Push Yourself in 2012

December 30, 2011 by  
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As we come upon the end of another year, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve done this past year and what I want to do this next year. And in the process my thoughts turn to what I’m going to be writing to you all. And I find myself hoping that many, if not most of you will go out in 2012 and take big risks, chase your dreams, and really put your all into getting what you want out of life.

You are probably many times more capable, talented, and resourceful than you give yourself credit for. These last few years have been hard with the economy repressed as it is and we’ve seen so many people– friends, family … even ourselves—feeling it in our businesses, the loss of jobs, the difficulty in finding work. But you know, you can make the present and your future what you want it to be regardless of all that. The route to your goals may not always be so fast and direct, but there is always a way.

This year, promise yourself you will take chances, push yourself, and find a way to make significant progress towards, if not attain, the goals you have. You’ll be amazed by what you can do and will feel energized and more alive just for making that great effort and even more so when you see what you can accomplish!

I hope you and yours have the most wonderful and bright New Year.

Family is Where the Heart Lies

December 23, 2011 by  
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On the eve of our Christmas weekend, I have to say my thoughts are very much with my family. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful, supportive, fun, and loving family. I know many of you feel the same way. But on the other hand, I have known too many people that don’t have strong bonds with their relatives. The reasons for this are all over the map but in the end, these reasons aren’t as relevant as realizing what family really means and being with your true family on the holidays.

The phrase “Home is where the heart is” can be easily transformed into “Family is where the heart is”. It’s the same thing. I saw a news segment this week about a gentleman who won the lottery but without even a bit of hesitation has already determined he will not be leaving his job. Why? Because, he says, his work crew is his family. That is where he feels he belongs and no amount of money is going to buy him that feeling anywhere else. I thought that was great.

I hope you all are able to be at the place where your heart lies this weekend, where the people who make you feel loved and that you belong among them are gathered around you. If it’s not actually your relatives, then hopefully you are surrounding yourself with those friends who know you well, the people you laugh with and the people who are there for you 24/7. This weekend, I hope you are exactly where you want to be and make sure all those around you know how much they are loved and appreciated.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.

My Three Minute Friend

December 16, 2011 by  
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Last week I was at Wal-Mart and a single mom in line just in front of me was holding a few extra items as the clerk added up the bill. She kept asking what the total was as she anxiously clutched the extra possible purchases. When the total got to 40 dollars she told the clerk that would be all and she laid the other items aside saying she only had 40 dollars.

As she paid for her purchases, I reached over and pushed the items she was leaving behind over to my pile. “I want to buy those items for my new friend,” I told the clerk. I bought them and handed them to her and, wow … she thanked me over and over again. And so did the clerk!

I walked out of the store feeling on top of the world. You’d think I had given her 1000 dollars although it was in reality only a $7.49 gift. On the other hand, it felt like a million dollars in satisfaction and warm feelings for me.

Even though I have done this type of thing many times before and for a lot more money, it never fails to feel like a unique and special experience. This last experience felt especially wonderful. Maybe it was that look in her eye that let me know this truly made a difference for her this holiday season–not just because of the few dollars I spent but because a complete stranger cared enough to help. She said Merry Christmas to me several times as she took her 7 year old daughter by the hand (who, of course, had a new 2 dollar bill that I had given her for “good Luck” like I so often do.)

I know a whole lot of people who do this same thing–there was a report on the news recently about a rash of anonymous people going into Wal-Marts and paying off layaways for complete strangers, some spending thousands of dollars so they could help multiple families! What I did was not unique but it might be for some of my readers. So I thought I ought to remind you all, once again, that if you have never done this type of thing to go out and give it a try. You will be so surprised at the great feeling that it gives you and the stranger that receives your gift. Try it at least once. I promise you’ll love it.

The Joy of Giving … to Strangers

December 9, 2011 by  
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I have a colleague whose family has done something rather remarkable to help get them out of that crazy holiday shopping rush and help others while they are at it. She has a big family so she had to shop for 21 immediate family members as well as her own children, husband, friends and co-workers. It was a huge chore for the whole family and eventually deteriorated into an exchange of impersonal gift cards. But one year they decided it had to change. The whole spirit of the holidays felt lost to them.

First thing they did was change it so each person only bought for one other person in the family. That way what was bought could be more unique and special. But the really cool thing was they reduced their spending on each other to a fraction of what it had been and took the rest of their budget and spent it on complete strangers. They have charities in most cities that arrange things so you can buy for an entire family who is too impoverished to afford a real holiday. So now my colleague’s family goes shopping for others, buying clothes, toys, and a grocery gift card so their ‘adopted’ family can have something to open Christmas day and enjoy a special holiday meal. It gives them all such a great feeling to be giving to those who could use the gifts so much more than them and the young people in the family get to really experience the giving nature of the season and have come to love it. I thought that was just super.

For those of us fortunate enough, the gifts we get this season will often be expected–obligatory, picked from a provided list, or bought with a random guess. And that’s because when we have so much to do and so many people on our gift lists we just don’t have the time to make it special for each and every person. It’s still the thought that counts but what if you could make a few of the gifts be so special that they will be remembered for years? What if we all took a little of our gift budget and gave it to people that don’t expect anything of us? It doesn’t have to be a whole family; it could just be one person. That widow that lives down the street, the new employee at work that hasn’t really gotten to know anyone yet, a lonely soul at a nursing home, children at an orphanage, or an old friend you haven’t contacted in years. Wouldn’t that be something?

Positivity Outlooks Take Practice

December 2, 2011 by  
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One last note on this positive/negative inner chatter issue–well, maybe not my last note ever but at least for a while. As I’ve said before knowing something is not useful until you actually do something with the knowledge. We’ve talked quite a bit about this subject here and there the last few months, but have you done anything to actually improve your inner voice’s attitude?
Years ago I really got into programming my brain with lots of positive thoughts and positive affirmations but I’ve been slipping on that the last 10 or maybe even 20 years because I thought that I was beyond that kind of stuff.  The thing is, I didn’t lose the knowledge but I did fall out of practice with it, and that was key. You can’t say you’re a great tennis player no matter how well you know the sport, unless you’re actually out there practicing and playing! With my loss in the final round of the Huntsman World Senior Games tennis match in which I had sabotaged myself with all my negative self-talk,  I really started to think seriously about how much I let my thoughts turn pessimistic with worry and self-induced stress. I knew it was not helpful. I even knew how to combat it. I had just stopped putting this knowledge into practice.
The great thing about this is that once you get the hang of it and practice enough you can use this positive reinforcement to change and improve just about any part of your life. From losing weight to overcoming addictions to making more money, you can stop worrying about so many things that add unnecessary stress to your life and actually live!  Try it and I promise you that it works, especially if you keep practicing. So here’s what you and I must do … No. 1– start observing what that inner chatter is saying and, No. 2–feed yourself positive thoughts and affirmations, every single time you observe the self-talk going the wrong way. It’s not hard, it just takes practice!