Declutter Your Schedule

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If you are anything like me your daily to do list looks a lot like the first draft of the Declaration of Independence: scratch marks, circles, and arrows pointing in every direction; a work of Picasso proportion

The goal of scheduling your day, week, month, and life is to make the most sense of the moments you have; which you always wish you had more of but spend too many on things you wish you hadn’t.

The people over at www.developgoodhabits.com came up with 6 great strategies to make the most of your schedule. I’ve listed them below as well as how they relate to what I presently do. Here they are:

1 – Prioritize your daily priorities. Every morning I write down what I “Need” to do, what I “Should” do, and what I “Could” do. That way I focus on the first list before moving onto the other two.

2 – Purge your commitments. Look at what you plan on doing that week and ask yourself how many of those things can be dropped without affecting much. Look hard for the ‘time wasters’. Those are usually the commitments that benefit others with no real benefit to yourself.

3 – Focus on 3 important daily goals. Ask yourself every day what the three things are that MUST be done. Focus on those first to ensure that what matters most is mattering most.

4 – Build in sacred time. I cannot stress this enough. We need to not talk so much about ‘balance’ in life as much as the ‘rhythm’ of life (I need to write more about this in the future). No one knows your rhythm more than you do. Some cars can go 1000km (625 miles). Others can only go 500km (313 miles). Know when you need to ‘pit stop’, pull over for a few minutes, recharge however you do that best, and then get back at it. You will find that it’s a lot easier to keep going with a full tank of gas than on fumes.

5 – Leave work on time. Technology is making this harder and harder to do (and the stress-related work issues show for it). All I will say is that when you’re working, work. When you are not working, don’t. Sounds simple but we all know that it’s easier said than done. Your mind and focus needs to detach in order to be more intentional and productive when it’s expected. Someone once told me, “Divert Daily. Withdraw Weekly. Abandon Annually.” I still use that model to this day.

6 – Take a digital sabbatical. This is good advice (though you are reading this because you are presently ‘not’ doing it). The key is that the world is now always in your pocket, purse, or hand. Once a week, or whatever rhythm works for you, shut off your devices and breathe. I know one couple that turns off their phones and computers when they get together to watch TV after a long day. Sounds strange and foreign nowadays. Just take the phone off the hook — for all you Boomers and Busters.

If you take the time to make your time matter, you will feel more productive, more fulfilled, and more alive.

Now go make the most of today.

 

C

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New Levels Need A New You

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I grabbed the flip chart during one of our staff meetings recently and started writing on the fresh canvas while the staff looked on.

Every next level of your life will demand a different you.

“Agree or disagree?” I asked.

One of the things I love about our staff is that we are not afraid to colour outside the lines and take things at face value.

Eventually we moved from “agreed” to “we need to modify it”.

We scribbled and moved arrows around and eventually came up with…

Every next level of your life will demand a different version of yourself.

We recognized that what got us here will not necessarily get us there. We agreed that in order to get to where we felt we needed to go we needed to change how we acted, interacted, led, and served in order to accomplish it.

Though we seemed to agree with the statement, we also noted that many people / organizations, though they would also agree, choose not to make the shift. So… we talked about why people (including ourselves) do not change. We came up with two main reasons:

Costs (tangibles)
◊ independence
◊ relationships
◊ time
◊ resources

Resistors (intangibles)
◊ fear
◊ pride
◊ vulnerability
◊ stubbornness
◊ sin
◊ self-deprication
◊ doubt

We concluded that “you don’t need to be a different you… for you already are you.” I am who I am; though it is therefore also true that I am responsible for the version of myself I choose to be.

So what version of yourself are you being today? Are you excited about what today’s version of you will accomplish or do you need to release a different version of yourself? Know today that tomorrow’s version of yourself will depend heavily on the version you choose to be today.

To unleashing greatness in yourself,

 

C

3 Keys to Financial Freedom

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I find it interesting that in looking for a graphic for ‘financial freedom’ all that seemed to come up were pictures of chairs facing the water. C’mon… is THAT what we are really longing for in our financial freedom?

If you are like me, facing a lake for the rest of my life is NOT why I want to seek financial freedom. I want financial freedom to give myself the ability to CHOOSE what I want to do with my resources; not the prospect of doing nothing for the rest of my life.

That said, if you are like many other people, you are restricted on what you can do and where you can spend your money.

So, in order to save time, brain cells, and discussions on the cacophony of financial counsel, I’m going to boil it down to three SIMPLE rules of what to do with your money to make the biggest difference in how you get to choose how to live your life.

SAVE more than you SPEND – I know that it doesn’t take much calculus to put this together but… if your income is always greater than your expenses, you will SAVE MONEY. It seems trite… but this common sense is unfortunately not so common with people’s current spending habits. Credit cards, pay it later, impulse buyers, ‘sales’ (don’t get me started on THAT fallacy) all breed into the desire to forego keeping spending within one’s means. Keep your spending aligned with your income and you will launch ahead of the pack like Usain Bolt!

OWN more than you OWE – This needs to be looked at as a sliding scale. Understandably there are mortgages, car payments, etc. that can mix up someone’s “net worth” but to dumb this down for this blog, what I am getting at is that every month you should have less debt, and more assets (including cash, savings, emergency money… yada yada yada – I’m trying to keep this simple for ‘this’ version of the blog). If you have less bills, less overdue payments, less overdraft… and/or more savings, more RRSP’s (401K’s for the ‘Mericans who read this), more cash on hand, then you are getting ahead of the game. Make a goal to make each month (or pay) less indebted to others and more financially prosperous for yourself (yourselves) and you will feel the stress roll off your shoulders.

BLESS more than you BURDEN – This is the power of charity. Financial freedom is not designed to make you more charitable… as much as it is designed to make you more available to BE charitable. How many times are you ‘wanting’ to support a cause yet ‘unable’ to simply because of your financial bondage. The quicker that you free up your finances, the quicker you will experience the joy of being able to come alongside a cause and support it without the pain of wondering what you are going to have to cut out of your spending. Charity truly builds character.

Follow these three rules of financial freedom and I cannot promise you two Adirondack chairs at the end of a dock… but I can assure you that your future will look a whole lot better than it will if you continue to be shackled by spending too much, owing beyond your limit, and scraping by to take care of yourself, instead of the possibility of blessing others.

Onward… to thicker wallets and bigger hearts.

5 Markers of a Great Huddle

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Kerry and I had a couple of friends over recently to watch our beloved New England Patriots play NFL football (yes they won but I’m not some sort of crazed fan who trashes every other team fan – our record does that 🙂  ).

Before every play I would watch Tom Brady bring his players together for a huddle and after communicating the intended play, they would go to the line, execute it with success (or not), then start the process all over again. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

I got to thinking about that as it pertains to the workplace. Kerry’s work has a daily ‘huddle’ where the team gets together. Now the good news is that I don’t really know how the meetings run so what I say has no reflection on what her work does.

I think that the ‘huddle’ can be the difference between a ‘touchdown’ or a ‘fumble’ in business. How your team views and uses the huddle is the tipping point between success and failure. Here are 5 things that will make a great huddle and launch your team towards the winning the game:

1 – Reset. Huddles are not the time to discourse overarching issues of the company, your team, why things aren’t working, etc. It’s a time to look forward. Not backwards. Lay out your plan and get your team on the same page. You will have other times with the right people to talk about making things better. Get in. Get out. Get it done.

2 – Praise publicly. Critique privately. Huddles are not for pointing anyone out for what they are doing wrong. The moment you do that, you make everyone on the team suspect of whether or not ‘they’ will be pointed out next. Do that outside of the huddle privately. I’ll write about that some other time. That said, it’s a GREAT place to say “great work”, “good job”, “way to get that new client Bob” etc… Make people want to come to the huddle.

3 – Define your immediate goal. “What’s the play?” Lay out your goal (SMART) based on how often you meet with your team. Use whatever metric you want to define success or failure in order to encourage your team if they accomplish it or else reset and redefine your next goal for the next huddle you have. Make sure it is clearly communicated and understood by all. Figure out the best way to do that based on how your team operates.

4 – Reinforce each person’s responsibility. It’s painful to watch a quarterback throw the ball to open space simply because the other player ran the wrong route. Make sure that everyone on your team understands clearly what their part of the goal is and what they need to do to ensure it’s success. Chances are if they don’t know what to do, you haven’t clearly articulated your expectations.

5 – Leave the huddle instilling confidence. If your team leaves the meeting uninspired to produce you’re probably about to watch subpar performance and a mediocre morale in the team. Find the right way to instil confidence and excitement for the immediate future. I will write about some suggestions in other posts to come.

Put these five steps together and you’re on your way to success. Remember, ‘momentum’ is simply a succession of ‘moments’ (good or bad). Focus on making the ‘moment’ count. Tie moments together over the course of your huddles in order to make a winning team.

Ready… Break!

 

 

The Struggle Of The Setback

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We all face setbacks. No life trajectory looks like a perfect javelin throw from the 80’s arcade game of Hyper Olympics. “Progress” realistically is coupled with signs of  with Regress and Digress as well. The key to actually progressing is going to be what you do with that setback and how you allow that issue to slow down your momentum to move forward.

Michael Hyatt in his blog points out that setbacks tend to derail our perspective of the failure first and thus, limit or all-out halt progress. He lays out five steps to help regain perspective in what you are trying to accomplish.

1 – Acknowledge what happened. The longer you ignore that the setback actually occurred (or is occurring) you cannot resolve to move forward. Ignorance is ‘not’ bliss here. It will only amplify the problem further on.

2 – Empathize with those who suffered. All setbacks come with a feeling of sadness or grief. Embrace it. Admit it. When you acknowledge the pain, you start the process of moving forward as well as away from the setback.

3 – Put the setback in context. Oh… how vital this step is! Often times when we do not put the scenario in perspective we can give it way too much significance, or even worse, not enough. Take the time to evaluate how the setback changes things so that you can properly give it the attention it needs (or doesn’t).

4 – Point out the positive. Look for the silver lining. There’s always something to get out the setback – wisdom, insight, self-actualization, etc. Look for it and harness it for future endeavours.

5 – Keep moving forward. The difference between “Failing” and “Falling” is “i”. Remember that you are the difference between whether the setback will stop the ‘progress’ and stop the ‘process’. Don’t let life control you. Control life.

Setbacks are part of life. Make sure that they only set you back… and not stop you all together.

Onward we go.

(Let me know what you think by leaving a comment and be a part of the conversation.)

The New Year’s Resolution Fatal Flaw

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This year I am going to lose weight, read more books, finish the Bible, and love on my family more.

No joking. Those are my goals… but NOT my New Year’s Resolutions. I won’t make any New Year’s Resolutions… because they are fixed to fail from the beginning; at least that’s how I see them.

For years I used to take some time and write down all of the things that I planned on doing the next year effective January 1. Make more money. Travel. Solve world hunger. Bend time and space. But all of my ideas and aspirations hinged on coming out of the gate like a rocket after that ball dropped on New Year’s Eve. Come January 1, things were going to CHANGE!!!!

And they did. Sometimes even for the rest of that day!

If you look here at statisticbrain.com they looked at people’s resolutions from last year and how well people did.

Top three… Lose weight. Get organized. Spend less / save more.

45% of Americans make NY’s resolutions. Percentage that make it… 8%.

So your odds of actually accomplishing your resolution is 1:12. Not bad odds if you were buying a lottery ticket. I think you’d be inclined to try it out if a million dollars was on the line; but it still constiutes a 92% chance of failure.

But what if we are doing it all wrong?!?!?! What if the problem isn’t that we WANT to change, but rather we don’t know WHAT IT TAKES to change?

Let me explain…

Google “fastest man on the earth” and what will you find? Usain Bolt… clocking in at an incredible 9.58 seconds. Florence Griffin-Joyner holds the record at 10.49 seconds. That’s amazing!! Here’s the problem… Google ASSUMES ‘we’ are judging speed on only 100 metres.

Who made that decision?!? Why 100 metres? Why isn’t it Dennis Kimetto from Kenya clocking in at an incredible 2:02:57… for 26.2 MILES (42.2km). Or Yiannis Kouros who ran 188.59 miles (303.506km) within 24 hours!!!!!! No one knows Yiannis’ name (he doesn’t make a lightning bolt move at the end of his race as far as I know)… yet no one has beat Yiannis or Dennis in their respective races.

So… I think NY Resolutions fail because too many people run the 100m dash instead of the marathon. New Year’s Resolutions are more about what you are going to DO come January 1 rather than where do you want to BE come December 31.

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So I have goals that I want to accomplish in 2016. And I hope that I do better than an 8% chance of success. But I won’t succeed by putting all the pressure on the start… but rather by focusing on crossing the line, thinner, more knowledgeable, more grounded in God’s Word, and hopefully a husband and father that my family can be proud of.

At least that’s how I see it,

 

C