Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Is It OK to Set Boundaries?

Damond Nollan

“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” ~ Tony Gaskins

"I love you!" I said convincingly. The room grew quiet and uncomfortably still. It was as if time itself stopped to hear the response. From the depths of my belly, I found the strength to once again reiterate the very message that I needed to say, "I LOVE YOU!" This time, it escaped my mouth even louder and with more urgency, but I don't think the words were enough to mask the obvious uncertainty that I felt inside.

My head dropped slowly and my eyes fell to the floor because I knew the truth that had been hiding quietly in the dark corners of my mind. I've said these words so many times, but the truth of the matter is that I've been lying. 

Like a child standing before his disappointed parents, I forced myself to find the courage to raise my head and face the firing squad that awaited me. My eyes crawled laboriously from the floor to the pair of eyes staring at me in the mirror. As I looked at myself, I knew that I had let myself down for too long and I was now ashamed by what I permitted into my life. 

"You say that you love me, but do you really?" I questioned myself as I have thousands of times before, but I already knew the answer. 

For years, I told myself that I was being nice and accommodating, but for years I simply let people get away with things that I shouldn't have allowed. I told myself that things would get better and that the individuals would change, but that day never seemed to come. Who was I fooling?

As I look back over the course of my life, I can honestly say that I have done myself a disservice by not loving me enough to fully respect the man in the mirror. Where I should have protected him, I offered him up like a sacrifice for the temporary illusion of safety and acceptance. Where I should have created boundaries or walked away from damaging situations, I allowed him to be abused and trampled upon. I am 100% responsible for the lies I've told him and the promises I never kept. Who could ever learn to respect that man when I, it's guardian, failed to respect him first. 

“At any given moment, you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end.” ~ Unknown

It is in this moment that I say, "Enough!" I am tired of making excuses for other people's behavior and adjusting myself to accommodate that which I know is wrong. Truthfully, I've struggled with the idea of appearing selfish should I ever choose me first. As a result, I feel that I have loved and cared for others, but often at the expense of losing me, abandoning my values, and foregoing my beliefs. 

As I write this, I was led to compare my message against the instructions found in Philippians 2:3-5 (KJV) where it reads:

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus."

This passage is an important reminder that we should value others and seek their interests over our own. I can understand this lesson and see how it is applied throughout our lives, our conversations, and our relationships. However, what I am speaking about is the protection from abuse, manipulation, liars, cheaters, thieves, people who disrespect you, time wasters, and energy drainers. It is more about setting healthy boundaries around you than it is removing yourself as a blessing to others.  

It is in understanding that you can say "no" and still be considered kind and loving. Accepting poor and abusive behavior does not make you strong. It is in taking a stand against our fears of losing, mediocrity, being rejected, abandoned, laughed at, or ostracized that we fight for what is right. 

Remember these words from 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV):

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

We are not victims, but overcomers. We have the power to change our circumstances at any time by simply making better decisions about who and what we allow into our lives. It is through the creation of healthy boundaries that we are once again safe to love and serve one another without fear and trepidation.

You are a champion. Make today a very great day!

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Incredible Power of Family




My final turn at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport led me away from Terminal 1 and guided me toward Terminal 2 where my mother was patiently waiting. It had been four years since I last saw her in person, which would explain why my heart was racing in anticipation. Would I recognize her? I asked myself as I slowly applied the brakes and approached the pick-up zone on the lower level of the terminal. Within seconds, I noticed a slender silver-haired woman sitting on the bench and she was looking in my direction. With a huge smile and a violent wave through the windshield, I let her know that I had arrived.

As the car slowed to a stop, she stood up from the wooden bench with a small carry-on bag in hand. She was dressed comfortably with her hair pulled back and a black badge holder dangling from her neck. She walked briskly toward the car and jumped in the front seat. I couldn't help but smile as I waited to give her a big hug from the driver seat.

It felt surreal having my mother here. As she adjusted herself and put on her seatbelt, I noticed her long straight hair running down the center of her back. This was new since the last time I saw her as she often kept it much shorter.

She appeared healthy, but slender. Her cheekbones and jawline looked more defined, which would lead me to believe that she had lost some weight. While she has continued to age gracefully, she didn't look old or worn out. Outside of the few lines and gray hair, she was still the woman I've known and loved my whole life. She seemed vibrant and excited about being here, which went a long way to break the ice.

After the initial salutations, the first thing out of her mouth was, "Are you thirsty? How about Sonic?" I laughed and agreed quickly. I knew exactly what she was after, a nice cold and refreshing fruit slushie from the one place that does it right, Sonic Drive In.

Over the next few hours, we talked about everything. I was as eager to share as she was to listen and it felt great. I wanted her to know that her son was doing alright and that she should be proud of where I am today. Not that I or my situation was perfect, but that I was happy and making progress.

For me, this was an important trip. First, it had been four years since I've seen her. Second, the kids had grown up and I wanted them to reconnect. Third, I wanted her to meet my girlfriend, Brandi, who I had been dating for almost 3 years. If I was going to consider moving us to that next step, meeting my mother was essential. Not that I wasn't capable of making my own decisions, but when you think about building a life with someone, you want your family's blessing, if possible.

While I don't have the space to go through her entire visit, what I can tell you is that it was completely enjoyable and enlightening. She had an opportunity to meet Brandi and hang out with the kids. We continued to talk and exchange stories about our lives, successes, and opportunities for growth. We are more alike than I realized and that's a good thing.

Lessons from Family


Family: Like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one. ~ Unknown 

Family Keeps You Grounded

While I understand that each of us may have a different experience with family, I have come to learn that those special people in our lives have a way of grounding us. For some, this could be a bad thing, especially if you come from a negative and destructive bunch, but for me I found that family helps me remember who I am at the core. I am still that loveable, caring, smart, determined, creative, and eager little boy who has grown up through a variety of experiences into the man I am today.

I remember the flavors from my favorite foods and how it made me feel inside. I recall the funny and touching stories of my youth and the people who played their influential parts. It is in these moments that I appreciate my journey and vow to pass them forward to my kids for safe keeping. It is in these traditions and forgotten experiences that we find ourselves united across the many miles and aging years. It is what keeps us grounded. 

Family Finds a Way to Encourage You

Even now, I can still hear my mother telling me how personable I am and how proud she is of me. Just those few words of encouragement ringing in my ear gives me the energy to brush off any negative thoughts I may have had and to keep pressing forward remembering to do the right things.

In these few short days, my mother helped me recall the dreams of my younger days and reconnect with my core beliefs and values. I am loved. I am appreciated. I am special. I am a good man with lots to give. You never know how powerful those words of affirmation are until you experience the feeling of a cup that runneth over. It's magical.

Family Isn't Always Blood


Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life that want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what. ~ Unknown

While I could go on speaking about the many blessings of family, I think it is crucial to stop and say that family isn't limited to just those with whom you share blood. No, I believe true family is a connection between people who want the best for one another. It is caring individuals who love on and encourage each other to be better, to be stronger, and to keep fighting the good fight when all we want to do is quit. Family is a shoulder on which to cry and a bond that will never break.

Whether you have been brought up in a loving family or have adopted one along the way, know that you have the power to be a blessing to someone else by the words you use and the actions you take. As we go into this day, look around at your tribe, your family, or your community and surround yourself with people who will uplift you and love you no matter what.


The best things in life are the people we love, the places we've been, and the memories we've made along the way. ~ Unknown   

Let's make today a great one!

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Facing Your Fears to Build Confidence

“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” ~ John Wayne

It was a busy afternoon on I-40. I was sitting in my car listening to the constant sound of tires running over the hot concrete. The noise lulled me into a zone that I often find myself while driving long distances.

On this particular day, I don't recall what I was thinking about, but I was close to Cary, NC when I decided to clean my back window. For some reason, it appeared extremely dirty and it was difficult to see the cars behind me. With a wave of my hand, I was able to spritz window cleaner on the glass and use the rear wiper to clean it off. While the view improved, I made a mental note that I should replace that wiper soon.

The car behind me must have acquired a decent amount of window cleaner, because I noticed they were wiping their windshield as well. I smiled to myself as I was slightly entertained by the view.

Minutes later, I noticed that the same car was still wiping their windows. "That's funny," I thought. It's not raining outside. Wait! I've seen this before.

Immediately, I pulled over to the side of the road and popped the hood of my car. Just as I suspected, a large puff of steam escaped from the engine and I was watching antifreeze once again dripping from a dislodged radiator hose.

Frustrated that I was once again dealing with the same problem as before, I quickly dashed to the rear of my car to grab the necessary tools. Like before, I placed the hose back on the radiator and tightened it even more securely. With 30 minutes remaining in my commute, this had to work.

Not knowing how much fluid I had lost up to this point, I decided that I would get off at the next exit and buy another bottle of coolant. Unfortunately, my engine wouldn't allow me the opportunity to reach a gas station. Instead, I made it just on the exit ramp near the Cary Towne Center before the temperature shot up like a rocket. Not wanting to risk it, I pulled over, turned off the car, and started my trek toward the nearest service station.

After 30 minutes of walking, two gas stations, a gallon of water, and a $23 bottle of generic antifreeze, I was back at my car trying to stay calm and dry. The zipping sound of cars racing by at neck breaking speeds fueled my already colorful imagination. All I could think about was that one driver who would ultimately crash into the back of my car with me slaving away under the hood. Needless to say, I didn't feel safe being that close to traffic.

With the support of a concerned fraternity brother and State Trooper, I eventually attracted a large enough commotion to keep both cars and semi trucks at a safe distance. It was just what I needed to refill my antifreeze reservoir and adjust the clamp on the other side of the radiator nozzle. With a silent prayer, this solution had to be good enough to get all the way home.

Thankfully, my prayer was answered and I made it home without incident, but there was no way I could have driven another 5 miles under these conditions. It was that bad.

While I was glad to have made it home, I knew that I had to fix this radiator and pick up my mother from the airport the very next morning. How would I be able to accomplish all of this with a sick vehicle? Here comes my girlfriend. Without hesitation, she offered me the use of her car which gave me an immediate sense of peace. If nothing else, I could at least deal with the closely pending tasks.

To make a long story short, I was able to pick up my mother from the airport, purchase the necessary supplies to fix my car, and install them the following day. It wasn't a quick fix, but I was able to replace the broken part and get everything back together.

Facing My Fears 

Before this incident, I have never replaced a radiator in a vehicle. Honestly, I didn't know exactly how I was going to do it until I found a YouTube video explaining the high points. 

What scared me most was getting back in the car after everything was resolved. I had so many questions. Would it work? Will it leak again? Did I do everything right? Did I break anything? What if this doesn't work?

While I took my time and addressed each step cautiously, I felt so insecure that the fix would actually hold up. I guess after so many failed attempts to correct the problem and poor experiences on the highway, I wasn't ready to find myself back in the same boat. 

To build my confidence in the solution, I started by running the car in place. When that passed without issue, I drove around the neighborhood. That's when I noticed a small leak. With a few turns on the hose clamp, the leak stopped and I was driving the car even further this time. There were no issues that I could tell. 

Eventually, I had to return my girlfriend's car and stand firmly on my own. As you can imagine, I was nervous. I kept checking under the car for signs of leakage and measured the amount of coolant in the reservoir just to be sure it was still working. 

It was when I had to return my mother back to the airport that I drove past the very location of my last breakdown. I was scared, but I did it anyway. It was then that I was reminded of this simple truth.

The Simple Truth 

It was by facing my fears and allowing myself the opportunity to have numerous successful experiences that my confidence started to build and strengthen. Even now, as I write this, I have a healthy dose of caution for what's possible, but it hasn't stopped me from taking action. In the last post, Making It Through the Storm, I shared a quote that I feel still stands true today. 

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

My encouragement to you is this. Even in the face of fear, be encouraged to step out there and take action. Be it a baby step or a jump in the deep end, let's not allow our fears to stop us from moving forward and making things better. Over time, with enough positive and successful experiences, you will begin to feel more confident and sure in the outcome.

Remember, you ARE an overcomer! Let's make today a very great day.

Bonus Video: Watch Me Replace My Radiator


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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Using the Calendar to Organize Your Life




One of the on-going themes within my blog has been focused on time management. Both at work and at home, I find that whenever I get behind or feel overwhelmed, my fall back position is to get organized. Where I may have originally started with a long to-do list, today my first stop is the calendar.

At work, I have recently taken the stance of introducing our team to the calendar concept and we are seeing some great results. With that written, I thought that some of you may also find value in learning the secrets behind my madness. In this article, I will share how I use the calendar to organize my life.

Building Blocks of the Calendar

Where to Begin? The Basics.

To begin this journey of organization, we have to start with the basics. In our case, the basics involve a simple calendar. We can't talk about a calendar if you don't have one to play with. It can be digital, as in Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar. It can be on the desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or a mobile phone. As long as your solution resembles a true to life calendar and allows you to create events within it, you should be good to go.

For those who are reading this article and prefer to use a paper calendar, I would ask that you lean more toward a daily planner than the large desk sized calendar. While it may be spacious, you will need room to block off time in at least 30 minute increments.

Events

When I first started using a calendar, its main purpose was to track upcoming events. Typically, I would add meetings, doctor appointments, due dates for projects, birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations. Based on my observation, this is how  many people use on their calendars. If this is you, then I celebrate the mere fact that you are at least using the tool. It surprises me to learn how many people try to remember all of these things in their heads alone.

Tasks

When it comes to remembering to-do items, many people think of a Task Sheet. Essentially, it is a list of items that we want or need to accomplish. Years ago, I used to create my to-do lists in a notebook and each morning I would rewrite my open tasks on a new sheet of paper. As you can imagine, it was tedious and a total waste of time. Not only that, but I felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of items that I would capture each day. Personally, while I had good intentions, I think this method only further promoted my habit of procrastination. Moving forward, instead of placing tasks on a separate list, we will now place them on the calendar.

Reminders

The third item that we will add to the calendar is a reminder. Reminders can be "Save the Date" events, deadlines, or tasks with no specific timeframe. Typically, when I use reminders, these are the items that run over the course of the entire day.

Appointments

For the remainder of this article, I would like to simplify the instructions by using a single term to describe individual items that we will place on the calendar. The word I will use is "Appointments" and it will describe events, tasks, reminders, due dates, and anything else that we may want to apply.

Benefits of a Finely Tuned Calendar

Now that we have a basic understanding of the calendar and what will be captured within it, I would like offer a few benefits that I have experienced as a result. There may be a few readers who are not yet convinced that using a calendar is worth their time and energy. Hopefully, by the end of this section, you will walk away with a new appreciation for the tool. 

Improved Responsiveness and Controlled Expectations

For individuals that know me, I am sure they could attest the fact that I am a true procrastinator. While I'm still working on being responsive, I find that by scheduling appointments on the calendar, I can respond more quickly. Consider the amount of emails, phone calls, to-do items, text messages, social media messages, and research projects that others require your attention on. By knowing when I plan on completing a task, responding to an email, making a return phone call, or begin working on a project request, I can reply more quickly and control expectations.

The one request that helped me appreciate the calendar most was, my favorite, the"Honey Do List." You know the one, "Honey, can you please...[fill in the blank]?" I found that ignoring these types of requests or failing to communicate when I planned on addressing them often led to arguments and misunderstandings. For this reason alone, I found an organized calendar to be my saving grace.

Provides Direction Toward Effective Use of Time

I don't know about you, but when I have a large amount of free time, I immediately forget about the things I wanted or needed to do when I was extremely busy. As a result, I tend to default to the less productive and often wasteful activity of watching television. By creating a day's worth of appointments, we are establishing an agenda that provides direction on what we should be doing at any given moment. Leave the scatterbrain in the past and allow your mind to simply focus on right now.

Lowers Stress and Anxiety

Knowing that we have 24 hours in a day, it's impossible to do everything right now. Both my team and I have communicated extreme feelings of stress and anxiety because we used to over promise what we can do in a day. I was so frustrated one time by the overwhelming amount of work we had that I ended up just sitting at my desk doing nothing. Yeah, that was a crazy day. 

To contrast that story we found that putting detailed appointments on the calendar allowed us to better plan our work and provide a more accurate timeline. This one change alone reduced our stress levels dramatically. Writing that big report, calling your mother, or picking up groceries should all be scheduled and you can rest easy knowing that each of those items will be addressed in its own time.

Helps You to Say 'No' to Things You Don't Want to Do

If you are anything like me, then saying "NO" is one of the hardest things to do. I genuinely want to help people, but I often pay the price when I abandon my own chores to assist others with their requests. Fortunately when there is a calendar full of appointments, it becomes so much easier to form your lips and say, "I'm sorry, I would love to help you clean the gutters, unfortunately I have a day's worth of appointments I need to address. Can we do it some other time?"

Produces Higher Quality Outcomes

Multitasking is difficult to do. Trying to do two or more things at the same time often means something is going to suffer. I personally find it challenging to listen to someone talk and write a report. I either fail to give the speaker my full attention or my written words don't make any sense.  

By scheduling each appointment as a separate item, I allow myself time to focus on one thing at a time. Doing so helps promote a much higher quality outcome.

Strategies for Managing Your Calendar

By now, you should see that using the calendar is far more valuable than just recording upcoming events. In this section, I share a few of my favorite strategies.  

Keep the Calendar Full with BAMFAM (Book A Meeting, From A Meeting)

When successfully completing an appointment, make sure to book a meeting from a meeting (BAMFAM). For example, when I pay bills, I immediately go to the next month and set another appointment to pay bills. Doctors and dentists have perfected this strategy. Think back to your last appointment. As soon as you finished seeing the doctor, the receptionist is opening up the calendar and looking for the next available time to get you back in the office. If your business requires you to see customers, this strategy is golden.

In the same way that doctors BAMFAM, we should treat ourselves and our appointments similarly. As soon as you finish, look ahead in your calendar for the next available opening. For dental visits, it's every 6 months. However, you may find the project and team meetings are best done every two weeks. Whatever the interval, jump ahead and get it booked before you move on to another customer or activity.

Create Forward Motion with a Time Box

Earlier, I admitted that I am a habitual procrastinator. The hardest part for me is getting started, but I found this neat idea to be extremely helpful in getting the ball rolling.

To begin, find 30 minutes on your calendar and schedule an appointment. Agree ahead of time that you will do as much work as you possibly can within the allotted timeframe. When time is up, stop working. What you don't finish in that session, you BAMFAM to your next availability.

Take Action Now and Touch It Only Once

I am the worst when it comes to handling any kind of mail and I've been known for collecting boxes of unopened messages only to find that I missed hundreds of dollars in expired checks. Crazy right?

What I found is that when I adopt the "Touch It Once" strategy, I force myself to do one of the following things: Delete it, file it, or schedule an appointment to address it in detail. The key to making this work is that you address it as soon as it comes in. Please understand that this is not limited to just mail. It could be telephone calls, voice mail, visitors, and anything else that comes in.

Group Common Tasks by Function or Location 

As we add appointments to our calendar, we may start to see opportunities to chunk similar items together. For an example, if I know that I'm going into town tomorrow to buy groceries, I may also decide to fill up my gas tank while I'm there. Instead of wasting time doing one-off tasks, consider grouping similar items based on function and location. This could save you considerable time and money.

Finish Early? Move Forward to the Next Appointment

In the effort of scheduling appointments, I am really just estimating how long something may take to complete. As a result, there is a good chance that I will finish early. In fact, there are plenty of times that I've had to cancel the appointment all together. When this happens, don't miss the opportunity to get ahead. Consider looking at the remaining appointments on your calendar and moving it up. This won't work for everything, but it does allow you to get more done and minimizes unproductive time.

After Appointments, Schedule Down Time to Breathe and Reflect

In many of our business meetings, we take notes or collect a list of tasks. When you schedule or accept an appointment, make sure to schedule some time after the event to just breathe. I typically schedule 30 minutes, which I use to review my notes, schedule new appointments, check email, use the bathroom, or reflect on what I heard. Without these buffer times, my day could seriously be thrown out of whack because of unplanned events (i.e., visitors, bathroom breaks, conversations in the hallway, etc.).

Identify the Purpose by Adding Notes in the Description 

The more we utilize the calendar for planning, it's easy to forget why we have something scheduled. Maybe we failed to put in a descriptive title or maybe it was scheduled months in advance and now we are at a loss. To remedy this common problem, I make sure to use the description area to capture agenda items and outline the purpose of this appointment. Often, that note was all I needed to jog my memory.

Use Color to Differentiate Types of Appointments

Some calendar systems allow for different colors. In my calendar (Outlook), I find that I use a set of colors to identify meetings, to-do items, personal activities, deadlines, and announcements. As a result, I can quickly peruse my calendar to see how many meetings I have that week. Additionally, I've made it a game within the team to erase the white space (time with no appointments) and replace it with color (appointments). Color is also a great way to keep balance between appointment types.

Review Agenda and Adjust

As your calendar begins to fill up, you will want to keep a close eye on upcoming appointments. Find time once a week to look at what you were able to accomplish over the past 7 days and then look forward to see where you can adjust, if needed.

Automatically Schedule Routine Activities to Save Time

Instead of manually adding the same appointment on your calendar each day, try creating a repeating event instead. NOTE: Google Calendar calls it "Repeat" while Microsoft Outlook calls it "Recurrence."

The idea behind this is that by automating the process, your daily routine is already scheduled. All you have to do is add new appointments and trim where necessary. Remember, just because it's automatically placed on your calendar it doesn't mean you cannot move it around. Save time and automate it.

Schedule One-On-One Time With Important People to Build Relationships

While I haven't always done this, I do see the value in scheduling time with important people. At work, we call it one-on-ones. At home, I've used the term, "Date Night." Whatever you call it, the idea is to schedule time with the people that you want to spend time with. If you do it early, you aren't scrambling around after the fact, but making time for what's important. This also includes telephone calls.

I find that one-on-one's with employees, children, and my significant other has tremendous power to help ease miscommunication, plan for upcoming activities, and just connect on so many levels. When you plan ahead, learn to relax and enjoy the moment. 

It is important to note that one-on-one time can also mean time with yourself. Because we've been talking about productivity, understand that it is OK to schedule fun stuff, too. Be it time to read a good book or hang out at the pool with the family, make time for what's important.

End Distractions to Stay on Task

With a schedule in place, you will find that distractions abound. At work, it may be the unplanned visit or phone call. If not controlled, it could easily throw your entire day off track. While I haven't mastered this strategy just yet, I am actively working on it.

As potential distractions arise, learning to end a conversation or excuse yourself from an unplanned event means that you can get back to your schedule. One option is to quickly say, "Listen, I'm very interested in talking about birds, but I need to run and finish this assignment. When can we get back together and finish our discussion?" Then, in that moment, pull out your calendar and schedule it.

Additional Thoughts

While I've tried to build a case for using the calendar and offered a number of strategies to maximize the tool, I have a few closing thoughts to leave with you.

Too Complicated? Too Rigid? Ok, Feel Free to Change It!

I hear this all the time. "I could never do that," "It's just too complicated or rigid," "I like to work based on what I feel in that moment." I understand that completely, but when things aren't being completed or you feel stressed out, consider the alternative. If what you're doing works, please continue to do what you've been doing.

It is also important to note that if you follow this plan, you can always adjust. Remember, it is your calendar and you can do what you want with it. Don't feel that you're locked in, but consider it more of a tool to help you organize your life. If you need to move stuff around, delete appointments, or create space, it's OK. Do it!

Stick to Your Plan

Finally, in order for all of this to work, you have to work it. Nothing will change if you schedule appointments and ignore it. Make a mental agreement with yourself, if you put a task on the schedule or create an event, respect that task as if it were with your boss or someone important. It's a date with you. Stick to it!

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Make Time For What's Important


“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” ~ Charles Buxton

Earlier this evening, as I was scrolling through old photos, I found some pictures that immediately caused a smile to crawl across my face. Like a favorite smell from my youth, these shots instantly transported me back to a special moment in time. Even now, as I write these words, I can still hear her laughter fill the air like the refreshing scent of rain on a comfortable spring afternoon. It's intoxicating to think about all the wonderful time that we've shared over the years. Sometimes, when my sentimental side takes over, I wish that I could go back just to experience these delicate moments again.

Do you have memories like this? Maybe you think about your childhood friends and the games you used to play until the streetlights came on. Maybe you recall images of your grandmother and how she used to make hot chocolate with marshmallows on cold winter nights. For many of us, those people and places hold a special spot within our hearts and minds. It's magical.

While it's easy to get lost in the beautiful visions of yesterday, it is extremely important to realize that we have been given the gift of right now. It is in this very moment that we all have the opportunity to create new memories, write new stories, and experience new things that could forever change us.

In writing that, I have to ask this question, "What are you saying YES to?" In other words, how have you chosen to spend your limited resource that we call time? Are you using it to enjoy life together with those you love or are you using it to punish them with distance because they hurt you some time ago? Are you using your time to leave a legacy of hope or are you sucking the life from those around you? Are you embracing the now, facing your fears, and living today like it was your last or are you hoping to stay within the comfort of what's familiar?

However you decide to spend your time, remember that we only get to live this moment once. Let's decide right now to make the rest of our life, the best of our life.

"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot." ~ Michael Altshuler

Let's make today great, the decision is yours.  


Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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