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Letters of Goodbye – Completing an Ending

Letters of Goodbye – Completing an Ending | focuswithmarlene.comTraumatic events, whether they happened today or in the past, represent an ending of some kind. Something you valued was taken away.

Grieving is coming to terms with those losses. It is finding a way to reconcile unfortunate or tragic events. If we hurry from that ending before putting to rest emotional turmoil and unanswered questions, it can make it difficult to create a new beginning.

When I began this series on “Picking up the Pieces,” I asked you to consider the stories you tell and become aware of the narrative you use. The way we describe our circumstances can make a difference in completing an ending and beginning a new chapter in our lives.

Like you and many others, I have had significant losses over the years. I lost both my husband and son to cancer, faced the sale of my home, loss of financial security and starting over again.

In presenting workshops and classes and facilitating support groups, I have come to appreciate the depth and scope of people’s losses and their grief.  And it seems at times that losses come in bunches, with barely enough time to recover from one before we are hit again.

7 things to consider completing an ending

  1. We need the support and understanding of others while working through grief. That may be in a support group, individual counseling or a friend who will listen as we share.

 

  1. Grieving is going through the pain. It takes time to work through the knots and tangles of our losses. There is a tendency to run away or bottle up painful emotions hoping they will go away.

 

  1. Ungrieved losses from childhood can be triggered and need to be recognized and processed. Grieving early childhood losses means working through issues of lack of nurturing and lack of encouragement. It involves releasing old bottled up hurts. Grieving involves recognizing whatever we have lost and finding ways to replace it.

 

  1. Losses produce a multitude of emotions — some more common than others, such as anger, guilt, or shame. Recognizing and working through these is important to keep from getting stuck. There won’t always be reasonable solutions to our questions. You may feel that you did not receive justice where there was an injustice.

 

  1. There are many layers to our losses. The death of a spouse includes the loss of your social circles, loss of what had been predictable and sometimes major financial concerns. The loss of an unborn child means a loss of sharing with other parents raising children. The loss of a marriage has many layers that are ongoing reminders of what used to be.

 

  1. Grieving takes time, involves acceptance so we can let go, reconciling things that can’t be changed and working towards a new reality. Losses require a new way to look at ourselves. In a sense, we are creating a new identity – I knew who I was, but who am I now? Losses aren’t processed in just a few months or even a year. That transition from what was to what is now takes time.

 

  1. Write a letter of goodbye. First, if you lost a loved one, write a letter to him or her and tell them how much they meant to you, what you wished you had said or hadn’t said, what you miss most about them and what is the hardest for you moving forward. Include in this letter how you are keeping your memories alive.

Do the same thing when you address other things you lost such as a dream for the future, loss of the ability to be a parent,  your health or physical abilities. While it might seem weird, writing a letter can help you put down all the positive things associated with your loss and how holding on to dreams have made you a wiser and better person. .

It is important to know that while we feel vulnerable and emotional; our tears are not a sign of weakness but of courage and strength. Acceptance of what has happened allows us to take the next step of transitioning to a new reality.

Marlene Anderson


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Forgiveness: A Gift We Give Ourselves

Forgiveness: A Gift We Give Ourselves | focuswithmarlene.com

“Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back – in many ways it is a feast fit for a king.

The chief drawback is what you are wolfing down is yourself.

The skeleton at the feast is you.”

 Frederick Buechner,
Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC
(New York: Harper & Row, 1973)

Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). We take it as a moral imperative.

But it isn’t just Jesus that tells us how important forgiveness is; science confirms it as well. In fact, to not forgive is putting a slow death sentence on ourselves, as the theologian Frederick Buechner so aptly describes.

Most of us deal with the sins and transgressions of others in the moment. We get mad, pull away, and then make up and go on.

When we are the transgressors, we do the same. With minor goofs and slip ups, we feel bad in the moment, apologize and then move on.

When we personalize indiscretions or offenses of others, we are setting ourselves up for the creation of a “grievance story,” as detailed by Dr. Fred Luskin, in his book, Forgive for Good.

When we hang on to resentment, it becomes more toxic over time. The suggestions offered by Dr. Luskin can help us better understand how and why we are so quickly offended and what we can do to change such a trajectory.

7 ways we can make forgiveness a gift rather than an obligation

Forgiveness: A Gift We Give Ourselves | focuswithmarlene.com

1. Don’t make “unenforceable” rules.

Unenforceable rules are expectations and assumptions that everyone must follow or we will be personally insulted and offended.

Associated with such rules are the words “should, must, have to and ought.”

When you hear yourself saying these words, ask what you are demanding from either yourself or another. How are you eliminating personal choice?

2. Own your feelings.

We blame others for how we feel. People can’t make us feel a certain way unless we allow it. We can choose other ways to respond that doesn’t involve escalating anger, ill will or hatred.

3. An injury does not create a “grievance story” – we do.

We can reframe our situations, become less critical and balance troubled times with humor.

4. Forgiveness and reconciliation is not the same thing.

Forgiving prepares the way for reconciliation – it doesn’t automatically say it will happen.

Forgiveness is letting go of trying to get retribution.

Forgiveness of self says I can admit when I am wrong, apologize and ask for forgiveness and stop beating myself up.

5. Forgiveness does not mean condoning unkindness, inconsiderate or selfish behavior, or excusing bad behavior.

It does not deny or minimize the hurt, pain or injury done to us. It just refuses to make it into an ongoing resentment story that becomes toxic over time. We are the ones hurt by not forgiving.

6. Coming to terms with unpleasantness in life helps us understand we are not perfect or flawless.

We will make mistakes and need grace and forgiveness. Although people will hurt us, they are often unaware that they have offended us.

7. Forgiveness is a choice.

We make the conscious decision to let go of the hurts and wrongs.

Forgiveness requires we first define our grievance. When we can articulate the details of the hurtful event, we will know exactly what we are forgiving.

Acknowledge, accept your feelings and then make that conscious choice to forgive. Forgiving helps us from getting hurt in the future.

Forgiveness allows me to let go of the pain and experience peace. I choose to forgive. How about you?

Marlene Anderson

To receive a handout on Forgiveness, send me an e-mail. I would appreciate your comments and a discussion on this topic.

  • What unforgiveable sin is hard to let go of?
  • What is the cost of hanging on and what would be the long term benefit for you?

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Coming to Terms With Loss, Tragedy, and Injustice

Coming to Terms With Loss, Tragedy, and Injustice | FocusWithMarlene.com

Writing about our stories helps us see what happened, and our role in the outcome, from a new perspective. It also gives us the opportunity to take away nuggets of learning and wisdom.

Yet, there might be things that happened that make it difficult to let go and that continue to spark your anger. You still feel betrayed and taken advantage of. Forgiveness is out of the question as far as you are concerned and you are not ready to acknowledge any participation on your part to what happened.

Resentments continue to burn deep within your soul and spirit and an internal dialogue repeats:

“I have a right to feel angry and bitter. I was taken advantage of and made to feel stupid. If I simply accept and let it go, won’t I be admitting that I really am a fool?  How can I come to terms with that?”

Life experiences will be both good and bad.

We will experience events in life that take advantage of our good will, our desire to get along and be a good neighbor.

There will be tragedies associated with someone else’s hate or lack of responsibility or careless actions that leave us crippled or disabled in some way.

There will be achievements thwarted; losses too deep to speak about.

There will be many things that cannot be changed: the death of a spouse, the loss of your marriage, addiction, loss of health or finances; and the loss of support and care in your declining year.

Discover a new way to move forward.

Coming to terms with injustice, tragedies and losses of any kind, whether in our past or present, first requires acceptance.

Hanging on to our losses and injustices is like carrying around a huge suitcase full of rocks and stones. It keeps getting heavier and heavier and robs you of your ability to move forward.

Coming to terms requires acceptance.

Acceptance doesn’t mean everything will suddenly be back to normal or okay. It simply means you stop fighting and arguing about how cruel the world is or how badly you have been treated. Life is not fair. We can grumble and moan and rant and rave, but we can’t change history; we can’t change what others have done or what we have done.

By making a conscious and deliberate choice to let go of anger, hate, resentment and lingering frustration, you can have a different outcome.

Coming to terms is for you.

Coming to terms means that after we stop denying, fighting or struggling, we make a decision to leave what can’t be changed behind and decide to bring forward what is good. There is some good that can come out of the worst atrocity.

  • We can reach out our hand to someone who is hurting.
  • We can develop a compassion for others who are struggling.
  • We can see the pain of a neighbor and offer a word of understanding and comfort.

In any moment in time, we choose how we will respond to life.

Victor Frankl, a psychiatrist, Jew and survivor of the concentration camps of WWII wrote: “To live is to suffer; to survive is to find meaning in the suffering.”

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he shares that even in the horrendous conditions of Auschwitz, “What alone is the last of human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.”

We will be challenged to live our values in the face of discarded principles and standards. We will be challenged to choose how we want to respond to life – both in our past and in the future. We will be challenged to make decisions that go counter to our desire to get payback or get even or follow the crowd.

But it is in those challenges that we grow and become more of who we are – a child of God and someone who endeavors to make a difference.

No matter the struggle, we can hang on to faith and hope and love and work through the knots and tangles of life.

Marlene Anderson


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I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

How to Change the Narrative When Your Emotions Are Holding You Hostage

How to Change the Narrative When Your Emotions Are Holding You Hostage | focuswithmarlene.com

The words we repeat over and over again have an emotional effect on us. They can hold us hostage to everything that is going wrong. When things go well, our stories are upbeat and hopeful. When life takes a downturn, so does our narrative. The focus shifts to what we lost and how miserable we feel.

Step out of the emotional arena, take a deep breath and think about the possibilities you have. Change your narrative from what you can’t do to what you can.

Here are seven ways you can change a pessimistic narrative to an optimistic one.

1. Become aware of what you say to yourself.

Unexpected catastrophes and setbacks due to illness or losses result in drastic changes. Our first reaction is feeling overwhelmed and helpless.

Our internal dialogue has consequences. Self-talk that reflects incompetence will rob you of the motivation you need to find a way forward.

Shift your focus to what you can do instead of everything that went wrong.

2. Step out of the emotional arena.

When we concentrate on how we feel, it is difficult to look for options. There is a cost and benefit to everything we do.

What emotional payoff are you getting by clinging to a pessimistic narrative, and what is the long-term cost?

3. Evaluate and clarify.

There are many components to events that create havoc in our lives. Do a quick assessment. Oftentimes things won’t look quite as bad when we broaden our perspective.

  • What can we fix right now?
  • What needs to be worked on over time?
  • What pieces can we salvage to create a new picture of success?

4. Consider other people in your life.

Problems and catastrophes tend to make us feel irritable and defensive. Anxiety about our future can make it difficult to communicate our wants and needs.

Be honest about what you are experiencing.

Don’t expect others to know how you feel, your level of anxiety or concerns.

We are often hesitant to speak about our vulnerabilities, but we gain inner strength when we can articulate our fears and anxieties.

5. Work together on solutions.

Problems can put a strain on family and close relationships. Personality traits and resistant tendencies affect our ability to work toward satisfactory resolutions.

What are you bringing to the table that can make it difficult to have a discussion?

How can a change in narrative help?

Change your demand of “you have to change” to one of “we can work together.”

Communicate your wants and needs; but also listen respectfully to the wants and needs and feelings of others.

6. Know what triggers your defense mechanism.

Remind yourself to stop, think and consider whenever you have a knee-jerk defense/attack response.

Are you saying or doing things that trigger another person’s need to attack and defend?

We can listen, respect differences and accept another’s point of view while setting logical and practical guidelines for discussion. This establishes rules of engagement that allow us to step back and take a time out if necessary to cool off.

7. Solution Focus Therapy offers a different approach to problems.

It asks you to imagine going to bed at night and waking in the morning with your problem solved.

  • What would that look like?
  • What would you be doing and how would you feel?

Focusing attention on the solution rather than the problem, allows us a new narrative.

Think about when life was different – a time when things were going well and you were happy.

  • What were you doing to make that happen?
  • When did life change and the problem begin? (See reference link at bottom)

Not all problems are resolved to our satisfaction. But we can start anew by changing the narrative of our story from reactive to proactive where we actively look for solutions.

Marlene Anderson

Sources:

Ackerman, C. (2017). What is solution-focused therapy: 3 essential techniques. Positive Psychology Program. Retrieved on 24 January, 2018,

O’Hanlon and Weiner-Davis, Michele, In Search of Solutions, 2003, W. W. Norton & Co. Inc.

Metcalf, Linda, PhD, Solution Focused Narrative Therapy, 2017, Springer Publishing Co., N.Y.


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Humor: My Teachable Moment

At any moment in time, things can happen that can disrupt our day. We can learn important insights at such times.

Here is something that happened to me that became a teachable moment. It illustrates how frustrating and irritating events can become priceless lessons.

My Teachable Moment

I was washing clothes, preparing for a family camping trip. The water flow to my washing machine had been exceedingly slow and I had improvised by attaching a hose from my laundry tub faucet to my washing machine to fill it.

When the phone rang in our office, I didn’t bother to shut off the faucet because I hadn’t planned on being gone for more than a minute. But it was a business call that took longer than anticipated. As I answered questions and took down information I completely forgot about the laundry until I hung up the phone. Then I remembered with panic, the water was still running.

I dashed into the kitchen and saw with horror the water overflowing from a very full washing machine, onto my floor, flooding the laundry room and adjoining kitchen. In a recent remodel we had installed kitchen carpet, which was the rage at that time, to both the kitchen and laundry room. The carpet was saturated and the water was pooling on top.

I shut off the faucet and stood there appalled, thinking about all the things that needed to be done before leaving the next day. How would I clean up this mess on top of packing?  It wasn’t just the carpet that needed to be dried, but also boxes of sewing material that had been stacked at the end of the laundry room.

It was at this precise moment when my husband opened the door from the garage and stepped into the laundry room, and stopped short as he looked first at the floor and then at me. And as was his nature, he immediately saw the absurdity and humorous side of the situation.

I remember thinking as I looked at him: don’t you dare laugh. It is not funny. If you had fixed that water pressure problem weeks ago, I wouldn’t be in this situation.

But I didn’t say it because in the very next second I received a thunderbolt revelation. I could either remain angry or I could laugh. I had a choice. I could see the funny side. Either way, the cleanup job needed to be done. But with humor, the job would be so much easier.

I have shared this story many times because of the valuable lesson I learned. I vividly remember how my whole demeanor and body changed when I made the decision to see humor instead of engaging in anger. There might be an immediate instinctive and automatic response to events, but we don’t have to stay there. We can choose to see things differently.

Why is this story relevant? Because medical research tells us how powerful humor and laughter can be to our overall health. According to Psychology Today, “Laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain.”

If humor and laughter are so powerful, why don’t we do more of it?

We can learn to laugh at ourselves and circumstances. It’s not just a fun way to approach life, but a powerful medicine that heals the soul and mends the body.

Laughter is a tonic that makes today better and creates hope for tomorrow.  Humor is a mini-vacation, a “breath of fresh air,” and a way to cope.

Comedians make their lively-hood by taking traumatic circumstances and spinning them into humor. Each of us has the same ability to create humor and laugh in spite of our tears.

“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”  -Mark Twain

“The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.” -H.G. Wells

What makes you laugh?

What stories of your past could you revisit and discover that kernel of humor?

You will have moments when everything goes wrong and your first response is anger and frustration. But you do not need to stay there. The next time you want to rage with anger or sink into despair, stop and re-frame the situation. Find that humor, chuckle, and laugh.

“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. And swing!!!”

-Leo Buscaglia

Marlene Anderson


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I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

What Stories Are You Telling?

In preparing a speech and workshop for a group of writers on memoirs, I thought about how the threads of our past continue to have an influence on everything we do. Those threads are the many stories that make up our lives.

There are many stories that need to be told – stories that only you can tell.  While we may live through similar times, everyone experiences those times differently and each of us will have a different interpretation of what occurred.

There will be funny stories and stories that break your heart, but all have an important message to share.

They tell us we can endure hard times and gain something positive from even the worst of situations; there is hope for the future.

It’s not only the stories we tell other people, but the stories we tell ourselves. We constantly relive what happens in some way.

Does your story include hope and grace and some redeeming qualities?

Within the worst of situations, we find elements of bravery, compassion, sacrifice, understanding, and even humor.

Memoirs – Our Special Stories

What Stories Are You Telling? | Focuswithmarlene.com

A memoir is a slice of life, a story within the story of our lives. They are highly personal and we may find them difficult to write because we are asked to go beyond the recall of events. In our narrative, we identify our weaknesses and shortcomings as well as our strengths and triumphs which make us and our story human, relatable, credible and engaging.

Within memoirs, there is a theme – a subject or distinct and unifying idea or principle. You can write about your childhood, the places you have visited, a funny event, giving a speech, anything. The people you share your narrative with want to experience something vivid and a story that will shine a light on their own experiences or lives.

A memoir shows how much we all have in common. It doesn’t have to be dramatic to be of interest. We want to come away understanding, however subtle, what it means to be human.

Writing is both powerful and therapeutic. It helps us re-examine events objectively and coherently, and come to terms with life-altering changes. It gives us the opportunity to grieve old losses, heal old wounds and put to rest difficult memories.

Your Slice of Life

You may not consider yourself a writer, but you do tell stories. Imagine you are writing about things that have happened in your life. This is a fun exercise anyone can do.

  • Take a piece of paper and write down some of the events that have happened over time, events that had some influence or made a difference in some way.
  • Beside each event, write why this had importance. Maybe it is a crazy event that enabled you to see the humor in the absurdity of what happened. Maybe it reminded you of how we can persevere and survive even in the toughest of times.
  • Pick one event and write a story about it.

Writing gives voice to what we have experienced.

Be honest.  Don’t skip over the tough parts. We need to know the facts as we identified them along with the emotions we felt. How did events affect us both in the short term and long term? Don’t omit the questions, struggles, and doubts you had about life, others, God and yourself.

It is in the struggles where we gain humility, insight and become better people. That does not reflect weakness – but a desire to be honest and genuine.

Clarity comes as we begin to tell our story in some way and helps to coherently piece together our experiences, and re-frame the ending. Expanding our understanding of our life experiences helps us to come to terms with difficult times.

As you write, think about the strengths and resilience and determination you have gained over time. We tend to forget what it takes to go through tough times. Whether you share your story with others or not, in the writing and telling it to yourself, you acquire a greater appreciation for you and others.

Accept and celebrate all the parts of your life’s journey – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Marlene Anderson


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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.

I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

An Interview with Yourself

Several years ago, I did an interview with Stephanie Hill Williams, a Christian radio station host. Before the interview, I was given a set of questions to preview that would be used in our discussion. They included my childhood years, family, career goals and my aspirations as a writer and speaker.

This interview made me pause and think about who I am, what in my upbringing helped me achieve and what things continue to make me struggle. We rarely stop to consider who we are because we are too busy living life.

When facing difficulties, all the negative attributes we have placed on ourselves rush to the front and center of our thinking. We forget all the productive things we have done.

Exploring who we are may seem scary at first.  After all, we left home hoping to leave everything unpleasant behind us. But exploring those early years will help us recognize the strengths we have.

Who am I?

Imagine you are a radio host who is asking questions about who you are. This is not an interview for a job but a conversation you are having with yourself. Consider the following questions and suggestions as a way to have this conversation.

 

  • How would you define who you are and what makes “you” you? Think of the following questions as prompts to help you put into words your description.

 

  • What qualities or attributes do you believe you have? Do you see yourself as upbeat, strong, determined, cautious, leader, follower, peacemaker, etc?

 

  • What personality traits or characteristics describe you? (Thoughtful, contemplative, caring, introspective, charismatic, stubborn, assertive, etc.)

 

  • What are your talents and abilities?  Are you artistic, computer and technology savvy, athletic, gardening enthusiast, homemaker, designer, problem solver, musician, etc?

 

  • Would you consider yourself an extrovert who is energized interacting with other people or more of an introvert who feels less comfortable in social circles?

 

  • On a piece of paper, write a short story about what it was like growing up. Were you part of a large family or a small one? Perhaps you were an only child? Where did you fit into the family structure (eldest, middle, or youngest)? Research indicates that birth order has predictable outcomes.

 

  • Were you encouraged to develop your potential growing up or were you constantly compared negatively with others? Do you continue to compare yourself, always seeing others as more competent and successful than yourself?

 

Taking time to reflect can reveal the many attributes we have that have helped us succeed in the past that we can use again.

When we’ve hit some major roadblocks or setbacks, our thoughts typically revolve around all the reasons we can’t succeed and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Change your focus from what you can’t do to finding solutions you need.

Throughout life there will be turning points, defining moments when we can stop and reflect.  These are opportunities to eliminate what isn’t working and put in place the resources we need. Beginning with a more measured assessment of who we are, and what helped us become successful in the past can make a new start both exciting and productive.

Marlene Anderson


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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.

I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

7 Ways to Turn a Major Setback into an Advantage

When you were little, life was exciting. Those first tentative steps as a toddler soon became an adventure as you ran around exploring your world.  Before long, you were enrolled in kindergarten, then grade school, high school and on to college.

Excited about all the possibilities, you set out to conquer the world.

Then life hit. Others got the jobs you wanted. College debts mounted and your first paychecks barely covered the rent. Relationships you thought would last ended with bad feelings and the hope for marriage and family evaporated.

Each time we get knocked down, it becomes harder and harder to get up. The goals and aspirations we had are abandoned. Obstacles become impassable roadblocks or dead ends, and our enthusiasm and excitement for the future vanish like early morning mists. Instead of possibilities and promises for a brighter future, we feel discouraged and dejected.

It’s hard to remain motivated when everything seems to constantly be going wrong.  Instead of seeing the successes we have had, we only see failures and disappointments.

When life hits hard, we are faced with asking the tough questions:

Is this really where I want to be?

Is there anything positive I can take away from this?

7 Ways to Turn a Major Setback into an Advantage

1. Leave Old Baggage in the Past.

We leave home carrying a lot of baggage of unresolved disputes, negative messages and hurt feelings. This baggage will continue to trip us up until we take the time to reflect, work through troubled times and let go of hurts and past grievances.

As we look at events and people who had an impact on us growing up, we can make a purposeful decision to let go and leave it in the past.

Sifting through our memories reminds us of the times and people who encouraged and believed in us. We want to take these nuggets of optimism with us moving forward.

2. Let go of Grievances.

There are no perfect childhoods or perfect parents. We will encounter individuals who are troubled, struggle to survive and lack the skills to encourage and nurture.

However, our past does not define who we are unless we allow it to.

As we work through the difficulties of earlier times there will be a tendency to hang on to resentments, unfairness or ill-treatment. We do that to our own detriment.

Hanging onto grievances is like drinking toxic acid every day – it gradually eats you up. Forgiveness is for you.

3. Ask the Questions: What is working and what is not working? How do I spend my time?

We hear a lot about time management and struggle to put a reasonable plan in motion. Record your daily time schedule for each day for one week, starting from when you get up and when you go to bed. Then put together a new schedule that includes time for fun activities with family and friends.

4. Recognize Critical Self Talk and Replace.

What messages from your past continue to persuade you that you don’t have what it takes to succeed?

Recognizing critical self-talk enables us to challenge irrational thinking and biased core beliefs and replace with encouraging constructive affirmations.

5. Reframe Difficult Situations.

Reframing circumstances give us the ability to see more of our current situations and maximize our problem-solving efforts. Acceptance helps us get un-stuck and focus on what we can do and look for successful outcomes. As we see more options our choices can be better attuned to win-win solutions.

6. Setbacks are Opportunities.

Setbacks give us the opportunity to stop and consider who we are. We discover more about ourselves.

  • What makes us tick?
  • What makes us feel good?
  • What do we love to do that we have been ignoring and how can we incorporate that into our everyday lives?
  • What are the values we want to live?

7. Focus on Your Successes.

What made them successful? Give yourself credit for doing a good job.

Develop a list of all the successes you have had, no matter how small. Don’t minimize the importance of anything. This helps us balance the vulnerabilities we feel.

Acceptance of ourselves, just as we are, the good and the bad, enables us to live more genuine and honest lives.

When we give ourselves the grace to fail and try again as often as it takes, we develop a bold yet humble attitude that allows for stumbles, falls and setbacks.

Imagine today that you are at a crossroads and are required to choose one path over another.

This is the first blog in a new series that focuses on the theme “Picking up the Pieces.”  Over the coming months, you will learn how to create a new roadmap, navigate detours and roadblocks that will put you on a path of exciting new opportunities.

 Marlene Anderson

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.

I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

5 Essentials to Successful Goals

Last week you previewed your potential goals for this year by reflecting on the following:

What do I want?

Why do I want it?

Am I willing to work to achieve it?

Included in that blog posting was a Goal Development Inventory that had additional questions to help you answer those questions that included identifying our personal barriers, what was important in your life right now and what you had accomplished in the past.

To complete this segment on setting and completing goals, I have listed five important considerations that can help you succeed with your plans.

5 Important Essentials Needed to Make Goals Successful

1. Goals are easy to make – they are not easy to complete.

We have lofty ideals and aspirations that rarely include the reality of how we will complete them.

Review your “what I want” list and eliminate items that are “wishes” which you are unwilling to commit to action.

Add to this list some personal development goals, such as becoming kinder and more understanding, a willingness to listen instead of rushing to judgment or discovering something to be grateful for every day.

2. Pick one item you are serious about and willing to commit to making it happen.

Then pick a personal development goal. Personal development goals are ongoing and you work on them every day in some way.

As we improve our attitude and responses to those around us, it will have a positive impact on the success of all our other goals.

If your life is currently in chaos, with struggles in your marriage and family, any goals you make will be at risk for failure.

3. What has failed in the past and what has worked?

We learn from living. We have had successes and failures. To keep from repeating past mistakes we need to stop and evaluate those mistakes.

  • What did you learn – about yourself or others?
  • How can I keep from repeating them again?

Don’t rationalize why you didn’t follow through. We need to be completely honest with ourselves.  It is the only way we will make changes that become beneficial and long-lasting.

4. Check your confidence level.

Often goals remain incomplete because we lose confidence over time.

  • Do I need to adjust the time frame for completion?
  • Have I articulated what I want and why?

Confidence is gained as we continue to move forward one step at a time.

Obstacles are just that – obstacles that we can go around or remove. They remain stumbling blocks when we believe there is nothing we can do to overcome them.

Affirm your capabilities every day.

We are not perfect – we will make mistakes – we will fail. That is human. Be willing to assess and try again.

Write positive affirmations that you repeat every day until they become second nature in your thoughts that doubts and uncertainties can’t alter.

Put in place a mantra of “Yes I can,” or one that says, “I refuse to let failures define me.”

We can start again. Every stumble, every problem, every obstacle teaches us something even if that reminds us we are resilient and strong.

5. Habits.

One of the obstacles rarely addressed in goal setting is habits. We are creatures of habit. We do the things that are expedient, easy and give us some immediate, pleasurable reward that makes us feel good at the moment.

These habits rarely keep us healthy, happy or successful over time.

Recognize the habits that have kept you from accomplishing goals in the past. Face your excuses and denials. Be honest with yourself.

Habits cannot just be changed or stopped – they need to be replaced. Give yourself time and grace to master that replacement.

Mark on a calendar every time you were successful.

Monitor your self talk. Replace belittling thoughts with affirmations. Remind yourself, “I can do this.

Replace the words should and must with “I want or choose to do this.

Work on one habit at a time so you won’t get stressed, lose motivation and quit.

Next step

When you have completed your goal statement and plans of action, post it somewhere where you can view it every day as a reminder that you were serious about achieving it.

If you would like a goal statement template that takes you through the important steps in goal setting, send me a quick e-mail and I will forward it to you.

Marlene Anderson

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.

I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

What Goals are Right for Me?

What Goals are Right for Me? A Goal Development Inventory | FocusWithMarlene.comLike you, I have made many goals. Some were completed but many others were not.

As I think about the goals I want to make for this upcoming year, I am challenged to ask, what made the difference between success and failure with past goals? Why did I abandon some but not others?

In reflection, I think one of the most important reasons was because I hadn’t been specific enough in defining my goal. To be specific you need to know what you want, why you want it and must be willing to work to achieve it.

So much of what we do is due to a moment’s desire: if I had such and such or could do such and such I would be happy.

Why should we bother with goals if we so seldom complete or accomplish them?

What do I want? – Why do I want it? – Am I willing to work to achieve it?

Years ago, when studying goal setting, we were told the goals we made needed to include every aspect of our life:  family, physical, mental, social relationships, religious/spiritual, financial, career. In workshops that I have given, the need to consider all aspects of your life was strongly emphasized and explored. Unfortunately, we tend to focus on career goals to the exclusion of the other areas of our life – we consider other areas important but those remain only partially developed.

When we exclude some areas in our goal setting, our lives become unbalanced and instead of finding the satisfaction we crave, we experience dissatisfaction and sometimes turmoil.

Below is a Goal Development Inventory that I have used in presenting workshops. Before finalizing your goals for this year, take a moment and consider what you truly want.

Goals need to go beyond the desire or good intention of the moment. They need to be associated with our values and principles and long-term development of us as individuals.

  • What will make me a better person?
  • What contribution will my goals make to others?
  • How can I become the person God created me to be?
What Goals are Right for Me? A Goal Development Inventory | FocusWithMarlene.com

Goal Development Inventory

What do I want?  (this is often hard to define but incredibly important)

 

What goals do I want to accomplish in the following areas:

Family

Physical

Mental

Social-Relationships

Religious/Spiritual

Financial

Career

Select one goal you want to accomplish in the next six months

 

Select three goals you want to accomplish by next year

 

Select three goals that you consider the most important life goals

 

Within the past month, what have you done to accomplish any of these goals?  Why? Why not?

 

Do you really want these things?  Why?  Why not?

 

What do you consider to be your strengths?

 

What do you consider to be your weaknesses?

 

List five of the most important things in your life right now

 

List three peak, meaningful events you have experienced in your lifetime

 

What peak experiences would you like to have in the future

 

Make a decision right now on a goal you want to complete this year

 

To develop and complete successful goals, we need to understand ourselves better. Even when excuses are legitimate: example, struggling with overwhelming technology, we can make it our focus to discover ways to do what is needed.

Identifying your personal barriers to completing your goals can help motivate us through the tough spots. My personal barriers have been technology, time, learning curve and not making a more formal commitment.

A formal commitment would include a reasonable time commitment for my writing, but also social commitments, maintenance, and upkeep of my home, marketing, and continued education.

Marlene Anderson

If you would like a free download of the above inventory, send me an e-mail and ask for Goal Development Inventory and I will e-mail it to you as soon as possible.

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.