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Posts Tagged ‘planning’

Screen shot 2012-12-16 at · Dec 16 @ 4.39.32 PM

This weekend feels so strange… not really the weekend before Christmas but I am definitely feeling the pressure of heading into the week before Christmas. Because let’s be realistic; there will not be a lot of people working next Monday. It is basically an upcoming 4-day weekend with the celebration of Christmas. In fact, each time I look at the calendar, I think, “gosh it is almost Christmas!” It is coming so quickly!

Have you been feeling this, too?

Therefore, this was a weekend of preparation. That is how I spent my holiday celebration time of which I have been blogging for the past 2 weeks.

Day 14: Friday: Made plans for Christmas Eve. Wanted to be certain I had a plan. I will be staying in the city this year and not returning to Rochester to my family’s so for me it was important to have a plan. Which church service was I attending, what volunteer work would I be doing, where would I celebrate with friends before church? All the details got worked out. Plan in place.

Day 15: Saturday: A beautiful day in NYC. Warmish for this time of year and a day that I had set aside entirely for fun. No work. Just “me time”. That “me time” included the most relaxing walk through NOHO and SOHO- looking in store windows with all holiday items displayed in the window. So much creativity and happiness everywhere. Plus, the walk was with my best friend who I had not seen since before the Hurricane due to all kinds of obstacles so this was just a wonderful, leisurely holiday celebration.

Day 16: Sunday: Since I decided not to send all my hundreds of holiday cards this year, I wanted to make a mini-plan for holiday greetings and beyond. Sitting quietly with a cup of coffee, I wrote a mini-list of family members who deserved a holiday greeting from me- regardless of the fact that my work life is so uber-busy that I determined that I would not be sending out cards.  I decided that family members would be the exception.  I then made a list of friends and clients who I wanted to be certain to celebrate. That list will be tackled after the New Year with a deliberate sit-down in a coffee shop to write individual notes to each one. I would rather sent a heart-felt note to wish them a Happy New Year than a generic holiday greeting just to get it in under the wire of December 31. Hopefully, they will all feel the same!

Now, we head into the week before Christmas. Wow.

Be Merry and Bright!

Screen shot 2012-12-16 at · Dec 16 @ 4.39.00 PM

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Screen shot 2012-12-06 at · Dec 6 @ 6.28.22 AM

In my quest to enjoy the holiday season one day at a time from December 1 through December 25 (and who knows- maybe this will continue straight through New Years Day), day 5 and 6 were all about planning. Planning forward.

  • The holiday cards came out and now scream at me from across the room
  • The decorations were found (they were secretly tucked away in this one-bedroom Manhattan apartment and required a “if you were a Christmas decoration where would you be hiding?” moment)
  • Since I have not joined a church since moving to Washington Heights, I needed to scope out options for Christmas Eve
  • RSVPed to several holiday get-togethers
  • Changed my Facebook cover photo to include the Rockefeller Plaza Tree and the gorgeous angels (my favorite)

So while I would have liked it better if I was VISITING the Rockefeller tree as my holiday activity to blog about, I will say that there are some wonderful plans in motion for the remainder of the month thanks to my planning.

What have you got planned?

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Maybe it’s an “entrepreneurial thing” or just a “human thing”, but one of the biggest challenges I have faced over the past few years (alright- alright-decades) has been asking for help.

I do it. I ask. Really I do. And people answer.

But I always ask when my back is up against the wall. When there seems to be no more I can do on my own. Because yes, oh yes, I have tried to do it all on my own first. When each moment seems utterly overwhelming and painful. When surrender is my only option.

One of my favorite phrases  (slogans, mantras, platitudes… you choose your word) is AWARENESS-ACCEPTANCE-ACTION. It is such an incredible critical guidepost in my life. Because when I don’t remember this, I skip right into ACTION. I jump right into doing it myself without pausing.  That solution is better known  in my world as “the hard way”. It includes a plan made entirely of marshmallows.  Soft, gushy, sweet, not particularly structured and definitely not challenging myself to take the toughest road. They come in multiple sizes of the same thing so simply more of the same…. More of the same. That is really all I can come up with an action plan in those times.  Plagued with limited thinking based on my best resources, I end up with a solution that is limited in scope, a little mushy, and more Candlyland than Battleship.

What I have found in these times of overwhelm and surrender is that I need the reasoning and “take no prisoners” approach of my friends. Truth- I need to be told the truth. No matter how ugly it is or how much I do not want to hear it. No fluffy marshmallows in that conversation. There is love and support but there is also focus, clarity and a level of ACCEPTANCE that my way is not working. That others can help to contribute to this solution. That I am no longer responsible for “figuring it out”. (FYI-whenever I say I can “figure it out” I am usually headed toward a marshmallow plan)

AWARENESS of the problem (back up against the wall because I let it go just a little to far)

ACCEPTANCE that I will need help with this (surrender and willingness to tell the truth and ask for the help)

ACTION toward a collaborative solution (no longer trying to do it myself because I have admitted that my way probably just perpetuated the problem- bounding forward with the new plan)

I know I am not alone is this challenge but it can be incredibly isolating in that moment just before the AWARENESS shifts to ACCEPTANCE. Hoping this writing will help you to sit in that lonely place just a little less often and for a shorter period of time.

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I have always been a planner. Since I was a little girl.

While many little girls were playing Barbie and house, my imagination role-play games included organizing neighborhood children to put on a variety show. And when there were no other kids around, my poor sister had to endure my choreography and director’s wrath so we could get the show “just right” (think Cher’s Half Breed album 1973).

But in those years before my sister was old enough to participate, I would play school by myself being both the teacher and the student (aren’t I talented?) including lesson plans, fake library cards, sticker charts, homework and bulletin boards.  As I got older I transitioned to interior designer (complete with my own sketches for rearranging Mom’s living room furniture) and cruise director with a clipboard (okay- really- wouldn’t I make a great Julie McCoy?)

 

I have notebooks full of charts, graphs and calendars. Days to learn the songs, dances and lines for the musical. Days until college applications were due. Study schedules. Weight loss charts. Graphs depicting my savings to be used to get my ears pierced at the mall. By the time I got to college, I was in full-blown planning mode with wall charts and everything!

The advantages to my predilection for planning is that I moved from organized high school class president to college senior class president to corporate management trainee to corporate executive using this skill to excel. It was always in my back pocket to make sense of the chaos. It was and still is a leadership tool in my toolbox.

I leveraged this same skill to transition to entrepreneurial life helping clients create calendars and plans to support their businesses, lives, marketing programs, etc.  Do what you love, right? Do what comes easy. Plus it makes me happy because my plans are pretty. They are created with post-it notes and sharpies.

However, I have also come to see that I use this planning tool as a way to calm myself down. If I am anxious about something in my personal or professional life, I go right to the calendar.  Sometimes just to look at it. It beings me comfort. It is a guaranteed return. When things are uncertain, the calendar seems certain to me. I can plan something and write it down. Plus mine is pretty with all those colors (both the paper and electronic versions).

This is just a little insight into me. A little writing to perhaps get you thinking about what skills or characteristics you have brought with you from childhood that have helped YOU to excel in adulthood. They are probably right at your fingertips.

 

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I moved. It’s official.

  • New apartment.
  • New neighborhood.
  • New community.
  • New possibilities.

This move, like every other move of every other person I know in life, brought with it anxiety, fear, lessons learned and opportunities for growth (not that I was looking for any more of those but there they were in their full glory!)

Moving stirred up such big emotions for me. That is why they call this life event one of the top stressors in our lives. No surprise there.

What I did learn about myself is that moving – on the whole- did not make me anxious. In fact, it is really quite a methodical process that lends itself nicely to lists, checkmarks and post-it notes.  The “unknown” and the “unplanned” makes me anxious.

For example, I was far more concerned about the fact that there was only one elevator in my new building to be used for my move and 80 units of people going about their daily routine than I was about packing up my entire apartment. Very telling about me. And super uncomfortable to look at. Did not want to rock the boat or make waves. Did not want to get started on the wrong foot with neighbors.  Wanted people to like me. But everyone moves.- I know that.  Everyone uses the elevator all day to move at least once.  The anxiety came in not knowing what would or could happen until it did on moving day. There was really no post-it note process I could attach to this. I just had to dive in and move. Although I will say that my dear friend and fellow entrepreneur (an expert in the area of organization) Jennifer Zwiebel had some fun ideas that helped to calm me down- most of which included baskets of muffins!

Fast-forward. Every single person in my building was welcoming, upbeat and understanding.  And I got another one of those great insights into myself on a deeper level. (yeah me!)

Ready for a little irony? All this worry, and after living here for a month, the elevator broke and has been out of service for a full week. I now essentially live in a 5 floor walk-up. 

**Grateful that I am healthy enough to walk those stairs effortlessly several times a day.

**Grateful that I am not the cause of the inconvenience.

**Grateful that this week was not moving week!

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Pick a number. Write it down.

It is just that simple.

I use a post-it note.

You can use your planner, your Google calendar or a good old-fashioned to-do list.

Each week, pick a number of connections you intend to make.

Who should you choose?

  • Did you like a blog post you read?
  • Is there a former co-worker that you can’t get out of your mind?
  • Was there a comment on a discussion thread that interested you?
  • Did someone on Facebook peak your interest?
  • Do you have a stack of business cards in your desk drawer? (okay- I know you do!)
  • Does someone have a business similar to yours and you are thinking she might make a great collaborator?

Identify your 2 or 5 or 10 people and reach out.

You can connect with them on social media. Send them a personal message via email. Or here’s a crazy idea- actually pick up the phone and call them! So many options.

Start connecting! Isn’t this what business is all about?

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Coffee Location:  Sitting by my Christmas tree

Today’s Beverage of Choice: Starbucks Via in my favorite blue/brown mug

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Even in indecision, I am making a decision.

Learned that first-hand this week.

Truth be told, I have learned this lesson over and over again in my life, but this was the week when it all clicked in a whole new way. The evolution of my emotional and spiritual self-colliding right into the long list of things I want for my life and business.

Like so many of you, I have made list upon list of what I want for my life. Opportunities, relationships, $$, happiness, friends, health goals and the list goes on and on. I have been filling journals and post-it notes with lists in various forms for decades.

However, over the past few months I’ve been challenged by some dear friends to create a few new lists about different aspects of my life. And this time to be VERY specific. More specific then I ever thought necessary. The kind of specific that at times felt a little ridiculous. But I did it. I did it because to be honest, my way had not been working for me. What did I have to lose?

Making these VERY specific lists- one about life and one about business- forced me to make a decision on some level. Do I want this or that? Is this particular characteristic of my business a non-negotiable? Each extremely specific item on the list was a decision.

And then I did the seemingly impossible next step. I let go of the results and the timing. Yes, you heard me. I let go of the results and the timing. Gave it up to the Universe and God.  Of course, I took my will back many times over those few weeks of letting go. Wanting so much to control the outcome- and then realizing that I really can’t. That is madness. Honestly, I have lived for years saying I don’t control the outcome but secretly thinking that maybe I did. (can you relate?)

All those years of not being specific.

All those lists of things I wanted without really committing to them with specificity.

I was living in a form of indecision. And that was a choice. That indecision was a decision. Quite profound to me actually.

Now I am actively letting go.

The result? Already in only a week of this daily (sometimes hourly) practice, I am seeing little miracles.  I am being provided even MORE than I asked for. Not always in the same “package” as I had envisioned but exactly what I wanted and then some.

I just had to share in case it can help you as you reflect on 2011 and begin setting your goals for 2012.

Happy New Year!

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