How do you eat an elephant?

Perhaps you know the answer to this one? One bite at a time…

When I think about change, I think about this question. Change is challenging yet it is something we do all the time. Or perhaps I should say it is something we attempt all the time.

Maybe you’ve heard the statistics thrown around about New Year’s resolution success rates. (If you haven’t, they aren’t great!) It could be that you make the same resolution year after year. After year…

One option is to give up. Who wants to eat an elephant anyway? That may be a valid choice. But maybe giving up isn’t a great idea. Maybe the goal is important. Maybe it isn’t optional. Maybe it’s a deep, deep desire that you are not ready to abandon.

So when facing big changes against difficult odds, what’s one to do? It’s big, it’s a bit overwhelming, and a little scary. Take a deep breath and remember the elephant question.

Take one little step at a time
Break it down!

If your desired change was the elephant, what “bite” (small step) could you take to get started? What can you start doing…or stop doing…that will move you in the direction you want to go?

I’ve recently quit a sugar habit. It’s been a while in the making and, don’t get me wrong, I still plan to have sugar as an occasional treat. But in getting here, I took baby steps. First, I quit drinking soda. I kept at that until it was easy and I no longer missed it.

Then I stopped eating candy treats. After that, I drove past my favorite ice cream establishment rather than driving through. The final baby step was cutting my beloved latte flavoring down to one pump of syrup. Now, I no longer even miss those.

Because I took it in tiny steps it was easier than I expected to cut sugar and far more successful than when I tried to do it all at once.

Do you have a goal you’ve been working on? What little step will you take to move you in the right direction? Comment below and let me know!

P.S. I do not condone eating elephants. Just google “baby elephant gif”; so much cuteness! Until then, here’s a little one to admire:

Baby Elephant
Photo by Chen Hu on Unsplash

 

What if it didn’t have to be hard?

Have you ever struggled with an issue? Had a goal that was difficult to attain? Faced a problem?

I’m guessing the answer is yes. Well, I have too. In fact, I’ve got some projects on which I have displayed some pretty impressive (if I say so myself) procrastination!

As I was considering writing this post, a thought entered my head:

“What if it didn’t have to be hard?”.  – Click to tweet!

You see, I’m doing some things. I’ve got plans for 2019 that make me a little nervous if I’m honest. Some of them…I’m avoiding. And I noticed that the areas where I’m making progress are the ones where I have intentionally made them as easy as possible.

Keep it simple

 

Keep it simple! It seems like easy enough advice.

Here’s a secret…I sometimes complicate things. I have the best of intentions! But by worrying about things being excellent, they sometimes never get to even be good.

So, I’m taking the realization that ‘easy’ makes progress and ‘complicated’ creates procrastination and applying that learning to more areas of my life. The first one is creating this blog post. It isn’t perfect, but it is done.

What about you? Where are you making things harder than they need to be? Leave a reply and let me know!

 

 

 

 

Some Benefits to Keeping Things Simple

It’s taken a while, but I’m learning. There are real benefits to keeping things simple. You’d think I’d have learned this from that good old acronym K.I.S.S., but I guess sometimes I need a good amount of time to learn some lessons.

Looking at my life, where I’ve been and where I want to go, I’ve realized there are a few things I wish I had figured out earlier. Simplicity is one of them. I think there are many benefits to simplicity that are totally underrated.

Simplify: person typing on a computer

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I do not have this all figured out. In fact, I’d say I have a good long way to go. But I’m trying to bring more simplicity to my life; here’s a few reasons why.

Time

I cringe when I think of how much time I’ve spent managing “stuff”. There’s less picking up, less sorting, less cleaning and repairing. How would you choose to spend some extra free time? Reading? Hiking? Painting?

Space

With less stuff, you need less space. With less space comes less maintenance of the space and the stuff within it. I’m not a fan of cleaning, but sometimes it has to be done. Even keeping a space somewhat respectable is easier if there is less stuff in the way.

Money

Less stuff means less money spent on acquiring, maintaining and storing the stuff. That money could be put to use funding travel (yay!), charity or an early retirement. Could you use a little more cash? Perhaps the pursuit of less could help make that a reality.

Energy

Imagine the extra energy you’d have if you weren’t invested in the pursuit and maintenance of stuff. Stuff that isn’t used or valued sucks our energy, both mental and physical. The stuff doesn’t even need to be tangible. The digital domain is a collector of stuff that is a big drain on time, space, money, and energy as well.

“Every choice you make has an end result.” – Zig Ziglar

Freedom of Choice

With simplicity comes choice. Sometimes, the pursuit of more locks us into a cycle of needing more money in order to support our stuff. If the way we get that money (our work) becomes something that we NEED rather than something we LOVE, we can feel trapped. Wanting less and living below our means gives us the freedom to choose another path if it becomes desirable or necessary to do so.

As I said, I don’t have this all figured out but I have made progress and I do have plans to keep simplifying.

What about you? Is simplicity appealing to you? If so, what is it about the idea of simplifying that is most desirable?

 

Adaptability – A CliftonStrengths Relationship Building Theme

Adaptability is one of my Signature (top 5) strengths, and it is the one that I identify with most strongly. It has served me well over the years, being able to navigate emergencies and crises in ways that have surprised both me and some people around me. I am more comfortable reacting to things than I am planning for things. It still surprises me that I deployed for a year in the role of a planner. I’m so glad I worked with a fantastic team!

Adaptability is a relationship building theme. People with strong adaptability like to go with the flow. They respond easily to change and enjoy responding to the demands of the moment. They expect and enjoy sudden requests or detours from plans. They appreciate variety in their days and dislike routine, structure and predictability.

This strength has been on my mind a lot lately as I start focusing attention on developing my business. I have been very “go with the flow” about what I do, and it’s worked pretty well so far.

Scrabble picture with Accountability
Adaptability is a Relationship Building Theme

Earlier this year, I joined a business development program that has me thinking about what I really want my business to look like and how I want to move forward. It’s been a bit challenging for this in-the-moment gal. Setting and working towards goals are not really a forte for those strong in adaptability.

I am most productive when something is needed immediately, when there is a set deadline. So, I’m playing with ways to give myself enough structure to be productive with enough flexibility to keep me from rebelling. I’m using flexible time blocking in my calendar and have set up some awesome accountability buddies for some mutual support. It’s an ongoing learning experiment, and I’m excited by what’s happening so far.

Is adaptability a strong theme for you? If so, how do you manage it so that it can be most effective?

CliftonStrengths® is the result of decades of research by Gallup. It’s an assessment that measures the presence of talents in 34 areas called talent themes. As a development tool, it identifies areas where an individual’s investment in development taps into their unique path to satisfaction and success.

Full of Gratitude

I am full! No, I don’t mean of turkey. At least not yet. As corny as it sounds, I am full of gratitude. Now, I’ve never been one who enjoys going around the table before Thanksgiving dinner announcing what I’m grateful for this year. I’m an introvert and I tend to keep what’s most meaningful to me pretty private. But, I’ve been being asked a lot of questions lately. “So, what have you been up to?” “What have you been doing with yourself?” “How are you staying busy these days?” As though being busy is a desirable state in and of itself! I’ve been calling 2017 my sabbatical year, and here are some of the things for which I’m grateful this year.

Me at the John Lennon Wall in Prague

I am grateful for my ability to travel. It’s been a good travel year for me! I spent my 50th birthday on a beach in Punta Cana while celebrating the wedding of two wonderful people with their family and friends. I flew to Oahu in the spring with my family and made memories that are treasured more deeply now than I ever expected. I danced and laughed with friends in Minneapolis to celebrate the lives of my sister and her partner who we remember with love. I explored Amsterdam, Prague, Dubrovnik and Sarajevo with a fellow veteran in order to celebrate a friend and mentor at a turning point in, and celebration of, her career. And I can’t leave out the trips to Omaha, Grand Forks, and Fargo for learning, teaching, and spending time with wonderful friends.

A beautiful sunset in Dubrovnik

I am grateful for my ability to spend time with my family. My dad died in May. His death was quick and unexpected. As much as I miss him, I’m so grateful he didn’t suffer and that we spent two weeks on a family vacation just a couple of weeks before his death. I’m also grateful I had extra time this year to help my mom as she adjusted in the first months without dad.

My dad, Phil Keesey at a Luau in April

I am grateful that I’ve had time this year to sleep a lot, read a lot, think a lot, learn about things that interest me, and to start redefining myself after quitting a job that was a big part of my identity for several decades. Now, my desires for the coming decades are becoming clearer. I wake up with ideas and questions and the inkling of plans to develop. Some are near term ideas, some are long-term possibilities. But I know that I want to share my talents in the service of helping others share theirs.

Shortly, I’ll be taking my last trip of 2017 and will be exploring the beauty of Sedona, Arizona. It seems like a wonderful place for bringing my sabbatical year to a close. I’m so grateful.

Have you taken or dreamed of a sabbatical? What did it (or would it) look like?