to you is, ‘What is your purpose?’ What will keep you going after you’ve ‘retired’? What are you here for? What is so important to you that you would continue pursuing it until your last dying breath?

Take some time right now and write down in large print, your purpose…what your life is about…why you’re on this planet at this time.

Why your life will have mattered.

Then make sure you take action on it every day. And, oh yeah, incorporate the other ideas in this article to live long and prosper.

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5 Ways to Stay on Track toward Your Purpose, Vision and Goals

In order to live a truly fulfilling life, it’s important to know and fulfill your life purpose. If you are happy, you are likely are living your purpose, even if you’re not consciously aware of what it is.

If you’re feeling even a teensy bit thwarted, aimless or frustrated, either your vision and purpose aren’t leading you or you’ve encountered some temporary obstacle that’s blocking you.

Here are 5 practices that can help keep you on track

1. Start writing down your dreams and set an intention for them before you go to sleep each night.

For most of my life, I’ve been a vivid dream ‘rememberer’. Earlier this year, they started fading away too quickly for me to retain them.  A month or so ago, I started a dream journal.

Writing down even glimpses tells your conscious brain you want to recall your dreams. So it makes more of an effort to transfer the images, thoughts and feelings from your subconscious where the dreams reside, to your conscious, waking brain that thinks and ‘verbalizes’ your thoughts.

Now I’m more able to recall them more easily and tap into that subconscious part of me that knows and yearns for more.

2. Read books that inspire you and help you connect to your higher Self.

I’m currently reading The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity: A Simple Guide to Unlimited Abundance by Edwene Gaines.  I read a bit each day and share it with my husband. I’m also reaching the end of a year-long self-study program called, A Course in Miracles. I’ve gone through it several times since first discovering it in 1981 and my perspective always expands with each journey.

3. Start each morning out with some time for reflection.

Before starting work, I sit down with another journal inspired by Conversations with God. In it, I ask for guidance on both general and specific issues I’m facing.  I’ll even ask for direction on areas I should be thinking about but aren’t at the moment. I’m always amazed by the ideas that pop into my head and the words that flow out from my fingers as I write.

4. Review your life for your gifts, lessons and themes.

Many decades ago (am I really that old?!?!?), I was exposed to a program called “You Are What You Were When…”. It was based on the presumption that what was going on in the world when you became a teenager shaped your perspective and values.  It was the predecessor to the generations work that has being written about for the last several years.

One of the key ideas put forth is that from a very early age, each of us has been expressing our gifts and passions and that if we just look back at how we spent our time and energy, themes would arise that would clarify the path we’ve been on all the while.

5. Choose, commit and act

As you do the other four outlined here you bring ‘control’ into your life.  ‘Choose’ your focus even if one was handed to you from above.  Some people ignore those messages.  If you are to live a purposeful life, you must choose to do so.  Then take action – daily – consistent with your vision, purpose and personal gifts.

Keep in mind this quote from Wayne Dyer, “Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”

The 7 Essential Lists Successful Businesses Must Have

Running a successful business requires more than a good idea.  It requires structure and processes to keep things and money flowing.

1. Long-term goals list
If you’ve been following me for any time, you’ll undoubtedly heard me talk about the importance of goals.  Goals that stretch beyond today or this week, will help you prioritize your time in the most productive manner possible.  They will motivate you and your staff.  They will keep on focused on what’s truly important.

2. Daily to-do action items list
Just as important as knowing where you’re going long term, is knowing (and doing) what’s most important RIGHT NOW.  Sometimes unforseen emergencies have to be dealt with.  But more importantly, you need to decide each day what the most productive use of your time will be.

I always have a to-do list and never get through everything on the list on any given day.  I do always decide what the priorities are for the day and then get to work on them.  Last week, I lost my list and I was lost without it!  Thank God I found it a couple of days later.  I remembered some of the critical items, but had forgotten one that needed to be addressed.

3. Prospect list
This is one of the biggest mistakes business owners make.  If you don’t have a list of potential prospects, you’re definitely leaving money on the table.  If you’re a retail establishment, people make a purchase the very first time they discover you.  However, if you don’t and you haven’t captured their contact info, you may never hear from them again.

You’ll increase your chances of doing business with them if you’re able to proactively reach out and remind them that you exist.  So if you aren’t already capturing either a physical address or email address from your store or website visitors, start that now! You’ll probably need to give them some sort of incentive (not just an offer for your newsletter) in order for them to part with their contact info. But capturing that valuable data must be your goal.

4. Customer list
Just as important as a prospect list is a list of your customers. These are people who have demonstrated interest in your product or service by making a purchase.  It takes more time and energy to make a sale to a stranger or prospect than to someone who has already bought from you and been satisfied.  Treat these people well, but don’t neglect offering them the next thing you offer that can help solve their problems.

5. Process list
Every business needs a set of processes that help the business run efficiently.  You probably have them even if they aren’t documented. You need to document them.

Start by making a list of all of the “Here’s how we do things around here” topics in a variety of areas such as answering the phone, identifying prospects, converting prospects to clients, taking on a new client, invoicing clients, processing payments, asking for a referral, publishing our newsletter, paying the bills, making minor changes to your website, etc. Then write out the steps involved in each process.

This compilation will be an invaluable tool in defining roles and responsibilities, delegating tasks and training new employees.

6. Resource list
This list includes the tools and systems you use to run your business and make your life easier.  It’s slightly different than the Process List which may reference certain resources: things like your accounting system, your website host, tools on your blog, new tools you plan to invest in, an employment agency or temp service, online portals for which you have memberships or accounts.

Having a list in a binder along with a brief description and access (login) or contact info will save you countless hours of trying find the information when you desperately need it.

7. Diversions list
After all of this work, you must take time to relax and enjoy life.  It’s challenging for some business owners to ‘work in’ time for play, but this list is essential as well.

Your list should include things you enjoy doing, that bring you peace of mind, that obliterate your stress.  Possible candidates are listening to a certain kind of music, playing music, painting, playing with your pets, children, spouse and friends.

Make sure you know which kind of ‘play’ you thirst for.  Is it board games, exercise, meditation, video games, outdoor sports, movies, ballet, opera, cards, TV, dancing, vacations, weekend getaways?

Whatever ‘floats you boat’, schedule it. That may sound weird but if these activities aren’t on your calendar or at least on a list you review regularly, they will get trumped by those emergencies and daily tasks.

Creating and using these lists will improve your productivity, keep your business soaring and maintain your sanity.

3 Steps to Happiness and Prosperity

It’s funny how we hold onto discarded things not realizing what that does to trap our energy.  What I discovered when I stumbled upon a relic from my past could help you free up some mental and emotional energy to reinvest in your current day-to-day life.

I had just missed participating in a “Sell Your Gold” event at my professional association’s holiday extravaganza.

So when I returned home, I started combing my closets and jewelry cases for items that had lost their psychological value for me that I could turn into cash.

I came upon a beautiful ring case, not even remembering which ring was inside.  When I opened it up, I was surprised to find my ‘half’ of a wedding band set my previous husband and I had designed.

The set was laden with Adrinka symbols that had a lot of significance for us and where we each were in our spiritual life journey.

Years later as our marriage faltered and I realized I was more attached to that ring and the symbols of our marriage than our ACTUAL marriage, I knew it was time to go.  We separated and divorced. I tucked the ring away, moved on, moved to Phoenix, married my college sweetheart and forgot about the ring.

A few years ago, I stumbled upon the ring and looked at it fondly – not longing at all for the ex-husband, but touched by the symbols and design process that had created the ring years earlier.  I put it away again and apparently, forgot about it again.

Last week, in my hunt for buried jewels, I found it once more.  This time, my reaction was “Whoo hoo! Bonanza! This will be a great trade in!”  There were some remnant memories of the creation process but clearly any attachment I had for keeping the ring was gone.  I took a picture, called the gold dealer, got in the car happy and was on my way.

I got a better price than expected. Double Bonanza!

On the drive home,  I was surprised by the sense of light-heartedness and freedom I felt. Getting that forgotten and years-unseen ring out of my home and life somehow felt like an unexpected Declaration of Independence.

Reminds me of that hair dye commercial based on the South Pacific song, “Gonna Wash that Man/Grey Right Out of My Hair”.

While I hadn’t been feeling the need to wash the ex right out of my hair any longer, once the opportunity arose, it felt great!

So, how does this apply to you?

1.  Clean up. Clean out.
Cleaning  your environment and life of discarded and unnecessary things, frees up an amazing amount of energy that you can’t anticipate nor appreciate until you’ve done it.

So go through your drawers, closets, garage and car to throw out, give away or sell things that are taking up physical space.  They’re probably draining your emotional space on an undetectable, subconscious level too. You’ll be energized by their absence.

2. Forgive and move on.
I read a Facebook post on someone’s wall today about the power of forgiveness.  The main reason people seem reluctant to forgive is that they think they’re doing something for the object of their resentment.  The secret is that forgiveness is just for you.  It allows you to at least start the process to ‘wash that memory out of your life.”

Forgiveness takes time, but if you’re not willing, you can’t even get started.  If you’ve been holding on to any grudges, tell yourself you’re WILLING to forgive and eventually you will.  You won’t forget the lessons you learned, but you will regain part of your soul.

3. Give thanks for what you have
Every night I say thanks for the life I’m living.  Some people keep a gratitude journal that documents the wonderful things in their lives.  Writing makes them more real and less transitory (ergo forgotten). Tell the people around you precisely what you appreciate about them. You’ll lighten their day immeasurably and feel happier yourself.

I remember reading a book on loving relationships and one of the exercises involved
saying something nice to your partner every day.  Not only does that bring more love and joy into the relationship, but by some function of the ego which can’t distinguish between you and ‘other’, makes you feel happier too.

So clean out those closets, brains, hearts and relationships and make room for new, happy and prosperous experiences in your life.