3 Tips to Being More Coachable

I can say pretty straight up that I don’t like being told what to do. Never have. I recognized this pretty early on. I’ve hung out with spite thanks to the times I’ve done the EXACT OPPOSITE of what it was suggested I do. “Independent Thinker, occasional Rogue” was how I liked to think of myself. But this attitude didn’t serve me well when someone was trying to coach me for my own good. Friends, co-workers, bosses. They all tried to help me because despite this flaw, for some reason, they found me otherwise quite likeable. In my early 20’s, I hung onto this like an honorable badge. I KNEW I was taking the hard way, but felt that was noble for some reason.

When I reached my 30’s, I began to realize the value of coaching. With each wall I hit, either personally, or professionally, I found that I could adjust something in myself which would then either lower the wall, or give me what I needed to climb over it. The secret to this: I started listening to what people were saying to coach me. When I really took the time to listen, I began to realize I had been hearing many of the same things from various people for YEARS. Yup…that’s the painful truth. In my case, I could give the impression that I was defiant, argumentative, or non-compliant. This doesn’t fare well in any relationship, personal or professional.

What gets tricky is you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater (terrible idiom). While I didn’t want to be seen as defiant, argumentative, or non-compliant as a general rule, there were good qualities to be found within those as well. This is where good coaching comes in. There are plenty of people around us who truly want the best for us and can share some perspective that we can’t see. Here are the top 3 things you need to do to become more coachable:

  • Listen – Be willing to listen when someone takes the time to share how you may be perceived. It doesn’t mean their perception is everyone’s reality, but it is theirs and it may have some accuracy. This doesn’t always feel good. Accept that the criticism might sting, but if you trust the source as someone who is truly trying to help you, that should make it a little easier to bear. Try not to get defensive, or explain yourself. Just take it in and process it.
  • Try it on – Does that perception fit? Can you see where others COULD perceive you that way? Can you see the truth in it? Have you heard this same message before from others? Knowing that others may have that perception, determine if this is a perception you do or don’t want others to have of you, based on your goals and aspirations.
  • Adjust – How could you “turn it down” enough to improve the perception without eliminating the good parts? Here’s an example: I have a very playful personality. While it seems most appreciate this, there are some that find it downright annoying. I try to adjust this when I’m in mixed company. I don’t turn it all the way down, just a tad, but it’s something I need to remain conscious of. I don’t mind being seen as “playful,” but I don’t want to be seen as a “clown.” See the difference?

It’s not always easy to be coached, but it’s always beneficial. Seek out feedback from people you trust and respect. Not just the ones who will tell you how awesome you are (which you are), but also from those who will be honest about potential flaws. One thing to keep in mind is that we judge ourselves based on our INTENTIONS, however, we judge others based on their BEHAVIOR. That means people aren’t judging us on our intentions (they don’t even know what those are), they can only judge us by our behaviors (which they can clearly see).

Also, remember we may lead with different qualities depending on which role we are in. For example, I have different roles: mom, leader, friend, co-worker, business owner. I allow different qualities to lead in each of those roles. In my earlier example, I can allow my playfulness to be full-on when I’m in the mom & friend role, but need to turn it down in the leader role. You serve many roles as well, so bear that in mind for yourself.

Your turn to do some coaching. Which of the 3 tips have you found most useful, or what’s another tip you have to help us all to be more coachable? Share in the comments.

If you would like to see what a coaching relationship can do for you, let’s work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design. An Empowerment Session is the best place to start (and it’s FREE)! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Your neighbor needs help moving; Your co-worker asks if you can take on some of their project; the school needs more volunteers; your friend needs a babysitter. So many requests, so little time. When someone makes a request of us, it can be challenging to say, “no.” This often leads to decisions that don’t benefit us. We may agree to the request, but sacrifice our own needs or wants. If the request is made through email, we could ignore it altogether, but this doesn’t fair well for our reputation.

So how do we say “no” without feeling like a jerk? While not 100% guilt-proof, there are a few ways that we can decline a request without feeling as guilty about it.

Use Your Calendar – One of the easiest times to say “no” is when we have something else we’re committed to. For example, when you tell your friend in need of a babysitter that while you’d love to help, your niece’s recital is that night, you don’t feel so bad.  Yet, we tend to only put things in our calendar that are outside our normal routine. For example, if you go to the gym 3 nights a week, is that in your calendar? Probably not. Scheduling important-to-you tasks should be part of your calendar. While you may have some flexibility, like skipping the gym to help your neighbor move, and just making it up tomorrow, you may not always have that flexibility. For example, if it’s important to your family that you have quality Sunday morning time, this should be blocked off as “Unavailable” in your calendar. It’s much easier to say, “I’d love to, but my calendar is booked that day.” People tend to respect the fact that you have other commitments. You don’t have to get into the details of what those commitments are.

Offer an Alternative – A clear cut “no” is not always the best choice either. In the case of the friend looking for a sitter, you could say, “I can’t on Friday, but I could on Saturday, if that helps.” Or to the co-worker looking for you to take on some of their project, you could say, “I don’t think that will work, but I’m happy to cover your calls for the afternoon so you can have uninterrupted time to work on your project.” These are compromises that may be mutually beneficial.

How to Say It – Then there are the times you just have to say “no.” These are tougher because you’re not blaming your calendar and you don’t have a compromise to lighten the situation. This is common when someone is requesting our business services or products for free. So how do you say it? You can be direct and honest if you think that will help the situation, but more often than not, when someone needs you for something, it isn’t the best time to point out that they never seem to be available when you need help. Being vague can be the best way to decline, while staying polite, but firm. Here are some examples:

  • I’m sorry, I wish I could help, but I just won’t be able to make that work.
  • Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t right now. Will you ask me again next time?
  • I’m sorry, I’m going to have to pass.
  • I have to decline now, but if something changes I’ll be sure to let you know.

Remember, when you say “yes” to one thing, you’re saying “no” to another. You need to stay in control of your life and activities. If you’re constantly at the mercy of requests and favors, it won’t be long before resentment starts keeping regular hours with you. And that’s not good for anyone!!

While it would be great to single-handedly fulfill every request that comes your way, that just isn’t possible. You have to keep a manageable balance between achieving your own goals and helping others to achieve theirs.

Your turn – what’s a method you use to say “no” without feeling guilty? Share in the comments section!

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Five Love Languages – Starting with Words

Recently, I was having a conversation with someone struggling in a relationship, and I recommended they take a look at “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.  I remembered reading the book myself gave me clarity around my own relationships (both personal and professional). “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White) was another worthy read. I wrote about this several years ago, but thought it was a good time to re-share the topic. The books were both easy reads, and were practical, with quick, applicable stories.  If your time is limited or you’d prefer a more condensed version, these posts will get right to the heart of the books. I will share one “language” each month. After giving you a brief overview, I’ll get into the details of those who prefer the language called “Words of Affirmation.”

These are the Five Languages:

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Acts of Service

Gifts

Touch

Each of us has a primary and secondary preference and these may differ between your personal and business lives. (For the free personal assessment, go to www.5lovelanguages.com/profile . For the professional version, there is a $15 charge, but can be found at www.mbainventory.com . Here is a brief description of each language:

Words of Affirmation:  Those that count this as their primary language require words to feel loved and appreciated.  These can be spoken or written.  We’ll learn more about this in a bit.

Quality Time:  For these types, one-on-one time together is important.  Acitve listening is key here! We’ll dive into details of this one next month.

Acts of Service:  These acts typically involve anything that could be counted as “thoughtful”.  While the specific act will vary, the gesture is what counts the most to these peeps.

Gifts:  As if this isn’t obvious.  This person prefers physical, tangible evidence of being loved and appreciated.  While expensive and materialistic items may qualify, these gift lovers often enjoy handmade gifts, flowers or other thoughtful expressions of love and appreciation.

Touch:  You know that “touchy-feely” person that always seems to hug, touch and show PDA virtually anywhere?  Yeah, this is probably their preferred form of loving communication.  While less likely (and some would caution, less appropriate) at work, these people can be identified as the high-fiving, fist bumping ones.

Figuring out another’s language can be tough, but once you do, there are an endless number of options to satisfy their need.  Each post will highlight a particular “language” and some suggestions on ways to meet that need for yourself and others.  This information is very beneficial in every relationship you have and it would behoove you to understand your own language and those you spend a lot of time with.  This week, let’s focus on Words of Affirmation.

For those who need Words of Affirmation, it’s obvious they need words, but it is equally important that they get sincerity!  They don’t want empty or generic compliments.  “Nice job today” will feed the need for about 5 seconds.  They want to know specifically what they did to please you.  If she cooked a rockin’ dinner, tell her what was so awesome about it and why it was appreciated by you.  If he spent the entire day tiling the bathroom floor, take the time to point out how awesome it looks.  If Suzie dealt with the “customer from hell” so the rest of you wouldn’t have to, tell her what this meant to you.  Also, those who feel loved and appreciated by this language want to be recognized for the personal characteristic that got it done or made it so worthy of mention.  Tell her how much her dedication to providing quality food to the family is admired.  Tell him how his sense of responsibility, like keeping the home in good condition, is one of his sexiest traits.  Let Suzie know that her patience in dealing with higher-maintenance people makes the rest of you envious and you’d like to know how on earth she does it without flipping shiz.

Keys to remember:  Be specific, be detailed, and be sincere.  This is not a “fake it til you make it” opportunity.  If you can’t be sincere, then be silent.

Now what:  If you can identify with this language, and believe it to be your primary or secondary language in either setting (personal or business), there are a few things you can do with that knowledge.  Let others know this is how you prefer to be loved and recognized.  Also, understand that those times when you feel neglected or slighted by someone may not be because they don’t love or appreciate you, but because they are speaking a different language.  If you suspect a loved one or co-worker prefers this language, get creative in ways to recognize them.  This can be spoken face-to-face or publicly acknowledged, or written in a thoughtful letter, card or email.  This is one of the quickest and easiest needs to meet once you’re aware.  So pay attention and share with words why you think someone is a ROCKSTAR!!  Next month, we’ll spend time on the “language” of Quality Time.

In the comments section, tell me if this sounds like it might be an important “language” to you or someone you know, and if so, some tips on how to really make it count!

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Who’s Paving Your Path?

I ask people all the time what their goals are – what they want out of life. Sometimes they have an answer, like, having more money, better relationships, more energy. Other times, they aren’t really clear on specifically what they want. They are “open” to the possibilities that life will offer. That was me in my earlier years and still creeps up if I’m not careful. I have all too often allowed others to pave my path, so to speak. If you are not clear on what you want out of life, or you aren’t taking specific action to attain that life, then you are likely allowing others to pave your path as well.

While we may need help lifting the stones in our life, at some point we have to lay out our own path. The sooner the better, but it’s never too late. This is much easier said than done, especially if we have been allowing others to do the heavy lifting for us. There is some important inner work that must be done in order to become the bricklayer of your own life.

First, you have to identify what you’re avoiding by allowing others to determine your path. Are you indecisive because you don’t want to be the “bad guy,” and make a decision that would disappoint others? Are you afraid of failure, so by allowing others to make decisions for you, if it doesn’t work out, it really wasn’t your fault? Is the hard work that would inevitably show up, keeping you from taking on the role of leader in your life? You have to get honest about why you relinquish this responsibility to others.

Next, you need clarity on what you really want. What’s been missing in your life? What would you really like to have in it? What do you want to experience or accomplish? Dare to dream big. This step can be much more difficult than it sounds if you’ve been determining what you want based on what others say you “should.” This is not a ten-minute project. Spend some time every day asking yourself these questions. Your answers may change over time, but keep exploring them.

Lastly, you need to take action. Baby steps are fine, but start taking back control of your path. This could simply be sharing your opinion more frequently, or challenging what you’ve always done or how you’ve always done it. If it doesn’t fit like you thought it would, you can always alter course. There is no rule against changing your mind. What would you like your next step to be? What’s something, perhaps even small, that you would like and to hell with what others think about it?

This is a long, challenging process, as I have personally experienced. But it is, oh so worth it! It took me a long time and a LOT of baby steps to start embracing a mind of my own and sharing it. I continue to work on this area of my life, but with each passing day I continue to feel more in control of the path I’m laying for myself. You deserve to experience that as well. There’s a beautiful (and scary at times) sense of responsibility that comes with owning your own future. I can screw up and make mistakes, but I learn from them and use that knowledge to work towards achieving the life I’m trying to build for myself. The flip side of that coin, is I also get to revel in the joy of successfully accomplishing my goals.

No matter where you are on this journey, I’m certain you have some words of wisdom to share. Which of the steps listed do you think is most important to the process of paving your own way? Do you have a strategy that worked for you in the past? Share your thoughts in the comments!

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

5 Steps to Confronting Your Flaws

We all have flaws that seem to be on repeat in our lives. Sometimes we aren’t initially aware of these, or they don’t significantly affect us until there is a life change of some sort, like a new job or new relationship, but it doesn’t usually take us long to recognize we have them. It’s what we do after this recognition that determines whether this will be an ongoing challenge, or a crack that we are able to mend over time.

We can be hard on ourselves, and overly self-critical, but despite this, we usually know where our biggest issues lie. Are you always running late? Do you procrastinate until the eleventh hour? Are you overly sensitive, or not sensitive enough? Is organization or time management an issue? Whatever your particular flaws are, it’s important that you confront the one that is most negatively impacting your life right now. Not entirely sure what they are? Ask! Your friends, family, boss, co-workers, clients or customers will leave you a breadcrumb trail of clues if you really don’t know. You just have to pay attention and listen. Once you know what you need to work on, here are five key steps to take on this challenge:

  • Don’t get wrapped up in the fact that you have a flaw – beating yourself up about it, isn’t going to help. You DON’T suck just because you have particular flaw…we ALL have them. You’re no worse for the ones you deal with.
  • Get real about how this flaw is impacting your life – You really have to be honest with yourself and get clear on exactly where this flaw is holding you back. Where does it exhibit itself in your personal life and relationships? How is it impacting you professionally? How could both areas of your life be better if you improved on it? Write these things down so you have a clear picture of what you’re up against.
  • Make a list of helpful resources – How could you get help in this area? List all the people, books, websites, organizations, trainings that you can come up with to address the problem. Do a Google search on “How to improve _______________” Insert your particular flaw and just see all the options that come up. Use different words to describe your challenge so that you have the broadest possible choices. If organization is your issue, try looking up project management tips, time management, etc.
  • Create daily action steps – No amount of research alone is going to change anything until you take action. If you get an idea or learn something, put it into practice to see if it helps. You may need to adjust over time, or try something different altogether, but you won’t know that until you act. Make a list of steps (a short list is best, at least in the beginning) that you stick to every day to make progress in the area you are focused on.
  • Reassess as needed – After a reasonable amount of time has passed, reflect on where you started and where you are now. You may not be a superstar in that area, but I bet you’ll see some progress. It’s important to take the time to celebrate where you’ve made improvements. This will give you the motivation you need to continue on. It can also help you determine if you need to change your approach slightly based on where you are now.

Flaws are a part of life, and while we shouldn’t strive for unattainable perfection, we should work towards improving those that are holding us back from a more productive, fulfilling, and joyful life. When identifying flaws, remember to focus on those you wish to work on. No single person should determine your areas of opportunity. Look for patterns where a particular flaw has exhibited itself multiple times or in multiple places. This is a better factor to consider rather than one individual.

You have most certainly made improvements in your life before. What worked for you? Was it one of the five listed above, or something else? Share in the comment’s section.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

You’re Busy, But Are You Productive?

Life moves fast, and so do we. It seems we are always doing something. When’s the last time you remember just doing nothing (sleep doesn’t count)? I bet you’re hard pressed to think of a time. But just because we are busy, does not mean we are productive. When we procrastinate, we find something else to do, instead of the project we’re avoiding. Or, we may be always doing something, but is it the right something? Productivity relies on a lot of moving parts to actually be successful. Let’s talk about the 5 most common:

  • Systems – What routine do you have to process responsibilities? How do you track and schedule everything on your to-do list? Do you use any strategy to attack your workload? Systems get things done because they are reliable, consistent, and proven. Do you have such a system in place for yourself, or are you like a batter in a batting cage just swinging at everything that comes your way and hoping you hit most of them?
  • Technology – There are a lot of apps out there to keep us organized, but these can slow us down just as easily (yeah, I’m talking to you Facebook Birthday notifications! I go on to wish someone a happy, and the next thing I know, I’m mindlessly scrolling through my feed!). Are you using technology, and if so, are you using it in a way that benefits you?
  • Time – How are you spending your time? Is it balanced? Are you putting your time in the right places – the places that are important to you? There’s always work to be done, but are you making time for play? Do you “plan” on doing some activities after your work gets done, and then realize there’s no time left? Are you putting the right things first? Stephen Covey had a great example of this using rocks, but I like how Brett from the Art of Manliness shows this. See the video HERE (you can actually increase the play speed to 1.5 without losing the point).
  • People – There are important people in your life that rely on you to be productive. Spouses, kids, parents, bosses, teachers, etc. If these people (or what they represent) are important to you, there’s a good chance you would like to be productive with these people. Are you prioritizing them? Are you accomplishing what you know you need to with them? And what about people that can help you? Others that could assist, direct, suggest, or just make your life easier? Are you reaching out to them?
  • You – Yup, you can be your own worst enemy (procrastination, failure to prioritize, lack of delegation, etc.) or your own best friend. But you have to know WHY productivity is important to you. You have to have a compelling reason to BE productive instead of just busy.

If you watched the Art of Manliness video above, you saw that by simply rearranging the order of things, you could get more accomplished, get the right things accomplished, and ultimately be more productive. Of course, this is an over-simplification, but it could work, don’t you think?

How do you fare in those five areas? Are you a Productivity Pro or not so much? Are you not really sure where you fall on the Productivity Spectrum? Wouldn’t it be great to find out? One of the most respected (and productive) professionals I know, Michael Hyatt, designed a free assessment to help us identify our strengths and areas of opportunity when it comes to our productivity. It’s quick and easy to fill out and the results are VERY eye-opening and helpful (I scored a 57. I’m in the batting cage, I’m hitting most of the balls, but I’m frustrated by the constant pressure). Click the link to take your assessment and get your score: TOTAL PRODUCTIVITY ASSESSMENT.

You will also be given the opportunity to attend one of Michael’s free webinars on the topic, too. This is sure to be filled with great tips & techniques to help you to be more productive. You can sign up for the webinar once you get your productivity results (I did, so maybe I’ll “see” you there). The point to being productive is so that we have time for all the things important to us WITHOUT being stressed out all the time. You deserve that, don’t ya think?

Your turn! What’s a productivity hack that you rely on? Or, which of the 5 areas above are you BEST at? Share in the comments.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Reaching Your Potential

You know what I love about angel cards, tarot cards, fortune cookie messages, and horoscopes? They all give me a unique glimpse at my potential. I’m not saying that the messages these bring are coming from some higher power. I have no idea. But just seeing the potential is enough to get me excited.

The Free Dictionary defines potential as: capable of being, but not yet in existence1. That’s how I feel about it too, which makes it pretty exciting when some message of potential comes my way. But there are numerous ways to consider our own individual potential. Whether you are trying to build your own business, be the best parent you can be, climb the ranks in your chosen field, find the depth of your spirituality, or any number of other potentialities, there are a few best practices (besides fortune cookies and astrology) to consider.

  • Know Thyself – In order to reach your potential in any area of your life, you have to be aware of your greatest strengths and greatest areas of opportunity. These are the current “cards” you’ve been dealt. Knowing these helps you determine how to play your hand to your greatest advantage. If you struggle to pinpoint your weaknesses, you best start talking to those who spend time with you the most. Asked correctly, this could be the most valuable information you ever receive.
  • Know What You Love – Desire is a huge step towards potential. You have to love what it is you’re striving for. If the Universal Law of Gravitation makes you want to run in the other direction, being a physics professor is probably not on your short list of potential careers. On the other hand, if you love crafting, there are countless ways for you to reach your highest potential in this aspect of your life.
  • Clarity on the Important Skills – Whether you’re trying to reach the highest potential in your marriage or at work, you need to know the most important skills that will help you achieve that. Patience is a top one in relationships & parenting. How high on the patience scale are you? If you’re not high enough, figure out how to improve in this area. This is true for any skill that is required to reach your potential.
  • Talk with Others Who Have Succeeded – As much as we may convince ourselves that our journey to potential is different than someone else’s, that’s likely not true. Or rather, not as true as we think. Sure, some details may be different, but generally speaking, if you’re looking for career success in a particular industry, talking with someone who has met success in that industry will likely provide you with some useful insight. The same is true, no matter what area of life you’re focused on. Talk to someone who is ahead of you on this path.
  • Taking Action – No matter how glowing an angel card reading may be, if you aren’t willing to take action and make that prediction come to life, it just isn’t going to happen. As lovely as it would be to just sit on the couch and wait for the delivery of our highest potential, it just doesn’t work like that.

I love a good angel card reading as much as the next gal, but potential is only a possibility. It’s up to you to bring it into existence! Following these 5 best practices is a sure way to get on the fast-track to reaching your highest potential in any area of your life. Of course, once you reach one level of high potential, there’s always another level waiting for you. This means it’s never too late to seek out your highest potential. Your “cards” may change as you reach different stages of life, but there is always an opportunity to reach our highest imaginable level of potential.

Now it’s your turn! Which of these five (or another best practice altogether) has helped you reach higher levels of your potential? Share in the comments!

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

 

1 - Potential. (n.d.). Retrieved September 09, 2017, from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/potential

11 Things to Do Instead of Watching TV

I know, the fall lineup is just around the corner and there are so many great shows just waiting to be DVR’d. But, I’d like to offer an alternative. I don’t think many would argue that prolonged TV watching is not good for us. Getting lost in TV shows causes us to be physically inactive, not counting the hand-to-mouth exercise of snacking that often accompanies TV watching. Also, excessive watching can lead to gathering knowledge and opinions based on what others are saying. We aren’t using our own critical thinking with a mix of sources and facts to determine our own viewpoints. These are just a few of the reasons this inactive activity is not very good for us.

So, what can you do instead?  Here are some entertaining options to consider instead:

  • Read a book – This can include listening to an audio book as well. Both fiction and non-fiction have benefits. How is this different from watching a story told in my favorite series? For one, it improves your vocabulary. You are much more likely to slow down and process a word you are unfamiliar with when reading compared to when watching TV. Also, as there are no actors or directors creating every image for you, you engage your imagination and develop your own images and ideas.
  • Do a puzzle – Puzzles are FUN! The whole family can participate and they are a fantastic stress reliever. This activity forces both sides of our brain to communicate. The left side focuses on the individual pieces are tries to sort them into a logical order. The right brain focuses on the bigger picture. This activity helps to improve our short-term memory, and releases a nice dose of dopamine each time we properly place a piece.
  • Organize something – This could be a junk drawer, a stack of photos, or that basket of junk mail on the counter. This will make you feel accomplished and productive and will no doubt remind you to take care of something you’ve long forgotten about.
  • Play a game – Cards, board games, even memorization games related to kids’ homework creates a group activity that engages everyone. Using memory, strategy, and imagination are more cognitively stimulating than TV. These also tend to keep our hands too busy to munch on goodies.
  • Set goals – Whether creating a to-do list for tomorrow or giving thought to what you’d like to accomplish in the next five years, spend time setting goals. Start with a goal, then break it down into smaller pieces and milestones that you can start working on immediately.
  • Personal Development – While the internet can be as much of a mind-suck as TV, if you discipline yourself to stay focused, it can be a great benefit. Search up classes or blogs that address an area of personal development you’d like to work on. This will help you surround yourself with tips and techniques to get working on that area.
  • Professional Development – Deep dive into articles that can sharpen your skills professionally. You can also connect with others in the same field through LinkedIn or local networking groups. It can be difficult to find time during working hours to do this, but this can set you apart from your peers and make you more valuable. It also allows you the opportunity to share articles of interest with others you’d like to stay professionally connected with.
  • Get physical – You knew this was coming. A spin class, yoga dvd, or a walk after dinner are much more beneficial to you than the latest episode of your favorite show.
  • Catch up with a friend or relative – Life can get away from us, causing us to lose touch with those we care about. A nice chat over the phone or Skype will feel much better than that TV program.
  • Take a class – This can be an adult education class, a class at your local craft store, or any other interesting way to learn something new. There are so many options out there. You can meet new people and have fun learning.
  • Join a group – You know I’m a lover of Toastmasters, but there are plenty of other organizations that would love to have you. Church groups, reading groups, hiking groups. The list goes on and on. Again, you’ll meet new people and expose yourself to new ideas and activities.

To be clear, sometimes watching TV is great way to relax and unwind. It can also be a great form of entertainment. But several hours of just TV watching most nights, is doing more harm than good. You deserve more goodness in your life, so stretch yourself and try one of these other activities instead.

I KNOW there are more than 11 things to do instead of watching TV, so won’t you share one? Tell us in the comments section something else you think would be a great replacement, or share why one of the 11 listed is a favorite of yours!

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Why Little Things Matter

I just finished reading the book, 13 Reasons Why. I know I’m a little late to the party as the book was published several years ago and Netflix has since come out with a very popular series based on it, but I’m beginning to see what all the hype was about it. For those who aren’t familiar with this story, it’s based on a teen girl who commits suicide and sends a set of recordings to the people who contributed to her decision to end her life. In addition to the acclaim this fictional story has received, there’s been plenty of backlash from people feeling that the story glamorizes teen suicide. I understand this perspective, but have found deep value in one of the core messages of the book – little things matter.

In the tapes, the victim shares how little actions led to bigger repercussions for her. One example is how a “typical” high school joke snowballed into a bad reputation for this new-to-town girl. I’m not here to provide a detailed book review, nor will I be delving into the deep-rooted issues that face our youth today. The aspect of the book that I think we all can relate to is how impactful small things can be. An unkind word, a cold shoulder, inconsiderate behavior that may be small in the scheme of things, but can have a lasting impact on us.

We are in such a divisive state as a country right now. We are focused on so many big, important happenings, and that’s good. But these can often leave us feeling small, powerless, and overwhelmed. That’s not to say, of course, that we shouldn’t try to work on the big issues, but we also shouldn’t lose sight of the little, seemingly less important issues of human interaction. A smile, a kind word, a hug. These little actions can make a lasting impact.

In reading 13 Reasons Why, I felt for the victim, but I also felt for some of those people she called out in her recordings. Many of the behaviors were inconsiderate, and, most of the time, unintentionally hurtful.  I have unintentionally hurt people many times throughout my life, many occasions I’m sure I’m not aware of to this day. That’s the unintentional part. But just because I didn’t mean to hurt someone, doesn’t mean I’m totally off the hook. Last week I talked about living more fully in the present, and this is a perfect example. If we can focus on getting out of our head’s and being present with our interactions, we are less likely to miss the cues others are sending us.

As lovely as it would be to donate hundreds of dollars to important causes, donate hours every week to worthy events, or attend rallies to support a view we believe in, those aren’t the only ways to make a difference. Offering a smile to someone who you expect usually doesn’t get one, complimenting a service worker, thanking a vet, leaving a message for someone to let them know you’re thinking of them and they matter to you – these are all small ripples that may become exactly what someone clings to in order to get through a tough day.  These little things matter.

So, the next time you think you aren’t making a difference, think about what little actions you could take to brighten someone’s day. You may never know what that small, kind gesture means to someone, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t made a very powerful impact.

What’s a small action someone took that really made a difference to you or one that you know had the potential to impact someone else’s? Share in the comments.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Past, Present & Future – How to Make Time for All Three

Goal-setting is exciting business to me. So is looking back and reflecting on my actions and behaviors. Both of these involve focusing on either my future, or my past, neither of which is bad, but if I’m not careful, I may forget to give my now, appropriate attention. All three of these work together, and spending too much time outside our Present can get us into trouble.

The Past – Each bit of time we spend reliving or replaying something from our past is Present time we’ve lost. Some past puzzles will never be figured out, and only you can determine when it’s time to put a puzzle away. Ask yourself if your reflection on the past is bringing you joy or helping you to understand a situation better. If it isn’t doing either of these, you should probably consider letting it go. Often, reflections on the past help us to keep a memory alive. This is great if it’s a positive memory, but less so if it’s a negative one, like when someone did us wrong, or we screwed up or missed an opportunity. Replaying these do little to nothing to improve our Present or our Future, so consider moving on. Time in our Past is best spent on things that bring us joy, or situations we can learn from to improve our Present or Future.

The Present – This period of time is so often taken for granted until it’s gone. There is so much goodness to be found in the Present. It can also be very peaceful when we force ourselves to focus on it. This is often precisely what I have to do when I’m walking. When I’m on a walk, I often replay things from the past, or envision my future. However, then I’m missing my beautiful surroundings. Recently, while walking, I was thinking of a situation that really irked me. As I was walking, I was both replaying this situation (Past) and imagining the different ways it could turn out (Future). When I pulled my attention back to the present, I realized I had walked by beautiful flowers and trees without even noticing them. I tuned out the sound of the birds chirping and the light wind on my face – I was completely ignoring all of these gifts from Mother Nature while playing in my Past and Future. Moments, I’ll never get back. Focus on finding the good in your Present. It’s there – just look. Being grateful for what is in your Present life is a great way to prepare yourself for good things in your Future life.

The Future – I geek out over goal-setting! That feeling of progress and accomplishment provides its own high. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small or large goal – it’s fun to be reaching for something. The Future is important because it gives us something to work towards and strive for. Life may throw curve balls our way, but we can deal with those in our Present. The future is all about what we desire and making every effort to make it happen. This, too, requires reflecting on both our Past, and taking action in our Present.

Making time for reflection on our Past, appreciation for our Present, and goals for our Future is important. Check-in with yourself each day to ensure you are spending quality time in each area, while striving to spend the majority of your time in the Present.

Share in the comments how you make time for each of the three – Past, Present & Future.

If you would like to work together and develop a plan for living a life by YOUR design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com