In August we visited the incredibly beautiful island of Grenada in the Southern Caribbean. First of all, the locals are super smart, caring, and funny.   And they all seem to have the gift of dance.  They lay claim to a fast techno-style music called Soca (Grenada Soca to be exact). I don’t think you could stop them from dancing if you tried.  And there is no point in trying because they make everyone around them want to sing and dance too.

Prior to this trip, I committed myself to learning how to scuba dive by getting certified at the resort.  Mind you, I’m somewhat claustrophobic, however I love to snorkel and can swim fairly well, so I figured scuba is the next step. Looking at all the bright colored fish and thousands of creatures beneath the surface is thrilling. Strapping on a tank, gear, and regulator, then dropping down 50 feet into the depths, adds its own ‘color’ shall we say.

My scuba guide, Curtis, had the patience of a saint and if he was any more relaxed he would have been asleep.  But I guess that’s one of the benefits of living in the Caribbean (nobody is in a hurry).  I got through the pool training (it was only 4 feet of water, but who’s keeping tack).  The beach dive on the second day I  must say went well (after wigging out and crying after the first day’s beach dive because I felt like a failure letting fear get in the way – aborting the dive early). I regrouped after realizing I had stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something completely different (not only emotionally and mentally, but physically as well) even if it didn’t end the way I’d hoped.

On the second day I actually got down to 30 feet for 30 minutes, with Curtis’ kind support (aka holding my hand the whole time).  I received accolades from my husband after we broke surface congratulating me on the milestone.  I was feeling pretty good about myself thinking “I got this!”, until the next day.

The third day was the official boat dive day where we would go a ways off shore and dive down 50 feet for about 30 minutes.  Whoa!  There were a lot of people on the boat so I had to keep my overwhelming fear to myself  while at the same time keeping a smile on my poker face.  They were all avid divers with a passion for the deep, who dive pretty often, and made out like its no big deal. I didn’t want to look like a sissy.

After some last minute anxious words of panic came spewing out of my mouth just before we submerged (I later apologized to Curtis profusely for my unbridled emotions), Curtis once again held my hand and we descended slowly to 50 feet.  I doubt he gets paid enough to endure a tourist’s emotional breakdowns and pulling them through to the other side. While down there we checked out a sunken boat that was now a beautiful coral garden bustling with its own eco system of incredibly colored fish and other sea life.  Even though I was basked in this beauty, I kept looking at my tank’s air gage and thinking about resurfacing to breath ‘real air’ and feel a breeze on my face.

To wrap up this little tale, I can say I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone.  There will always be fear and doubt that wants to hold me back from lots of things. I stepped out anyway, and even though I haven’t yet become scuba certified, I’m proud of the underwater ‘ground I’ve covered’ and blessed by the people I met along the way.  I learned that stepping out of the comfort zone isn’t just about the end goal, its can be about the journey along the way.

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Sometimes it’s easier to avoid doing that thing you really want to do and stay busy doing other things. Why?  Because you know how to do those other things already.  The new thing you want to do, like learning a new language, writing a book, starting a business, or something as simple as starting a new workout routine, is the unknown.  The brain needs to be focused for something new. It can’t run on autopilot.  As the saying goes, “To be something different, you have to do something different.”

I gave this some thought this week and explored my own avoidances and feelings of overwhelm.  I’m building a consulting side business to help small businesses with financial consulting. When I think of why I don’t move forward in a particular area, I realize most often it’s because the path forward is not yet clear.  Once I’ve done some research, spoken with people, written down the risks, rewards, costs and benefits, the plan forward shakes out.  Once I know the path I can then develop a process, or steps, for doing that thing. It could be creating a marketing plan on how to contact and track progress of reaching potential clients more efficiently, to identifying a system for keeping organized to reduce time spent on administrative tasks.

When developing any processes, they have to be created with the thought of being repeatable and scalable. I never want to reinvent the wheel, I only want to make the wheel more reliable and faster, so the ride I’m taking on it is smoother and more enjoyable.

Once the specific process is developed and put into action (blockage removed), that thing I use to avoid doing because I wasn’t quite sure how to get done, which caused anxiety and worry, is now something I’m excited to do.

 

I just read a fascinating article by Khalil Smith called,  Why Our Brains Fall for False Expertise, and How to Stop It.  I urge you to read the entire article (click here).  In it he points out the benefit of being intentional about writing down ideas and steps for weighing options and boiling down information from which we can make wise decisions. This goes a long way to insure the best path forward is uncovered.

“Get explicit, and get it in writing. One fairly easy intervention is to instruct employees to get in the habit of laying out, in writing, the precise steps that led to a given decision being made. You also can write out the process for your own decision making.”                       – Khalil Smith

“Intelligent individuals learn from every thing and every one; average people, from their experiences. The stupid already have all the answers.” — Socrates

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.?

Steve Jobs

Today I heard someone say, “Education without implementation doesn’t change a thing.”  That statement hit me. Most people know what to do, but struggle with making tough decisions and following through to move forward.  They actually know what they need to do to lose weight and get in better shape, but struggle with being disciplined enough to do the work.  They have the information and are educated, but stop short of implementing the education (taking action) to cause the desired results.  Not knowing is not the problem. It’s not doing, that’s the problem.

I’ve seen the same thing happen to people in the area of personal financial planning (or the lack of it).  After discussing some basic principles to follow in order to win with money, a friend said, “Well I get all that.  That’s nothing new; everybody knows that.”  If that’s the case, then why aren’t you doing it? It’s about behavior, not just knowing what to do.

“Education without implementation, is letting education go to waste.”  

I found these statistics pretty shocking.  A GOBankingRates survey finds 57% of Americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account. Even more alarming is the fact that included in that percentage is the 39% of people with absolutely nothing saved. Wow. Saving a little something consistently, no matter how much, is better than not saving at all. The good news is that saving something, even if it seems like nothing, will add up over time.

 

Have you ever thought much about how you actually make decisions?  When you’re making decisions, do you consider what other people (the crowd) are choosing to do and all the things that may be influencing their decisions (smart or not so smart)? Do you take it a step further and question the decisions the crowd is making – even though a lot of people may be taking similar actions based on like decisions, does it make sense for you personally and for your family to do the same? Is the crowd acting to satisfy short-term wants and needs vs. long-term lasting solutions that will make their life more healthy and stable?

I guess the real question is, do you feel at peace doing what others are doing so you ‘fit in’, or do you have the courage to be different for the sake of doing what’s best for you and your life?

How do you measure success?  I heard this question a couple of days ago and couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Aren’t we all striving for success in some fashion or another?  Isn’t it what drives us every day to do something or be something we’ve never been before? Or maybe for some people success is just being alive another day. Whatever it is, it’s definitely different for everyone, and we measure it by our own individual metrics.

One thing I’ve come to realize, after years of chasing the approval of people as a way of measuring success (be them corporate managers, personal friends, acquaintances, or others), is that whatever short term ‘success’ that may have seemed to be gained from their approval, fades away quickly. Leaving me disappointed, feeling like a failure, and not successful. The good thing I’ve come to realize is that if I stop looking to external sources to measure my success, and start looking internally, there are a lot of successes to celebrate and be proud of.  Successes like completing college, paying off college, having the courage to move thousands of miles away from family, friends, and everything familiar, by myself, to make a new life; saving and purchasing a home; getting out of debt; getting married; staying active and healthy; etc. The list is different for everyone, but the message is the same.  Recognizing our worth professionally and personally and the unique strengths we bring to the table is what it’s about. Success isn’t about what someone else thinks about you, it’s what you think about yourself.

If you’re like most people (me included), when you get a great idea motivation runs high and you can’t wait to get started.  But then after a while, whether do to a hectic home life, work responsibilities, travel, etc. you wonder how will I ever make enough time to focus on this new thing.  It takes a lot of focused effort and resources to get a business off the ground. I’m constantly thinking about how to better organize my days, weeks, and months, to move things forward. Because after all, the goal is to generate income from this thing I like to do.  People often tease me because I’m very organized and love putting processes into place so that I don’t have to stop and think about what to do next in the course of my day. If I stopped to think about working out or going for a run, I’ll talk myself out of it every time.  But, when I tell myself first thing in the morning, here is what you are going to do today, a, b, and c, I’ll get it done.  For building and running my business, I keep an annual calendar broken out by quarter and month, listing all tasks I need to get done, and the deadlines by which they need to be completed. What does this do? It allows me to ‘not think’.  That sounds odd, but it’s true.  When I’ve downloaded these things on paper in advance, all have to do is execute according to the plan.  There is less clutter in my head. If you want to keep going when motivation begins to wane, put processes into place to keep you on track and moving towards your goal.

I recently heard a great Farnam Street podcast interview with Ed Latimore titled, The Secret to a Happy Life.  Ed touches on this exact topic.  He is a professional heavyweight boxer and physics major.  He talks about boxing, tough love, entropy, the worst that can happen, coaching, relationships, and a lot more.  I encourage you to take a listen.

Ed Latimore on The Secret to a Happy Life


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Art by Christine (Parrish) Barker. © Christine Barker. All rights reserved.

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© Christine (Parrish) Barker and Your Ultimate Life Vision 2018. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Christine (Parrish) Barker and Your Ultimate Life Vision with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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