Procrastination is the Thief of Time

slowdown500How much do we actually accomplish when fully engaged in avoidance mode? What does it take to get back on track?

Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off.
How many are left? FIVE
That’s the difference between deciding and doing!

Even the most motivated people are not always on task. Often the most seemingly busy people, those constantly occupied, are in reality accomplishing very little. Yet, the TV watcher, who we can readily identify is perhaps the most honest of all…doing nothing.

When you are in action; cleaning, reorganizing, or purging the space, it feels like you are industrious. Activity like this is measureable, producing immediate results, unlike the outcomes from other endeavors that may not be so obvious.

One client, who dreaded tax season, always scheduled a major home renovation simultaneously, compounding her anxiety. Her assumption was that as long as she was going to be sequestered in her home office anyway, she could also supervise the other projects too. After the “dust” settled, we looked at the consequences of her actions and how this compromised her relationships, health and overall well being. The physical upheaval around her made it easier to avoid focusing on the task at hand, her tax filings, which were the priority. Once she was able to see that it was possible to do some preparation monthly, her calendar became her most effective tool. With long term goals in place for the year ahead, she was able to space projects, arrange her time commitments accordingly and never have a contractor near her home in the spring.

• What are you procrastinating about?
• What is one small step that you can take now?
• Write it down
• Put it in your calendar
• Do it!


What is Being on the Edge?

563534_622994991086589_2108856561_nIt reminds me of carrying a tray of over filled coffee cups and watching the liquid slosh over the sides. While my intense concentration on each step was not the sole reason for this less than stellar presentation, it made the experience unnecessarily nerve wracking. So concerned was I with how I looked that my self-judgments just underscored my nervousness. Only when my arms relaxed and my focus was forward was I able to reduce or eliminate the spillage.

Many times I have been on the edge and many times I have sat on the ledge. Sitting for the short term, like the downhill skier briefly resting, provides that space in which to regain one’s composure or gain a new perspective before continuing. Think of it as the scenic view, designed for a quick stop rather than a long term lease.

• What’s behind door #1 or #2 or #3?
• What if you had access to the answer keys in advance? Would you use it?
• What if you always knew the right/best decision to make?
• What is the impact? How colorful or in fact, colorless would your life be?

Dream BIG and focus small and if you fail, do it BIG and FAST.  We get so caught up in the questions that we forget the joy and possibility that may just be around the corner. It’s a confidence builder to just get going.

  • Is there an inherent fear in having big dreams?
  • What if you were to fail in an astonishingly BIG way?
  • What is most unnerving, having the dream or imagining it is unattainable and therefore not possible.

Being on the edge means being uncomfortable. It means not knowing that you will attain your goals/dreams with any certainty. Risk is not always easy to manage but with practice, it comes to feel less terrifying.

Not every edge overlooks The Grand Canyon, or the triple black diamond ski trail or view from atop The Empire State Building. Remember, in some cases there are safety rails and in others you will not have a life jacket. However, rest assured; you are not trying out for a spot with Ringling Brothers. Rather, your contract is with yourself to dig down and examine your most deeply held beliefs about change and what you are capable of doing.

I vividly recall my 50th birthday and its significance. The image that came to me was of walking towards a large swimming pool with a diving board that seemed to be 1000 stories high. The choice was to enter the pool from the side, either in a shallow dive or a less dramatic slide in, or climb that stairway to heaven and jump off the board. Fiftieth birthdays are nothing to brush aside so how did I want to celebrate it? In a perfect world, I would love to tell you that I executed brilliant form, entering the pool with nary a splash of water. The truth is I came to 50 somewhat sloppily but thrilled to have gotten there in one piece. Yes, make some waves and ruffle some feathers, do not worry about being perfect.

© 2016MWeisner

Stay Focused on the Right Thing

266Woman-Head-SpinningBeginning a project is exciting. Ideas are percolating and you are feeling creative and inspired. You may be working with a team or independently and plowing through data to support your next move. Hours don’t seem endless and you are producing reams of material and more thoughts on managing the flow. In short order, it may also become overwhelming and what once was the dream is feeling more and more like a nightmare. What do you do?

• Slow down
• Breathe
• Review

For many of us, and I speak from personal experience, we hunker down and keep going, which is not always the best solution. Others micro-manage, experience excessive anxiety and/or give up. We all have our defaults and these are the telling times to stop and recall past successes, how you can ask for help and even re-evaluate your direction. Is it still a workable idea? Once you invest time and money it’s not easy to walk away, so where do you start and how do you determine what the “right things” are to focus on?

When you are feeling physically and emotionally in alignment you are better able to see the big picture. According to the ridiculously successful entrepreneur, James Altucher, he focuses on improving four specific areas of his life; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. For example, he believes that our bodies are the average of the 5 things we eat. So, if you take in a lot of junk food, guess what? Your body is full of junk. The rule of 5 also applies based on the people you spend time with. Again, we are the average of those 5 people, so choose your friends and associates wisely! Maintain your mental sharpness by writing down ideas daily and tossing most of them. And lastly, be grateful. Gratitude engages the part of the brain that makes it too hard to be anxious or regretful. Remember too, that your thoughts are the average the 5 things you think about.

So, before you jump back in, take time to check-in with Altucher’s 4 tips for improved focus and take inventory. Has your self-care regimen given you the best platform for success or is that where you need to focus your energies for now?


Longings of a List-Maker

todolist“Taking on new projects is not necessarily a positive change. It may be a sign of recklessness and non-fulfillment. But going back to all the levels of non-completion and completing them is a sign of positive change.” – John Roger

How many lists do you have? Are they short and long term, numbered and highlighted in order of importance? Are they color coded? Has their creation and maintenance taken on a life of its own? Are you living with annoying post-its everywhere that only increase your level of anxiety and multiply mysteriously? Does it feel like you are pushing back the ocean, while conflicted about this selfish waste of paper or electronic data? Are these overwhelming and unproductive activities? Non-completion takes up a great deal of psychic space, often accompanied by finger wagging and other judgmental posturing and is very taxing.

“Stress comes from unkept agreements with yourself. You can relieve that stress only by canceling the agreement, keeping the agreement or negotiating it.” – Author David Allen

Begin by clearing out and collecting your thoughts, assessing each one for importance and then review your options. Here is a 3-step approach that can get you out of being stuck and on the road to taking charge.

1. Find your preferred method of recording information. Take 5 minutes and dump
everything that pops into your head. Do not censor or evaluate it, just write!
2. Assess each particle. What’s the next action? What will you commit to?
3. Which things will you do to fit the time, place and importance?

A constant part of worry is the nagging feeling that there is always something else to be managed. While that may be true, for now you have cleared out the cobwebs and dumped the brain drains to a place where they can be “seen” and not just “heard”.

• Make your list
• Dig deep…no self-censoring
• Notice how it feels different than usual

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

rogowski-225x300I recently joined a close friend for lunch who, for the moment, enjoys a good life on multiple fronts. Her children are thriving, her marriage is solid and she is prospering financially; the trifecta of happiness. Needless-to-say, things have not always been so calm and she is very appreciative, knowing that even the best of times can come to a screeching halt without advance notice.

Yes, bad things can and do happen to good people. Playing by the rules is no guarantee that you will be treated fairly or that your relationships will be rock-steady or that you are successfully keeping potential turmoil at bay.

What’s the upside to having a good long run of happiness or health only to be peeking over one’s shoulder waiting for Dorothy’s tornado to touch down in Kansas and turn our lives upside down? Is it uniquely female thinking that takes us away from the pleasure of the present and into the unknown of the future or is it generalized habitual thinking that can be reconfigured to better serve us?

Where is your body right now? Silly question- of course our bodies are only in one state…the present. Our thoughts may focus on the past, filled with regret or race ahead to the future consumed by worry, however, when we are fully present, mind and body in sync, we are most powerful, most aware and most centered. By the way, at some point, the other shoe will drop. It may be a combat boot, a Jimmy Choo pump or perhaps a delicate pink ballet slipper. I know what my choice is, what about you?


The STOP “To-Do” LIst

imagesCAUIW14SHow many lists are you actively working on today? Most of us have multiples from daily lists to long term/big-project versions. According to author, Barbara Alevras, our short term memory starts to empty out in 10-15 seconds, so unless it’s recorded somewhere, the thought is likely gone and may be replaced with generalized anxiety about missing something.

With various forms available to capture tasks, yours may be the old school, long hand version in addition to notes on your phone or the spread sheet you keep updating but not reducing. Some are handy and invaluable uses of technology to keep you on task, but the flip side is the constant reminder that you are NEVER getting it all done, merely making a dent in the onslaught of actions that realistically may or may not be important after all.

For clients who are feeling overwhelmed there are various strategies that may be useful.

• If your list is of the “forever” version, break it down into short and long term and limit the number to FIVE entries in each. This may be a challenge, but it does help to prioritize. Think of it as the single piece of luggage you are permitted to board with.

• If accomplishment is important to you, include even the most mundane activities under a broader header so that crossing off many tasks keeps your motivation high. For example, if GET HEALTHY is your long term goal, you might include, eating breakfast, shopping for groceries, gym time, etc. This can serve as a daily guide, and create new habits to support you.

• However, if you find yourself bogged down in busyness, eliminate this “expanded” list creation as it can be a slippery slope to a lot of action without moving forward. Test it out to see what works best for you.

• Reflect on your successes and SHRED your list at the end of the day…no carry-overs are permitted. Tomorrow is another day!


Letting Go of Control

282080_151733851568813_7813470_nA poem : She Let Go by Safire Rose

“She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming
around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry,
She just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go…
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations
about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.

She made no public announcement
and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report
or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the Prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.”


Suffering is Optional

imagesCAKC7FR7“You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” – Yiddish saying

Any adult can tell you that life is not linear and yet as human beings don’t we plan and create. What we know to be true beyond a doubt at this very moment may be changed or challenged in the next. As convinced as we are that the “terrible twos” of childhood are seemingly endless, fasten your seatbelt for the traumas of the teen years.

Yes, you may have a perfect life, the ideal career, fulfilling relationships, supportive friends, significant wealth and terrific health yet you may still be suffering. What is your daily dance about? Is it worry, anxiety, excessive thinking and more that might be keeping you from fully living your life?

We poke and prod, plan and plan even more in anticipation of the future and making it manageable and perhaps creating our notion of perfection. We cannot control the future and living there only increases our anxiety in the present. The more we resist whatever is happening now, the more we suffer and the more it persists.

Suffering = Change x Resistance

According to the author Steve Mitten, “The suffering you experience is equal to whatever resistance you give to the changes you experience in your life.” Once you accept whatever comes as a fact rather than purposeful acts to ruin your life, you can stop your personal suffering, step back and focus your energy on the reality of a situation, not the fantasy of what you wish it to be.

Helen Keller is often partially quoted, “When one door of happiness closes, another open.” However, her complete thought adds.”… but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

• What are your habits that may spiral into suffering?
• How willing are you to step into appreciation instead?
• Choose 1 action today that will focus your thoughts on the open door?

© 2015 Maureen Weisner

Who Do You Want to Be?

Importance-of-Networking-and-Events-300x199Are you sleepwalking through your life, waiting for the next thing to happen only to react when “it” inevitably does? You see, there really are two ways to face the future; with apprehension or with anticipation. Let’s throw in avoidance and we are looking right into the yawning face of fear, fear that we may lose control, fail and more. It’s an old and familiar story. The pursuit of control actually, the illusion of having control, is the consummate time waster. We create multiple ways to manage what is yet to happen and spend so much time living in the future that we may miss the present entirely and that is the place we live.

Who do you want to be? Who are you choosing to be?

It has also been said that there are three kinds of people in the world.
1. Those who wait for things to happen
2. Those who make things happen
3. Those who wonder what happened

Who do you want to be? Who are you choosing to be?

The analysis paralysis is a common default behavior. Consider the following:
Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left?
Answer: Five! It’s the difference between deciding and doing.

Who do you want to be? Who are you choosing to be now!

Our thoughts determine our feelings and hence, our actions. When we remain in the present and not the future land of worry we can refocus our energies to better serve us:
• Each day make a list of 5 things you are grateful for
• Speak them aloud
• Carry the list with you as a reminder!

©2014 Maureen Weisner

Anxiety or Stress?

1028789_origWho isn’t experiencing some level of stress…or is it anxiety? Does it make you anxious to think about how stressed you are just reading this? Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in America, affecting around 18 percent of the U.S. population in any given year, and almost 30 percent of American adults across their lifespan.

Stress is part of the natural human condition. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to sound the proverbial alarm if danger were imminent. Stress is one of the greatest tools an animal has to beat the odds and stay alive. So, how do we differentiate between stress and anxiety when the lines seem to be so blurred?

According to psychologist, Harris Stratyner, stress is distinguished in several ways. Imagine visualizing a graph chart of spiking highs and lows that also subside repeatedly. You usually know what’s prompted the upsurge. This could range from major issues like a job loss, pending bills, a relationship break-up or even less pressing events like snarled traffic or the grind of your morning commute. Reactions might range from difficulty in focusing to stomach aches or even breakouts. He states that, “Once the cause is gone, though, you feel lighter and the symptoms quickly vanish.” There is a feeling of relief until the next time.

On the other hand, anxiety may feel like stress but it doesn’t stop and you can’t figure out why. Perhaps every day you awaken filled with dread and you cannot shake the feeling that everything is out of control. Dr. Stratyner says, “If that’s you more days than not over a six-month period, and it’s preventing you from working or having fun, you may have generalized anxiety disorder.” It is highly treatable and seeking out a consultation with your doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist may be a good start.

We have all experienced periods in our lives that are less ideal than others and we may be trying our best to manage a lot while maintaining some sort of balance. When I look back on times when I could have benefited from the support of others, professional or not, I wish that I had done so sooner than I did. However, whether I felt up to it or not, exercise, always helped. Whether it was dragging myself to the gym or taking long walks, physical activity was better than not. So, for now, grab your headphones, get moving and no matter how…break a sweat.