The Gratitude Project

There has been so much hard news lately. It easy to get discouraged and feel somewhat hopeless in the face of  powerful storms and mass shootings.

I want you to help me on a project that I think will help during this time.  Remembering what we have to be thankful for in the midst of all this craziness can help bring us some comfort and peace.

Here’s how you can help.

  • Take your phone or computer and record yourself for 10 to 15 seconds with this info:
    • You first name
    • Where you are from
    • What you are thankful/grateful for
  • Email that recording to evolvingselfaudio@gmail.com

Here’s what I’ll do.

  • Take your short audio clip and combine them into one audio file
  • Release the recording before the US Thanksgiving Holiday

Here’s what you’ll receive.

  • Encouragement and amazing stories

 

Forward this to your family members, your social media contacts, and anyone you think would be interested.

I think we could all use a little encouragement.

 

Solve Your Problems By Not Focusing On Them

 

There are times in life when it seems that we can’t find answers to our problems.  No matter how hard we try to come up with the solution, we get more frustrated and anxious because we are not making progress. If feels like we are spinning out of control or going down a dark tunnel with no return.

One of reasons for this is that we are trying to use our analytical mind to solve complex problems.  Our analytical mind is great at solving problems that have concrete solutions like balancing an out of balance checkbook, scheduling a vacation, or finding an alternate route to work.  But when we have problems in our health, relationships, or career our analytical mind isn’t helpful because problems in these areas are often complex.  We need another way to solve them.

The best thing we can do is to let go and stop focusing on our problems. This sounds crazy, but it works. When we stop focusing on our problems with our analytical mind, we allow our creative mind and internal wisdom to work on the solution in the background and bring the solution to the foreground when it’s done.

We have all experienced this when we’ve been stuck on a issue at work. We try hard to figure it out and get to a point of frustration where we say, “Forget it!  I can’t figure this out!”.  At this point you get up and go for a short walk or go for a cup of coffee.  As you are drinking your coffee and looking out the window at the beautiful day you suddenly come up with the answer!  That is your creative mind and internal wisdom at work.

I encourage you to listen to this short podcast and learn more about how our creative mind can help us solve some of our more frustrating problems.

 

 

 

If you have questions or topics you’d like me to cover in a blog or podcast, email them to me at dennis.robert.bird@gmail.com

 

 

6 Questions to Ask When Making Hard Decisions

Credit: Flocutus

Photo: Flocutus

Do you have a hard decision to make?

Life is filled with circumstances where we need or are forced to make hard decisions.  The reason these decisions are difficult is that there is not always a clear way forward and we are filled with anxiety about making the wrong choice.

In my life and in the lives of many people I’ve coached, I’ve seen people struggle with decisions around:

  • Starting or ending a relationship
  • Leaving a job or staying
  • Committing time to an activity or saying no
  • Starting a plan to get healthy or doing nothing
  • Making a significant purchase or holding on to your money
  • Moving a family for a work opportunity
  • Planning to retire or keep working
  • Starting a business or working for someone else

Whatever the hard decision you need to make, I find the following questions helpful in making the best decisions we can.

1. Is the option in alignment with my values?

One of the biggest stresses in life is when you act in ways that violate your deepest values. If we make choices that conflict with our values, then this is an indication that an option may not work for us.  Not all of our values have equal importance in life. I think it’s helpful to rank order your values so your decision falls within your highest priorities.

2. Is the decision about something where there is clearly a right or wrong?

Many decisions we struggle with have nothing to do with right or wrong, yet we have anxiety about making the wrong choice.  If you are buying a car and staying within your budget, does is ultimately matter if you buy a Toyota or a Ford?  If you are pursing a new job and have two offers, could both options be a good fit?  If there is no discernible right or wrong, what seems best to you? In these types of scenarios, you can’t make a bad decision so determine what may be the better option for now.

3. Do I have enough information to make the decision?

Sometimes we get paralyzed when making a decision because we don’t have all the details about the benefits or drawbacks of our options.  This requires that we take time to ask questions, do some research, or consult with experts.  Once you have the information you need, the path to making a better decision will be clearer.

4. Will I regret choosing or not choosing an option later in life?

Author Mark Twain has this great quote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

When making a decision about how I am going to spend my time or resources this is a question I often ask. I find that if I believe I will regret a decision later in life, then I have the insight of what I need to do now. Sometimes playing it safe is the best option, but sometimes taking a calculated risk, trying something new, or starting a new venture will lead to less regrets.

5. Have I talked through my options with people I trust?

Don’t go it alone when making tough decisions.  We all need an outside perspective to gain clarity on next steps.  Engage with good friends, family members, and colleagues.  Read books written by authors you admire.  Talk with a leader in your business or industry.  Hire a coach. I believe it’s a good idea to have a good mix between people we consult with, some who have personal interest in our outcome and some who don’t.  This mix will give you different feedback.

6. Have I given this decision enough time or too much time?

There are decisions we can’t rush. The outcomes have significant meaning in our life and relationships. The decisions could affect others and so we need to take time gather information, ask ourselves the above questions, and consult with people we trust.

The are also times when we are delaying a decision we know we need to make.  This heightens anxiety and leads to frustration.  If we are taking too much time it may be a signal that we don’t feel capable to make a good decision or that either option we choose has difficult components.  In these situations I encourage setting a deadline for a choice to made, gathering any missing information, and talking with people you can trust and who will hold you accountable.

 

A  challenge in making hard decisions is that sometimes there is information or experiences you can never know unless you try. When people are going through divorces, leaving a job, or moving to new cities there is anxiety of the unknown.

Will I be OK?

Will I succeed?

Will I like it there?

Sometimes we will make a decision that we later regret and here is the good news.  I don’t think any experience in life is wasted as long as we learn and grow as individuals. We all make decisions given the information and context of our life at a given time, so let’s have so compassion on ourselves.

One of the best decisions you can make is to be your best self. Start there and use the above questions as a guide on your way.

 

 

If you find this helpful or any other information on my website beneficial, hit the share buttons and spread the wealth!

Does Saying “I’m Sorry” Mean More Than “I Love You”?

 

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How often do we say or do things to people we love that we regret?

If life were perfect the answer would be “never”. But the reality is that we are all flawed and will cross the line into hurtful words and actions.

Healthy relationships are not conflict free.  Conflict is a part of life, but what sets healthy relationships apart from unhealthy, is the ability to repair after conflict.

Psychologist and researcher Dr. John Gottman and his colleagues has studied the interactions and conversations of thousands of couples.  He has found that a key to healthy relationships is the ability to:

1. Repair through words and actions that say “I’m sorry”.

2.  Work to build  trust through exploring the life of the person you love with questions and listening.

Listen to podcast above and hear a short excerpt of a speech given by John Gottman on this topic. Plus I summarize my thoughts on why saying “I’m sorry” is difficult for us and addition steps for building our relationships so our repairs are helpful.

 

If you’d like to read more on this topic I highly recommend John Gottman’s book:  The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

His strategies apply to our relationships with our spouses, partners, children and friends.

Drive By Wisdom: Letting Go of the Outcome

In this Episode of Drive By Wisdom we’ll look at how letting go of the outcome can help you achieve your goals with less stress and more engagement.

Play the short video below.

You Know It’s Been A Good Summer When Your Feet Are Tan

It’s hard to believe that summer is winding down.  Here in Minnesota the Minnesota State Fair starts soon and wraps up on Labor Day.  Nothing in Minnesota signals the end of summer than our State Fair.

Take a look at your feet and notice what shade of color they are.  Do they look like they’ve been exposed to the sun?  Are they a darker shade than normal?

You know it’s been a good summer when your feet are tan because that is a  sign you’ve been outside.  Not only that, you’ve been barefoot and your feet have been connecting with the earth, the sand, and water.

Is that so important?  If you think about our evolutionary history, we have spent more time as a species outside than in.  We have spent more time barefoot, connecting with nature, than we have been with shoes on.  We have been exposed to fresh air, sunshine, and solid earth below us.  We are wired to be outside. But most of the time we are relegated to being inside most, if not all day.

This summer I’ve made every attempt to be outside. That’s easy on weekends and on vacations, but I’ve given my best effort during the work week too. Over lunch, I’ve walked outside in the park behind my office complex and I’ve taken most of my conference calls outside as I walk.

I’ve found that I get more out of my conference calls when I’m walking. When I am at my desk, it’s too easy to check my email, surf the web, or look at updates on LinkedIn. (You know you do this too) But when I’m walking while on the calls, I’m more focused and find it easier to pay attention. I think it’s because I’m outside and I’m moving.

This summer my feet have been exposed to the sun, earth, and water through spending time sailing at the family cabin, walking barefoot at the park, and swimming in both lakes and pools. My feet have a healthy glow (even though my arms still have that farmer’s tan).

As Summer winds down I want to encourage you to get outside every moment you can. Walk in the mornings, at lunch, or after dinner.  As the days get shorter, take a flashlight if you need it. Go to your local park or trail system. Walk, hike, or run.  Regardless of your ability, get outside.

I’m a stickler for being outside because it’s so good for our mental and physical health. My goal is to get outside regardless of the season and temperature.  For those of you that live in cold country like I do, you’ll understand the challenge with that.  But I find even when it’s cold, its great to be outside as I shovel snow, cross country ski, and take winter walks.  It’s all good (but I do prefer warm weather).

My feet will start to lose their tan as the days start to grow colder here in MN. That’s OK and I’ll look  forward to being outside in beautiful  MN fall weather.

 

(What questions or topics would you like me to write about?  Send your ideas to dennis.robert.bird@gmail.com)