Saturday, 12 January 2008

Making a Change

In today’s Insights from the Hive, my thoughts on New Years resolutions and practical steps for making change.

A week ago I was invited to be a guest on Radio 702’s Saturday health and wellness slot. However I only received the message very late so when I replied the producer had already found another guest.The topic was New Year resolutions. I wasn’t crazy about the topic as I don’t believe in them.

I listened with interest the next morning to the two psychologists on the programme. Neither of them seemed to be that keen on New Year resolutions either, so the show turned to “how to make that change you have been wanting to make but just couldn’t”. I thought that was much more useful to the listeners.

Having said that, one of the biggest decisions that I made in my life, was made within the first two weeks of a new year. However it took more than two years of separation, a new year and the turn of the millennium to bring me to that point!

We can choose to change at anytime of the year. But it will only happen when we are ready. If we are changing because of a negative situation the heat has to be great enough to make us move. If the reason is more positive we have to be sufficiently excited about the new vision to overcome the inertia of staying put.

If you want to change something it must be because YOU want it; not your family, friends or because of any perceived view from society - not because you think you should.

When you are ready to change you may be scared to death, but you will feel somewhere inside that “now is the time” or “enough is enough”.

Then what do you do?
1. Paint a vision of what it will look like when the change has taken place. Put this, in words or pictures, down on paper – this is important – it is not enough to have it in your head. eg vibey office, R30K month salary, great view from window, variety in each day, love my boss, interesting clients…

2. Write down what things have to happen for the change. Eliminate anything that is not in your control – your change is your change, not dependant on someone else doing, thinking or feeling something. eg update my CV, read book on xxxx, practise yyyy skill, brainstorm my needs and possible jobs, apply to agencies, check Wed paper for ads, mail everyone I know to let them know what I am looking for…

3. If the order of happenings is relevant put them into order and start examining the first one. If order is not relevant pick the one that is the easiest to achieve a quick win on.

4. If the chosen task is large break it down into smaller bite size chunks – the idea is to set yourself up for as much success as possible to help make it easier to get started and build some momentum.

5. If you feel you can’t do whatever that task requires break it down into why and tackle the whys as small tasks of their own. Remember “it can be done”.

6. Pull in an encouraging friend or a professional to give you support along the way and help you be accountable to yourself.

7. Write up positive, present tense statements for yourself eg I have a fulfilling job in a great environment which pays me more money than my monthly expenses. (an affirmation)

8. Work through all that is required bit by bit until you reach your goal – keep your eye on the prize - don’t give up.

Somebody else is always doing what someone said could not be done. (Unknown)

Take daily action:
- See, feel, hear, taste your end result (the one you put on paper in the beginning).

- Read your affirmations.

- Do something towards one of your required tasks every day.

- Respond immediately to any positive feedback you receive. (someone tells you of a possible lead - call them immediately; you meet someone in the field you have been thinking about – it maybe a sign that you are on the right track)

Act boldly and unseen forces will come to your aid.
Dorothea Brande (American writer)

Monday, 7 January 2008

New year - New blog

I have created this blog so as to make my bumble bee insights available to more people as well as for sharing other interesting titbits.

To begin here is a beautiful story that circulated on e-mail after Xmas.

Volunteering and making focussed donations are so rewarding. When our new supervising psychologist began at Headway he met with all the telephone lay counsellors. His question to us was "why do you do this?" Everyone had their own answers but they all boiled down to feeling good because we are helping make a difference, large or small, to one or more people.

I hope you find the story inspiring.

For the Man Who Hated Christmas
by Nancy W. Gavin

It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas--oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it--overspending... the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma---the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike.

The inspiration came in an unusual way.Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears.

It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them." Mike loved kids - all kids - and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present came.

That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.

For each Christmas, I followed the tradition--one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure.

The story doesn't end there.You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.

Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down the envelope.

Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.