Is Your Life Full of Incompletes?

Incompletes

Raise your hand if you have heard that cluttered spaces lead to a cluttered mind. I’m sure most of you have. Research has shown that whether it be your closet or office desk, excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. That’s exactly what neuroscientists at Princeton University found when they looked at people’s task performance in an organized versus disorganized environment. The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.

Did you also know that leaving things that you start in a stage of incomplete does the same thing? When you start something – projects, tasks, relationships, etc. – they go into your memory bank and take up what Jack Canfield calls an “attention unit.” The problem is that you only have so many attention units available at one time. If you use them all up on incomplete items you won’t have enough left over for new opportunities, inspiration, and abundance.

Why is this even a problem? To succeed at anything you must complete it. You have to finish. Unfortunately, most of us get almost to the end and then never actually get it done.

 There are a lot of reasons for leaving things incomplete. Typically, incompletes represent areas where we lack clarity. Sometimes we overcommit and then regret it – so we drag our feet to get it done or avoid it altogether. Sometimes we have to make decisions that are difficult or uncomfortable, so we just let it pile up. Sometimes incompletes come from just not having the right systems in place to make it happen. And sometimes they happen because we have poor work habits.

But whatever the reason, there is a way to break the cycle. Here are a few steps you can take to turn your incompletes to complete.

1.       Take stock of your current incompletes. Just keep a running list of everything you can think of. Don’t forget to include both professional and personal incompletes. For my personal incompletes, I grab a stack of index cards and walk around the house listing the things from each room that need to be addressed. That includes relationships as well.

2.       Implement the 4 Ds. This is a pretty basic management principle. Evaluate every item on your list and decide if it must be done and if it must be done by you (Do it), if it must be done but could be done by someone else (Delegate it), if it must be done but not right now (Delay it), or if it really doesn’t need to be done (Dump it). This is a great way to organize and prioritize your list.

3.       Choose four items and start completing them. Choose items that will immediately free up the most time, energy, or space for you. Your goal should be to complete a major item every quarter and a smaller item every month.

Sounds easy, right? It is! Well, maybe not easy (depending upon your list) but the process is definitely simple. Just remember, when you clear out the old by completing them you make room for the new. It also allows you to operate at a higher vibration because you are showing gratitude through your attention to each item and then completion of each item. For example, completing professional projects shows your gratitude for the work that you do have thus allowing more to come into your life. And, taking care of those household projects shows your gratitude for the possessions you have opening you up to receive more.

I will leave you with this quote from Julia Cameron. “When we clear the physical clutter from our lives, we literally make way for inspiration and good, orderly direction to enter.”

If you need assistance with your incompletes and clutter, please reach out to see how I can help you through that process. I can be reached at stacy@minerva.partners.

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Even If You Mess Up, Keep Going (Repost from 3.23.16)

alexa_block

[This is a repost from 2 volleyball seasons ago. I’ve had a few conversations recently that led me to pull this lesson back out as a reminder to all of us.]

I talk a lot about our daughter in my blogs. I can’t help it. I find her to be amazing, intriguing, and witty. I guess you can say she’s pretty much my hero. It seems like every time I turn around, I’m learning something else from her or she’s reinforcing a life lesson that I know deep down to be true but sometimes find it hard to implement. This past weekend was no exception.

Our daughter plays travel volleyball. She works very hard and her dedication is evident in the vast improvement she has made since the beginning of the season. (Oh, and did I mention that she tried out last year and didn’t even make the team? She worked really hard over the summer and ended up making it this season – that’s just another example of her perseverance and maybe a potential topic for a future post.)

Even with all of the improvements this year, she still has a long way to go. One of the areas that we’ve been focusing on is her blocking. She plays middle hitter and is tall enough, jumps high enough, and is fast enough to be an efficient blocker. However, she has been reluctant to be aggressive at the net. She’s afraid she will miss-time her jump or have noodle hands and therefore just mess up the play instead of making one. We spend a lot of time encouraging her with the hopes that she’ll just give it a try on a regular basis.

She recorded her first official block at this past weekend’s tournament! It was amazing and the look on her face was worth a million dollars. Her whole team erupted with cheers and I think she finished the day about a foot taller than she started the day. It was incredible and her excitement was contagious. There was an extra bounce in her step and she can’t wait to get out there and do it again. We may have created a monster!

But, she didn’t just step out on the court that day and get a block the first time she jumped. She had to jump, and jump, and jump before it happened. Here is how it went down.

  1. Don’t think too hard

When she plays on instinct and without fear, she can be a pretty aggressive player at the net. She has been demonstrating this in practice over the past couple of weeks and has been surprising herself with just how effective she can be when she just goes for it. Game time is a whole different ball game because she has been working hard to gain the respect of her teammates, many who have been playing travel ball for a while, and she doesn’t want to make any mistakes and disappoint them.

On her first opportunity to block at the net, she missed and the ball fell behind her. I immediately turned to my husband and said, “She’s thinking too hard.” You could see it all over her face. The second opportunity came and there was a similar result. The third came and she missed again. Three attempts and three failures. Then she stopped trying. Not only did she stop playing at the net on defense, her hitting was less aggressive and you could see her thinking too hard even on that phase of her game.

Over thinking was getting in the way of her instinct. The “what ifs”, doubt that she could execute, and fear of not doing it correctly were keeping her from just going for it. We as adults do this every day. We over think to the point of paralysis. We do this as parents, we do this as employees, we do this as entrepreneurs, and we do this as people. What if I don’t do it perfectly? What if people don’t like what I’m doing? What if I find out I’m not any good at this? The “what ifs” keep us from going for it. Don’t over think it, just do it.

  1. Don’t let naysayers get in your way

As I said earlier, after she missed her first three attempts, she stopped jumping at all. She didn’t look like herself on offense either and I could tell she was pretty disappointed. After the match, I asked her what was going on. She said that after she missed those blocks a couple of her teammates approached her and told her to stop trying to do something that she obviously couldn’t do. They said she was messing it up for the team (even though they won the match) and she needed to stop. They took whatever ounce of confidence that she did have and smashed it. She told me she was not going to attempt to block for the rest of the tournament because it just wasn’t worth it.

We spent some time talking about what happened. We talked about her teammates’ frustrations and then we talked about how to get her back into her game. Eliminating her defensive play at the net was getting her out of her rhythm on the offensive side and that was more damaging than her three missed blocks. We talked about the technical side of her block and she admitted she was putting way too much thought into each jump for fear she would mess up instead of just letting her instinct take over.

She didn’t attempt much else at the net for the rest of the day. She had let her teammates rattle her enough that she wasn’t willing to try. I was disappointed in her reaction but understood. We’ve all been there. I would say that probably everyone reading this has been in a situation where they have ignored their instincts or changed their path because others didn’t think they could do it. No one wants to disappoint those they care about and often times we will lose touch with who we are at our core in order to appease others. That could be through choosing a career path because our parents thought it was the responsible thing to do or marrying a certain person because they come from “good stock” or not reaching outside of our comfort zone because others don’t think we will be successful.

Letting naysayers get the best of us keep us from reaching our potential. Listen to your gut and don’t let the naysayers get in your way. Luckily, last weekend was a two-day tournament and our daughter decided that on day two she was going to ignore the naysayers. (It also didn’t hurt that I bribed her with cash if she got a block. I won’t lie. Bribery can be an effective motivator. I even bribe myself at times to reach the next milestone or take a step outside of my comfort zone. I encourage all of you to try it sometime.)

  1. Visualize, practice, do

In the car to the tournament site on day one, our daughter announced that she thought something big was going to happen during the weekend. She said that different scenarios kept playing through her mind. Either she was going to serve an ace for a match win or she was going to make an awesome dive to save the ball and keep it in play. She didn’t know exactly what it was going to be but she just had this feeling that she was going to make a big play of some sort.

None of those things happened on day one.

In the car to the tournament site on day two, our daughter announced that she still felt like she was going to make a big play. Since it didn’t happen on day one she just knew it would happen on day two.

That was pretty much the end of the conversation.

Before the second set of the final match started, I noticed her standing at the net practicing her blocking. She was jumping with purpose and intention – two things we talk about with blocking all of the time. My husband elbowed me to see if I had noticed what she was doing. I had never seen her do this before so of course I was curious about what was going through that brain of hers. I was hopeful that she had decided to do what she knew she could do and not let her teammates convince her that she couldn’t.

Shortly into that set, it happened! She jumped with purpose and intention and she got her first block. She spun around and looked at the two of us on the sideline with her eyes the size of saucers and the largest smile I have ever seen on her face. Everyone went crazy!

After the match she couldn’t stop talking about it. She said that she just knew that something big was going to happen and so she decided her big thing was going to be to finally get her first block. She said that when she stepped on to the court, she wanted to get that block so badly that she went to the net and practiced while visualizing the ball hitting her hands and going back onto the opponents side of the court. She decided it would happen, she visualized it happening, she practiced for the moment, and she did it.

What big things could you do every day if you decided, visualized, practiced, and took action? I bet the sky is the limit!

  1. Celebrate the little wins – it makes you hungry for more

Not a single person told her, “Well, it’s about time.” They all ran to her and celebrated with her. She didn’t win an Olympic medal with that block. They didn’t even win that match. But she reached a very important milestone in her development as a volleyball player and she accomplished the goal that she set out for herself that day. And it felt good. It felt so good she can’t wait for the opportunity to do it again.

And that’s what happens when you celebrate the little wins. It keeps you motivated and it keeps you hungry for more.

Imagine the greatness you can accomplish in your life if you are willing to not think too hard, not let naysayers get in your way, visualize/practice/do, and celebrate the little wins. Even though she almost let a few mistakes side line her, her desire to reach her personal goal eventually silenced the doubts in her head and silenced the doubts of those around her. If you are committed and passionate about what you do, don’t ever let a few missteps keep you from going forward.

PS: Thanks to my husband for suggesting the topic for this week’s post. You are so great at helping me find inspiration in all that goes on around us.

Do You Have to Be Vulnerable to Be Strong?

vulnerability

Vulnerability is an area that I struggle with. You see, I grew up in the era of “never let them see you sweat”. I mean, I’m not going to lie about any of my weaknesses but I’m certainly not comfortable with just handing them over to you.

What if people judge me? What if my vulnerability undermines my credibility? What if they figure out that I really don’t have my crap together?

After all, Merriam-Webster defines vulnerable as “being open to attack”. And who wants that? Certainly not me.

I feel compelled to discuss vulnerability in this post because of three conversations that all took place within a week of each other. These conversations have encouraged me to look closer at vulnerability and in particular, my vulnerability.

The first occurred in a group discussion setting. I facilitate a discussion series on a pre-selected book. The book we are currently reading is full of exercises and self-discovery for the purpose of leading our most successful lives. Our very first week we were tasked with identifying areas in our life that need improvement and what we were willing to do to take responsibility for that improvement.

We were encouraged to share our thoughts with the entire group. I went first. And of course, I played it safe by sharing something easy. To be fair, I’m leading the discussion and its with a group of women I’ve never met before. No need for them to question whether or not I know what I’m doing by throwing my biggest area for improvement out on the table.

We went around the table with others playing it safe as well. Then one woman answered in the most honest way a person could answer. She shared something that could have been really easy to pass judgement on. She didn’t down play it. She just said it was a real issue and she needed to take responsibility to fix it. Then she apologized by saying, “maybe that was too personal for the first day.”

But then a beautiful thing happened. The next person looked at her and said, “thank you for being so real. I was going to share something little but it wasn’t what I really wanted to share. Because you just gave us the gift of your vulnerability, I’m going to say what I really want to work on.”

Vulnerability is a gift.

The second conversation was with an entrepreneur who shared that her drive to succeed in her business caused her marriage to fall apart. She was ashamed that she was the one who had caused it because she wasn’t able to balance it all. But she wanted to share her experience just in case someone else was struggling to balance it all as well.

Vulnerability is honest.

The third conversation was with a client who is struggling to present her services to the world because she feels like her life is a mess. She is concerned that people will see her as a fraud because they will see through her and see the mess. But the truth is, we are all messes. And seeing her triumph over her personal mess will encourage others to take on theirs.

Vulnerability is encouragement.

I’ve sat on this topic for a few days not really knowing what to do with it. This morning I was reading my daily devotion before I started writing and I was struck by the message. The biblical passage was 2 Corinthians 12:10. “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” The author of this verse is Paul. Paul is saying that he delights in his weaknesses because they give him opportunities to showcase God’s grace and power.

My additional takeaways from this reading were:

·       Being transparent builds trust

·       Sharing weakness makes me more approachable and less intimidating

·       Being vulnerable encourages vulnerability in others

·       That when I am weak, I am strong

While I appreciate and respect the vulnerability in others, I know that I will have to put conscious effort into my willingness to share my own vulnerability simply because it’s a defense mechanism I have used my whole life. But today I found a new definition for vulnerable and I’m going to try to focus on it instead of the old definition.

The Urban Dictionary defines vulnerable as “someone who is completely and rawly open, unguarded with their heart, mind, and soul – being vulnerable happens when you trust completely.”

And that’s the type of vulnerability – that’s the type of strength – I want to shine through me.

Tips to Unleash the Power of Goal Setting

right side of brain From Manuel de L'Anatomiste  Morel and Duval  1883

Research shows that our brains are wired to be goal-seekers. Whatever goal you give your subconscious mind, it will work endlessly to achieve. So how do you unleash the power of your brain to achieve your goals? Here are 5 tips to get you there.

1.       Be very specific

A vague goal will net vague results. Be as specific as possible when creating your goals. Include dates, colors, features, weights, amounts, and any other details that will bring your goal to life.

2.       Know the difference between a goal and just a good idea

For a goal to be more than just a good idea or wish it must have criteria for measurement. The goal must be measurable to engage your subconscious mind.

3.       Write it out in detail

The very best way to get clarity and specificity on your goals is to write them out in detail. Pretend that you are creating a purchase order and every detail must be included for you to receive the right goal.

4.       Create a breakthrough goal

It’s pretty easy to turn your vision into a set of measurable goals and then break those down into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Most of these goals will represent incremental improvements to your life. In addition to all of those, Jack Canfield, author of “The Success Principles” encourages people to create breakthrough goals. These are the goals that represent quantum leaps in your progress. What is that one thing, that if achieved, would dramatically change everything? Make sure you have one of those written down as well.

5.       Look at your goals daily

The only way you can activate the powers of your brain to achieve your goals is to review them daily. Two to three times per day is ideal but at least once per day as an absolute minimum. Read them out loud with emotion and visualize them already complete. This exercise increases what psychologists call “structural tension”. This is what makes your brain want to close the gap between your current reality and the vision of your goal. This in turn creates the motivation and stimulates the creativity you need to make it happen.

We all know that people who set and then write down those goals have over 40% more chance of achieving their goals. Adding these 5 tips to the equation just helps you get there even faster.

If you’ve struggled with goal setting or following through on achieving your goals, give me a call to see how I can help. You can contact me at stacy@minerva.partners.

Reacting vs. Responding

reacting

We each have a tremendous number of decisions to make in our lives. We have to make personal decisions that range in importance to “what will I have for dinner” to “am I really ready for marriage.” Likewise, we have to make a ton of career and business decisions as well.

While no one is a stranger to making decisions, how we make decisions can make a huge impact on our future and those around us. Sometimes we make decisions by reacting out of frustration rather than responding out of confidence and assurance.

Does it make a difference? Of course it does.

Reactive emotions are the root of irrational moves that lead to mistakes or a feeling of constantly spinning.

Here are a couple of things to consider the next time you are faced with a decision to ensure you decide from a place of response instead of reaction.

1.       Clarity

You’ve heard me say this before. It is impossible to know what decisions to make to get you where you want to be if you don’t actually know where you want to be. Remember, this is big picture thinking. This is not about having a detailed plan on how to achieve your goal but simply knowing where to aim.

2.       Confirmation

Once you are clear on the “what” take the time to write it down. Writing it down gives it substance and makes it tangible. Now, share it with someone you trust. This part of the exercise is not to seek permission or someone’s blessing. This is simply to confirm that your goal/vision is clear. So be sure to share it with someone who is not going to judge or be critical. You need someone who will provide an objective opinion on the clarity of what you want to accomplish.

3.       Change

Your decisions can now come from a place of responding rather than reacting simply because you now have the proper foundation to build upon.

When you clearly know what you want you will start to become aware of solutions and the proper steps to get you to your desired outcome. And having that clarity will also allow you to decide what makes the most sense to accomplish the vision you now so clearly envision.

Are You a Starter and Not a Finisher?

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.

 

Oh, no! Not again! Yep, another word of the week!

I won’t promise this is the last one but it’s the last one for a while.

So this week’s blog is going to tackle self-discipline: the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses or the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.

One of my favorite quotes on discipline is by Jim Rohn. Jim says that “discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” And I think he’s pretty dead on.

How many times have you set a goal and never accomplished it? How many times have you started a program that you never finished? How many times have you had an idea that you never implemented? I can’t even count the number of times I’ve not followed through. My guess is that you’ve experienced similar shortcomings as well. We are all great at starting things but struggle to see them through to the end.

Why do we let this happen? We understand our “why” and we visualize the outcome but we still can’t seem to take our ideas and goals to completion. Usually it comes down to self-discipline. Even when we have the best of intentions we let fear and self-doubt derail our efforts. Unfortunately, self-discipline is thing that will bridge the gap between our goals and success.

Fantastic, Stacy! You’ve just explained that my lack of self-discipline for developing self-discipline is keeping me from being successful. How in the world do I fix that circular issue?

The good news is that it can be done. You can build and strengthen your self-discipline with 3 easy steps.

  1. Start small

When you create goals for yourself, they are usually ambitious and lofty in nature. I mean why wouldn’t they be? They wouldn’t be worth the effort at all if they weren’t a bit grand. But most of us stop at creating the large goal. If it’s a worthwhile goal, then the goal in and of itself is going to feel overwhelming. Breaking the goal down into manageable and reasonable steps makes it feel less intimidating and easier for you to be disciplined.

For example, let’s say you are in network marketing and your goal is to recruit thirty new people to your team. Thirty may be a large, ambitious goal for you. Because you fear that you can’t do it, you may not work on anything that gets you closer to that number. It’s easier to work on other things than to make yourself sit down and work on recruiting each day.

But instead of looking at thirty new recruits, what if you looked at it as all the little things that need to take place to recruit one person? For instance, before you can close a recruit, you have to have to pitch. And before you can pitch, you have to get to know people to see if they are a good fit. And before you can build a relationship, you have to meet them. Then start by focusing on meeting people instead of focusing on recruiting thirty people.

  1. Take a step every day

Once you have your small steps defined, then commit to taking a small step each day. I’m going to go back to my earlier example. You’ve decided to start your focus on meeting new people each day. Let’s say that five new people per day is your goal. Start your morning working to identify and introduce yourself to your five. It could be through social media, referrals, or networking opportunities. But commit to working on it each day. If it takes you an hour, great! If it takes you four hours, then hang in there until you reach your goal.

Once you’ve become disciplined in this first step, then add your next step, building relationships with the people you’ve met and feel connected to. Once you’ve become disciplined in spending time to develop these relationships each day, then you can move on to determining which people may be open to hearing your pitch. And, so forth.

  1. Build on your momentum

As you become more disciplined in each step in the process to reach your goal, you’ll be more excited about working toward your goal. You will also start to protect the time you need to develop your craft and keep moving forward. And before you know it, your self-discipline will get stronger and stronger.

It takes perseverance, focus, and action to develop self-discipline. But it is a trait that can be developed. Once you begin to develop it in one area of your life, you can use the same steps to develop it in every important area of your life. You are too fantastic to let you stand in the way of you! So, start small, take a step every day, and build your momentum. Let nothing get in your way of practicing self-discipline a bit each day.

Unexpected Ways to Practice Self-Care

self care

Self-care. Hot topic, I know. The importance of taking care of yourself is undeniable. There is a reason why flight attendants tell you to secure your own oxygen mask first before trying to help others.

For every article written about self-care there are a thousand ways you can practice self-care. Everything from meditation to spa dates to not caring what anyone else thinks all count as self-care. Well, here are 3 more to add to that list that you may not have thought of.

Schedule Problem Time Early In the Day

What does that mean? Does it mean that you need to schedule quiet time each morning for problem solving and brainstorming? Yes. Research shows that our brain power is at its highest first thing in the morning and then is depleted throughout the day by even the smallest of decisions. Then it regenerates or refills the stores overnight so that you are ready to hit the ground running the next day. So, it goes without saying that tackling larger issues right off, before your brain power begins to deplete, makes a lot of sense.

But this also means resolving conflict, including family conflicts. Dealing with conflict, especially family conflict early in the day instead of waiting until bedtime does a couple of things. It allows the conflict to be addressed while everyone’s brain power is at its highest. And, it allows all parties to process the resolution through the day instead of right before they are ready to go to bed. This, in turn, allows for more peaceful sleep – which is a much needed form of self-care.

Interrupt a Roll

Often times when we are on a roll, with work or something around the house, we will say, “I’ve done all of this so let me keep going to see what else I can get done.” There is nothing wrong with this. Especially if you had been lacking motivation and then started to pick up steam once you got moving. I use this technique a lot when I’ve been dragging my feet on something. But, what if instead, you just do what you need to do and then go spend the remainder of the time for yourself? What if you used that extra time specifically for self-care? Our number one excuse for not spending time on ourselves is that there is no time to spend on ourselves. So, the next time you’ve completed everything you need to complete and have some time left over, shift your attention to activities that re-charge and re-energize you.

Set Time Boundaries

Boundaries. We all know we need them but are so afraid to define and then enforce them. We don’t want to let people down. We don’t want people to think we aren’t there for them. And we certainly don’t want people to think we are being selfish. Setting boundaries is not selfish. It is necessary. Most of my clients are getting better with setting boundaries with their clients but still seem to struggle with setting boundaries with their friends and family. Remember that you can’t be helpful to them when you are stretched too thin. Or you end up being helpful but it comes from a place of bitterness and contempt instead of love and caring.

I am the team mom for our daughter’s travel volleyball team. We were at a volleyball tournament recently and was trying to manage something like a thousand requests/questions and trying to coordinate an impromptu team meal and trying to figure out when and where our next match was…and then our daughter threw one more on the pile. And I completely exploded. At her. Because I didn’t set time boundaries with everyone associated with our team, I took it out on the one person I was there to support. The most important person I was there to support. Instead of showing her how to properly manage all of it, I showed her a melt-down. Melting-down isn’t exactly the best way to show her how to manage these types of situations in her life as she grows and matures and takes on additional responsibilities in her life and career. I missed the opportunity to set the example.

And that’s what self-care is ultimately about. Setting the example for those around us. Especially our kids. Taking care of yourself allows you to be a better mom, a better wife, a better business person. It teaches our children and those we care about how to be much more flexible and accepting. Yes, self-care is about us. But it is also about them.