Monthly Archives: August 2009

Building Buffers 2

31 August 2009, by A. Cedilla

Here are some more thoughts to get you thinking about the importance of having margins and buffers in our lives :

  • Perfectionism is a hopeless cause when attaining it is the only end-product. By its very nature, perfection – no more beyond–is not attainable in a changing world. It’s also boring. Once you’ve attained it, then what?
  • The insistence of 100% accuracy in human interaction is only an ideal. An an unrealistic one too.
  • Automation can just help you make mistakes faster.

Got that? Okay, let’s move on.

Think of it this way: Every day of your life you get a plate. That plate is a plate of a particular size. You can choose what goes on your plate. You can only handle what fits on your plate.

Again, you can only handle what fits on your plate. Your plate, not someone else’s plate, no matter how much you care for them or how important they are to you. They make their own choices, you make yours, and all of you deal with what’s on each of your respective plates.

If you keep dumping stuff on your plate without thinking, or without finishing (or let someone else dump their stuff on your plate) something is bound to slop off and hit the floor.

If it’s important, then it was your responsibility to have dealt with it, but you didn’t, so it was wasted. More so if it was of personal significance, since you didn’t deal with it as you meant to, when you meant to. The result? Continue reading Building Buffers 2

Building Buffers 1

28 August 2009, by A. Cedilla

People are not biologically or psychologically geared to be ‘on’ all the time. We are hardwired to have cycles of activity and rest, a fact that we ignore in the quest for success, or trying just to hold our heads above water in hard times. We need buffers in our lives.

Some off-the-cuff definitions for ‘buffer’:

  • Margin – a breathing space between yourself and your limits.
  • Leeway – the absence of pressure.
  • Padding – the presence of protection.

So, when we exercise our ability for conscious choice in our lives and put buffers in, we can give ourselves the breathing space we need, put off some of the pressures of modern life and protect ourselves from what can stress us out.

In the simplest scientific terms, stress is the experience of a load on the system. Ahem…overload, anyone?

Using the idea of ‘overload’, what actions can you take to off-load stress? Continue reading Building Buffers 1

Welcome To The Discomfort Zone 2

26 August 2009, by A. Cedilla

From part one:

You do it proactively, not re-actively. This is calculation.

Outside of a gun battle, ducking and hiding is no way to face life. And lessons doesn’t stop even when you leave school. We forget that. (Go back to the first paragraph in part one). We remember the pain, and never looked past it for what we could learn from it.

Here’s the thing: Blaming yourself and/or others for making mistakes is human.

It’s also a waste of time, energy and focus, especially if you keep dwelling on it. Blame keeps you stuck. Learning helps you deal and move on.

If there’s ever a problematic situation in your life that keeps popping up and repeating itself, don’t say, “Why is this happening to me, again?” Continue reading Welcome To The Discomfort Zone 2

Welcome To The Discomfort Zone 1

24 August 2009, by A. Cedilla

It’s where you grow. Really.

It’s an inevitable step of the maturing process that some lessons stick the hardest because they hurt the most.

When we were young, we weren’t able to control ourselves when it came to dealing with discomfort. We howled at the vaccinations, shrieked at being told what to do, and lied like rugs to avoid being sent to the corner.

Later on, we balked at having to do our homework first before we can watch cartoons. Maybe sighed and rolled our martyr’s eyes at having to finish the chores, at having a curfew, at having to follow rules that were set to teach us discipline and how to take care of ourselves when we’re on our own.

It’s also normal to forget the discomfort we went through growing up to be where and who we are now. The nerves from driving a car for the very first time? Eh. The queasy feeling when you made a speech in front of a sea of classmates (or co-workers)? Hah. (Or maybe not.)

It’s also a natural part of the human psyche to avoid anything that disturbs the accepted status quo, what we’ve accustomed ourselves to as being ‘normal’.

That’s why so many people fear making public speeches. The fear (lets call it ‘negative anticipation’) of making utter fools of themselves keeps them from doing anything to overcome it. But as to driving and being able to go out when you want to? Heck, yeah! Everyone’s nervous the first time!

See? You may not like public speaking, but driving was the key to freedom, so you pushed past your nerves and kept trying until you mastered the necessary skills. You wanted one thing more than you did the other.

It’s the memory of pain — and the anticipation of it– that keeps us from pushing ourselves to our upper limits, or even our lower ones.

The anticipation of pain, whether in the form of rejection, failure, or even of accomplishment (and the additional responsibility that comes with it) is the major cause of why we often don’t change until and unless we’re forced to. We’ve gotten comfortable with where we are. It’s nice and we know it.

We know it, we know how to deal with it. It’s a familiar situation, and the comfy inertia in your inner view of the world is what keeps us there, stuck in a rut like a fly in amber.

How do you get out? Continue reading Welcome To The Discomfort Zone 1

Motion is Not Action

21 August 2009, by A. Cedilla

Staring at the flames from something burning on the stove is doing something. Turning off the heat and protecting your hand while dumping the pan in the sink is getting something done.

Another scenario: Watching TV is doing something. Turning it off to clean the garage of the stuff you mean to give to Goodwill is getting something done.

Do you see it yet?

It’s an old military axiom. “Never mistake doing something for getting something done.” Behind this short, pithy sentence is a whole mindset that can do wonders for providing clarity and peace of mind.

How can a cliche give you clarity and peace of mind?

Getting something done implies that:
a) that action was taken to take you closer to a pre-established goal
b) that action was a deliberate choice, the best one among a set of alternates. Continue reading Motion is Not Action

Changing on Purpose 1

18 August 2009, by A. Cedilla

Change. Some people avoid it more than they prepare for it, preferring to act like if they don’t see it, it’s not there. Does pulling a blanket over your head to keep the boogeyman out seem smart to you?

On the other hand, some prepare for it — and then fight themselves in accepting that it happens. I guess you know how this goes. You’ve just gotten safe, gotten comfortable, and then here it comes again, dammit.

You have to accept that change is inevitable. Ready or not, everything changes.

Kids grow up, adults too. Relationships evolve into different directions. Jobs come and go. Careers can be interrupted by events outside your control.

Everything changes. You do too, only your self-concept often changes more slowly than you would consciously see.

The key word here is conscious. Awareness of your ability, responsibility and power to change can bring you to places you’ve only ever dreamed of, and out of uncomfortable or painful situations you only thought were unchangeable. Continue reading Changing on Purpose 1

Changing on Purpose 2

17 August 2009, by A. Cedilla

If you’re committed to changing specific parts of your life for the better, you have to keep a few things in mind:

The belief that “successful choice = successful change” is misleading. It’s too simplistic. How will you know if the choice is a success? Success is relative.

For one thing, the concept of ‘success’ is different for everyone.

Turning down a drink is easy if you’ve never been one for liquor, but for someone who’s trying to save himself from drowning, that simple decision carries the weight of the world, and he has to make that choice hour after hour, and day by day.

For another, the choices we make don’t always result in the changes we want.

Think about the choices you made that resulted in situations that weren’t quite what you had in mind. The gift that wasn’t received in the spirit it was given. The business decision that tanked. The date that didn’t go well, to put it mildly. {more}

People rarely change pro-actively. It’s usually a growing discomfort with the status quo that prods them that there might, just might be a need to change.

Be aware of the inner resistance to changing; that is a normal reaction. Training yourself to move onward despite that resistance builds discipline, self-respect, and awareness of your growing capabilities.

And, realizing you can prepare, and that you can change your situation so you can meet the future without fear, gives you time to check out options, and that is priceless.

Here’s some general advice to help you along the way:

1) Find out what things or situations have hurt or drained you before. Save yourself some time and avoid them.
1.1) ID your pattern – how many times have you run into something like this before. “You forgot to ___, and then ____ happens. Every time.”

2) Create a vision — see things that aren’t there yet, and exercise your power to make them real.

3) Make a decision. It does not have to perfect. Perfect is an ideal. Ideals exist in the head, and we work towards the ideal in the real world. Make the best decisions you can for the real world, not the perfect decision in your head.

4) Let go. Release your attachment. Willing things to happen is all well and good, but realize that once you commit to action, it’s out there, in the real world. And in the real world, there is always stuff you can’t control. The only things you can control are what goes on inside you. Act, and let go.

5) Face the boogeyman. Okay, you have a hard time letting go. Be a pessimist and make up the worst case scenario you can think of, fueled by all your bad experience and nighttime fears. How likely is it that your worst case scenario will come true? See, it’s all in your head. That means you can control it.

6) Take action. Make the change.

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Focus and Planning 2

12 August 20090, by A. Cedilla

In part one we advised you to follow in St. Nick’s footsteps and write everything down, but the second part we hadn’t mentioned is counter-intuitive– don’t stick to the plan 100% of the time.

Aside from the truth that “no plan survives contact with the enemy,” sticking to The Plan, The Plan, must stick to The Plan, can’t leave The Plan… can mean that your fixation on crossing off each item on the list leaves you blind to the reason why there’s a list in the first place.

The list is a plotted-out course on a mental map, it is not the actual territory, and it is not your over-all goal. Never confuse the map with the territory. That would be like learning to drive from watching a video on the internet.

What else can you arrange to boost your chance of successfully achieving your goals? Continue reading Focus and Planning 2

Focus and Planning 1

07 August 2009, by A. Cedilla

Wiktionary defines ‘focus’ as: the convergence of attention or light onto a target or point.

Using both, attention of and on an object –or in this case, a objective– and shedding light on that objective seems to be a very effective strength to build up, since focus is something you can use towards not only building a better business, but leading a happier, more joyful life.

Focus keeps you from drifting, losing track, acting aimlessly–wasting time– and what else is life made up of but time, remember?

So how can you strengthen your focusing skills?

Make like Santa Claus and have a list.Keep checking the list , crossing off, erasing and adding new items, as necessary. Keep the list close and refer to it often.

Prioritize what needs to be done, when and how , more importantly, why.

You can keep an actual picture for each of your goals: one of your kids for whom you’re earning their tuition for, or a postcard of that vacation spot you’ve always wanted to go to ever since you’ve heard about it, a flyer for the voice lessons you couldn’t afford when you were younger…

Whatever it is, if it keeps you going, use your pictures as little batteries to get you going through the tough times and to actually see, visually and not just mentally, to show you that what you’re working for is real and the power to attain it is in your hands. Continue reading Focus and Planning 1