Creativity

How Do You Manage Your Life’s Bandwidth?

A Life Lesson I Learned From My Smartphone

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Photo by Alejandro Garrido Navarro on Unsplash

I was on the phone with my sister discussing an upcoming call about cryptocurrencies. She asked if I was going to tune in. I felt my breath quicken and my stomach churn, and it hit me. “I don’t have the personal bandwidth to take anything else into my brain right now,” I said.

My next call was to make a doctor’s appointment when up popped a message on my phone: “You’re almost out of storage.” 

Twenty minutes later Outlook sent me an email: “Your mailbox is nearly full.” And, I had to laugh out loud. No kidding!

Seriously, all three things happened within 45 minutes. Okay, okay I get it! I have no more bandwidth and am almost out of storage. The truth is I have a lot going on and that morning I realized just how overloaded I’ve been. I know I’m not alone on that score.

How has it affected me? Full disclosure, it was my cardiologist I was calling to make an appointment. My heart’s been racing enough to keep me up at night, I’ve been sighing heavily, often, and I’ve been forgetting things, like where I am and where I’m going. Pretty scary at times, actually. Fortunately, it looks like everything is fine physically and we’re altering medications which can also affect the ticker. All good. AND, he told me to slow down.

My Smartphone told me to “manage my settings” in order to deal with the dwindling amount of storage space, giving the choice to either buy more space or clean out existing apps/files to make room for what I want to keep and for when I want to add anything new. It’s pretty simple on a phone as you just go through your existing apps, examine how much storage they require and then decide if it’s worth keeping.

It got me thinking about the same rules could apply to my overloaded and overstimulated life. Time to make some room on my life bandwidth. I took a lesson from my Smartphone as I also pulled out my Marie Kondō's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Here’s a helpful 6-step process.

Place Everything in Front of You –

This is literal and metaphorical. First of all, think of your life as a big file cabinet, or dresser or basket or closet. Everything you’re working on, classes you’re taking, jobs you’re performing, all commitments, everything in your life is in that space. I’m calling mine a closet: my life closet. All lined up -- or actually kind of piled haphazardly -- are the four classes I’m taking, including all of the projects and homework involved, my work assignments, relationships, book clubs, writers groups and all other time commitments.

My life in a metaphorical closet.

Now, now take everything out of your life closet. Everything. Empty out your “space” by mentally removing them from your mental bandwidth.

One way is to list them out, don’t worry about the order yet, just get them all down. Or what I did, give every item an index card. Lay them out on the floor. Get them out of your head and onto the physical plane.

Sit in the Emptiness –

Interestingly, while I was going through this process I pulled a healing card for inspiration. The word on the card was Emptiness. I know, you just can’t make this stuff up. That inspired this next step.

Once you empty your life space and clear off your mental bandwidth, spend some quality time in the emptiness. Breathe into it for several moments. Take a look around at all of that room, the vastness of it, free from mental clutter. Feel the time open up as well, no deadlines, no ticking clock.

Just space.

There will be plenty of time to get back to all of those index cards on your floor. But, now is the time to honor your life space. What I discovered was how powerful my life energy is and how sacred my attention is in utilizing my life energy for my highest good.

Truly, take as much time as is necessary to truly honor how special and powerful your life energy is. Appreciate the sacredness of your attention because when it comes time to put things back in your life space, this will be vitally important.

Rank Them –

So, look at your list or your index cards. As on your Smartphone, give each item a value based on how much storage they require, how important they are to you in your life, timeliness, and joy.

This is where you spend time with each thing. As Marie Kondō espouses, pick up each item and hold it, only keeping what brings you joy.

“The act of discarding things on its own will never bring joy to your life. Discarding is not the point; what matters is keeping those things that bring you joy." Marie Kondō

Conduct a Yes Survey

As you ponder each item in front of you, ask yourself these questions, or a version of these questions:

  • Does this bring me joy? If it’s not a hell yes, it’s probably a no.
  • Does this feel in alignment with my heart’s desire?

"Why go knocking at every other door? Go knock at the door of your own heart." Rumi 

  • Does this serve my highest good and/or the highest good of others?
  • Will this connect the dots between other items on my list?
  • Does it feel good in my body?

If you answer yes to these questions, then it’s worth your sacred attention and is deserving of valuable space in your life. If the answer is No to any of these, release them.

  • Is this a time and energy suck?
  • Do I keep losing interest or find myself not thinking about this?

The decision is obvious if you get a yes to either of these.

Give Yourself Permission

Once you’ve gone through this process with each life item in front of you, give yourself permission to delete, cancel, remove or quit the things that aren’t a 'hell yes' in the joy, alignment and soul’s calling departments.

This is where a lot of us stop ourselves. We’ve spent good money on classes or products or partnerships so there’s a part of us that can feel like a failure or a quitter if we don't complete them or hang onto them for good measure. But, the only person you’re failing or quitting is you, if you don’t end what isn’t doing you any good anyway.

So give yourself permission. Quit! Cancel! Delete!

Marie Kondō says to honor each thing before you release it, thanking it for it's contribution to your life. It helps. 

It really opens so much more time and space for all of the high vibrational in-alignment things in your life that you love. Keep doing more of those!

Mindfully Fill Your Closet

Now that you’ve carefully and thoughtfully selected those, and only those, things in your life that answer all of those yes questions, it’s time to place them back in your life space.

Slot them in mindfully, allowing the room, time and care they deserve.

Now, take a step back and give it a good look. How does it make you feel? What a joyful and purposeful life you’ll have redesigned for yourself.

Now, when something new comes along, you’ll take much greater care in what you place in your life space. It’s very special in there; you’re creating with purpose and intention.

I know for me, my intuition now has a clear guide. If I don’t get a hell yes, it’s not getting in!

 

Here’s Another Clear Guide

If you want to further expand your thinking while elevating and operating your life at a higher level, please check out my simple 8-step checklist that will help you get there.

Click here to get the CHECKLIST right now. 


How Procrastination Can Lead to Your Best Work

Because sometimes, procrastination isn't procrastination.

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Procrastination has gotten a bad rap. And, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the badness of it, and to browbeat ourselves over it. I get it. I’m an experienced perpetrator, judge and jury when it comes to the subject of procrastination, often handing down my own verdict: Bad Writer! 

As I’ve mentioned here I’ve been working on a memoir. And, for a while it was simply pouring out of me.

Until it wasn’t. It’s like the river of ideas just stopped flowing. I fell into what most people would call the abyss of procrastination, which kind of fascinated me, to be honest. I'd start by beating myself up, then by trying to pep myself up and then just giving up. It was a cycle that went on for days.

Then I realized, I was talking about the story with everyone I know, flushing out an idea for a title, discussing through lines, themes and what was underneath certain scenes, asking my family about specific events from childhood, clarifying my memory. The fact is, I’m thinking about this memoir all the time, like a hundred times a day. Also, I read some books about writing memoirs and connected with other memoirists to discuss various aspects of the genre.

That’s when it hit me. This is my process, not my procrastination. And, not just about writing. This is the way process shows up in every area of my life. 

So, when isn’t procrastination, procrastination? When it’s part of process.

The truth is, I noodle. And, I noodle, and then I noodle some more. Then, the pieces start to fit into place, like a mystery puzzle when you don’t exactly know what it’s going to look like completed. At that point, often the project really cranks, like it has a mind of its own, until it's a little jewel of creation. It becomes the product of what I now call Productive Procrastination.

Ah, there’s a reframe!

I think this new recognition of procrastination deserves some love here. Productive procrastinating can actually be very helpful.

I ran across three TED Talks recently that sparked more thought along these lines.

One of my favorite TED Talks, "Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator", Tim Urban talks about what happens when we procrastinate and how the "instant gratification monkey mind" takes the wheel, involving us in everything except what we're wanting to get done. Fellow procrastinators, this talk is a must-see. It's hilarious and my guess is you'll see yourself in what he describes. 

I say the monkey mind can be a great friend to creative productive procrastination.

In a fascinating TED Talk, “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers,” psychologist Adam Grant concluded that some of the most original and creative thinkers procrastinate, they incubate. “Procrastination gives you time to consider divergent ideas, to think in non-linear ways, to make unexpected leaps.” He says, “Procrastination can be a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue for creativity." As a result of this process, "some of most creative people are fast to start and slow to finish." Yes!

The creative process is not rational, “the true essence of creativity is unexpectedness.”

That really takes the pressure off. Some of the most brilliant people I know are 11th hour geniuses. No matter how much time they have, they continually pull off brilliance at the last minute.

Author Manoush Zomorodi in her TED Talk “How Boredom Can Lead to Brilliant Ideas,” says, when you engage in mundane tasks you enter “default mode. Your body goes on autopilot and your brain gets busy forming new neural connections that connect ideas and solve problems.” You can probably recall times when THE idea or solution or word or thing came to you while you were doing something mundane, or by rote, like driving or taking a shower. Not that you should be bored while you’re driving, but your body is on autopilot so your mind can wander somewhat.

So, here are some ways to be a Productive Procrastinator:

  • Get bored. Do nothing. Stare at the wall. And...
  • Be still and just think. That’s it. Just noodle. Don’t take notes, don’t try and catch a thought. Just allow your mind to travel. Set a timer if you want to. Know that you’ll remember what you’re supposed to remember.

    “You call it procrastinating, I call it thinking.” Aaron Sorkin

  • Engage is some mundane, autopilot tasks: laundry, dishes, mow the lawn, any by-rote physical task.
  • Allow your imagination to take flight. This time take notes. No editing. No judging. Just free associate, mind to paper.
  • Be in nature. Being around such alive energy, it’s definitely where I do some of my best noodling.
  • Idea-storm, word-storm and brainstorm with others.
  • Keep trying new ideas and fresh ways to look at things. Sometimes it’ll take several passes before it’s the winner.
  • Know that “bad” ideas are simply pre-great ideas.

Remember, reflection is the Productive Procrastinator’s secret weapon. It's how ideas germinate and generate.

Then, put your project on your dance card. Make an appointment with yourself to get back to work on moving your project forward.

And, relax. There will be plenty of time to procrastinate again!


The Trifecta of Failure

Comparison, competition and perfection - the trifecta for failure. And what to do about them. 

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Photo by Andrew Worley on Unsplash

All three of these beauties – Comparison, Competition and Perfection - present themselves to me often, in varying degrees, one at a time, or when things are really fun they show up at my door as the three Witches of Eastwick, taking up residence in my castle, car, computer, office, dialogue and of course the mind, wreaking havoc, getting wild and basically controlling everything.

This is the way the Trifecta works. Each of them has their own bag of tools and spells designed to accomplish one thing: to keep us in place, safe from harm (getting hurt, rejected or dismissed). Their nutrients are fear, shame, disappointment, disillusionment, frustration and regret. And as long as we serve up these goodies our unwelcome guests are never going to leave the party and they block the door so we can never leave either.

Comparison Robs Us

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt

A brilliant actress friend of mine was up for the role of a lifetime. It’s a role she'd wanted since she was a child and she had a great shot at it. After receiving a callback she found out she was one of only a handful of others called back. So, unable to stop herself, she began Googling (Yep, Google is in the Trifecta’s toolkit). She looked up the other actresses also up for the role and then unwittingly gave her cursor over to Comparison. And, as we so often do, she could only see what they possessed that she thought she didn’t. She lost the part before even walking in the door to the callback.

“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” Iyanla Vanzant

I fished out the email I’d sent to her at the time, because this is what we do for each other as friends, we provide that soft place to land and then give a boost up so they can look in the mirror. Believe me, she's done the same for me. 

Here’s what I said: “What you bring to the table is so unique and wonderful and completely different than anyone else. There's NO ONE like you. You bring your YEARS of experience and expertise and talent and skill, in a way that no one else does. No one can compare or compete with that. It doesn't matter what their resume looks like (or anything else for that matter). Truly. At this stage of the game, you're in the room with very experienced actresses. That's where you want to be. If you just focus on that, then you'll stay on your A-game. Let them play their game and you play yours. And, don't allow them to rob you of your experience by giving them your time and energy; it gives your power away.”

This comes up for me as I follow brilliant writers who have published numerous books and I think I can’t possibly hold a candle to that at this point. A myriad of reasons (food for Comparison) present themselves: I’m too old, it’s too late, they’re better, smarter, prettier (not sure why but this comes in too but it does), braver, you name it I’ve projected it.

But, here’s the thing. When you compare yourself against others, you’ve given away your power to something outside of yourself. 

Comparison leads to judgment, which almost always leads to self-judgment.

Let's Reframe Comparison

Take a moment to think about reframing comparison. Look at what you admire about the other. Pay a brief and silent homage to that person’s success.

Empowerment coach Andrea Quinn, says, “Until you’re able to appreciate and honor the other’s success you won’t have the space to do it for yourself.” That’s how debilitating comparing yourself to others can be. It locks you in the deep freeze of your own prison. The first step to unlocking it for yourself is to appreciate the other.

Then, look in your own mirror. Dig deep and acknowledge what strengths and talents you bring to the party.  What are you serving at the table? What do you do that you know in your core gives you an edge as you?

Competition is a close bedfellow.

Now, certainly there’s something to be said for understanding your marketplace, or "competition" as marketers like to say. Knowledge is power when it’s used as information that serves you. But, when Competition is fed with all of those things we listed above at your self-defeating party, then it’s a blocker and not a helper.

Funny, the idea of competition came up recently as I was driving to an appointment. In the middle of the canyon with winding roads, I was minding my own business when suddenly the car behind me – a Honda with a thick front bumper guard – was on my tail, honking and trying to push me faster. Stop signs and other traffic didn’t matter; this guy was trying to be a force. In the past it would have stressed me out because I would try to please and play by his rules. This time, I surrendered to the metaphor and found it really interesting how much he was trying to get ahead. I thought, Dude, I’m going at my own speed, in my lane, you’ll just have to deal.

[Related: Pick a Lane, Follow the Road Baby]

Then, when we were on a wider thoroughfare I found myself competing with him. I played a game, trying to get ahead and around him, beating him through a light or slowing down on purpose to piss him off.

I caught myself and laughed out loud. It got me thinking about how much focus I was giving to his journey and not my own. I was literally giving this other annoying driver all of my attention. So, I stopped, slowed down my breath and focused on where I was going at my own speed, which to be honest was slower and more steady.

Pretty soon I forgot about him only to be aroused a few moments later by a series of loud beeps several cars behind me. Sure enough it was the Honda guy with the front bumper guard, torturing some other driver who was in his way. It struck me that people like him often need a protective bumper; they’ll keep running into or barreling over obstacles along the way. Awesome, if that works for them. But, that’s not the way I roll. So, why was I trying to compete with him? We both seemed to be on the same road, going in a similar direction, but we each have different purpose and reasons for doing so. In truth, I had no interest in where he was going.

When we focus on our competition we can lose sight of our own purpose.

Competition can foster copycat thinking and actions rather than originality and authenticity based on your own gifts and magic. When you lose those you lose yourself.

“Because she competes with no one, no one can compete with her.” Lau Tzu

Let's Reframe Competition

When you realize that no one makes it alone, often aligning or collaborating with those forging similar paths can sometimes bolster you and inspire you to keep going toward your own goals, dreams and desires. Then you have a community rather than a field of competition. That feels pretty good. Seek out those who have done what you want to do. Learn from them, partner with them, help each other and all the while, forge your own way.

Nobody has your magic sauce. Remember that. Get back to your own self worth.

Then, there’s Perfection

Perfection is the lurker, the wallflower at the party. Perfection can be the non-starter that keeps you from engaging in life all together.

I know so many incredibly talented people who are brilliant at what they do – in their own rooms. They re-do it, edit it, start over, keep polishing, get feedback and then start it all over again. All the while robbing the world of their gifts.

Trust me, I’ve been there. A lot. Just one more pass, then I’ll send it out. It just needs something…and then it will be ready. I will be ready when it’s perfect.

Perfection keeps us playing small. And, that’s not doing anyone any good.

Brene Brown says perfectionism is “a 20-ton shield. We carry it around thinking it’s going to protect us from hurt. But, it protects us from being seen.”

Yikes.

Progress not perfection

When we think of our work as progress rather than perfection, when we release it into the world it takes the pressure off of trying to be perfect. It’s a work in progress. We are a work in progress.

[Related: 6 Reasons Why Progress, Not Perfection]

Say it with me, fellow perfectionists. “I am a work in progress.”

Hmmm. Look around. The sky didn’t fall, the world kept spinning and guess what? People will only notice that you’ve stepped a bit more into your light, which allows them to give themselves permission to do the same thing. And, that's a gift that keeps on giving. 

So, our lovely little Trifecta of failure, reframed becomes a…

Trifecta of Purpose and Success:

Comparison becomes Appreciation, Gratitude & Self-Acknowledgment.

Competition becomes Collaboration, Community & Self-Respect.

Perfection becomes a Work-in-Progress & Self-Trust.

Now, that’s a trio worth inviting to the party and taking along for the ride.


Want to Grow? Look Beyond What You Know

There's so much there to find.

Edge of water

The temp read 101 degrees as I pulled into Ralph’s parking lot. It was a challenge as usual to find a parking spot which was further exasperated by the fact that I was hot and didn’t want to walk a mile to the door. So, again as usual, I trekked up and down the rows of parked cars watching for brake lights indicating someone was pulling out.

I turned down the last row, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a ramp. I have no idea why I had never noticed this any of the numerous times I’d been to this grocery store, but today it felt it had been put there just for me. It led to underground parking and as I drove down the ramp it was like finding a secret passage way. I found a spot right by the door so I whipped my Mini Cooper S into place.

I grabbed a cart and rode up the elevator next to a man with a beard and a twinkle in his eye that made me think of Merlin the magician, or a young Professor Dumbledore. I said, “This is the first time I’ve parked down here. It’s like a whole new world.” Without skipping a beat, he said, “a whole new world that’s a whole lot cooler.” Well said, Professor.

It got me thinking about what can happen when you look beyond what you already know, or think you know.

How often do you find yourself thinking something won't work because the thing you tried, failed to make it happen? Or a solution to a problem feels less than satisfactory, but it was the general consensus so it's what you go with? Or you've fallen into a habit or routine that used to work for you but it's lost it's power or value, however you keep doing it because it's what you've always done? Or you just can't figure it out so you quit? Or you can't find something, so you give up?

We've all done it. No judgment here. Heck I didn't even know there was underground parking at a shopping center I've been going to every week for almost two years!

But, what I experienced made me realize - or remember- that there's always another way. There's always something beyond what we already know. There's nearly always another way into it. 

So... Want to grow? Look beyond what you know.

Or simply ask, what else is there? What's beyond what I already know? Take a breath and allow the answer to reveal itself.

Then go there. You never know. Looking beyond what you know could lead to a secret passage way to exactly where you want to be. 

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you've already mastered, you will never grow." Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Related: Here's What It Means to Level Up


How A Broken Wrist Changed My Life

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Man, did I have grand plans for 2017. I mean, I couldn’t wait to hit the ground running with a very full plate of flavorful projects waiting to be completed and/or started. Every day was Ready, Set, Go...

Then, on Christmas Eve, seven minutes after I arrived at my sister’s for the family celebration, I stepped around the back of the couch to slip my gifts next to the tree. Unfortunately, the only things that slipped were my feet on the hardwood floor, clean out from under me as I fell and broke my wrist, broke it badly in fact, both the ulna and radius bones, which meant surgery, which meant a steel plate holding my wrist together, which meant wearing a cast for weeks (albeit one in a pretty color), which meant having to learn how to use my left wrist and hand all over again. 

Can you say Projectus Interruptus? It was more like Life Interruptus.

To say that starting this year with a broken wrist shook me would be an understatement. And what’s entirely laughable is how I tried to fight it, looking at it only as an obstacle keeping me from doing ALL that I’ve been wanting to do. Laughable because that is one fight I was never going to win. When you have one usable hand there’s only so much you can do.

I had no choice but to just stop

What immediately started to happen? Fears started to bubble to the surface that once and for all I was required to recognize, study and distill. Fears about running out of time or of missing out on that next great idea or next opportunity. And, it exposed something very big. It allowed me to take a hard look at myself as the chronic multitasker that I had become.

The multitasker moniker is one that I have worn loudly and proudly. I'd have a running to-do list, set multiple timers, creating fancy systems for said timers, jumping from one idea or one task to the next, and many times doing more than one of them at the same time. I definitely have a record of completing many of these tasks and getting things done and many of them fairly well. Crossing things off my to-do list, nirvana for multitaskers!

But, what often happens with this chronic multitasking? Mediocrity becomes the norm. Things get done but excellence often is not reached. And, focus is splintered in a thousand different directions.

Research has shown that multitasking causes the brain to work at a lower cognitive level and for an extended period time keeps it at that level. So, then it's harder to focus on projects that take a higher and deeper level of thinking and concentration. According to a Fast Company article "These Are the Long Term Effects of Multitasking," multitasking actually has addictive effects on the brain, can diminish IQ and the constant "task-switch" leads to a destructive cycle of distraction that stops productivity. 

So my broken wrist got me thinking about how the universe was giving me a very big message to slow down. To stay with the present moment and the present task at hand. The big Truth is that’s all there is, this moment, in this realm, in this space. And the truth is you can only accomplish one thing, well, at a time.

As a multitasker, I’d packed my plate with as many things as possible and when that plate was full I started another plate. It’s like continually going back to the buffet table that you know, even before you approach, is filled with delectable things you want to try. Things you know you don’t need, are not good for you and will derail you from your healthy Vision or Intention.

But now, if I attempt to carry my typically full plate with my only one good hand, there’s no doubt it’ll come crashing down, shattering into a pile of chaotic unorganized mess that will be nothing short of sad and depressing!

Going From Multi to Monotasker

Being focused on one thing at a time means staying away from the buffet table and removing the distractions that steal focus. It's like ordering from the menu the one thing that serves your vision or goal. And to help safeguard the commitment to being singly focused, if it’s actually a menu that you have pragmatically designed so that every item available to you serves your mission, then you’re in complete control of whatever goes on your plate on any given day.

So, for me I started by taking literally everything off of my plate and my menu of a thousand projects. I spent hours meditating and getting back in deep touch with my core values and my core truths. And, then I just got quiet. I allowed my GPS to re-calibrate as my single task menu items floated to the surface. Then, I sat with those for awhile, then cut them down again. What came out of the process was a clean, simple plate with very few projects on it that I'm absolutely madly in love with. 

And. It. Feels. Good. Really good.

Now, as physical therapy strengthens my wrist, I work to continually retrain my brain to stay focused on the one thing at a time. I've given up my place at the buffet table. I'm more cognizant of my electronics time so am mindful of distractions. And, I'm happy with what I'm doing.

Turns out, my broken wrist was one of the best things that ever happened to me. 

 

Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com. Please visit us on our Facebook Page: Facebook.com/ThoughtChanger  


On Being Born to Run... and to Create and Play and Love and...

 

"Tramps like us, baby we were born to run." 

I'm happy to share a birthday with Bruce Springsteen, which happens to be September 23rd.

In his upcoming autobiography, Born To Run, The Boss talks about what was in his “Rock ‘n Roll Survival Kit: DNA, natural ability, study of craft, development of and devotion to an aesthetic philosophy, naked desire for… fame, love, admiration, attention, women, sex, and oh, yeah… a buck. Then, if you want to take it all the way to the end of the night, a furious fire in the hole that just…don’t…quit…burning.”

The contents of his Rock ‘n Roll survival kit got me thinking. I often take stock around birthday time and this year I'm thinking a lot about what I was born to do. And, out of those musings several truths have bubbled to the surface, various lessons learned over a few decades of life. Most of them I'm continually working and evolving through. Hey, it's what I was born to do. Most are not new ideas, just my spinnings on them, how they have flared up for me and became my truths. They are what I've come to believe.

Thought I'd share a few to mark being born. Let me know if you click with some of them and please add your own in the comments!

Born to Create

I believe the best legacy is a life well lived, in service to others and to a higher calling. Create from that place and it's unstoppable.

I’ve found a structured foundation supports infinite creativity: routine, outlines, scheduled time blocks, consistency.

Make what you love what you do.

I believe wisdom is meant to be shared selflessly - it's part of creation and it's dharma. 

Collaboration in creation is fantastic. It can push your limits and rise you to being a better creator than you ever could be on your own.

I believe a good story can heal, inspire and call to action.

Born to Seek, Learn, Grow

What’s in the way is the way – consciously going through the molasses, quicksand and pain is the way to heal into a better self. It wasn’t until I got this that I finally was able to heal old wounds. From pain to purpose.

We weren’t meant to just survive, but to thrive.

Curiosity opens doors; judgment closes them.

When you mess up, own up.

I have to focus on focusing.

Heed your intuition – my body talks to me as does that little voice that guides me to the yes, no or pause.

Letting go is hard but oh so necessary.

I believe in other realms and that we can learn from them if we pay attention.

Patience is one my wisest guides (I’m working on this one!) – slow down to allow divine timing to take its course. Breathe into patience.

Born to Play                                        

4th birthday
Me at 4 years old

Laughter solidifies a moment. I simply love to laugh. 

Imagination is the playground where genius is born.

In the end, does crossing the finish line first really matter? 

I believe true freedom is to live like there is no finish line.

I believe in making play dates with my writing.

I believe what you can imagine is but a fraction of what's truly possible.

A little losing-track-of-time is good for the spirit. 

Born to Love

True connection is face-to-face, eye-to-eye, hand-to-hand, body-to-body, breath-to-breath. Social media is great for expanding your world, but for me true connection is up close and personal.

I believe your soul mate is a direct reflection of your self-love.

A pet’s love is pure and fills the spaces.

There’s power in Community – the gathering of kindred souls is the key to collectively raising the consciousness of this planet. It's the We that matters. 

I believe in real friendship where you have bad days and your true friends stick by you. I need my girlfriends and my sister on a daily basis!

Use your voice and stay in your light and you and your people with find each other.

Compromise, kindness, tolerance, steadfastness, communication and compassion are key ingredients in relationships.

Being loved and loving is the greatest feeling in the universe.

Born to Be (this is my Born to Run)

A woman is most powerful in her femininity.

A man’s vulnerability is a beautiful and powerful thing.

There’s nothing sexier than a man or woman in their element.

Embrace quietude and self-care – It’s everything: sleep, meditate, pray, journal, sweat and move the body.

I believe I’m at my best in quietude. I’m at my second best surrounded by people I love. A close third is when I'm on a deadline.

Being authentic is all about living, speaking and honoring your truth.

I’m learning to not sugarcoat the truth anymore and that I’m not responsible for how it lands or is perceived, only in how I present it.

To live full out you need to be full in – commitment to each moment builds to a rich and full life.

Be amazing, be true, be transparent, be real, be kind, be bold, be mindful, be wise. 

Be love. Be happy.

I also share my birthday with my Mom. So, I asked her to contribute a few of her own. Her voice is a powerful and loving one in my ether, fiber and being. 

"It’s not worth stewing over the small stuff. Pick your battles.

As I grow older, triggers don't trigger anymore. Acceptance is easier because I understand more.

Consideration for the other person is the most important thing. When they're happy you're happy.

Your dad and I compliment one another, in role, action and word. It’s the secret of a long-lasting marriage (57 years and counting).

And, whoever wins at Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune gets a foot rub." ~ Mom

Thanks, Mom, and Happy Birthday, Tramps like us, baby we were born to be amazing!

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com

 

 


Lean Into What's Working

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were on CBS Sunday Morning to talk about the Ron Howard documentary, EIGHT DAYS A WEEK: The Touring Years (which is in my Hulu queue!). They talked about the rocket ship early days in 1963 when they rode their unprecedented meteoric rise on the simplest of ideas. “It was really simple in the beginning,” Paul said, then added, “We were a great little band.”

Then, things got crazy! Beatlemania took off to the point where they needed to find a place large enough for their growing surge of adoring fans. The first concert at Shea Stadium happened in 1965 and arena rock was born.

Paul McCartney: “We didn’t plan for anything.”

Ringo Starr: “We just went with it.”

They just went with it. In other words, they leaned into what was working. And, kept leaning in as things kept working. Until it didn’t. Paul said the reason it ended, is it just got too complicated. In other words the energy shifted as they each made the choice to lean in other directions.

It got me thinking about leaning into what’s working in our daily lives. As illustrated by Paul, Ringo and the rest of the Fab Four, when we keep going in the direction of what's going well and focus on that which is igniting us, then more of the same will keep coming and propelling us upward and onward. It’s the very basis Lean into what's workingof the law of attraction: what you focus on expands, what you attract is also attracting you. Until it’s not.

Sometimes, however, we invest energy into something and keep investing energy even when it’s not working. We keep trying to make it work. When, if we really check in with ourselves, we know it’s not right, at least not right now. Right? What can often happen if we keep investing our time and energy in this kind of scenario, is that we give away part of our personal power and we run the risk of closing ourselves off to other invitations or opportunities or relationships that are willing to meet us where we are.

I've certainly experienced this phenomenon from both perspectives. And, I gotta be honest, not only can it be simply awesome to ride the wave of explosive rightness; it can also at times be rather derailing when it's not working, shaking me to my core, rocking me temporarily off course, particularly if it's something that is truly desired, like a special opportunity or a deeper connection with something or someone. Occasionally, I have invested my time and energy into something that has come into my path in which I saw potential and great value. So I leaned in, fully, in anticipation of receiving an equitable return on investment. It worked initially so I kept leaning. However, eventually in some cases, I wasn’t met there with equal investment or energy, a mutual leaning. 

When you find yourself at this juncture, a suggestion (which has worked for me) is to lean back. Then, assess the information presented so you can regain clarity about your original intentions. From that place of inner wisdom, pull back the energy, acknowledge the gifts this situation gave you (because there always are some) and then let go of its active hook in order to allow your energy investment to move on toward where it’s working and flowing, toward the invitation and the acceptance, the equitable ROI. 

Certainly, there are ebbs and flows in experiences, jobs, opportunities and relationships, where one side is more invested than the other at any given time. But, if you’re consistently not met where you feel satisfied, encouraged and in alignment, then leaning in another direction is a valid and powerful choice. At least for the time being. It can always be revisited at another time, but then it's from a fresh perspective, a renewed sense of value and purpose. 

Until then, keep leaning into what's working. 

Related:

Life is a River

How to Get to the Heart of the Matter

 

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Focus Pocus - Put Focus on Top of Your To-Do List

Fifteen phone messages need to be returned, 55 emails need to answered, the laser printer needs ink, a proposal needs to be written for a sales pitch, an annual report needs to be delivered in a half hour, your son called and forgot his baseball uniform, six employee evaluations sit on your desk - due yesterday, you have to reschedule a lunch meeting for twenty, oh and Hugh Jackman is on the Today Show...and it's only 9:15 a.m.

What do you do first? Does your list of tasks, obligations and deadlines leave you sitting paralyzed at your desk?

I recently re-read two books which continually have a profound impact on my life and career. It's hard to fathom that "Think & Grow Rich", by Napoleon Hill, was first written in 1937 because the principles still hold so true today. In fact, if you ask many of the top leaders currently, they'll tell you they built their formulas for success based on Napoleon Hill's brilliant insights and foresight. His book has become the Kleenex, if you will, or the generic brand, of platforms that teach us to focus on what we truly want in life as well as a clear blueprint to turn big thoughts into big reality.

The second book is "The Power of Focus", by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt, in which they layout a guideline for attaining clear focus on goals and creating new habits that lead to success. They say, "success isn't magic or hocus-pocus, it's simply learning how to focus."

A key attribute for being a strong Leader is to be a Multi-Tasker. An effective multi-tasker can have several projects going on at once, but to be truly effective, one must use what I call "Focal Point Clarity," which means peeling back the clutter around the current task so that it becomes your singular focus of the moment.

A great illustration of Focal Point Clarity was in the film, THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE. Matt Damon played a golfer who had the ability to focus so clearly on the ball going into the cup that literally everything disappeared from his mind's eye except the ball, his club, the flag and the hole. There were no trees, no screaming crowd, no judge and jury, no wind, no mind clutter. Just his focal point - putting the ball in the cup. It's worth watching the YouTube clip if you can find 6 minutes.

Napoleon Hill said, "Hold a picture of yourself long and steadily enough in your mind's eye, and you will be drawn toward it." The same principle can be used for a task on your growing list of to-do's. Here are some tips to help you focus and get to Focal Point Clarity.

  • Stop to prioritize - list by due date and how long you think it will take to finish. You may Focus To Do Listhave to do this 2-3 times a day.
  • Schedule the time by project into your Outlook or calendar program.
  • Clear everything else off your desk except for your task at hand - this is immensely helpful for peeling back the clutter, allowing your Focal Point Clarity to take shape.
  • Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses - when you peel back the layers of the job in front of you, zero in on what makes you brilliant at doing what you do. Let that lead you. It brings some joy into the moment and before you know it, it's complete.
  • Keep a running list - when something pops into your head put it on a pop-up list; to be prioritized later.
  • Handle email/mail only once - shuffling it around makes your lose your focus. Add it to your calendar if you need to and let people know you'll be responding to email twice a day. That will help you stick to the schedule without being concerned about "ignoring" someone's email.
  • Set boundaries - set your own rules for interruption - hold your calls for a time, close your door, let people know when you're available.
  • Walk away - what does this have to do with focus? Taking a break allows your conscious mind to breathe while your subconscious mind continues to work. As Napoleon Hill said, "The subconscious mind works day and night."

And, some other good tips to help you focus in general:

  • 3 squares & 8 hours - get a good 7-8 hours of sleep followed by 3 meals filled with healthy brain food - proteins, anti-oxidants, grains, vegetables - during the day, particularly breakfast which revs your focus engine.
  • Exercise - a steady flow of oxygen in the brain helps us focus, so get moving on a regular basis.
  • Take vitamins - B Complex, A, C and E vitamins help keep the brain sharp.

The reason I picked up my well-worn copies of these books is because I can sometimes fall victim to the fast moving train of ideas, obligations and deadlines that flow by all day long! In fact, I like the train analogy because it describes how my brain starts my day.

I'm standing on the train platform, sipping my first cup of java, gazing at the myriad of trains leaving the station for that day, with my mind's voice yelling out the various ports of call, "All aboard! Platform 1 leaving for Writer's Paradise; platform 2 leaving for Client Project Cove; platform 3 leaving for Fabulous Brand New Idea Island; platform 4 leaving for Hugh Ja... you get the idea.

Then, I look down at the note next to my computer which says FOCAL POINT CLARITY, and I look at my PRIORITIZED to-do list that I made before I left work the night before. I board the selected train and begin my day's journey.

As a primarily right-brainer, I've learned that I must put Focus on the top on my daily to-do list, every day, day after day. After day.

 

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Here's How to Get to the Heart of the Matter

The word today is efficiency. It’s not the first time I’ve chosen this word from the grab bag of words I use sometimes to prompt my writing. In fact last time it sparked this: 5 Ways to Be Efficiently Creative.

But, this time I wanted to put it back and draw another card. I wanted to pull something different, a bigger, sexier, juicier word, a word that would really get my engine going, a word I could really get behind and be jazzed about.

Instead, efficiency. Okay, there must be a reason this word jumped out at me. The first things that popped into my head were “corporate” and “color within the lines” and “beige.” All three concepts I have a tendency to run from energetically. Yet, I know there’s something important here to discover, another way of looking at efficiency, a thought changing notion begging to be brought forth. In that moment it was as if efficiency, the word itself, was perhaps aspiring to be more, to define a deeper truth.


Will-o-heartjpg
So, digging a little further, how is "being efficient" personified? Well, to me it describes someone who uses her time well. Someone who uses economy in getting things accomplished, in other words, one who trims the fat off in order to really focus on the heart of the matter.

Ah, the heart of the matter. That’s it. Now we’re getting somewhere. Now we’re talking about efficiency on a grander, more macro scale. Life efficiency: meaning a life that’s focused cleanly and clearly on what matters, what’s important to the heart.

 

So, consider this:

To be efficient in getting to the heart of the matter in life, know what matters to the heart. [Tweet This: @cindyyantis]

Then once you're clear on that, trim the fat, only keeping what matters to and will serve the highest good of the heart, you, your life and the way you're meant to live it.

What are heart matters? Here are four questions to probe:

  1. What are the projects in your world that feel right, for all the right reasons, for you? Career choices that excite you, that propel towards a feeling of purpose?
  2. What causes speak to your heart in a way that feels transformative, for others and for yourself?
  3. Where do you love to spend your time and with whom?
  4. Who are the people in your life who fill you up and in whose presence you feel empowered, who bring out the best in you and who support you? And, conversely, who are those who don’t (you know who they are)?

Once you have some answers to these simple, yet deep inquiries, getting to the heart of the matter means clearing all away the superfluous, ineffective, disconnected, judgmental and incongruent distractions, in order to clear the pathway for what matters most to your heart.

Living efficiently in this way, what will happen, at least to my way of thinking, is that more of us will lead, live, work, love and communicate from and through the heart.

Nothing beige about that!

What are your matters of the heart?

Related articles

5 Ways to Be Efficiently Creative
Stop Being So Nice: Just Be Real
In Alignment - A Life Philosophy

Indecision is the Enemy of Spontaneity

Some thoughts, and perhaps thought changers, on one my least favorite places to be: Indecision.

  • Indecision is the enemy of spontaneity.
  • Indecision is the enemy of the artist.
  • Indecision is the downfall of the parent.
  • Indecision is the downfall of fruition.
  • Indecision is a self-imposed prison.
  • Indecision is the enemy of invention.

SpontaneityIn fact, indecision cripples invention.  It cripples marriage proposals, cripples IPO’s, cripples education, cripples war. And, peace.

The very nature of indecisiveness stunts the very nature.

Where would we be if Mother Nature couldn’t make up her mind? Would an apple tree become a river? Would an ant be dissatisfied with being an ant? Would an albatross wish it were a hummingbird? Would a sunflower decide to stay in bed? If Mother Nature waffled and just couldn’t make the definitive decision that everything in nature has its predetermined role to play, where would we be?

Where would we be if we always straddled the fence between yes and no?

Where would we be if we couldn’t decide between this and that? Up or down? In or out? Now or later?

Where would we be if a life or death decision was impossible to make? Dead?

Is that when we cease to be?

Free will is the mother of indecision. Without free will there’s no decision to make. Whatever is, is.

But here's the good news: free will is what gives us choice.

  • Choice is the decision.
  • Choice is the power to attract the life we want.
  • Choice is the power to transform.
  • Choice is awareness and being in the now.
  • Choice is freedom.
  • Choice is a friend of spontaneity.
  • Choice is a friend to the artist.
  • Choice is the peace of mind of the parent.
  • Choice nurtures fruition.
  • Choice is the lover of invention.

 Choice doesn’t have to be forever. It’s just right now. It gets us out of the vast and chaotic place called indecision.

Choice kicks indecision’s ass.

Choice is the thing. Just make one.

 

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com