We Make a Lot of Decisions

Life is full of decisions to make. What do we want our career to be? Where do we want to go on vacation? What do we want to eat for dinner? Should I paint the room yellow or blue? As time goes on, there are more and more options. If you’ve ever gotten a paint sample, you know what I’m talking about. How many hues of white are there?

Decisions can be overwhelming. From the time you wake up in the morning your brain is making decisions. Should I hit the snooze button or get up? Do I want that third cup of coffee? What should I have for breakfast? What am I going to wear today? Don’t get me started on what’s for dinner!

Dinner. Ugh! Some people love cooking dinner, but after 25+ years of planning, shopping, prepping, cooking and dishes, the love of cooking for me has fizzled out. So much so that I came up with a weekly meal rotation of the foods that we eat on a regular basis and devised a grocery list for each week so that I didn’t have to make this decision anymore.

Seems pretty boring to eat the same thing over and over again every 5 weeks (this was how many meals I came up with), but I based this on the premise of Mark Zuckerberg wearing jeans and a gray t-shirt every day. His logic is that he doesn’t want to waste time on decisions that aren’t important to him. I felt the same way. It seems silly that trying to figure out what to make for dinner could stress someone out that much but that’s how I felt. I would spend hours scrolling through Pinterest to find new meals and looking up ways to meal prep. When I was trying to lose weight, I would document all of the food that I ate into an app to calculate the calories. And if it was something homemade, I needed to break down all the ingredients instead of just scanning a barcode on the package. There was just so much time and effort involved in just eating. I planned meals based on what was going on that night. Would I be home late? Let me find a crockpot recipe for that night. I even tracked how much time it took to prepare and eat dinner. Sometimes it was 2 hours. And the longer I did this the less I enjoyed cooking so I came up with the meal rotation. Now, I realize that the meal rotation needs to be flexible and so other meals can be added to make for a longer rotation. Saturdays and Sundays are open. Saturdays can be for special meals or favorites that we want twice or even takeout. Sundays can be some form of pasta/sauce. I didn’t completely take all of the decisions out of meal planning, but I eliminated the stress that comes with HAVING to make a decision. There is a lot of room for flexibility in this weekly meal calendar.

So, why am I devoting so much effort into telling you about meal planning? It has nothing to do with meal planning, but it has everything to do with decision-making.

Being a logical person by nature, I tend to make lots of lists with pros and cons and analytics. If we’re having a conversation and it’s about something that I’m unfamiliar with, I want to know more about it. Not just the Cliff’s notes version either. I want to understand how it works and how your opinion got to be where it is now. As a manager, this was how I taught my employees. I didn’t just tell them how to do something and they didn’t learn by just doing. I wanted them to understand the why and the how behind what they were doing so that they got the big picture, not just the mechanics. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

While this can work well, it tends to ignore the emotional aspect of things because you can get too busy creating flow charts and graphs that look like an accountants debit/credit list of pros and cons to every decision you make. How many times have you had to make a decision about a life event and were told to write down all the pros and cons of why you should or should not do something and do the one that had the most pros? But what if all of the pros were for the wrong reasons? You can’t take the emotion out of it because even though the decision might be logical, you will be miserable with the decision if it wasn’t something that made you happy. And that’s where indecision can come in. And indecision brings inaction. And when there is no action, nothing gets done.

Today I heard Gary Vee’s 1st Tea with Gary Vee episode of 2021. You can watch it on YouTube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbyplDcuZEs Now I had listened to his episodes during much of the pandemic. I hadn’t listened to him in a while, but I had some time to listen to a podcast and this was what I chose. Almost at the very end of the episode, Gary was speaking to a 21-year old (who in all honesty seemed like he had his life together WAY more than I do). The problem that he was asking Gary about was that he had too many balls in the air that he was focusing on and how did Gary manage to get everything done and manage his stress level. Gary (and I’m paraphrasing here) told him that he might give attention to one thing over the other that seemed more important at the time thereby not giving so much attention to the other things that were still on the table. And how do you determine what to give your attention to? This is where I started listening more closely as I have multiple decisions about what I want to do for a living and a decision needs to come quickly on my end for a number of reasons. So he discussed how to focus on the one thing that might be most important and then basically it was like, but if you can’t decide, then just throw a dart at a dart board and whatever it lands on, just do that.

At that moment in my head, I started to formulate an elaborate plan about how great it would be to just randomly choose what to focus on without having to make a decision. I’m trying to remember where the dart board is, where to hang it and how to place the decisions on it. And then the last interview of the show came on and again, he brought up the dart board, but this time he added to it. Write down on scraps of paper all of the things that you want to do and crumple up the paper and pick one to do and then just do it.

Me being the person that I am, had to let that sink in and about 2 minutes into the next episode that had started to play, I dumped all of the pens out of coffee cup on my desk, cut up strips of paper and wrote nine options that I had to choose from. I folded them all up equally and in my mind I was thinking, what if it is something that I don’t want to do? But then I thought, this didn’t mean to stop giving attention to the other things on my list. It meant paying the most attention and really focusing on the first piece of paper that I pulled from that cup. No elaborate plan was needed. I didn’t put it off until I found the dart board and hung it up. I just did it. And I pulled out a piece of paper from that cup and opened it. The decision has been made. There was no emotion or logic to it.

And the peace of not having to agonize over what my next move is going to be is priceless. I can’t wait to use my cup to make more decision. Thank you Gary Vee for introducing such a simple piece of life altering advice. I can’t wait to apply it to more decisions that I seem stuck on.

What is a decision that you are trying to make now that you’re having trouble with?

~JC

Habits vs. Lifestyle

It takes 21 days to form a habit. If you can then continue to do that habit for an additional 90 days, that turns into a lifestyle.

For many of us, myself included, sticking to something for 21, 90 or 111 days might not seem like it’s a very long time until you try to do it every day. We’re so well-intentioned to want to create new habits that will make us a better person, but it takes a lot to stick to this new routine.

For some people this is easy, for others it’s a struggle. Most of us are excited to start a new habit or journey into achieving a goal or accomplishing a new task, but as the newness wears off, we get tired. The task isn’t exciting anymore. It may get boring and finally it seems like a chore. This is exactly when we need to push harder to get through to the other side, but this is often were many of us give in and stop working towards our end goal.

Think about what you want to achieve. Maybe it’s something as simple as redecorating your living room. It begins with all of these great ideas going through your head and what kind of furniture and decor it’s going to have. You’re looking at wall colors and accent pieces. This is so exciting!

You finally come up with a plan and you’re ready to tackle this project. First you need to get rid of all of the things in your living room will not be staying. Maybe you’re really good about this and you remove your old artwork from the walls and the knick-knacks from the shelves and list them on ebay or maybe you put them in the basement or garage for the garage sale that you want to have in a few weeks. Maybe you pile them on your dining room table to deal with later. Either way, step 1 is complete.

Now it’s time to paint. Did you decide you want to really do this completely? Maybe you do, so you start by painting the ceiling before moving on to the trim and the walls. This is a lot of work, but you can see progress. By this point maybe you’re still pretty energized or maybe you’re losing a little steam and the time between these tasks are getting lengthier. This might not be as much fun as it was in the beginning. After all, your wrist is cramping and your neck hurts from painting and now you have to clean up after every different color. You might be asking yourself why did you choose to do one wall an accent color?

You’ve completed your new paint job and moved in your new furniture and gone shopping for some new knick-knacks, artwork and maybe a plant or two. Maybe you removed your current hardware for curtains and picked out new ones. You might have gotten some new furniture and moved your old furniture out to the curb. Either way, your project is complete and you feel satisfied. Or is it?

Depending on how much of your old stuff you’ve removed, you may now have more things to get rid of. Maybe you want to sell it to make up for the amount you spent on your new stuff. Maybe you just box it all up and put it to the curb. Or maybe you hold on to it to deal with later. If it’s not already gone then you need to deal with that part at some point which means that the task that you think was finished really isn’t quite completed.

What about the amount of money that you spent on this project? Did you save up initially and now don’t have to worry about paying it back or did you put it on a credit card and now you’ve got to make monthly payments?

And don’t forget the upkeep. Redecorating was exciting, but if you want to keep it looking fresh and new you’ve got to put in the effort. If you’ve got plants, you need to water them. If you’ve got pets, you’re going to be doing a lot of cleaning and vacuuming. Depending on the amount of new decor you have you’re going to be doing a lot of dusting.

You may be thinking that this is just a part of normal life and it is. But this is where the project or goal gets to be mundane and not as exciting anymore. This is the point where you need to find a different type of motivation to keep it looking fresh and new and exciting.

Redecorating your living room might only take a week or two, but imagine tackling a bigger goal like getting into shape, starting a business or getting out of debt. Those require a lot more effort and they might not be as exciting or have the transition be as bold as changing a white room to green. It might be that you pay off $1,000 out of $100,000 in debt. You don’t really see the progress, but it’s there.

These are the struggles that most of us face. We want change and we want it to go quickly, but the reality is that most things take time and it’s the consistency of our daily lives that are going to get us there. It may not be exciting, but it’s what we need to do to reach our goals.

What’s a habit or lifestyle that you want to establish?

~JC

What Are You Waiting For?

Time is a funny thing. It can pass very slowly or it can pass very quickly depending on your perception and yet time passes evenly without hesitation and without emotion.

Think about how quickly a minute goes by when you’re in a good space whether it be laughing with friends or watching a good movie. It can go by very quickly when you are pressured for a deadline or there is only a minute left to finish a test. Now imagine that you are holding a plank for a minute and the time seems to stand still. What about when you are waiting patiently for a loved one to come out of surgery. That minute seems to last for hours. And yet, the same 60 seconds passes in every scenario. You watch didn’t speed up. The clock on the wall didn’t slow down.

Time is a funny thing because it is all about perception. When you are a young child everything seems to take forever. Tomorrow is so far away. As you age, time begins to speed up and days seem to pass with lightning speed. Think about an old friend that you haven’t seen in a while, but you think about often and now calculate the last time that you actually saw them or talked to them. Was it months? Years? Time has a way of slipping away because that’s the funny thing about time. It passes no matter what we do. We can be busy or we can be idly waiting for life to pass us by and yet time continues to march forward like a metronome one consistent tick at a time.

Knowing that time is passing us by with each breath we take, what are you waiting for? Are you waiting for two more years to pass in your mundane job so that you can retire? Maybe you’re waiting to finish school before you start your career. Maybe you’re waiting to be financially stable before getting married and having kids.

The only way to combat time is to take action. Take action to change careers if you’re stuck in a rut. Start volunteering or working in the field that you want to be in while you’re in school. Travel now (even if it means that you need to stay in your state because current situations like a global pandemic dictate where you can and can’t go). Explore and learn and stop listening to that voice in your head that wants you to stay safe in your comfort zone. The only thing that will stop you is the person in the mirror.

But the time will continue to tick on by.

So I ask again, what are you waiting to for? What do you want to do that you’ve been waiting for the right time?

~JC

Short and Sweet Tonight

Not every day has to be at 110%. Working towards a goal takes a lot of work and discipline. And some days you need to rest.

Have you ever tried to figure out a problem and the harder you concentrate the further away you get from the solution? What’s the advice you get?

Walk away. Take a break and come back to it. Your brain needs a break. It can’t come up with the solution because it’s too focused on the problem.

Walk away and come back to it. You’ll have a fresh set of eyes. Your thoughts will be in a different mindset and you will find the solution.

Sometimes you just need to take a break and come back refreshed.

I hope everyone is taking some time for themselves when the problem that they are tackling is too great to solve all at once.

~JC

Day 12 – Running/Writing Streak

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com

Today, I decided that regardless of moving my runs indoors, running at a slower pace and giving myself a longer rest period between runs my knee has finally won. Strangely enough I didn’t feel as if I failed. I know that I will start again, but perhaps my strategy will be different this time before I decide to partake on a daily running streak. Besides, I’ve partially won! I’m still writing. And instead of running for 1 mile today, I walked for 1 mile today.

If I ever thought that running on a treadmill was boring, boy was I in for a surpise at how boring it is to walk on a treadmill! The pace was so slow it was painful. The music that I listen to had a tempo that was much too fast and so I decided to turn on a podcast. As I was walking I thought that this again is similar to life. Sometimes you need to cut out things that are hurting your growth. Maybe it’s spending too much money. Maybe its a negative force in your life. It could be all those empty calories that you’re eating.

And even though this was something that was supposed to be good for me, in my present situation it was causing more harm. And so this story will have to be…to be continued. Don’t give up on your goals. Keep finding ways to smash your obstacles no matter what life throws at you.

~JC

Let’s Go Further Than “What’s Your Why?” Let’s Look at Your Real Why?

When it comes to a goal or a dream the most important thing that you need to figure out is why do you want to do X or Y? Do you want to run a marathon? Why? Do you want to be a millionaire? Why? Do you want to start a business? What’s your Why?

If your dream is to be rich and famous, what’s your reason behind it? There is no right or wrong answer, but you need to be truthful to yourself. Find the real answer. Did you grow up with very little and you think that being rich and famous is glamorous and will make your life better? Maybe you dream of all of the things that you will own when you have all of that money. Or perhaps it is about the recognition that you will get when people know you. It could be that you want to prove to someone that you are better than they are or what you are. Are you envious or jealous of the people that have it better than you?

The answer won’t be the same for you or anyone else because everyone is unique, but you need to make sure that you know what your real why is. Maybe it will lead you to a path about whether that goal is what you really want. Maybe you think that money and fame will mean that you will be happy.

The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are.

This is a pretty powerful saying that I have always thought to be quite intense. I’m sure that everyone can think of how they are different in public vs. with their family/friends vs. inside their own heads. So figure out your why and do with that what you want. You don’t need to share it if you don’t want to, but you do need to come to terms with what it really is because if you don’t you might not succeed at your task or if you do succeed, the reasons that you wanted it to happen might not give you what you thought it would.

There is an entirely different argument to be made about whether or not you should continue to go after that goal. You should examine that as well, but I think that is for another topic. Let’s focus on how to get to your why.

Let’s use the example of wanting to lose weight. Maybe you told yourself that you want to lose weight because you want to be healthy and you want to feel better. Examine where you’re at in your life right now? Are you sick and don’t feel well? Maybe that’s the case and this is really your reason. But perhaps, you feel fine and you still want to lose weight. Why? Maybe you don’t feel as strong as you used to feel and you want to get stronger because you are looking towards the future and don’t want to get sick and feel poorly.

Ok, we’re getting in a little deeper into why you want to lose weight. You’re concerned about your future health. Here’s where I would tell you to stop and think. You’re looking towards the future because you think that by losing weight it is going to keep you feeling good. Now that we know what the true goal is are there other things that can support that goal? Are you going to the doctor regularly to check for any underlying conditions that could cause you health problems in the future? Are you exercising and making sure that you are eating healthy or are you just crash dieting so that you can lose weight. Have you looked at your finances for the future? And what about your mental health? Are you taking care to make sure that you are reducing stress? Eliminating bad habits?

You see, the reason that you want to achieve a goal is more important than the goal itself because in order to really attain the ultimate goal you need to look at the big picture.

Let’s go in the other direction. Maybe you really want to lose weight because you don’t feel like your body is good enough. There are a lot of people with body image issues. Maybe its because you see the Hollywood perfect Victoria’s Secret model and you think that’s how you should look. In this case, your why can tell you a lot about your self-esteem and you need to look at why you feel that you need to be someone else.

For every goal or dream that you are looking to achieve, please look at the face that you don’t show to anyone to find out why you want to achieve that dream. It may not get you to your original dream, but it could lead to a path to a happiness that you didn’t know you needed.

What’s your why?

~JC

Every Day Can’t be Your Best Day

Image from https://www.ft.com/content/2513a2e0-73ee-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca

We have unreal expectations about what our lives should look like. We think that every day we need to do or be better than the day before, but that’s unrealistic. We think that if we continue to work hard that every day we should be moving forward. I’ve got news for you. It’s not always going to be like that. Let’s take a look at the economy. Even when the economy is relatively stable there are still ups and downs.

Business, physical health, mental health and relationships are all like this. It’s so important to remember to keep the end goal in mind when times seem bleak. Look at the economic downturn in 2020. This isn’t just the U.S. This is a global issue. Do you think that the world’s leaders are giving up? Of course not. They need to strategize to weather the storm and figure out a way to come out the other side. It may not bounce right back to where we were previously, but it’s necessary to keep moving forward.

I think the most underutilized profession right now is a Life Coach. Everything is connected. Your mental health affects your physical health, your financial status affects your relationships. Your spiritual feelings can affect your emotional state. Your friends can affect your behaviors and attitudes. Your work life can affect your family life. It’s all a circle. And whether you are in a good place, a bad place or an ok place you can’t escape the fact that all of this is connected.

So when you have a bad day in one aspect of your life, chances are that it might affect other aspects of your life. How many of us have had a bad day at work and come home and argued with our family because we were in a foul mood? Then maybe that upsets you and so you decide that instead of going to the gym, you’re going to eat a pint of ice cream on the couch and mindlessly stare at the TV. Or maybe you’re the opposite and you go to the gym to get out all of that pent up anger and feel better (either before you pick a fight with your family or after).

The point is that some days you’re going to be up and some days you’re going to be down and that’s completely normal. Just remember that as a human being this is a normal part of life and you’re not the only person that feels like that. Keep moving forward and remember that every day isn’t going to be your best day.

What are some of the ways that you come back from a bad day?

~JC

Day 9 – Running/Writing Streak

As I continue to move forward with my running streak, it occurs to me that there are a lot of metaphors that I running has with every day life. Whether it is your personal or professional life, running (or I guess any habit for that matter) can really teach you about how to succeed.

Day 9 – Since my knee is very obviously telling me that I need to give it time to heal, I decided to change up my routine that will still allow me to get in my 1 mile per day. Here’s what I’ve learned:

You have to be smart and know your limits. When I run I have very little pain in my knee, but when I’m done, I know that I’ve exceeded what my body wanted me to do and the rest of the day will remind me that I overdid it. Just like in real life, you need to keep moving forward, but you need to do it intelligently or you risk destroying your progress so far. If you’re looking to change your habits, you can’t do to much at once or you risk the chance of overload and you might crash because you are so overwhelmed.

It’s so important to be adaptable. Instead of running every morning, I decided to try to run at morning one day and at night the next. This still allows me to continue to run every day, but instead of only a 24-hour recovery period, I will get a 36-hour recovery that hopefully will assist me in the long run. I’ve also slowed my pace and stayed on the treadmill instead of hitting the pavement. It’s slower progress, but it’s still forward moving progress. Have you hit an obstacle in your life? You need to find a way around it. The best laid plans don’t always go according to their plans. You need to be able to swerve off of the road sometimes when there is something in your way as long as you continue to move towards your goal no matter what it might be. If you were trying to pay off your bills, but your car broke down and you needed to put your money that month towards that expense, that’s ok. Next month, just get back on the same track and keep moving forward. Don’t let that detour you from continuing on your goal. It may have set you back, but you’re still moving forward.

You are unique and the way that you reach your goals should be too. Yes, you can listen to other success stories, but what works for them might not be the thing that works for you. That’s ok because you are not that other person. Stop comparing yourself to other people and focus on what is right for you and things will work out. One of the benefits that I found of running at 9pm last night was that I slept amazing! But I can tell you that almost every article I have ever read about exercise has said try not to work out late at night because it might interfere with your sleep. I felt great running last night and great running this morning. Now maybe there is another factor in there, but it worked for me. Find your own unique path to create the path to your goals.

If nothing changes, nothing changes. So many people have quoted this line and I’m not sure where it originated from. Think of this as a positive. Maybe this new method of running will work for me for a while and then I will be able to start moving on with my goal. Maybe its a fluke and by next week I will have to try something different. Whichever happens, good or bad, I need to take something from it. After all, if I need to make additional modifications in order to move forward, I will, even if the worst case scenario means that I need to rest and start over. But isn’t that better than continuing to do the same thing over and over again and never moving forward? Sometimes when we keep doing the same thing day after day or year after year we find ourselves in the same pattern of life that we’re tying to change. But if you don’t decide to do something different, how will you get different results? We’ve all heard Albert Einstein’s saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Don’t do that with your life!

What are you doing to change and adapt that is going to propel you closer to your goal?

~JC

What makes a good interview?

My biggest pet peeve when going to an interview is when person doing the interview comes out with the same questions that they’ve asked every single person.

“So what do you know about our company?”

“Tell me about a time that there was conflict in the workplace and what you did about it.”

“What are your strengths?”

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Stop!

I understand the need to follow a guideline for a candidate, but if you already have a person’s resume you should already know if the have the qualifications to do the job.

And seriously…. how many people have you interviewed that said “When there’s conflict in the workplace I freak out and cause trouble”.

Your candidates are going to tell you what they think you want to hear. They’ve probably done their research on the best way to answer interview questions. But guess what? You really need to hire for someone that will fit in your organization not just someone who checks the boxes. You should be interviewing to enrich your corporate culture.

Have a conversation with that person. It’s so much more comfortable to just engage in small talk and openly converse than it is to switch topics abruptly in a firing squad-like Q&A. Once your candidate is more at ease your going to see the real person come out. This is what you should be aiming for. Leave your Q&A to your pre screen questions.

And most importantly make sure whoever you choose to do the interviewing is capable. I could turn your head with some of the crazy questions I’ve heard and the strangest things that I’ve seen the interviewer ask.

If the person doing the interviewing isn’t an effective communicator you probably won’t be getting much out of that interview. Your candidate is going to take their cues from you. It’s your job to get the real person to speak in that 30 minutes that you might have.

A poor hire can make for a very difficult future work environment.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve heard asked or been asked on an interview?

~JC

Be Happy

Some days you just need to remember that you need to do what it takes to make you happy and let others do what they need to do to live their lives.

Not every day needs to be about giving advice and tips and tricks. Sometimes you need to just be and enjoy what you have right in front of you.

Today is that day.

~JC