Before and after

You have points in your life where everything was going in one direction, then “this” happened, and your life headed off in a new direction. You know what I’m talking about? Those big “before” and “after” moments.

For me, this would include the day in 8th grade I decided to try out for cheerleading which changed who I hung out with in high school, what I did with my free time, and how active I became in my class.

Another big turning point was my decision to go to the University of Virginia. This meant I met certain wonderful, life-long friends, chose a certain major, and hated being at the University so much I chose to go hiking for 3 months with an Outward Bound program. This, in turn, was another HUGE turning point because that’s where I met the person I married and had children with. Continue reading

Wishing v. Working

When people tell you to “follow your passion,” it sounds so easy. “Just follow your passion and everything will turn out great.” Make a wish and it will come true. Right?

What you don’t hear is that it takes work to make your wishes come true.

I don’t want to downplay wishing. Dreaming big schemes is the first step to creating a new reality. But once you come up with a terrific vision, how do you get from “energy bubble” to “done?” Continue reading

How to improve your concentration

Being focused on what you’re doing helps you do good work. And it’s fun to sink deep into a project.

If you’re feeling a little scattered, here are 5 Buddhist tips for meditation that also help with concentration.

Pay attention to where you’re working
If you’re trying to do serious work in a noisy, active place – good luck! When you need to focus, give yourself the best shot possible by finding or creating a calm, quiet place with few distractions. You may think you can concentrate amidst chaos, but give quiet a chance and see how much it improves both the amount and quality of your output. Continue reading

Taking the first small step

I had a big, cool idea in the 1990s. I wanted to write a novel. I decided this at a crazy-bad time. I had two little kids at home and a demanding job. But I thought about writing all the time. I had to figure out a way to write a novel.

My first baby step was to make a list of novels I loved and characters I wanted to meet in real life. I gave myself a week to brainstorm all of my favorite books and characters.

Then I took another week to think about common threads. What appealed to me most in my favorite novels? And what types of characters was I most drawn to? Continue reading

5 steps out of a rut

Feeling in a low energy rut? Here are a few ideas to spur your juices and lift your energy.

Think Creatively
Instead of saying I’m not creative, how about saying “I can be creative.” Even if you don’t feel artistic, you can always come up with a creative solution. It might be a puzzle you solve, a class you take, or a unique solution you find to a problem. If you need a push, take a trip or meet a new person. Or look at an issue you deal with every day and come up with a creative way to make your world a little better. What’s one baby step you can take? Continue reading

Write it down

What do you do when you have a great idea – but it’s the middle of the night. Or you’re in the shower. Or you’re driving your car. And you try to remember that idea by reminding yourself. And reminding yourself. But before you can take action, the idea fades away.

If you want to capture more ideas and get them closer to action, write your ideas down whenever and wherever they come to you. Put a pad of paper, a pen, and a flashlight next to the bed. Keep a pad of paper in the bathroom so as soon as you exit the shower you have a place to record your thoughts. If you’re driving, pull over. It’s better to do that and get the thought out of your head than it is to drive distracted. Continue reading

Get some sleep!

Our society seems to value getting by on very little sleep. How many times have you heard someone say, “Yep, I get by on five hours a night,” and you think, “I should be able to do that.”

But the thing is your body needs deep, uninterrupted sleep every night. Sleep is when your brain reorganizes and recharges. When you cut that short, you wake up groggy. You can’t answer a question until you’ve had at least two cups of coffee. You fantasize about taking a nap as you head into a late afternoon meeting. You have a heck of a time staying focused.  And good luck getting to the things you want to get done.

You may feel like you’re getting by just fine, but new medical studies show that a lack of regular sleep can have significant health implications – with brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, and on your over-all good health.

I loved a recent write-up in the Smithsonian about how even jellyfish have to sleep. This means that this sea creature becomes completely vulnerable for certain periods of the day or night – and yet has survived for millennia. Continue reading