Filling Time

Time is a limited resource. We each have the same amount each day, week, year. Since we cannot create more time, it’s important to use the time we have the best we can. To do this, we need to determine what is truly important to us. From there, we can decide how to prioritize what we do with our time, how we fill our time.

There are some things that we might not want to do, but we need to do. Going to work and earning money to buy the things we want could be an example. (Although, if you don’t enjoy your work, you might want to consider why and make changes.) Other examples include responsibilities like housework and yard work. (An option might be to hire someone else to do them.)

Some things to consider in prioritizing how you fill your time is to think about the impact for the future as well as for today. Will there be an impact a year from now, ten years from now? Will you remember it a year from now, ten years from now? Will your children and grandchildren remember how clean you kept the house or the Sunday afternoon ice cream runs? For example, making time for a family vacation is something that you and your family will remember for the rest of your lives.

Another challenge is that how we prioritize our time and how others want us to prioritize our time might not be the same. In fact, it usually isn’t. In these cases. remember that it is acceptable to tell people “no.”

It’s difficult to find the right balance between “need to do” and “want to do.” Don’t worry if you are not finding the right balance every day. Are you finding the right balance most days?

I feel like I am always busy, but I don’t always feel like I am doing what is most important. I might be doing what is most immediate, but that doesn’t mean that is necessarily a high priority item.

Don’t fill your time with things that aren’t that important. Focus on what is truly important, not just for today, but for the future. Just because your time is full, doesn’t mean that it’s leading to the life you want.

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?

College Bound

1, SF_52WeeksOfWisdom_FINAL COVER_022215, front_edited-1, squareFarrell_Don'tActLikePrey_FULLCOVER_FINAL_090714, cropped_edited-1Are there any women in your life that are going to college this fall?  Someone who has graduated from high school and is starting the next phase of her education?  Someone who has been in the “real world” for awhile and has decided that a college degree is what she needs to accomplish her career goals?  Someone who is going back to college for an advanced degree?

If so, my books would be great gifts to let them know you are thinking of them, as well as assisting them in meeting their goals through self reflection.

Don’t Act Like Prey! A Guide to Self Leadership for Women uses stories and metaphors to discuss the costs of being passive, the costs of being aggressive, the benefits of being assertive, and how to find the delicate balance of assertiveness.

52 Weeks of Wisdom, A Guide to Self Leadership for Women provides 52 short stories to encourage the reader to think about what she does, why she does it, and does she want to change.

For additional information, and to order from your preferred supplier in your preferred format, go to SusanLFarrell.com.

Find a New Balance

dreamstime_xs_32614115We need to balance all aspects of our professional and personal lives.  We need to balance not only our time but also our energy, mental focus, and finances. We know this.  We try to do it.  The trickiest part, I think, is that our lives change and then we need to find a new balance.

If we change from being single to being married, it means finding a new balance.  If we go from being married to divorced, that necessitates finding a new balance.  We need to find new balances when we have children, as they grow, and again when they leave home.  We find new balances as our parents age and need more assistance.  Often if we start a new job or career and it requires more of our time, we need to find a new balance.

My husband is recently retired.  Of course, he has a major balance change.  Unlike some people, though, he is not having any difficulty in finding things he wants to do.

I’m finding that I also need to find a new balance related to his retirement.  I still want a writing career.  However, I also want to spend time with him.  We enjoy traveling, hiking, golfing, and other activities that we feel we should do now while we physically can.  My challenge is finding how to balance all the things I want to do.

My current plan is to consider myself semi-retired.  I have found that it helps me feel less guilty about not spending as much time working as I did.  I haven’t quite found a balance that feels “just right,” but that’s o.k.  Often finding a new balance is as much of a process as it is a destination.

Life is Like Riding a Bicycle

dreamstime_xs_18409568To ride a bicycle, we must keep peddling.  If we don’t, the bike stops.  It’s possible to coast for awhile and keep moving without peddling, but that doesn’t last for very long.  Life is like that.  We must keep moving toward our goals or we never reach them.  Although it’s sometimes possible to “coast” for a bit, we don’t make as much progress and before long we have to “peddle” again just to keep moving.

An important aspect of riding a bike is maintaining our balance.  If we don’t stay balanced, we fall.  We need to stay balanced in our lives as well.  Different aspects of our professional and personal lives take more time and attention on some days than others.  The important thing is that overall our life is balanced and we make time for what is important to us, including ourselves.

When we are riding a bike and fall off, we get up, brush ourselves off, and start peddling again.  When life knocks us down, we need to do the same thing—get back up and start moving toward our goals again.

 

Personal Silos

dreamstime_xs_21201109In some companies, departments become silos. Departments do not want to work with other departments or share information with other departments. This hurts the company as a whole. Every department in a company needs to work together for the company to be successful. I think we can do something similar to ourselves, too, if we are not careful.

I don’t think we can separate our professional lives from our personal lives. It is one life after all, just different aspects. Even within our professional life or our personal life, we have different roles that we need to fulfill. We might be a supervisor, an employee, a supplier, and a customer in our professional life. We might be a spouse, parent, child, and friend in our personal life.

Although we might need to focus on one role at a time, all the other roles are still there in the background. We can’t silo them off. We can’t isolate aspects of our life from each other. We need to acknowledge them all and find a way to balance them all.

We can also take what we learn from one role and apply it to other roles. For example, what we learn about customer service when we are the customer can be applied to situations when we are the supplier to improve the customer service we provide. What we learn about people in either our professional or personal life can be used in the other. For example, the concept of “leading by example” is not that different for employees as it is for children. If you want either your employees or children to be honest, then you have to be honest.

What it really comes down to is that we need to find a way to accept and balance all aspects of our lives and not pretend that only one exists at a time.

Success and Happiness

dreamstime_xs_37716893A friend of mine, Larry Cockerel, recently posted a YouTube video. I keep thinking about it. It’s on happiness and success. I recommend you listen to it before reading the remainder of my blog. His message and mine are slightly different, but both relevant. Here is the link to Larry’s “Happiness and Success: The Happiness Rule.”

Although I have had many happy times in my life, and enjoyed those times, I realize now that I could have been happier. Like Larry, I thought success had to come first. I remember the following as some of my thoughts throughout life:

“I’ll be happier when I finish high school and move out.”
“I’ll be happier when I finish college.”
“I’ll be happier when I finish my internship and can get a real job.”
“I’ll be happier when I make more money.” (I thought that many times.)
“I’ll be happier when I buy a house.”
“I’ll be happier when I get the next promotion.”

I’m sure you get the idea. How many of you have had similar thoughts throughout your life?

Again, I have had a great deal of happiness in my life, but I could have had more if my focus was different. My main focus was on success. Had I balanced that with an equal focus on happiness and fully enjoying everything I had at every point in my life, I would have had an even happier life.

I am working on that now. How about you? Do you need to change your focus?

Equal Partnerships

dreamstime_xs_32614115Equal Partnerships (Video)

Throughout these blogs we have talked about you.  Your rights.  Your responsibilities.  Your choices.  Your life.

It is necessary to remember, though, that everything we have discussed applies to everyone.  This means, that if you are in a committed relationship, your partner is just as important as you are.  The life he wants is just as important as the life you want.  Not more important, but as important.

I think a committed relationship should be an equal partnership.  Each person should work equally hard, take on equal responsibility, and give as much support as he or she expects to receive.  It is necessary for both people to work together to determine how their life together will meet their individual desires and goals.  It may take some negotiating.

The opposite of an equal partnership is a double standard.  That is where it is all about one person and about what that one person wants.  If you are in a double standard relationship, and it is all about him, can you change things?  If not, is it worth staying in that relationship?  If you are in a double standard relationship, and it is all about you, remember that he has the same rights as you do and can leave you.  You might want to make changes before that happens.

An equal partnership is a beautiful relationship.  I recommend that you always remember that your partner, and what he wants, is as important as you, and what you want.

Embrace Yourself While Improving Yourself

Embrace Yourself While Improving Yourself (Video Link)

It is important that we embrace who we are.  Each of us is unique.  We need to appreciate all our good aspects and accept our areas that need improvement.

At the same time, we need to strive to constantly become better, to improve ourselves.  This is a necessary step in achieving professional and personal success.  It is the old “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” 

We may need to improve ourselves by gaining additional knowledge or technical skills.  We may need to improve our interpersonal skills.  Whatever it is, we need to become better each day.

It can be difficult to balance embracing who we are with becoming who we want to be.  Just remember that who we are today may be perfectly fine for today, but if we want to continue to succeed, we may need to be even better tomorrow.

In 2014, Don’t Act Like Prey!

Don’t Act Like Prey! (Condensed Presentation for NSA-WI) (Video Link)

Do you want to be successful in your professional and personal life in 2014?  Of course you do!  We all do!

A critical strategy is to be assertive.  This sounds easy, until you try to do it routinely.  There is a fine balance between passive behavior and aggressive behavior, called assertive.

When we are passive, we do not speak out on our behalf.  We do not stand up for ourselves.  When we are passive, we will not achieve our personal and professional goals.

When we are aggressive, we damage the relationships with the people in our life.  We need others, and positive relationships with them, to achieve the life we want.

A simple technique to find the balance of being assertive is respect.  Respect ourselves and respect others.

For a quick synopsis of these concepts, please view the video clip (the link is at the top).  It is a very condensed version of my presentation, Don’t Act Like Prey!  My regular presentation provides more detail, stories, and examples.  Please contact me if you are interested in having me present to your organization or association.

For an in-depth look at passive, aggressive, and assertive behavior, and tools to assist you, please order my book, Don’t Act Like Prey!  It is available from Amazon.com.  If you order through my website, SusanLFarrell.com, and leave me your email address before clicking on the link to order from Amazon, I will send you a special bonus chapter.

I wish you a happy and prosperous 2014!