Trade In Your “To Do” List

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Take a minute right now, this very moment, and jot down everything you would like to accomplish by the end of the day. Use paper and pen, your phone, or any other technique you use to keep track of your lists.

Don’t read any further in this blog until you’ve completed this.

OK, now that you’re back – Is your list completed?  Take a good look at it.  What is so important that it made your “to do” list today?  As I look at mine, I have things like:

  •          Pick up clothes from the cleaners
  •          Finish speech for upcoming conference
  •          Make reservations through Spot Hero for Chicago trip
  •          Spend one hour today marketing to new clients
  •          Clean the house

As I review my list, I notice that there’s nothing really earth shattering on it.  Nothing that’s going to make a real difference in anyone’s life.   It’s all about things!

So I’ve decided to trade in my “to do” list for a “hope for” list.  I’m going to add things I “hope” to accomplish by the end of the day,  like:

  •    Share a smile with someone today
  •    Send a card to a friend for no reason at all
  •    Make someone laugh

These aren’t things I HAVE to do, just some ideas to bring more joy into the world. 

What about you?  Do you have any other ideas for a “hope for” list?

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A Treasure on Tissue Paper

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Today I was busy packing away the last of my Christmas decorations.  Yes, I know.  I should have done it last week but I didn’t.  No excuses – I just didn’t.

Well, as I was wrapping some of the more delicate items in tissue paper, I noticed some writing on one of the pieces of paper.  It was very faint so I had to hold it up to the light.  It was a hodgepodge of phrases, and when I took a moment to read them, it really made an impact on me.  Here is a sample of what I found:

  • Live Joyfully.
  • Your first decision of the day is the most important.  CHOOSE HAPPINESS.
  • Live your life NOW.
  • Sometimes we are scared. It’s OK.
  • You have a great bottle of wine.  DRINK IT.
  • Achievement tastes most sweet when first we dare to fail.
  • BE CRAZY ABOUT SOMETHING.
  • The only things you will regret are the things you did not do.
  • Tomorrow is promised to no one.
  • Have the courage to live a life that is true to yourself, not the life others expect of you.

There are several other sayings but I’ll stop at 10.  Now, I’m not sure where these phrases came from, I just know that unexpectedly finding them on a sheet of tissue paper gave me a lift, it put a smile on my face, and I wanted to share it with you.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

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I’m All Ears

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I want to be a better listener!

After getting off the phone with my friend, and listening to all her trials and tribulations, the conversation was suddenly over.  I never had a chance to say one word.  Nothing about myself.  It may sound selfish, but I wanted to be part of the conversation.  When we hung up, I felt empty, alone and like I didn’t matter.

That made me wonder – have I done this to others?  That thought scared me so I decided to make a pledge to myself, right here and right now, to be a better listener.

To get started, I’m going to play this little game with myself.  The next time I’m in a conversation, instead of thinking about what to say next, I’m going to look at the conversation as a learning experience.  A time to discover something new.   Maybe there’s a new restaurant in town I haven’t heard about, or a business contact I can be introduced to.  Who knows?  I may even make a new friend.

I pledge to listen with curiosity and stay focused.  Yes, that’s exactly what I’m going to do starting right now.  I believe it will take some practice, but I’m willing to try.  So if we should meet in the near future, and have a conversation, let me know how I’m doing.

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What If You Fly!

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

I was walking through Staples, and suddenly it seemed like this journal jumped out at me.  I mean it really seemed to leap from the shelf.  I saw this quote and I just had to have it:

What if I fall?
OH, MY DARLING, WHAT IF YOU FLY?

Has this ever happened to you?  That suddenly, unexpectedly, something “speaks” to you and it literally sends shivers up your spine.  You can’t explain it – and you can’t deny it.  

It seems that our lives are often filled with “What if.”  Those two words can stop us in our tracks and paralyze us with fear.  So as we enter into a new year, here is my challenge to you:

  • WHAT IF we can follow those two words with something positive?
  • WHAT IF every time a negative thought creeps in, we stop it in its tracks and replace it immediately with something positive?
  • WHAT IF we see only the possibilities that are in front of us when we utter those two words?               

Now, that’s the way to start a new year.  Welcome to 2018 and all it’s possibilities!!! 

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Give the Gift of You

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

It’s the day after Christmas and…

  • All the gifts are unwrapped – and probably a few returned
  • The holiday music is packed away until next year
  • And Santa Claus has found his way back to the North Pole

It’s time to take a deep breath and think about your holidays – the good, the bad and the ugly.  Hopefully you’ll find a lot more good than the other two. 

It’s no secret – I love this time of year!  And  for many reasons.  One of them is because I always come away with such amusing and amazing stories.  Just think about it for a moment and I’m sure you’ll discover many of your own.

Was there something someone said – or didn’t say.

Something they did?  Or didn’t do???

A recipe that went wrong?  A dog that knocked over the Christmas tree?  A child who screamed with joy at the simplest of pleasures – usually the box that your well thought out gift came in. 

Take some time to write down these stories, or record them.  Make your story come to life by describing all the twists and turns.  Be the star of your own story and take us along on your journey.

Just imagine what a gift this will be for someone else, especially someone who loves you endlessly.  I would do anything to hear my father’s stories in his own voice; to read my mother’s stories in her own handwriting.  What a precious gift that would be. 

Imagine the possibilities and warmth you can bring into someone’s heart.  So take a moment now, heat up some of that leftover eggnog, and start writing or recording.  You’ll be amazed at what you can create.

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Grateful Memories in Spite of…

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Have you ever dreamed of something –  hoped for it, saved for it, imagined it – only to find out it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be?   That’s what happened to me on my recent trip to Italy.

You see, years ago I heard about an area called Cinque Terra.  It was described as a rugged portion of the coast on the Italian Riviera with five villages built into the cliffs.   It sounded so romantic, and any photo I saw of the area was breathtaking.  I just had to go and experience it for myself. 

So I saved and waited and saved some more.  And when I arrived, this is what I saw!  Hordes and hordes of tourists – so many that you could hardly move.  I learned later that each of the five towns has about 400 residents each, yet every year they have 1.2 billion visitors.  That’s billions with a capital B.  You had to fight your way to get on the trains, and sometimes the hiking trails were so crowded you were at a total standstill.

So much for my vision of sitting at a local cafe, sipping a cappuccino with the Italian residents. 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  It was still beautiful – just not the way I had imagined it.  So what do you do?  How do you handle a situation like this?

For me, I made a conscious choice to see the beauty that surrounded me.  I remembered the words of Mary Engelbreit:  “If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” 

I knew I would probably never be in this part of Italy again.  So I embraced the craziness and started conversations with visitors that surrounded me.  And then I ordered a bottle of wine – the local wine that you can’t get anywhere else.  I began to embrace the uniqueness of this area.  It didn’t happen immediately, but every time I found myself getting annoyed with the crowds, I simply said: “I am grateful for ________________.”

Now it’s your turn to fill in the blank.  No matter what is happening around you, good or bad, there is always something to be grateful for.  What memories will you choose to make?

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The Rule of Three

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Yep, I discovered The Rule of Three when my life was quite messy.  It’s the sixth technique I’m going to share with you during this “How to Get Back on Your Feet” series.

This is what happened:

I started noticing that there were some things in my life that kept coming back to me over and over again, like the word Toastmasters.  I’d never heard about this group, but several people told me to look into it – that I might be interested.

At first I ignored them, but the third time I heard the word Toastmasters, I went home and Googled it.  I found out they are an international organization whose members give speeches at their club meetings, then are evaluated by their peers.  They promote communication, public speaking and leadership skills.  Although I didn’t give any speeches at the time, I decided to give it a try.

Today, Toastmasters is probably one of the major contributions that led me to being a Professional Speaker.   I met so many people who helped me get my new business off the ground and turn it into the success it is today.

Another time The Rule of Three changed my life happened when my young friend, Karla, suggested I try online dating.  Now, realize that I was 63 years old at the time and I had vowed to never let another man in my life.  But somehow, she convinced me to try it and “just see what happens.”

At that time, I lived in Chicago and I never planned on leaving the city – NEVER! 

After a couple of weeks on eHarmony, a picture of a sweet-smiling guy popped up.  I was interested, that is until I saw that he lived in Madison, Wisconsin.

Nope, not for me.  I’m not leaving Chicago.

But the third time his photo appeared, I sent him an invitation.  And as they say, the rest is history.

I now live in Madison, Wisconsin.  We got married a couple of years ago.

So I’ve learned that when something comes back to me three times, I have to  stop and take notice  That doesn’t mean that I have to follow through, but I do have to look at it carefully, research it, then decide what’s best for me.

Remember, you never know what life will throw your way.  It just may be worth taking a closer look.  Paying attention to The Rule of Three has certainly taken my life in different directions, and I couldn’t be happier.

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Flip the Switch

This morning I shared a cup of coffee and some great conversation with a good friend of mine.

She told me that she just celebrated her 19 year anniversary with the love of her life. As a gift, she decided to write 19 reasons why she still loved her partner – one reason for each year they were together.   It was truly a precious gift.

That gave me an idea. When I got home, I pulled out a card and across the top I scribbled:

5 Top Reasons Why I Love You So Much

Then I listed them, put the card in an envelope, sealed it and gave it to my husband.   YES, I could have written a hundred more reasons (just in case you were wondering) but I decided to keep it short and sweet.

And this lead me to my next thought:

What if I did this for the people in my life who actually annoyed me to death? You know what I’m talking about – it could be that co-worker who won’t stop chatting, or that boss who doesn’t give you credit for all your hard work, or that friend who only talks about herself and never asks how you are doing?

What if I take a closer look at all those people who tend to aggravate me and list just 5 things that are good about them? It could be something as simple as “they have a sweet smile” or something more obvious like “they bring brownies to work for everyone to enjoy.”

I could even work on substituting words for their annoying behavior. Let’s see:

Cheap could be replaced by Thrifty and Budget Minded

Gossipy could be replaced by Informative

Unfocused could be replaced by Unpredictable and Fun

It just may help to flip the switch and see them in a different light. If nothing else, it can turn my annoyance into a tolerance.  I’m not sure if it will work, but I’m going to give it a try.

And if you’re thinking of looking at the annoying people in your life a little differently, I’ve included a wordsmith to help you with those replacement words.  Let me know how it goes.

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Your Turn – How Do YOU Define Success?

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

How do you spell success?

MONEY

FAME

POWER

I was recently forced to face my own definition of success. You see, just a couple of days ago, I won a speech contest held by Toastmasters.  If you are not familiar with this group, it’s a non-profit organization that helps individuals develop their public speaking and leadership skills.

They hold numerous contests throughout the year, and the one I entered was the International Speech Contest. I have to admit that it was fun because I get to compete against my peers, who are pretty awesome speakers.  But it is also nerve wracking and takes a lot of preparation, so I was honored to take first place in the Area Contest.  When it all was over, there were lots of pictures taken, and many congratulatory hugs.  I was bursting with pride, and when I walked into my club meeting later that evening, I was met with applause and kudos from my peers.

But the next morning, as I was still basking in the glory of my win, I told several people about my success.

“Congratulations! What did you win?”

I quickly responded, “Well, now I advance to the next level and I compete with different speakers.”

“Yeah, but what did you win?”

My response wasn’t so quick this time, “Well, I get satisfaction knowing that I did my best and that the audience and judges identified with my speech.”

“I mean, how much money did you win?”

NOW I GET IT!!! It finally hit me that my win was not considered a success unless there was a dollar sign attached to it.

Now I didn’t feel so successful anymore.

It took me some time to think through my reaction to this exchange of words, and a heart-to-heart conversation with a good friend of mine, and I finally came to the conclusion that this time, for me, money was not the end goal. My success came from knowing that I found something I love to do, that I followed my passion, and that I’m determined to be the best I can be.  And that day, competing in that contest, I was able to share my passion with the audience and the judges.  I was able to bring some joy into their lives as well as my own.

So today, I am reminded of the words of Maya Angelou: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

That spells success for me.

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“I Ain’t Settlin”!

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

“Music was my refuge,” said Maya Angelou. And I couldn’t agree more.

During some of my darkest times, it was music that helped me keep my sanity.

Several years ago, life threw me a curve that I wasn’t expecting. I don’t have to tell you what I mean, because I’m guessing that you’ve been there yourself.  Maybe losing a job, feeling betrayed by a friend, trying to figure out how to survive the loss of someone you love…  whatever your challenge may be.

Well, that’s where I was. Trying to figure out how to make it to the next day.  I just lost my 15 year relationship, had moved into a very small apartment with no furniture, and had no money.   But what I did have was a boom box.  Yes, a boom box (remember those?)  It had a broken antenna so I couldn’t get any radio stations, but I could play one CD at a time.

One of the big hits at that time was a song called I Ain’t Settlin by Sugarland. I bought that CD and played it over and over again.

Then, in my darkest moments, when I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I just didn’t know how to move forward, I would blast that song as loud as I possibly could.

My small apartment had wooden floors, so I would put on a pair of socks, and singing at the top of my lungs, I would run and skid across the floor, pronouncing to the world “I ain’t settlin!!!”

And it helped – if only for a little while. I knew that I was going to be ok.  I knew that somehow, someway, I would find the strength and the courage to move on, recreate myself, and find my way to a better place.

So, here’s my song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FA26RstqSnw.  Just one of the many that made me stand taller, believe in myself, and not let anyone else define me.

Do you have a song you’d like to share – one that gave you strength, hope, made you smile? Who knows?  Maybe we can gather enough songs to create our own Power CD to be played whenever we need a little helping hand.

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