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Wounded People

j0433113I lost a brother last week – sudden – unexpected.

In honor of his death and life, and for anyone who has lost a loved one, I post a poem I wrote in 2008 when I was working with people going through grief – wounded people.

You may have struggled going through a major loss in your life. Or you may be helping a friend who is grieving.  This is for anyone who has been in that position.

Wounded People

 

Need a hand for support as they learn to walk again

Need friends who will be there

Need to know they can honor their journey

Need to have their feelings and experience validated

Need assistance – not fixing

Need someone who is willing to listen

Need acceptance, grace, understanding, compassion

Do not need pity, trite words, or lectures about the future

Need to know they are okay – when someone who has leg surgery they want to know,

“Will I be able to walk again?”

Wounded people need to know “Will I be able to live again?”

Need encouragement

Need to know they are still needed

Need time to recover, sort things through and restructure their life

Need to know they will enjoy life again

Need to know that life is worth living – there is a purpose and meaning

Healing occurs when we allow ourselves to go through the pain,

Are willing to reach out for support when we need it,

To gain the strength and courage to create a new beginning

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.

 

Why, What and How

regensberg-10-16We can usually identify what it is we don’t want, but often struggle to put into words exactly what we do want. Until we do, we will be unable to design a plan and stay focused to accomplish it.

Why, What, and How

What have you wanted to do but for whatever reason never got around to doing it.  Maybe you thought about getting more education, or starting your own business or putting time and energy into creating crafts that others would want to buy.

Perhaps you wished you could work for a worthwhile cause that pulls your heart. But life seems so hectic.

These three little words, why, what and how, along with the questions they pose may help you rethink those wishes and wants.  Use them to re-examine them and their importance to you.

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Why:

 

  • Why do I want to do this or make this a goal?
  • Why have I hesitated in the past?
  • Why is it important now?
  • Why do I procrastinate if I say I want it?
  • Why do other things take precedence and seem more important than reaching this goal? (Example: would have to give up free time, become more disciplined and self regulated, continue working towards even when I don’t feel like it in the moment, etc.)

 

Woman filling in a form

What:

 

  • What specifically do I want to do, to have, to attain?
  • What keeps me from doing it? (past attempts, past failures, lack of commitment, etc.)
  • What obstacles, restrictions, setbacks do I face (financial, age, lack of support, determination, fear, unsure, insecurity, etc.)
  • What interferences are there? (Demanding job, family concerns, over committed in other areas, home to maintain, etc.)
  • What would happen if I didn’t make a decision and get started?
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How:

 

  • How will I maintain my other important and necessary commitments (job, family, church, rest, important relationships, etc.)
  • How will I get past those discouraging moments?
  • How will I keep myself motivated when I am tired and alternative diversions become more compelling?
  • How will I define my goal specifically enough so I know exactly how to structure my plan of action?
  • How will I know when I have reached my goal and am ready for the next one?

 

As you think through some of the reasons why you haven’t started on some of those meaningful goals, consider the following.

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Reasons we fail

  • We lack long term commitment
  • We give up
  • We have an initial spurt of energy but not a plan to take us all the way
  • We haven’t taken an honest look at our strengths and weaknesses, accepting all of ourselves as being okay, looking at the past with only the intention to identify repeated errors without analyzing and constructing a way to counter them, etc
  • We haven’t addressed diversions that occur every day
  • We haven’t identified why we haven’t succeeded in the past and put in place ways to counter that
  • We allow old messages to keep surfacing and we begin to pay more attention to them than our new goal: Ex: Do I really want to put this much effort into this program? What if it doesn’t go anywhere and I get nothing from my efforts?
  • We haven’t established our values and have written a mission statement for ourselves.

portrait of a young woman standing with arms akimbo in a parkTrying and failing is never a reason not to try.  If it is important to you, it is worth the effort to try.  You can succeed.

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.

 

 

Adjust Your Focus

thumbnailCAOVZJY2Those of you who love to take pictures do more than point and shoot. You are constantly adjusting the lens to take in more of the landscape or to narrow the scope to pinpoint a particular point of interest.

You continue to adjust your focus until you can capture exactly what you want.

You care about the lighting, the angle, the depth perception, and the nuances that give some pictures a timeless quality.

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We adjust the lens of our cameras –

but do we adjust the lens of our camera of life?

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Sometimes our focus needs to be needle sharp, pinpointing a particular problem that requires immediate attention.

At such times we narrow our scope to attend to it, completely obliterating anything else that is happening; such times as when our child is sick, someone is having a heart attack or we find ourselves in a dangerous situation.

At such moments we don’t care if the sun is shining, the birds are singing or the daffodils are blooming. What we care about is the emergency in front of us that takes center stage and requires our full attention.

 

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Other times our focus is broadened and we stop to smell the roses, see the beauty of nature around us and relax in the comfort of knowing God loves us and so do others.

 

Every day when we get up we can adjust our focus.

When we have problems we can adjust our lens to look for those things that will give us the necessary information to work with,pinpointing the cause of the problem and then look for solutions.

Or we can allow our lens to get stuck on what isn’t working and

remain fixed on the problem instead of a solution.

 

DSC00764When our lens is stuck in only one position, we miss the beauty of life that surrounds us, the things that can make our heart sing, the people who enrich our lives, the work of nature that continues to keep things growing and moving from season to season.

We miss the opportunities to try new things, to experiment, to find new experiences and ways to build a positive life. We get stuck on hate instead of love, anger instead of compassion.

You are the camera of your life. You adjust the focus every day.

 

Each moment in time offers us something new to experience – a depth of understanding, a new perspective, a desire to accomplish, a passion to help and share. Within each moment in time we have opportunities that are gone in a second if we don’t focus on them. What amazing things we could accomplish if we allowed ourselves to think of the possibilities and act on them.

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When I get up in the morning I have a choice as to what I will focus on.

I can focus on my vulnerabilities or I can focus on my strengths.

I can feel depressed about what I don’t have or I can rejoice with God about all the possibilities that lay before me.

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I determine what pictures of life I will take. I determine the focus of my life camera.

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.

 

 

Free to be Me

Young Woman Standing with Arms Stretched OutWhen we feel there are no solutions to our problems, we strike out, hang on to resentment and blame others for our difficulties or distress.  Or we condemn ourselves.

Remaining in that mindset, however, takes away our personal power and keeps us locked in a never ending cycle of bitterness and anger.

Our focus remains on what we can’t do and not on what we can do.

We are a combination of many things: DNA, personality, childhood experiences and the fundamental beliefs we put in place while growing up. We form perceptions of who we think we are based on how we interpret our experiences.

Everyone will be affected differently by life events. While one thing may be an irritant to one person, it can be a positive experience to another.

Completing the stories from our past give us the opportunity to take a more measured look at what happened in our growing up years and how that continues to influence our present day life. Some things made us feel little and insignificant while others motivated us to become the best we can.

As we challenge and speak to those things that made us feel inferior and worthless, we have the opportunity to heal old wounds and put to rest the intense emotions associated with them. Our view of ourselves, the world and who we can become is expanded. We can remember the good times as well as the bad and those that helped and encouraged us. Choosing to let go of our pain and grievances allows us to create a new and positive chapter for our life story.

We are not our past. Our past does not define who we are unless we allow it to. Completing our stories help build a more positive bridge from the past to the present.   It enables us to take charge.

Young Woman Standing Over a Car Engine Bay Checking An Oil DipstickLife can be hard. It is easy to fall into the trap that we are entitled to a happy life and that somehow others are responsible for that. But when we buy into that belief system, we relinquish our personal power and freedom. We are no longer in charge of our lives – someone or something else is.

We are free to choose how we respond to whatever is happening. During the tough times, we can learn how to be resilient, flexible and compassionate. We have the opportunity to think in more positive and productive ways. It is where we accept our vulnerabilities and work with them instead of hiding or denying them. In those moments we recognize our need for God and reach out to Him for strength, hope and courage.

It is during the tough times, when everything is going wrong, that we have the opportunity to become more of who we are than we could at any other time. It is where we stretch and reach higher and grow.

A Letter of Affirmation

Take a piece of paper and write a letter to yourself. Write about all the things you have accomplished and all the people who have helped you. Include the talents and abilities you have. Write about the ways you want to improve and grow. Complete your letter with a faith statement of how you want to live your life and use the wonderful gifts you have been given. Read this letter every day as an affirmation of all the things you can achieve and become.

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.

 

A Tribute for a Friend

j0433113I remember those early days and months after the death of my husband. One winter morning, I saw a white rose blooming on one of my rose bushes.  The leaves were gone and it was January and very cold.

It precipitated the writing of the following poem.  I share it today for my friend.

Loss is part of life; but those who remain struggle with their loss. Lois,  God be with you and comfort you.

 

I Cried – He Came

 

God came one morning when I was down and low

He showed me a patch of blue between the clouds,

A bird scrounging in the dried bushes

Looking for food

Singing a song

 

And He said, “I’m here – I’m here

I’m right here beside you!”

 

I’m with that bird – He’s singing in the cold

I’m in that sky – there’s a promise of spring

I’m in the earth around you – Close your eyes and feel my strength

Feel me giving you breath to continue on

 

“Bloom wherever you are,” He said. “Just bloom.”

 

I looked and saw my rose bush blooming

There were no leaves

It was still the middle of winter

But there were roses blooming.

 

Bloom wherever you are

Bloom in the winter – the summer – the fall

Bloom wherever I place you

I will feed you

I will water you

I will be by your side

There are many things I do not understand

– why I must be alone when it is people I need

–  why I must struggle when others are at play.

We all have our prisons:  they come in separation and isolation – in loss and discouragement. They come in the midst of poverty and in the midst of wealth. They sneak up behind us and catch us when we are not looking,

and in desperation we cry out to our God

I do not understand. I do not understand.

But I do know this. My God came and stood beside me today

He came and I felt His presence

in the sky – the bird – the roses

I closed my eyes and felt his presence by my side.

And I was no longer alone.

 

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.

The Shack

The Shack“The Shack“, by Wm. Paul Young.

Several years ago, I led a six week book review at my church on “The Shack.” Last week I was asked to speak at a book club on the same book which has come into focus again with the recent release of the movie made from the book.

Preparing for my talk and discussion, I asked myself, how can I reduce such a rich book to an hour speech? I saw the movie, reviewed the book again, and reached deep into the text to pull out some of its jewels of thought provoking questions. Although it is a fiction story, it invokes questions such as who is God? Does He really care for us? How am I to respond to Him? If I have suffered a great loss, an unspeakable tragedy, does God care?  And what do I do with my anger, hate and resentment?

Here are snippets of that book feature I did on my blog site, in May of 2015.

 

“The Shack

The ShackHow do you see God?

Would you see Him as stern – unforgiving – waiting for you to screw up? How does your perception of God influence your relationship with Him? Does it bring you closer or keep you at a distance?

In “The Shack,” by Wm. Paul Young, the main character, Mack, receives a simple typewritten letter in the mail telling “Mackenzie” that he had been missed and if he wanted to get together, he “would be at the shack next weekend”. It was signed “Papa”.

On his quest to overcome the sadness Mack continued to experience after the death of his daughter, he decides to take a trip back to the scene of the crime where his daughter had been snatched by a predator during a family camping trip and was murdered. On the way he meets with an accident and Mack discovers himself at “the shack” where he comes face to face with God.

And the journey begins.

What would you do or say if you came face to face with God, especially if He was totally different than you had envisioned Him? What would you do if He greeted you with love, a hug, excited to see you and with an invitation to join Him for dinner? What if He laughed and saw His world with eyes of positive expectation? In fact, what if He was a She?

During Mack’s weekend with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, he is confronted with his anger towards God, his personal guilt for not what happened to his daughter, and his desire for retribution.

“The Shack,” is a powerful book that challenges our perceptions of God, redemption, grace and forgiveness and gives pause to our usual responses to life. Originally written for his children, others who read Paul’s story encouraged him to publish it.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to facilitate a book review group of this book as part of a Lenten series at my church. Although I had read the book before, this was an in-depth study rich in revelations and take away lessons that could deepen our faith and walk with God. A couple of months later, I was privileged to meet, talk with and listen to the author himself when he spoke at our church.

Many people begin the book but never complete it. I encourage you to not only read it from beginning to end, and take time to pursue its deeper messages of grace, redemption, forgiveness and love, but also to make it a part of your own library.

Marlene Anderson

Post Script – Go see the movie – it faithfully follows the book and is a good see.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Tree of Hope

MtBakerHaving lunch the other day with a fellow author, I became interested in a poem she had written.  Grieving the loss of a family member she shared the difficulty of writing during this period.  The poem she shared with us seemed so appropriate for the Lenten season, and I  asked if she would mind if I posted her poem on my website blog.  She said yes.

When she sent me the poem, I was blown away by the depth of love and creative talent that went into writing this poem.

Darlene Dubay, is not just another would-be writer.  I had the privilege of doing a book review of her book, The Tales of Two Sisters, available on Amazon.com. a few years ago. Follow the 2 links to see her website, and to read the review.

As authors and Christians, I am privileged to post Darlene’s poem as this week’s blog during Holy Week. The picture above was taken by a very talented photographer friend of mine, Maria Kumlander, who lives in California.

 

Tree of Hope

I remember being a seed, full of hope, dreaming.

I would be the tallest tree, and proud.

Then, thrust into the ground, I shuddered.

Darkness overcame me and I broke.

No longer latent, I began to search for light.

Yet wanting to be anchored, I thrust my fingers deeper into ground.

They laughed at me as I broke free.

“A twig,” they said: Insignificant nothing.

Yet I dreamed of becoming—magnificent I’d stand, towering above—mighty.

When finally ready I would be mercifully cut to become

A pillar, strong and straight to hold the weight of majesty aloft.

Or maybe I would be fashioned as a cradle,

Holding precious life, or toy or tureen—useful—

bringing pleasure by being used.

I did not fear the saw; it was a long way off.

But when it finally came. I cried,

“No, let me grow a little more. I want to be the biggest and the best.

I want my glorious form to be admired.”

I lay there on the ground, helpless—

My fate in the hands of those who ripped me from my roots.

It did no good to protest. My voice could not be heard.

Lying prostrate, I imagined what I would become.

It was not good. Their evil tones were hinting shame and disgrace.

“No!” I cried. “I did not grow for this.”

My limbs were ripped and nailed into a form

So horrible—degrading—a mockery of what was meant to be.

Bitter nails drove into my flesh,

But worse was yet to come.

Dragged and carried in my ugly form, I tried my best to help the struggling one,

But felt my weight grow heavier with each step.

Then on the top of that ignominious hill,

They laid me prostrate to accept my fate.

I felt his flesh caress the roughness of my bark.

I groaned in shame that I would be the one

To lift His whipped and trampled body far aloft for all to see.

I felt the spikes drive precious flesh and blood into my wood.

Helpless, there I stood, as I was lifted with my treasure.

Oh, the shame! The agony! The jeering crowds saying,

“It’s the end. His suffering has no meaning. ”

All is lost. What victory lies in death?

What justice shines through bitter clouds of hate?

I felt his spirit leave and fear of being discarded racked my being.

The coldness of his absence permeated me

And I wished for burning fires of purification.

Better to be cleansed than to lie rotting in the dirt.

The emptiness of my ugly form was wretched. I watched them haul him off—just another lifeless piece of flesh.

And me? I only hoped that I could fade to nothing.

On the third day, though, he returned.

He held me close and promised—what?

I could not comprehend.

“I live,” he said. “I am alive forever.”

“How can it be?” I cried. “I felt your soul’s anguish

And despair. I know the emptiness of your departing.

I never want to be the one who displays

Your trampled, lifeless body up for all to see.”

He held me closer then and I knew it had to be this way.

My gift of self will be forever a symbol of great love.

My collaboration in his plan will always be

The means to life eternal.

I’m honored. I am cherished.

And every day and moment

Someone remembers by my sign—

True life awaits those who hold me closest to their heart.

4-5-2010

Happy Lent,

Darlene 

Thank you Darlene.  You have graced my blog with your exceptional insight and talent.

I wish each of you a blessed Easter, knowing that it was the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection, that brings us this blessed holiday.

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.

 

 

Yes you can! Just Say No

Woman Boring a Hole in a Wooden Board with a DrillYes you can!  Just say No!

Perhaps you just lost your job – or you have spent four grueling years getting your degree but there are no jobs available in your line of work. What do you do?

Do you get up, put on a brave face and keep trying?  Or do you give up.

Yes you can! Just say No.

Yes, you can is a mindset that reflects our willingness to dig deep inside ourselves and look for the tools we need to hone and use them more effectively. This isn’t just about putting a positive spin on a serious, perhaps life threatening situation.

It’s looking at your situation squarely and saying, yes I can; with the help of God and doing whatever it takes within my principles and values to make it happen.

It won’t be easy. It will take hard work. It will take ingenuity and creativity. It will take doing many things you might have thought beneath your talents and abilities.

And it will require saying “No” to doing what feels good in the moment; “No” to taking life for granted; “No” to unrealistic expectations. It takes knowing where you are right now, and saying no to purchases you thought were absolutely necessary simply because everybody else is doing it.

Finances can become a serious problem if we do not have impulse control. Not having a budget and knowing how to manage our money can have long term consequences.

When my husband and I were first married, we had no financial cushion. He had just  returned to his home town after playing in big bands both on the road, in studios and in Vegas.

We got married with high hopes of him starting his own band. He tried selling real estate to pay the bills while trying to make the band business profitable. It didn’t.  We were back at square one.  Pregnant with our first child, I could no longer work at my job and we had to move in with his parents.

But, there was never the thought of giving up.  Instead we looked at other options.  Before letting real estate go, we used his commission to buy our first little track house. He realized that neither his dreams for his own big band nor real estate would take care of the needs of a family. He chose a new direction, worked at several jobs at once, went back to school to get his Masters in Music Education and took a job teaching school, something he swore he would never do.  He not only was an excellent teacher, (his students attest to that), but starting from scratch, we worked together as a team.  He became the head of a music department, respected by many, as we also met the challenges of raising a handicapped child and taking care of a Mom with a serious heart condition.  Later, I was able to go back to school as well and get my masters.

Yes you can!

But you might also have to say No.  No to getting all those things you believe you can’t live without in the moment; no to spending money whenever you feel like it. It isn’t easy.

Sometimes you have to scale back farther than you ever thought possible.  But when you develop an attitude of Yes I can, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Throughout life there will be tough times when you will be sidelined, knocked down or will face a major roadblock. You may have to spend money getting more education or training; or you may have to cut way back to make ends meet while you work on how to take that next step.

 

MP900438950It is so easy to buy on credit.  With the click of a button on phone apps we can make purchases.

We are often unaware of how much we are spending and people can find themselves thousands of dollars in debt.

As important as it is to manage your time and put in place productive habits for healthy eating and exercise, it is equally as important to have a financial program in place.

A lesson I learned

My husband and I shared a similar mind set of, if you want to, you can find a way to do it. Here is my own story about discovering how I spent my money as a young adult – a very valuable lesson learned and remembered.

As a young woman, I shared an apartment with my sister and brother.  I worked at an entry level job and struggled to pay my portion of rent and food costs.  I rarely went shopping and avoided retail stores where I would be tempted to buy things on sale. 

Our Dad had instilled the importance of putting at least 10% of our earnings into savings.  Where was my money going?  How could I possibly do that?

I decided to put down on paper all the things I purchased in a month, no matter how miner or small. I was shocked to discover my lack of money came from all those little ticket items: a new lipstick, a quick cheap meal out at lunchtime, an inexpensive scarf, etc. This was the spending that kept me broke. 

When I put in place new habits around spending, I was again surprised when I was able to save over a $1,000 in a year’s time while still paying my share of the bills and even getting some new clothes from time to time. Back then, that was a lot of money.

Yes We Can

There are many organizations that can help us with financial planning and budgeting if we are having trouble.  The Dave Ramsey program has been very successful in teaching people how to spend wisely and prudently and accumulate wealth in the process.

But you can do this on your own if you are willing to take the time.  Getting higher incomes and better paying jobs does not automatically guarantee you will get out of debt.  Studies show we simply increase our spending in relation to what we earn. In fact, you will be able to accumulate more money by establishing prudent spending/budget/saving habits.

Time management, financial management, self-regulation and self-discipline can be the greatest gifts you give yourself.  Yes you can.  Just say No to impulses. And Yes to meaningful long term goals.

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.

How was your day?

Woman filling in a formHow was your day?”

It is a question we need to ask ourselves at the end of the day regardless if we work from a home office, are a stay-at-home Mom, or commute to a job away from home.

Are you exhausted, worn out and ready to collapse at the end of the day?

If your job leaves you drained of energy, coming home each day to a chaotic environment, dishes in the sink, clothes and toys scattered all over, chores left undone, is not what you want to have to face. It’s hard to relax when everything around you is a mess.

Time management is your tool.  It will be effective only as it fits your wants, needs and goals.

What can a time management plan do for you?

It can put in place routines, schedules and to do lists that give you overall control over each day’s tasks and duties.  A time management plan can reduce stress, indecision, and create habits that work for you and not against you. Included in that plan is establishing specific times for relaxation and enjoyment with your family or the people you love.

Replacing one habit with another 

Before you put any plan of action to work, you need to know what you are currently doing.  What habits already in place are not working? What keeps them in place? What needs to happen to replace those not working?  Consider the following examples of every day living that can make your life easier instead of harder.

  • Having clothes washed and ready to wear when you want them
  • Keeping the kitchen free from dirty dishes making it easier to prepare meals when you want
  • Making supply lists and regularly selecting a time to purchase groceries on a regular basis
  • Sitting down together as a family for meals
  • Designated times for work and free time with family, spouses or friends
  • Morning and bedtime routines that allow for minimum stress and frustration
  • Developing sleep habits that insure maximum sleep advantage
  • Planning and completing long term tasks such as thorough house cleaning, car maintenance, etc.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, to change course requires both a conscious and deliberate decision followed by some kind of action.  It takes both to change to a new direction.  Habits based on what you feel like in the moment will lead you on a downward spiral of exhaustion, frustration and depression.

How do you spend your day?

 

Young Woman Holding Two Brown Paper Grocery BagsMost of us assume we know exactly what we do every day – how we spend our time.  When we are asked to keep a log for a week, however, we are often surprised at how much time is wasted or used inefficiently.

Keeping a log is a gift to yourself. It is time well spent.

Keep a daily log for a week, from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night to discover how you really spend your time.

Take a piece of paper with lines for the times of day, from when you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night. Then for a week, each day jot down what you do at these times. Don’t make any changes or any judgments.  Just record.  Be as honest as you can.  You are doing this for you – not anybody else. The following questions in each section can help as you record and evaluate at the end of the process.

Let’s Start

  1.  Morning Routines

When do you get up?  How long does it take to get ready for work?  If you have children, how long does it take them to get dressed, eat, and leave for school? Put down commute times to and from work. At the end of the week, you will see routines that have helped and those that haven’t.

2.    During the Day

If you work outside the home your time will be dictated pretty much by your job.  You have a choice as to how you spend your lunchtime.  Simple chores can be done during such times if you choose such as writing thank you cards, etc. If you work at a home office, do you start work at a designated time each day? Do you take breaks and time for lunch? If retired, it may be more difficult to remain motivated without a schedule in place. What are you missing at this time of life by not having a schedule? What could your retirement look life if you did? What opportunities are you missing?

Woman Holding Broom and Dustpan3.    Evening Routines

Who makes meals, is in charge of preparation and clean up?  Are chores shared by all members of the family or does the responsibility fall on one person? Do you eat together as a family and how does different meal times create extra stress and work?  Is there a consistent school homework schedule for children as well as play time?

Father and Son Having Fun TogetherIs there a time when family members can come together to enjoy one another? Is there a bedtime routine that is followed fairly consistent? Does your current schedule make it more difficult to get to sleep and get a full night’s rest sleep?

 

4.    Weekend Schedules

If working full time, is there time designated on weekends for cleaning, vacuuming, and other ongoing home tasks?  If you work out of your home, as I do, I can complete tasks throughout the day as I schedule ten or fifteen minutes away from my desk making it easier to complete larger tasks at a time I choose. Knowing what needs to be done to make the home run smoothly ahead of time, gives you the option of perhaps doing some laundry or house cleaning during the week allowing more free time on weekends.

 Patterns

At the end of your week, review your time and habits.  Do you see patterns of behavior that are ineffective? How could you change them so they work for you? How could some tweaking make it better. What benefits are you receiving in the short term that costs you more in the long term.  It might feel okay to leave dishes until the morning because you just don’t feel like doing them.  But the cost will involve doing double duty the next day.  Only you can determine both the short term and long term benefits for how you direct your day.

Remember, whatever you do, you are doing it for you and your family.  However you set up your routines is up to you.  Each family and circumstances will be different.

This isn’t a “see how much I can accomplish” mission.  It is about finding out if you are satisfied with things as they are, or if you want to improve your options by replacing old habits.

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.

 

Habits – A Curse or a Blessing

MP900438523Habits can keep us mired in a rut or they can take us to lofty heights of achievement.

Habits are great because we don’t have to think about what we are doing. It is like being on auto pilot.

We are creatures of habit.  Some habits keep us from using our time efficiently.  Others are time wasters.

Habits and behaviors are continued because we get a payoff or reward of some kind that motivates us.

We watch TV or play video games as a reward for working hard all day.  We may stop and have a drink with buddies.  But along with a reward, there is also a cost.

We do things in the moment because they are gratifying; but they may have negative long term consequences.

When we regulate our behaviors, we are able to harness our energy more productively, in a way we plan and choose.

Behaviors made through careful thought allows you to be in the driver’s seat.  With thoughtful predetermined goals and plans, you profit through achievement.  You will feel excited and jubilant when you use your talents and abilities to accomplish goals. The short term cost of not following instant gratification or indulgence will result in the long term benefit of satisfaction and gratification.

Self Regulation

CB063487Self-regulation requires self-discipline.  The word discipline often triggers a negative response based on our childhood interpretation of discipline.

Instead, see it as a positive reward for your actions. Then you will be able to put in place habits and behaviors that benefit you in the long term, not just the short term.

Self regulation doesn’t mean we lead a regimented life with no pleasure or down times.

In fact, when you regulate your time based on time management you will find you have more time than you did before.  You are able to schedule in fun and pleasant times as well as the accomplishment of tasks and chores.

Giving into that momentary pleasure can quickly put in place an addictive habit you may not want.  If you respond to the whims of the moment, you will eventually feel less and less in control of your lives. Depression is often a result of a downward spiral of such habits.

 

Taking Charge

To replace a habit, you must first be aware of what you are currently doing, why you are doing it, and why you want to change it.  What are the costs and benefits?

 

To Replace a Habit

First – Why do I have this habit?

Second – What is the short term benefit?

Third – What is the long term cost?

Research on how our brain works has given us new insights into why we do the things we do and continue to do them even when they are not beneficial.  To change a downward spiral of impairing habits and routines requires first recognition and then making a conscious decision along with action.  When you do both, recognize and make a conscious decision and then add a step in that new direction, you are changing the dynamics of the neurons and neurotransmitters in your brain.

According to Dr.Alex Korb, author of “The Upward Spiral – Using neuroscience to reverse the course of depression, one small change at a time,” it takes both decision and action to change a downward spiral to an upward one.  That tiny step in a new direction is enough to begin the upward process versus downward.

Next week we’ll go through a time logging process to discover your wants and needs.

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.