Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Never Syndrome - Guilty???

The never syndrome.

When is never?  I will bet that you have said that at least once in your life and it wasn’t true when you said it as you discovered at some later time in your life.

Why do people feel the need to say, “I will never  (whatever).”  How about a list.  I love lists, they are easy to read and relate to or disagree with depending on your perspective on any given day.( Those of you who have read my latest book, Emerging From Life’s Valleys with Confidence, Patience, Courage and Faith will relate to this, those of you who haven’t read it are missing a great book, seriously, it’s really good.)

People say ‘I will never’ because:

1. They don’t know when never is, so they are safe.

2. It is a habit.

3. It makes them look good, strong, wise or yes, even stupid.

4. They really don’t mean it, they just are setting you up.

5. They really believe that they will never . . .

6. They don’t know what never means.

7. They know you will forget they said it.

8. It sounds good.

Never, means never. 

Not later, once in a while, if conditions change, if I change my mind, if something happens.  Don’t set yourself up.  It is sort of like saying to someone, “I will try.”  When someone says that to you they are setting you up for failure.  Because when they don’t come through, they can always say, “I tried.” 

No one knows what the future holds.  No one can predict how the roll of the dice can change a life. In an instant our entire future can be changed because of some unexpected failure or achievement.  So, learn to embrace the unexpected and release the expected.

There are eight ways we can express this never attitude:

-It will never.

It can never.

-I will never.

-I can never.

-You will never.

-You can never.

-They will never.

-They can never.

Don’t be guilty of assuming someone else will or can never and don’t’ short change yourself and your future by allowing the “never” syndrome into your thoughts. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Are you learning or stuck in knowing -

Are you learning or stuck in knowing -
Tim Connor

Know a "know it all"?

There is a difference between knowing and learning.  The problem is that many people or should I say "most" people feel they know something and then act according to what they believe they know as truth.

Let me give you a quick example.  For centuries people believed (knew from what they had heard) that the world was flat and they let this knowing impact their beliefs and attitudes.  Then we discovered otherwise - so did everyone change their view or remain stuck in their knowing that was not true?  I don't know, I wasn't there, but what I do know is that truth is truth and regardless of our denial of it or being unaware of it, but it doesn't change the facts or truth.

Years ago scientists believed that the atom was the smallest particle and guess what - with time this was proven that it was not true.  I could go on but over time several subsequent discoveries of the smallest particles proved to still not be true.  

Did everyone embrace the new truths as they emerged?  Some yes and some no.  And why?  Well without personal experience or evidence all we have is what other people tell us, but how do we know that what they know is the truth?  We don't - so we have a choice believe or question.

Flip a switch in your kitchen and the lights come on.  Truth?  Can you see the source or cause - no but you accept what you see as truth - your personal evidence.

This same approach is used by many when it comes to scripture and God.  They have a choice - believe they know it based on what is written or question it - and keep learning and growing.

I could give you thousands of examples to prove that there is more to life than we say we know, but the question remains - do we let our perceived knowing get in the way of our continued learning?

Learning is more than exposure to new information.  It involves a willingness to let go of previous opinions, judgments and mindsets. Just because you read a book or attend a seminar is no guarantee that you will really learn anything, yes you receive new information but generally speaking people resist what is not consistent with their current beliefs, values or knowledge. (By the way the retention of a new idea, concept, approach or philosophy etc. is less than 3% after 2 weeks. (Just thought I would throw that one in for organizations who hire speakers/trainers to do an all day seminar and expect behavior or attitudes to change permanently or even at all.)

As a trainer I have observed thousands of people in my audiences take notes, listen, participate and then change nothing.  Not being critical here - just sharing what I believe is a common challenge to learning and the challenge is - being willing to accept that which you have believed, no matter how vested you are in it, is no longer true, valid or appropriate for how you live your life.

Let me ask you - have you changed any opinion about anything in the past five years - in other words something you believed in the past is no longer relevant or appropriate for how you work, play or just live?  If you answer is no - you are in denial.  We all learn - whether we are actively searching for new knowledge or not - by accident or on purpose.  Life often forces us to learn regardless of whether we are ready or open to new concepts, ideas etc.  Life is a teacher and it teaches us using - failure, problems, adversity, obstacles, disappointment and uncertainty and yes change.

We always have a choice - we can learn what life is trying to teach us, actively search for new knowledge or we can resist life's lessons as they show up.  But I guarantee that if you don't learn when you have the option - sooner or later a similar lesson or opportunity to learn will appear.

For example - if you have never learned the lesson of disappointment I will guarantee that something or someone will continue to disappoint you until you finally get it - we all face disappointment in life and we can learn to accept it and learn to manage it or continue to live with frustration, anxiety, fear etc. due to life's disappointing circumstances.

Let me close with a simple concept - you are either an active life learner continually searching for new knowledge/wisdpm and willing to embrace the new and let go of the old or you are stuck blaming, whining, complaining because life isn't fair, good or it doesn't behave according to your agendas, expectations or schedule.

Welcome to life 101 folks - learn or stay stuck in your knowing or what you believe or think is true.

Friday, May 27, 2016

It’s all trivia . . .

It’s all trivia . . .

Tim Connor

You are born then you die – the rest and everything in between is all trivia. I can hear you now – “are you crazy, don’t you have a clue as to what I have to put up with every day – kids, bosses, customers, spouses, family, financial challenges, career decisions, fellow employees.” – “Yes, I hear you – and - blah, blah, blah, and again – blah, blah, blah.”

Now is a very short time and eternity is forever and I don’t give a rip about what you believe or don’t spiritually – there is more to the life experience than just 60 or 70 years on earth dealing with its trivia. 

Now don’t get me wrong – natural disasters that take your home away, criminals who steal a loved one from you or getting diagnosed with a life threating disease in your teens is big stuff but in the end looking back over your life, let me ask you - did you spend too much valuable time in stress, worry, frustration, anxiety, despair, discouragement, fear etc. on stuff that really didn’t matter or that you came to realize it wasn’t worth the emotional energy, time or resources you gave it?  I’ll bet every one of you, if you are honest, the answer is yes to something or even a lot.

So, what is trivia – well for starters it depends on several factors; your expectations that don’t come to fruition, your time and effort that end with failure or more problems, the money spent on stuff that you recently threw away or donated, relationships that end badly or too soon – I could go on but if you are honest you will come to the same conclusions – in the end when you are getting ready to head over to the other side and your time here is finished none of that will have been worth giving it more than it deserved.

Why do we stress and fret over life’s trivia – is it ego, the need for control, the desire to look good or achieve other’s approval or something else much deeper?

I believe the life approach to overrating trivial stuff that is one of the significant factors is simply self-aggrandizement or the basic need to feel like who you are and what you do – matter. This need includes the ability to accept who you are, no matter where you are in life, to be OK with what you have or don’t have and the belief that what you do is important – from being mother or a janitor, from the sales rep to the CEO, from the retiree to the 20 year-old.

Let me ask you – are you stressing today about anything?  Come on be honest.  OK if not today how about this week or this month or even this year? Or, do you feel in total control of every aspect of your life – I will seriously doubt the latter – that is unless you are living in denial in a cave somewhere in Colorado.

Why not spend a little time creating what I call a “I am in control of - list and a what I am not in control of - list?” You might be surprised at what shows up on both lists but in the end the stuff on your can’t control list is all trivia folks whether you agree with me or not or whether you like it or not.

I won’t bore you with my 50 plus years of career, financial, business and relationship challenges, but looking back now the realization that I gave them more time and energy than they deserved is a far greater disappointment than the actual stuff that happened.

So before I move on to my next trivial matter let me just say that whatever you are dealing with or facing in life now or today over - time will be lost in large wastebasket of regrets.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Life is more than second chances!

Life is more than second chances!

Tim Connor

Ever made a bad decision, mistake or just wish you could erase a previous action, choice or outcome?  This makes you normal, but the real question is – do you still feel the regret or pain of one of these actions and are you still living with the inability to let go – even to the point of missing a second or even third chance that life always offers?

Trust me – I have made more than my share of poor choices and life and career decisions, but life has always come through offering me the opportunity to begin again whether in a relationship, business activity or any number of life areas.

What are second chances and why do we fail to recognize or take advantage of them? The first question is easy but the second one deserves a little more understanding.

Second chances – When life says – it’s OK you can try again even though you screwed up last time.  Pretty simple – wouldn’t you agree?

But the real question is - why do we fail to recognize or take advantage of them?  There are many reasons but I believe most of them fall into one or more of the following categories; fear, ego needs, you are closed off emotionally, low self-esteem, resistance or fear of change, stuck in blame or whining or sustained anger or regret.  Let’s take a brief look at each when it comes to missing second, third or even a tenth chance.

fear – the number one cause of all negative emotions is fear or the mindset that life is giving you something you don’t deserve or want. When we fail or face severe challenges, problems or mistakes we have two choices fear what’s happening and what could or might happen or learn from – whatever – and move on wiser.  Not always easy or for some people even possible but in the end you can choose to remain stuck or begin again.

ego needs – the ego can’t admit mistakes, failure or poor performance or outcomes.  It circles the wagons and draws a line in the sand or often just goes into denial.  But, in the end – it is what it is – and you can accept, admit or face it or pretend it isn’t happening or didn’t happen.  But, in the end it did so none of these tactics will help you grow, improve or change for the better.

you are closed off emotionally – shutting down emotionally and failing to experience, acknowledge or display your reaction to what is happening (tears, managed anger or even laughter) just increases your stress and your method of justification for your responses.  In the end however the emotional pain that you experience is a warning, guide, helper if you will only pay attention and learn from it what it is trying to teach you.

low self-esteem – If you don’t like yourself or feel you are worthy, worthwhile or special (not in an arrogant way) you will always let what is happening control you and fail to learn or change. Your common response is almost always “I deserve or deserved this.”

resistance or fear of change – Life changes.  Nothing remains the same. Everything ends sooner or later. Change is not good or bad or anything in between, it is simply life unfolding one moment, one day or one year at a time. Resisting what is will never maintain the comfortable status quo – things will just keep changing and you can interpret it as a positive opportunity or something to regret and try to hold on to for dear life.

you are stuck in blame or whining – Get over it. Enough said.

sustained anger or regret – when you are stuck in regret or anger (both negative emotions) you will fail to recognize something new that could be a wonderful next step or potential opportunity.  You are so wrapped up in your feelings that even a slap on the side of your head with a baseball bat won’t get your attention.

So, have you been given a second or third chance lately? Have you honored, it or avoided it or run from it?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Real life begins at the edge of your comfort zone

Real life begins at the edge

of your comfort zone

Tim Connor

Why is it that some people live with a risk mentality and others always play it safe?  For the people who play it safe - is it fear of the unknown, the need for control, impatience, ego needs or some other rationale or mindset? Let’s talk about your comfort zone and its impact on your future.

What is a comfort zone?  My perspective is that it is only acting, deciding or moving only where you feel you can control outcomes, consequences or circumstances.  In other words – you don’t invest in financial markets, you don’t try new tasks or hobbies, you don’t take vacations to new locations, you are afraid to start new relationships etc.  You just go with what you know or feel offers little or no uncertainty and yes emotional comfort.  Well let me tell you – the only thing that is certain in life is its uncertainty – so if this is true and believe me it is – why do people stay stuck in what they know, feel, believe or think even though they live with an inner urge to change, try or do something new or different? 

Here are a few of the common ones – risk avoidance, low self-esteem, insecurity, out of control fear, off the chart egos, arrogance, the need for approval and a pessimistic mindset.

Risk avoidance – life is risk – period.  The only way to avoid risk is to die.  Everyone defines risk uniquely according to their comfort zone but what if your comfort zone is grounded in safe or how you define safe and what if your definition of safe is wrong, outdated or just plain stupid?

Low self-esteem – when you lack belief in yourself you will tend to always play it safe avoiding anything that might disrupt your sense of balance or emotional stability.

Insecurity – insecurity is a lack of self-trust and if this is one of your guiding principles you will tend to avoid risks of any kind simply because you think you are not worthy.

Out of control fear – if you fear something, anything you will always only do what you feel will always turn out positively.  If you feel there is any chance of failure, mistakes, criticism or problems you will settle, avoid and stick your head in the sand.

Off the chart egos – a large ego wants to always look good to others, therefore you will have difficulty admitting mistakes, failures or situations where you might look weak or inadequate.  You may take risks but only when you believe or are confident they will turn out well.

Arrogance – arrogance is a close cousin of pride and pride can never admit weakness. So if something new potentially puts you in a position of risk you will blame, point the finger or go into a state of denial.

The need for approval – if you always need the approval of others sooner or later you will discover that when you constantly live with this as your guiding principle or mantra you will eventually lose yourself and become a combination of traits that you feel will never put you in jeopardy of rejection.

A pessimistic mindset – pessimist’s always see the negative no matter how positive anything can be.  These folks can’t admit to success, achievement or anything positive so when they take any kind of a risk they need an escape plan or something or someone to blame.

So, having said all this why live outside your comfort zone?  Well, I could go on for pages but here are just six reasons – they will give you -

Greater confidence

New friends/relationships

More fun

More positive memories

New adventures

New skills

Let me close with two simple questions – are you living outside or inside your comfort zone in some area of your life? Why or why not?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Life’s three essential choices

Life’s three essential choices

Tim Connor

You might think life has more than just three choices and you would be right but the three I want to share are simply some of the biggest ones we will ever make.  They are – change it, accept it or leave.  Let me explain.

Whether it’s a career position, a business, a client, a boss, a relationship or circumstances often we tolerate people or circumstances longer than we should or are even necessary.  There are numerous reasons why we put up with these kinds of situations or people, but in the end the price we pay for staying too long can have a negative impact on our attitudes, self-esteem, life outlook and future opportunities.

Let’s say you have a supervisor who invalidates you, doesn’t respect you and is always criticizing you unnecessarily – got the picture?  You have three choices when it comes to this person – change them, accept their behavior or leave. 

Now I’m not suggesting that you throw in the towel quickly or easily but in the end is staying in this situation longer than necessary hoping they will change or improve or would your future and life be better served to just accept that they are who they are and you will just have to deal with them. 

However, if you can’t change them and you can’t bring yourself to accept their behavior as it is wearing you down and having a negative impact on other areas of your life or relationships – well the only other option is to leave.

Personally I have put up with bad bosses on a few occasions in my life and just decided I would rather go broke working for myself than get wealthy working for someone else.  Again I am by no means suggesting that you should do the same as I have done as each of us has our tolerance levels for other’s poor behavior but when you are staying longer than you know you should for the wrong reasons – you know it in your heart.

How about a personal relationship?  Let’s say you have been dating or married to someone for several years and you just can’t deal with their pessimism, intolerance, nagging – whatever - and it’s starting to affect other relationships at work, with friends or even total strangers – so you have a choice – you can try and change them – good luck.  But, if you can’t and putting up with their issues is wearing you down emotionally, spiritually or even physically then your next option is to just accept who they are and how they behave knowing that they will not improve or change.  But, if accepting them or it is beyond your level of values, tolerance, compassion or understanding all you have left – you got it – leave.  Again, I’m not suggesting that as soon as someone behaves badly or upsets you that you should walk away from the table however you have to decide the consequences of staying too long or leaving.

I might add that the biggest times of stress in your life are when you can’t change something or someone but you refuse to accept them or when you can’t accept them and you won’t leave.

So, there you have it – change it or them or accept it or them and if you can’t do either your choice is deal with it without complaining and whining or leave.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Start strong or finish strong. Which approach do you think is better?

 Start strong or finish strong.

Which approach do you think is better?

Tim Connor

And your opinion is . . .

Since I’ll wager you already have an opinion the real question is – are you open and receptive to another viewpoint?  If not – get back to work or play – whatever – but if you are read on.

During the early years in my career as a speaker I was told by many of my peers that I needed a strong start as the end of my career was many years into the future – “Don’t worry about that now” they would all say.  Then as the years passed people started telling me it was how I finished that mattered. OK so which is it – or is it both?

In sports they call it the “quick start” approach.  In other words, the team that scored first tended to win the game – call it momentum or whatever.  Many coaches still teach this concept.  Now, I’m not saying they are wrong but if you start strong and your competitor regains momentum – then what?

Yes, starting strong will tend to create positive momentum but the real challenge is keeping it going.  But, here’s the issue - if you start strong and then stuff happens; a recession, economic uncertainty, buyer trends, new products or technologies, new competitors etc. are you able to overcome these and keep moving strong?

Since the beginning of my speaking career in 1973 – yes long gas lines if you are old enough to remember – I have weathered four recessions or whatever you want to call them.  I started strong but four times my momentum slowed down and even almost came to an end on two occasions. Keeping momentum wasn’t easy or in some cases took everything I had just kept plodding along.  So, my strong start at this stage meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. So, now what?  Well, all I have left is to end strong.  Does that mean starting over? No. But it does mean a “reinvent” mindset or mentality?  Yes.

OK, so you are in the sunset years but not quite ready to call it quits as you still have some years in front of you.  Can you still finish strong or even finish at all?  It depends.  On what you ask?  It depends on courage, confidence, skill, perseverance and a willingness to “reinvent” yourself, your life, your career and/or your business.

Or, you are in the early stages of your career or a business and filled with hope, optimism and big plans.  Trust me – sooner or later you will have to deal with some kinds of obstacles that can derail you or even cause you to consider quitting.  It’s a choice folks and often not an easy one.

So the answer to the title question from my perspective is – both.  Start strong and end strong and in between – just keep evaluating, revisiting, improving, growing, changing and never letting go of your goal, dream or desire no matter how the years may change or modify it or how circumstances cause you to consider a “reinvent” option.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Want consistent success - ask yourself 3 simple questions!

What are you doing that’s working? What are you doing that’s not working?  What did you used to do that used to work that you have stopped doing?

I ask myself these three questions every month to help me ensure that I am effectively using my time and resources.  I also ask these three questions of every audience asking them to consider effective changes that could or should be made and what they can continue doing that is contributing to their growth, improvement and success.  Let me explain a bit further the process and incredible benefits of this simple approach.

What are you doing that’s working?

You choose to define working but be careful that you don’t let your ego, insecurity, the need for approval and old emotional baggage get in the way.  Ask yourself - what am I doing in my – life, career, thoughts, beliefs, business, money management, relationships, health and personal development etc. that is working?

What should you do with the stuff that’s working?  Simple – keep doing it, thinking it or believing it. It’s working.

What are you doing that’s not working?

Ask yourself - what am I doing in my – life, career, thoughts, beliefs, business, money management, relationships, health and personal development etc. that is not working? I repeat you get to define – not working. 

Why are you still doing it? Why can’t you let it go?  Why can’t you change?  Not easy questions but vital ones if you want to stay on the road to success, happiness and contentment. Let it go, change it, stop it, start something new.

What did you used to do that used to work that you have stopped doing?

Ask yourself - what did I used to do that used to work that I have stopped doing?  Same topic areas as above.

Have you let technology replace the human connection?  Have you lost relevance in the marketplace or your career? Have you started something new letting go of what has worked in the past because of fear, pressure or political correctness?

Let me give you one quick example.  When my first book Soft Sell hit the market in 1981 there was no internet, I couldn’t get it into book stores and my funds were limited.  So my approach was to send ten autographed copies to company presidents nationwide every week – week after week.  Within 5 years the book had sold over 250,000 copies (over 50,000 copies every year).

OK, my point. For some reason after several years I stopped this approach and replaced it with social media, the internet and emails. Yearly sales dropped dramatically. So, when I asked myself this question several years ago, I decided it was time to reinstate this strategy.

These three simple questions can have a dramatic impact on every area of your life if you will take the time to seriously consider your answers.  As a side note if you run a business why not ask your employees to answer these questions – you might be amazed at what you learn.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The question should be – why not me rather than why me!

The question should be – why not me rather
than why me!

Tim Connor

Have you ever said “why me”?  Come on – be honest here – sooner or later everyone feels like some area of life has not been fair to them and their usual response is “why me or why now.”

Why not look at these life situations or circumstances a little differently with a “why not me”.  Let me explain.

Think about it – no matter what has happened or how bad something seems consider that there could possibly be someone in the world who has it worse.  I could give your dozens of global statistics when it comes to poverty, sickness, death, the shortness of life, poor income etc. but I’m sure you are familiar with some of them unless you are totally immersed in yourself without a care in the world for anyone other than yourself.  I’ll give you one – over 795,000,000 people in the world suffer from hunger without enough food to sustain a healthy lifestyle.  That’s about one in nine people. Are you one of them? I doubt it.  But I’m sure you may have an idea where this article is going – if not – when you consider all of the disease, poverty, hunger etc. in the world I’ll bet you don’t face any of these every day so back to the title the question should be – why not me rather than why me in difficult circumstances?

I will focus on just three areas although there are many – careers and or business, general happiness and health.

Careers or business – The average income globally for individuals is $795/month.  Are you making more than that? Thousands of people die every day due to hunger and disease. So, why are you whining? We spend over one third of our life working in our jobs or careers so if you do not have peace in your career – well – it’s simple - one third of your life will be unfulfilling.  I’ll bet you know dozens of people who have been terminated or just lost their jobs to circumstances they couldn’t control – are you one of them? If you are reading this – probably not.

Over 1500 businesses fail every day in the US – is yours one of them?

It’s not complicated – I’ll bet if you ask yourself a simple question – why not me rather than why me I’ll wager that you will come to realize the many blessings you have in life every day.  Over 40,000 people die in their sleep every day – are you one of them?  Doubt it.

I have failed numerous times during my life but my response was always – OK what can I learn from this and what can I do now - not, poor me, life isn’t fair, I don’t deserve this or some other lame negative reaction.  Ever failed at anything – what was your response – point the finger, get all stressed out or just have a pity party or did you just move on – smarter and wiser?

General happiness – Research indicates that only one in three Americans are happy and less than 50% of the population are happy in their careers or jobs. Happiness is not nor will ever be what you have, do or enjoy but the ability to be happy regardless of what life brings into your days and years.  Happiness is a mindset and this is not who you are or what you have but your life philosophy. 

If you want to be happy it won’t happen with a bigger house, more money, nicer car or more toys or travel.  Research over the years has proven time and time again – money, wealth, power, fame or stuff doesn’t make people happy.  Sure all of these are great but if you are doing them for greater happiness – you will be disappointed.  Do you think someone who is starving in the world gives a rip about having a nicer car or even a car?

Health – There are numerous studies over the years that have validated that the number one contributor to sickness and death is unmanaged stress and do you know the major cause of stress?  It’s a lack of patience or control.  So, why not ask yourself – is a roof over my head enough?  Are three meals a day enough, is having health insurance enough or do you whine about what’s missing?

So let me close with a quick question – are your issues, challenges, concerns, worries or fears even close to the general negative global statistics when it comes to these areas?  If not – get over it and just be ok with what you have and stop complaining about what you don’t have.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Just because something isn’t wrong - doesn’t make it right!

Just because something isn’t wrong -

doesn’t make it right!

Tim Connor

Wrong -incorrect, mistaken, in error, erroneous, inaccurate, inexact, imprecise.

Right - just, fair, proper, good, upright, righteous, virtuous, moral, ethical.

Now that we have that out of the way let’s dig a little deeper into the concepts of right and wrong and how we approach each choice.

There are several ways to look at right and wrong – in relationships, careers, money, friends, activities etc.  Let’s look at just three;

Careers – So, you have a job offer and it meets all of your criteria – benefits, salary, requirements, roles, expectations etc. but for some internal reason it just doesn’t feel right.  You consider – I could do worse or what’s the worst that could happen – I can handle that.  But, again for some reason which you can’t explain it just doesn’t feel right. So, what do you do – take the offer or wait for something better?

Accepting it would by all appearances not seem wrong but is it right?  That’s the question.

Or, you are being offered a promotion but it will require moving yourself and or your family to a new state and starting over.  Yes, the position and salary increase are what you have always wanted and felt you deserve but again, something inside you has you questioning this offer.  You can’t put your finger on it as it seems right on the surface but then again what are the direct and indirect short and long term consequences on your family, friends etc.?  And are they worth it?  So many questions.  So much to consider.

Let me ask you in hindsight have you ever made a choice or decision that you thought was right given what you knew at the time and it turned out poorly?  Welcome to the club.  And by the way – if you haven’t sooner or later you will.

Relationships – So you just met Mr. or Ms. perfect, right or just what you have been looking for your entire life and you decide to throw yourself into the relationship 100% but over time you realized that there were signs or early signals that you overlooked that now are becoming deal breakers. Okay – there are millions of single people in the US and the chances are that you can or will ever meet 1% of them is unlikely so when you feel you have found your one and true Soulmate you are all in.  Be careful – could there possibly be just a few others out there who might or could be right or better?

Again, let me ask you in hindsight have you ever made a poor relationship choice and realized it long after you had invested a great deal of time, energy, commitment and even resources?  Welcome to the same club folks

How about life in general – I could go on for pages about the numerous poor choices, decisions etc. I have made during my life journey but I won’t bore you as I’m not looking for your pity.  Let me just say that sooner or later we all make decisions and choices we think are good because they are not wrong but this doesn’t make them right.  The answer is simple make the choice and do whatever you can to make it the right choice and if that is not possible – walk away.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

If you had three life wishes

If you had three life wishes

Tim Connor

I’m not your personal Genie but let me ask you – if you had three life wishes what would they be and one of them can’t be you want more wishes?

Better health?  Better relationships?  More money? Better career? Happiness? Inner peace? Power, fame or control over your life?  These could go on for pages but the question remains – what would your three wishes be or better still – why haven’t they become a reality in your life and are still desires, needs or wants?

So, let’s see what is missing in your life and why?  I won’t deal with every issue or desire but just four of them; control, success, relationships and money.

You wish you had more control – There are very few things in life we can control – the behavior of others, the weather, the economy, politicians – shall I go on? If this is true why do so many people stress out when things don’t go the way they planned, want or expect?  Many reasons – fear, ego, arrogance, insecurity or the simple belief that life is in many ways within their domain to control.  I have news for those of you who are minor or major “control freaks” get over it – you will never have control of most of what happens during your life.

Yes, you can control where you choose to go to college, who you date or marry, what career you select, where you choose to live, what you eat and how you make decisions.  So Tim it sounds like I have control over more than you suggest.  Well, yes, no and it depends.

Can you control your professor’s behavior, expectations or how they teach?  Can you control the actions of your spouse or significant other?  Can you control how your boss or organization makes policies that impact you? Can you control the actions of your next door neighbor? Can you control your body’s reaction to what you eat or drink?  Getting the drift here?

Yes you can control all of the decisions and actions you choose to take but that’s it folks from then on most of what happens is in the hands of God, someone else or just circumstances in general.

OK so you decide to move to Arizona so you can have year round sunshine but what about the extraordinary heat in summer?  So you choose to buy a new car and within a few months you have an issue with its performance?  Again, need I go on?

You wish your relationships were better – Relationships are dynamic and are constantly changing based on a variety of factors such as – expectations, emotions, uncertainty and communication patterns.  They are either getting better or are heading in the wrong direction.  If you want a better relationship with anyone the first place you need to look is in the mirror and what or who you are bringing to that relationship.  You don’t or can’t change others that is up to them – the why, how and when.

You wish you had more money –If your definition of success is based on your income, investments, what you own or where you live or your bank balance you will never be satisfied as no matter how much you have you will always want more.  Good luck with that.  Money does not or never will bring happiness or inner peace.  Yes, it will permit you to keep buying stuff, travelling and owning but in the end it has been proven time and time again that these are shallow ingredients that never satisfy the heart’s desire for inner peace.

You wish you had greater success – Success is a process that is constantly impacted by many factors but the most important one is how you choose to define success.  If your definition of success is based on circumstances you can’t control you will live with constant disappointment and frustration.  If you define success as what you have sooner or later you will lose it.  If you define success only by achievement how do you behave when you fail?

Let’s wrap it up.

OK, what are your three wishes?  Are they grounded in reality or fantasy?  Will they ultimately give you the outcomes you want?  Will they create greater challenges or problems you must deal with? Will they give you more happiness or inner peace? If you are granted them, will you in hindsight regret asking for it?  Get the point?  There is more to getting what you want in life than often meets the eye.  So before you make these wishes or travel down these roads, make sure you can live with the consequences.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Are you letting your past determine your present?

The past is history regardless of its positives or negatives. Right now, this moment, this day is all you have or are guaranteed.  Will you live it with maturity, wisdom and common sense or will you let the mistakes, regrets, failures or challenges from the past alter or negatively impact what could be the opportunities that come to you today?

Sooner or later we all do dumb things, things in hindsight we regret, that’s life as none of us are without flaws or are perfect.  If you take risks sooner or later you will fail at something – a career, relationship, financial situation or any other life issue – let me repeat – that’s life and the only way to avoid mistakes, failure or problems in any way is to lock yourself in a log cabin in Vermont and stare at the birds all day.

I won’t bore you with all of my failures during my life cause if I did I’ll guarantee you would stop reading and say, “why should I listen to your council – you are a poor example of how to live life successfully.”

OK, you’re right but let me add that unless you are willing to fail and make mistakes you will learn very little about how life works and how to overcome and eventually win.

Why do people let past mistakes or failure have a negative influence on today’s actions, decisions, choices or behavior?  Well, I’m not a psychologist, but just a student in life and I believe it’s for one or several of the following reasons.

1)   They live every day with fear as their primary motivator.

2)   They worry too much about the approval of others.

3)   They need to have control of every aspect of life.

4)   They let their ego’s rule their life decisions and actions.

5)   They have low self-esteem or self-confidence.

6)   They believe failure is negative.

7)   They are unwilling to take full responsibility for their actions or choices.

8)   They have a dramatic sense of entitlement.

9)   They are constantly in blame mode.

10)They have a mindset of risk avoidance.

11)They feel inadequate or unworthy as an individual.

12)They give up control of their life to others or circumstances.

13)They stopped learning when they left high school.

14)They fear rejection.

15)They have a self-righteous attitude.

Any one of these behaviors or mindsets will contribute to letting your past have a negative influence on your todays.  Are you willing to honestly evaluate each of these and face reality and how you might be letting yesterday impact today due to any of the above reasons?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Are you waiting or living?

You can’t imagine how much time(life) the average person wastes – waiting for – something – anything.  The right career, relationship, job, vacation or for life to give them what they want or they think they deserve.  I know I have been guilty and I preach this stuff.  So, why do we waste life – waiting?

Since I know you have something else to do, someplace to go or something you are waiting for I will be as brief as possible.

Waiting - the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens. Guilty?

Living -way of life, lifestyle, way of living, life, conduct, behavior, activities. Helpful?

OK, so let me see if I can distinguish between the two and the advantages and/or disadvantages.

Life is short and speeds by in a flash.  One day you are graduating from high school and in the blink of an eye you are in your 40’s or 50’s or older.  We are all going to die and none of us knows when so why do we waste valuable time waiting for something better, newer or sooner?

Living is an adventure and each day can be lived with passion, purpose and a sense of joy or we can live each day wondering, fretting, worrying or regretting.  Think about it – I’ll bet for you the time has flown by leaving you asking yourself why – why you waited, why you wait or what you have missed as you waited or even – where has all the time gone?  Living is not about yesterday or tomorrow it is about making the best of every year, every day or even every minute you are given, not squandering time.

Yes, I know that some things take time but in the process do you stay in a limbo state waiting or live with gusto while you wait?

Disappointment is a natural part of life as are many other emotional states but in the end spending too much time in disappointment just wastes time and life.

Let me ask you have you ever spent time waiting? For something or anything that you couldn’t control?  If your answer is no – I’ll bet you are in a serious state of denial.

Again yes, I know that we all need to be patient as we wait for circumstances, careers or relationships to play out their normal series of events but the real question is – if you wait and it doesn’t happen the way you planned, hoped or desired was the waiting worthwhile?

Over the years I have developed a simple philosophy while I wait for life to give me what I want, hope for or desire.  I will be excited if it happens and I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t. This simple approach does several things for me.

One - it keeps my focus on now and not yesterday, tomorrow or what’s next.  Two - It helps me let go of control of what I can’t control.  Three – It reduces the disappointment and regret in my life. And four – it helps me realize how life happens in spite of my dreams, wishes or expectations.

Works for me.  How about you – have a philosophy to handle waiting or is waiting in control of your life?

Monday, March 28, 2016

What do you long for?

Everyone has a longing or longings of some kind whether for love, relationships, success, recognition, approval or world travels. It’s basic human nature.  If you long for nothing in your life that you don’t have or desire I’ll wager that you are living either in denial, you have settled or given up on a dream, hope, desire or some aspect or even every aspect of life – you are existing day to day just waiting for your last day.

I’m not just talking here about goals, plans or dreams but the basic need to fill some empty part of your life. To long for can take many forms from a simple something to happen in your life today to a miraculous cure of some disease or trauma.

Why do we long?  Is it pride? Ego? Arrogance? Fundamental basic human needs?  Hope? Visions?  Yes, it can be these any many more.

Over the years I have longed for many things in my life, career and relationships – some of them have happened while others still elude me for some reason.  Do I give up – quit – keep waiting – keep trying or just accept what is and what may never be?

I don’t know about you but quitting has never been in my DNA.  Frustration – yes, disappointment – yes, regret – yes, but in the end letting these rule the time I have left seems to waste life - whatever it brings to me.

Yes, sometimes age, health and financial circumstances can cause us to reconsider our lifelong longings, but this doesn’t mean they can’t change, adjust or be replaced with something else given our new circumstances.

I am reminded of Christopher Reeves (the first Superman) after his accident that changed the rest of his life forever but if you have read his story you know that he accomplished a great deal from his wheelchair, in fact much more than many people who can walk, talk, think etc.  His story has been an inspiration to me when I have faced challenging or difficult times. 

But what about you – given up on something?  Just because you may not be making the progress you think you should, is no reason to let go.  Yes, the dream or desire you long for may take a different path or have a different outcome due to unexpected changes in your life but this is no reason to quit, give in or settle.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The journey vs. the destination

You’ve heard it and I’ll bet you have even said it – “success/life is a journey not a destination”.  So, let me ask you are you living that way or are they just empty words?

When it comes to life there are basically four elements – the past, the present, the future and eternity.  You would be amazed at the percentage of time most people spend in two of the three (the past and the future) and how little time people spend considering how they are living in the present and how that will impact or influence how or where they will spend eternity.

I don’t care what your opinion or belief is about Heaven or Scripture because in the end both scripture and science agree on the fact that life is more than a few years on earth.  Without going into detail let me just say that life is more than just a body – it is also both energy or spirit and in the end the body ends but the spirit and the energy live on.  Science has stated that energy cannot be created or destroyed but it does change form.  No one really knows what this new spirit or energy looks like after death but why not live on the safe side and assume that when you die there is more than just the body and the life it lived.

So, back to the title.  Since no one knows when or how the life journey will end (the destination) all we really have is the ability to live the journey one day and one moment at a time.

I’m not talking here about goals, plans, dreams or hopes.  I’m talking about how you live each day that you are given focusing on what matters now and how it might influence tomorrow or next year (if you are still here).

Last year I lost five of my good friends and none of them knew they would not get to experience another year.  I’ll bet you lost someone close to you last year as well.  They are gone – where – we don’t know.  All we know is we no longer get to share laughter, dreams, memories or time with them.

So, focusing on the destination in my opinion is stupid - what we want in the future, what we hope for in the future, what we dream about in the future – got it? The future is an unknown but one we all hope we will have.

Very few people spend time considering what death really means and how its uncertainty influences or even controls their present.  During the past year I have read a dozen books about death and dying and the common theme in all of them (different and credible authors) was simply learn to live now – embrace the journey, love the journey, live the journey, experience the journey and someday the journey will be over for each of us.  But how we lived it will or may impact your eternity.  Why risk it?

So, let me ask you – if you knew today was your last day, or this month was your last month or this year was your last year – would you live them differently than you are?  If so - what would you do, start, let go of, improve, end, change AND - why, when or how?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Disappointment is not an outcome but a process

Ever been disappointed? We all are sooner or later and some of us more often than others and more often than necessary. What exactly is disappointment and what are its primary contributors?  But also, why do we set ourselves up for it?

Disappointment - the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations.  Get it – the single biggest cause of disappointment are the expectations we want or need to happen or feelings we have when we have been let down by others or circumstances.

Let me briefly explain the title as I believe that expectations and their outcomes are more of a process than an outcome.

We want something to happen – a returned phone call, email or text response, someone to show up on time for lunch – whatever – and we believe/feel that it should happen due to our own needs, desires or situations and then BAM – nothing.  So, we get upset, angry, hurt or yes – disappointed.  I call it the disappointment – setup.  Can it be avoided? Yes, but there are a few conditions that must be present.

First we have to grasp the simple concept that we are not in control of others or their actions, responses, timing or agendas.

Second we must accept that the world doesn’t revolve around us.

And third we must nurture patience – not an easy task for control freaks.

When I say that disappointment is a process it starts with us and how we turn over control of our feelings, behavior, decisions or actions to others or circumstances.  It doesn’t just happen – it builds slowly as time passes and you wait for responses, actions, decisions or outcomes you want from others or life in general.

I don’t care if it’s an airline flight that is late or cancelled, the weather that messes with your weekend plans or simply routine traffic while on the way to an important meeting – it’s all the same – stuff happens and if this concept is not ingrained in your consciousness I will guarantee you spend a great deal of time in a mindset of disappointment.

The other factor is the stress that is caused by these situations and if you are not aware of the negative impact of this let me tell you that everything in life is a stressor – a wedding or a divorce, winning the lotto or filing bankruptcy, getting fired or starting a new position – everything in life is a stressor but the body doesn’t separate negative from positive stressors – they are all the same.  Stress isn’t what is happening but how you choose to respond internally to what is happening.

Yes, disappointment is a major contributor to stress and again its primary causes are the expectations you bring to any and every situation or person.

What can you do to eliminate or reduce your disappointments?  Simple folks – let go emotionally of the things you can’t control.  Accept that life happens and not always according to your agendas or needs.

I’ll share one of my life mantras with you – “I will be excited if it happens but I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t.”