Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Improve your Focus

Focus is what you put your time and energy into. We all focus on various elements throughout the day, weeks and year. These elements are our work, our household, our relationships. By being aware of our goals, desires and  commitments we can be more able to utilize our focusing ability. Focus requires accountability to ourselves or others. Sometimes it takes pure determination. One needs to be conscious of one's actions to be successfully focused. Here are three aspects of focus we may need to understand.

Health and Focus

It is important to consider our physical and mental health. When we are tired, sick depressed or exhausted, all our efforts towards focusing will be hindered. It is really important to improve our physical and mental state of health to increase our focusing ability.Good nutrition and exercise are key elements to successful and productive focusing efforts.

The Connection between Energy level and Focus Productivity

When are you most able to focus? Get to know your energy levels throughout the day.We can improve our productivity by utilizing our most energetic times on the most complex projects we want to complete. We can do routine and less complicated tasks during our low energy times. 

Get to know the Enemies of your Focus

What are your distraction? Electronic distractors such as computer games such as solitaire, excessive internet browsing, Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader may swallow your day away. Lengthy phone calls, texting and an overloaded email box may also take up lots of your valuable focus time. Non-electronic distractors such as magazines, good books, long lunch or coffee breaks, or excessive amounts of any task such as cleaning, talking, or eating may also take up our best focusing time.  Be aware and start to work on reducing your distractions. You will then have more time to focus on what you really want to do. The distractors are forms of procrastination or avoidance. You might want to consider working with a productivity or life coach to help you move forward in the new year.  

We can improve our focus levels by working on these three elements.Real focus is a conscious commitment to ourselves.Now is a good time to review your areas of focus and work towards a productive 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Look at What is Working in Your Life

When we are in the midst of change, we often think of the future as being the only place we want to be. Try instead to look at the simple things that are working in your life right now. There are almost certainly things that are going well and making your life comfortable and enjoyable. Sometime we have to dig a bit but it is worth taking a look.

Here are some elements we might want to think about:

  • The current season
  • The daily weather
  • A good book to read
  • Water that comes from a faucet
  • A good friend to call
  • A hot meal
  • Lights that turn on at a flip of a switch
  • A place to sleep
  • A toothbrush to clean your teeth
  • The sounds of early morning birds in your neighborhood
  • A pair of comfy socks
  • A piece of paper to write on
  • A computer that allows you to visit the world from your desk

What might you want to add to this list? Think about what makes your daily life enjoyable and comfortable.  By paying attention to what is working in our life, we are more likely to adopt a positive attitude towards our future.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Practice Year-end Productivity

Get a jump on 2012. Follow these December productivity techniques to wrap up the business year and be ready to roll in 2012. Most of these tasks will individually take less than twenty minutes. So invest the time and get set up to be a more productive you in 2012.

  • Clear out your desk drawer
  • Wipe down your bookshelves in the office
  • Purge any unneeded reference material, seminar binders.
  • Update your credentials to reflect the year
  • Update your contact management system with new contact information or changed addresses
  • Clear unused files and folders off your computer desktop 

Looking for more tips? Check out the free monthly tips on my website.

This is Transition Your Life's 150th post. I started this blog in August of 2007 with the goal to write about transition and change. I also started a second blog in 2009 - Terry's Thinking which is designed for coaches, professional organizers and consultants.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prepare some new ideas!

Creativity is not always at hand when we need it most. This is especially true when we are cooking up a transition in our lives. Sometimes we need to try to be extra creative, so we can get some new ideas that set us on our way.

The secret to being creative is trying to simply "be". Being isn't easy. It takes time. This time includes practice, persistence and above all, patience.

Here are six "be" concepts which can be done or not done. These ideas are in no particular order.

  1. Be still
  2. Be moving around
  3. Be aware of your senses
  4. Be willing to temporarily close out some of our senses
  5. Be in a different environment
  6. Be in our normal environment by just hanging in there with a different frame of mind

Let's think of creativity as a salad for those in the Northern hemisphere, and a soup, for those in the Southern hemisphere. It takes a few good ingredients to make a soup or salad special. Try a mixture of the ideas from numbers 1 - 6.

Let me know if you cook up any new ideas. You will be well on your way to preparing something good before long.

This is a best of post from 2009. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is something we can practice all year-long. You can be grateful for people, places and things.

People Gratitude

Gratitude can be given to those who we work with, live with, play with or chance encounter. Gratitude does not have to  cost a thing. But it can be also given in the form of a note, email or token gift. I am grateful for my family, friends, clients  and colleagues. I am also grateful for the friendly staff at my local supermarket who brighten my day.

Places or Event Gratitude

If you have ever experienced joy in a specific location or at an event, you can be grateful just in the experience. Sometimes there are people to thank, other times it is just the connection of circumstances that can make you grateful for experiencing the moment. I am grateful for starry clear nights, my home, and recent family trip to Wyoming and the impromptu tailgate we had at a windy intersection.

Things or Object Gratitude

Some people make a list of the top  objects or things that make them happy. For me it is my comfortable chair, my atomic clock, my latest fiction book I am reading in the evening.

Take some time to think about who, what and where you are grateful. It is a great exercise to work on this time of the year.

Modified from Terry's Thinking Blog December 2010.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ask Good Questions

Do you ask questions? The questions we need or want to ask are often the ones that help us find the answers.

Questions work best if they are relatively short and direct. Complex questions can get us bogged down in terms of perspective and framework as well as intention. Extremely complex questions can also confuse the person who is suppose to be answering them.  A complex question may not get answered because the "answerer" may loose his or her sense of place. 

Gary Lockwood, a business coach said "a significant reason to ask good questions is to help the person you are asking. Asking well-crafted, intelligent questions causes people to think profoundly. When someone thinks more deeply than before, new ideas, new answers and new possibilities emerge".

Everyone asks questions throughout their day and life. They can be internal questions or external ones. Take for example the internal question Shall I work on this task or another? This small question will drive our actions. By making sure your internal questions are positive, you can have more impetus to move forward. A negative internal question creates a bad starting attitude and may delay your progress. Shall I work on this mind numbing task or quit for the day? Work to compose your internal questions to get the best results.
External questions such as Do you (my boss) want me to work on this assignment now?, can be altered by inflection of the voice or a significant pause. Do you want me to work on this assignment NOW? can be taken as a passive aggressive statement. So be mindful of how you present your questions as much as choosing what to ask.  

When you ask questions is also an important factor. A question answered by a tired individual or someone who wants to leave the room is likely not to be as good as from someone who is refreshed and energized. Make your questions count, choose to ask them in the best possible time. When the timing is bad try to communicate at a later time. Delayed questions may still be answered, and in fact getting better results. 

Spend some time over the next few weeks observing how you ask questions. Review if your questions are getting answered. See if your questions get thoughtful answer. If your answers are not clear start working on your questioning skills. 

Working on our questions is a lifelong journey. In the words of Francis Bacon - "Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much". Improve your questioning skills and improve your life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Learn from Autumn Leaves

A new neighbor of mine, recently stated to a fellow neighbor who was raking leaves. If only we had a penny for every leaf. I had never heard that particular expression before. It certainly makes for a good laugh. Something we all need when we are faced with a leaf strewn driveway and yard full of leaves. 

Fall brings us leaves to rake and splendid color. Fall is a time of thanks, reflection and review. As the leaves change and the days get shorter we seem to have more time to review our lives and take stock for planning our future. Unless of course, we are tired from raking leaves.

Here is a poem that speaks to the nature of leaves. 

Fall, leaves, fall;

by Emily Jane Brontë (1818 - 1848)

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;

Lengthen night and shorten day;

Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.

I shall smile when wreaths of snow

Blossom where the rose should grow;

I shall sing when night's decay

Ushers in a drearier day.

Top photo by Joe. Bottom illustration by Kacei. Modified from 2007 posting.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Change Your Attitude

Change and transition's are generally difficult. If you have been involuntarily made to change, a change of attitude may make a big difference.

Three ways to change or transition your attitude:
  1. Try looking at things with a perspective outside of yourself.
  2. Visualize a good outcome and rethink strategically how to get to that place.
  3. Be grateful you have to experience this discomfort and appreciate the insightful lesson's you will learn.
Growth comes from change. Start with changing your attitude. You will enjoy the journey much more.

Read about other concepts of change

Monday, October 31, 2011

Change Your Shoulds and Coulds

Are you failing to listen to the should and the could's in your life? By transforming our shoulds into "do's" and "will"s we may accomplish many things.  However, sometimes our should and coulds are things we might want to avoid doing entirely.

1. Take a look at your shoulds and coulds.

Spend some time over the next few days listening to your inner talk and your external communications. Take note of the number of times you express or think the word "Should" or "Could". If you have a high frequency of shoulds or coulds, (Perhaps 5+ a day) you may want to spend some "thinking, development and planning" time around them.

2. Delve into the shoulds and coulds.

After you have listened to yourself over the last few days, you may find some frequent shoulds and coulds. Take time to jot them down in sentence form.

I should get more sleep at night
I wish I could keep my desk clear
We could buy a new car

3. Analyze your should and could's for future work and change.

Let's say you want to get more sleep. How can you go about making it come to fruition? By brainstorming you may come to some possilble solutions.

For example:  

I should get more sleep -  To get more sleep, go to bed earlier or stay in bed longer. The should becomes a will when you decide to go to sleep earlier or set your alarm for a later morning wake up.

We could buy a new car - Deciding to buy a new or different car, is a process and project. You may choose to get a new car when your current car reaches a certain mileage, or if maintenance fees exceed the cost of a monthly payment. Your new car might be more advantageous when you have to start driving to your new company's office (which is further away) to keep fuel costs down. A new car might make more sense after you have paid off other debts or saved a certain dollar amount. The could becomes more of a strategy and plan development when you look at the when and why components.

4. Transform your should and could's to wills, when's, why's or later decisions. If you formalize and bring these shoulds and coulds  to the next phase you will allow more space for things to happen.

5. Erase your negative should and could's from your mental and verbal vocabulary.  Sometimes we have stuck should and could's which can not be easily transformed into action or do not warrant further thought about.

For Example:

I should have said  ..... instead of ......
I could have read the directions three times and caught my mistake (after improperly assembling a complex piece of furniture)

Spend some time working on your should and could's and you will likely transform your life.

This is a best of post from 2009

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What Can You Change?

Let's think about change. What can you change? Here is an A - Z  list. Some of these I'll explore in subsequent posts.

Change your Attitude
Change your Behavior
Change your Communication Style
Change your Delegation Techniques
Change your Environment
Change your Finances
Change your Focus
Change your Goals
Change your Habits
Change your I's into We's
Change your Judgments
Change your Karma
Change your Listening Patterns
Change your Mission
Change your Mindset
Change your Messages
Change your No's intoYes's
Change your Outlook
Change your Patterns
Change your Perspective
Change your Position
Change your Productivity
Change your Questions
Change your Relationships
Change your Routines
Change your Should and Coulds
Change your State of Mind
Change your Strengths
Change your Thinking
Change your Time Management Practices
Change your Understanding
Change your Viewpoint
Change your Walls into Windows
Change your eXcitement Level
Change your Zen

You might also enjoy reading these past posts on change.

Listen to Grow
Winds of Change
Time to Prune
Making Headway Towards Where We Want To Go

Monday, September 12, 2011

Going Forward

Researching and learning new things takes time. Often it is two steps forward and one step back. We learn in little bits and pieces.

Being willing to learn is the first step. Being willing to fail is also an important piece of learning new things.

Remember a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step.

This is a best of post from 2009

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sunshine Ahead

Summer is here. The sun is shining and everything is growing. Do you look at your life in terms of seasons or weather?

Sometimes we are growing and other times resting. Hotter weather might bring out your desires to relax, where as cold may make you want to busy about getting stuff done. The same concept can be applied to summer and winter. Are you a summer "rester" or summer "doer"?

Winds of Change

Does the upcoming change of season get you excited or anxious? Seasonal change can be viewed as a happy event or one of dread. Seasonal change means preparation for new weather, events and activities. For me Autumn is my time of learning and creativity. Summer to me is my time of rest and rejuvenation.  Winter is my celebration and reflection time. Spring brings me energy and excitement. 

How do you view the seasonal changes? 

Monday, August 8, 2011

What's your Transition Theme Song

The blog Small Notebook recently had an interesting post about needing a new theme song to get out of a slump. The readers of the post left many comments with their favorites. Here is a compilation.

Firework  sung by  Katy Perry's

Ain't No Mountain High Enough,  sung by Marvin Gaye & Tammi
Jump by Van Halen

Eye of the Tiger by Survivor  - Theme - song for Rocky

Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles

New Shoes by Paolo Nutini

Shine by Rosi Golan

Beautiful Day by U2

Don't Stop Believing by Journey

I can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash

Brand New Day by Joshua Radin

And The Birds Sing by Tyrone Wells

Why Worry by Dire Straits

What are some of your favorites?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Change sometimes Crashes In

It has been very hectic here, hence the lack of postings. In the last few weeks, we have moved from the flatlands to the foothills, experienced the loss of two relatives and a very close family friend, had another relative experience a life threatening illness and hospitalization, assisted our son with his dental dilemmas, and had a car repair and a computer crash. There may be more, but I think this 4 week period will remain a blur of change in our lives for a long time.  

I certainly believe that Murphy's Law is true.  Anything that can go wrong will. On the bright side things seem to be getting better. Attitude is everything.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Beyond the Goal

What happens when you reach your goal? While many Transition Your Life readers may not see the end or their destination at hand, I think discussing how one faces or handles this is of some importance.

When you reach your goal,  this is definitely when we need to first celebrate and savor in the moment of glory. This is something we should not miss.

Secondly, we need to appreciate what we or others did to help make the goal achievable. Very few journeys are journeys of one.  Sometimes upon reflection we realize others helped shape us and made contributions in ways we could not imagine. This might be the high school teacher, the motivational speaker, the neighbor down the road who always gave you a smile.

Thirdly , once the momentum of arrival and completion has slowed, I believe we need to ask ourselves some questions relating to the accomplishment of the goal. Making an immediate evaluation of what we have done has some value, but when the goal or achievement is monumental, I think taking a few weeks to ponder this might be the best choice.

Reaching your goal is a achievement which takes lots of effort and stamina. Give yourself some congratulations and savor your success.

This is a slightly revised best of post from 2010.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Being Your Own Best Friend

This is a post repeated from last September 27, 2007 - but is well worth rereading any time your life gets hectic.

You can be your own best friend by:

Taking care of your mental, emotional and basic physical needs

Taking time out for yourself when you need it

Removing and extracting yourself from stress and overload

Being able to say no when you have had enough

Treating yourself as well as you treat others

Work on improving who you are on a daily basis

Asking for help and support from other friends when you need it

Being patient with yourself

Monday, March 14, 2011

When Life Gets Hectic

There are certain times when life get hectic. This can be at the start of a change in your life, such as the birth of a new baby, during the course of planning or hosting a big family or work event (wedding, reunion), the moving of your household or office, serious illness of a loved one,change of a job or new employment, an intentional or unintentional remodel of your home, shopping for a big ticket item such as a car, a school or college.

1. Cut out the Extra.
During these specific "hectic" times it helps to work on reducing existing commitments, cutting back on stressful activities and saying no to new options that don't fit in. You can help reduce your stress by being observant and selective in your activities and events.

2. Enlist Help
Don't go it alone if you don't have too. Look for help in a variety of areas. This can be from friends, family members or specific "field" professionals.

3. Make sure You have Some Fun.
One important item, often overlooked, is to add in some fun or pleasurable items daily to help reduce the added tension.

4. Take Care of You 
Getting enough sleep and eating healthy is also a big  must. Exercise is also important, especially if your hectic occasion changes your routine.

By being aware of these four items you can help reduce your stress and make this period of your life easier.

Do you have any other ideas?

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Two Sides of Tears - Loss and Achievement

Have you ever stopped to wonder about tears? We can have tears of sorrow and tears of joy. When you experience someone’s tears did you ever stop to think you could be the cause of them in a positive or negative sense?

This quote by Suresh Advaithas expresses it very well.

The biggest loss in life  -  Tears in someone’s eyes because of you.
Biggest achievement in life  - Tears in someone’s eyes for you.

May you bring happy tears to those you know.

This is a best of post from Terry's Thinking, Terry Prince's other blog.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Are You a Short-Timer?

Are you suffering from Short-Timer's Syndrome? This often happens when we are close to reaching our goal.

Originally, the term Short-Timers was applied to a syndrome observed in military soldiers who were about two to three months out from their rotation or returning home. I believe short-timer syndrome can apply to civilian and military life.

Senior Slump or Lame Duck is another way of terming this specialized short term but difficult condition. This syndrome is seen and observed in work, education or at the end of an association or officer leadership position.

Since we are almost three months from May and June, the common months of graduation and association term ends, it is a good time to take a deeper look at it. Short-timers often get burned out and are frazzled. This is because they have so much to do or accomplish in their limited time. However, short-timers  need to think about their future as much as they need to enjoy the present. This is a true time of transition and transitions are never easy. Being a short-timer is hard.

Review the following and see how you approach the end of a work project, educational assignment or association position.

At Work: 

When the contract or project is almost at the end 

a) I get focused and so preoccupied with the future, I don't focus well on today's project with full intent. 

b) I try to be all things to all people, so I can leave a lasting "legacy". I avoid thinking about the "day after" I finish. I will think about that later.

In an Association:

When my term is almost over - 

a) I begin to get the attitude of "I'll let the next person deal with it".

b) I work overly hard and start burning the candle at both ends. So much to do, so little time. I don't think about the future.

At the End of an Education Program:

When I am nearing the completion of my degree or educational program -

a) I find myself worrying about the future and I am not concentrating enough on the assignments and work I have left to do.

b) I start focusing too much on the now, and avoid thinking or doing anything in planning for my upcoming future.

What Can You Do if You Are a Short-Timer?

1) First determine what kind of short-timer you are?

2) Take a moment and view your end by the other perspective.

3) Consider hiring a transition or life coach to help you avoid burning the candle at both ends. The coach can provide some light and clarity to help you see clearer beyond the current assignment, and help you make a bright future, while still helping you focus on the now.

For Short-Timer's
Want to stay in the present? Consider hiring a transition or life coach to help guide you through these times.

For Family, Friends or Colleagues of Short-Timers

Consider giving your "short-timer" the early gift of a transition or life coaching package. This will help your short-timer shine through the end of their work and help them plan for their future.

You might also enjoy these posts - Eking It Out in The End 
Senior Year and Change.

This is a best of post of 2010.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stuck and Stagnant

Life sometimes pulls us into the dismal pond of stagnation.

Stagnation is painful, messy and like quicksand can suck us down into the depths of despair. Stagnation happens to everyone at some point or another. The pond is usually stinky and the time spent in it is not pleasant. Remember it won't be forever, although, it may seem like it at the time.

How can we get out of the pond of stagnation?

1. First, realize we are in the pond!

2. Take stock of the good things going on, despite the mess we are in.

3. Take the focus off ourselves and pay attention to the world for a while. We can do this by reading a book, researching something new, by walking and taking in the scenery.

4. Smile even though we may not want to. Our smiling disposition will likely bring more positive attention to us rather than the continuity in our negative state.

5. Seek out and utilize a variety of help and guidance. This may include reconnecting to our faith, trusted friends and even seeking out the help of professionals.

How have you handled stagnation?

This is a best of post from 2009

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Put Your Heart in It

My friend Marilyn, once told me "It's when you have your whole heart in it - that's the key to success"!

February, is a great time to ask yourself how you can you put your "whole heart" into what you do.

Being present is one thing. That means really being where you are.

Next are the "More's":
  • smile more
  • give more
  • play more
  • work more 
  • learn more
If you are not where your heart needs to be, then it is likely a good time evaluate "where and what" you want. This can start by trying new things or working with a life coach.

Terry now provides life coaching services.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Start The Loving Attitude

February is the month for love. Here is a simple idea to transition your life and relationships. 

Start to give your family the gift of your "self" this month. Smile daily, give good morning and good night hugs. Look directly into family members' eyes when you are communicating with them in person. Listen to each family member with a loving heart. Stop the mental rush in your head as well as the physical rush in your heart. This gift starts with your attitude. Practice giving the gift of your "self" this month then give this gift regularly for a lifetime.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Getting Motivated when You Aren't

There are times when we are not motivated. So how does one reach into one's self and get motivated?

Decide whether it is a "must" do or "maybe I should" do.

Strong "musts" are usually easier, although the "shoulds" are usually minor tasks that weigh us down. Shoulds are sometimes precursors of "musts". In January, you may have a thought, Maybe I should start working on my taxes now. In a few months time, such as on March 31 (your accountants deadline) or on April 14, you will be saying I must work on my taxes, now!  

Start working on part of "a must" at the beginning of your day.  By fixing a time to start and getting on to doing it, the job then becomes doable.  We can often put off doing something if we don't plan for it. By setting a plan, we can then begin to get it done.

"Maybe I Should" items are often  guilt ridden or involve lots of smaller parts. If you can break down a should into it's parts, you may find it starts to seem easier.  Using the tax example, it might be "collect up all my receipts", "add up my total 1099 income", "locate the tax package from the accountant", "find the mortgage interest statement", "add up my business mileage".  With some small wins on a should, it often becomes an item on your to do list that eventually gets done.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Time to Prune

When we need to make room for something new, pruning out the unnecessary or expired is an important task. 

Having an annual pruning of your workspace is helpful to free up room, clear out the dust and recover empty space. The same applies for our house and living spaces.

What is no longer serving you? What can you prune out of your life to make room for something in the future?

You might search for dust. Dusty things have not been used in a while. You could also look for torn, worn, too small, to big or frayed. If the things in your environment are not in good shape, maybe they need to go.

Pruning allows new growth to begin. So start pruning and get ready for new beginnings and growth.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's it all about?

If you are a new viewer here at Transition Your Life, you may be wondering what this blog is all about.

This blog is about change and making transition. It is here to serve as a mental prompt or idea generator for you, when you are experiencing a life transition.  This means you could also be starting on a change, in the middle of a change,  or even just pondering change. 

Change is what we all do. The only thing constant is change. Change is seldom easy.

When I started my blog in August of 2007, I wrote:

This Site is for testing ideas and thoughts before setting out on your next journey, whether it be a career change, new family, or even post retirement.

The goal of my site is to keep it simple, keep it short -- occasional postings under 300 words. 

So I think I have been keeping up with the concept. Keep reading.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Small Steps to Getting Things Done

Getting started is often the hardest part of any task. Think about some "small steps" you can do to get part of the process or project done.

One of the ways to view the task in today's modern world is to decide if your task involves Electronic Communication Activities or Non-Electronic Communications Activities.  By determining this you can set the stage to begin your task. You can also steer yourself away from the electronic distractions which are more of a tendency to increase procrastination. 

Electronic Communication Activities 
  • Turn on the computer or phone
  • Mentally draft an outline of the conversation or email/test before you actually begin
  • Look up a phone number or email in your files
  • Get into a blank document  (if you have to draft a letter) or set up an email or text
  • Start typing or speaking

Conversly if you don't have a "screen" or electronic task at hand, you can consider using this list of steps:

Non-Electronic Communications Activities
  • Turn off the computer
  • Turn off the cell or mobile phone
  • Visualize or decide what needs to be done first
  • Get out the tools you need to do the job
  • Go to the needed location 
  • Begin your process