Archives for November 2016

10X Your Everything in 2017

Swirling Sky - Happy New Year Everyone by Steward Biard of Flickr

Swirling Sky – Happy New Year Everyone by Steward Biard of Flickr

 

Let’s pretend that the current global economic conditions have no effect on us whatsoever. Let’s pretend, while we’re at it, that regardless of who is president, what tax laws may benefit us or harm us, or if anyone else in the world accepts us for who we are, we can create an ideal future for 2017 and beyond.

Look back at 2016, and, in spite of any disappointments or shortcomings, and regardless of anything we may still feel is lacking in our lives, see the successes of the past year as proof that we are able to make good things happen. Even if those successes seem insignificant or have not improved our overall status and the satisfaction of our lives, assume that they happened because there are forces conspiring for our greater good, even if logic tells you it is a pure coincidence.

Go even further now, and take those successes and project them into 2017, we will increase those moments ten times. What would your 2017 look like?

Yes, this may require you to suspend skepticism. It will definitely require you to abandon cynicism.

I will warn you that a voice will creep up, and it will say, “Earth to [insert your name here]. You’re dreaming, again. Don’t waste your time. You have earthly duties to tend to…bills and…cleaning…and yard work….and errands…”

On and on, it will try to interrupt, but you are in control, not that voice, who we will regard as “Norm.”

Norm makes sure you are consumed by your duties, and he is not all bad, because he reminds us of who we want to be for people and what we need to do in order to be that person. Sometimes, however, we need to tell Norm to shut up.  Once he is quiet, we can spend more time in deeper evaluation of who we want to be, who we are capable of being, and what we can DO as the better versions of ourselves.

Also, science has proven that imagining your ideal future is not a waste of time, and in fact has an impact you can SEE in your physical world. I am willing to wager that your heroes would most likely advise that if you have any inkling of greatness for your life, even if it seems relatively simple, that one of the MOST important things you can spend your time doing is imagining that greatness.

Take an inventory of your top 12 highlights of 2016, one in each of the following categories (borrowed from Vishen Lakhani’s Code of the Extraordinary Mind). Then make a new list for 2017 with the same categories, and write what you imagine the corresponding moment from 2016 would be like if it were increased ten times.

 

  1. Love Relationships
  2. Friendships
  3. Adventures
  4. Environment (Home, or anywhere else we spend a lot of time.)
  5. Health and Fitness
  6. Intellectual Life
  7. Skills
  8. Spiritual Life
  9. Career
  10. Creative Life
  11. Family Life
  12. Community Life

 

My favorite: In 2016, I was finally able to take a FULL week’s vacation with my family, including my brothers and cousins, disconnected from social media and e-mail.

In 2017, I would spend ten weeks disconnected.

Norm has already started in with his negativity, telling me that it is not viable. I mean, that is about two-and-a-half months OFF of work!  If you are not from the US, this probably does not seem so outlandish.

So, if my mission is to prove Norm wrong, all I have to do is ask myself how that could possibly happen, and a magical thing happens – another part of my brain starts filling in the HOW. Let’s call her Hope.  When I ask Hope how I could possibly make this happen, she lists the following:

  • Move to a country where 8-10 week holidays are standard
  • Hire and train a staff of people to take the torch and carry on my mission
  • Create residual incomes that work on autopilot so I make money while I sleep
  • Win the lottery
  • I could write off, or at least justify, some of that time and use it to write a book

I could actually implement most of these, if I decided my WHY was stronger than my WHY NOT.

 

Please share your favorite(s.)

 

17 Academically and Scientifically Proven Benefits of Practicing Gratitude Regularly

Gratitude by Sheila Craan of flickr

Gratitude by Sheila Craan of flickr

 

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is not about presents; it is about togetherness. It is the perfect kick-off to start reflecting on our past and planning our future. What science has proven time and time again is that if we want a brighter, happier, and healthier 2017, giving thanks is best done on a daily basis, not an annual basis. It improves mental and physical health. Even when practiced by individuals, the impacts reach far into families and communities.

Here is a list of the SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN benefits of being a thanksgiving practitioner, meaning having a regular regimen around practicing gratitude, such as including it in your meditation, prayer, or journaling.

  • Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More joy, optimism, and happiness
  • Acting with more generosity and compassion
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated
  • Better sleep (even for chronic pain sufferers)
  • Less depression
  • Stronger relationships, including marriages
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Higher likeliness to help others (aka pro-social behavior)
  • Better handling of adversity / greater resilience
  • Lower violence
  • Fewer complaints
  • Less sickness
  • More exercise (an average of 1.5 hours more per week)
  • Lower need for material possessions
  • More energy, alertness, and enthusiasm

 

Below is a non-exhaustive list including some of the studies done on gratitude, validating that many have deemed gratitude worthy of great investments of time and money.

Harvard Medical School

Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley

2006 study in the journal Psychological Science

2010 study in the journal Psychological Science

University of California, Davis & University of Miami

Department of Psychology, George Mason University, Western New York Veterans Administration Hospital, University at Buffalo, SUNY & University of Alabama at Birmingham

 

How to Find Out if a Company Has Work-Life Balance without Seeming like a Slacker

Business by Richard Stebbing of Flickr

Business by Richard Stebbing of Flickr

Sometimes the next level of fulfillment that my clients are looking for is comprised of more free time to spend with their family. If Glassdoor doesn’t provide clear answers on how flexible a company is willing to be, the only other way to find out is to ask. If you ask another insider, someone not necessarily involved in hiring you, you might be able to ask more direct questions and people may feel free to be more candid. However, if both of those options are dead ends, the only option left is to find out during the interview process.

Having the interviewer acquire knowledge about your marital or familial status can put them in a precarious position. These types of questions are illegal for them to ask because they are not allowed to discriminate based on the interviewee’s status. Even for an interviewer to find out by you telling them directly opens them up to potential discrimination liability.

Another risk of acquiring about a company’s work-life balance policies is that you might be perceived as though you are someone who wants to play or rest more than work. Some generations are very susceptible to this perception. So, this week I offer you questions that you can ask a company to determine how flexible they are without seeming like a slacker.

What do you do to keep your employees happy and engaged?

What does the average workday look like for three different people on your team?

How has working here made your life better?

I pride myself on being a dynamic person; the experiences I’ve had outside of work enable me to bring even more value to my work. Do you feel like you have a dynamic workforce? And what do you do to nurture that?

What is the best way for an employee to ensure that they are making the most of their 9-5, if those are in fact the expected hours?

 

Your interviewer may perceive you to be very smart at asking questions, or, if they are really perceptive, they may see what you are getting at. Ultimately, a company would want to promote that they value work-life balance, if, in fact, they do. All employers may not understand the importance, so if it is important to you, take accountability to find out. If you feel that a potential employer resents this line of questioning, consider that resentment good to know and move on to the next company. You do not need to settle. Work-life balance, career fulfillment, and a good income are all attainable.

 

What’s Missing When You Pray to Discover Your Purpose

Kirtomy View Point by Paul Wordingham of Flickr

Kirtomy View Point by Paul Wordingham of Flickr

 

Not all of my clients are religious, though most would claim to be spiritual. I am constantly working on procuring and presenting the scientific studies that continue to emerge to promote the benefits of ritualized higher communication, which I will define as an attempt to connect with any nonphysical entity perceived to have power. This can take many forms, including most commonly prayer and meditation. I have covered in previous blogs the scientific implications of meditation without fully realizing that some of my religious clients believe that praying is meditating. There is a very clear distinction between prayer and meditation; with prayer, you are TALKING and with MEDITATION you are SENSING.

Discovering your purpose can be a very confronting process where limiting beliefs about yourself and the world inevitably surface. The services that I provide that to help facilitate this process can be very challenging to answer, because it requires my clients to see themselves in a way they may not have been willing to or needed to in the past. It hurts their brain, and they are brilliant – it has nothing to do with intelligence. I encourage them to rely upon multiple methods and tools that have helped them increase self-awareness in the past, and provide them with new tools and methods that enable them to answer these questions as comprehensively as possible so that we can arrive at optimal conclusions about their future faster.

After all, a ship captain does not rely solely on his cutting edge navigation system; it could fail at any moment. He needs maps, and perhaps would even be wise to learn the age-old system of using the stars to navigate the seas in the case that his maps are lost or thrown overboard.

Meditation is one of many tools that have proven to be very effective at helping my clients, and myself, gain more clarity on meaningful questions about how to achieve the life we want.

I have no intentions of minimizing the power of prayer, as it too has been scientifically proven to cause results and I have seen it work in my own life. However, the shortcoming of relying on this method alone is that the answers to your prayers can come in so many different ways, and they can be easy to mistake as insignificant coincidences. In order for this to be an effective method, you also have to attune yourself to be completely receptive to your answer and have unwavering faith that the answer will appear without using reason or logic to question that answer. You have to LISTEN for something beyond yourself.

Have you heard the story of the man who was warned by all of his town officials to evacuate to a shelter due to expected flooding? The sheriff came and knocked on his door personally after the rest of the town had already found safety and he refused, insistent that God will save him. As the floodwaters started to rise, a boat came by to take him to safety, but the man insisted that God will save him, and so he stayed, moving to the second floor. The floodwaters continued to rise until the only place the man had left to be safe was on his own roof. A chopper flew by and sent a rope down. The man refused this last attempt of human help. The waters continued to rise and in desperation the man cried out to God, “Why didn’t you come save me? I had faith that you would get me to safety.” God replied, “I sent the sheriff, I sent a boat, and I sent a chopper. What else did you want from me?”

What did the man think the help was going to look like? Perhaps he thought God Himself would come and raise him up to the heavens.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we have a lot of noise to sort through in order to hear or see the answers and resources that are truly all around us. Besides needing the faith to know that the answers are really there, you need to create quiet in the noise in order to notice the answers.

Meditation is a practice, albeit challenging for most, that requires us to be still, eliminate self-talk, and sense, as opposed to thinking. The best answer does not always come from our logical brain. Our logical brain will provide us with valuable input, but just like relying upon one form of increasing self-awareness limits how self-aware you will become, not consulting your intuition and your subconscious will narrow your spectrum of possibilities, risking that you will dismiss a very viable future as too far-fetched. We often focus prematurely on the HOW before we are clear on the WHAT. Another risk is that you simply will not be able to bring to light the things you don’t even know are possible.

Meditation is one of many powerful ways to attune yourself to be more receptive to the answers to your prayers, and I’m sure you have already heard about the studies that link meditation to other health benefits, including stress management.

Stress management is critical when you are in a state of flux in your life. The things that life throws at us can be that much more difficult to gain a sense of control over when we feel our future is out of control. The fear and anxiety that problems in life cause can be that much more of an inhibitor to our ability to be attuned and awakened to how to create alignment between our reality and our vision of an ideal future.

 

Meditation and prayer, as well as engaging experts in the job market like me, can all be powerful tools to help you accelerate what is usually the very uncomfortable stage of career discovery. When you are in flux, you don’t have a destination, and therefore are unable to gain control of your vocation navigation. Not everyone minds drifting aimlessly from port to port, but it will make some sea sick, and you eventually need to reach port to acquire the food and resources you need to live.  Wouldn’t you agree that it would be even better if that port has the potential to provide you with the resources for a fulfilled, happy life that you might even call home?