In this issue ~~
* New Year's Resolutions
* Busy-ness: Friend or Foe
* Creative Tip
* Wise Words
Well, that time of year is coming upon us again. The time
when we make our New Year's resolutions. How many of us have
done this year after year, only to be discouraged and give them
up by February?
The turn of the year is certainly a good time to reevaluate
and create new pathways. But often the high energy and enthusiasm
we start out with is deflated before we know it. We may be daunted
by a huge list of things we've been wanting to change for years
and never succeeded at. We may start out optimistically and then
give up when nothing seems to move. So why bother making resolutions
New Year's resolutions are not a bad idea, but the trick is
to approach them in a way that has some real impact. To make
just the right list, with deliberation and intent, and then follow
through. Some ways we can do this...
~ Rather than make a "wish list" that you toss off,
sit down and really think about it. Include only things that
you're ready and committed to change.
~ Be realistic about what you can do. Don't make a huge list
that will overwhelm you from day one. Perhaps choose one thing
to focus on each month, each quarter, or just one major item
for the entire year.
~ Write your list and put it someplace visible.
~ Create a strategy or action plan for how you will approach
~ Give it meaning. Think about why you want to make these
changes -- how they will impact your life, the benefits you'll
receive, the problems that will be eliminated. Find the motivation.
~ Make it fun. Engage your family and friends. They might
even choose to make the same resolution, and you can work together
and support each other.
~ If you "fall off the wagon," forgive yourself
and start over. Ingrained behavior patterns don't always loosen
up that easily, and it may take a few tries. If you're really
committed to making this change, don't give up. Go back to square
one as many times as you need to until it "sticks."
And it will.
~ Allow a reasonable time to achieve your goals. Be patient
and persistent. We live in a time of the "quick fix,"
and we forget that things don't always happen overnight.
Remember, the word "resolution" comes from "resolve"
-- "firmness of purpose or intent, determination" (Random House Webster's College Dictionary).
When you make your list of New Year's resolutions, give it thought.
Make your commitment. And then follow through. Let the first
resolution on your list be that this year, you'll really do it.
Friend or Foe
It happens time and time again. I run into a neighbor on the
elevator. They ask me how I am. I say, "Busy" and perhaps
roll my eyes a bit or sigh. They respond, "Good!" and
I respond in turn with a quizzical look. To me, "busy"
usually means "too busy" and having to come down with
a cold before I'll give myself a break and get some rest, while
for my neighbors it seems to mean "getting a lot of business
and making a lot of money" or simply "not bored."
They say you teach what you need to learn, and right now,
I'm faced with the challenge of finding some balance in my schedule
and my life. Boredom has never been my problem, but I have yet
to resolve how to accomplish all I want without periodically
running myself into the ground. I can see how the stress of overscheduling
is taking its toll on me, and I want to put a stop to it before
the consequences become more serious than a bad cold. But how
can I do that without sacrificing activities that are meaningful
to me or those that support me financially?
I can read such books as "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"
and the myriad of books on simplifying life and come up with
a few ideas:
~ Get in touch with your true values. Make sure they're yours
and not anyone else's. Our society puts a high price on success,
but you need to define what that means to you, rather than your
parents, your spouse or anyone else.
~ Based on your values, prioritize. Make sure to give weight
to the things that are important for your mental, emotional,
physical and spiritual health, and not just to your obligations.
You need to keep up with your responsibilities, but not at your
~ Eliminate. If you can't do all you want without stressing
yourself or getting sick, do some cutting. This is the hard part
for me. There's a lot I want to accomplish and many people I
want to spend time with. But something has to give, and there
are things I need to let go. If I don't, I may still get it all
done, but find myself angry or overwhelmed, feeling tired or
not having time for myself. And if I'm not enjoying it, what's
~ Schedule work time and personal time and keep them separate.
As a self-employed person, I found myself inundated with personal
and professional responsibilities that were always on my mind.
My coach suggested designating "work days" and "personal
days." Now, I have separate "to-do" lists for
each and only think about each list on its designated day. As
a result, I find myself less stressed trying to hold it all together
all the time.
~ Get help. Delegate tasks wherever possible or hire help.
This may be as simple as sending the laundry out instead of doing
it yourself, or buying prepared meals instead of cooking. Hire
someone to run errands or grocery shop for you. Even if you *can*
do it yourself, look at what is the most "cost-effective"
use of your time and money.
~ Eliminate unnecessary clutter. Let magazine subscriptions
run out. Stop watching TV programs that are just time fillers
and don't give you any real enjoyment. Un-join some clubs and
organizations or participate less frequently. Delete junk e-mail
without reading it (this goes for junk snail mail as well).
~ This is a hard one: Let go of friendships that are no longer
serving you, or reduce the time you give to them. This may sound
harsh or cruel, but time is precious and you need to actively
choose how you want to spend it and with whom. In many cases,
such friendships will drift on their own if you withdraw your
attention. If not, you can move away in a kind, yet firm way.
~ This may sound paradoxical, but make sure you have some
time where you don't have to do anything. Schedule this time
if necessary. Include time for self-care, exercise, spiritual
pursuits, leisure, time with friends, a walk in the park, reading,
thinking -- things that you love to do and nurture you that don't
produce income. When your mind, body and spirit are cared for
and refreshed, you'll be more productive during your work time.
Looking at this list, I see that it's not just knowing what
to do, but doing it. Taking action. Perhaps it boils down to
commitment and discipline. To do what I know needs to be done.
The scary part is that if I do this, my life will change, and
change is uncomfortable. But if I look at the consequences of
not changing, I find myself more willing to face up to the hard
choices and make them. So my resolution for 1999 is to eliminate
some of the overwhelming busy-ness in my life and find a new
balance. I'm going to start with what I know and need to act
on. If you have any other suggestions, I'd sure love to hear
Be willing to live in the open question. Sometimes asking
(and contemplating) the question is more powerful than having
"Determine what specific goal you want to achieve. Then
dedicate yourself to its attainment with unswerving singleness
of purpose, the trenchant zeal of a crusader."
~ Paul J. Meyer
"How you spend your time is more important than how you
spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected, but time is
~ David B. Norris
(click on the book graphic to see a
description at Amazon.com)
"The Art of the Fresh
Start: How to Make and Keep Your New Year's Resolutions for a
Lifetime" ... Glenna Salsbury
"First Things First Every
Day: Because Where You're Headed Is More Important Than How Fast
You're Going" ... Stephen R. Covey
"Beating Burnout: Balanced
Living for Busy People" ... Frank B. Minirth et al
"How to Organize Your
Work and Your Life: Proven Time Management Techniques for Business,
Professional, and Other Busy People" ... Robert Moskowitz
"Time Management for
Busy People" . . . Roberta Roesch
"The 10 Natural Laws
of Successful Time and Life Management: Proven Strategies for
Increased Productivity and Inner Peace" ... Hyrum W. Smith
© 1998 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.
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