Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hour 4: What do you want? Look at your goals.

This great little book states that in order to attain our goals, a number of targets can increase our chance for success.

Target one: My goal is specific.

This seems pretty simple, but it's worth a brief explanation. One might state a goal as "I want to be a writer" is not very specific. A writer of what? A writer in what industry? What role? What pay? What kind of work day? A writer writing the daily specials on the IHop chalkboard? Or a contract writer for a law firm? Ok then... A writer who writes books. Non-fiction? Fiction? Pamphlets? I can go on and on, and I could get pretty obnoxious. I will let your own brain hound you on those questions. The point here is to say "What do I really want?" The answer for this hypothetical person MIGHT be: "I want to be a columnist at the top newspaper in one of the 5 largest cities in the states, writing about politics."

(Politics... Blech.)

The above goal is clearly defined and specific. Good. What's next?

Target two: My goal is measurable.

If a person wants to accomplish a task, and it is specific, it should also be quantifiable. (Did I say should?) If a person says "I want a job making a lot of money," how much is a lot? I say a lot is $50,000. That's nothing to some people I know quite well. A job making $50,000, to them, would be a tragedy. But there are other ways to quantify.

Say the person's goal is not only to make that amount of money, but to find a new job making that amount. The "finding the job" part should be quantified, too. In time. Number of days, weeks, etc. This part is SO important... many goals are not money-based. Time can often be the only way to quantify your goal. "I want a romantic relationship, with a man who is single, a man I am attracted to on the levels which matter to me, and with a man who has the emotional capability to be in an emotionally-intimate relationship." Now, how can a person measure that? With time. "...and I want to reach my goal before Thanksgiving."

Good goal. (You know, for someone who might have a goal like that.)

Target three: My goal is challenging, yet achievable

This is a fine line. At which point do we say that a goal is achievable? And if it is achievable, is it at all challenging? This one is tricky, but in an effort to steer clear of over-complicating it, I might instead simply say...

A goal which is one that seems out of reach, yet is imaginable and

not logistically impossible, is a good goal to have.

(Yeah, that sounds good.)

Ok... Specific. Measurable...

"I am going to quit my job. Today." Whoaaa!!!!!!!

Target three takes us to "I am going to quit my job after I have determined how I can support myself without this job." Notice I didn't say get another job... Because after all, there is more than one way to skin a cat. When we think of goals, it's important to consider not only what we want, but what do we REALLY want. Do I really want another job? or do I want to support myself? The solution might be another job, but the goal is to support myself.

Target four: It is my goal, not someone else's.

Let me tell you a story. It's about a boy who... Liked mowing the grass.

This boy, let's call him Sam, liked mowing the grass. He did it from time to time, his parents had a house, and he took pleasure in mowing the grass in the early hours. It was never a chore, but something he enjoyed. As he grew, the time came for Sam to decide what he was going to do with his life. He thought about a few things... He really liked woodworking and had made some beautiful furniture. One was a beautiful chair that he hand-upholstered and ended up in a fine home. As much as he enjoyed mowing the grass, he took great pride in building furniture. But he had been mowing the grass for so long that he wasn't really confident about anything else, even woodworking, so it seemed logical that he started mowing lawns for a living.

One thing lead to another, and Sam woke up one day as the owner of a lawn company. He did ok, had some business, and had built a pretty loyal client list. But mowing had become a chore. The things he liked about mowing, the solitude of a Sunday morning, the quiet of 6:am... All of those things went away when he transitioned from doing it for fun into doing it for work. He found himself thinking about woodworking a lot. Remembered that chair he built. At one point he wondered if he should scrap his mowing company.

He wasn't too sure of himself... Like I said, this was a guy who was lacking confidence, just a little. He was really great at what he did, but he still remembered all the times when he first started his work doing lawn work. There were times when he didn't edge the lawn properly or accidentally burned a customer's lawn with fertilizer... He let his past "failures" haunt him, and they closed his sight. He couldn't see how far he had come. He started asking friends, family, even clients, what they thought about him giving up the lawn business for his heart's desire: Working with his hands, creating furniture which was suitable for the finest homes. He wanted to be proud of himself. Mowing lawns was something he did to make money, but the things en enjoyed about it were long gone.

The responses Sam got were predictable: Friends said "No! Don't stop! I get a kickback every time I refer you! I love that I know a guy who knows how to landscape! That's great for me! Don't stop! I don't need any furniture!" This made Sam think that he would lose his friends if he stopped mowing.

Family said something similar: "If you stop lawn work, we will starve, you know. That is how you make money and if you don't do that any more, you will be letting us down. You will be hurting us on purpose and you could have prevented it. It's not what you enjoy? Well, it's what you've chosen to do, so you must continue." Sam got the feeling that his worth was wrapped up in providing. If he stopped mowing, what if he couldn't provide? He would be without worth and value. He didn't see that the love of his family is about who he is, not where he is or what he does for a living.

The clients were a little upset, too. "You have been mowing my lawn for twenty years! Who else will do it? No one else can mow my lawn but you! You know the shape of my yard, you know the drainage system, you are available at a moment's notice... Even when I have called you at 2:am because I was going to have company at 5:am, you cane. No one else would do that but you. Are you going to let me down?" Sam didn't want to let anyone down. It's one reason he was so good at what he did. He reasoned that if he stops mowing, no one else can fill his shoes and he will let down people who keep his finances afloat. Sam had a dilemma.

What did Sam do? He kept mowing, and one day was thinking about woodworking. The heat was beating down on him, he was trying to remember all of the expectations which had been placed on him, he was mowing and mowing and he dropped dead. Just like that. At the ripe old age of... (How old are you?)

No, I'm kidding. What he did was he stopped talking about it and made a plan. (That happens to be target 6 by the way...) Sam kept mowing, secretly knowing he was going to close up shop. He didn't take on any new customers. He didn't accept new responsibilities with his currents customers. He was a hard worker, so he did enough to get the (current) job done. Because his mental resources were taken.

One day a week, on Saturday, he spend half the day on the Sam Plan. When he thought about it, he found that he had some extra time. Spending 2-3 hours alone once a week at the IHop, didn't have a negative impact on his company.. During those 2-3 hours he decided... If I were to do wood working, what would I do? I would make furniture. I would design and make furniture for the shop down the street that I love. I can go there next week and talk to them. I would like to be transitioned away from mowing and into the furniture business by the end of the year. Period.

The next week he talked to the owner of the furniture store, who said "if you want to work here, we need a work sample." So for the next 3 Saturdays Sam spent his time making something small, but impressive. He made a keepsake box. They liked the box, and said that they would need some time to make a decision. Sam already decided that he wanted to make furniture. Whether for this guy or another place, his plan was in motion. Over the next 3 Saturdays he came up more parts of his plan. He determined ways to schedule his time so that he could do both until he knew the woodworking could support him and his family. He thought about what his customers would say. He found other contacts, people he could put them in touch with that he knew would do a great job on their yard. He decided what to say to family. "If you love me, you will support me. This change will be for the better, and we will all benefit from it. As a happier person, I give more freely, I have more to give and I will be setting a good example."

He got the job, did what he planned to do. Everyone who was worried about the transition learned from Sam that it is each person's responsibility to be happy, and it was unfair to try to corner him into doing something that he doesn't want, for their own gain and to his detriment. When he took his goals into his own hands, he took the responsibility for everyone else's happiness out of his hands. In doing so, he empowered them to make themselves happy, which was a gift. Now doing what he wanted with his life, he was able to more positively influence those around him.

Make your goal for YOU. Don't let your goal be someone else's goal. Let other people have their own goals...

Target five: All of my goals reinforce each other.

In Sam's case, he had a number of goals. He wanted a career change. He wanted to appease his family. He wanted to be able to support himself and his family financially. He wanted to be happy. One person might look at these objectives and say "But I have to do different things to accomplish these things!" Appease his family by staying in the lawn business. Support himself by doing whatever to get money. Be happy? That meant wood. So on the surface these look like things which wouldn't work together. But when Sam decided that if he looked to the one thing which didn't have so much wiggle room... Trading grass for wood... The rest of the goals could be designed around the primary goal, all reinforcing each other. "If I need to make my family happy, is there a way other than by mowing grass?" What does mowing grass give them which makes his family happy? Money. Stability. Familiarity. Those things can be acquired through other resources which do not involve the one thing he is trying to get out of his life. A well-paying job brings money. Stability can come by means of money, or maybe even promises. "I promise that I will always make sure we have a roof over our heads. No matter what happens, I will make sure you are not left out in the rain" Familiarity? Familiarity can come with time and change. It's sort of like those puzzles where you start with one word (Like LOCK) and turn it into something else (like OPEN). You do this one letter at a time... lock look loot soot... and end up with over oven open...! Cool! One letter at a time, one word changes into something completely different. Lock to open. And each step of the way is reasonable and well within understanding.

Target six: My goal includes a plan.

Like Sam, we can't simply dive off into the abyss of bliss. Life is a practical matter. With a little planning, what seems at first to be slightly far fetched can be very well within reason. Planning does a lot of wonderful things. It give you the opportunity to try out scenarios to see what will work, it helps alleviate anxiety not only in you, but in those your life has an impact on... A plan isn't permanent. A plan is just that: A plan. The best plans have flexibility to allow for changes. The end result is the same, the goal... The plan is how you get to the goal. A plan helps a person see something in real terms. The goal is possible. It makes a dream, something which seems elusive, into something concrete. Something possible. Possibilities lead to realities. When a plan is made, it that is when dreams become realities.

Target seven: I will write down my goal.

There is something magical about putting a goal and its plan on paper. I know it can be scary... We feel as if when we write something down, it is officially unchangeable. It's "in black and white." But being in black and white doesn't mean it's not malleable! it means it's clearly defined and difficult to misinterpret as a result of ambiguity. Paper is paper. Tear it, shred it, burn it or scribble all over it. Write a plan you don't like? Delete it. Start again. The great thing about putting it on paper is once you have a plan that sounds great, you don't have to ask yourself "now how was I going to do that again? I forgot!"

When you write down your goal, keep it in front of you, you can reference it. Look at it and remember best way to accomplish your task, reach your goals. Writing your goal and plan down is critical to its success.

Writing your goal and plan down is critical to its success.

And when life changes, you change your plan. You have a new set of plans to work from. That's the way life goes... (and goes, and goes and goes...)

So... When making goals, ask yourself: "What do I want to be doing ten years from now?" Then narrow that down. What do I want to be doing five years from now? One year...? I have a trick that is a pretty good motivator for me...

I look at the past year. For me, 12 months is a great time frame. It's long enough to be a significant amount of time, but short enough to create a sense of hope when looking ahead. I look at where I was, and what I was doing, one year ago, and ask myself if I'm glad about what I am a year later. Then I consider my goal. You know... THE goal. I ask myself, if I don't do this, what is my life going to be like a year from now?

You see, your life is where it is because of where you have driven it. That can be a hard pill to swallow, especially if you feel like your life is pretty messed up. Knowing that YOU were the one, the only, who got you where you are. Usually I'm a pretty nice person. One person I love very deeply once told me "You know, I have read so much online that you have written... and there's nothing negative." Well, I think that's probably debatable... But even so, hold on to your hat.

If you hate your job, don't bitch about the guy who got promoted or your boss. Don't complain about not having adequate education. You are in your job because of decisions you have made. You partied in college and dropped out. You didn't take the shit project a year ago, and the guy who did got promoted instead. You didn't follow up when someone said "Hey, I'd like to hire you!" and you were the person who applied for the job in the first place.

If you hate your house, don't complain that the walls need paint or that the grass needs to be mowed. if you have arms and legs, fix what's wrong. Not able to? Learn how. Not strong enough, tall enough, small enough? Ask someone. Pay someone. Or just forget about the problems if they aren't critical. But you are where you are because you bought the damned thing. You are where you are because you put yourself there.

Don't like your relationships? Fix them. Don't like your friends? Tell them. Find new ones. Draw boundaries. Don't like your spouse? Make the relationship better or get the hell out. You are where you are because YOU put yourself there. Someone bullied you into something you didin't want to do? Bullshit. Ok, you were manipulated, but you allowed it to happen. You told someone that you are manipulateable. With your words, your actions, the way you respond when the heat is on.

Don''t like your activities? Your life station? Your church, your dinner, your school, your wardrobe? Don't like your dirty dishes? What about your car? ...Am I making you mad yet? I hope so.

Here's why.

When you accept that you are where you are because of the decisions you have made, you have the strength, the power the control to change your future. If you were helpless to get you to where you are now, then of COURSE you are going to think you have no control over your future! When you realize that you had control to this point, you are free to say, If I have the control to get me here, I have the control to get me somewhere else.

Knowledge is power. Know what you did, your mistakes. Own up to them. Mistakes aren't tragedies... Mistakes are opportunities to fail.


Each and every time you don't reach your goal, that's a way to cross off the list. Some things change, so try your plan again, but with a twist. If I paying my way through college but had to drop out because of finances, it doesn't mean the ploan was flawed. If today, I have the financial resources, the plan is fine. It's not the plan, it's how the plan works with what you have going on, what you have to offer and what you have to draw from.

Learn from your mistakes, figure out where you screwed up. Decide where you want to be and by gosh, get going. If you don't you will find yourself in the same spot you were a year ago, the same spot you are in today. And a year, five years, ten, twenty years from now you can have the same life of a different one. THAT is in your control, and yours alone.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hour 3: Thoughts... Friend or Foe?

So, I'm pretty sure you have heard the concept of Law of Attraction. Believing it or not is fairly irrelevant... I mention it because if you have heard of it and do believe it, this part can be confusing.

(But only if you let it.)

Think simple... Breathe...! (That's for me, not you, although you can play along if you want to...)

I was talking to a friend of mine this morning. A very good friend that I have known for some time.

I guess it was about a year ago that he was going through something and I said, "just because you believe something doesn't make it so." He, immediately and very poignantly, turned the tables, as I needed to hear my own advice. Really, I did.

Just because you believe something doesn't make it so. Ok. Whatever.

Now, incidentally, I was talking to this same friend this morning, and this very same sentence came up. But this time he responded a little differently. Seems as if he's been paying attention to The Secret.

That's cool. I can hang with it.

But now... In hour three of The 24 Hour Turn Around, the authors talk about the power of thought. I agree, it's powerful for a number of reasons. The point that they make, is that as powerful as thoughts might be, they are still just that.


Have you ever had a scary dream so vivid, so real, that your heart pounds and your body shakes and you might even talk, shout or cry out? Then you wake up and it might even take a minute to recover. Your BODY actually had a physical reaction to thoughts you were having. Dreams are not altered states of reality. They are beneficial, they have value and merit and can give insight into what might be going on in your life at the time, but the truth of the matter is...Dreams are thoughts. You can't touch them, they do not have mass. The psycho-killer in your dream does not mean there is an actual, literal psycho-killer in your bedroom. Dreams, and all of the imagery, plot lines, back story... When you experience them in your dream, they are thoughts in your mind. And YET... those thoughts can (actually and literally) alter your physical state to such a level that you could, theoretically, have a heart attack and die.

(I don't mean to scare you... Just being theoretical. Work with me here...!)

But just as thoughts are just thoughts... Just look just how powerful those thoughts can be when use them to our advantage! Thoughts, like dreams, really are nothing to be afraid of.

Thoughts are our friends. (Really.)

It's no secret that being optimistic creates a more positive experience for the person being optimistic, and being pessimistic creates a more uncomfortable one for the person thinking along pessimistic lines. Here's the funny thing... Take, say two radically different people who tend to approach a situation radically different ways. One is Tigger, the other is Eeyore. Put these people in the same set or circumstances and ask them how the feel about the situation. It's not enough to say that they will think differently about a situation... The two people will actually have different emotions. The circumstances didn't change, the way the circumstance is perceived has changed.

I am not a Pollyanna. On a superficial level you might think so, but get to know me and you would know that I see things in my life that I wish were different. I am not suggesting that it's a good idea to ignore issues and problems. Just the opposite. It's better to acknowledge them.

Uh, so how is this being positive?

It's not about being positive. And it's not about being disillusioned about a situation or closing your eyes to that which you do not see. I have a secret of my own.

You ready?

When you empower yourself to acknowledge stressful things in your life, you take away your own sense of helplessness. Only when you can acknowledge that you have things in your life which you wish were different, can you create an environment for yourself, in which you have the control to acknowledge the things which have benefit. When you have empowered yourself to decipher which things are beneficial and which need changing, you are then capable of generalizing that more realistic assessment to a situation. When you can look at a situation and say "this part works, this part doesn't" you are applying logic and reason to what has, in the past, been a primarily emotional experience.

Follow me? Great! Now that you hear me, I'm going to explain why this is the case. I don't know about you, but when I know why, it's easier to digest.

As you probably know, the hemispheres of the brain process data in different ways. When you "touch" a situation, you are bringing that data into your body. Eyes, ears, nose, maybe even mouth. Hands. Your experience of the situation comes into your body through your senses and only then may the information be processed. When the information is processed, that is when triggers are set off, and that is why and how one situation can freak one person out and be completely innocuous to another. Once that data comes into the body, it is up to the brain to decide what to do with it.

OK... going into a little more depth on that...

The brain processes information with a series of impulses transmitted between neurons. These impulses fire between what they call synapses, which look a little like bobby pins, in that there is a little gap and the impulse sort of jumps the gap. (You've probably seen something like this in photos about electricity in science class...) The cool thing about this is that when certain types of thought processed are ''activated" (for lack of a more articulate word) the efficiency of the neurons increases, and additional synapses are built. And/or the synapses become stronger and more efficient in transmitting those impulses. Now...

Consider those left and right hemispheres. Not to mention the lobes and all... Logic and emotion are processed in different places. When you take a look at a situation, one which might normally cause some stress, and re-map the impulses, neurons and synapses that get all cooky...? You strengthen the change on a physiological level. And if what begins as an emotional response is re-framed as a logical response, that helps YOU. It helps you feel better when you are faced with a situation that normally brings on a lot of stress.

Now, I'm not a doctor, so this is simply a layman's description! Don't take this as official medical information! Lol! the purpose here is to explain why and how this particular step works and is important.

Situations are not "bad" or "good"... Bad and good are subjective descriptors. Truth and fact (the situation to which it is being applied) is NOT subjective. No, you can not say you are in a good or a bad situation, but you can look at a situation and analyze it for its truth and fact.

But wait. What the hell does all that crap about the brain, and whether or not a situation can be viewed as objective or subjective, have to do with making a change in your life? Has Lorin lost her marbles?

Um... depends on who you ask. But in truth, no.

Here it is in a nutshell: As capable, thinking human beings, each one of us has the power and control to take charge of our thoughts. Our thoughts powerfully influence the life of each one of us, because it is the frame of reference that we use to make decisions. Our thoughts also influence our emotions, not to mention affect our interpersonal relationships and the way we see ourselves and present ourself to the world. Our thoughts are so very important, and when we actively, purposely think about that which comes into our life, we remove emotion from it, making us free to re-assign healthier, more appropriate responses to our life circumstances and situations.

What does all that mean? It means "Chin up! You are what you think!"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hour 2: You Are Worth It

In hour two of The 24-Hour Turn Around, the authors ask the question: Who sets the ‘’price’’ on the value of an individual?

My answer? I do. YOU do. We set our own price. They bring up another interesting point which illustrates that our value is variable, based on how WE want to define that value.

Many people place a lot of value on money. And it’s important! Without money, our lives are very different than with it. That’s not to say better, always, but certainly different. How much value do we place on a bill? Well… That depends on the bill. A dollar bill is worth about 100 cents, and a hundo is worth, um… Well, a hundred dollars, which is worth 10,000 cents. One hundred versus ten-thousand…

No wonder we try to keep up with the Joneses.

Here’s the funny thing. Before that bill is printed, the same paper is rolled out. A hundred dollar bill is printed on the same paper as the one-dollar bill. It’s the decision to print what is printed, which determines the value.

I think that’s great. Whether a bill lives on to buy a pack of gum, or a digital camera, each starts out the same. The stuff that makes the bill is the same.

The book talks about the ten steps to a transformed self esteem. I’ll include the list in the margin on this blog, but there are a few things I’d like to say about self-esteem and self image.

There are so many things which make a person. Characteristics, mannerisms, opinions, intellect, interests… The list is endless, of course. And that is why we human beings are so complex! Consider: When one person meets another, there are many things which one person could be attracted to. Of course, physical attraction is important, but it’s not enough. (If you’ve ever dated a beautiful woman or hunky man who is ugly inside, you know what I’m talking about.) No, attraction is the whole package, with its recipe which comprises the person. One person may be fascinated by a man who has quiet dignity. Another person may be attracted to someone who is intelligent and complicated. There are plenty of people who want an ‘’easy’’ relationship with an uncomplicated person. And what about The X Factor? By definition, it’s hard to define. Why? Because The X Factor just the right mix, of just the right things.

Now, with all these attractors going on, it’s hard to forget that there is a person on the other side who is taking it all in. Two people, completely opposite, can be equally, 100% attractive to different people. Hey, even two completely different people can be attractive to the same person!

The point here is that we are all so individual, and it doesn’t make us better or worse than anyone else.

I have a few acquaintances or friends who are BBW. (For you married and otherwise non-dating people out there, that stands for Big Beautiful Women.) Unfortunately, not all women who are BBW feel like the second, um… B.

But there are guys out there who want a woman they can hold on to. They will quickly and easily toss aside a relationship with a thin woman for a heavy woman. Why? Preference. Some guys just prefer bigger gals.

The point of all this is simply to say that the flaws you see in yourself do not devalue you. I deleted my Blogger profile description ‘’who is Lorin Neikirk?’’ some time ago, but in it I mentioned that who I am is not based on everything which comprises me. Who I am is who I could be in a perfect world, without the stressors to bring on the not-so-great stuff. Insecurity is not who I am, it’s how I react when I do not feel very secure. Self-criticism is not who I am, it’s what happens when I feel the need to prove myself. When you feel the pressure of others asking you to prove yourself, your response could be very different. The result of the stressor is not WHO we are, it’s how we react.

So who are you? And how do you define your value? We all are naked without our clothes, we all have to use the bathroom, we all have bad breath in the morning and we all have to shower, or else we stink. We are made of the same stuff. Flesh, tissue, blood, organs and bone, and lots of water… Out bodies are the same. If we each begin on a level playing field, what defines our value? In the world of things that get sold, something’s value is what someone is willing to pay for it. In YOUR case, there is someone who would pay a fortune for what you have to offer as a person, provided the money was there. For those who lean towards a religious perspective, you could consider that Jesus paid the ultimate price for you, so we each are priceless.

What do you deserve? Are you living the life you deserve? When I say ‘’deserve’’ I am not saying you have already earned the spot. I am saying do you, as a person, have the right to work in your chosen profession? What about your home? Do you have the right to live where you want, how you want? What about relationships? Are you getting out of your relationship/s what you want and need? Do you deserve to end one which is unhealthy for you, or begin one which is rewarding?

After you decide that you want a change, the next step is to realize that you are worth the change you want in your life. I’ll say that again.

You are worth the change you seek.

Some people are only happy with what they can’t have. They have internalized that if they get what they want, it must not have been that great to start with. As they saw the wanted ‘’thing’’, it had value, but when it was caught, it lost its value because they were able to acquire it. You can probably see that these people will not find happiness with this line of thinking. Once something is ‘’caught’’ it is no longer out of reach. So they want something new. What are you worth? Do you deserve what you have? Do you deserve more? When you get what you want, will you know that you earned it? You are worth it…

Spend some time imagining yourself with your new change. Imagine yourself with a different job, lifestyle, career, relationship, world. Imagine yourself there and realize that you will be where you want to be, because you deserve it.

YOU, my friend, are worth it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hour 1: Decisions

In the first hour of The 24-Hour Turn-Around, the authors pose a question to the reader: Is it possible that one's life can be dramatically changed in one day? They respond not only is is possible, but probable.

As I've mentioned before, this books is split into 24 chapters, each to be read and considered. Each chapter is a small step toward your ultimate goal. I don't know about you, but I'm a little fuzzy on what my goal should be...

If you think about it, making a ''life change'' is no small task! And, well frankly, it's a little daunting. I personally like change. The way I feel about change is that if I don't like the way things are, they aren't going to change without, uh... change. I've learned the hard way that if I wait for things to change around me, they either won't, or they'll change in ways that I don't exactly want them to.

I look at it like this... Life is like an airplane. For starters, it's big, it's... a miracle that it's flying in the first place. I'm in the passenger area and the plane is going... Somewhere. I have some options. For starters, it has to be moving to get somewhere. But if I don't know where it's going, it could either be going in circles or headed for Belize. And I won't know until I get there. Not that I know how to get to Belize, but I can figure out how to keep from going in circles... If I find my way into the cockpit, I can steer this life, uh, I mean plane, where I want it to go. (Or keep it from going where I don't.) Of course, if it's been flying aimlessly for a while, I don't exactly know how to fly the damned thing. But hey-- I'm smart enough to know if I push the lever down and it nose dives, well then, maybe I should pull back a little. A little. If I pull back too much, I have the opposite problem. After I practice driving my life for a while, I get better at it. Hey-- I may even figure out how to get to Belize instead of just avoiding that dreaded circle. But unless I'm in the cockpit, not only do I not get to choose where I'm going, I might not like where I end up. What if I land in the middle east? (OH they wouldn't like me there... I am WAY too outspoken...! Lol!)

So I really don't mind change so much. And I don't mind being the one calling the shots, deciding what changes in my life, either. But at the moment, when it comes to picking that one thing that will impact my life...? Wow. I guess the pressure comes from trying to put my finger on just what precisely is the core of the issue.

When I consider what needs changing, I can consider their first point:

What needs to be changed, and where do I begin?

Well, if we continue with the plane analogy... The very first thing I need to do is accept that my plane is where it is as a result of my past decisions. Hey... Even if it's going in circles, that's still my doing, right? I mean, I was the one who decided not to get into the cockpit before now. It would be pretty easy for me to say that I wasn't the one who directed it into the circle path, but if I am the only one who can steer my plane, I'm the only one responsible for pulling myself out of it.


We are all responsible for our life. Where each of us is in our life is a result of our own decisions. And this is precisely why we have the control to change our life.

You know, there are a lot of people who take responsibility for others' lives, but that is a losing battle if you think about it. Someone else can radio to me to ''Pull back! Veer left!'' but it's up to me to actually do the driving. What if I heard the directions incorrectly? I've heard of people trying to be responsible for others who will refuse to go into the cockpit in the first place. Actually, I've also been that person sending the radio messages. It sucks.

So I think the most important thing we can do in each of our lives is to take responsibility for where we are, here and now. And once we're in the cockpit, the next trick is to say, ''Um... So, where am I anyway?''

In order for us to make a decision about what to do, what to change, we have to take a look at where we are. I think a lot of people are in denial about their life. They try to convince themselves that things are ''ok enough'' when, in fact, things really need to be different. (I've been that person too. That also sucks.) So I think the first steps can be broken down into:
  1. I am responsible for what my life is like today.
  2. Because I put my life where where it is today, I also have the control to re-direct it.
  3. Before I can decide what to change, I need to know where I am in my life.
  4. When I know where I am in my life, I can accept that this is where I brought myself.
  5. Because I know I where I am, and I know I got myself here, I have the control to drive this plane to a different place.
The book makes another excellent point. (Well, it makes many of them...) The only way we learn to make decisions is by making decisions. The more decisions we make, the better decisions we make. In order for us to ''get better'' we must first make some not-so-great decisions.

As I type this, something comes to mind. In #5 one might be inclined to respond ''well, if my decisions got me to this place, why should I think that if I continue to make decisions, I will get to a better place?''

The answer is simple: You have already made your not-so-great decisions. If you don't like where you are, you are already a step ahead of the game. If you have heard about when an individual goes through the stages of learning, of competence, this may sound familiar:
  • First is unconscious incompetence
  • Then comes conscious incompetence
  • Next is conscious competence
  • Finally is unconscious competence.

What all this means is that at first we don't know what we don't know how to do. These are people without experiences, without exposure to those things which they must learn. The kids who graduate from college and have to go into the real world, the stay at home mom who has to work for the first time... You get the idea. Then we become conscious of what we don't know. We say ''oh crap! I'm clueless! I don't know how to do this!!'' I think this is where people are when they find themselves at a point when they say ''I haven't been making decisions because I'm afraid I'm going to make the wrong ones.'' That's an understandable fear. But there's really only one way to get past that, and that's to try. The good news for people stuck in that second phase is the next phase. The very next place to go from where you are, is straight into competence. (Albeit, conscious competence, but that's ok...!)

The next step, conscious competence is when we are steering that plane and it's actually going up when we want it to, down when we want it to... You get a little practice, and then you find it's actually fun just to steer it and feel the control. You think about what you want to do, you do it, then you see you did it, and that feels good. It's a conscious thing. And at this point, where we're going isn't that important, at least not for the moment. What's fun (and important, mind you...) is showing ourselves that we really are making that big flying miracle go were we want it to. He have proven to ourselves that we can steer the damned thing. And the more we do it, the easier it becomes. You aren't over compensating anymore, and it's smooth-sailing. When the newness wears off, we point it to where we really want to go. Our destination. Because by now we have been looking out the windows enough to see what looks good. Decisions come easily and naturally, and before long we are on auto-pilot. That's unconscious competence.

Speaking of decisions, I have one to make. What will I change?

I have to admit, I started this blog yesterday, and I couldn't answer that question. This morning it hit me. Has yours hit you yet? If not, think about it...

Think about where your life is. Consider your station. Your job, your relationship/s. Your family and friends. Think about your spiritual connection if you have those beliefs... Consider the way you spend your time, your money, your efforts and your energy. When you think about your life, what strikes you most? What is the one thing that keeps coming back in your mind that you wish was different?

Maya Angelou says something wonderful. This quote has brought me through some pretty rough times:

"You did the best you could at the time.
And when you knew better, you did better."

Don't beat yourself up if you don't like what you come face to face with. I can say from personal experience that it's the natural thing to do, and tough to pull away from, that guilt or self-anger because you don't like what you've done to yourself or your life. But now you know better. You didn't know there was a cockpit. Then you knew it was there but not that you could get in. When you learned you could, you weren't sure of how, and then you got some ideas. After thinking about ways you might or might not, you tried a few times, After all, you want to pull that plane out of the nose-dive, or your getting dizzy from the circles.

Finally, after wearing yourself out by beating on the door, you stepped back, took some deep breaths and saw the funky lever on the door. And now you're in the pilot's seat going ''oh shit. I don't know how to fly a plane." Now is not the time to be thinking about all the things you did before you sat in that seat. Who cares about what happened before now? Now you are sitting in the pilot's seat and you are at the controls. If you spend time thinking about the past, you are wasting time, wasting your opportunity for your future. Just pull a lever, see what happens.

The first step in making a change, is the decision to change. It's the hardest part, it's the scariest part, and it's the part that takes the longest. But when you make the decision to change something in your life, the change will come.

I don't know what your decision will be, but as for me... I'm going to Belize.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

This Is Only A Minor Rip Off...

Ok, so maybe it's not exactly a rip off. Consider it a discussion group. (Um, with one member.)

There's a pretty cool book called The 24 Hour-Turnaround. The book doesn't tell you how to fix your relationship. It doesn't tell you how to make more money and it doesn't tell you how to have more friends. The book is about exploring what you want to be different in your own life, then taking the steps to accomplish that. I like that.

There are a lot of reasons why I really like this book. It's short, it's easy to read and it has 24 highly manageable chapters. (Each chapter is only about 5 short pages in length.) The point of the book is that you read a chapter a day, spend some time considering what you read that day, and each step takes you toward your goal.

In the hopes that I'm not going to get booted for talking very specifically about the book, I want to make this point upfront: Go buy the book. It costs six bucks new, and there are like, 68 for sale, used, at this moment at Here's the link, I'll wait while you go order a copy.

Dum de dum... Twiddling the thumbs... Waiting oh so patiently...


I have to admit... As much as I like to read and as many books as I actually have, it's really pretty difficult for me to read one cover to cover. This one is easy.

"But I'm fine the way I am!"

Uh, ok. Yeah, we all are. I'm ok, you're ok. We're all ok. Me, personally, I'd like to be better than average. Regardless of how great I am, or think I am, or others may think I might be, I am always trying to improve myself. Of course, there are those who think I could improve on a thing or two. (Ok, I'll take that into consideration!) If you think you are perfect, this book isn't for you. But...

If you don't like the way your life is, and you wish it was different, then read on... The worst that can happen is you'll decide, "Nah... This isn't for me."

Not like it costs anything.

(Did you already buy the book for all of seven cents?)

This is the way I see it. I look back on the past year and I look ahead a year. Then I ask myself: Do I like where my life is at the moment? If I could look into a crystal ball and know it would be exactly the same as it is today, would I be overjoyed? Well, ok then...

When I look back on the past year, what do I wish I had done a year ago so my life would be different today? Because it is that very concept which will change my life a year from now.

Some many people are afraid of change. Actually I'll talk about that in the first day, hour, chapter or whatever. the next blog post. (This is simply an introduction.) I personally think that there are a few problems when it comes to people and when they look at their life and know they need a change or changes.

I think first, people don't think that big changes are urgent. Going back to college, changing careers, starting a new relationship or ending an old one... Big changes seem like big tasks and since life has been tolerable with the whatever, what is the rush? So many people who want to return to college get into this rut. They want to go back but they are already employed, so what's the point? Just to get a better job? "There's no rush." They say...

It's precisely this thought process that turns babies into teenagers. It turns a part time job into a career. And it turns a one-night stand into a marriage and then a divorce.

I am very close to someone who had a part time job flipping burgers as a teen. Many years later he is still in the food industry. My understanding is that it was almost by accident. He happens to be an exceptional golfer...

I have another friend who went to college to learn about a science which he found fascinating. A few years later he had to make a decision that meant either being practical or following his dream. He took the practical route, and today he still has not returned to the industry that he wishes has been a part of his life.

Me, I have my own regrets. When I went to college I really wanted to study art. Following the advice of caring family members, I decided that psychology was a more lucrative goal. I dropped out of college and now, twenty years later, I am re-entering the art field, calling upon schools and contacts in the creative field. If only I had decided just a year ago to go back to school I would be doing what I want today.

I have one dear friend who has been in a relationship for three years with a man not willing to make a commitment to her. Last year her ex-husband met, fell in love with, and married another woman, all while she was waiting for her sometimes-boyfriend to come to his senses. The day her ex-husband got married, she came to her senses instead. Although she has been dating off and on since then, she still isn’t in a steady relationship. But at least she’s open to meeting a different Mr. Right, which is a very big change from a year ago. She looked back and said ‘’I don’t want to be where I am now, a year from now.’’ I guess she wanted a change, too.

As for me, there are many things I wish I would have changed a year ago to make my life different today. I mentioned art school, but to be honest, art school is not the most significant thing I would have done differently. There was a relationship that I really screwed up last year. I wish I could have done things differently with that. The bad thing about regret is that we can't turn back time, but the good thing is we can change the path of our future.

So, getting back on track here, change is a good thing. Change is about living, not death. All living things going through change, it is the only way that they can improve. Consider a broken bone or torn flesh. It must go through change in order to repair. If you think about it, it is what happened to it which was painful. It was the hit or the cut that the body had no control over, and created the problem. The lack of control created the circumstance necessitating the change, the change of mending. But it's when the necessary mending, the change, was initiated that the healing begins.

I said a lot more than I meant to tonight. I'm not sure of why-- Maybe someone needed to hear what I had to say. Or maybe I just had things I needed to say. Either way, I hope you will continue to read this blog, and I hope you will offer your comments, and participate in the days to come.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this all turns out. I don't know about you,
but I could really use a change!