Tag Archives: personal growth

Drop the Pins – And Get More Done

pins-in-handToday, I’m sharing a productivity trick I have been loving! It will help a lot of you get so much more done. (As for the rest of you, well, there are other more or less sophisticated methods to deal with your hangups at the bottom.)

I’ve been using this trick for about a month now to get more done with fewer hangups. I don’t write as a self-help guru. I am a normal, busy mom with kids in sports, clients I love to dazzle, and a ‘to do’ list that will never be blank. Where would the fun be in that anyway?

The background story of how the method worked it’s way into my practice is important for the message so I am sharing it first. However, if you are in a hurry, you may want to skip to the : Why the memory has helped me so much lately now and come back later.

I read a lot about how the mind works. Books I found difficult to put down!:

  • “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” – the part about how negative media affects our daily lives and moods – it’s so true
  • “Social Intelligence” – also a great book by the way – especially when it talks about the affects on the brain due to a lack of face to face interaction vs… you guessed it: social media!

I come across arguably great examples of how to get things done well all the time like: the Olympians who are trained to imagine themselves finishing a race perfectly and winning. And they call this “creative visualization”. Pretty words, but what do they really mean? Somehow imagining yourself doing something and finishing it right significantly improves your changes for a positive (if not optimal) outcome.

That’s great and all, but that creative visualization voodoo thing only helps when you have one track, one finish line, and one goal: to win. Right? How does this help people in a multitasking, dynamic road-block reality? We’d never get anything done imagining every little thing we do just to get it done well!

The trick is to using creative visualization as a “transitional image: see the mental block, let it go, and see your hands free to get back to the work you mean to do”. It is some kind of hang up that’s keeping you from doing what you know you should be doing right now (doubts, fears, burn-out, etc). You can learn how to experience yourself letting go of these limitations and really feel the freedom to go and do what it is you need to do.

The Dream: When I was a child (age 9 or 10 maybe?) I had a very vivid dream I still remember quite well to this day. One significant detail in the dream was that I was carrying a handful of safety pins in my right hand (and yes, I’m right handed) and I didn’t want to put them down.

The significance of safety pins at this point in my life: The ladies in my old church would often have safety pins pinning the back of their skirts to make sure the split was not too long, or pinning up necklines that were decidedly too low. Etc…you get the idea. So, if someone decided that the split in your skirt was indecent, someone would always have a spare safety pin and march you to the ladies room to pin it down. (It was never to be above the knee.) This is no slight to them, it’s simply what they did… and still probably do.

Anyways back to the dream: I didn’t want to put my pins down. No one else had any in their hands. They were walking about and doing things that I wanted to do, but could not because I would lose some or something. I remember wishing that I had a pocket in my skirt so I could just put them in my pocket and go be with my friends. P.S. There was definitely more to this dream, but I just want to talk about the pins part.

What did the pins represent? They could have been many things. Preparation for future events where I might need them for my cloths or future judgements on others with unholy apparel? ;) I really believe in the dream at that time, they represented general burdens. I think this because at the end of a church service in the dream, people were going to pray but I couldn’t because I was embarrassed that I still had the pins.

Why the memory has helped me so much lately. During one of those books it talks about re-imagining something from the past and doing/saying the right thing instead of whatever you did. For some reason, my old dream popped into my head again.

After recalling the same dream every once in a while for 20 years my creative visualization turned out to be simply this :
In my mind’s eye: I finally dropped those pins. As soon as I opened my hand and began to turn it to watch them fall, they began to vanish one by one until they were gone. I look at both hands and feel rapturous because they are now free to do what I need to do.

The feeling was just beautiful. It was that freedom that I felt for one tiny span of time when I realized how my thoughts and memories really do affect me.

I wanted those feelings again later that day in an overwhelmed moment. So, I dropped those pins and again saw my hands free to do what they needed to do, and I did it.

This is a strange trick I completely agree with you, but if I could help someone else feel this way for even just a moment. Then it’s been worth sharing to those other people who will probably tease me about it later, but it’s OK because I’ll drop those pins too and smile with them. :)

It’s changing my life.

Find what works for you. I believe the safety pins worked so quickly for me because the dream was so significant for so long, that finally letting go of those pins opened up a world of possibilities.

The next time you find yourself in some hang-up, or are going through something, or just can’t focus and have know idea why:
Feel sorry for yourself.
Yell at someone!
Cry it out.
Take a breathe and count to ten.
Or… Just drop the pins and when you see your own free hands… You’ll know what to do.

With love,
Amber

Pigtail Style

pigtailsYesterday my 10 year old (Haylee) informed me that she absolutely must wear pigtails to school today.

I couldn’t remember the last time she actually wore this particular hairstyle.

‘Why?’ was the next obvious question I had to ask.

“Because there was this girl being bullied in high school about her hair being put up in pigtails! Some mean girl told her that only losers and babies wore pigtails and that she was both. Well, that girl wore her pigtails to school every day after that and the mean girl kept picking on her! She never changed her hair style for the mean girl though, and then other girls caught on to what was going on and started wearing their hair in pigtails, and well now every girl in my school including teachers who has long enough hair is going to be wearing their hair in pigtails to support this girl and her right to wear her pigtails!… ”

My daughter’s story (as always) was very detailed and passionate about this cause.

pigtailsThe cause isn’t about pigtails of course.The cause is about girls supporting other girls and the courage to be who they are, to wear their hair the way they feel like wearing it, and to not back down when someone tells them that they are a loser.

I wore my hair up pigtail style today too.

Click here to read (the original pigtail girl) Maisie Kate Miller’s story in the Washington Post Blog.

 

A Span of 7 Years

Every seven years we become a completely different person.” – A coworker told me this once. Do you think she was right? Of course, she didn’t mean that we change instantly.

The first thing I thought when I hear that was: “Couldn’t the same can be said about five, four… or even three years?” The answer to that is: “Probably.”

Today, for one reason or another, I got to thinking about who I was seven years ago vs. who I am today and I must admit it was a little disconcerting. When we hear/read that statement, we can’t help but to think back on how our lives looked seven years ago. And of course, we instantly begin to compare a large number of life’s differences between now and then.

So why seven years? Does this give any merit to the “seven year itch” myth? – I’ll say no to that, but concede to the fact that seven years is a long time considering how short life really is.

It’s time to consider the past seven years and answer the following 5 questions for yourself.

1. Where were you 7 years ago?

Remember the Autumn of 2004. Do you remember the details? Where were you living? Where did you work? What cell phone were you using? Can you even remember your phone number? What email address where you checking every day? Did you have a pet? Did you know your closest friend? Where you on speaking terms with your parents/kids? Were you financially secure?

The older I get the more I realize how little I know. – original author unknown

2. What’s different?

Seven years ago, I would have been 21, still very naive, probably more shallow, and I remember being a lot more fearless. I always thought I would do something big and make some huge difference in the world. But here and now, I am completely content with my currently small place on our tiny little planet Earth. I think I would like to have the courage back, but then again it’s the fearless people who have a lot less to lose. So… that’s probably not true.

3. What remains the same?

The thing that remains the same for me is that I am still a total geek. I love being a geek, hope I always gravitate toward new technology and have something to learn and challenge me.

4. Would you go back and do it all over again?

There are some people who live in the past as if it where the present. Some people would pay big money to go back and relive certain spans of their lives like high school and college years, when others are more like me and wouldn’t want to go back. Frankly, you couldn’t pay me enough to relive those years.

Well, maybe that’s an overstatement. :)

5. Would you change anything?

What I mean is, I wouldn’t want to experience it all again because I know that I would not be able to change a single thing. I prefer living with the good memories and dodge the thought of accidentally making a single change that might change who and where I am right now.

Here’s the important question: Who will you be seven years from now?

Virtual Business: Take It Like a Man

Confident Business WomanExperience is a wonderful thing. Even a bad one will prepare you for the “next time” some situation or other arises. I have learned so much this year just by hearing about all of your experiences. It’s nice to have other strong business women to share with and relate to. I love girl talk, but we haven’t even once really talked about men! Sure, a husband or son gets mentioned every once in a while, but what can we learn from these seemingly simple creatures about business? ;)

Why is it that so many brilliantly capable women I love and work with seem to be living the same experiences over and over? We go through phases of racing into stress, and then crashing into the inevitable phase of fatigue. The longer the periods of stress equal the intensity of fatigue. Does this sound familiar? I can’t complain because this year has been wildly successful in so many ways, yet continues to be intensely stressful in others. I don’t think stress is so much different for men, but it seems like more of my girl friends are complaining of burn out on a regular basis. So we should talk about it.

Tasks men often seem do “better” than women:

  • Switch gears
  • (Don’t give me that “women are better multi-taskers than men”.) Your mind has probably gone 3 different directions just since starting this article. You’ve probably had to write down a reminder, refilled your cup, and looked at the clock twice. Right?  A guy would start delegating before he even tried to handle as many thoughts that are going on in your head right now. So, let’s face it, we need to try to learn how to separate some of our complex thoughts. That way, when one thing gives way, the rest doesn’t follow.

  • Toot their own horn
  • Maybe back in high school you weren’t supposed to brag on yourself because you’d be seen as conceited. “She’s so stuck on herself!” Right? In business, humility has a place. Save it for your anonymous charitable donations. It’s a bad idea to post somewhere that you didn’t love your latest press release or can’t believe how stupid you feel not knowing something. Enough with the personal put downs!

Self sabotaging tasks women seem to do more than men:

  • Apologize constantly
  • Whether it’s for inadequacies or absences, for some reason, we feel guilty about being less than Wonder Woman; and must make a mense with “I’m sorry” and over-compensation. I once worked with a girl who’d type up a page and a half (slight exaggeration… very slight) about why she was going to be gone and she was sorry about not being there for you in her auto response email. She was the sweetest girl you could meet, but seriously she made herself look bad because she did it. In fact it turned into an intra-office joke.

  • Take on everyone else’s problems
  • The truth is we could probably do so much more if we didn’t get offended by something someone said (that probably had nothing to do with us anyway), or if we weren’t concerned about our friend’s neighbor’s sister who just found out she has a tumor that might be cancerous. It’s true that there are disasters and bad memories that are going to invade our thoughts, but they are our thoughts and if we are going to get anything done we need to be in control of them. It’s ok to be sympathetic, but don’t live through the tragedies with everyone.

  • Over share
  • Some things are better left unsaid. It very well might be because some guys still live in the Stone Age and think “I can’t talk about my feelings. Men don’t do that.” I don’t know to many of my guy friends who are posting messages about how they “can’t take it anymore!” or “I can’t believe that %$!# just said blah blah blah to me, but…” on Facebook (Yeah, you know what I am talking about.) The people who share every stick and stone life throws at them? Sorry, but most of the time, it isn’t the men doing that. Think of it this way. You are giving the whole world info that could be used against you.

Ladies, make sure you have these two very important traits in check and in balance to succeed as a virtual business owner.

1. Confidence

(Yeah, I said it!) Thanks to Cover girl, coffee, and Botox we can fake clear skin, energy, and even hang on to some version of youth a little bit longer; but the hottest asset any woman (especially running her own business) can posses is nearly impossible to fake or live without and that is confidence.

Let’s get a man’s opinion.
Because he’s had a lot of experience working with (sometimes putting up with) quite the wide variety of virtual business people at New Marketing Labs, and he’s a man, I decided to ask Chris Brogan of what he thought about my gender confidence theory.

So, I asked him point-blank: “On average, do you think that men are more confident than women in the virtual business world?”

Chris responds: “I think men are more confident, period, for an unfortunate reason. Men are willing to say they can do something when in actuality, it’s a stretch. Women most often only say that they can do what they KNOW they can do, and what they’ve had experience doing (on the average). Thus, men are much more likely to take wild swings for weird possible new futures, where women tend to think they have to show capability/experience first.”

Think about it. I do think he missed that men seem to worry less about what people when think if something doesn’t work out. Many also do better about not dwelling on the details that didn’t go perfectly. This leads me to trait number 2.

2. Perfectionism

I have learned more and more over the past few years that I am more willing to turn in a paper late or not accept a project at all if I don’t think I have the time or resources to do it the way that I know it should be done. This is truly a wonderful trait to have. Ask any of my professors or clients! I try to remind myself that no one is as big a critic of my work as I am, and I don’t need to get a hundred percent on everything do I? Well, yes I do and that’s my style, but it’s also a sort of curse because I wonder if I’ve have missed out on some things that I could have done great.

We even teach our kids that no one is perfect all the time.
It’s like I told my daughter this weekend, “No one can be good all the time.” She looked at me puzzled. “Why not?” (As if I’d just completely derailed what I’d been teaching her whole life. :{ Scary.)

“Well, because eventually that person would just snap and go bad or get sick.” I replied.

“Well, then can someone be bad all the time and then snap to good?” she reasoned. (LOL! Yeah, kids…)

“No, because you need a healthy balance.” I told her.

The moral of that story?
If you don’t allow yourself enough slack, your goals will always be out of reach, and if you give yourself too much slack, then there probably was never a concrete goal there to reach for anyway.

Are You Following These Habits????

A few months back I came across an article written by Sarah Stebbins for “O” magazine, called “The 10 Habits of Highly Organized People.”  Now, I’m not normally an “O” magazine reader, but my mom is and she’ll mention articles of interest to me every so often.  As a matter of fact, I’m astonished she didn’t tell me about this one!  LOL 

At any rate, the article is pretty short and simple, which I happen to like, but makes total sense.  It’s relatable and easy to follow.  So many times when you read something about the habits of successful people, they seem so….unobtainable.  These don’t.   There are ten (10) insightful habits in all, but I’m only going to share a few of them with you.  The rest you can check out for yourself. 

  • Make peace with imperfectionI know this is a hard one, but I promise you, you’ll get the hang of it.  As long as you put forth your best effort, that’s good enough!  Striving to be perfect is exhausting and boring!  Besides, a little imperfection never hurt anyone, right?
  • Schedule regular decluttering sessionsWhy wait for a build-up?  Do you like feeling overwhelmed with stacks of paper everywhere?  Try scheduling 10-15 minutes of your time, say at the end of your day, going through your office, sorting through your mail or finally going through that pile of magazines on the floor that seems to continue to grow.  Even the littlest of things that you can put away in their rightful place will help you feel more at ease.
  •  Separate emotions from possessionsEver heard of the term ‘pack rat’?  Most of us know of someone or is that certain someone who can’t seem to get rid of anything because it reminds us of something or someone else.  Sentimentality has always been my weakness, however, I have learned over the years, that most of the material items I was holding on to were just that…material.  My memories won’t fade if I let go of that old sweatshirt from my father nor will my feelings for my husband fade away if I get rid of the dried up flowers from our anniversary.  There are memories attached to these things, yes, but honestly, I don’t need them and they are just taking up space.  So, I let them go.
  • Never label anything “miscellaneous”This one rocked my world!  Who doesn’t have a file somewhere labeled miscellaneous?  Do you know what all is in that file?  I sure didn’t.  But, the habit makes sense.  If you go through this folder, you’ll find either things you don’t need or things that should be filed elsewhere.  The article suggests making specific groups and then sorting your files that way.

I don’t know about you, but these habits are extremely easy to understand and follow. I love personal growth articles that only take a few minutes to read and motivate me for personal change.   I am looking forward to re-reading this article again and putting those thoughts out into the universe.

Manifest It-A Change In Mindset

“Manifest It.”…Three years ago I would have laughed in your face if you said those words to me.   Now, however, it’s a totally different story.

I’m a faithful reader of TUT…A Note from the Universe.  It’s an awesome way of changing your thinking.  The writings inspire you to have a more positive mindset and gear your thoughts toward manifesting-bringing ideas and desires into physical form-what your really want out of life.  “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill is a great resource to get your hands on, as well.

Please don’t think this has taken the place of God or my religious beliefs.  I’m a firm believer in God.  One of my favorite quotes is “Don’t tell God how big your storm is; tell the storm how big your God is”.  I just wanted to clear that up.

I have my goals written down, look at them daily and focus on the task (s) at hand.  Here’s a few of my goals:

  1. Adding to household income, so DH doesn’t have to work two jobs
  2. New home/Bigger home
  3. Boat (family lake time) 

These goals are very realistic for me and I manifest them daily. I take whatever steps necessary to get me closer. It’s all in your mindset [yes, I know your probably thinking I’m crazy].  But, I’ve already made progress with #1 and it feels great!

“What is within, is without” – that is the law of attraction.  It means that what is first created inside the mind, you will eventually attract in your outward reality.  

Change your thoughts to improve your life.