I’ve been sharing my becoming-a-published-author journey over the past few months and today it’s officially official! Change Authentically: A guide to transform your job and life through positive action is published! And confetti rains down Super Bowl style!! 

At least, it did in my head! And if you know me, you know I’d hate to have to sweep and vacuum up all that confetti, so it’s probably better it was imaginary. Let’s keep the celebration clean and orderly, shall we?

I’ve had a little time to reflect on the process of writing and self-publishing. It was a surprising, exciting, sometimes terrifying journey, a lot like anything new. There are things I would do differently next time (yes, there WILL be a next time!) now that I’ve been through the process. And there are some interesting lessons I wanted to share, since they apply to work.

Lesson 1 – A bunch of details that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things stand between you and the ONE THING that does matter

I’ve wanted to write a book for at least 20 years (you can read an excerpt here). There are lots of reasons and excuses as to why I didn’t up to this point. But I knew someday, I eventually would do it. The writing part was fun for me – it’s always been something I’ve enjoyed. The many details of the self-publishing process on the other hand, were not.

Did you know that you can pick between three different paper colors for your printed book? AND that each paper choice is a slightly different thickness? AND that slightly different thickness when stacked on top of each other in book format changes the width of the spine of the book? And by the way, the width of the spine then has implications for a whole bunch of other choices to be made!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when faced with so many interconnected decisions. But the funny thing is, as much as they all impact the final product, they don’t really matter all that much. I’ve never chosen to read or not read a book based on the spine size. Or the color of paper. Or a whole bunch of other inconsequential details.

All those choices can become distractions if we let them. It’s easy to spend hours on the internet reading about which paper is the absolute best paper for a specific usage. To endlessly debate and agonize over each decision to be made. And it also could prevent me from moving toward the end goal of publishing a book, which was my big aspiration all along.

I needed to instead focus my attention on the minimums. Fill out the required fields and move on. Trust me, even this approach took WAY longer than I expected, and was not without its fair share of debating before deciding!

I sure wish life came with a required fields indicator! It’s easy to get caught up in the details of the everyday, the things that seem so important in the moment. It’s much harder to sift through those things objectively to figure out what matters. Sometimes it’s only through the benefit of hindsight that we can see more clearly what did and didn’t help us in the process. 

Whether we figure it out in the moment or through the benefit of time, hopefully we’re taking those lessons forward with us so that the next time we’re faced with an endless sea of distractions, we can more easily move forward toward that one thing that matters most.

#PositiveAction What tiny distractions are keeping you from making real progress on your big goal? Set a deadline to figure them out and then commit to moving forward!

Book cover image by Erin Zastrow

Positive action is an iterative process. We try something small, learn from it, and react to the information we’ve learned. It follows this pattern: 

Action–>Assess–>Adjust  

Yes, it really can be that simple. Try something small. See what happens. Make an adjustment and do it again. The point is to keep taking action without getting bogged down by trying to plan everything out from now until the end of time. When we take the plan-everything approach, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and then most of us, myself included, take no action. Starting small is key.

Positive psychology has had an exponential growth in popularity and overall, that’s a wonderful thing. I also believe that while our thoughts are extremely powerful, they aren’t the only thing for us to rely on. The positive gets you so far, but it needs to be coupled with action in order for you to be truly successful. You need action to implement the changes you want to see in your life and your work. And because change is hard, it’s critical that you see progress quickly, rather than in days, months, years. As you learn from one Next Step, it will inform the rest of the Next Steps you take. 

If your Aspiration is to get a new job in an industry you’ve always dreamed would be fun to work in, you don’t want to plan out every possible step from now until you retire from that job. Instead, try something smaller, like researching job descriptions to compare your current skill set to your desired role. What did you learn? What will you do next?

This is the fun of the Next Step! I love that it is a manageable chunk I can quickly and easily do. It goes back to the old (and somewhat gross!) adage: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. 

The same is true for each of us. How do we achieve our Aspiration? One Next Step at a time.

The intent is not to find the most perfect thing to do; it’s about testing, learning, and moving forward. It’s easy to get paralyzed by the sheer number of choices when you’re looking for the perfect thing, so if you find yourself struggling with this step, try to think about the absolute smallest thing you can do. It might be so small, it seems insignificant, but when done consistently, it’ll become significant progress.

Each Next Step is something that brings you closer to your Aspiration, while maintaining alignment with your Identity. Remember that the best Next Steps are small and something you can do quickly to assess progress and make any needed adjustments. The point here is to avoid getting too far down a particular path before discovering you need to course correct. 

#PositiveAction What is the smallest Next Step you can take today toward an Aspiration?

Next Steps are the sixth element of ACTION, part of a series focused on positive action. Here is the full series:

 

Image by Gerd Altman on Pixabay

Entire books have been written on the importance of understanding your why (and I recommend that one!). I’m not going to rehash all of them, but I will agree with the fact your why, aka being On Purpose, is a key element of the ACTION plan. It’s such an important element, that I’ve already talked about it here on this blog. 

Until you have a compelling why driving you to achieve an Aspiration, you’re unlikely to take meaningful steps to get there. This is the reason so many new year’s resolutions fail. Without a why, we lose interest. We can’t stick with the change. The why is our motivation to be Consistent and keep taking positive action. 

Even if you and I have the same Aspiration, it’s highly unlikely that we would share the same why. When I’m taking positive action On Purpose, it reflects my unique experiences and interests; yours will too. My why would likely not motivate you because our experiences are different.

Let’s take exercise as an example. The reason why I exercise is because I want to walk unassisted when I’m in my 90’s, just like my great uncle. For another person I know, their why is because many of their relatives died at younger ages and they exercise to hopefully not have the same happen. For another, it’s that they want to continue to fit into their current clothes so they don’t have to buy new ones. There are endless why’s for something as simple as choosing to exercise. The key is to find the why that is true for you.

Another way to think about your why if you’re struggling is to determine what you stand for or against. This is often a meaningful reason that leads into a compelling why. My family has been significantly impacted by cancer, so I support causes and engage in activities around finding a cure. I also have a love of the natural world and the environment, so again this helps me direct my energy toward volunteer efforts

In a world where we have unlimited choice and access to information, being On Purpose also helps to narrow your focus and stay Targeted. You can easily filter out those positive actions that are good, but not necessarily aligned either with your Identity or your why and what you stand for (On Purpose).

#PositiveAction Struggling with your resolutions? It’s time to revisit your why and get clear about how you can approach them On Purpose this time!

On Purpose is the fifth element of ACTION, part of a series focused on positive action. If you’re new here, welcome! You may want to start at the very beginning with positive action

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay, edited by me, which is maybe why the sizing seems off!

When it comes to leading an authentic life, one of the big challenges comes in around clarity. Many of us, haven’t spent enough time figuring out what matters most to us. Or maybe, like me, you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this very topic, but the answers that you’ve surfaced don’t ring true. There is the strange sense of misalignment between what we think and what we do, but we don’t have clarity on the connection points between those two things. 

At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a particularly vile and destructive word, commonly used in the English language. SHOULD.

Should is the enemy of your Identity. Should is a barrier to being your authentic self.

Should makes us feel guilt, shame, and a sense of obligation to do or be something that we don’t want. And should is very sneaky – we often don’t notice we’re using it. Should disguises what we enjoy and what’s worse, gives us a false sense of being noble when we do something we think we should

Imagine, if you will, a hypothetical example. It’s late on a Thursday night and my child tells me at bedtime that they need a snack for school tomorrow. I sigh and say, “I should make cupcakes.” I have no earthly desire to make cupcakes. I have no interest. I have a sense of obligation to provide a snack. Making the cupcakes will not result in anything other than misery for me, even if it provides some amount of enjoyment for others. I only thought I SHOULD take on this activity because it’s what a “good mom” would do. It’s the “right thing” to do. Stale pretzels (the only thing left in the pantry) will be judged by the other kids/teachers/parents. 

And this is how should gets us to do things. It makes me worry about things outside of my control and guilts me into doing stuff I don’t really care about. Watch out for should as you work to create actions in alignment with your Identity. Your goal is to find the person you are, not the person you feel like you should be.

There are other factors beyond should that can also create challenges in the Identity piece of the ACTION plan. Here’s another example. I have a tendency to be a people-pleaser. For me, enduring my own discomfort is far more palatable to me than seeing others unhappy. Besides, I got used to being worried and uncomfortable, so it didn’t seem like a big ask to continue to feel that way. And so began one of the ways that my authentic self began to disappear. I was allowing others to choose what made them happy and going along with it, rather than choosing what would make me happy. Eventually, it got to the point where I didn’t even know or recognize things I would enjoy anymore. 

This one small personality quirk (people-pleasing) was one of the factors that created a sense of misalignment in my work and life. I share that story to help you see that inauthenticity can occur as a result of circumstances, personality, challenges, choices, and many other factors. Regardless of how we get there, the author Sarah Ban Breathnach reminds us, “Remember, we did not lose ourselves all at once. But we recover our authentic selves one kind gesture at a time.” 

So how do we go about this act of recovering our authentic selves? Or how do we make sure that our ACTION plan is authentically aligned? There are two key pieces that we’ll explore. 

First, let’s talk about the best version of you. The version of you that you imagine you are. You know, the one that you want to be, before the craziness of modern living wreaks havoc on that plan! What characteristics does your best self embody? 

Second is to assess (or review, if you’ve done this already) your values. You are authentically you when your values are in alignment with your actions. Each person’s values are different and unique to them. They can change over time. For example, until I had some health challenges, I didn’t realize how much I truly valued good health. My actions dramatically changed when I prioritized health.  

Any positive action you’re taking needs to help bring you closer to your best self and to your values. On any given day, there are millions of actions you can take, so ensure your actions are creating the alignment that’s been missing.

#PositiveAction What SHOULD do you need to let go of to live and work more in alignment with your values and best self? It feels amazing to let those unrealistic expectations go! 

Image from Pixabay

Once upon a time, I had the worst year of my entire life professionally and personally. That story is too long for today, but suffice it to say that I came to the conclusion that almost nothing was working for me in the way I was approaching my life. 

Whoa! That’s kind of a big, complex problem, huh? 

It’s definitely not the sort of thing you can fix in a single day (or even a single year, but I made, and continue to make, progress!). What’s the solution? I had to get Targeted in my action. I couldn’t fix everything all at once. I needed to focus on the most important thing.

Here’s a simple example. One of my favorite things to do for the new year… *drumroll please!* …is to clean out my closets! I know, I know. It’s a wild and crazy life I lead. Here’s the thing: It gives me a chance to clean spaces that don’t get cleaned very frequently, but more importantly, I can assess the stuff I own and ask questions about it. Does this fit AND flatter? Or Does this align with the current life I lead? Or Have I used this enough to warrant expending my time and space to keep it here? I’m sure this process is starting to sound a lot more fun now!!!

My inner Clutter Conqueror would love to go through the entire house like that. Asking questions, cleaning out all the rooms from top to bottom and ending with a space that even Marie Kondo would be jealous of. But my real life doesn’t afford me the time or energy to do all that. Not to mention the fact that with a family of four, this zen-like space I’m imagining would be back to a mess in 5 minutes flat. 

One choice I could make is to say, “Well, it’s pointless. I might as well do nothing.” Another choice I can (and do!) make is to say, “What is a Targeted approach where I could achieve that aspiration on a smaller scale?” This was how my tradition for cleaning out my closets for the new year was born! 

I focus my attention on one area, knowing that there are lots of other things that could use my attention, energy, and effort too. But I prioritize this activity because of several reasons. 

First, it’s small, which means I can accomplish it in a short amount of time. I love to see progress quickly! Next, it helps me let go of all that other stuff I could/should/wish I had time to work on. Freedom from guilt! Finally, as a recovering perfectionist, it gives me great joy to have a few small spaces of order in the chaos that is my daily life. If you’ve never spent a minute or two gazing upon a well-organized space, you absolutely must try it! Talk about relaxation!! 

Hang on, I think I’m getting slightly off topic. I must be more Targeted!

As I’ve mentioned, resolutions aren’t for me. I love change! I just happen to take a different approach to getting there. One of those different approaches is to select a word of the year. 

I’ve been doing a word of the year for five years now. My previous words include: Grateful, Listen, Release, and Enough 

If you are looking to go deeper on a word of the year, I got the idea from Jon Gordon, but there are lots of others who advocate this approach as well.

What I love about a word of the year is it’s Targeted. It gives me an opportunity to keep my focus on one thing for the entire year. I thought it would be hard to spend a year with a single word, but I have been pleasantly surprised every year by how the word continues to take on new, different, bigger meaning in my life. The fact that it’s Targeted is what makes it so effective.

When you’re thinking about taking positive action, you want your action to be targeted. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you think of all the things you’d like to change or do or be. By making a choice to focus your time, energy, and attention on one thing, it becomes possible to make incredible progress!

#PositiveAction Identify the one thing that is most important for you this year. The Targeted attention will be transformational!

Targeted is the third element of ACTION, part of a series focused on positive action. If you’re new here, welcome! You may want to start at the very beginning with positive action

Image from Pixabay

A long time ago, in a galaxy that didn’t have streaming video (or even DVDs yet), I had a workout video where the host would say, “Consistency is the key to results. See you tomorrow.” I still think about that video now whenever I hear the word consistent! Also, I am thrilled to discover that said workout video is actually still available for sale! It’s worth a watch simply for the hilarious wardrobe choices for everyone involved. Moving on… 

We tend to dismiss the importance of consistency, but if I learned anything from that ancient workout VHS tape, consistency really is the key to results. Isn’t that disappointing? We can’t do something once and expect to see major change. I know I consistently (see what I did there?) struggle with that very real fact. I can’t eat one salad and be considered healthy. I have to consistently choose the salad over the french fries with a side of mayo (try it before you judge!).

If you’re trying to grow a business, you can’t sporadically work harder at it. You need to consistently work toward that growth. It’s the same if you’re trying to change the direction of your career. Sure there are easy things you can do in 5 minutes or less, but you also need to consistently (aka regularly) work toward the change that is your aspiration

Here’s something to consider. Consistency is also a promise to yourself. Once you’ve got your aspiration, that dream worth chasing, you’re making a promise to yourself that you are willing to make the dream happen. It means you show up and do what you need to do. It means that you schedule the timeline to “30 days from now” (not “someday”) and stick with it. 

Unfortunately for many of us, we deprioritize what’s important to us in favor of doing something that is important to someone else. Sometimes that’s generous, but more often, we’re afraid of doing what we need to do and use busy-ness as an excuse to never get around to our own aspirations. If you’re struggling with this, you may want to get the help of an accountability partner to move forward! 

#PositiveAction What promise do you need to make to yourself to bring some consistency to your dreams and resolutions? It’s time to regularly work toward what you want!

Consistent is the second element of ACTION, part of a series focused on positive action. If you’re new here, welcome! You may want to start at the very beginning with positive action

 

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Aspiration is another word for dream (official definition: a hope or ambition to achieve something… sure sounds like a dream to me!) and we’ve talked before about dreaming. Actually, several times, like here, here, and here because I believe it’s one of life’s greatest joys to have a dream you’re working on bringing to life. Of course, a dream doesn’t get you where you want to go without positive action!

I have a chair (shown above) that is my dreaming chair. It’s a 15-year-old recliner that my two cats absolutely adore. It’s the place I go when I want to guarantee some snuggle time with them. It’s also the place I go to slow down and let my mind wander.

As humans, we need both time and space to dream. Creating the physical blocks of time in your daily schedule (yes, daily!) is critical. So is the white space that is created when you have no other distractions, obligations, or activities during that moment of time. In our over-scheduled, always-on world, one of the most productive things you can do is nothing, even if it’s only for 5 minutes. Use this post as the permission you’ve been waiting for to kick back and let your mind wander for a few minutes!!

My creativity has been significantly higher this year, partly because I’ve deliberately given myself the time and space for dreaming. Sometimes I hop in my dreaming chair and nothing much happens, other than sitting there. Sometimes I get an idea to solve a problem whether for my business, a client, or my family. Sometimes, I get the inspiration for my next big project! I never know what the outcome is going to be and I don’t have any expectation for it. What I can say with certainty is that I feel renewed and ready to tackle the next task on my list after I’m finished.

You might be wondering how to do this in your daily life. It’s 3 simple steps.

  1. Schedule the time, whether 5 minutes or a whole day off from work, it’s up to you. 
  2. Actually use the time you scheduled. Jerry Seinfeld said it best, “See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.” So make sure you hold the time you scheduled!
  3. Turn off electronic devices and distractions. I promise, all the work and demands and notifications of the world will manage to wait for a few minutes while you do this. Be careful, you might find you actually enjoy uninterrupted time!

When you follow these steps, you’ll start to dream more. You’ll come up with amazing aspirations! Sometimes, it’ll be change-the-world aspirations, like impacting a million or more people in a specific way. Sometimes, it’ll be a simple, change-the-moment thing, like eating healthy food for the rest of the day. The dreams can be all shapes and sizes. The only rule to the dream is that it HAS to be authentically yours. 

In the context of positive action, your actions should be focused on leading you toward your aspirations. Keep asking yourself, what’s one small step I can take today toward my aspiration? You may feel like you have almost no time to devote to it, but there’s still something small you can do each day. If you do that consistently for a month, you’ll be surprised to see how those 30 actions got you further than you imagined possible!

#PositiveAction Spend 5 minutes doing nothing and see where your mind wanders. What aspiration is waiting for your action to bring it to life? 

Aspiration is the first element of ACTION, part of a series focused on positive action. If you’re new here, welcome! You may want to start at the very beginning with positive action

Photo by me, with cuteness added by my two fuzzy buddies!

We’re coming up on one of my favorite times of the year. No, it’s not any of the traditional holidays you think of in December. I love the planning and preparing for a new year. It’s not the glitz and glamour and champagne of New Year’s Eve that I love. It’s the clean slate. A fresh start. A socially acceptable time to try something completely new and different than you’ve ever done before! 

As a person who is frequently trying something new and different, I can safely say that people are much more open to that sort of thing for New Year’s. It’s a chance to dare and dream bigger and people are less likely to question your sanity. Of course, naysayers gonna nay (no idea how that phrase didn’t end up in Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”!), but for a short time around the first of the year, it’s a little less.

For all my joy surrounding this special time of year, I’ve never been big on resolutions. In fact, I don’t make them. Ever! It strikes me as odd that if a person discovers a big change they want to make in July, that they would then wait until January to follow through on it. I’m a big believer that when you find something you want to improve, you should take positive action immediately! 

On the other side of the resolutions-spectrum, maybe there’s no major change you feel like you need to make right now. So why would you expend the energy trying to come up with some resolution to do (that you’re likely not fully committed to!) just to appease those who want to know what your resolutions are? There’s nothing worse than trying to accomplish something you think you “should” do instead of something that you truly desire for your authentic self. It’s a recipe for a failed resolution.

All that said, this is THE time of year for making resolutions and for some people, it’s the only time of year they are willing to consider doing something differently. So this seems like the perfect opportunity to spend some time talking about what positive action looks like… well… in action!

First, let’s talk positive. On any given day, there are lots of actions that you can take to achieve any number of results. Not all of those actions are positive.

Here are two definitions of positive that I love:

  • Constructive, optimistic, or confident
  • With no possibility of doubt; clear and definite

Here’s an example of how to work positive into your action. Last week, my car broke down unexpectedly as I was driving my two kids to an appointment. I’m grateful I was able to maneuver safely to the shoulder of the road, getting out of the way of the rush hour traffic. It was frustrating and inconvenient to be stuck. Both the tow truck and my improvised ride home (my wonderful spouse!) were more than 30 minutes away. It would have been easy to fall into a whole bunch of not-so-positive actions (complaining, getting out of the car to kick the tires like they do on tv, etc.). In the moment, I had a choice: I had to ask myself what positive action I could take instead.

I should point out that I am not mechanically inclined, so opening up the hood (however you do that!) and working on the car wasn’t a positive action available to me. Given the volume of traffic whizzing by us, walking elsewhere was also not viable. 

I decided that the three of us would use this quiet time in the car to build the ultimate Christmas music playlist. We had a blast taking turns picking favorite holiday tunes and singing along as we added each one to the ultimate playlist. It was a fun way to spend close to an hour and we may have a new holiday tradition now! 

Singing didn’t get us out of our trouble any faster (contrary to what musical theater would have you believe!), but it did make our time spent a lot more enjoyable. It’s only one example of the myriad ways you can incorporate positivity into whatever action you’re doing every day.

By contrast, the following evening after a series of stressful events, I made a less positive choice in a conversation with that same wonderful spouse who had willingly agreed to come pick me up less than 24 hours before. I had to reset (after I apologized!) and move forward. The point is, it’s a journey, and our default reaction may not always be the most positive action.

#PositiveAction Find one action today that could benefit from positivity and make the intentional choice to engage in positive action. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask yourself the question: How can I make this activity more fun? Or How can I use this to bring me one step closer to a dream I have?

Now that we’ve got positive covered, we’ll prepare for the new year by spending the next six weeks taking a deep dive into the elements of ACTION.

 

Image by jwvein from Pixabay

If only our dreams introduced themselves to us so neatly!

For a long time, I had a dream to “help the environment someday”. A very nebulous, though perhaps noble, goal. Unfortunately, there were always things that seemed to get in the way. I recognize them now as mostly excuses and fears, but at the time, they seemed like legitimate concerns.

I’m too busy. It’s very inconvenient. My kids are small and need all my attention right now. The list goes on (and on and on!). 

So I did what most of us do when confronted with all the reasons not to pursue my dream. I waited. I waited for the perfect timing (it never came!). I waited to be less busy (I never was!). I waited for the right conditions (you guessed it, never happened!). I waited for a sign (still waiting!). And a decade went by. 

You might be wondering to yourself how a person like me, known to many as a great accountability partner, could let this happen. Where was the accountability on my own dream? So glad you asked!

The first obstacle for me was that I didn’t acknowledge the fact that this was a dream. I had been treating it as a nice-to-have-someday sort of wish, rather than a dream I wanted to work to fulfill. We’ve talked before about the importance of dreaming big. I had failed to do that in this regard.

Another way I let myself off the hook was through inaction. I was paralyzed by trying to decide the best way to help the environment someday. Every time I would think about it, I’d feel stuck or overwhelmed, so I’d stop. I’ve shared before that hope isn’t a plan and sometimes the best plan is to stop planning and start taking action!

Interestingly, we all end up in this scenario at some point over the course of our careers. Sometimes, it’s the role we’re afraid to say out loud that we’d really love to have. It can be the new technology you’d like to take a class to learn more about, but are afraid of being the oldest (or youngest!) person there. Maybe you’d like to do a full career pivot, but don’t have the slightest idea what you’d pivot to. 

The writer Sarah Ban Breathnach reminds us, “It’s never too late to reclaim your individual gifts, resuscitate a dream, create an authentic life.” That’s some great encouragement! Especially for those of us with dreams that have been on the backburner for a decade or more!!

Where to start? How about with the same two principles that helped me finally move forward. Acknowledge your dream and put some clarity around it. Then, try doing one small thing to get some momentum. 

For me, it started with reading a few books and watching some documentaries. Then I decided to apply for a leadership training. After the panic wore off from getting accepted to the training, I found ways to make the training as meaningful as possible, including building connections with people. That led to forming a group in the Milwaukee area to support each other and continue to take action. 

I couldn’t plan out all these steps in advance because I didn’t know where each action would lead me. That’s the interesting thing about action. It often will surprise you with where you end up because you’re learning and adjusting as you go.

#PositiveAction Do you have something that you’ve been putting off for someday? It’s time to acknowledge that dream and turn it into action, one small step at a time!

 

Image from Pixabay

Last summer I had the opportunity to travel to Yellowstone National Park as part of an epic family road trip. *Side note: if you’re heading there anytime soon, check out this awesome guide! Yes, I also have a 3-ring binder filled with travel details if you want to know more. Are you at all surprised?!? End side note!*

Yellowstone is a huge swath of wilderness known for its unusual geothermal activity. The picture above is of a mudpot – a place where the ground is literally bubbling due to the hot water just under the surface. Not particularly exciting or aesthetically pleasing in photo format, but very cool to see in person.

I was going through my pictures of that trip recently and when I saw the mudpots, my brain immediately went to how similar mudpots are to humans. Not in a Creature From the Black Lagoon or Scooby Doo mud monster kind of way. Rather in how we all have things (good and bad usually) bubbling just below the surface. Unlike the mudpots where you can see the mud bubbling in real time, we try to keep those thoughts, ideas, and feelings hidden.

The mud is hidden, but it’s there. At Yellowstone, they put up boardwalks and railings to keep us a safe distance from the boiling mud. Too bad people don’t come with those!

Right now, I have several big projects coming to critical points at the same time, so although it’s good mud that’s bubbling within me, I need to find a way to bring it back down from a boil to a simmer so it doesn’t steal my focus from the people, discussions, and projects that are important to me. 

One of the ways I do that is to write down the muddy ideas. When I get them out of my head and onto paper, my brain stops churning on them. Another way is to keep reminding myself how it all aligns to my purpose, which smooths out the mud and serves to calm me down.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is recognize when someone else is experiencing a fit of bubbling mud. At work, we can get so focused on our daily tasks that we forget to check in with people on how they’re feeling. You’d be surprised what a difference it will make in a co-worker’s day if you make time to ask them how they’re feeling and really listen to the answer.

#PositiveAction What thoughts, ideas, and feelings are bubbling up right now? Do one thing to help yourself or better yet, someone else, smooth out the mud!

 

Photo by me, in Yellowstone National Park.