A thankful way of life

Do you consider yourself a thankful person? Someone who practices gratitude daily? We can always find something to be grateful about even in the midst of dire circumstances.

This morning I hear birds singing outside this early morning. I am thankful to hear the sounds of nature. In that are two things to be thankful about. 1. I can hear. 2. Birds serenading me outside my door….okay, they are merely doing what they do. I choose to think of them serenading me.

Other things I practice being thankful for are the ability to read and write, and living in a country where women are expected to learn how to read and write. I have clean water to drink by merely turning on the tap. The reality is that these are not so worldwide. I do not want to take them for granted. I didn’t earn them, they are the circumstances I was born into.

Even Mondays. I can be thankful for Mondays as they comprise one-seventh of my life. That’s a pretty big honkin’ percentage (Texas-speak for a significant amount). Why waste it with an every-week grumpy attitude, which is common in the United States?

There is a saying of “What goes around, comes around.” Let’s agree to be persons of gratitude, persons who smile, learn, and daily pursue our own passions, growing in love of life and maturity in navigating it. Sure, I am not where I want to be in that yet I can be thankful I am not where I used to be either. I prefer good and thankful to come around. You?

When you write down those little bites from two weeks ago that continue to move you toward your big goal, will you jot down two, three, or more circumstances, people, relationships or opportunities you are thankful for? Writing things down helps cement thankfulness in our hearts and minds. The person that affects the most is you, and the people around you get to enjoy your thankful attitude, too.

Be a student always

Are you pursuing new ideas, new knowledge, new connections? Part of the grand adventure of life is expanding what your know and how you show up in the world. I bet you already do that naturally for what you are currently passionate about. Hobbies, business/career, and relationships in all forms. That quest keeps us all interested in our life lives.

This past weekend I attended a conference (Experts Academy) for that very reason. Learning more so that I can serve those around me more…like you! I also met fantastic people such as Karen Kennedy of Lady Blossoms Social Etiquette Program and Services and and Sharon Haver of FocusOnStyle.com.

Did you write down a few steps toward your big goal last week? Did you do them? Do you need to reach out to someone else to ask questions about how to do that something that’s a little bite on your list? That is in the “be a student always” category.

I am excited for you whatever your big dream is. Reach out. Pursue. Learn. Act.

Little bites

Quick! What’s that big goal you wrote down last week? Even if you didn’t do it write one down right now. Don’t over think it.

I hope it is so big a goal you have no idea how you will get from where you are now to the accomplishment of the goal.

“Begin to weave and God will give the thread.”

This German proverb is on a piece of mixed media art that I bought years ago. I’ve allowed that thought to give me courage to begin when I had no idea how to accomplish what I knew what was set before me. Martin Luther King said it this way,

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Now that you’ve marinated in your big goal for a while, a whole week I hope, let’s take a little bite of it. Though you can’t see how you could ever accomplish the entire goal, what two or three tiniest of bites (actions) could you take in that direction in the next week?

• Conduct research?
• Make one phone call?

• Get a notebook to write everything down in so you can keep up with your progress as you go along?

Seriously. The tiniest of action steps gets the ball rolling in the right direction for you. You gain a little momentum, a small glimmer of positivity that, well, maybe you could actually accomplish this goal even though you don’t know every step to it. You will know every step to it looking backward from the achievement of it. Going forward you only need look at the next step in front of you. It is so simple.

One of my sisters could see her retirement on the horizon a few years ago. She knew she wanted to move away from her current location which would mean selling her house. She knew she wanted sufficient financial reserves for a certain mental comfort level she desired.

All my siblings are smart people. I learn so much from them. I’ve watched her these last few years do the next step. Take the tiniest of bites. Selling a house requires a lot of work preparing it, and sometimes money. Though her house isn’t particularly old, it is of an age that buyers would begin to think certain systems ought be replaced. Over these years she’s methodically replaced the HVAC system, the roof, kitchen counters, etc. Thoughtful and methodical, following through on what seemed the best next step. Then taking the next step that appeared.

She applied for and received the allowed energy rebates at the city, state, and national levels. She watched many DIY shows to see what was being said about preparing a house for sale, over time implementing the strategies that made sense to her situation.

That’s only one part of her big dream of retiring from her professional employment, selling her home, moving to a new city. Step by little step, bite by little bite, she reached the place where she is now. She put her house on the market this spring, had a contract within three weeks, and is now looking at closing the sale in about a month. There is still much for her to do in this and other areas of accomplishing her dream. Still, she moves forward step by step, bite by little bite. Yes there is butterflies in her stomach, and occasional thinking “Ack! what have I done!” Those are natural to us when big changes come into our lives, planned or un.

Will you take a little bite this week?

The big one

Do you have a breakthrough goal? A dream goal that bubbles up out of your heart that it would be quantum leap for you? A goal so big it scares you a little to think about it? Yes, that goal.

It might be landing a promotion, finding romance, writing a book, changing jobs or careers, running a marathon, achieving your ideal weight, buying your first home, moving to a new location to live. Breakthrough goals are as varied as there are people. I know you have at least one. We all do whether we will acknowledge it or not.

Your assignment this week is simple: write it down.

If you’ve become so adept at covering up what is in your heart as far as a breakthrough goal, grab a few quiet minutes, review the list of environments from a few weeks ago, reflect on each category, write down what comes up for you.

You may find you don’t have a big goal for some or most of the categories. No sweat. Don’t force it. The assignment is not to have one for each category. The assignment is to have at least one total.

If you have more than one, pick one and only one to work with this week. Pick the one that scares you the most; the one you have no idea how to accomplish. When you don’t know how to accomplish it, that means it is big enough.

Daydream about that goal through the week. How would your life change as a result of accomplishing that goal? What would you be doing? Seeing? Feeling? Yes, imagine you reached the goal, walk around in that visualization.

This isn’t about the “how” it could be accomplished. This is about the “what” of it.

Remember, write the goal down. This is an important step. Don’t skip it.

Thank you for being willing to move in the direction of your dreams. The more we become who we are meant to be, the more benefit we bring to others and we experience a satisfaction in day-to-day living that is heady.

Write that goal down. Put it somewhere you’ll see it every day for the next seven. When you see it, visualize again what your life would be like if that goal were your actual experience now. That visualization ought make you smile, a smile you can’t suppress.

Accountability rocks

Do you have people in your life that support you and cheer you on? “That’s What Friends Are For” is a mid 1980s song by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Seger, most famously covered by Dionne Warwick with this as the chorus:

Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
In good times, in bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
Oh, that’s what friends are for

If you look at your friends, the close ones, and when you think of them this doesn’t resonate with you as true, then I suggest you spend time reflecting on the nature and value of those relationships. And are you being a good friend? That’s not the focus of this encouragement though.

Whether you have “good” friends, people who support you and cheer you on, or not, it is wise to have people in our lives that we have an accountability agreement with around certain subjects of our lives and an agreed upon consistency in checking in with each other to report on tasks we said we would accomplish.

Business initiatives, adopting a healthier lifestyle, growing in faith, spending quality family time, there are so many areas we could have an accountability partner or a small group of people which is usually called a mastermind group.

I have several of these and they are instrumental in keeping me on track. With an accountability partner or mastermind group, no one tells you what to do. You state what your intent is and when you’ll get it done by. They do the same. The next check-in, each person reports on their success in completing that which they had self-assigned, and commits to the next time period of accomplishment.

Two of my mastermind groups are groups of five women each. Though both are targeted at business initiatives, they are structured differently. One has more structure on the call, meets every other week, we rotate the roles of timekeeper, note taker, etc. The other one meets once a week and that one is more about resource sharing, trying out ideas and ways to accomplish our business initiatives. They are both valuable to me as I set and sail my course.

One accountability partner I have we check in three times a week, three times briefly by phone, two days by email, off two days. The structure we have for that relationship is we each report daily a happy goal, a healthy goal, and a wealthy goal and our accomplishment of the ones from the day before.

Does it sound as if that is all I do? Even with the other groups or accountability partners I have, it isn’t more than two hours in any week and keeps me so much more on track. It is a proven method that supports your success.

It doesn’t have to be business. It can be any agreed upon subject matter. That irritation/toleration list you worked on last week? You could agree with someone to be accountable to them about completing what you said when you said. This isn’t about someone rewarding you or punishing you. We all accomplish more with structure that includes timetables and someone we’ve given permission to expect our reporting how we are doing, given them permission to ask questions around that subject, and encouraging us in all circumstances.

Accountability partners and mastermind groups are not complicated and they are effective when the people involved are committed to the process.

Be like Mikey and try it. You’ll like it.