Monday, February 28, 2011

The BIG Announcement!

Okay, it's not really that big since I gave you a heads up last week. The topic with the highest number of votes in the poll was Healthy Thinking. So that will be the topic of the next blog series.

I am really excited to explore this because some of the most popular posts I've done so far have had to do with our thoughts. This is something many of us struggle with... and I don’t mean simply thinking happy thoughts, but really gaining control over our thinking patterns so that they stop controlling us. It sounds cliché but we really do have the ability to make connections between our thoughts, feelings and actions. By bringing these connections into our conscious awareness, we can begin to see patterns, understand ourselves better and create lasting change.

There are no quick fixes here. I repeat, none! With education and some practice actually living out what you learn, growth can occur.

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.

-Benjamin Franklin

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 21 - BIG changes!

Today is the last day of small changes = BIG results! I hope you enjoyed it. Let's review a few of the exercises and topics discussed throughout the series.

Do try these at home:

* Be silent for two minutes a day.
* Take breaks.
* Wake up an hour earlier to get more done.
*  Evaluate your level of satisfaction in 4 key areas: physical, spiritual, intellectual and relational.
* Read!

5 small tips to produce BIG change:

5. Be intentional! Sometimes inspiration just shows up. For my husband that happens a lot in nature. He'll be outside, amongst the ocean or the trees and sense the presence of God. Other times, it doesn't come so easy and we have to be intentional about it. What inspires you?

4. Start small, be consistent and build momentum. Work on one small habit until it becomes a part of your everyday life. Then build. Don't stop. Soon you'll find yourself in a spiral of improved habits that keep moving you forward toward your goals!

3. Prioritize and learn to say "no". You can't do it all. No one can. So stop trying. Don't do all the good things that are presented to you; focus on the GREAT!

2. Begin to understand personality dynamics and how they relate to your relationships. Start with yourself. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What about youu spouse, coworkers, friends? How do the varying personality types interact with one another?

1. Be grateful.
"Be thankful for what you have and you will end up having more. But if you concentrate on what you don't have, you'll never, ever have enough."
Oprah Winfrey

See you soon for the new series!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 20 - P Cubed

Today I'm going to focus on a three-part change: pray, plan, be patient. Together, these equal one BIG result.

I just started reading a book called "Visioneering" by Andy Stanley, the pastor of a huge church in Georgia called North Point Community Church. This book has been recommended to me a number of times by some friends who claim it is "amazing", "inspiring" and their "favorite book." These are some serious claims and as I've heard this now from more than one person I finally decided to check it out. 

I love it when a book really speaks to where you are at the moment you are reading it. This happened yesterday and what's especially fascinating is the fact that I have been putting off reading the book for so long; I am not sure if I what I read would have resonated this much had I read it at a different point in my life.

Stanley begins by explaining about how a vision initially starts... as a concern. We may recognize something is wrong and become passionate about fixing it. Or we may feel a burden about a particular issue but not know how we can make an impact; just that we must, somehow, some way!

Once that vision is birthed within us, there is a waiting period. This is the part that resonated with me the most. I tend to be impatient about most things. When I get an idea about something, my instinct is to act now! My mind starts actively spinning in circles trying to get a handle on whatever incredible epiphany I have just had! However, what inevitably happens is that the timing won't be right for whatever reason and my idea ends up fading away as yet another thought that was merely fleeting and not worth actually pursuing... or is it?

According to Stanley, whenever a vision crops up in our minds there is almost always going to be a waiting period where things need to fall into place before the vision can become reality. This waiting period can be frustrating and often times we just want to give up and assume our vision is just not meant to happen. He recommends during this time that we do two things: Pray and Plan.

Pray - Prayer fosters in us an expectant heart. When we are actively praying for something all of our senses are in tune to opportunity.

Plan - I love this because Stanley gives permission to plan for our vision as though it is definitely going to happen. That way our waiting period is not wasted but rather put to good use! He explains how he even created a vision statement and outline for a church long before he started North Point. He just knew that he would lead a church one day and while all of the details were falling into place he might as well begin preparing.

Patience - I have so many ideas of things I want to do in my life! My Bucket List consists of very few travel extravaganzas or daring adventures (aside from being on "The Amazing Race" one day)! Instead it mostly has to do with random ideas that have popped into my head through the years but for whatever reason, the timing wasn't right. That's where the patience comes in. Rather than giving up on our dreams, we wait... and plan... and pray... and wait some more... until the timing is just right.

See you tomorrow for the last day of the series!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Buh bye poll!

Thanks for voting everyone! The poll has been removed. I'll be in touch with the results soon!

Day 19 - E/I Follow Up

I read a blog post that I thought was a great follow up to the E/I post I wrote earlier in the series regarding Introverts and Extroverts. This pertains specifically to marriage but I think it has great application for any kind of close relationship. Check it out here.

Also here's the link again to the Myer's-Brigg site online in case you're interested in finding out your own personality profile! The link I've provided will take you to a specific page addressing personality and relationships but the whole site has some great info!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 18 - Self-Evaluation

A stepping-stone can be a stumbling block if we can't see it until after we have tripped over it.
Cullen Hightower (American Writer)

As I mentioned yesterday I’d like to end this series on small changes = BIG results with some exercises. They won’t take long to complete but they will get you thinking. Consider it a bit of life coaching on yourself!

Yesterday I went over a brief exercise to determine how you describe yourself in four keys areas of life: physical, relational, intellectual and spiritual. Today, we're going to build on that.

In each of the above areas rate your satisfaction on a scale of 1-10.
-          How satisfied are you in terms of the intellectual aspects of your life? (This may relate to your job, your overall awareness of what’s going on in the world, intellectual pursuits such as classes and reading etc.).

-          What about your physical health and well-being? (Do you exercise and maintain a healthy diet? Are you trying to lose weight? Are you struggling with any chronic conditions or medical illnesses, etc.)?

-          What about relationally? (Are you able to keep up with the demands of your marriage, friendships and family? Are you feeling isolated? Overwhelmed with too many social commitments? How easy or difficult is it for you to maintain boundaries in your social life? etc.).

-          And finally, spiritually? (Are you pursuing your heart’s passions? Are you utilizing your gifts to make a difference in the lives of others? Are you attempting to learn more about God every day? Are you participating in any activities or disciplines to facilitate spiritual growth in your life)?

After you indicate your overall satisfaction with where you are now, write down 2-3 things you would like to do to challenge yourself to grow in each of the above areas.

Finally, rank each of the four areas in order of importance right now in your life. They are all important areas or we wouldn’t be spending time addressing each of them. However your overall satisfaction is going to be higher in some than others. That is natural depending on what your life looks like in this particular season. So which area(s) do you feel dissatisfied with at the moment?

Once you’ve ranked them, focus on the most important thing only for the next week. You will become overwhelmed if you try to tackle all of the areas at once. While these activities are simple, developing new habits and creating long-lasting change takes time. So be patient with yourself.

See you tomorrow!

Last chance to vote!

If you want to have a say in the topic for the next series place your vote now before the poll closes! Healthy Thinking has inched its way to the top of the list so if you want something different speak vote now or forever hold your peace.

(Or if you want Healthy Thinking to remain in first place, be sure to vote for it)!

Looking forward to both launching the new site and the new series! Lots of good stuff happening right now!

Stay tuned for Day 18 of the current series coming later today.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 17 - Balance?

We are about to wrap up this series... small changes = BIG results. I'll be announcing soon the next series too so stay tuned!

As we finish this one up though I want to end with some exercises which shouldn't take long but will help you to understand yourself better. Even if you are the most self-aware person out there, we typically don't spend the time just reflecting on who we are. In doing so though we can begin to understand our motivations, our thinking processes and the ever-fascinating question, why we do the things we do.

Here is exercise #1. In each of the boxes, write 3-5 adjectives to describe yourself.





Are there any areas of your life that you have been neglecting? Is there a particular area you spend the majority of your time focusing on? Are things well-balanced?

This and other resources will be available on the new site. I hope you take the time to complete them. They won't take long but you'l be surprised at what can happen when you are intentional about your own growth.

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 16 - Switch things up!

I have some exciting news! In about a week I will be moving my blog over to a new site! I'll keep you all posted so you know how to find me... hoping to see you all over there once the move happens!

This change has gotten me thinking though... it's good to switch things up every so often. Life gets boring when everything stays the same all the time. If you've read my previous posts (or know me at all for that matter) you know that I am not, by nature, a change-loving person. Or at least I haven't been until recently. My husband's and my move to North Carolina has been key in producing within me a new-found openness to change.

I've always known that change is healthy; from an intellectual standpoint that is. But until I experienced my own major life changes, I remained somewhat closed off to the idea. The past year has been full of transition  and the fear that that change always used to produce within me has slowly but surely begun to fade away. It's like a whole new world has opened up to me; a world full of adventure with new people and new places to visit. It's exciting and fun, no longer something to run away from. That has brought great freedom.

How are you at dealing with change? Are you a fan? Or do you fear it like I did? This week I challenge you to switch something up in your life! Make the change you've been putting off and let me know how it goes.

I am really looking forward to launching the new website... my upcoming change. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do! See you soon!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day 15 - Habit Spiral

I read this post the other day and wanted to share it with all of you. It written by a guy who really seems to practice what he preaches... Which as you know I love! It illustrates wonderfully the idea of starting small, getting that momentum going and creating big results in your life.

Check out this post. I am sure you'll be encouraged by what you read.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 14 - Exercise for the Mind

"The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination." -Elizabeth Hardwick (American literary critic and author)

Are you a reader? Reading is one of the best ways to build confidence and actually become a more interesting person. It is also a way to increase your understanding of the human condition, of other cultures and explore different interests. You know all this right? I am not stating anything new… but do you do it?

I was at a dinner party a couple weeks ago and a conversation started about the books we’ve read lately. There was so much variety as one woman described her love of both fiction and historical biographies. She told us about a few of the books she’d read recently, some of which my husband read in the past year as well. They exchanged thoughts and connected through this shared interest.

There is a reason that Oprah’s book club is one of the most popular initiatives she’s started. There is joy that comes from reading. There is great catharsis that can come from getting so involved in a story that you actually experience the emotions of the characters yourself. When reading biographies, one of my favorite genres personally, you get the chance to glimpse in on someone else’s life. Have you ever just thought to yourself “If only I could be a fly on the wall in that person’s house”… well, when reading someone’s life story, you basically get to! I also love to read self-help/therapy books as a way to learn and develop my skills. There is always more to learn, no  matter what your career or interests.

Here are a few other reasons to hit the books:

·         Reading improves your concentration.
·         Reading develops discipline.
·         Reading can improve your vocabulary.
·         Reading is to the brain like running is for the heart. It is a good workout!

Check out this article on Oprah’s website for more benefits.

So... Your small thing for the weekend is: Read something! Choose whatever kind of reading material you want... magainzes, an online news source, fiction, non... whatever sounds good at the time! Think of it as a workout for your mind!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 13 - The Power of an Hour

Guest Blogger: Coach Carrie 
Carrie Roldan is a Life Coach and mother of 3 living in Southern California. She is such an inspiring woman who lives her life with passion and enthusiasm. It's such an honor to have her write a guest post for the series (and hopefully in time I'll get her to write more)! Check out her blog if you get a chance!

What could you accomplish if you could add just one more hour to your day?  Could you squeeze in that workout you never seem to have time for?  Maybe you would find the time to read or journal.  What if I told you that you can have that extra hour (or more), every day?  You can!  I'll tell you the secret...

Step 1: Set your alarm for one hour (or more) earlier than you currently get out of bed.
Step 2:  Get out of bed when it goes off.
Step 3: Use the time for what you intend it to be.

Step 3 is the hard part.  But do it.  You'll thank me later.  Just get out of bed.  I promise you will be a more productive person for your effort.

There is a natural tendency among many of my clients to argue "Well, you are a morning person.  I could never do that.  I am more productive at night."  This may be true.  I am a morning person, and I tend to be the most productive before noon. But, I assure you, I wasn't always setting my alarm for 4:00 AM.  The hard truth is that the way you START your day matters.  It sets the tone for everything that follows.  I start my day by honoring the needs of my soul. I "fill myself up" in the mornings so that I can pour my best self into the day.

4:00 AM is uncomfortably early even for me (although this morning I got out of bed at 3:45), but I've learned that my days are better if I can manage to get 2 full hours (or more) of "me time" before the kids get up.  I get my quiet time, my workout, and one or two other things in and start the day feeling whole; like I have nourished my soul.  When I feel this way, there is more of me to give to my kids, my husband, and everyone else I encounter during the day.  If I were to wait until the end of the day to get my "me time," it would most likely be spent unwinding.  I may go to bed feeling more balanced and whole, but the rest of the world would miss out on it, and I would have missed out on the increased productivity that is a natural result of starting my day with scheduled "me time."

Just try it for a week.  You can start with a half-hour if you like, but set the alarm, and get out of bed.  Notice how much more peace this one little habit brings to your busy life.   I promise, it's not that hard once you just make it a habit.  Commit to giving yourself some morning "me" time.  You deserve it!


Hey everyone, I have posted a poll on the sidebar to the right of this post. When you get a sec, please vote on 2 of the topics you would like to learn more about in an upcoming series. The poll will remain active until Wednesday, Feb. 23rd. If you have additional ideas please comment below. I look forward to finding out what everyone thinks!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 12 - Avoid No Longer!

Small thing for today... Do that one thing you keep avoiding! Or at least take a step in the right direction.

This can be so difficult yet so freeing once you do it! What is that one thing you've been putting off for what feels like forever? Is it having a hard conversation with someone who hurt you? Or is it organizing your files for tax season? What about researching a potential new career path?

It can be one of many things but for some reason, something has been holding you back from moving forward in a particular area. Depending on the subject of the avoidance, perhaps you simply lack the time to get it done. My husband and I have been insanely busy the past few weeks with some exciting new things happening in our lives. But, with that, we have also been putting off chores around the house, getting our files in order, going through mail etc. And while it has been a conscious choice to avoid those things, the stacks that are piling up are stressing us out! If we would just go through them, not only would we de-clutter our lives, but we would feel so much better on the whole. Plus, if we would just take the time to go through things little-by-little, we wouldn't have to spend so much time later.

Or are you dealing with more of an emotional pain? Has someone hurt you and you are having trouble finding the words to express how you feel? Are you avoiding the inevitable risk of sharing your feelings with someone and experiencing either a lack of understanding or rejection in return? Having those emotional kinds of conversations are incredibly difficult but the truth is, once you deal with your fear and take that risk, the rewards are often worth it. The thing is, whether you get the result you're looking for or not, merely confronting the issue will enable that weight to be lifted from your shoulders.

Perhaps you're aware that there is a yearning inside of you for something more... something different... but the idea of actually pursuing it just seems impossible. Maybe it's going back to school or pursuing a promotion or a new career path all together. Try this: You don't have to turn your life upside down today. Or tomorrow. But what if you were to start looking into the possibilities today. You can afford to be a little noncommittal at first. Just take the first step!

There comes a point in life where we have to confront our fears and the little things in life that we find ourselves avoiding. Is it easy? Well, some things are. You just have to make a decision to do it and follow through. But some are absolutely not easy. In fact, not only are the acts themselves scary but the potential repercussions are even more frightening. But once you deal with whatever it is you haven't wanted to deal with, that dreaded issue loses some of its power and it is no longer so feared in the future.

So your exercise for today is to take one step forward toward working through the avoided task in your life. Some of you will read this, call your loved one and work out whatever has been bothering you. Others of you won't feel ready for that so perhaps you could journal about your fears, debrief with a friend, create a plan etc. Just do something! This series is all about the little things we can do to build some momentum and make positive changes in your lives!

Let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 11 - Learn to love others the way they want to be loved

In the spirit of Valentine's Day yesterday I thought I'd write a post about love. Love languages to be exact.

Have you heard of Love Languages? The 5 Love Languages is a book that first came out in 1992. It describes various ways that people can experience love. They are:

1) Quality Time
2) Physical Touch
3) Acts of Service
4) Words of Affirmation
5) Receiving Gifts

Any idea what your love language is? If not, the authors of the book have a website with a variety of assessments you can take to determine your own love language. Here's the kicker though: Your love language may be different than your spouse's, kids, parents etc. So while it's important to know your own, in some ways it's even more important to know the language spoken by those around you.

For example, I have a friend whose love language is receiving gifts and words of affirmation. She loves to receive something beautiful as well as read a thoughtful card. She appreciates tangible expressions of love that have clearly been given a good amount of thought and consideration. Her husband is different. He prefers acts of service, meaning doing favors/projects for people as an expression of love.

In the first few years of their marriage, my friend was often disappointed. She didn't get the cards she hoped for on Valentine's Days or on her birthday or other holidays. Her husband didn't pay attention when she mentioned little items she hoped to receive one day, least of all actually buy them for her later. Instead his cards were brief and his gifts were few. As you can imagine, this lack of understanding of one another made for some disappointing holidays. What they both didn't realize was that for my friend, even a well-thought-out card, with no gift, would have meant the world to her. It's a simple gesture but for her very special. But her husband treated her as though she would respond favorably to acts of service, which was really his love language but not hers (not that those gestures aren’t appreciated of course).

So they each missed the mark a bit.

Have you learned the love languages of the people you are close to so you can respond in a way that is most meaningful for them? The first step is to take an assessment and figure out your own. Then talk to someone you love and find out theirs. Trust me, they will thank you for it!

See you tomorrow!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 10 - Silence is Golden

Today's tip for the day: Ssshhh!!

This does not take long and may even appear simplistic, but trust me, it's powerful! Incorporating silence into your life has proven to provide health benefits such as reduced stress and a greater awareness of your senses. When you slow down and allow yourself to experience silence rather than the overs-timulation that is usually present in each of our lives, you begin to discipline your mind.

Contrary to popular belief we do have the ability to control what we think; many of our thoughts are automatic but once we become aware of them, as well as how they effect our behavior and feelings, we can then begin to grab hold of our minds and in a sense, "train them," to think in healthier ways.

When the world around us is noisy, chaotic and stressful, being able to be silent in the midst of that will create an inner peace that remains constant despite our outside surroundings. Peace does not have to be dependent on our circumstances. If that was the case, we would only be able to experience it when life is calm. Life, as we all know, is not always calm and that's a very good thing! Sometimes it's exciting and we want to jump up and down and express our excitement with great energy. Other times we grieve, but regardless of our circumstances, we can achieve a level of peace inside ourselves that surpasses understanding.

Becoming disciplined in the area of silence can also impact our spiritual lives. For those of us whose minds tend to wander during prayer or worship times, we can actually begin to concentrate better and deepen our relationship with God. Just as there are spiritual disciplines of prayer and meditation, silence is a discipline that can greatly enhance those aspects of our lives.

Are you sold yet? So here's an exercise to try: Click on the link below. You'll be taken to a page with a beachy scene and a two minute countdown. Allow yourself to sit in silence for two minutes. If you move the mouse or touch the keyboard, the countdown will start over. Try it and see what you think!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 9 - Just say no!

One of the smallest yet most powerful things we can learn in our adult lives is how to say “no.” It seems simple, right? In fact say it now: “No!” Whether you said it out loud or in your head, I’m sure the task was not a hard one. And yet when it comes to real life, many of us find it extremely difficult.
Why is that?
There are a variety of reasons… fear of hurting someone’s feelings, fear of letting someone down, fear of being written off if you say “no” too much; or some people feel guilty when they tell others “no” etc. As Christians in particular, we are prone to feeling bad if we can’t go out of our way to be as helpful as possible to everyone. There is also a theory being researched right now that the reason people over-commit is because they believe sometime in the future they are going to have a surplus of time; unfortunately, though, as each day passes the “yes” of yesterday becomes the “yes” of today and it’s impossible to catch up. In other words, there are tons of reason we say “yes” when we should really say “no.”
Have you ever asked yourself these questions: Why do people always take advantage of me? Why do I never seem to have time for myself? Why am I always giving more to relationships than I am getting in return?
There are some serious ramifications to being unable or unwilling to say “no.” For starters, fatigue. If we are constantly over-committing ourselves and running around like a chicken with our heads cut off, we can become overly tired. When do take time for ourselves? When do we pursue our own growth? When do we relax, journal, read, take a bubble bath, work out etc.? These self-care activities may appear selfish when there is so much else going on, but without them you won’t be able to complete all of the activities you are agreeing to at full capacity. Another potential ramification is resentment. Many people who are constantly doing for others but neglecting their own necessities are prone to becoming resentful of the friends and family who expect so much of them. This can lead to depression, anxiety, relational strain etc. It is easy to take advantage of a “yes man” who is always dependable and you know will quit whatever they are doing to help.

What it comes down to really is an issue of personal boundaries. Boundaries are not only meant to keep the toxic out of our lives but they are also meant to protect us and ensure that we are not giving out more than we have the capacity to provide. When we have good boundaries we have a strong sense of our own identity and we understand that sometimes people are going to be disappointed in us and that’s okay. We recognize when we’re being taken advantage of and are willing to take a stand against such treatment.

So the bottom line is: Saying “no” is just as valuable as saying “yes” but for different reasons. Learning how and when to say it can be an incredibly valuable relational tool. 
If you’re reading this thinking, “I can totally relate,” here are some resources I recommend to learn more about this topic:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 8 - Take a break already!

The first part of this series I have focused mainly on concepts or  ideas to consider that could facilitate growth in your life. Yesterday I talked about how discovering your unique personality traits could impact both personal and professional growth. Earlier on I talked about how much our attitudes effect the way we view people and situations, as well as the importance of gratitude.

I want to get into some more practical tips now. Some may seem obvious but I want you to really think about whether or not you implement these practices into your daily life. If not, why? If so, what effect do they have on you each day?

I read an interesting article on Psych Central describing research being done regarding the kind of impact that taking breaks can have on a person’s attention span. The article explains that changing things up a bit (i.e. stopping what you’re doing in order to do something else) while engaging in a time-intensive activity can actually increase one’s ability to concentrate on whatever they are doing. Contrary to popular belief, breaks do not distract from the task at hand. If we are constantly stimulated, then whatever we are doing eventually begins to seem unimportant to our brains, causing us to lose interest and no longer have the ability to take in all the data.

Do you ever find yourself spending so much time on something that eventually you lose your sense of focus?  I remember in grad school I would work on papers for hours on end and literally did not get up for even a bathroom break or to get a glass of water. I felt like I needed to continue without stopping until the paper was complete. Or during the work day I will stay at my desk despite feeling antsy and having difficulty focusing. According to this study, our concentration will actually improve if we incorporate some breaks into the day.

So today’s small thing (if you haven’t figured it out yet!) is to take a break! Or two! See what happens! Are you more focused when you return to the task?

Comment below. See you tomorrow!

Day 7 Additional Info...

If you're interested in learning more about your personality type I want to recommend a couple resources. The most commonly used inventory that assesses personality is called Myers-Briggs. In addition to testing whether you are an introvert or extrovert, the test also determines where you fall in three other categories and provides a 4-letter description of your overall personality type. This test has been around since the 1940's and produces a reliable assessment of who people are. You may not agree with all of your test results but if nothing else, it gets you thinking about the different aspects that make you, YOU!

There is another test called the Keirsey Temperament Sorter which is very similar to the Myers-Briggs. David Keirsey has written a book called "Please Understand Me II" that contains the actual personality test as well as tons of information about each personality type and even how they interact with the others. There are also chapters that describe how your personality may play out in marriage, parenting and leadership endeavors.

Both resources are incredibly informative! I hope this is helpful!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 7 - E or I?

I took a class on Diversity last week and one of the things we discussed was diversity with regards to personality traits. We defined the introvert and extrovert characteristics and then divided up as a class into those sides. What surprised me, was the fact that only four of us clearly knew where we fell on that spectrum. The other 15-20 people in the class were unsure of whether they were an introvert or extrovert.

As someone who has read books and taken classes on personality, this topic is one I am familiar with by now. But I am realizing that not everyone is aware of what defines their personality and how becoming aware can impact a variety of situations in life.

So we’ll start with descriptions. What traits characterize an Extrovert and Introvert?

Gets “recharged” being around groups of people
Gets “recharged” during alone time
Gets lonely and bored quickly from being alone
Gets tired easily from being around people
Sometimes speaks before they think
Thinks before they speak. Sometimes spends too much time thinking and misses an opportunity to speak.
Values having a large social network
Values having  a few close friends
Vents problems verbally
Tends to reflect on problems internally
Can be difficult to just sit and listen
Does not have issue sitting without interruption

Extroverts make up approximately 70-75% of the population and introverts make up about 25-30%. There is nothing right or wrong about either personality type, but as you can see above, they are clearly different.  You may be reading these descriptions and thinking that you don’t fit into either category; while there is a spectrum for sure and you may land somewhere in the middle, the majority of people land on one side or the other.

So what does this mean for your life? Well, a lot actually! This seems like a small thing but understanding yourself better is incredibly important.

I have heard a lot of introverts complain about the fact that they are not as social as their extroverted friends. That they “don’t have a life” or that it’s harder to really make their mark on the social scene because they tend to be more quiet or need alone time. Introverts can still have a life without feeling like they have to push through to the point of exhaustion (attending every social event they get invited to, going out of their way to help everyone that asks, never saying “no” etc.). If they do that they won’t be effective for anyone; They just need to step away every so often to get rejuvenated and explain that need to their more extroverted friends.

In the workplace, extroverts may speak up more in meetings making introverts feel like they can’t. It is helpful for coworkers to understand each other and know that introverts are not being quiet because they don’t care but rather they need some reflection time before they give their two cents. As a manager it would be helpful to know this in order to seek out introverted employees and make sure to find out their thoughts on various work issues. Extroverts may speak up without even thinking and say things they don’t mean or that are even out of line. Rather than judging them or writing them off as inappropriate, managers need to understand them and have patience. It’s also helpful for employees to understand their supervisor’s personality type. If an extroverted supervisor is frustrated and speaks out negatively toward an employee, it could be that the comments weren’t well-thought out. Or, if an introverted manager is intentional about setting side time each day to lock themselves in their office and be unavailable, it’s not necessarily because they don’t like their employees or are lazy and antisocial, it could be because they need that rejuvenation time.

Both personalities are important and understanding this small thing can really make an impact for people both socially and professionally. So… are you an extrovert or introvert? What do you want others to understand about your personality?

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 6 - Your job won't take care of you when you're sick...

Last weekend I saw "The King's Speech" starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it! Not only is it entertaining and well-acted, but the film is being recognized by critics as one of the best of the year.

"The King's Speech" tells the story of England's King George VI (known as "Bertie") who inherited the throne after his father’s death and the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII. Bertie had been insecure most of his life, despite his status as one of society's most elite, due to a stuttering problem that had plagued him since 4-5 years of age. He had been to speech therapist after speech therapist trying to get rid of the stutter but to no avail. Finally his wife found Lionel, an unconventional therapist, who was able to get through to Bertie, not just helping his speech but also showing him the value of a strong, supportive friendship.

I have been thinking of this movie since last weekend and the personal journey that King George VI went on, which exceeded far beyond his stuttering. There are so many "take-aways" from the film but for me what was most impactful was the relationship between Lionel and Bertie. Bertie had been a lonely man who was close to no one other than his wife and children until Lionel came along. He learned lessons of vulnerability, risk, overcoming fears and growing in confidence which, without the support of Lionel, I'm not sure would have happened.

The roots of his stuttering were much deeper than simply a speech impediment and he had always been afraid to look at those alone. Lionel helped him feel safe and accepted, stutter and all. As their relationship deepened so did Bertie’s strength and confidence, as a man and as a leader of the nation.

This movie has reminded me of the lifelong relationships I have. Especially since moving, it has been exciting to see certain friendship grow despite being miles apart. Has anyone invested in you the way that Lionel did with Bertie? Have you felt so safe with them that you were willing to be vulnerable and risk revealing your true self, despite the possibility of rejection? Have you been that person for anyone else?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 5 - Decisions, Decisions

Decisions were always difficult for me growing up. In fact they still are at times. Whereas some people are spontaneous and fly by the seat of their pants kind of people, I have never been like that. I spend a lot of time weighing out the pros and cons of my decisions and have even gotten so stuck in an effort to make the right decision, that I was afraid to even make one at all.

I can look back to my childhood and see that at times, I didn't feel much freedom to make my own decisions. I would either ask, or be given a point-of-view from my parents, teachers, mentors or friends and would just go with whatever they said, assuming that whatever they told me was far better than what I could come up on my own. But was it?

I became a Christian in college and suddenly I had to juggle another point-of-view: God's. Decision-making became easier in some ways because I desired to make wise decision that correlated with scripture but at the same time, I still didn't feel like I was afforded an opportunity to really figure out for myself what I wanted. Which also begs the question... does God always point us in the direction He wants us to go or does He allow us to make our own choices sometimes? Another topic for another day (but in my estimation the answer is both).

Here is what I've learned though: For the most part, decisions are not permanent and mistakes are okay. So breathe a sigh of relief! If you take a job one day that doesn't turn out to be the right one, you can get another. If you decide to go back to school to earn a degree you don't end up using after all, it's not the end of the world. Yes, obviously there may be some loss and/or sacrifice when we make different decisions, but that loss can usually be recovered. And if not, you can choose to focus on what you learned from the situation rather than remaining stuck in a pool of regret. I don't mean to sound nonchalant and unfeeling about this stuff. But the reality is, often times we make things out to be bigger and more life threatening than they are.

A quick disclaimer - I am not talking about decisions that genuinely are life and death. I am also not talking about decisions like when to have a baby, who to marry or other decisions that will 100% have a profound impact on the course of your life. I am talking about small to medium sized decisions that cause many people a lot more stress than necessary. (Example - in high school one of my friends and I had a weekly lunch date. We would sit in the car in front of my parent's house for upwards of 30 minutes sometimes trying to decide if we wanted Mexican or Italian)!

So how are you at making decisions? Do you spend an exorbitant amount of time becoming paralyzed in fear over the idea? Or are you overly spontaneous? How do you make decisions effectively? Feel free to comment below.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 4 - Prioritize

I was at a baby shower for a good friend this past year and one of the activities was to go around the room and offer a word of advice. I'll never forget what one of the guests said. She told my friend that if each day passed and she got at least one item from her to-do list checked off, it was a good day. One item! It doesn't seem like a lot but for a new mom that's a big deal, she explained. You're functioning off little-to-no sleep and you're responsible for this new little human who has just entered the world.

It got me thinking... not that one item per day is an appropriate goal for the majority of us, but we pressure ourselves so much to cram more and more into each day that it can be a bit much at times. The day only has 24 hours and that's not gonna change! And yet rather than prioritizing our to-do list and just getting done what is needed for the day, we add more... and more... until we are exhausted, frustrated and no longer functioning at our best. That whole "I'll sleep when I die" thing... not necessarily the healthiest philosophy. What would you rather do? 10 things at 50% capacity or 5 things with 100% effort (and a much greater return might I add).

I really struggled with busyness for most of my 20's. I was constantly on the move between 10-12 hour work days, volunteering in youth ministry and hanging out with friends. It was a fun period in my life but as I look back I remember being tired a lot, having trouble focusing at work sometimes, neglecting to prepare fully for youth group meetings etc. While I enjoyed being busy, I wasn't as productive as I could have been.

In graduate school things really had to change. I had to cut back on a lot of volunteering and socializing to focus on school. That became my priority.

There are so many good things to get involved with... Work pursuits, volunteer opportunities, social activities etc. but do you want to pursue things that are good? Or prioritize and do what's great? And by great, I mean, great for YOU. Great things are harder to come by but can hold a lot more meaning. They are things you just know you should do. You learn from them. They touch you. They have greater significance in your life. And what's great for you may not be great for me, but that's okay. They correlate with your unique gifts and fit like a puzzle piece into your life.

Have you been filling your time with lots of good things but find yourself feeling worn out instead of full of passion and energy? Perhaps you need to re-prioritize. Spend some time this week thinking about how your commitments make you feel. Do you feel depleted of energy or full of life? Think about refocusing on that which fills you up!

See you Monday!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day 3 - “I used to complain I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”

I love that quote! It's such a great reminder to re-focus our minds from complaining about what we don't have to instead focusing on what we do. Many people choose to focus on the negative, and unfortunately in a 24-hour period the likelihood that something negative is going to happen is rather high. Being grateful is a little thing we can do to drastically improve our moods, and therefore our whole days.

Researchers aren't exactly sure why people who think more positively experience such great health benefits. One theory is that an overall attitude of optimism and thanksgiving can help people deal with stressful situations more effectively. Therefore, if they aren't experiencing stress as severely, they're protecting their bodies from the harmful effects stress can cause. Also, there may be a correlation between having a positive attitude and implementing healthier habits into one's life (exercise, more social interaction, better coping skills etc). While it's unclear for sure why positive people are healthier, there definitely appears to be a connection. Lower rates of depression, higher immune functioning and reduced risk cardiovascular illness are just a few of the benefits.

Do you tend to be a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of person? Try asking yourself these questions today:

1) How often do I complain? (Both aloud and silently)
2) How often do I think something negative on the inside but smile brightly on the outside?
3) How often do I let little things ruin my entire day?

Here is what I suggest the next time you find yourself forgetting to be thankful and focusing only on the negative.
1) Spend 5 minutes writing out all of your complaints from the day. Don't censor yourself at all! Just... well, vomit out all the gory details!
2) Rip up the piece of paper and throw it away. Do not skip this! It may sound weird but it's an active expression of your decision to get rid of your negative thoughts and emotions from the day.
3) Make a list of at least 10 things you're grateful for that day. Be specific! Don't just write that your grateful for your friends. Who are you grateful for and why?

Here's a little story. It's an email forward that got sent to me once. Maybe you've read it but it always makes me smile.

There once was a woman who woke up one morning,
looked in the mirror,
and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today?"
So she did

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror
and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.

"H-M-M," she said,
"I think I'll part my hair down the middle today?"
So she did

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.

"Well," she said,
"today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail."
So she did

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head.

"YEA!" she exclaimed,
"I don't have to fix my hair today!"

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 2 - Build Momentum

What does it mean to build momentum in life? Well for starters, momentum is not compatible with being stuck. So if you feel stuck, you may need to get some momentum going to pull yourself out. So often we feel stuck in our lives and it's a horrible feeling; like we have to remain in a job we don't like or that we'll always look/feel a certain way... but we want more! So, how do we start? Getting unstuck is scary because not only will you likely have to leave something familiar behind, but you're also most likely stepping into something unknown. It can be a big risk!
Here is the key. Start small.

I had a professor in grad school who talked to us about this topic. He gave an example... Let's say someone wants to start running in the mornings but has never done it before and is having trouble getting started. (I'm on a running kick right now)! Day 1 rolls around and all they have to do is wake up and actually get out of bed. They don't even have to run that day; they just have to get out of bed and put on their running shoes. Done - Day 1 complete. Day 2 comes. Today the person gets out of bed, puts on their running shoes and goes outside. Done - Day 2 complete. Day 3 is when the person actually takes their first jog around the block. By the time the week ends, the major hurdle is over. Little by little the individual is getting used to the discipline of waking up early and is now running short distances around the block. As the distance increases in the following days and weeks, running every morning becomes a habit. 

Here's another example. Have you heard of Dave Ramsey? He is a sort of financial guru, if you will. He has written a number of bestselling books on personal finances and getting out of debt. He offers seven baby steps to getting your finances in order and Step 2 is to pay off debt, however he doesn't recommend paying it off in the way you might imagine he would. He calls his method the debt snowball and essentially he suggests that you pay off your smallest debts first, not your largest. He states this on his website:  

The point of the debt snowball is simply this: You need some quick wins in order to stay pumped up about getting out of debt! Paying off debt is not always about math. It’s about motivation. Personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. When you start knocking off the easier debts, you will see results and you will stay motivated to dump your debt. 

Are you feeling stuck in some area of your life? What are small ways you can begin to build momentum to create lasting results?

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 1 - Be intentional about being inspired

Inspiration as defined by Miriam-Webster:
the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions

Change rarely happens simply because one wants it to; it requires much more than that. A desire to change without strong motivation on an emotional level is often futile. So, how do we invest on that deeper level? Get inspired.

Yesterday I talked about how going outside for a run and remembering what it used to feel like (physically, mentally, emotionally) when I was a consistent runner has inspired me to run some more. Back up even further though. What made me want to run again in the first place?
Sam, one of my favorite contestants from Season 9! 

Everyone who knows me knows I am mildly obsessed with “The Biggest Loser”! If you haven’t seen it I encourage you to check it out! To watch men and women who weigh sometimes 4-500 pounds completing difficult physical challenges, conquering temptations and eventually by the time the season ends, running a full marathon is awe-inspiring. Additionally, the show has a doctor who examines the contestants at the beginning of the season and again at the end. Many people who started out with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other nutrition-related illness are able to drastically reduce their dependency on medications. I can't help but be amazed each and every week at the progress the contestants make not just a physical level, but on a much deeper one too, as they work through past conflicts and the deep-seated reasons for their weight gain. 

When I watch these episodes and see the incredible accomplishments of the contestants as well as the sacrifices they make in order to live longer, healthier lives, I am amazed. I can't help but want want to live a healthy life myself.

Tara from Season 7! Another inspiration!
On a totally different note, here is another example of how I am intentional about being inspired. One of my goals, and this will always be a goal for the rest of my life, is to know God more and grow closer to Him every day. One of the best ways to get to know someone is to spend time with them. Same with God. But sometimes when I have opportunities to spend time with God I choose not to. I may choose to watch TV or hang out with a good friend. Either way, I am not growing in my knowledge of or closeness to God.

So, I have to be intentional about being inspired. I make going to church on Sunday morning practically a non-negotiable. Not to be legalistic but because I know that being there will inspire me and re-inspire me week after week. I am challenged intellectually by the teaching and I connect with God on an emotional level through worship. I also particpate in a weekly small group. By being around others who share a similar desire, we can encourage each other to grow closer to God.

Sometimes inspiration just hits us and that's a beautiful thing. Other times, we have to figure out what inspires us and go after it. What inspires you?

Small Changes = BIG Results!

The new series is here! It's called
Small Changes = BIG Results
and will focus on little things we can do to create lasting change. Join me for the next 21 days as we explore this new topic!