Keep Your Goal in Your Sights

It is easy to get side tracked in life. As the old saying goes, it is sometime hard to remember that the goal is to drain the swamp while constantly fighting the alligators. I recently celebrated a birthday; Birthdays are the perfect time for reflection. As I reflected on my life I realized I have spend far too many days dealing with alligators and not enough days draining the swamp.

What about you? Are you remaining vigilant of your goals? Or are you letting them slip by you as you deal with day to day living?

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The Power of Gratitude

I have been happily married for many years. It is by no means a perfect relationship but it is as close as two fallible humans can make it. There are days when we fight. There are day when we can barely speak to each other. There are blissful days. There are nearly perfect days. Most days are somewhere between perfect and not speaking. However, every day we are careful to say thank you and please.

It is a simple thing. After so many years, it may seem that we could stop with the niceties. On the other hand, being polite is not just something we are doing. It is something we are expressing. Our nicety is expressing our respect for each other. We are giving the gift of Respect, even in the midst of a fight.

There is no way to express just how important the words Thank You are. Think of how you feel when someone gives you the gift of gratitude. Two simple words, which express your true gratitude, can make the difference in the lives of those closest to you and to stranger you never encounter again.

Try it for the rest of this week. Try it with your spouse. Try it with your children. Try it with your boss or your subordinates. Try it with strangers. Say thank you. Say thank you and mean it. Look them in the eye and express your try gratitude. You will be amazed at how different you will feel. You will also be amazed at how people will respond to you.

I would be remiss if I did not say Thank you! Thank you for being a part of my journey. Thank you for the encouraging words you send to me.

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Are you Deliberate?

Have you ever visited the ocean in the spring? The temperatures are just beginning to rise. The water still too cold for swimming but the sun feels oh so glorious on your skin. It is easy to spend an entire day sitting or laying enjoying the still crisp breeze and the suns rays.

Unfortunately, it is also easy to acquire sunburn on these days. It is not that we are unaware of the strength of the sun or the possibilities of later pain.sunburned feet  Nevertheless, it is easy to be lulled into inaction. The gradualness with which we become burned lends itself to complacency in allowing it to happen.

Madeleine Kunin, former Governor and author is quoted as saying ‘Inaction, contrary to its reputation for being a refuge, is neither safe nor comfortable.’ While her quote is most likely referring to inaction in a political sense, it can also be applied to a personal sense.

Have you become complacent in your life’s quest?  Are you on the lookout for the gradual comfort of where you are in life? Are you moving toward your goal or have you accepted the status quo for your life?

You should be asking yourself these questions every three months (minimum). Inaction is an action, a non-deliberate action. I challenge you to make your actions deliberate.

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Le Tour de Life – Six lessons from Le Tour de France

I am a cycling fan! As such, I am, by default, a huge fan of Le Tour de France. In case you are not a cycling fan let me explain. There are three ‘Grand Tours’ (i.e. big races) in cycling. Of those three, the Tour de France (the tour) is the biggest. The tour takes place over a three-week period every year in July. In the three week, period riders travel an average of 2,200 miles (the actual distance varies from year to year). I was watching the tour this morning and realized just how much the tour is like life.

The tour consists of 180-198 riders each year broken up into teams of nine riders each. Each team member rides in support of the team member who is doing the best. Lesson one – no one wins alone.

There are many races within the race. There is the stage winner (the rider who was the fastest that day). There are competitions for sprinters, mountain climbers and the best young rider. Lesson two – not everyone has to be the same.

The final winner of the tour may not have even won one stage (day). The winner is the rider with the best over-all time. Lesson three – winning is about consistent daily performance.

It is not unusual for close competitors to slow down and wait when their competition has a mechanical problem or needs to take a ‘natural break’ (call of nature). It is considered bad form to take unfair advantage of circumstances.  Lesson Four – be considerate (even of your biggest rival).

Each year there are two rest days in the tour. On rest days the riders have a day off that they can do as they please. On these days, it is not unusual to hear that the riders have gone out on a leisurely bike ride. They ride because they do not want to get stiff and have their body not be able to perform the next day when the race resumes. Lesson five – time off is just preparation to start again.

This year of the 198 riders who began the tour 12% have already abandoned the race. These are world-class riders. Race teams are by invitation only (i.e. only the best in the world) and each team puts their best riders in the tour.  Yet, in the second week of a three-week race 12% have had to leave the race. Just being able to finish the Tour de France puts a rider in a very exclusive club (even for the rider who finishes last). Lesson six – Completing what you start is its own reward.

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Resolve to Change

Humans are creatures of habit.  Most, if not all of us, have our usual rituals of things that we do.  Just imagine your average morning routine.  That routine is nothing more than a habit of what you do in preparation for your day.  Changing a habit is difficult. When you have finally made your decision to go after your dream and you have committed to take action, you are creating a new habit.

I am a believer in visual cues when getting out of your rut.  If you saw the movie GI Jane with Demi Moore, you may recall the scene when she dramatically resolves that she is going to persevere and become a Navy SEAL.  At the moment when the viewer may believe that she is on the verge of quitting, she stumbles into the barber shop and shears herself.  I am not advocating for such radical demonstrations of resolve, however, a visual reminder of your resolve to complete your goal is beneficial.

If, for example, your resolve was to drink less coffee, or to quit drinking coffee completely, perhaps your visual cue would be to move or remove your coffee pot.  If your resolve is to write, perhaps you carry a pen in your pocket at all times.  Maybe choose a wristband or bracelet which will serve as your visual reminder to eat less or exercise more.  Any visual cue can work as long as you have truly resolved to live your dream.

What visual cue will you choose?

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