When you think your child is a criminal, or maybe just bad.

Parents say this to me in whispers and then draw back into themselves waiting to be judged.  They just KNOW that I’m either going to rip into them about the name calling or agree that the behaviors are so bad and therefor the parenting must be equally BAD!

Instead, I ask some questions about how that child interacts with the world.

  • Does your child accept adult authority? (No)
  • Does your child ask questions about why things are right or wrong? (Yes)
  • Is your child loud and outspoken when they feel the situation is unfair? (Oh yeah)
  • Will your child repeat behaviors that you’ve yelled and screamed at them for? (yup)
  • Do you ever feel like you have a little mobster in your house and it’s all about quid pro quo? (you scratch my back, your back gets scratched.)
  • Does your child attempt to talk to you as a fellow adult? (Yes)
  • Do they like to negotiate even when they’ve got nothing? (lawyers, every one)
  • Do they follow some rules and toss others that they are fully aware of? (and they can even tell you about the rule they ignored.)
  • Can they tell you the negative consequences that may happen but still seem oblivious to them? (You’ll notice they sing song out the negatives while rolling their eyes)
  • Do they tell you when they feel you have broken a rule? (With unholy glee.)

If you recognize your child from these questions, I’m going to guess they think about the world differently than you do and that you are extremely frustrated with them.  I can help. You have a Transactional Child. Their world is made up of;

  • What’s in it for me?
  • Why is it right or wrong?
  • What use is it?
  • If I’m supposed to listen to you, what makes you the expert?
  • Why are you in charge and not me?
  • Does this make sense?
  • Is this consistent?

Your child does not adhere to rules because it’s the right thing to do.  That phrase doesn’t even mean anything to them.  They adhere to rules because the consequences for breaking them are logical, consistent in when and how they happen, and fair.  But now you’re ready to tell me that you’ve been doing that, all the time, and it doesn’t work!  And I’m going to tell you to get out of your own way.  It is a brutal truth that a transactional child will never get the point if your emotions are clouding everything up.

If you are handing out consequences while angry, then your child is receiving two different messages.  The first one is how stealing all those cookies leads to a cookie drought in their immediate future.  Important stuff.  The second message is about your anger.  Guess which one is more important to your child.  The anger.  You might as well be talking like one of Charlie Brown’s teachers.  Even if your child can parrot back what you’re saying, she isn’t getting it.  She’s dialed into your emotional state and desperately trying to remain still so you don’t get any worse.  If that doesn’t work, she may start acting out since there’s no hope to calm this down anyway.  Because if all is lost, why not go out in a blaze of glory?

Try to imagine this from your child’s point of view.  He eats the cookies, all the cookies.  Your emotional response is frustrated, you ask him questions he can’t answer and you talk about being disappointed.  All of this is confusing and hurtful, but has no logical connection to the particular action of eating all the cookies.  Then he does it again.  Now you’re ANGRY, you yell things he’s not really listening to, you point out other members of the family that are angry at him and you wonder aloud if he will be a good person when he grows up.  He did the same action each time.  You did not.  Even if there were logical consequences for the misdeed, he can’t see them through the cloud of different emotional reactions.

Emotions cloud the connections.  Every. Time.  If you can get this, you will make your life 10 times easier and it can happen overnight.

So let’s revisit the cookie incident.  Little Janie sneaks into the kitchen at night and eats all the homemade cookies.  She wakes up the next morning with a terrible tummy ache and you know immediately what happened. And now, you will be the better mob enforcer.

Just here to do a job. Nothing Personal

The enforcer from the movies who makes sure everybody knows, it’s nothing personal.  This does not ruin your day, because you are just here to hand out consequences without emotion and then move on.

“Janie you ate all the cookies and now you feel crummy!” “Oh dear, and now you’re lying to me about it when I already know what happened.  That must be very frustrating for you.” “So here’s the deal kid, you stole all my cookies.  So now I’m going to take one of your Polly Pockets for every cookie of mine that you took.  I don’t really want your Polly Pockets and I’m not even sure what I’ll do with them, I’m still taking them.  You stole your brother’s cookies too.  He gets to pick a small toy of yours for every cookie of his that you took, because that’s fair.”

In order for this to work, you MUST sound calm.  Try for Mary Poppins about to go out for her day off.  I know you’ll want to make this important by infusing it with lots of emotions.  DON’T!!!  No matter what emotions your child throws around, remain calm and serene.  Stick to consequences that are logically connected to the bad behavior.  Make sure the consequences are small enough to be immediately enforceable and easy for you to carry out.  Hammer of God! only works for God.  If you aren’t Him, keep the consequences small and the voice tone to Fred Rogers.

Most parents think I’m crazy until this works.  They also think it sounds MEAN.  Because no matter what your child feels, you need to still be calm, serene, and OK for the rest of your day.  Emotions cannot be consequences if you want a healthy relationship with your child.  If you’ve accidentally taught them that your negative feelings are the end product of their behavior, they’re going to throw that back at you now. Hey!  Dad yells and throws his emotions at me when I do stuff he doesn’t like.  I can do that too!

Consequences work, loud important emotions just get in the way.

Kids like yours do not think about the world in terms of right/wrong and chains of command.  So when you tell them, “Because I said so!” You just made no sense to them. What will work, every time, is calmly delivered consequences that logically fit the bad behavior.

Stay tuned next week when I’ll explain why so many of these kids repeat negative behaviors and how to counteract that too.  This will actually be a series of posts on dealing with the child that thinks in transactional terms so you can both keep your sanity.

Stay calm, and be sure to ask any questions you have in the comments below.

 

Attributions: @markheybo Norwich Street Art; Why do you do this?, floodllama Mobsters, Jeremy Rivera Mr. Rogers in a Bear Suit.  All from Flickr with a CC license.

Why don’t people appreciate it when I do better? I should just go back to being bad!

Our responses to people and situations can become so automatic that really, we have a habit and we do the emotional response with NO THINKING involved.

This is fine if we have good habits like eating our broccoli and going to bed early. But what if we have the emotional equivalent of smoking? You might thing that’s not possible, but have you ever felt excited to see the ex who verbally shat on you? Maybe you’ve gotten so angry that you couldn’t speak when you were questioned and felt stupid afterwards . Maybe you know someone who can’t understand why they keep going back to an abusive job/relationship. Or maybe you’ve given up alcohol and now you have to avoid the family Thanksgiving because those idiots are going to try and get you to drink. Anything that interferes with your functioning, sends you running towards pain, or encourages painful behavior from others, hey! That’s a bad habit.

The problem with habits is they don’t actually respond to will power where we most want to apply it. Think about the drunk in the bar with the whiskey in front of him trying to say NO! And I’m thinking, why worry at this point? Drinking the whiskey is a forgone conclusion if you wait till it’s in front of you. The place to apply a well intentioned “NO” was way before you already ordered the drink, made the whole pan of brownies, stayed late enough that you might as well just keep working. Habits are a response to a stimuli, but the bad things we do to ourselves and others are not the precipitating stimuli! That happens way before the bad behavior we want to stop.

Emotional habits are the same. By the time you’re trying to stop yourself from responding to your mother like an angry adolescent, you’re in deep and you might as well let it rip.

When we say the word habit, we tend to mean one little tiny part of a much larger cycle of behavior. He smokes, what a bad habit. Yes, but he also gets antsy at his desk, likes to get out of the office, needs to deal with stress, has a friend in the office that agrees with him politically on their smoke breaks, and likes the moment when the cashier asks him what brand he’d like and he remembers his dad asking him to pick by color. ALL of that is the habit, not just the moment he lights up.

Word on yellow wall

 

So if you have a habit of responding to another person in a way that hurts you or never gets what you want, start changing it by getting the rest of the picture. What are the triggers? Where did they start? What is the whole process? When do you start feeling the urge and what is happening right before that? What are the rewards?

Our brains are tricky. The reward can be something you’re actually getting, or just something you really believe you’ll get. If you’re doing an emotional habit because you need to feel loved by someone like your father, then you will not stop the behavior until you figure out how to take care of that need some other way. Even if NONE of the previous attempts have been successful.  You’re not stupid or crazy! You’re just trying to get what you need.  If you can admit what that need is, you can find a better way to deal with it, you can sense when it’s about to derail you and get back on track before old habits make the same old train wreck!

Ask yourself the same questions about triggers, process, urge, timing and reward when someone else is habitually hurting you.  What are they responding to and is it something you could change?  Or are they so caught up in their own habit that you need to accept the behavior won’t change and get protective of yourself?

But what if you’re changing and your own parents try to sabotage you?  What if you have family members that have always treated you badly?

When it’s your family and they are undermining all your efforts to do better/ get better.  That’s a habit on their part that probably starts in their fear.  If you change, will they have to look at themselves and the family differently?  What function does your behavior serve?  Don’t tell me it doesn’t.  I’ve seen way too many families that arrange themselves around one member’s addiction or bad behavior.  They do NOT know what to do if you make real changes!  Or maybe if you get better, you won’t need them anymore.  I’ve seen that drive a lot of sabotage.

Don’t take it personally when the other person has a habit. It will take at least 30 days of you acting differently for them to believe in your change, (if you’re lucky). After that it will take them a while to change how they react to you. It’s easier if they are trying to make changes. It doesn’t mean that it’s impossible if they’re not. Habits have triggers, if your behavior is no longer the excuse they’re using for theirs, you tend to get change. If you’ve changed and they can’t/won’t/don’t change, put it to them directly. “I’m loosing weight and feeling good so why are you putting out donuts constantly and asking me if I’m sick all the time?” If they don’t/won’t respond or change, you may have to change the boundaries in that relationship.  More painfully, you may just have to accept that is who they choose to be and make good choices for yourself about being in that relationship.  Sometimes, you need to get out.

 

A great book on this subject that I hand out to clients all the time is “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.  It’s a great place to start learning about why you do certain behaviors with no conscious decision making involved.  So If you’ve been frustrated by how people ask you later about why you made such a bad choice and you seriously don’t have an answer, read this book. Once you figure out the stimuli and the needs you’re trying to meet, you can take control and make habits work for you!

I look forward to any questions you’ve got!

When you want better, do something Scary

FearSo I’m  therapist, we’re usually the worst at taking our own advice, and I hear my clients talking about the horrible situations they’re stuck in every day.  I tell them to go ahead and take the risk, make the change, do that scary thing that’s been holding you back.  Then I’m not willing to do it myself.

For example, way back when this blog was started I was scared of the internet, computers, people reading my writing, no one even noticing my writing, etc, etc.  So I didn’t really set this up. Someone else did it for me so that I wouldn’t have to face my fears.  I knew just enough to get to my page and write a post with a picture in it.  That was it and it stayed that way for years.  Nothing grew, nothing got better with this blog.  I went along feeling bad that I wasn’t writing in it and forgot how to even get to my page to write a new post.  Sounds bad.  It was easy.

It is completely easy to avoid doing scary things and slide into a mediocre place that you swore you’d never occupy.  It can be just as easy to stay in a hole lined with your own excrement because you don’t know if it will get better, so why try?  Or maybe you don’t think you deserve better, you’re waiting for someone else to rescue you, you know you’ll fail, or any of the other things we tell ourselves.

Most people think I’ll tell them that all those fears are horse crap and to let them go!  No.  You’re smarter than that and so am I.  You, as a smart person who knows your life, have come up with an internal list of fears that have real meaning for you.  Now write them out, validate them, and plan your attack.

Seriously get a pen and paper and write out all the desperate fears and negative self-beliefs.  You may get a stomach ache while you do this.  I’ve had clients have asthma attacks.  I tend to feel like my stomach is being squeezed and my throat is burning.  Persevere.  This is where you build the tolerance to your own fear while validating that you have a right to be afraid.  Let’s say that again.  You have the right to be afraid.  The idea that we should go through life fearless, tough and never crying is the kind of crap that sells cigarettes and bad TV shows.

When you’re ready, because you may have to put down your list and take a walk, go through and think of a valid reason for each fear.  Because if they’re real, you are not crazy or stupid or whatever nasty thing you’ve been calling yourself.  So think of that reason.

Let’s go back to my fear list that I gave at the beginning of this post.  I’m afraid of computers because when I was younger I got yelled at and told how fragile they were.  I’ve been scared they’ll break from my cursed touch ever since. I validate that I have a right to be scared and I’m not stupid or a pansy or crazy.  Now I plan an attack on that fear.  I will have multiple exposures to my computer.  I will explore all those buttons.  I will thank the good Lord for YouTube and play videos that show me how to use the computer.  I will occasionally stop and cuss at the screen because anger feels better than fear.  I will go to Barnes & Noble to look at a “Dummies” book and reward myself with a latte.

I now have five different things I can do to face that fear and get past it.  Each one is simple and can be done in the next few days.  At that point I can look at the fear again and make a new plan as needed.

So when I go over this with clients I hear, “It can’t be that simple!” and “My fears don’t have simple solutions!”  Well, those are both fears, so do the same thing with them. The first one is usually about, “I will never be fixed.”  This one usually has to do with early messages you got as a child, topped with that romantic relationship that crapped on you. You have every right to worry about this when you’ve had bad messages about your worth and whether or not you’re damaged. Write out a for/against on if you need to be fixed. Read a blog post about self-esteem. Write out your usual negative litany of hopelessness and then try to read it aloud imagining you’re talking to a 10 year old.  Think of the funniest thing you can say about how damaged you are.  Write out what you would say to a friend in your shoes.  Once you’ve done all that, assess it again, repeat.

Real change on your deeper fears takes lots of repetition.  You’ve been afraid of some of this stuff for years. Every day.  For years.  You can afford a little time to overcome now. You really do deserve that.

As for me, here I am on my Surface.  I feel a little less nauseous every time I open it.  If I start worrying about how it will die and I will be at fault, I put another $5 into the replacement fund and carry on.  My fear is not gone, but it’s not holding me frozen anymore.  I hope the same for each of you reading this.

This is the simplified version.  If you have questions please comment and I’ll try to expand where you need it.  Thanks for reading and I hope to see you again soon.

 

Help, I need to Motivate myself!

Image result for reward for hard work

Because, cmon, motivation and discipline are words that other people use to tell me why I’m not perfect.  Only I know I’m not perfect and that’s not what I have a problem with.  My problem is how I need to get things done that I DON’T like doing.  The things that are either so boring I will be smacking my own head or so scary that my stomach clenches and I feel sick.  Either one will fill my head with sand and my whole body with weights.  That sounds great, let’s move more sloooowwwwllllyyy through a task that already sucks!

Or not.  But how you ask?  First off, acknowledge how hard/boring/scary/awful/awkward your task is.  Lying to yourself that this is going to be easy won’t make it go faster.  Most of the time when we rate a task under its actual difficulty level, we just get mean to ourselves later about how hard it actually was.  Skip that!  You have enough negative voices in the world around you.  Don’t set up a situation where you’ll get negative on yourself.  List out the reasons that this will be bad and then you’ll have more grace towards yourself whatever happens.

Break this down, WAY down.  Let’s say you need to make a phone call that will not go well.  You have bad news to give, the other person doesn’t like you, and they will attempt to argue no matter what you say.  If you look at that head on, it will always seem like a wall falling on you.  So break it down so far that you will have a number of success stories before you get to the actual call.  So the list looks like

  1. Find that phone #
  2. Write an outline of what I need to say, any questions I need to ask
  3. What’s my back-up, forward my outline to someone?
  4. What info will I need in front of me for this call?
  5. Get that info and have it on hand

 

Notice that I made the first thing the easiest.  Find that phone number and voila! I can check something off.  You’ll also notice that once I let myself in on how bad this will be, I start making a plan that matches that reality.  This list calls for back-up, getting my information together, and having a clear idea of what I have to say.  I see a lot of my clients prepare for the call they wish would happen and then get eaten by the call they knew was coming.  Acknowledge!  Validate!  If you don’t want to make this call/ start that diet/ go look for a new job, there is a good reason and lying to yourself won’t make it go away.

Now move.  Any movement on the task will be good.  Once you’re in motion it’s easier to keep going.  So pick the smallest easiest thing, get it done, feel that rush of checking it off, and then head into the next thing.  If the task involves some kind of performance (any moment you will be talking and feel judged) then practicing is movement.  Talk to yourself in the mirror, have the conversation in the car on your way to work, try out different approaches.  Laugh all you want, but I practice testimony in the shower.  Wherever, however.

Reward yourself throughout the process.  A list can be its own reward as you check off the tasks you’ve gotten done.  Gloat when you can put that checkmark there.  It will help get you through the process.  Also think about small breaks, allowing yourself treats, and calling friends when you’ve gotten something done.  This can feel weird.  A lot of us are more used to attempting motivation through shame and fear.  But those don’t work!  Write a list of activities under five minutes and small treats that you will feel good about.  You will be amazed at how much more motivating it is to reward yourself.

Now all of this will go crap-side-up if you get caught in perfection.  The only perfect things are statues, that don’t move, and therefore can’t get anything done. My favorite quote on this is from Tim Ferriss and to paraphrase it, “The half assed plan you’ll stick with always works better than the perfect plan that fails.”  My add to that is, “All perfect plans fail.”  When you can’t think of what to do next and you feel overwhelmed by even the little tasks on your broken down list, please, for the love of all that is good and holy, Half-ass that sucker!  It will give you the freedom to get moving.  And once you’re moving…you’re likely to keep moving.

How To Forgive Yourself

I was supposed to have another blog out last Wednesday about the difference between guilt and responsibility.  It would help with understanding how you can forgive. Because so much of forgiveness is taking responsibility for your future and not waiting around for someone else to take care of you, you need to know to taking responsibility doesn’t mean you’re guilty. But I’m guilty of saying I’d get it done and then not doing it.

I need to forgive myself. I would rather watch stupid movies on HULU then get to work. After I’ve accepted this fact, I can forgive myself, change my expectations, and move on.

Forgiveness is a verb. Here’s the actions I’ve taken so that I can do something better with my time than feel bad about who I am.

Change my expectations. It would be great if I was a workaholic who wanted to wake up in the morning and get going immediately. But get real, I want coffee, I’d like heavy whipping cream in it, and unless I’m listening to music, I’m not even awake yet. I’m the girl who makes it to the 5 AM workout but may come home and go back to bed.  To actually deal with who I am and make things happen, I need to accept I’m not who I wish I was. That is forgiveness.  I see the difference between what I wish and what I have, and instead of demanding that I become what I wish, I accept who I am.

Get moving. Once I know that I’m not that workaholic who’s going to turn out the Great American novel next week, I can set more realistic expectations for myself. I will be more likely to keep to expectations that are in line with who I am. Part of forgiveness, is to move forward. If I say I forgive myself, but I don’t do anything different, what have I really done?  I work best in short spurts, with a cup of coffee and a time limit.  I set up the situation to reflect this new knowledge.

Appreciate.  I look for successes no matter how small and pat myself on the back.  The process of forgiveness implies that I’m trying to like myself.  When I like people, I say nice things about them.  Can you say nice things about yourself?  Forgive yourself for how negative you are, by saying good things about you.  It’s a verb, not an emotion.  You’ll feel good later, get to appreciating now.

Do it now.  Later is where we put the dreams we’re willing to kill.  If you will forgive yourself later, you won’t actually get it done.  Since it’s a verb, you have to DO good things for yourself, and do them today.  If you are truly willing to forgive, how will you be kind to yourself right now?

Don’t forget.  Only God forgets what He forgives.  If you try that, it’ll be like wrapping your head around a tree.  Remember all you want to as long as you learn from it, change a behavior, appreciate your success, do or think something kind about yourself, and be done.

Just to be repetitive!

  1. Accept yourself  & make a new expectation based on what you learned.
  2. Change a behavior based on the new expectation.
  3. Appreciate every little success and search for good things about yourself.
  4. Do a good thing for yourself now.  Later is never.
  5. Remember the bad and keep doing the good.  You’ll verb yourself into better feelings about you.

You never have to forgive.

 

Because you can’t be forced to.  Let’s go over that again.  You, the person who got hurt, cannot be forced to let go of your pain.  You can hold onto the memory and the jagged edge of every bad thing that happened to you, and I mean it sincerely that you have a right to do that.

When other people get their sappy smiles and tell you to forgive whatever monster lived in your closet with a chain around your neck, tell ’em a story.  Whatever the worst thing you can say in a flat voice with no tears, that will send most do-gooders running with their tail between their legs.  Try not to cry. Some people who will tell you what you should do with pain are just waiting for tears before they swoop in and try to save you.  Most of the time, you won’t actually feel saved so much as used.

You got hurt.  You might be holding onto that pain as a way to remember and not make the same mistake.  The pain can also be used like an electric fence to keep people away and never face the same fears again.

But at some point, you look around and realize you are standing all alone holding a knife against your own throat and calling that safety.  Nobody can reach you.  You don’t ever let yourself forget the pain.  So there is no repeat of the old pain, except how you’re hurting yourself with it everyday.

People were not meant to be alone and constantly hurting themselves.  If this is you, there is a better way.  Here’s the kicker, you will have to forgive if you want that better way.  You cannot be forced into a decision that is so internal.  You must chose, of your own free will, to let go of your knife and your fence.

Don’t forgive to make someone else happy, it’s not real and you’ll resent so deeply it will be a festering wound.

Don’t forgive to tell an abuser that their actions were OK and you never really got hurt.  Forgiveness is an acknowledgement of how deep the pain really is and how badly the other person behaved.  Never deny your pain or pardon a person who has done nothing to earn that status.

Don’t forgive to look better at church or to feel accepted by a religious group.  Don’t poison your relationship with God to get closer to the other sinners.  This holds true whatever your higher power is and however good you feel about the other members of the group.

Don’t say the words when you’re just hoping that you’ll feel better immediately.  True forgiveness feels like crap at first.  It’s a painful process.  The only thing that makes it all worthwhile is how good you feel afterwards.  But do not lie to yourself.  This will hurt and you deserve the truth.

You also deserve a life that is bigger and better than whatever you are owed.  The person who hurt you owes you a debt.  To get something better, you will have to forgive that debt.  There is no room for the good things you deserve until you let go of what you are owed.  This is not just.  Forgiveness is showing mercy to yourself instead of asking for justice on those who have hurt you.  In the end, it is also a potential act of mercy on the hurtful.  That is where most people give up.  They would rather live in pain than be merciful to those who hurt them.

You can hold on to your pain and wait for the day that it can be used like a sword of justice.  But the chances of that day coming are slim.  Or, you can let go of the pain and get something better than justice.  Let mercy roll down and wash away your pain.

Goal setting never works for me!

 

Every now and then some helpful soul will give me a new set of how-to-plan forms.  In the past I’ve even tried to use them. Then always felt like I was this failure, because they never worked for me. Well, I’m not a line.

I don’t think in a linear fashion, which is often true for people who have any kind of ADD, ADHD, or other differences in how they process information. If you’ve tried and failed at planning software, paper forms that are supposed to help you get organized, or felt frustrated with the well-meaning but ultimately ineffective methods you’ve seen, the real problem may be the method.

Most planning forms have you start with one large goal and then break that down into steps that you are going to use to achieve it. This makes lots of sense, only it doesn’t work. Your brain is far more likely to be thinking in leaps and jumps, interconnections, and what would look more like a series of bubbles with lines in between them.

Toss your old forms. Bring out a blank sheet of paper, and draw a large circle in the middle of it, about 2 inches in diameter.  Write a word or sentence that describes what you want in that circle. Draw a line away from the circle an inch or less. At the end of this line put another bubble. Whatever comes to your mind first, put in that second circle. Go around your larger circle putting new lines, and new bubbles with anything and everything you can think about in connection to that topic.

Repeat step one for all of your smaller bubbles. Some bubbles are going to just a singular thought.  Some you will have a lot more to say about and they may even surprise you.

But you’re probably wondering, okay great now that my brain is on paper, how does actually help me achieve a goal? The goal setting comes when you put the bubble up at the top of the page, and start drawing out what you’re thinking, followed by ways to achieve it, followed by steps you can take today.

This technique is especially effective for goals that you have run into a dead end on. If you’ve always wanted to lose weight, but find yourself never being able to actually achieve this. Do a bubble map.  Draw your circle in the center of the page, and then put what you want in the middle of it. If your first impulse is put the problem in the center of the page, we may have found your problem. Bubble mapping allows you to see what your actual focus is, and all of the associated thinking processes that go along with it.

Put the positive outcome you want in the center. And then go to town on what your associations with it are. If you had a difficult time achieving your center bubble, there will be a lot of sub bubbles with negative thoughts. Don’t be scared of these. You need to know what’s been stopping you from getting to your goal. If you don’t know the obstacles that are in your way, you will not be able to plan for them.

When you’re ready to put the information into an achievable form, start with a new page and a new circle at the top of the page.  Put your goal in the circle and draw lines radiating  downwards with new circles on the end of each, write out your thoughts in each of these circles both good and bad. Radiate more lines and circles down from the second level, and fill these in with achievable goals related to each of the thoughts above. Your third radiation of lines and new bubbles is for results you can achieve today.

Remember, the goals that are small, that you can work on today, and that will help you build for success later, are the most effective.

  1. Grab a sheet of paper and draw a circle.
  2. Write your goal in the circle.
  3. Radiate out lines that have bubbles on the end of them.
  4. Write whatever comes to mind in each of these bubbles.
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 for each of the new bubbles you create.
  6. Repeat on each new bubble ’till you run out of space.
  7. Does your original goal still hold true?  Sometimes you discover it doesn’t.
  8. Take a new sheet and put a circle at the top with your goal statement.
  9. Put bubbles beneath it with at least 5 related thoughts both good and bad.
  10. The next level down is bubbles that are goals associated with your thoughts.
  11. Last level of bubbles will be results that are small enough to achieve today.
  12. Repeat weekly.

When multi-tasking isn’t getting that task done!

 

There’s all these studies I won’t bore you with, that state that multitasking  does not work.  The same studies go on to say that no one really multitasks. All of us toggle back and forth between different tasks wasting energy and being less efficient. The people who did the studies ought to have a few kids. Because let me tell you, if you’ve got kids you multitask.

You are doing the dishes, and making sure nobody dies in the next room. You are on the phone, and making evil faces to at least one child to get some quiet.  This works well for keeping the species alive, but not so much for you reaching your goals.

For goal reaching you really do need a toggle switch. Because if you had unlimited time and resources, you wouldn’t need advice like this on how to make limited time and very limited resources work for you. Actually, if you had that first set of things you’d be on a beach and you wouldn’t care about goals.

A toggle switch allows you to go from one task to another with equal focus. It’s the process by which I get done with a client, and then use the 5 min. in between clients to write part of this blog.  I’m not doing two things at once, I’m switching focus so I can use very limited amounts of time.

This won’t work if you have multiple goals. Toggle switches move between two points and that’s it. So if I have one goal, to get my blog done for the day, and one basic job, see clients, the toggle switch works great. Even if I have several jobs, but only one goal, I’ll still be able to toggle.

Find your most important goal and only work on that. Once you get it done, you may be able to move to something else. Or you could take a break and get one of those little fruity drinks with an umbrella and imagine you are already at the beach.

  1. Pick one goal to work on.
  2. Set up your computer, equipment, shoes, whatever you need to accomplish that goal is ready to go.
  3. Switch your focus to the goal whenever you have 5min or more.
  4. When you’ve accomplished your daily goal, reward yourself.  I’ll be having the fruity drink.

You need your Yoda.

There’s plenty of people who will get in your way, tell you it can’t be done, yada, yada, yada, when you really need Yoda.  You need that person who will respectfully tell you you’re full of it or genuinely help you celebrate success.  You pick them, you let them guide you, and they get the joy of mentoring your success.  Now where can you find them?

The internet has blogs and info pages about everything these days.  You can find a pod-cast or a you-tube channel custom made for your goals.  Your Yoda doesn’t have to be in person.  Listening to people who are respectful and helpful will also fine tune your antenna.  You could use more of these people, but if you’ve picked bad romances and lousy friends, start on the internet and develop a sense of what the good ones actually sound like.

Take a class.  Whether you find one that you have to pay for, or a one time freebie at your local library, you will get in touch with other people who share your enthusiasm.  You’ll also find a teacher that you can ask questions and get ideas about other places to research.

Hire a coach.  This could be a personal trainer, an adult baby sitter, or a life coach who’ll ask about your goals and how you’re doing.  If you’re goals are physical, I would especially recommend hiring someone to take over the planning if you’re just getting started.  You can concentrate on effort and not puking, while they figure out which muscles need to hurt tomorrow.

Use the mentors you already have access to.  If you belong to a religious group, a social circle, or a family with a few healthy members, you may already have met your guide and just not know it.  Ask some questions of the people around you.  At my church, there are Nurse Practitioners, Doctors, Carpenters, and the guy who survived a Japanese prisoner of war camp.  There are marriages that have held together for 60+ years, and a few people that have survived brutal divorces.  Somewhere in that group, I could find people to read manuscripts, research history, or give me parenting tips.  And that’s just one group.  Think of the groups you belong to and find out what resources they have.

  1. Use the internet.
  2. Take a class.
  3. Hire a coach.
  4. Leverage your network.

Make it easy to keep your goals!

 

I have two times in any given day that actually belong to me. 1. Before everyone else wakes up. 2. After everyone else has gone to bed.  Otherwise I’m between a rock and hard place on finding time for myself and the goals I want for just me.  So I wake up at 4:45 and go work out.  When you’re talking about making yourself a priority in the midst of a busy life with other people depending on you, get ready to do one of three thing; get up early, stay up late, pretend you’re at work.

Most of the same people that won’t respect your personal time will act like your job is sacrosanct.  Use that.  Find a way to put breaks in your work day that you don’t tell anyone about, and use them to write your novel, walk around the block, plan your escape, etc.  Remember that we’ve already talked about making your daily steps to that goal so small, they can thrive in the 5min space that your coworkers are using to slowly walk back and forth from the water cooler.  Write one sentence.  Find the staircase and run up a flight or two.  You really can take your life back one tiny step at a time.

Start with the time solution that you’ll actually use.  The best plan is the one you’ll use.  Getting up early might be great, but if you’ll just slap your alarm around and go back to sleep, it’s a lousy plan.  The mediocre plan you keep to, will get you further than a great plan you can’t stand and won’t use.

Put the time on your schedule and then you’re more likely to keep the appointment with yourself.  If your day is like mine, you’ll miss a number of appointments with you.  You are important enough to reschedule and be persistent.  You’ll win if you keep making the appointment and show up for yourself.

  1. Assess your day for time you can use
  2. Get up early, stay up late, and/or use the 5-15min spaces in your work day
  3. Keep it small so you’ll motivate yourself with success
  4. Schedule the time if you can, and then expect that you’ll have to reschedule
  5. Persist.