Fear of something, someone, or even a group, is often related to fear of the unknown.  If we learn about whatever it is we fear, often we lose our fear.

What do you fear?  Is your fear misplaced?  Would you lose your fear if you learned more about whatever it is that causes a feeling of fear in you?

Would You Miss It?

dreamstime_xs_91972430In determining how I most want to spend my time, a question I have been asking myself is: “If I didn’t do it anymore, would I miss it?”  I have been coming up with some interesting answers.

There are some things that I quickly and easily know that I would miss.  Examples include spending time with family and friends (and cats), traveling, reading, writing, and many other things.

There are some things that I know I would not miss, but I would miss the results.  For example, if I never had to do house cleaning again, I would not miss it.  However, I would really miss not having a clean house, so I guess I’ll continue to clean house.

About a year ago I decided not to do speaking engagements to create more time for writing.  I found that I didn’t really miss it, even though I enjoyed doing it.  I think it might be because the time was filled with something I enjoyed even more, writing.

There is an association for which I have conducting training workshops for years.  I decided to reduce the number of sessions I did last year and to eliminate doing sessions this year.  The reason was to create more time for other things.  I was a little worried that I would miss it.  Although there are a few things I miss, such as the people, overall, I don’t miss it.  I think it’s mostly because I have filled the time with things I enjoy more.

Think of all the things you are doing.  Are there things that you could stop doing to create time for other things?  If you did stop doing these things, would you miss them?  If not, maybe it’s time to consider letting go of some of these things.

Best Use of Time

dreamstimefree_24395It’s another new year and again I am reflecting on what I have done and what I need/want to do.  I find that over the years, my answers are changing, or maybe evolving.

A question I have frequently asked myself for decades is “What is the best use of my time?”  It has served me well and has made me more productive and more successful.

At this point in my life (semi-retired), however, I’m not sure that is the best question anymore.  Or at least not the best question to ask if I use it solely to determine how to be more productive.  I think a better question might be “What do I want to do most with my time?”

My husband has been retired for a couple of years now.  The grandkids bought him a sign for the basement: “Retired.  Don’t want to.  Don’t need to.  Can’t make me!”  It’s humorous.  The more I think about it, the more I realize there is wisdom in it as well.  If I don’t want to do something, and I don’t need to do it, the only person that is making me do it is me.  Why?  Why am I making myself do something that I don’t want and don’t need to do?

I think this year I will try to eliminate more of the things that I do out of habit or a false sense of necessity and focus more on the things that I truly want to do.

How about you?  Can you let go of things that you don’t need to do and don’t even want to do to free up time for the things that matter most?

Gifts and Wrappings

dreamstime_s_7288531, trimmedI have been giving quite a bit of thought to gifts and wrappings.  What’s important, of course, is the gift.  The wrapping makes it prettier, but the wrapping doesn’t have any substance.  It’s the gift that has significance.  If we don’t have any wrapping, we can still give the gift.  If we don’t have a gift, though, it doesn’t matter how much wrapping we have, we still don’t have a gift to give.

Over the holidays I sometimes think that we get so caught up in the “wrappings” that we forget about the importance of the “gifts” we give. The greatest gift we can give each other, of course, is ourselves—our time, attention, and love.  Being together is what is important, not the location, decorations, food, or even the gifts we purchase.  All these add to the fun and festivities, but they are still wrappings.  The gift is being together.

If you enjoy all the wrappings, and enjoy doing the wrapping, then continue and have fun with it.  If, however, you are stressed about making sure that all the “wrappings” are perfect, relax and focus on the “gift” of being with those you love.  After all, it is the gifts that are kept and the wrappings that are tossed.

Misplaced Anger

dreamstime_xs_76186218There seems to be a great deal of anger in the world.  Many people I know seem to be angry about a number of things, but especially angry at other people.

Granted, I never know everything about any situation, but sometimes it seems to me that at least some of this anger is misplaced.  Is the person truly angry at the other person?  Or angry at something else?  Or maybe angry at themselves?

If you are angry with a person (or persons), I suggest you ask yourself, why?  Why else?  And why else? Do this until you have all the reasons.  Then take a critical look at these reasons.  Did the person really do these things?  Or is it your perception?  Are you taking things out of context?  Did you ever tell the person how you felt so he had a chance to change?  Are these truly reasons to be angry?  Or are they excuses?

From this assessment, can you determine if it is something else that is the root cause of your anger?  Perhaps you are angry at someone, but there might be repercussions if you express your anger (such as to your supervisor) so you go home and take your anger out on someone there?  Is it possible that you are angry with yourself, but it is too painful to acknowledge so you blame someone else?

Anger ultimately does the most damage to the person who is angry.  If you are angry, it is in your best interest to resolve it.  And if it takes professional help to deal with it, then do it.  If you had a toothache, you’d go to the dentist, right?  Isn’t your mental health at least as important as your dental health?

Thoughts on Thankfulness

dreamstime_xs_102207128,retouchedAs I get older, I find that I am thankful for different things than when I was younger.  In the past I was mostly thankful for successes that I had achieved—graduating college, getting a good position with a good company, moving up the career ladder, making the money needed to live the life I wanted, that sort of thing.

Now that I’m older (and, I hope, wiser) I find that I am more thankful for things that I used to take for granted.

I am more thankful for the people in my life, for family and friends.  Part of this change is due to having lost people.  My father passed away ten years ago.  All his siblings save one have passed as well.  These are people that I am thankful I had in my life, but I wish I would have appreciated them more while they were here.

I’m more thankful for my health, now that it has started to decline a little related to aging, than I was when I was younger.  Perhaps it’s a little of “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

I’m thankful for how hard my husband and I have worked so that now we can enjoy retirement.  (I still can’t consider myself completely retired, but I’m getting closer.)  Although, I could have stressed less and enjoyed life more while we were working hard.

I am at a point in my life where I can be thankful for the journey itself and not just the journey’s end.

I am sharing these thoughts in the hope that you will look at what you are thankful for, and perhaps look at it a little differently.  What is most important in your life?  Are you truly thankful for it?  Or do you take it for granted?  Be thankful that you have it now, because some day you might not.

Just in Time Planning

dreamstime_xs_38121377As you probably know, there is such a thing as “just in time inventory.”  Rather than having lots of inventory on hand for production, which costs money for storage and ties up cash, supplies are delivered “just in time” for production.

I have noticed that some people do “just in time” planning and organizing.  The job gets done—just in time.

A disadvantage to just in time inventory is that if the supplies don’t show up on time, it can seriously delay or even stop production.  A similar disadvantage can occur in just in time planning.  If anything takes longer than planned, the project won’t be completed in time.

I prefer planning far enough in advance that if something does happen (which it usually does) it will still be possible to complete the project on time.  I like having a buffer to take care of any unforeseen issues.

Which type are you?  Which type is your supervisor?  I have a friend who is organized, but his supervisor does not think he is.  I think the issue is that his supervisor is like me and plans far in advance.  When he sees my friend finishing a project just in time, he thinks it is because my friend is not organized, which isn’t the case.  The project was finished as my friend planned—just in time.

If you are having issues with your supervisor, your employees, or even people in your personal life related to planning and organization, maybe it’s an issue of different strategies.  It could be worth discussing.

Don’t Save It, Use It

dreamstime_xs_67912497About a year ago my mother had to move from her apartment to a nursing home related to her health.  There was a limited number of things, including clothing, that she could take with her.  Although my brothers and I were able to take a few things, the vast majority went to Goodwill or had to be discarded.

She had many nice clothes that she never wore.  When I asked her why, she said she was saving them for something special or that she wanted to keep them nice.  They no longer fit her, so they went to Goodwill.  There were other items that people had gotten for her, such as purses, blankets, throws, jewelry, and decorative items that were still in the box.  Again, she said that she liked them and wanted to keep them nice.  Most of those went to Goodwill as well.

I found this incredibly sad.  She had so many nice things that she could have enjoyed and yet she never did because she was “saving” them.  Saving them to take to Goodwill?  I don’t think so.

This was a wake-up call for me, because I do much the same thing.  I have since decided to enjoy what I have and use it now.  Why save it so that years down the road someone will give it away or discard it?  I have decided it is better to use the things we like than to save them.  So what if I’m overdressed for an occasion if I like the clothes and jewelry?  So what if the cats shed on the wool blanket from Ireland?  At least the items are being used and enjoyed, not stuffed in the back of the closet.

What about you?  Is this something you do?

Poor Choices

SF_ThreeGoodChoices_COVER_121317 resizedIn my book, 3 Good Choices: Change It, Accept It, or Leave It; A Woman’s Guide to Self-Empowerment, I discuss that in most situations we generally have these three good choices.  I also discuss how there are poor choices that we might make instead of good choices.

Poor choices are ineffective behaviors, ineffective coping strategies.  They hinder us, they do not help us.

Examples of poor choices include, but are not limited to, apathy, choosing to do nothing, complaining, denial, excessive worrying, giving up, holding a grudge, not taking responsibility, passive-aggressive behavior, and self-destructive behaviors such as drinking and drug abuse.

The one that speaks to me the most is not taking responsibility.  I am an extremely responsible person.  I understand deeply how taking responsibility gives us power and control over our lives.  It can be painful and humbling to take responsibility for our mistakes, for our sometimes messed up lives.  But when we accept that we are where we are because of the choices we have made, the actions we have taken, when we take responsibility for those choices and actions, then we also accept that we have power and control.  We got ourselves to wherever we are, so we can get ourselves out.

When we do not take responsibility, we are trying to make someone else responsible for what we have done.  First, no one else is responsible.  Second, we are giving away our power and control over our own lives.  If we give away our power and control, how are we going to change anything?  How are we going to change our self?

When we blame others for our choices, decisions, and actions, we are refusing to take responsibility.  We are trying to make them responsible, and they are not.  Not only are we giving away our power and control, we are also giving up the opportunity to learn about our self.  If we do not learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to keep repeating them.  To learn from our mistakes, we first must take responsibility that they are ours.

Taking responsibility for our self also means taking responsibility for our thoughts and beliefs.  If we have self-limiting thoughts and beliefs about our self, we will not be able to grow.  It is our responsibility to determine why we have these thoughts and beliefs and decide what we are going to do about them.

If you have not taken responsibility for your life, or portions of your life, I encourage you to do so.  It might be the most important decision you will ever make.  Stop blaming others and take control.

3 Good Choices: Leave It

SF_ThreeGoodChoices_COVER_121317 resizedSometimes we cannot, or do not want to, change or accept a situation.  Then we need to leave it.  This can be minor, or it can be one of the most major decisions we will ever make.  This video discusses some considerations in leaving a situation.

My book, 3 Good Choices: Change It, Accept It, or Leave It; A Woman’s Guide to Self-Empowerment, provides additional items to consider and exercises to help you in deciding if leaving the situation is right for you.

As with the other videos, there is a treat for you at the very end, after the last slide.  Sometimes we need to leave work and take a nap.

This is the last video in this series on the book.  I hope you have enjoyed them, learned something, and got at least one chuckle out of the pictures.