Opportunity: Overcoming a Problem

    Before I get into the heart of this article, I want to tell you a story that you may have heard before, (it is an old story that has been passed from country to country, and generation to generation, so it is modified for each by each), but it is inspirational. Let’s face it, at 4:39 morning, who couldn’t use a little inspiration?

There once was a farmer who had a donkey that wouldn’t work. The farmer had tried everything! Nevertheless, the donkey wouldn’t pull a wagon, wouldn’t walk the stone wheel, and wouldn’t carry a pack or even the farmer. The farmer tried everything to get this stubborn animal to earn its keep. He whipped the donkey, he refused to feed him unless he worked and he was generally very sour whenever he saw the donkey. Finally, the farmer gave up. He planned to take the mule to the market the next day where it would be sold and used for dog food. That night however, the donkey tried to run away from the grumpy, mean farmer. He ran as fast as he could but in the dark, he didn’t get far. He didn’t see the hole in the ground. The donkey fell into the hole. He was frightened and began to bray loudly.

    “Help me! Help me!” The donkey cried. All night he brayed, whined, and cried. He tried to climb the walls of the hole but he had nothing to stand on.

    The next day the farmer heard the donkey and went to see what the commotion. When he saw the donkey in the hole, the farmer had an idea.

    “I will just fill in this hole with the donkey in it then I don’t have to deal with that fool animal anymore!”

    He grabbed a shovel and started to fill in the hole. He threw more and more dirt in right on the donkey. It took the donkey a minute or two before he realized the farmer was trying to bury him alive! “Oh no!” The donkey brayed loudly. Then, he was determined. The donkey decided he would not be buried! With that, he shook the dirt off his back and stomped it in to the ground below him. With each shovel of dirt that was thrown on him, he would shake it off and stamp it in.

    It wasn’t long before the donkey realized that he was nearly a foot closer to the top of the hole. This continued for several hours and the donkey had stopped braying so the farmer thought he must surely be dead. To be sure, the farmer kept heaping dirt into the hole. The donkey though, kept brushing it off and stomping it in until FINALLY the donkey reached the top of the hole. When the farmer bent to get the next load of dirt, the donkey bit him in the BUTT and walked calmly down the road.

    The moral of the story is this: When life throws dirt on you, shake it off, stomp it in, and get a little closer to your goal!


    We all come across problems and situations in each day that we must deal with. We have a couple of choices.

  1. We can choose to let the problems pile up until we are buried, by closing our eyes and wishing really hard that the problem would go away by itself.
  1. We can look at the problem realistically, determine what the solutions are, and then fix the problem.

Based on how we choose to approach the situation, we can turn problems into opportunities. The key to finding the opportunity within a problem is to face it head on as soon as possible. Don’t procrastinate. When we procrastinate handling a problem, it will stay in our head, cause undue stress, irritability, frustration and it saps our energy. In addition, procrastinating can cause a small problem to become much larger with greater consequences. Next, we must look at how we are approaching the problem mentally. If we are feeding negativity into it, then it will remain a problem. If we take a different route and move forward with a positive mental attitude and a plan of action, we can actually benefit and find opportunity for growth, and enlightenment.

“Again and again, the impossible decision is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made.” –Robert Schuller

HOW TO SOLVE A PROBLEM AND CREATE AN OPPORTUNITY

  1. Identify the problem. Before we can find a solution, we need to know what the real problem is and what is causing the problem. For example, Joe’s bank account was over drawn. This may look like the problem but there is a greater problem behind it. The greater problem lies in Joe’s over spending which caused the bank account to overdraw.
  1. Find the opportunity. Joe now has the opportunity to learn from this mistake. He can see where his budget needs modification and become more adept at managing his finances.

  2. Break it down. Break down your problem and declare your objectives. Take the large problem and break it into clear pieces so you have a better understanding on what to do first, based on importance. Overdrawn bank account means that money has to be put into the account to bring it to a positive balance, and steps need to be taken to ensure this does not reoccur. Obviously bringing the account balance to the positive is the most pressing part of this problem. Then the reason for the mishap must be addressed. Base the decision on the level of importance and urgency, and the potential to get worse.

  3. Set a Goal. Now is the time to set a goal that will address the large problem and the issue leading to the problem. 1. Overdrawn account 2. Over spending. The goal must be specific, achievable and measurable, and realistic.

  4. Decide on the precise steps to be taken. Once you have your goal, you need to know and write down the exact steps you will take to achieve the goal. This means having a very specific plan of action. If Joe just says I have to spend less, he is not motivated to see it to completion. It is too random. Instead, he could say, I will spend less by cutting out my morning latte. I will keep track of expenditures daily. That is a specific plan of action, simplistic, but specific.

  5. Implement your strategy. Put your plan into action!

  6. Check your results. Delegate specific times throughout the process of change to check the results and be sure you are nearing your goal and making forward progress. Evaluate your results. Are you seeing positive improvement? Are you learning anything? Are the current results beneficial and positive?

  7. Standardize. If the results of your plan of action are successful and positive, turn your action into a habit. Make it your standard operating procedure.

Often through the course of problem solving, other opportunities will be brought to light. Take each opportunity and evaluate it. Determine if it is a good time to act on the opportunity. If it is a good time then jump on it! Do not wait and let the opportunity pass by. If the time is not good for action, put it on your to-do list. Soon, you will see opportunities surrounding you instead of problems. A problem is only a problem if we approach the situation with a negative, can’t do, frustrated attitude.

Are there hidden opportunities in your life right now? Try using the steps above to get the best, most positive results possible. Remember, the next time life throws dirt on you, shake it off, stomp it in, and rise a little higher.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Make it a great day! 🙂

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To-Do List: The Power of Simplicity

Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain

 

 

    What Mark Twain was referring to in the quote above is that by completing the toughest part of your day first thing you are done with it the rest of the day. It is over and you can move on.

 

    Personally, I really do not like the stress of having a certain project or task that needs to be completed hanging around in my head. It just makes me think about it and think about it. That takes up a lot of space, a lot of time, and a lot of energy! That is where a To-Do list comes in. My to-do list is my brain on paper! If something is on my list, I don’t think about it. I just do it.

 

    Did you know that if you have something on your mind that has been bothering you, when you write it down your brain will stop rehashing it? By writing down what is in your head, your brain lets go and moves on to other things. How many times have you lain away at night with tomorrow’s agenda on your mind replaying it, and trying to remember everything? Many people call this insomnia. It is not insomnia; it is simply a brain trying to remember. The cure is to write the agenda down. I guarantee you will fall asleep. In addition, you will remember everything much more easily the next day.

 

How to Write a To-Do List

 

One key point to remember when creating a to-do list is to keep it simple. Your to-do list should be limited to what needs to be done the current day or the next day. Making your list too long to manage will make you feel cluttered or distracted and you will feel like you don’t really know where to start. So, keep your list limited to no more than 12 things. Once you reach the bottom of your list, begin creating the next list. If you make a to-do list each day and actually put in the effort to complete each task you will find that, your lists get shorter and shorter on their own. When we neglect to take care of business, our lists grow to unmanageable proportions. OK so you know now to keep it reasonable, keep it simple.

 

STEP 1: Block out a few minutes (I use 15 minutes) each morning and each evening to create and revise your to-do list. This is important. Uninterrupted time will help you think more clearly and you will not forget what you want to get done half way through writing your list.

 

STEP 2: Think about your day. What are your goals? Write down the first step to achieving your goal. The hardest part of doing anything is getting started. By making the first step to your goal a priority on your to-do list you will get started!

 

STEP 3: Write down all the rest of the things that you need to do for the day. Remember though keep it simple. If cleaning your bathroom is one of your priorities great! Write down clean the bathroom, not scrub the toilet, wash the sink, clean the mirror.

(I am assuming you have been cleaning your bathroom for many years and you will know what needs cleaning. If however you are living in chaos and have clutter from floor to ceiling, may I suggest www.flylady.net. A free program that will help you get things decluttered, and organized very easily! I am not advertising for the site, I just know firsthand how helpful it is. It is literally life changing.)

 

STEP 4: Now, you have your list of 12 (it is ok to have less, and Ok to have more as long as you are not overwhelmed). Look your list over and prioritize. What is the most important thing to do? Put the letter A by it. What is the next important? Put the letter B, and so on. In the case of having two things with the same priority, use A1 and A2, B1 B2 etc.

 

Always assign the toughest jobs a higher priority than the easy, lesser important jobs. As Mr. Twain was referring to, getting the tough stuff out of the way first means you have less to worry about through the day.

Once your list is complete, you are ready to move on with your day. You will be amazed at how much less stressed you are and how much MORE you get accomplished!


REMINDERS:

 

 

Remember to cross of each item on your list as you get it done. It is a great feeling at the end of the day to see your list all crossed off. If you have anything left over, move it to the next day’s list. Determine its priority. If you have had it on your list for three consecutive days and you have not completed the task, decide if you will either

  1. Complete the task or-
  2. Delegate the task to someone else or-
  3. Remove the task completely until there is a better time to reintroduce it to your list.

 

This is your list. You have complete autonomy on what to put on the list, on what to delegate, on what to cross off and what to eliminate! This is yours! You are the boss! You can do this!

 

Have fun with it and get some much-needed rest. Make tomorrow’s list tonight and see if you don’t sleep extra well tonight! Good luck and let me know how it works for you!

 

If you have any suggestions on how to make the most of to-do lists or make them better please or if you just want to give us your experience with using to-do lists please leave a commentJ.

 

Thank you for reading! Make it a Great Day!

Positively Negative: Breaking the Negativity Habit

REALIZIATION

Do you find yourself often wishing you hadn’t even gotten out of bed in the morning? Do you feel down, frustrated and argumentative often during your day? Do you find yourself blaming, criticizing, and complaining too much?

 

    This, my dear reader, is negativity. Negativity is a habit and a tough one at that! We are not intentionally negative. Most of us don’t wake up in the morning and say to ourselves, “I wonder whose day I can ruin today.” No. We want to be happy. We want to feel good. For some though, that is extremely difficult. You may be thinking how would she know how I feel. She’s not me. You would be right. I am not you, but I have gone through periods of extreme negativity, where I simply felt that the whole world was out to get me and I could do nothing right. My vehicle would break down, my home would need a sudden major repair, I was broke, and my boss got on my case, and on and on. If something went wrong, and it usually did, then I would want to blame, criticize, and complain instead of fixing the problem. I was stuck in the “poor me” box. There is good news! I changed ALL of that and YOU can to if you are willing to put in the effort.

 

One of the greatest diseases humanity inflicts upon itself is negativity – unknown

BREAKING THE HABIT: Overcoming Negativity

Like most habits, putting an end to the habit of negativity will take time and effort. Remember, anything worth doing does take time and effort.

    The first step to ending the habit is to become aware of what negativity really means not just the literal meaning but what it means to you. How does it make you feel? What does negativity look like to you? If you are not sure, get a pen and paper and start writing about it. Write a paragraph on what negativity is to you. When you start this writing exercise, your brain will take over and you will soon find yourself with a very specific explanation of your own negativity.

 

     Next, once you are able to recognize your negative thoughts, speech, and actions you are able to stop them, and change them. Yes, you have to change them! One habit replaces another habit. That is the conditioning of the human brain. We are going to STOP the negativity habit and CREATE the positivity habit! Sounds great doesn’t it!


HOW TO STOP NEGATIVE THOUGHTS

  • When you realize you are being negative, or you notice a negative thought pop into your head, hold your hand up, visualize a giant, bright red, flashing stop sign.

 

  • Say aloud STOP! (You can say it silently to yourself but it is much more effective to say STOP out loud.)

 

  • Good! You recognized the thought and you STOPPED it. The instant you told that thought to stop; it no longer had control of you! Now, change your mind! Change your thought. Put a positive spin onto whatever you are thinking.

 

  • Example: I received a letter last night (Sunday) that caused instant anxiety and negativity. It was a letter that needed proactive action! That old negativity habit bit me in the butt and I started thinking, “These things always happen to me! It’s not fair.” I felt stressed and grouchy. THEN I realized what I was doing! I was letting the negativity control me instead of ME controlling ME! I held my hand up like a crossing guard and said very loudly STOP! I saw in my mind a giant red flashing stop sign (after practice this becomes automatic). I put a positive spin on the situation. I told myself, “Hey, yeah it is a problem but you know what? It is SUNDAY! I cannot fix it today, so I do not have to deal with it today!” I took a deep cleansing breath and imagined myself inhaling all of that negativity then I blew the air and negativity out as hard as I could (like blowing out a candle). I proceeded straight to my desk, and on my Monday To-Do list, I put in large letters at the top of the list CALL BUSINESS TAKE CARE OF SITUATION. There, it was finished. It was an issue to be scheduled and handled at a more appropriate time. I evicted it from my mind for the rest of the day. Along with it, all the stress and negativity that had been activated by the existence of the letter. I then went on to enjoy the rest of my Sunday.

For every single negative thought, action, word repeat steps 1-3.

 

RECOGNIZE, STOP, AND CHANGE DIRECTION!

 

It takes time to change! You have to want to change. If you want it bad, enough you will put in the effort to change. The process to stop each negative behavior when repeated over and over will work, but what if you find yourself in a rut one day? What if you are just feeling down and you’re finding yourself constantly RECOGNIZING, STOPPING, AND CHANGING? Well here are a few more suggestions that have helped me and several other people I associate with overcome a bad day.

 

  • TALK TO POSITIVE PEOPLE: Talking to people who are generally upbeat, positive, and happy will make you feel better in general. Remember, emotions are contagious. When you talk to those people who you find positive or even motivational, instead of talking about problems, talk about anything but the problems. Talk about your pets, your kids, your vacation plans, and your new book anything that is pleasing to you!

 

  • READ POSITIVE AND MOTIVATIONAL QUOTES. Reading positive material is inspirational. It will literally help you to get out of your funk. This works on the same basis that positive affirmations work.

 

  • READ A BOOK THAT INSPIRES YOU or WATCH A COMEDY. Again, this falls under the fact that emotions are contagious. When you put yourself into the shoes of a character that is happy and positive, you feel what the character feels! Try it! It works!

 

  • CHANGE YOUR SCENERY. Sometimes we just need to get a fresh perspective. Maybe you have been in front of that computer for too long, or the television. Get up, stretch, and go for a walk! If you are unable to get outside, maybe it is raining, or you have pain or illness, you can still move to another room! When I was growing up and my brother, sister, and I would start bickering, my mom would always say, “Go outside and do something!” It always worked. We would get out there and wander around or play hide and go seek. Always we ended up laughing and feeling good.

 

Some of you may still be skeptical and that is Ok! Nevertheless, if you really want to improve every aspect of your life put an end to negativity! I have given you steps to start this journey! All you have to do is take the first stepJ. In addition, some of you may think, “What if I can’t stop?” Well, whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right. Hold up your giant stop sign now, SAY STOP! Then tell yourself YES YOU CAN! After all, who is in charge of you, you, or your negativity? You have the power to change your mind. You have the right to say, “I choose positivity! Negativity you are evicted!” YES! You and ONLY you have complete control over everything you think, say, and do!

Are you ready to take that leap? Are you ready to tell negativity to take a hike? WOO HOO GREAT FOR YOU! I know you can do it!

REMEMBER:

RECOGNIZE STOP CHANGE DIRECTION!

How have you overcome negativity in your own life? Can you remember a time when you were able to turn a negative into a positive? Please share! J Examples such as these will help other become more positive about becoming more positive! One of the best ways to feel better is to help others feel better!

So, You Want to be Happy

    

Knowing

Of course, you want to be happy! I know a lot of you out there are looking at that title and saying “Well, no kidding.” You can probably insert an eye roll in there somewhere as well. Obviously, we all want to be happy.

We see people out on the street or at work that are always up beat and smiling. They are making it in this world, and here we are. Maybe you are not that happy. Maybe you are not making it. Maybe you are not doing what you really want to do.

What is it that you want to do? What will make you happy? How can you be happy when you have so many problems in your life? We will cover these questions in this article. This is important because unless we know why we are not happy we won’t know how to be happy.

Breaking it down

What do you want to do? Do you like your job? Job satisfaction is on many peoples lists of what would make them happy. Unfortunately, too many people stay in jobs they hate because of an imagined sense of commitment or security. Sure, when you hired into the job you committed to it, but if you are not being satisfied in your job you are not doing your company or yourself any favors by keeping silent and just going with the flow. Many people allow fear to hold them to one position or another.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?

 

    OK, so you have decided that you don’t like your job. Now what? Well, I’ll tell you. Now you change jobs. You put in the time and the effort to do the job you have always wanted to do, even if that means going back to school for a degree or a certificate. You search on line for job openings. You go to businesses and submit your resume’. In order to get into your dream job you must do the work. Your dream job is not going to fall in your lap. Nothing worth doing is easy. Even being a writer is not easy.

Hemingway said, “To be a writer all you have to do is sit down at your typewriter and bleed.”

    If what you want to do most in this life is to be a writer, then you have to write. If you want to be an engineer then you have to that work. If you want to be a musician, then you have to practice, and practice. You have to put yourself out there, no matter what it is you really want to do. Do not let fears of failure keep you from moving forward.

    “I am afraid I will screw up. I am afraid I’ll fail.” So what? I would rather take a chance at something I love to do and maybe experience rejection or failure then keep going with the status quo and guarantee I will fail because I hate what I do. What about you?

Are you ready to stand up and say that you are willing to put in the work? Are you ready to put the fear aside and be what you were meant to be?!


Take a minute right now; get a piece of paper and an ink pen. Do not use the computer! You need to make the commitment physical. Got it? Good. Now, write down exactly what you want to be, do, or have. This will answer two of the previous questions. First, what will make you happy? Second, what is it you really want to do?

FORWARD MOMENTUM

Make no mistake, it is going to take effort to get from point A to point B whether you want to be a writer of great masterpieces, a musician, or an entrepreneur and open your own business. It is work but once you have taken the first step you begin your forward momentum.

Yes, life is full of problems. There are always bills to pay; food to buy, repairs to be taken care of, household obligations, and the list keeps going. This we know. We know we have to deal with a constant stream of issues but we do not have to let them command us. We deal with them as they arise. Accept that problems are going to happen. Deal with it, and keep going! If you absolutely cannot do anything about a problem now, put it on a to-do list and handle it as soon as you can. Problem solved!

 

You want to be happy. Take the first step!

  1. Write down what it will take to make you happy.
  2. Take the steps, and put in the work to make it happen.
  3. Conquer life’s problems as they happen and keep working on your dream!

Remember, nothing can stop you, but you.