Halftime…So Much More Than Orange Slices

Growing up I played a lot of soccer and I really enjoyed the game. I had some great coaches too, some who went above and beyond to ensure I grew as a player and a person. But one thing I didn’t really like at all was halftime.

To me halftime was simply an interruption from doing what I loved to do…run…pass…and score goals. I dreaded when the referee blew his whistle after 45 minutes…it was such a let down.

To make matters worse (life was so hard being 10) invariably, one of the parents was scheduled for the snack. The infamous orange slices. I didn’t like orange slices…but there they were, every game, ruining my beloved activity.

The reason?

They made my fingers sticky. Yup, that’s it. I didn’t like playing the second half with sticky fingers. (I was also the kid who would come inside from playing, to wash my hands, only to go out again to play). Apparently I didn’t mind getting dirty but I liked being clean even more.

Because of that, I usually passed on the orange slices…they just weren’t worth it.

The Benefits of Halftime

While I didn’t appreciate the value of halftime as a kid, today I do.

Here in Canada we just celebrated our 150th birthday as a country, July 1. (And Happy 4th of July to my American friends) So basically, we are half way through the year. A great time to pause, not only to celebrate this wonderful country we have the privilege of living in, but to to take advantage of a halftime break.

In sports, halftime is about so much more than just eating orange slices…it’s about

  • Resting
  • Reviewing the game plan
  • Revelling in what is working
  • Recognizing what isn’t working
  • Revising a game plan for the second half

So as we begin the second half of the year, we can do the same, on a personal level.

5 Keys To Make the Most of the Second Half

REST

How did you celebrate the long weekend? Maybe BBQ is your thing or a boat cruise on the lake. Whatever it is, I hope you had time to rest from your typical routine. But beyond that, are you taking care of yourself in a way that sets you up for success moving forward. Half way through the year are you exhausted or energized?

How are you managing your time and your energy?

What do you need to do to get back in the game?

REVIEW

What did you set out to do when the year began? Are you closer to your goals or farther away? What progress have you made this year? How is your life different than it was back in January or a year ago? What have you accomplished in this year? Consider your career, your personal development, your marriage, your family.

Are your relationships stronger… than they were 6 months ago?

Are your finances in better shape than they were 6 months ago?

Are you in better shape than you were 6 months ago?

Are you making progress in your career from 6 months ago?

REVEL

Celebrate the progress you have made…in your marriage, your family, your career and your personal growth. Take the time to express your gratitude to God and to those closest to you. And hey, it’s halftime…have some orange slices (if you’re into that kind of thing).

What are you grateful for?

Who are you grateful for?

Who are you grateful to?

RECOGNIZE

Not every game plan works or goes according to plan. Where have things come up short? What didn’t work out like you hoped it would? Why do you think that is?

What hasn’t worked?

What can you learn?

REVISE

When you look ahead to December 31, what do you hope to accomplish between now and then? What problem do you hope to resolve? What project do you want to complete?

What are the steps you will need to take to get there? Who do you need in your corner to help you finish the year strong?

See, halftime is so much more than orange slices and sticky fingers. It’s about resting, reviewing, revelling, recognizing and revising.

Take advantage of this year’s halftime…then get back in the game and play hard.

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Let’s talk.

When Fear Takes Over and What To Do About It

When my son was 7 he decided he wanted to play football. I truly didn’t prompt him in any way (that I can remember) but since football is my favorite sport, I was excited for his desire to play.

His mother on the other hand wasn’t quite so enthusiastic. Her maternal instincts kicked in and she began to ask all the questions you would expect from a loving parent…

  • What if he gets hurt?
  • Will he know anyone on the team?
  • How big are the boys he’ll play with?
  • Will his coach be mean?
  • Will the boys be mean?

You know, the typical questions.

To be honest, they were good questions. After all, we didn’t want to throw our son into a smash-mouth, eat glass, take no prisoners, win at all cost kind of environment. Our son was barely 70 pounds and as we soon found out, he would play against some boys weighing more than twice what he did. But this was peewee football…had bad could it be?

We registered for the team, went to our first fitting where he was outfitted with new, top of the line equipment (I’m pretty sure it was better than what I wore for high school football). The team practiced twice a week, all summer before the season started in September and we had a blast.

The head coach was great and he allowed me to volunteer alongside him. The practices were well-run and the kids learned a lot about teamwork and the great game of football.

We were having  blast.

Then came opening day! The first game of the season and my son’s first official football game.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

As the players took to the field, I walked to our sideline and suddenly, out of nowhere my mind was flooded with questions…

  • What if he gets hurt?
  • How big are the boys he’ll play with?
  • Will his coach be mean?
  • Will the boys be mean?

Even after practicing all summer, out of nowhere, I was suddenly struck with fear…what if Alex gets hurt today? He’s one of the smallest on the team and it’s one thing to practice with your own team…it’s another to play against a real opponent.

For a brief moment, I was truly stricken with fear for my son’s safety. Not to mention my own, if his mother saw him get hurt.

Have you ever been there?

Have you suddenly been overtaken by fear?

What did you do?

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Jack Canfield

Don’t Miss Out 

How many times have you decided not to do something because you were afraid? You saw an opportunity but you got nervous and backed away from it. I get it; fear has a way of warning us against doing something…like it’s looking out for us. But I think that’s a big mistake.

We could have allowed the fear that Alex could have gotten hurt, keep him from playing football…but at what cost?  Because he played…

  • he learned new skills
  • he learned to work as part of a team
  • he learned to apply instruction
  • he enjoyed competition
  • he got stronger physically and mentally
  • he learned the value of trying new things
  • and he won the “Rookie of the Year” award. (I might have been more excited than he was about that)

If Alex had stayed on the sidelines he would have missed out on so much.

When we sit on the sidelines we miss out on so much too.

Q. Is fear holding you back from doing what you ant to do? Maybe we can learn somethings form a 7 year old

  • listen to what your heart is telling you
  • get input from others
  • get all the information you need to make an informed decision
  • strap on some gear and go hit something…in other words…TAKE ACTION!

The very thing you are afraid of may be the very thing you ought to do. In fact I suggest the fear you feel is often confirmation you should do it. 

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Let’s talk.

What Do You Do When Your Life is Out of Control?

For years our family would purchase a season pass at Canada’s Wonderland, a major theme park about an hour from where we lived. Four or five times a year we would make a day of it, enjoying the drive, a picnic lunch, the shows and the rides.

Well, mostly it was Alex and me who enjoyed the rides while Kathy and Megan people-watched. There wasn’t a ride us guys wouldn’t go on, but for the ladies, it was often a challenge to go on anything beyond the spinning tea cups.

But I have to say, Kathy was a good sport, often going on rides she’d rather not.

One afternoon we were standing in line for the Drop Zone (a 230 ft tower that you gradually are lifted to, only to be dropped, free-falling to the ground, and breaking just feet before the earth).

When the kids were younger they wore coloured bracelets the park handed out to indicate the rides they could go on, based on their height. If they were too small for a particular ride, like the Drop Zone, they would stand in line with us, then move through and watch us.

As we were approaching the front of the line I noticed the operators weren’t paying much attention to individual riders. I looked at Alex and he looked back at me and I whispered, “do you want to go on?”

Without saying a word and with eyes wide open I knew his answer and ripped off his bracelet and told him to “just act natural”.

Megan moved beyond the barrier to get a better view and Alex moved toward the ride with Kathy and myself.

Suddenly I saw terror on Kathy’s face as she put 2 & 2 together.

Have you ever screamed at someone while at the same time whispering so not to be heard by those around you? It’s quite a skill and that’s what Kathy was doing. She was freaking out because our barely 4-foot-tall son was buckling up for the ride of his life.

I quickly hushed her so not to give us away and Alex sat between us. Kathy could look over him to me and with her eyes expressed great fear, dismay and a few other things I won’t go into.

The oblivious operator ensured we were secure in our seats (which meant you could barely move because the shoulder harness was so tight and restrictive).

Once moving towards the sky, Kathy let into me like no one’s business while Alex and I would have high-fived each other if we could get our arms free to do so.

After reaching the height of the ride, and taking in the view, we dropped back down to the ground at over 16 feet per second. The whole thing was over in about 30 seconds.

And it was awesome.

Once we were free from the ride, Alex and I did high-five each other and we couldn’t stop laughing. It’s a great memory for us…Kathy maybe not so much.

But I didn’t share this story to suggest a reckless parenting strategy or to encourage breaking the rules.

What Do You Do When Your Life is Out of (Your) Control?

I love that story of us riding the drop zone ride at Wonderland. I smile every time I think of it. But during the ride itself, you just can’t move much at all. Once we were harnessed in, everything was out of our control.

Ever felt like that?

A couple of weeks ago I shared a personal story about a situation that took Kathy and me by complete surprise and turned our world upside down. You can read it here.

In a blink, our life went from an exciting new adventure to everything is out of control and uncertain where nothing made sense.

Have you ever been there? I think most of us have. Because as I suggested last week, life is rarely “up and to the right”. It’s never a straight line. Whether your job or career, your family or marriage…it doesn’t matter. The most important things in our lives rarely go from point A to point B in a straight line. Up and to the right just doesn’t happen.

So what can you do?

Or maybe better, “What do you get to do?”

You get to decide.

You get to decide how you are going to respond to the situation that has caused you to feel like you’ve lost control. In other words, even when life is out of control, or you feel completely stuck and life is beyond your control, you still have options. You get to decide what you will do in response.

Sometimes life’s restraints are almost overwhelming. When you’re riding the Drop Zone, that’s okay…when your world is turned upside down, that’s another thing altogether.

But you still get to decide. You get to decide how you will respond.

Maybe you are in the middle of a “my life is upside down” situation.

What are you going to do?

Will you give up? Or will you regroup?

Will you seek input from trusted people in your life or will you grow more cynical and isolated?

Will you lean into God? Or will you become more self-sufficient?

Will you grow bitter? Or will you look for ways to learn, grow and improve?

Will you retreat and give up? Or will you discern what’s next?

Will you allow a setback to define you? Or will you allow it to propel you forward?

What will you decide to do?

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Let’s talk.

 

Life is A Series of Goodbyes: 2 Ways I Managed the Last One

I figured out a long time ago that in life, we say goodbye a lot. Not just the end of day, “See you tomorrow” kind but the “I’m not sure we’ll ever see each other kind.” And every kind of goodbye in between.

Saying goodbye is hard.

And it seems that no matter how many times you do it, it doesn’t get easier.

You’ve probably said your share of goodbyes too and most of the time, you wish you didn’t have to.

As a teenager I visited my mentor who had moved from Ontario to BC. When our two-week visit was over he drove me back to the airport, pulled up to the departure doors, stopped long enough for me to grab my bags, gave me a quick hug and drove off. Apparently he hated goodbyes. We laugh about it now.

Yup, life is a series of goodbyes alright.

  • when we move
  • when we change jobs
  • when we graduate
  • when a friend moves away
  • when children leave home
  • when a colleague gets fired
  • when we get downsized
  • when we break an old habit to start a new one
  • when we break up with someone
  • when a new chapter begins

2 Ways I Managed to Say Goodbye to My Son

This past Saturday we dropped off my son at the Toronto airport; something we’ve done a few times over the past year. But this time was especially difficult. Mostly because he may be gone for 2 years. There’s a chance he could come home for a brief visit, but that’s not guaranteed.

Everything from check-in to customs went as smooth as possible and within minutes he was gone. I strained to look over the barriers for as long as I could (security kept pushing me back) before he disappeared.

That all too familiar lump in my throat and pain in my chest was back. And I didn’t like it…not at all.

He had only been home for a couple of months but I enjoyed every moment we had. Which is one of the reasons it was so hard to say goodbye.

So my heart is a little raw today as my mind routinely flashes to Los Angeles to picture what he is doing and how he is settling in. I’m actually sitting in the dark listening to sad music as I write this.

(1) Children are a gift from God, but not one I get to keep for myself

It’s true that when we first married, I didn’t want children at all. But children certainly are a blessing and we are privileged to have a daughter and son now both in their 20’s.

From the time our children were very young we tried to have a vision for their lives moving forward. We’d talk about the future, their strengths, their interests and dreams and together we would paint verbal portraits of possibilities. Those pictures never included them staying at home into their 40’s and living in the basement as a tenant, so I guess I should be encouraged that Alex is spreading his wings.

In fact, we want our kids to be healthy functioning adults prepared to set a course for themselves.

I’ve loved every stage of our kids growing up; but they’re at the stage where saying goodbye is hard. They’re not just going to a friend’s for a sleepover or summer camp for a week. It’s tougher now…and yet at the same time a good thing. I have to remember that he was never mine to keep for myself.

(2) God has a better plan for his life than I do.

This may sound weird, but I guess we’ve kind of seen our kids as being on loan to us as we had the privilege of parenting them. But our parenting is basically done now. We still have a relationship with them, in some ways, better than ever. But it’s different now.

Maybe I’ll need to trust God more than ever too?

Faith has been central to our family which means we’ve tried to recognize that our lives are meant for something bigger than our family. They are meant to bring glory to God by how we live out his plans for us. We haven’t always been great at focusing on that, but it’s true nonetheless.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph 2:10

I love this verse. Imagine…God has things for us to do and He’s determined them long before we were even born. How awesome is that? When it comes to our children we have simply encouraged our kids to get to know God and determine how He has created them to do the things He wants them to do.

To me this is the secret to a fulfilling, meaningful life.

Out of a relationship with God, discover who you are, how He’s gifted you, and what He has for you to do. Then do it for His glory and for the sake of others.

I think this is a good plan for anyone’s life too. Have a relationship with God; discover how He has uniquely made you and gifted you, and discover the things He wants you to do with the opportunities He gives you.

How about you?

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be?

Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 30-minute discovery call. Lets talk.

Lesson From a Party With Friends

Do this before it's too late

This past weekend Kathy and I were able to get away and spend some time with friends; old friends we don’t see nearly enough anymore.

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The occasion was a surprise birthday party for our friend Mack. About 40 of us gathered at his favorite restaurant to celebrate him.

During the night a number of people stepped up to the microphone to share some thoughts about our friend. It was suppose to be a “Roast”, but as many acknowledged, it was hard to roast a guy who simply means so much to us. There were so many wonderful things to say about our friend, that roasting just had to take a back seat.

It was such a great time, reconnecting with people who we have been blessed to know for many years now. The night was a celebration of friendship and I loved that we were able to to give attention to a friend who has meant so much to so many. I was thrilled just to be a part of it.

As I sat and listened to one after another recount the numerous ways in which Mack has blessed them, a strange thought came over me; here it is; “I’m glad we’re doing this now and not at his funeral.”

I told you it was a strange thought, but let me explain.

I’ve been involved in a quite a few funerals over the years. Funerals in my personal life and as a pastor. In fact, the circle of friends that we were hanging out with on Saturday night has experienced more than our share of deaths over the past few years.

So this night was different. We weren’t gathering to memorialize a life that had ended far too early, but celebrating a friend who was still going strong…and it was awesome.

I wonder if we could be doing more of that? I need to do more of that.

Don’t wait until someone is gone to tell them what they mean to you.

Perhaps, a take away from the weekend is that we shouldn’t wait until someone has died to talk about how much they meant to us.

Instead, why don’t we take the time to tell them now, while they are still with us?

I’m not suggesting we don’t already do that, but this weekend reminded me that maybe I need to be more intentional about letting the people that mean the most to me, know that they do…and why.

  • Maybe we don’t express our love and appreciation for those closest to us because we simply aren’t intentional about doing so. Life is busy and it can just get in the way sometimes.
  • Or maybe we assume they know how we feel and we don’t need to repeat it.
  • Or maybe, it’s too awkward to share our feelings with a friend or family member.

Whatever the reason, maybe we can gain a valuable lesson from the birthday party I attended on Saturday. Here are some of my takeaways…

Be intentional: actually take the time to express our feelings to those who mean the most to us. Maybe it’s a phone call or a handwritten card (remember those?) or a few words of appreciation over a coffee. You don’t have to wait for a milestone birthday to do it.  A simple “Thank you” for something they have done or said etc could mean so much.

Push past the awkwardness: it isn’t easy to express feelings for most of us; maybe guys even more. So what. That isn’t an excuse for not doing it, in fact, it’s actually more reason to do it. If it’s awkward and unnatural to tell someone what you appreciate about them or how much you love them, maybe that suggests how meaningful a simple exchange could be…for you and them.

Don’t wait until it’s too late: if attending a lot of funerals does anything, it reminds us that our days are numbered and we don’t know how long we have with those around us. So why not take every opportunity to let them know how we feel about them.

Practice makes it better and easier: If you typically keep things to yourself, sure it may be uncomfortable at first to share your feelings with someone else…start small and get better at it.

Look for opportunities to encourage someone: We can encourage people all around us whether they are close friends & family or not…

  • A simple compliment on how someone looks, or their strength at work….while you’re at it, tell their boss as well.
  • When you introduce them to someone, share something special about them.
  • Tell someone how they have encouraged you or inspired you.

Q. As you read this, who comes to mind? How have they impacted your life and how can you express your gratitude? 

Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…” Hebrews 3:13

What’s stopping you?

 

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 30-minute discovery call. Lets talk.

 

 

Why You Shouldn’t Avoid This Household Chore

Some of my earliest memories include being in the kitchen with my two sisters washing dishes after dinner.

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One would wash, one would dry and the other would put them away. The latter was always considered the easiest of the three and one I rarely if ever got to do for some reason…but I’m not bitter…really I’m not.

But I also remember numerous times when I would spend time alone finishing up dishes and cleaning the kitchen.  Barely tall enough to reach, and often on a chair, I would wipe down the counters, the stove and anything else that needed attention.

I admit that this may seem a bit odd for a 5 or 6 year old to take this kind of initiative. My parents didn’t ask me to do this and it wasn’t a form of discipline or anything like like. I just remember the satisfaction of completing the job. I liked the clean kitchen and I remember feeling like I was doing something helpful for my mom in particular.

This may have been where the seeds of neatness (some may say “neat freakness”) were planted in me; although there are earlier stories of me coming in from playing outside, to wash my hands…then go back out to play.

Things haven’t changed much. We don’t have a dishwasher at home and I wash dishes daily. And since opening our cafe last year I’ve washed more dishes than ever. There we have a dishwasher but everything gets washed by hand first.

My motto? “We only wash clean dishes.” They are sterilized before even going into the dishwasher.

But maybe I was on to something; even as a young boy?

Recently I came across an article that outlined the value of the household chore of washing dishes, by hand in particular. You can read it here.

Why would something as simple and mundane as washing dishes by hand have any real benefit, other than clean dishes. Let me take a stab at it…

Why you should wash more dishes, not less.

It causes you to slow down. 

Life moves at a fast pace for most of us and slowing down is becoming a lost art. Washing dishes well, means being methodical and slow, not rushed or hurried; unless you want your 24 piece dinner set to become a 48 piece.

The smell is refreshing

This may sound silly, but it’s real. Do you know that there are at least 27 different scents of Dawn dish soap alone? I think my favorite has to be Mediterranean Lavender. Yup. I think the folks at P&G are onto something there. Our sense of smell is closely connected to our memories and emotions too. Smells we enjoy can trigger positive memories.

The water is relaxing

Now, I like the water almost at scalding temperatures, but for normal people, slowly moving your hands through warm water is soothing and relaxing. Just avoid the knives.

The time is reflective

When I wash dishes at home, I am able to look out over our back yard. This time of year I enjoy the colours of the changing trees, I look at the pool and smile through the memories of the past summer pool parties and time with friends and family. I think about life in general and the direction that mine is going. I problem-solve, dream, plan and set goals. And I pray.

It’s actually productive time, but in a way that seems more like rest than work.

So you see, washing dishes by hand has a lot of benefits. And I almost forgot about the hydro you’ll be saving by not running your dishwasher. That’s important where I live.

So men (and women) don’t avoid doing the dishes. Sure, get your kids to do them once in a while but don’t let them have all the fun and benefit from doing them.

Somehow I figured it out 45 years ago that doing dishes was a good thing…and it still is.

 

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 30-minute discovery call. Lets talk.

 

 

Why Gratitude Should Go Beyond Thanksgiving Weekend

In Canada, we just celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday by gathering with family and friends, eating huge turkey dinners and taking in a baseball or football game.

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But even a national holiday designed to give us time to celebrate the harvest and all the blessings of the year, doesn’t guarantee that we do it, does it?

And what about the other days of the year? Is thankfulness and gratitude only mandatory on the second Monday in October?

When was the last time you paused, and took time to acknowledge the people and things you are thankful for?

Not surprisingly, there is plenty of research to suggest that gratitude has many benefits when it’s a regular part of our lives.

A Huffington Post article  highlights 10 benefits of gratitude that include better grades, better sleep and better relationships.

Gratitude has the ability to impact so many areas of our lives. It can improve our mental health by reducing stress or more accurately, reduce the effects of stress.

Gratitude also improves our physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in “Personality and Individual Differences”. It’s no surprise then, that grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.

Journalling has long been a well accepted practice for a variety of things but is now gratitude has become a focused benefit of journalling. Just do a Google search on “gratitude journals” and you’ll see just how popular the practice has become.

When we’re grateful, we’re not complaining.

When we’re grateful we’re not focused on ourselves.

When we’re grateful we’re not bitter.

When we’re grateful we have a better outlook on life in general.

The benefits of gratitude shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s just good for us.

Gratitude is a spiritual thing to do too.

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

God wants us to learn to be thankful for all the gifts He has given us. It is in our best interest to be reminded that everything we have is a gift from Him. Without gratefulness, we become arrogant and self-centered; we begin to believe that we have achieved everything on our own. Thankfulness keeps our hearts in right relationship to the Giver of all good gifts.

Giving thanks also reminds us of how much we do have. I think it’s easy for many of us to focus on what we don’t have rather than what we already do have. By giving thanks we are reminded of that. When we focus on blessings rather than wants, we are happier.

When we start thanking God for the things we usually take for granted, our perspective changes. We realize that we could not even exist without the merciful blessings of God.

We can have thankful hearts toward God even when we do not feel thankful for the circumstances we find ourselves in. We can grieve and still be thankful. We can hurt and still be thankful. Giving thanks to God keeps our hearts in right relationship with Him and saves us from a variety of harmful emotions and attitudes that can rob us of the peace God wants us to experience.

Okay, let’s see. Gratitude can lead to better physical and mental health, it can improve our relationships, it can help us avoid greed, complaining and self-centeredness. Gratitude sounds like a good idea.

So how can we gratitude into practice and start to reap it’s benefits? Let me suggest 3.

  1. Pray with gratitude. Maybe, prayer isn’t a normal part of your day. Even if it isn’t, I encourage you to start. Simply tell God what you are thankful for. Don’t make prayer all about what you want from God…start with what you’re grateful you already have.
  2. Write with gratitude. A journal is a great practice. Why not start every day by writing “5 Things” you are grateful for.
  3. Express gratitude. Saying please and thank you are not simply basic manners but hallmarks of gratitude. When was the last time you thanked someone for something they did, or said. When was the last time you let someone know how special they are to you and why? When was the last time you thanked someone for making a significant difference in your life…a family member…a friend…a mentor…a co-worker, boss or employee. The opportunities never end.

So, when was the last time you paused, and took time to acknowledge the people and things you are thankful for? 

Trust me you’ll feel better…honest.

What are you grateful for? What is one thing you can do to express your gratitude this week.

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 30-minute discovery call. Lets talk.

How To Get More Done in Less Time

I came across a statistic recently that suggested that the average office worker actually works about 90 minutes a day. A day!!! I had to read that again. 90 minutes a day.

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At first you might be asking, “Where do I sign up for that job? Get paid for 8 hours but actually only work 90 minutes? Sweet”

The obvious question is what are people doing the other 6.5 hours? Apparently the rest of the workday is spent on distractions like reading the news, surfing the web, socializing with coworkers, taking coffee breaks, checking emails, playing games, and daydreaming.

In a recent post I shared what happens in the typical workplace during the “dog days of summer” and it isn’t pretty. You can read about it here.

Can we just acknowledge that the era of the open concept workplace environment was a colossal failure? Yeah it may be seen as a means to foster collaboration and team unity  (or maybe just a way to save money by not building interior walls)  but I’m convinced that the shift to open concept work spaces have actually contributed to a less productive work environment.

Susan Cain, the voice for introverts and the author of “Quiet; The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking” shares some insights here regarding the limitations of the new style of office management.

I think this phenomenon (working 90 minutes/day) takes a real toll on us too. Here are a few reasons why.

  • Work is a good thing and being less productive can lead to discouragement and frustration
  • If we aren’t putting in our best efforts, then we aren’t truly earning our paycheque
  • When we don’t get our work done in the office, we may have to take time away from family and other activities to catch up

Most bosses don’t expect that their employees are going to work for 8 hours straight, without a break. Besides being illegal in most situations its not realistic either.

But making the most of our time at work to me is less about fulfilling our bosses expectations and finding fulfillment in what we do.

I think job satisfaction is hard to find if we head for home each night with a gnawing feeling in our gut that we just didn’t give it our best. Or that we didn’t accomplish anything of significance.

So how can we make the most of our time at work (which can also free us up to make the most of our time out of work).

  • See work as a stewardship issue. Like everything else in our lives, like our homes, our money, our belongings, our time and our relationships, we have a responsibility to manage our time at work as well.
  • See work as a reflection of our relationship with God. The meaning of all we do, including our work changes when we see it as a spiritual thing, not just a task we have to complete to pay bills.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23

  • Break down work into smaller chunks of time. I’ve been trying to do this regularly and seeing good results. In fact I think you can accomplish more in a 90 minute window of time than you can all day if you do it well.
  • Limit your distractions during your 90 minute window. Avoid email, social media and people unless they are crucial to what you’re working on in that time.
  • Break down your work into smaller steps or tasks. Procrastination is often a result of being overwhelmed with the big project or final goal. Set clear steps to getting to the finish line.
  • Take a break. When your 90 minutes are up, stop. Take a break. Go for a walk. Get a drink. Stretch. Talk to someone. Take a nap. Then after 15-30 minutes, prepare for the next 90 minutes.

If you simply block off two 90 minute time slots for focused, purposeful work, you will be more productive than most of your co-workers. Don’t rub it in their face though. You don’t want your car keyed in the parking lot. But…

  • You will get more done.
  • You will feel better about yourself and the work you do.
  • You will have greater capacity to be present at home…rather than being preoccupied with what you didn’t get done at the office, you can arrive home ready to embrace your family.

What would it do to your work life (and home life) if you were able to block off 2-90 minute windows of time? For starters, you’d be twice as productive as the average worker. Suppose you had a super productive day and blocked off 5-90 minutes windows of time. You’d accomplish a week’s worth of work in one day. Maybe taking Fridays off in the summer becomes a possibility. Who knows.

Imagine what you could get done, 90 minutes at at time.

The key to having a more productive day starts with 90 minutes. Make the most of them and see where it takes you.

 

Feel like there is more to your life than what you are experiencing today? Not sure where to start? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

Making The Most of The “Dog Days of Summer”

I love summer. I love the heat, the outdoor activities, and the BBQ’s. But I have to be honest, I didn’t really understand what the phrase “dog days of summer” meant. So after hearing someone use it recently I looked it up.

“The sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun: now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11. 2. A period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.”

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It’s the last line that stands out to me. “A period marked by lethargy, inactivity and indolence (laziness).” Sounds like everyone just calls it a day, or should I say, calls it a month and gives up on being productive.

I came across some stats from the American Express Open Forum that support this summer phenomenon:

  • Productivity drops by 20%
  • Employee attendance drops by 19%
  • Projects take longer by 13%
  • Lunch hours increase by 2.6 times
  • Personal shopping during work hours increases by 200%
  • Searching for another job increases by 120%

Personal shopping increases 200%? Seriously?

These statistics have a lot of implications for us, in the workplace and in our homes. I suppose we can either accept that the summer is going to be a time of apathy or we can take steps to make the most of the season.

Here are a couple of suggestions to overcome the dog days of summer…

Go on vacation

Be intentional about taking breaks during the summer; whether it’s a week vacation or a long weekend, do it. You need it. Your employees need it, your family needs it. Have too much to do to take a break? Rest will actually increase your productivity. So even if you don’t want to rest, do it so you can accomplish more.

Darren Hardy says, that to increase your productivity, you need to rest. Of course, the value of rest and napping for productivity is everywhere today so that’s no surprise.

“Plan your play”.

Schedule activities that will help you rest, reset and revitalize. Being relatively new small business owners, we aren’t planning a 1-2 week vacation, but we are planning pool parties, long weekends and day trips that we know will refuel us and create special experiences and memories. Choose things that fit your schedule and your budget.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive to be meaningful.

Be Present

This can be difficult anytime of the year but especially helpful in the summer. If you are working…work. If you are playing…play. Just don’t try to do both at the same time. Be fully engaged at work and fully engaged at play. Here’s the thing…everyone around you will know if you are or not.

Your kids will see you on your laptop or smartphone when you should be watching them dive into the pool.

Your co-workers will see you taking extended breaks, on your computer or at the water cooler.

Your boss will get the project late and perhaps not your best effort.

The other day I went for a bike ride with my daughter Megan. When we left our house we headed toward the lake which is essentially downhill most of the way. The ride back is twice as hard because we’ve been riding for an hour and it’s uphill but gearing down makes it possible to navigate those uphill climbs.

I think for many of us, we vacation or play like that. We gear down, but we’re still riding…in this analogy, we’re still working. It may feel a little easier, but we’re still peddling. We’re not resting, we’re working. Many of us play like that.

Stop it. Be present. If you’re working…work. Show up on time and don’t leave early. Don’t cheat your boss. Work hard. Then when you’re playing…play. Don’t try to do both. Why? Because you can’t. You can’t rest and work at the same time…you may think you can multitask (another false assumption) but you can’t.  If you continue to do this, your work will sabotage your play and your play will sabotage your work.

In a previous post I talked about how this can happen; you can read more about it here.

I grew up watching the show, MASH. A medical unit during the Korean war (conflict) set in the 1950’s. Mostly it was a comedy but in this particular episode everyone was experiencing a measure of depression because it was Christmas and they were far from home, with no end to the war in sight. Even Father Mulcahy, the unit chaplain was discouraged, struggling to feel useful.

After listening to all the complaints from his senior staff, Col Potter, as he often did, shared his timely wisdom…

“If you ain’t where you are, you’re no place.”

If you’re suppose to be working, but you are taking extended breaks, surfing the net instead of calling the client, showing up late and leaving early? Stop. Work.

If you’re suppose to be playing, spending time with family and friends but your mind is preoccupied with business, or you’re attached to your smart phone and you’re ignoring everyone? Stop. Play.

The summer can be a great time of year. It’s my favorite time of year. But it can also be a time of laziness and unproductive activity. A simple strategy to overcome this is to intentionally do two things; work and play. And when you’re working…work. And when you’re playing…play.

Enjoy your summer and get the most out of it.

 

Do you feel stuck, professionally or personally? Are you looking to make some changes? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

A Perfect Day For An Imperfect Father

For me it was a perfect day. My family was together, we enjoyed a beautiful day and swimming in the pool, (something we didn’t do all last summer) we BBQ’d and played games to cap off the night.

A Perfect Day For An Imperfect Father

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Kathy and I are often asked about how we parented our kids who are now 21 & 19.  To be honest, I think they have often made us look better than we were. I am very proud of who they are for sure; but maybe in spite of our parenting as much as because of it.

Regardless, from the very beginning we were intentional about who we wanted to be as parents and what kind of family we envisioned. Before Megan was born we participated in parenting courses, read books and talked to parents who were ahead of us.

Eventually though, you just have to get in the game. Apparently even when you don’t want to. Let’s go back in time.

Kathy and I got married with the understanding that we would not have children. Not that we couldn’t, but that we wouldn’t. I won’t go into the details here, but that was a very clear expectation for me.

We didn’t talk about children much, as it was understood that we just weren’t having them. In fact, 5 years into our marriage, we affirmed our commitment to that end while on a vacation…it was the summer of ’94. I brought it up just to be sure that we were still on the same page…we weren’t having children.

To make a long story short, I think our commitment and celebration of said commitment actually lead to Megan.

That Fall I was in my final year of Seminary and one day I returned home from classes in Toronto to be greeted by Kathy who was crying uncontrollably. I had no idea what was going on when she said, “I have something I have to tell you.”

My mind started racing and I didn’t like where it was going. Did someone die? Did she have an affair? I had no idea. Until she calmed down long enough to say, “I’m pregnant.”

“Honey, I’m Pregnant”

Oh man, I was relieved. Of all the things I thought she might say, being pregnant wasn’t one of them, but I’m glad it was. Maybe at first because it was better than all the other options I had come up with.

So Megan was born 3 weeks after I graduated from Seminary. Life would never be the same and 5 minutes later she is 21 and Alex is 19.

And this Fathers Day I am grateful.

My life is richer because they are a part of it

I didn’t want children for selfish reasons. I didn’t want to parent a child who potentially could be like me. All I was thinking about was me. But I didn’t realize at the time, that my life would be richer because of them.

I remember watching the kids play in the local park…they were about 7 & 5. I was with my mentor when I asked him, “How to help them avoid the kind of life I lived as a teenager?”

He was very gracious in his response by suggesting that I already had by the way I parented them and loved them. While I appreciated his kind words I wasn’t confident that the next 10 years would not be extremely difficult.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart. It requires so much of you…and that’s the best part. Children need you in different ways at different stages of their lives. You learn more about them and you learn more about yourself too. 

I have loved every stage…and each one is better than the last. I wouldn’t want to go back. I look forward to what’s next. I love watching them grow and change.

Parenting is hard work that doesn’t always seem to pay off in the moment. And we’ve had our challenges as a family for sure. But I am grateful for the privilege of raising two children. I’m a better person and my life has been richer because they are in it.

 The world is better because they are in it

 Megan & Alex not only make our family better, they make the world better. For me, the most important part of their school report cards were the evaluations at the end. Not their grades but how they interacted with others, with teachers etc. Their character was more important than their grades.

Don’t get me wrong, my kids aren’t perfect. Their dad isn’t perfect and neither are they. But I am grateful for the way they choose to live their lives. I still learn from them. In some ways I need to become more like them. And I’m okay with that.

While the list of things I would like a “do over” for is long, on this Fathers Day, I am grateful. Grateful that my plans to not have a family were thwarted by a greater plan. And grateful for children that have made my life richer and the world better.

 

Dan