If you follow Facebook or LinkedIn there are any number of articles appearing in your feed (or at least in mine) each day about all the little things successful people do to be successful. So what happens when either you do all these things (or at least enough of them) and yet you seem to be stuck? Why do some seemingly successful people always feel stressed or anxious? Why do some people apologize over and over again? Why do some people fail and keep going, while others fail and call it quits?
Maybe when we get desperate or anxious or lose our way, even when we think we are doing all the right things, maybe what we really need is a change of perspective….
I talk a lot about gratitude because I have found it to be a foundational component of my own feelings of happiness and success. Gratitude is a commonly accepted character trait and practice of successful, happy people. If you read certain texts or books you might come away thinking that gratitude is the magic bullet to a happy life.
But then how do you explain the experience of a highly successful entrepreneur who practices gratitude and yet is perpetually anxious? Or how can we explain the thousands of stay at home moms (and dads!) who have everything they need, who adore their children, who are so grateful to have the possibility to stay home, and yet they feel incomplete or stressed?
They say you are a success, but you don’t feel it?
“Whether we have happiness or not depends on the seeds in our consciousness. If our seeds of compassion, understanding, and love are strong, those qualities will be able to manifest in us. If the seeds of anger, hostility and sadness in us are strong, then we will experience much suffering. To understand someone, we have to be aware of the quality of the seeds in his consciousness. And we need to remember that his is not solely responsible for those seeds. His ancestors, parents, and society are co-responsible for the quality of the seeds in his consciousness. When we understand this, we are able to feel compassion for that person. With understanding and love, we will know how to water our own beautiful seeds and those of others, and we will recognize seeds of suffering and find ways to transform them.”
- Being Grounded:
Most of my life I have experienced a strange dichotomy; when the shit hits the fan, I tend to be as cool as a cucumber. I can see right away what needs to be done to provide the most effective triage or pull off the show without anyone ever knowing that something was amiss. At the same time, when my close relations (my son, my husband, my mother) do something that angers me, I can lose that cool with the flip of a switch. I have never been proud of this ability of mine, but I have discovered in the last year, that it is not only emotionally uncomfortable, but it is also physically uncomfortable. It makes my head hurt and my heart race. And I probably look like someone who is going to blow a gasket. And so, I pledge, I set the goal this year, to learn to keep my cool and talk it through later. I need to find a way to ground myself when the switch has been flipped. Maybe it is meditation, maybe it is awareness, maybe it is setting the goal here in front of you, publicly.
2. Finding Connection:
Some people hate Facebook. Some people can’t help Facebook. I adore Facebook, I am full of gratitude for Facebook. Why? Because I am an extroverted shy person. Yes. You read that right. I charge my batteries by social interaction, and yet, I am terrified to interact socially. I am always afraid (and I have been since I was a kid) of bothering people. And so, I give you my number or my email and I wait for YOU to call or write me. If you call me, and I get distracted (which is easy for me to do), then I am embarrassed to call you back, because, well, it’s been 3 weeks. And then I never call.
And so, Facebook makes my life fuller. I am so excited when someone from my past finds me and connects. I love watching your children, your dogs, your car problems, and seeing how our “core being” really stays the same after all these years. I’ll use an example, there was a young New Yorker who joined our staff at the Boulderado years ago. At first, his New Yorker attitude kind of got on the nerves of our Boulder groove, but after awhile, folks couldn’t stay annoyed at someone who had so much love of life, a twinkle in his blue eyes, and a perpetual sense of humor.
I haven’t seen him in person in a good 15 years but found him on Facebook a few months ago and I haven’t been disappointed. Despite the ups and downs, car problems, you name it, everything he posts makes me laugh. I have to control myself from commenting all the time because I don’t want to be that weird stalker from the past. Anyhow, I digress. So back to my goal of connection. This year I pledge to let people in my life know that they matter to me. I pledge to let go of my fear of “bothering” people and instead focus on showing people they matter. I have ended up doing “career services” writing resumes and LinkedIn
This year I pledge to let people in my life know that they matter to me. I pledge to let go of my fear of “bothering” people and instead focus on showing people they matter. I have ended up doing “career services” writing resumes and LinkedIn profiles because it gives me so much pleasure to help people find their inner light and shine it on the world.
How will I achieve this goal? Well, I will start small. First I am going to call my Aunt(s) from time to time. Just like I used to call my grandmother. And then from there, I am going to write a note every week. A hand-written note so, between now and next year, I plan to write 52 notes “petit mots” to share with my world the things that make me smile. And I hope, that by next year I will feel more connected with stronger personal relationships and feel less like a Facebook stalker. 😉
3. Visualization and Gratitude Practice:
I am going to continue a daily practice of gratitude, thinking concretely about all that has blessed me and my family and friends. I will visualize this gratitude love and light going out into the world, and creating a richer fuller world not just for me, but for everyone. We live in an amazing world, filled with amazing people and amazing opportunity. I set the goal to continue to water the good seeds. To create, to manifest spiritual, physical, mental and financial wealth and richness for all of us.
I set the goal to meditate daily. At least 5 minutes. And once per week for 30 minutes. The times in my life that I have had the most clarity and had the greatest ability to tackle life’s little ups and downs have been when I had a regular meditation practice. Having kids, especially little ones that get up at 6 AM to pee, makes this a bit of a challenge. That said, for the last year or so I have been using the Breathe app on my phone. Many of the meditations are only 5 or 6 minutes long. There is one called “Lion Mind” that I am particularly fond of. When I am tired and unfocused when I feel the world is all rushing in to crush me or when I forget to apply my oxygen mask first, I have found that even a 5-minute meditation can be as restorative as a good night’s sleep. It. Is. Amazing.
You might be wondering why meditation is not under my spiritual goals, it could be, but for me (and for science), meditation has been shown to have the power to change the way we think. Meditation and prayer can be spiritual practices, but they are also mental practices. Personally, I am easily distracted. Too often I am like a dog chasing a tennis ball, and not like an owl keeping guard on my neighborhood. To be a good master of my own destiny and to be a compassionate spouse and partner, to be an effective and loving parent, I need to transform my dog mind into an owl mind. Which takes me to my next goal.
2. Effectiveness & Efficiency:
Life’s a funny dichotomy. I can plan something from top to bottom, set business goals and then live my personal life haphazardly. This is definitely a consequence of applying the oxygen mask to others around me first and so a major goal for me this year is to be effective in my personal life. Honestly, I am not 100% sure what this goal looks like in implementation, but my intent is that I want to be able to cross items off of my personal and family care list, to feel less like my life controls me and more like I control my life. To stop and make sure I have what I need before I run out the door (and back in 3 times). To actually make it to the grocery store with my list in hand. To declutter our house and my mind! Perhaps this entails daily or weekly goal setting on the home front.
3. Grammar in English and French:
After three years in the French school system, my son can both out grammar me and out speak me. My spoken French isn’t bad, but honestly, I have never cared much for grammar and at this point in my life it is starting to get a bit embarrassing. J’ai honte que je fasse encores trops de fautes quand je parle et quand j’écris le français. Même en anglais, je ne sais pas biens les règles de grammaires. I know intuitively what is correct and what is incorrect, but I don’t know know the rules.
This year I will study my French grammar and refresh my English grammar. If I wish to be an effective writer, speaker, storyteller, copy editor and proofreader, then I better mind my commas and my gerunds. I certainly don’t want to just Eat, Shoot & Leave. Hee hee!
Physical…back tomorrow with my physical goals …
I started my day with the intention of writing for 30 minutes and goal setting this morning, while I drank a cup of black coffee and the munchkins were still in PJs, content to watch something on Netflix. The Universe had another plan in-store, as I quickly realized when my nearly new (Christmas Present 2016) Macbook kept crashing after I logged in. I followed the instructions for a safe restart on the Apple website and finally had to submit a ticket to support. After about 30 minutes on the phone, being walked through various diagnostics, Apple support kindly had me reinstall my OS.
Deep breathing and a nice gratitude practice got me through it all with relatively little distress. I don’t generally store anything on my computer itself, everything is “in the cloud,” so I was not particularly worried about data loss; however, I was worried about a working computer. When you work remotely, sending off your computer to get fixed for two weeks is not exactly ideal! Apparently, reinstalling an OS is quite time to consume, so finally, around 7 PM this evening I was finally able to login. Whoop! Happy Dance! Not only did it work, but I was delighted to be greeted by the same tabs that I’d left open in Chrome and Safari when I signed off last night. As far as I can tell, nothing has been lost.
I don’t know exactly what happened or why, but Support thinks that it may have been an update to an App. My computer requested to install some updates when I shut down last night and since the issue seemed to happen after I logged in (not when I turned my computer on), my contact thought it likely that an App/update is probably to blame. This means that tomorrow I’ll have to look through my Apps and see if any of the are known to break computers.
But for now, I find myself here at 10:20 PM after the kids are in bed, with a cup of tea at my side, squeaking in a few goals and my daily dose of writing. I think one goal I may need to have, is to figure out what I need to do to implement a backup plan for working if my laptop goes out…ha!
My 2017 Goals center on being “my best self.” “You can help others more by making the most of yourself than in any other way,” writes Wallace Wattles in the Science of Getting Rich. Or as they say, put your oxygen mask on first, before helping those around you. This is a difficult challenge for many of us, especially for moms. It is so easy for moms to get caught up in making sure everyone else around me has on their oxygen mask that sometimes I forget to even breathe. And it is not much better when I am working, the desire to put my best foot forward and serve my clients, means that it is all too easy to find myself working at 10 PM or skipping my run, to get something finished. And this needs to come to an end.
There are three categories of goals and one overarching goal, which I have already mentioned. My overarching goal is to create an income stream that allows me express my desires and achieve the function of which I am capable, and provide opportunity for those around me.
- Grounded: Most of my life I have experienced a strange dichotomy; when the shit hits the fan, I tend to be as cool as a cucumber. I can see right away what needs to be done to provide the most effective triage or pull-off the show without anyone ever knowing that something was amiss. At the same time, when my close relations (my son, my husband, my mother) do something that angers me, I can lose that cool with the flip of a switch. I have never been proud of this ability of mine, but I have discovered in the last year, that it is not only emotionally uncomfortable, but it is also physically uncomfortable. It makes my head hurt and my heart race. And I probably look like someone who is going to blow a gasket. And so, I pledge, I set the goal this year, to learn to keep my cool and talk it through later. I need to find a way to ground myself when the switch has been flipped. Maybe it is meditation, maybe it is awareness, maybe it is setting the goal here in front of you, publicly.
- Meditation: I set the goal to meditate daily. At least 5 minutes. And once per week for 30 minutes. The times in my life that I have had the most clarity and had the greatest ability to tackle life’s little ups and downs have been when I had a regular meditation practice. Having kids, especially little ones that get up at 6 AM to pee, makes this a bit of a challenge. That said, for the last year or so I have been using the Breathe app on my phone. Many of the mediations are only 5 or 6 minutes long. There is one called “Lion Mind” that I am particularly fond of. When I am tired and unfocused, when I feel the world is all rushing in to crush me or when I forget to apply my oxygen mask first, I have found that even a 5 minute meditation can be as restorative as a good night’s sleep. It. Is. Amazing.
- French: After three years in the French school system, my son can both out grammar me and out speak me.
Time’s up for the day…I will be back tomorrow. My goal is to set at least three goals for each category. Don’t worry, I’ll get the best of Murphy yet!
I have always admired candid and authentic individuals. According to Myers-Briggs, I am an ENTJ, which means I am naturally candid with a propensity for leading, thinking logically and strategic planning, and I have a strong personality. I can’t argue with or against these character traits, as I see them all as strengths, and yet I have learned that being aware of my weaknesses is nearly as important as knowing my strengths. In fact, my strengths are often directly tied to my weaknesses. My propensity for thinking or conducting research can make it hard for me to find my focus. I can be logical to a fault. Sometimes my natural response to events is just a little too candid! Sometimes my sense of logic causes me to lack empathy. On the other hand, I love to laugh and I would always prefer to find the humor in a bad situation than to wallow in pit of sorrow. I’d prefer to be calmly candid than overly dramatic, I’d prefer to be authentic.
My maternal grandmother was a mover and shaker, a straight-talker. When I was little I wanted to be her (or Indiana Jones) when I grew up. My grandmother was the ultimate caretaker, one of those mythical creatures, up before the sun with her pearls on, who could bake a loaf of bread, round-up a herd of cattle, and feed a calf, all before most people even put their feet on the ground. When my grandmother had finished with a phone conversation, she did not hesitate or hem and haw, she simply said, “well, I’ve got to go, goodbye.” And she hung up the phone. My grandmother earned folks’ respect, she loved and she was loved in return, and most importantly, she was authentic. I think it’s likely that my grandmother was an ENTJ.
There are 16 personality types identified by Myers-Briggs, and ENTJ is one of the least common, especially for women. Some women, like my grandmother, seem to find a way to peacefully exist with society, without losing their authenticity. I on the other-hand, as a woman, have at times found my personality type to be a challenge. Sometimes I smother my instinct to lead or I pretend that I don’t have a strategic solution, when I do. I often set goals, but lack the focus to achieve them. At times I shy away from speaking candidly when I should, which can result in an ill-advised burst of anger later. Sometimes, I lack authenticity and I get frozen, wondering exactly who I am. When I am feeling uncertain, it’s often easier to drizzle a glaze of sugar on something bitter or to cover harsh reality with a nice thick coat of sweet frosting. And yet, I have learned that a sugar glaze might turn out to be sickeningly sweet, whereas an authentic conversation is like a good cup of strong coffee. Energizing and to the point.
As each year passes, I am more aware of my weaknesses and I am better able to make a conscious effort to be authentic. As an ENTJ, I am a firm believer in setting goals and personal improvement. Each year on my birthday, I set a few goals to work on for the year. When I turned 35, I set-out to do things that made me fearful. A few weeks after setting this goal, I was given the opportunity to go paragliding. If I had not set my birthday goal, I would have made and excuse and anxiously skipped out. Instead, I stepped into my fear and discovered the true meaning of courage. Paragliding is a simple and accessible way to literally experience conquering one’s fear. Unlike jumping from a plane, which is totally insane, the para-glider runs down the side of a mountain (scary) until the wind picks up the parachute (safe like a baby) and she glides off the mountain and up into the sky like a balloon. If I had not set this goal, I would still probably not understand the true parlay between fear and courage.
This year, I have made a handful of goals that cover the financial, professional and personal realms, and all of them depend on my principal goal, which is to be authentic in my speech, my thoughts and my actions. To paraphrase Michael Jackson, if you want to change the world, look in the mirror, and start with yourself! And so, when you see or hear from me this year, don’t be surprised when I give you candid, not candy!
Candid: expressing opinions and feelings in an honest and sincere way.
Authentic: real or genuine : not copied or false; true and accurate; made to be or look just like an original.
Definitions copied from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary online June 9, 2015.