Don't worry...this is not a political post. It's just that time of year and I've been seeing a lot of memes on this theme. As a life coach, I feel that people create a lot of unnecessary drama around this issue.
From my line of work, I come at this with two different basic principles:
1. Every thought is a choice.
2. Nobody can actually offend you.
(Btw, if you can truly accept and believe these two ideas, your life will change for the better!)
First of all, #1. We all have the power to choose how we think about something. If you need evidence of this, think about a person you don't really like--a person who offends you--who still manages to have friends. You don't like that person because of the way you think about him. His friends like him because they think differently about him.
Let's say you are in the "Merry Christmas" camp. You have an exchange with someone in the grocery line. "Merry Christmas," you say. "And happy holidays to you!" comes the reply. Now, how do you think about this exchange. Do you think, "Well, that was pleasant" or do you think "Happy holidays? It's Merry Christmas. Why are people always trying to take away the meaning of Christmas? Why do people care more about being politically correct than upholding tradition? IT'S MERRY CHRISTMAS, DARNIT!"
Likewise, if you are in the "Happy Holidays" camp and have the same exchange, are you thinking, "Well, that was pleasant" or are you thinking "Merry Christmas? How does she know that I celebrate Christmas? Maybe I'm Jewish. Why do people have to be so exclusive? Why does she have to push her beliefs on everyone else? IT'S HAPPY HOLIDAYS, DARNIT!"
Do you see how different thinking leads to different ways of feeling about the issue? This leads me to #2: Nobody can actually offend you. Say what?!? That's right. Nobody can actually offend you. Go back to the first example of the person you don't like. If he had the power to offend you, then he would have that power over everyone else. You are offended because you CHOOSE to be offended.
Now, I'm not condoning obnoxious or rude behavior. And I'm not saying that you shouldn't take up an issue when you feel a real wrong is being committed. However, little exchanges like this, little annoyances...c'mon...what does somebody else's greeting have to do with what the holidays me to you and your enjoyment of them?
Let's look at this from another angle. If every time somebody says the "wrong" greeting you get a little prickly, you are allowing that negativity in. That person in the check out line may or may not be offended by your choice of greeting, but in the end, it doesn't matter. Your annoyance (in most cases) only affects YOU. You are giving that person power to minimize your values. You can't ever really know another person's motivation, and you definitely can't control another's behavior. When your well-being hinges on the behavior of others, you are setting yourself up for a life of disappointment.
Do you see what I did there? I went from the specific to the general. The way we get worked up about how we express holiday greetings speaks to a universal truth about all kinds of behaviors. In other words, don't give somebody the power to affect how you feel. Live in your own power.
How do we do this? Here are some ideas to ponder:
A few months ago, my family (ahem...it was mostly me) decided to implement "Screen Free Sundays." No iPad, no video games, no shows or movies or youtube for a whole *gasp* day!
I made the decision to push for a screen free day for several reasons. The statistics, after all, are quite gloomy. The average 8-10 year old spends 6 hours a day in front of a screen. Yikes. It's even higher for older kids. My kids spend way less time than the *average* kid in front of a screen...we don't even have cable...but still, the desire for screen time and the fussing when transitioning from the screen back to real life were becoming an issue. And while I'm not a tech teetotaler--it's not going away, people, so we might as well learn how to coexist in a healthy way--I do believe that technology is hurting our personal skills and taking time away from more active and productive pastimes. I wanted a day to prove that not only a) we don't NEED technology, but also b) we can discover more about ourselves and each other without it...and thus, Screen Free Sunday was born.
The research is out there and I encourage you to educate yourselves about both the positive and negative aspects of technology. However, this post is not to advocate that you take on a similar practice. Your relationship with technology is personal, and I'm in no position to dictate how much screen time is right for you or your kids. And while I've seen positive effects on our family, I'm not here to talk about the evils of too much technology or even the benefits of cutting back. I'll just say that we all need to be thoughtful consumers in this brave new world.
What I want to talk about it this: my family's incorporation of a screen free day is actually a great metaphor for any kind of positive change you might attempt. First of all, it was a conscious decision. We didn't just default to a screen free day. It was fully by design that we got here.
Secondly, it was not the easier route. Let's be honest, the iPad is a great kid-sitter. While my kids are playing iPad, I don't have to worry about fights, I don't have to answer a million questions, and I can go GSD around the house. That was hard to give up.
Thirdly, this change was met with resistance. Sundays are weekend days, for goodness sakes. Shouldn't we be allowed to do whatever we want on Sundays? Can't we just relax in front of a movie? We've spent the whole week working hard and doing homework and going to karate, don't we deserve to play some video games? We don't like screen-free Sundays.
I'm imitating my kids here, but doesn't it kind of sound like your inner voice when you are trying to establish a healthy habit or new thought pattern? Our brains like to be efficient. We get addicted to the familiar, even if the familiar isn't the best for us. So we try to default back to what we know, back to the path of least resistance because change is HARD.
But here's the good news. If you really believe in the benefits of something, if you really want to make positive change, it does get easier. You start to see the payoff. What was new and hard becomes normal and familiar.
Let me tell you about yesterday. My oldest daughter was getting over the crud (fever, cough, general yuckiness), and I admit that I was tentatively planning on making an exception and allowing a movie. But alas, it wasn't necessary. My kids woke up, and immediately started playing with some of their legos. Later, they bundled up and started a really creative game of catch outside, followed by some chalk art on the driveway. My daughter felt good enough to go to a cute little Elf Academy that my town puts on, so they learned elf dances and played kazoos and decorated cupcakes there. When we got home, they wrote thank you notes to a family member, practiced piano voluntarily, made-up missed work from school, and asked to start board games as a family, which we did. Screen-free Sunday just happened. It had become our new normal.
I know this paints a very pretty picture and I'll be the first one to admit that it isn't as clean and easy as all that, but it is that simple. Change can happen if you don't give up when it gets hard. And if you push through, the fight in your brain diminishes. Soon, it takes just simple reminders to stay the course, and eventually, your brain will default to the new and better pattern.
At one point yesterday my youngest daughter, Cici, asked to see the "Christmas Fails" video we had watched earlier in the week. "It's so funny!" She said. "And it's short. Can't we watch it?"
"But it's Screen-Free Sunday," I reminded her.
"Oh right," she said, rolling her eyes a little (because she's 7 going on 17). I braced myself for begging or arguing, but she simply skipped away and rejoined her sister at whatever imaginative game they were currently playing, leaving me stunned and smiling.
When my oldest was not even a year old, my husband and I decided it would be a great idea to do a little biking tour of Oregon wineries (we lived in Portland at the time), WITH our 11-month-old. We had just gotten a Burley bike trailer, you see, and we were eager to put it to use. We booked a kid-friendly B&B, mapped out a good route, and away we went.
I know it wasn't all easy and good. I know the route had big hills and narrow shoulders and speeding semi-trucks. I know that Aleida cried...a lot. I know that I wasn't in the best shape and arrived at the wineries sweaty and out of breath. But all I remember, 8 years later, is the fun and the fact that we did it. We tell the story about biking up a big hill with a crying child and we laugh. We recall the looks from the other wine tasters, some admiring, others judging, and we revel in our adventurousness. "Aleida wasn't even a year old!" we say. "We took a crawling baby on a winery bike tour in Oregon!" we laugh.
This probably wasn't the first time, but it stands out in my memory as one of the important moments when I realized that we would be this couple, and now this family. We are a high effort family. When our kids were 3 and 5, we took a trip with another family (who had 2 kids, also under 5) to Nicaragua. Even the flight attendant questioned our choice: "You're taking a family vacation to Nicaragua?"
Two summers ago, when my kids were 6 and 8, we hiked our first 14er and went on our first backpacking trip, which prompted Aleida to say, "Summer break is hard in a family like ours." And she's right: it IS hard.
Just this weekend, my husband said, "You've gotta love effort, and I do love effort." I can't even remember what we were talking about because we literally had half a dozen scenarios he could've been referring to--just in the past week. We went snowshoeing and sledding in deep snow on Black Friday (a new tradition we are calling "White Friday), and yesterday we drove 1.5 hours to go cut down our own Christmas Tree. We are a high effort family. Admittedly, my husband is the leader. I often roll my eyes or get heart palpitations when he conjures up a new undertaking, but ultimately, I am grateful for it. I am less effort-averse than I use to be, and I know my kids--who whine and complain and cry like all other kids--are learning to appreciate the pay off if worth their exertions.
Still, I am sometimes self-conscious about the level of effort we put out there. To be fair, we live in an abnormally active town, full of sponsored mountain bikers and ultra marathoners, and we are surrounded by like-minded families who take their kids skiing at age two and plan camping trips and adventure vacations. But outside of our little snow globe of high effort, I know that some people think we are crazy. And maybe we are...but here's the thing about effort:
Effort is the main ingredient when making the best memories. Effort creates the best stories. Effort is behind all the hilarious fails and spectacular successes and amazing discoveries and awesome inventions. Without effort, you cannot see what you are really made of. Without effort, you cannot feel proud of yourself. Effort means learning and progress and improvement.
I sometimes joke that I do things just so that I can say I did them. And while I'm all for enjoying the process, I'm also a big fan of looking back and telling the stories. And because of this motivation to have good stories, I have learned to appreciate and savor the effort. No pain, no gain, right? Likewise, no effort, no stories. So the next time you find yourself thinking, "That's a lot of effort," I encourage you to reframe it to..."Just think of the stories!"
We are a high effort family, but boy, do we have stories.
Yesterday, I held a free Mindfulness workshop at the local library. I wanted to share strategies that participants could use on a daily basis.
You see, until fairly recently, I falsely equated mindfulness with long sessions of yoga and meditation. While those activities are definitely good for developing mindfulness, it's an unfortunate myth that you need to set aside large chunks of time to be more present. I appreciate yoga and meditation, but I don't prioritize those activities. I have had much better results incorporating short, daily mindfulness practices and I wanted to share that with other busy people. I know several people wanted to come to the workshop but couldn't make it, so I'm summarizing the strategies here. You're welcome.
Mindfulness Strategy #1: Find an Anchor An anchor is a lovely metaphor. Just as an anchor on a ship keeps it from straying too far from its location, an anchor for your mind can keep you from straying too far from the present moment. If you find yourself going down rabbit holes of thought or feeling undesired emotions, an anchor can reel you back in. Some example anchors include:
Mindfulness Strategy #3: Thought Download For verbal and visual people, this can be a helpful exercise. The concept is very simple: Take five minutes to write down ALL of your thoughts surrounding a certain issue (your in-laws visiting, a project that is stressing you out, a difficult conversation, etc) or feeling (anxiety, stress, sadness). Do not censor or judge, just let it flow. This alone can be enough to allow you to move on. However, it can also be a springboard to many other in-depth activities such as recognizing facts versus assumptions, seeing/understanding your thought process, and beginning to take those hurtful or unproductive thoughts and changing them to something new. A life coach can be very supportive of this process. (Hint, hint.)
Mindfulness Strategy #4: Feel the Feels This can be challenging, but it is sooooo good for you if you can put the time in to practice. When you are feeling an undesirable emotion such as anxiety or fear or stress, you often don't realize that those emotions are not signs of actual danger. In fact, any time you are in actual danger, you aren't sitting there feeling anxiety...you are running or fighting or surviving. So anxiety (or any emotion) is simply a set of sensations in your body in reaction to your thoughts. If you can accept it and allow yourself to feel it, you can let go of it more easily than if you ignore it, quash it, or fight it. Try these 4 steps to help demystify and therefore free yourself from some emotions that aren't serving you.
Hopefully you can find a strategy or two in that list that resonates with you. Try them all and report back to let me know which ones were the most effective.
Yesterday, I had an experience that gets more profound the more I think about it. My cute little town, Golden, CO, had a time capsule reveal and dedication ceremony. 50 years ago, the people of Golden opened a time capsule buried in 1918 and then placed their own to be opened on November 11, 2018. First of all, the day itself is bursting with meaning. Many numerologists and spiritual gurus attribute power and significance to the 11th day of the 11th month. And I admit that I like the symmetry of it. Secondly, yesterday was Veteran's Day. It was also the Centennial of Armistice Day, which marked the cessation of World War 1. So it's a day to celebrate sacrifice and pride and peace. It also happened to be snowing the first big snow of the season, which added a buzz to the ambiance.
With remarks from the mayor, veterans, and high school students, the ceremony itself was thought provoking and impressive. And despite snowy weather and slick roads, the town hall and the history museum that was streaming the ceremony were both at full capacity with standing room only. After the ceremony, the items from the 1968 capsule were on display, mostly paper-based memorabilia--newspaper clippings, scrolls of signatures, and letters from residents. My girls enjoyed reading letters from the 5th graders of 1968 and seeing historical pictures of our town. We also got to see the new time capsule and we signed a ledger and wrote notes that will go inside, to be read in 50 years. It was the best kind of history lesson.
At one point, I asked my girls how old they would be when the next capsule was opened.
"57!" exclaimed my youngest, Cici.
"And I'll be 59," said Aleida. After a thoughtful pause, she added, "And you'll be 90, Mom."
Wow. This hit me harder than I expected. 90 years old. Longevity does not run in the females of my family. Both my mother and her mother died before reaching age 70, so the odds of me being alive for the next unveiling are fairly slim. 50 years from now, my children will be women with memories older than I am now. They will most likely have families of their own. They will have careers and a circle of friends they have yet to meet. They will have lived away from home--from me--for decades. Will they be at the unveiling in 50 years with their kids? Could I pick them out of the crowd if I could travel through time today?
My thoughts got heavy, my friends. And I'll admit that I fought with some anxiety. This was undeniable proof that time passes...and quickly. And in the face of such proof, I couldn't help but reflect on my life so far and consider what the future will hold. I have SO MANY THINGS left to do.
My anxiety did lead to motivation and resolve. Time will pass. There's no stopping that. But what we do with the rest of our lives is completely up to us. It's trite, I know, but today IS the first day of the rest of your life. What will you do with it?
Do you have goals but feel stuck when you think about trying to reach them? Do you start projects that go unfinished? Do you leave important conversations unsaid because you don't want to deal with the conflict or the fallout? Do you hold back on sharing your creations because you are a "perfectionist?" Behind all of these questions lurk a sneaky but powerful beast: the Fear of Failure.
Here's the irony: The only way to TRULY fail is to give in to the Fear of Failure. And some of us might be doing this without even realizing that we are doing it. Why? Because the Fear of Failure masquerades as many other less-evil-seeming motivations. When Fear of Failure is in disguise, we might not even make it to the first Big A--Awareness--because we are convinced that we are dealing with something else. Can you relate to any of these?
A couple weeks ago, I gave a workshop at the local library. We discussed what it means to live a balanced life, completed the Life Balance Wheel (link to the worksheet below), and created action steps toward bringing up the areas that ranked low.
This topic is important, so I wanted to share some of the takeaways from the discussion I had with the workshop participants. Since I've never known anyone to rank all areas 10 out of 10, everyone has room for improvement, right? If you want to try this activity, you can follow along with this video. Before starting, print out the Life Balance Wheel Worksheet.
Takeaway 1: Balance does not look the same for everyone.
Think about Goldilocks...Papa Bear's bed was "too hard," Mama's was "too soft," and Baby's was "just right." Likewise, what feels like balance to you might mean overwhelm to somebody else. For example, working 20 hours a week might seem like too much for one person, not nearly enough for another, and just the right amount for a third.
More specifically, my father and his wife generously came to watch our kids, our house, and our critters so that my husband and I could attend a wedding in Philadelphia back in September. From their tidy, quiet household of two, they came to our loud, cluttered home complete with 2 kids, 3 dogs, 2 cats and a bearded dragon. They had to coordinate getting the girls to karate, feeding them three meals a day (plus snacks!), caring for all the animals, which includes making sure the young dog was not out at the same time as the cats, getting kids to bed, keeping them entertained, and mediating arguments. On top of all that, they threw a one year birthday party for the cats which included cat toy gifts and tuna ice cream treats. This barely controlled chaos is TOTALLY NORMAL for our household. And honestly, I enjoy it. I can feel balanced amidst the flurry of activity. For my dad and his wife, however, it must have been exhausting. At their phase in life, balance means drinking coffee, reading the paper and completing the soduku puzzle each morning. It means going golfing and doing yard work and watching a movie in the evening. They have busy, full lives, but their daily existence is completely different than my crazy life.
So when you consider your life, consider what feels right TO YOU, regardless of societal norms or the expectations of others. If you read my post about the Big A Words, this is establishing AUTHENTICITY.
Takeaway 2: You have the choice to live by design versus default.
If you rank an area of your life low, you absolutely have the ability to improve it. Let's say you rank Health/Self Care as a 4. You have small kids, a full time job, and other commitments. You don't have the time to work out. You have defaulted to a 4 in that area. I guarantee you that if you truly WANT to bring that number up, you can and will find a way to do it. However, if you are just ranking it as a 4 because you think you should be in better shape, it will be a lot harder to find the motivation to get 'er done. This brings me to...
Takeaway 3: Be aware of how you are thinking about your imbalances.
We often falsely believe that if we achieve a state of balance, then the warm fuzzies will follow. This is a logical assumption, but it is completely backwards. What we tend to do is this: we reach a goal, and instead of stopping and feeling good about it, we set another higher goal, feeling like we will arrive once we reach THAT goal. But once we reach that goal, we set another goal and so on. We never get to that place of contentment and satisfaction when we are waiting for the goals to provide those feelings for us. However, if we can get the horse (emotions) in front of the cart (goals), we can do two important things. 1. We can feel more content and balanced regardless of where we are on any kind of goal-reaching spectrum. 2. We can improve our focus and motivation toward those goals and reach them more quickly. Simply put: A better mindset = Better results. More on that in a future post. :)
Takeaway 4: Write down your next steps. (Big A Word: ACTION)
So you want to improve your fitness? Great. How will you go about it? Again, go back to what authentically feels like a way forward for you. If you need structure, signing up for a gym with scheduled classes or working with a personal trainer might be best. If you hate the gym, perhaps you should look into finding a hiking or mountain biking group. Sustainable changes have to feel good on some level. Yes, exercise hurts when you are out of shape, but if you can appreciate the view or make faces at your work-out partner, you can stay motivated to keep at it.
Takeaway 5: Enjoy the process.
Like happiness, balance is not a permanent state of being. You can feel balanced one minute and then life happens and throws you completely out of whack. The goal is not a consistent state of balance, but an appreciation for the journey toward balance and taking the time to bask in those moments that feel balanced.
When my children do things that make them uncomfortable (competing in a karate tournament, trying new foods, traveling to new places), I tell them that they are expanding their comfort zone. Likewise, you can expand your "balance zone" by cultivating a habit of proactivity and a mindset of abundance. If you can enjoy the journey and work on staying present and mindful, then you will find that balance becomes a state of mind rather than a goal post that's always just out of reach.
It's not what you think. These are good A words. In fact, these 5 words lay out a process through which you can improve ANY aspect of your life. They are the basics, the foundation. So let's get to them.
Big A #1: AWARENESS
You cannot work toward a solution without awareness that you have a problem. You cannot change your attitude if you don't first become aware of what your inner voice is saying. You might not be aware that there are many ways to look at the same circumstance. For example, when my kids were younger, 3 and 5, they started a game of climbing up the outside of the banister in our house and jumping off...getting higher and higher each time. I saw them doing this and suggested they pile some pillows in the landing spot to cushion the fall. They did, and fun ensued. I wasn't AWARE that this might be a questionable activity until another mother came to my home and was appalled when my kids started goading her child into this activity. It was an a-ha moment and anytime you describe something as an a-ha moment, you are dealing with a shift in awareness. "A-ha! Other moms think this is dangerous!" "A-ha! I am in the habit of negativity when it comes to dealing with my co-worker." "A-ha! I am creating my own anxiety around this issue." Without awareness, change cannot occur.
Big A #2: AUTHENTICITY
Once you have awareness that change is needed, it is important to do a little "soul-searching" to decide the way forward that is right FOR YOU. For example, with the above scenario, once I saw this through another mother's eyes and realized she was concerned, I questioned my parenting for a minute. Ultimately, I decided it was okay because it was a chance for my kids to learn about their bodies and limitations in a *fairly safe* and controlled environment. I value adventure, and I want my kids to as well. Seeing my friend's concern, however, did cause me to keep it as a "family activity" and encourage less controversial games during play dates. That solution--allowing my kids to enjoy the activity while being sensitive to another mother's more cautious outlook--was authentic to my parenting style and my desire to be respectful of others. It is important that you check in with yourself when working toward positive change. Are you making changes that sit well with your core values? Are you allowing others to sway you? What feels right to you--regardless of societal norms and expectations?
Big A #3: ACTION
Once you have an honest conversation with yourself, you can start to take action. This might require some visualization. I recently gave a workshop on Life Balance, and attendees rated 8 areas of their lives from 1-10 where 1=Can't get any worse and 10=Can't get any better. After discussing why they ranked different areas the way they did, I asked participants to pick one of the lowest ranking areas and envision what it would look like to bring that area up two points. If they could do that with ease, I asked them to envision what a 9 or 10 in that category would look like. From there, they could start to plan some action steps toward their authentic vision.
Big A #4: ACCOUNTABILITY
Once you have action steps, how will you stay accountable to them? Do you keep promises to yourself? If you write down a goal and make a pact with yourself, will you follow through? It would be nice if we all kept the promises we made to ourselves...if we could hold ourselves accountable and always step up. However, we sometimes need support. Do you have a friend or partner or mentor who will check in with you and hold you accountable to your big ideas? One of the biggest benefits of a life coach is the accountability piece. Each session ends with the question: What are you committed to doing between now and the next time we meet? And the next session always starts with the question: How did you do with your action steps? It might sound simple, but it's extremely powerful.
Big A #5: ABUNDANCE
If you are aware of what's going on in your mind as you interpret the world around you, and if you can authentically outline some action steps and be accountable for them, then you are on your way to a life of abundance. Abundance does not mean that you have everything you want and/or that you are happy all of the time. It does not mean that you live in the big house and drive the best car and enjoy a state of constant bliss in your relationships. Abundance simply means that you look at the world from a place of gratitude and positivity. Even when bad things happen, you come at them from a mindset of abundance, realizing that you have a choice in how you look at things AND you have the ability to work toward a more balanced and satisfied life. A mindset of abundance comes from believing that you are in control of your life and from seeing the world through a lens of generosity and love, rather than a lens of scarcity and resentment. We hear stories of poor villagers who have few material goods but live happy lives. And we hear stories of famous millionaires who "have it all" but can't seem to find contentment. Abundance is not about stuff; it's completely about how you think.
To learn more about working toward positive change, contact me to schedule a complimentary discovery session.
Last week, I attended the Women's Foundation of Colorado's annual luncheon. The whole experience was uplifting and inspiring, starting with simply being there with my mother-, aunt- and sister-in-law, all of whom are models of strong, intelligent, ambitious women, and ending with the keynote speaker Billie Jean King. I don't follow tennis, but I am familiar with King's iconic status, and I learned a lot about her work toward gender equality (in the sport of tennis and beyond) and her activism on a broad spectrum of issues. She has lived a very proactive and impressive life. On a side note, I also learned that she has a close friendship to Sir Elton John and his song "Philadelphia Freedom" was written for her. Good stuff.
At the luncheon, her talk was set up in an interview format, and if I'm being honest, King did not directly answer any of the questions asked by the interviewer. She went off on tangents, rambled, repeated herself at times, and often failed to return to the original topic. Still, her charisma carried her and her talk was full of gems for how to get the most out of life. As soon as she started talking, I was furiously scribbling notes in the margins of the program because her words of wisdom were so powerful, and her history gives her the credibility that made me take it all to heart. So here you go...nuggets of wisdom from Billie Jean King:
"That's just the way it is."
"It's just not meant to be."
"Bad things always happen to me."
"Can't change now."
"I just can't catch a break."
We've all said or felt these sentiments in our lives, but in these words and ideas might be the key to happiness and life satisfaction.
A report in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology stated that autonomy is the number one contributor to happiness. Autonomy is defined as "freedom from external control or influence; independence."
As some of you know, I am currently working toward earning my conditional Black Belt at my martial arts school (I get my new belt tomorrow-yahoo!). One of the requirements of our increased training is to read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In many ways, this is a guidebook on finding more autonomy. In fact, the first habit is "Be Proactive." The author, Stephen Covey, writes "Reactive people are driven by feelings, circumstances, by conditions, by their environment." In other words, they are not autonomous because they are not free from external influence. They live by default, often letting people and circumstances act upon them. In contrast, "Proactive people are driven by values--carefully thought out, selected, and internalized values." So proactive people are autonomous. They live by design, creating the life they want according to their values, regardless of circumstances.
Think about that for a minute. And then honestly decide if you are more REACTIVE or PROACTIVE. Here are a few questions to get you thinking:
1. When you fail to complete a project or reach a goal, do you typically:
a. Blame lack of time, other obligations, or external factors for getting in the way
b. Realize that you didn't have an adequate plan to complete the project and think about how to avoid a similar situation in the future
2. When your birthday approaches, do you typically
a. Think about what you'd like to do and hope somebody plans it for you
b. Think about what you'd like to do, make reservations, and invite your friends to celebrate with you
3. When somebody does something to hurt you, do you typically
a. Feel betrayed, talk to others about the situation, and/or avoid or unfriend that person
b. Confront the person and talk honestly about the situation
4. When you want to change a habit or behavior, do you typically
a. have trouble coming up with ways to change and/or tell yourself that it's just the way you are
b. lay out a plan, set goals, and find somebody to keep you accountable to those goals
5. When you want to get something done, do you typically
a. talk about it but fail to make a solid plan
b. write down daily, weekly, and/or long term goals and take action to complete them
You can probably figure out that if you answered mostly (a) answers, then you are a more reactive person. However, if you answered mostly (b) answers, than you have a habit of proactivity. How do we work toward a more proactive existence?