Tag Archives: procrastination

What I’ve Learned: How to Work on Your Problems

The other day I was helping my daughter organize her jewelry box.  My job was to untangle a clump of six or seven necklaces that had gotten jumbled together.  Not a fun job, for sure, but I was able to separate them.
I laid out the clump as flat as I could on a clipboard that was on my lap.  After noting where the tightest and most twisted places were, I took two straight pins and began prodding those tough parts.  I did this to test just how knotted they were as well as to see if there were any weak places in hopes that I could unravel the jumble at the core.  The knot felt solid.  I tried loosening the necklaces at the edges but they were too firmly scrambled together. 
The likelihood of untangling the necklaces seemed slim.  My daughter and I talked about it and agreed that in the worst-case scenario, we could always cut the pendants off their necklaces and buy new chains.   
With the parameters of the problem in place–best case scenario:  all the necklaces would be separated and whole; worst-case scenario:  we’d save the pendants but cut the chains, perhaps destroying them in the process–I accepted the challenge and got to work! 
Using the two straight pins, I attacked the clump on the edges to see if I could loosen it, even just a little.  When it seemed as if there was a tiny bit of give, I would then see if I could get a little ease in the center of the knot.   
Gradually, I made progress.  It was in small increments, for sure, but I was making headway! 
Eventually, I had untwisted enough of the outer edges and had worked enough spaces into the knot that all of a sudden it came undone!  Our best-case scenario came true!  WooHoo! 
We celebrated by my daughter wearing one of the necklaces when we treated ourselves to ice cream sundaes at the local ice cream shop! 
This got me to thinking…. 
The method I used for unscrambling the necklaces can be applied to solving tough problems and difficulties.  It can be summed up with a checklist: 
First:  lay out the problem in a way that you can see what you’re dealing with
Second:  come up with a strategy and gather the necessary tools, information, skills, etc.
Third:  make your first “attack” right at the core to see if it’ll give immediately.
Fourth:  evaluate what happened in step #3
Fifth:  establish the parameters/boundaries of the situation:  best-case and worst-case scenarios
Sixth:   try something at the edges of the situation to see if you can loosen things a bit
Seven:  when you do get a little ease, go to the center and see if you can work that ease from the edges into the core.
Eighth:  evaluate periodically to determine if you need to bring in more resources:  skills and abilities, specialized tools and knowledge, etc.
Ninth:  keep repeating steps six seven and eight, tweaking your tactics as needed until you achieve success
Ten:  Celebrate!  Make sure you follow through with this step!
Eleven–Bonus Step:  Move forward; take the next step! 
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=34145&picture=strawberry-ice-cream
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=34145&picture=strawberry-ice-cream

Your homework is to apply this checklist to any problem, challenge, difficulty, snag, etc., that’s stopping you–or slowing you down.  Make sure you follow through on steps ten and eleven! 

You can do it, I know you can!
I’m so proud of you! 
Your Friend and Pep Pal,
Lauren
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Review Your Week: Determination, Different Ways it Looks

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Ice_climbing_in_the_United_States
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Ice_climbing_in_the_United_States

When we think of someone who’s determined, we think of them pressing on in spite of the odds, or we imagine them getting their nerve up to slog through the tough times. We may think about Mary Kay Ashe’s quote about extraordinary determination that appeared in last Friday’s post (click here to be taken to it0.

But we learned from yesterday’s post that determination doesn’t have to be so grim (click here to be taken to that post). We can use different words and change our attitude about determination and what it means to forge ahead.

Today, let’s look at things that we do that aren’t normally categorized as determination. They are, though, because they’re all actions that will move us closer to our dreams.

Determination can take the form of caring properly for yourself such as having good nutrition and getting a good night’s sleep.

Determination can take the form of waking up a little bit earlier each day and devoting that time to tasks that will move you closer to your dreams such as reading and keeping current with information that pertains to your dreams.

Determination can look like going to bed a few minutes later so that you can be sure you have your clothing laid out for the next day, your lunch made and in the refrigerator, and your briefcase or tote bag packed with your work materials waiting near the front door.

Determination means saying “no” to hanging around people who make you feel bad about yourself and who are wasting their lives, and saying “yes” to meeting new people who are more likely to celebrate you, even though you may be shy and scared about introducing yourself.

Determination is flooding your mind with inspiring thoughts, uplifting ideas, and motivating images so that you maintain a positive, optimistic attitude.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hiker_in_the_top_of_mountain.JPG
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hiker_in_the_top_of_mountain.JPG

Your homework today is to look over your week and note the ways you followed through on determination, even though it was in a little different way than we usually thing of as determination.

Celebrate this–and follow through with a celebration! It doesn’t have to be big or expensive. It can be taking the afternoon off and spending it pursuing a hobby or an activity you enjoy. It could be meeting a friend at a local museum. Or it could be trying something entirely new–something you’ve been interested in but just never took the time to check it out.

You can do this, I know you can!

I’m so proud of you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,
Lauren

Your Talismans

Norman Rockwell Museum: http://www.nrm.org/
Norman Rockwell Museum: http://www.nrm.org/

 

 

In yesterday’s post Straighten Up! (click here to be taken to it) we talked about looking at your environments–where you live and work, your car, your locker, the inside of your desk; any space that you inhabit in some way–and making them more orderly and tidy. It’s important to get rid of the clutter and the junk so that you can think clearly and you can see the possibilities and opportunities that are right there waiting for you.

It’s important, though, to keep those things that inspire and motivate you–your talismans.

The things that help you keep going when it’s tough because the path is dark and you think you hear boogiemen in the bushes and all you want to do is RUN as fast as you can to the safety of your snug little home and sit by the warm fire and drink your cup of hot cocoa–with marshmallows, of course.

Your talismans can be things like the cocktail napkin from that small, hole-in-the-wall club where you saw a musician with a guitar singing stories that touched your soul and showed you that you don’t have to be big and famous like Taylor Swift or Bruce Springsteen and have huge international tours. The napkin reminds you that it’s all about the music and you can have a profound impact by singing your stories in intimate gatherings.

Or maybe your talisman is a picture of your family. It reminds you that even though you’re following your dream because it (your dream) won’t let you do anything else, you’re also doing it for your loved ones.  You want to show them–especially the children–what it looks like to go for your dreams, every single step:  the good, the bad, the wondrous, the sublime, and all the steps in between.

You may have only one or two talismans or you may have many. The essential criteria is that they inspire you when you feel dull and lifeless and they motivate you when all you reallyreallyreally want to do is to quit.

Norman Rockwell Museum: http://www.nrm.org/
Norman Rockwell Museum: http://www.nrm.org/

Your homework today is to put your talismans in prominent places so that you see them when you need them. It’s good to have at least one that you can keep with you, either in a pocket or your purse or as a picture in your mobile device.  Refer to them especially when you need the boost, but also when things are going well.  This keeps your energy and momentum going.

Extra credit: Visit (in person or on the Internet) the studio/workshop/study/office of an artist/inventor or someone involved in creating things.  You will probably see all sorts of stuff, but the workspace won’t be disheveled.  Everything there has a purpose either for the creator to study it so that it can inform their work or for inspiration or motivation.  The items encourage the person to keep a curious mind that’s open for wonder, the unexpected, and plain old fun.

In case you can’t think of an artist/creator, images of Norman Rockwell’s studio are on the Internet (use the search term Norman Rockwell studio).

You can do this, especially since it’s fun to see what other people are doing.

I’m proud of you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Straighten Up!

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ObereM%C3%BChleAmbiente.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ObereM%C3%BChleAmbiente.jpg

 

 

We begin to see, therefore, the importance of selecting our environment with the greatest of care, because environment is the mental feeding ground out of which the food that goes into our minds is extracted. ~Napoleon Hill

 

A few years ago, a friend of mine was commenting on how she could tell the state of someone’s life just by looking inside their car.  She pointed out that a person’s state of mind is the foundation of his/her life so, if their car is messy then, more often than not, their thinking is muddled, diffuse, and wandering.  She explained that this then created an unfocused, disorderly life and that the person was either not successful or had to work way harder than they needed to in order to achieve their success.

Needless to say, this was a surprising observation my friend made. Over the past few years, I’ve done my own informal investigation and I’ve found my friend’s assertions to be accurate.

I think this has to do with self-respect and taking one’s life and dreams seriously. People who take themselves seriously value themselves and their dreams and think themselves worthy and deserving of a good life.  This seems to translate into the habit of being orderly.

Consider this: How can you nurture and grow your particular genius if you can’t ever find any of the things that you need when you need them because they’re buried under who-the-heck knows which pile?!

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ObereM%C3%BChleAmbiente.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ObereM%C3%BChleAmbiente.jpg

Your homework today is to take a look at your surroundings, where you live and where your work–your car, too, if you own one.  What do they look like?  They don’t have to be fancy or large or the newest model. Are they organized?  Is there a place for everything and do you usually pick up and put away after yourself?   Do your spaces look like a winner lives and works there?

Send the right message to yourself by respecting your things.

If you have things that you don’t really like or respect, then get rid of them. They are not doing you any good.  They probably make you angry when you try to use them because they don’t work properly or they are wrong for the job you want them to do.  This sends you the subconscious message that you have to make do with lesser things because you are not allowed to have good things that work well and that support and help you toward your dreams.

Take yourself seriously. Respect yourself and your dreams by straightening up.

You can do it.

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Make a Difference Day

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2009-05-09R%C3%A4uberleiter0040.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2009-05-09R%C3%A4uberleiter0040.jpg

 

 

Today is National Make a Difference Day. The simplest act you do could have a profound impact on someone–and it may last a lifetime.

It’s scientifically proven–as well as being verified by people’s experiences–that reaching out to others, being helpful, “getting over yourself” has many psychological, and spiritual benefits. After helping someone, people report feeling better about themselves and their lives. They’re more hopeful because they can see more possibilities, and they feel stronger and more able to take advantage of those possibilities.

So give away as many smiles as you can today; spend time reconnecting with a friend or loved one; sneak money into the pocket or purse of someone who you know is struggling; pay for the coffee of the person behind you in line.

Make a difference!

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Friendship.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Friendship.jpg

Your homework today is to not only make a small difference in someone’s day, but also to remember to make a difference in your own life. Ask–and answer–this question: What’s the one thing I can do today that will make an important difference in my life?

Perhaps it’s as simple as getting a good night’s sleep, taking a slow walk through the woods, or turning off all electronics and distractions for the rest of the day. Or maybe it’s taking the time to finally sit down and gather the information you need to take that step you’ve been putting off!

Make a difference for someone else and for yourself!

I know you can do it!

I’m proud of you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Extraordinary Determination

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:London_2012_Olympic_100m_final_start.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:London_2012_Olympic_100m_final_start.jpg

 

The only difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is extraordinary determination. — Mary Kay Ash, Entrepreneur

 

I admire Mary Kay Ash and the business she created, however, I think we need to clarify what she means by the word “extraordinary” that she uses to describe the type of determination needed to succeed.

I think she intends “extraordinary” to mean that it isn’t something that the multitudes do because only a handful (or less!) of people will hang in there, keep going, and give it one more shot.

Usually, the multitudes don’t get past the stage of just talking about their dreams. Of the few who do actually start, many will quit at the first sign of trouble. Of the even fewer remaining, many of them will quit when the path gets rocky and narrow and is filled with deep potholes and hair-pin twists.

I don’t think she means extraordinary in the sense that it’s super-human. Who has that kind of determination?! Not many–certainly not me! In fact, I’d say of the tiny handful of people in the example above, there may be only one of them that has super-human determination. Only who is like a machine and can keep going and going and going, smashing past roadblocks, pulverizing challenges, and blasting through setbacks.

The rest of the people who keep going–whom Mary Kay says have “extraordinary” determination–are just like you and me. They get scared and intimidated, they trip over their anger and frustration, they fall prey to worry, anxiety, and fear.

The difference between them and us (or maybe it’s just me) is that, while they may give into these feelings from time-to-time, they do it only long enough to process the emotions and get them out of their systems. They have a pity party long enough to clear their thinking so that they can then press the reset button.

Then they get back to it.

That’s the difference: they get back to it. They keep going, no matter what.

While others (perhaps including us!) will continue complaining, whining, feeling sorry for themselves, and generally wallow in unhelpful thoughts, feelings, and emotions…

…in the meantime, the tiny handful has shaken it off and is getting back to it, no matter what.

It’s the “no matter what” part that I think Mary Kay Ashe meant when she used the word “extraordinary” to describe determination.

 

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Army_52377_Akbar_sets_women%27s_Ten-Miler_record.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Army_52377_Akbar_sets_women%27s_Ten-Miler_record.jpg

Your homework today is to review your week. As you do so, keep an eye out for the times when you gave up to soon or gave in too easily. Note where you could have taken a little breather, and then gotten back to it. Resolve to tighten up your determination in the upcoming week. You don’t have to be perfect about it, just do a little bit better than you have so far.

As you review your week, also note when you did stick with it and hang tough. You can use that to build upon as you strengthen your determination.

Celebrate this! This is excellent–go you! Make sure you acknowledge your progress; applaud yourself for the things you did well; pat yourself on the back for the things you did right.

You can do it!

I’m so proud of you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Quotes to Help You Move Past Fear

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=61538&picture=terrified-man
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=61538&picture=terrified-man

 

 

Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop.  ~ Usman B. Asif

 

Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear. ~ Cheri Huber

 

Courage is fear that has said its prayers. ~ Dorothy Bernard

 

To me, Fearless is not the absence of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. To me, Fearless is having fears. Fearless is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death. ~ Taylor Swift

 

Fear is the thief of dreams. ~ Brian Khans

 

To fight fear, act. To increase fear — wait, put off, postpone. ~ David Joseph Schwartz

 

Don’t try to be fearless or pretend you aren’t impacted by fear. Just try to prevent fear from making your decisions for you. ~ Chris Guillebeau

 

Can you imagine a life with no fear? What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats? ~ Max Lucado

 

If we let fear control our decision making, we always make the wrong decision. ~ Butch Bella

 

A mind focused on doubt and fear cannot focus on the journey to victory. ~ Mike Jones

 

Your fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival. ~ Steve Maraboli

 

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. ~ Anne Frank

 

 

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=15163&picture=happy-young-woman
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=15163&picture=happy-young-woman

Your homework today is to read through these quotes and keep the ones that ring true for you. Let their strength and power imbue every cell of your being.

Then take the next step! Break it into tiny specks and jots, then do them!

You can do it, I know you can!

I’m so proud of you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren