Accomplish more by doing less

You know that I’m a big proponent of working hard, which sometimes translates to work more, never stop learning & continue to accomplish more in life. However life is not all about racking up lists of accomplishments & goals. If this is your one & only way of validating self worth- you might get discouraged & burn out very quickly. The tail will end up wagging the dog. The time passes by in a speed of light, as we jump from one item in our list to the next. The common philosophy is that if you don’t move forward, you stand still or move backwards. Instead of swallowing one project after another and keep extending your to do list, reverse your process once in a while and find a shortcut of how to do less. More is, well, not always more. I’ve read somewhere that overachieving is the enemy of productivity & happiness. What if getting more done isn’t by addition, but subtraction?

We all need breaks. Walk away from your work, your to-do list & your calendar. Leave this time for absolutely nothing. Allow yourself to waste time & just hang out. Go for a walk or run & literally only walk or run. With no music in your ears. Don’t think about anything. Don’t even be mindful (that’s more thinking). Let your mind just wonder off & see where it takes you. Do you need a break from seeing people? Go for it! Time alone will clear your head. Ditch unnecessary meetings. Delegate some of your workload if you absolutely must but always check on progress & don’t lose the pulse. Slow down & make more time for yourself. Use your time more meaningfully & productively so you have time for things that give you joy. Celebrate by doing less that day. It’s not about doing less physically, but working differently. Consider what else you might stop doing. Remove unnecessary busy work in lieu of doing what really matters. Have habits & routines in your life. When you have a “system”, doing things efficiently is never a question.  It also eliminates meaningless decisions & will make you more productive. 

To conclude, I’d like to share an exercise that I came across once. First, identify a specific goal or an area of your work that you’d like to improve. Then, take a piece of paper and divide it in half. On the left-hand side, make a list of all of your daily tasks, and on the right-hand side, make a list of your biggest “wins” — the work milestones you’re most proud of. Draw a line connecting each of your wins to related daily tasks, and circle those tasks. Finally, step back and look at what’s left uncircled on your list. These are the tasks that you should either stop doing, significantly minimize, or delegate to others. Abandoning work that isn’t helping you meet your goals will give you more time to focus on the work that is. I hope this helps you do more by doing less.

L.

“Improved productivity means less human sweat, not more” – Henry Ford

I’m at the crossroads…now what?

Very often in our lives we find ourselves standing at the major crossroad, not knowing which way to chose. Crossroads can be scary & difficult yet enticing because they introduce an opportunity & excitement. Even if danger may be nonexistent, the choice feels dreadful to make and hangs over our heads before, during and even after a decision has been made. Some major decisions come unannounced & without anticipation. Changes or transformation can be gradual or it can be sudden. It comes as no surprise that choices often cause a lot of anxiety. It can either make you or break you. Deep inside we know there is a lot at stake. However, making the right decision can really pay off in the most rewarding way. But if it’s the wrong choice, we are filled with regrets.

When you hit a crossroad or life altering choice, counsel with someone who can be objective & non bias.  Whomever you chose to confide in, keep in mind that you are only collecting data. This person will not & cannot make a decision for you. Have an open mind. You might hear an advice that you wouldn’t even consider. Important element to think about is to follow your heart, your passion, your talents and the outcome you’d like to accomplish. Also, don’t ignore your gut feeling. The feeling that keeps you up at night. That could be your gut talking. Approach the crossroads lightly but head straight for it at full force. Otherwise the path might be chosen for you. The decision might be forced upon you if your time is up. In Alice in Wonderland, when Alice meets the Cheshire Cat for the first time. She asks him which way to go. In response, he asks her where she wants to go. She answers “It doesn’t much matter”. To which he says “If that’s the case, then take any road and eventually you will arrive somewhere”. The same can be said about decisions. If they are not firm or precise, they may lead you to an outcome, but likely not the one you wanted. Have a desired result- the end game of what do you want to accomplish.

During the process embrace the idea of change & see what happens. Unknown can be scary but you can start an entirely new life. Don’t oscillate between “holding on” & “letting go”. Chose curiosity over fear. We actually learn about ourselves from difficult experiences. I have lived thru it more than once & each experience was quite liberating. I connected with my intuition which is strength of mine. My intuition only fails me when I decide against it. If I follow it, I know that my values will not be intact. Once I made that one crucial decision, opportunities started to present by itself. So be true to yourself. Do some soul searching if time permits. Don’t make decisions to please someone else & do not settle for less.   

We might not always welcome changes that disrupt our stability & turn our world upside down. No matter how grim the situation is, unfortunately things happen when they happen. But there is always a silver lining. You just need to find it. Don’t be afraid to try new things even if they might be challenging at first. You might discover new paths in life, you don’t yet know exist.

L.

“It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” – J.K. Rowling

Are you experiencing setbacks in life? Time for new beginnings!

I never thought that I would be a victim of starting new life after 40. That phrase always sounded like a cliché to me. (The truth about clichés is, they’re usually right). Two years ago, I heard the exact saying from someone close- “Hey, life begins at 40 right?!”  The irony is, this was said at my 40th birthday party. I didn’t want the party to begin with but I decided to have one so my friends could hang out. At the end, I paid the bill & went home.

It took me a while to get myself together but one night I realized that new beginning after life altering events, at any age, doesn’t have to sound so gloomy. I mean, just because the relationship status changed and perhaps  the place of residence, it doesn’t mean that life can’t still be fabulous & fulfilling. It doesn’t mean that happiness just reached its expiration date. We had decades to guide us & shape our persona so we definitely know who we are!

First step is to learn how to live with yourself. You always were and always will be in the relationship with YOUrself, so simply- get comfortable with it. Don’t be afraid to be alone & don’t wait for someone to occupy your life. It will be a chance to discover who you really are. Learn to love your life detour. It’s not a bad thing. Every detour, every new road teaches you something new. Every. Single. Time.

Second step is -don’t let your emotions to take over. It’s all about you now but your emotions can’t dominate you. You have to dominate your domain. Assign lots of quiet hours & be the most productive during those hours. Come up with the plan & structure for the foreseeable future. You will be amazed how much we need the serenity & what a luxury it is nowadays. That’s when you can hear your own thoughts & visualize your dreams. Tranquility is a sound of creativity. Before you know it, that bucket list of yours will be longer & more realistic.

Keep a journal of your private thoughts & read it often. Pour your heart into it. No one will read it anyway. Say & write what you want. Be brutally honest. Leave the emotional residue on the paper.

Make room every day to pray or meditate if you are a believer. It helps to talk to someone who’s bigger than you & the life itself. Say what you want or what you have to in your own words.

Acknowledge & discard toxic emotions. It takes a while to distinguish what they are, especially if those emotions were part of your everyday life.  It might take a while to identify them. You might have to spend some time alone to start noticing the difference. Toxic emotions might lead you to toxic people. End relationships that steal your joy.

Lastly..buy flowers. Lots of flowers!  Flowers are joyful to the eye and soul. They make any room pretty.

It might take a while for your epiphany to kick in, but it’s up to you to embrace it. You have an extraordinary chance to live the life you truly want. You’re in the front seat so enjoy the ride.

L.

“We need setbacks, we need things to overcome. They are the essential building blocks that shape us into the people we become” – Gary Numan

“The First 90 Days” – by Michael D. Watkins

Transitions are a critical time for leaders. Most agree that moving into a new role is the biggest challenge a manager will face. While transitions offer a chance to start fresh & make needed changes in an organization, they also place leaders in a positions of acute vulnerability. Missteps made during the crucial first three months in a new role can jeopardize or even derail your success. By walking you through every aspect of the transition scenario, Watkins identifies the most common pitfalls new leaders encounter and provides the tools and strategies you need to avoid them. You’ll learn how to secure critical early wins, an important first step in establishing yourself in your new role. Each chapter also includes checklists, practical tools, and self-assessments to help you assimilate key lessons and apply them to your own situations. Whether you’re starting a new job, being promoted from within, embarking on an overseas assignment, or being tapped as CEO, how you manage your transition will determine whether you succeed or fail. Use this book as your trusted guide.

The Power of Gratitude

Grat·i·tude /ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/

Noun: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Gratitude is an appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel unnatural at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice. We tend to forget our benefits & to count our blessings daily. We start to think that we are owed from others, that life owes us something and that we deserve things. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Being grateful is also to pay it forward.  Show appreciation by simple acts of kindness such as giving to charity. Giving back doesn’t have to be monetary. Volunteer instead. For many people the key to having more gratitude is to give back to others. It puts more value on it.

Don’t be picky- appreciate everything. Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for the “big” things in life. The habit of being grateful starts with appreciating every good thing in life and recognizing that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for. Write Thank You notes. Hand-write them if you can. Put a personal touch on gratitude. Hand writing of any kind is a dying breed. Practice gratefulness. The trick is that you need to picture it in your mind and sit with that feeling of gratitude in your body. Doing this every day will rewire your brain to be naturally more grateful, and you’ll start feeling happier. It is hard to be negative about your situation when you are thinking about things for which you are grateful.

How did you miss the bus of gratitude? Perhaps your life became more of a routine & you simply stopped paying attention. Maybe you’re taking things for granted because it’s actually hard to stop & recognize things we have.  We start to view life through shades. This sounds obvious and simplistic, but it’s a plain truth that expressing more gratitude makes us feel more grateful.

Every dark cloud has a silver lining. Behind every problem lies an opportunity. Being grateful – even if you don’t like your current situation – allows us to be thankful for the opportunity to learn something new.

L.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” – Oprah

Electronic device- friend or foe?

It appears that we live in an era of digital distraction. Technology is used in every aspect of our lives. Everywhere you look people are on their phones. It’s even replacing books. Electronic addiction can grow from healthy, to compulsive to addictive. Just as there are healthy and unhealthy ways to eat, there should be daily decisions about the use of technology. Speaking directly to people is becoming less & less popular. Everyone is texting each other instead. I see a family eating dinner and no one is talking to each other.  We are surrounded by toxic & destructive behaviors. Our lives are structured to be loud & busy because we are either scared or don’t know how to be quiet & alone. It’s holding us back- physically, socially & mentally. Technology makes us lazy. Electronic devices create social isolation & block real life interaction. Younger generation doesn’t know how to establish an eye contact. Young men don’t know how to interact with their date and have a simple conversation. We gave up our identity, privacy & security. Do you remember when parents would scold us for sitting too close to the television? They warned us that the screens would rot our brains and we would go blind. When cell phones came out, everyone said the radiation from them was damaging our brain cells. Is it now true? On the flip side, there’s something to be said for an era in which counting our steps has become trendy. While physical shape is not as important to as many of us as it should be, tech devices has made fitness a lot more fun & creative.  It also provided some positive opportunities for the long-term health improvement.

The point is to find the right balance. It’s not quite possible to remove the technology to avoid all the risks. Find alternatives.  Go old school once in a while- it feels great. Turn of your phone for some time & reboot. Eliminate distractions. Find a hobby. Go to the library instead or read an actual book. Every time I go to the library, the world slows down. I love staring at old books. When you’re meeting with people, give them undivided attention. Talk, listen, have an eye contact & human touch. You might not see them again. Look outside the window occasionally, take a deep breath & just observe the world & foliage. Relax.  You’ll discover peace & calmness within when you let tranquility into your live.

L.

“Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for few hours” – Elton John

Do we live in society of “easy”?

Believing that life should be easy and straightforward often leads to dissatisfaction, un-fulfillment and sadness. You might find certain parts of life challenging where other people seem to sail through. Finding shortcuts in life can become a fault or character defect. Wouldn’t it be easy if there was some switch we can flip? An App we could use?

It’s natural to want the good & easy things in life without paying the price. We want to lose weight but don’t want to exercise or sacrifice your favorite foods- so we give up. We want the promotion but don’t want to put in extra hours or effort- so we stay in a miserable job. Research shows, that having a sheltered childhood that involved a lack of exposure to difficulty and challenge, often means that when we face any level of hardship in adulthood it feels unfamiliar and intolerable. Relationships end because they feel too difficult, careers are cut short when it gets too hard, family dramas that could be resolved are swept under the rug and challenging opportunities aren’t taken. Believing that relationships, outcomes, feelings, people and careers should be a certain way is one of the reasons why it becomes a road block when you find something challenging. We start to say “maybe this isn’t for me?” We have a deep belief that easy is better. It is not better. Success is not defined by “easy”. Every success & accomplishment has a price tag. You can’t just follow the yellow brick road. We want everything to be perfect. We want our ideas to be big ones. We hope to get everything right the first time. We want to make millions with the first business venture. We ignore the fact that we never owned a business before. We ignore the fact that we never created anything new before except for maybe a dinner idea. We ignore the fact that by expecting perfection we create impossible reality. We often think that since perfection will never happen, why bother pursuing an idea, so we don’t even begin. Be careful asking for an easy life. Easy life is not worth examining. Easy life creates a routine & monotony. Dreams have gone unfulfilled. Business ideas are not implemented. Relationships stay miserable. Friendships are undiscovered. Instead of making a huge splash, we just dip our feet in the water. No one’s life is easy. Not your rich neighbors, not your colleagues, not your friends, not even your social media friends despite posting photos and status updates that make it seem like their life is one big vacation. Instead of wishing for easy life, wish for skills to handle life. Problems will always going to happen. Be prepared to move a lot of dirt in life. Picture gold miners. The more dirt they dig through- the more gold they find. Bottom line- success doesn’t come easy- so keep digging.

L.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”- Bruce Lee

“Originals, how non-conformists move the world”- by Adam Grant

It’s one thing to have new ideas, but another to stand up for them. Adam Grant, one of his generation’s most provocative thought leaders, explores how individuals can recognize good ideas and speak up without getting silenced, parents can raise creative children, and leaders can build cultures that fight groupthink and promote innovation.

Using remarkable studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant shows that original thinkers are surprisingly similar to the rest of us. They procrastinate. They grapple with doubt & fear. They have bad ideas. What sets them apart is that they choose to act anyway. This book offers groundbreaking insights about how we can all become more successful in championing our best ideas.

Never ending decade

I recently heard someone say that we need to get over ‘80s & finally move on. As someone who was born in ‘70s but is the product of the ‘80s -I strongly disagree. If you grew up in the 80s you know what a great time it was to be alive. No other era gets as mocked as the 80’s, but let’s not bully an entire decade. It was a golden era as far as music & fashion. Regardless how you feel, you are either directly or indirectly connected to the decade.

Music in general has been huge part of my life ever since I can remember. Maturing and growing up in the ‘80s rock scene was an honor & Guns N Roses wrote a soundtrack to my youth.  Naturally I have my favorite bands, not so much favorite, and bands that truly define ‘80s which you had no other choice but knowing. I think ‘80s music is much cooler than people give it credit. I mean, when we would ever learn the word Kajagoogoo, have a hair style like A Flock of Seagulls or attend Poison’s costume party? Watching old footage with packed arenas, music videos which actually needed a budget and creativity, makes me nostalgic.  We now introduce our kids to the music that stood the test of time. I once saw Jon Bon Jovi wear a T-shirt that said “Tell your mom I said hi”. Some bands still tour after all these years and some resurfaced to join the pack. Once you hear familiar tunes from the old days, it’s when the nostalgia meets an escape. Your own personal history unfolds again. Because who hasn’t slow danced to “Heaven”? You can’t ignore those memories if you tried. It took a skill to be a musician back then. You had to play an instrument, more than one at times. Musicians relayed heavily in their ability to sing unlike some bands today. It took quite a determination to launch a record & they gave their all to be successful without a talent show or YouTube. The ‘80s gave birth to some of the finest guitar legends like Nikki Sixx, Slash or much underrated (in my opinion) Richie Sambora.

If you want to put the ‘80s music in a nutshell, I have 1 word for you- mixtape. There was no such thing as MP3, Apple Music or Spotify. You had to sit diligently by the radio forever & pray that DJ plays your favorite song. And you could then listen to it on your walkman. I’m sure there are great kid bands out there that could kick ‘80s ass but there’s a difference between having a pop celebrity moment & having a career in the field. Don’t talk to me about 1, 5 or 10 year careers.  When you get to 20, 25, 30 and the songs have stood the test of time, then talk about a career, a legacy. Sorry, but there will only be celebrities among the pop kids today. Let’s see how many artists from today’s generation make it to Cleveland’s “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”.

L.

“…Those were the best days of my life…”- Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams

“My Grandfather’s Son” by Clarence Thomas

Provocative, inspiring, and unflinchingly honest My Grandfather’s Son is the story of one of America’s most remarkable and controversial leaders, Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, told in his own words.

His own quiet ambition would propel him to Holy Cross and Yale Law School, and eventually- despite a bitter highly contested public confirmation- to the highest court in the land. In this candid and deeply moving memoir, a quintessential American tale of hardship and grit, Clarence Thomas recounts his astonishing journey for the first time, and plays homage to the man who made it possible. Intimately and eloquently, Thomas speaks out, revealing the pieces of his life he holds dear, detailing the suffering and injustice he has overcome, including the acrimonious and polarizing Senate hearing involving a former aide, Anita Hill, and the depression and despair it created in his own life and the lives of those closest to him. My Grandfather’s Son is the story of a determined man whose faith, courage, and perseverance inspired him to rise up against all odds and achieve his dreams.