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Issue 10

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In this issue ~~

* New Year's Resolutions

* Busy-ness: Friend or Foe

* Creative Tip

* Wise Words

* Bookshelf

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New Year's Resolutions

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 at all?

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 each change.

~ 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.

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Busy-ness: 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 expense.

~ 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 the point?

~ 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 them.

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Creative Tip

Be willing to live in the open question. Sometimes asking (and contemplating) the question is more powerful than having the answer.

 

Wise Words

"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 gone forever."

~ David B. Norris

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Bookshelf

(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

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© 1998 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.

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