Life Lessons: Learning to Cope with The “S” Word 4

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The “S’ word is all around us. It seems at times that we can’t go a day without hearing about it – feeling it’s effects or getting caught up in it. It wasn’t as topical 20 years ago – yet it has  always been there – it just seems now it’s on everyone’s mind. The “S” word – yes I’m talking about STRESS! It’s like that pesky neighbour next door who just won’t move away. You can’t eliminate all of the stressors that are creating stress in your life but you can learn how to deal with them.

Stress is not always a bad thing. A little bit of stress can be a very positive and motivating influence in our lives. Stress can help create a sense of urgency and force us to get off the couch. It is only when stress increases beyond our ability to easily cope with it that we begin to feel both the emotional and physical effects of it. (Headaches, inability to concentrate and a rise in our blood pressure) The negative effects of common stressors are cumulative. A series of very mild stress events can create an exceptionally high level of stress if not dealt with effectively. You can learn how to cope.

Three Methods for Coping with Stress 

Your most critical stress issues are those you feel are high priority to change and you are able to change them. Your least critical stress issues are those with a low priority and are very difficult to change. Learn to change what you can, influence what you will and give up on those things that you cannot control. For those stressors you can change, the key is to develop a specific plan of action for creating the change you want, then follow through with that plan. (I know I make it sound simple but it really is that simple) For those stressors you cannot change, the key is to change your response to them. (Mind over matter. If you don’t mind then it doesn’t matter)

Eliminate the stressors or change your response to them 

To accomplish more with our lives and achieve a greater feeling of satisfaction we must reduce or eliminate unproductive stressors in our lives where ever and when ever possible. and improve our ability to cope with those stressors that we cannot eliminate. (You don’t get to pick your relatives or immediate family but you can choose how much time you spend with them) Attitude – your attitude is 100% in your control. Only you get to decide how you want to react to any given set of circumstances. Only you get to decide when to take a few deep breaths to calm yourself, walk away or simply ignore it all together.

Use the coping resources available to you 

There are a number of social services available to you to help you cope with those major life events like disease, divorce and even death. You don’t have to carry the load yourself. Reach out – it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help – it’s a sign of strength.  Hobbies are also a great way to de-stress at the end of the day. Exercising, eating right and sleeping right will also help reduce the ill-effect of stress in your life.

Develop new coping resources

You only know what you know. If what you are currently doing to cope isn’t working, then you need to discover a better way. Read a book, attend a workshop or better yet join a support group. The last thing you should do is sit at home alone with too much time on your hands. The last thing you should do is sit alone at home feeling sorry for yourself. Getting knocked down isn’t the issue, everyone gets knocked down. Not getting back up and doing something about it is. You can learn to deal with the “S” word. It’s 100% in your control. 🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith. Not to be reproduced without permission. Brian Smith is available for speaking engagements, one-on-one coaching sessions and workshops. Contact Brian directly at briansmithpld@gmail.com or visit his site http://briansmithpld.com

Suck it up Butter Cup and Get Back in the Game

It is what it is – either change it or change the way you’re thinking about it because you’re letting it hold you back. As Larry Winget  would say “Shut up – Stop Whining – And Get a Life“. Stop complaining about it. Feeling sorry for yourself is a waste of energy. Use that energy to put a plan together to get you to where you’d rather be. Your future is not in your past – so don’t live there. Stop playing the victim of circumstance. Reality is – bad things happen to good people – so suck it up butter cup and get back in the game.

Take a moment and try this exercise. Grab a blank sheet of paper and a pen. I want you to think outside the box for a moment. In a perfect world what would you love to do? What would you rather be doing then what you are doing right now? Don’t set your sights too low. I want you to think big and dream bigger. What would be your ideal career? Think about that question for moment and then write it down.  Now list all the things that need to happen for you to land your dream job. What new skills will you need to learn? What clubs, associations or networking groups should you join? Do a “Google” search and find out who is already doing what you want to do. I want you to contact at least five people and interview them to find out how they did it. You don’t have to have all the answers. You just need to know who to go to and ask.

Congratulations. You’ve taken the most important step towards your future. You’ve taken the “First” step. The first step is sometimes the hardest step to take . Nothing happens by chance. You’ve now put a plan together to get you to where you’d rather be. Now go out and start working your plan. Have faith in yourself. You are capable of doing anything that you truly believe you can do. There is nothing getting in your way of doing what you truly want to do – but YOU. All you need to do is learn how to get out of your own way.

I want you to take that “To-Do” list and post it on your fridge, the bathroom mirror, on your desk – post it where you’ll see it everyday. “To-Do” lists are great because they give us a sense of direction. They help us focus on what’s important. They are a constant reminder of where we’ve been – but more importantly – where we are going.  You’ll love the feeling you’ll get when you complete one of the tasks on your list and you get to cross it off .  It will motivate you to keep going.  There is nothing like the sense of accomplishment to spur us on to do more. It’s like licking a 9 volt battery. If you love that feeling – you’ll do it again.

Anytime is a great time to start a new beginning. Anytime is a great time to write that book, record that CD, sign up for those art lessons and paint that landscape. Anytime is a great time to get into business for yourself, to go back to school or become a conisour of fine wines. You are never, ever too old. The brain has the capacity to learn new things – to get rewired – to take you to where you want to go. Anytime is a great time to start a new beginning so you might as well start now. Think BIG – Dream BIGGER – 🙂

Think it, Act it – You’ll Eventually Become It. You Can Have The Life You Want

Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a difference result. You have to change the input to change the output. You’ve got to develop new habits. A good habit is a good result – plain and simple. (Of course the opposite is also true – bad habits produce bad results) We are adults and we can develop new habits. All we have to do is stop doing one thing and start doing another – and if we do it often enough – it will become us. Behaviorist’s suggest that if you do something twenty-one times in a row – you’ll have developed a new habit. I think for the most part that we are born with a blank slate. And that we learn to behave a certain way to get a certain result. Now if that’s true – then the way we act is a learned behavior. And if you agree that it’s a learned behavior – then that means we can unlearn it and replace it with something else.

Think it …

I’m not going to get too deep here – but your internal dialogue (What you say to yourself) has everything to do with how you react and act externally. If you feel sad – you’ll look sad. If you feel happy – you’ll look happy. Attitude – Your attitude is everything! You are whoever you think you are – it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you can or can’t – you’re absolutely right. If you think you can’t – then you are beat before you start. David knew he could defeat Goliath. He had faith in his own ability to pull it off. You need to believe in yourself. You need to believe that you are capable of doing whatever you set out to do. You need to believe that you can have the life you want.

Act it …

You need to start acting in a way that is going to get you what you want. What new habits do you have develop to get the kinds of results you need? What do you have to stop doing and start doing to accomplish what you set out to do? Do you need to learn how to communicate and interact more effectively – manage your time – cope with stress – solve problems, deal with difficult people and challenging situations or expand your circle of influence? If you are going to change the habit to change the result then you need to decide what new habit you need to develop. Once you’ve decided what you need to learn – then all you need to do is start doing it. It’s never easy to change – but you can change if you truly believe that you need to – that you need to change in order to have the life you want.

You’ll eventually become it …

Practice, practice, practice. Be patient – it takes time. But, the more you do it – the better you’ll get at it – and the better you get at it – the more you’ll do it without thinking about it. It will become ingrained in you – it will become part of you. Everything we choose to do alters our brain and it fundamentally changes who we are. Dr. Richard Restak, neuropsychiatrist and clinical professor of neurology at George Washington University believes it’s a process that continues until we die. The human brain has the ability to reprogram itself. All of the new research on the brain suggests that no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to change your brain for the better. Your brain doesn’t break down over time. The brain has a lifetime capacity for learning new things.

You can have the life you want …

You don’t have to settle. You can have the life you want – the life you imagined for yourself. If you are mentally and physically capable of doing and becoming who you really want to be – then the only thing standing in your way is you. All you have to do is learn how to get out of your own way. Stop doing one thing – and start doing another – and if you do it often enough – it will become you. Remember – You may have developed a certain way of behaving at a very young age but it doesn’t have to dictate where you end up or who you become. – Cheers. 🙂

* (C) Copyright 2012 – Brian Smith. Think it, Act it, You’ll Eventually Become it – You Can Have The Life You Want – is the title of my soon to be published self-help / personal development book. Stay tuned

The “Secret” is a Load of Crap 5

The “Secret” is a load of crap – not my words – but I get Larry Winget’s point. Just because you think about success doesn’t mean you will be successful. Success in any undertaking is hard work. Which is why most people aren’t as successful as they could be because they aren’t willing to put in the effort. Success is a planned event. If you aren’t willing to put in the time than don’t waste your time. Wishing and hoping won’t make it so. Success and being successful is a planned event.

“A good goal is like a strenuous exercise … it makes you stretch” – Mary Kay Ash

Dreams are goals with timelines. Here are some basic guidelines on setting goals. Remember to always start with the end in mind and walk your plan backwards to the here-and-now. Think of the plan as setting a SMART target.

S – Specific: Write down what you want to achieve. Don’t generalize. As Dr. Phil would say – “You’ve got to name it to claim it”. If you want to lose weight – how much weight? If you want to save money – how much money?

M – Measurable: You’ve got to be able to measure your progress. Break your target down into bite size pieces. What results do you expect to see in a week, month or in a 3-month period? If you don’t measure your progress you’ll never know if your plan is going to get the desired results. Anyone can eat an elephant – one bite at a time.

A – Attainable: Don’t set yourself up for failure. Don’t commit to completing a task in 20 minutes if you think it might take 40. Keep in mind that it’s not a sprint – it’s a marathon – be patient.

R – Realistic: To lose 20 pounds in a week might not be healthy or realistic. To lose one pound in a week may be more in line. The task must be do-able. If you think you can – or can’t accomplish the task – you’re right. You need to become your biggest cheer leader. (The little train that could)

T – Time-based: An expected date of completion is a great motivator. It helps us to create a sense of urgency. It gives us a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Keep in mind that there may be some unexpected road blocks along the way and you may have to adjust your time-line to account for those delays and detours.

Be sure to commit your plan to writing. It will give you something to refer back if you find yourself getting sidetracked or lose sight of why you are doing it in the first place. By putting it in writing you’ve given your plan the same status that you’d give any contractual agreement. Think of your written plan as a contract you’ve made with yourself.

“Planning is as natural to the process of success as its absence is to the process of failure.” – Robin Sieger

The “Secret” is – there is no secret. Nothing worthwhile achieving comes by chance. Have a plan and work your plan. Set a SMART target. – Cheers, 🙂