Life / Can Do

Helpful tips to living a better life

Posts Tagged ‘People

Avoiding Hard Work Takes Too Much Effort

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Laziness takes more energy at work than it does to commit to doing a good job and giving it your all. I have to admit there were days when I would go to work with the intention of just putting in my time for they day and extending as little effort as possible. When work was slow there would be few that would blame me. Why not take it easy when you have the opportunity?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way. After a day of accomplishing nothing I would go home feeling like I accomplished nothing. It’s against human nature to do nothing. There’s nothing wrong with taking a nap, or meditating or just relaxing at home – when you do that you are actively pursuing a goal of relaxation. But, just sitting around, waiting for 5 PM, is a degrading experience that can lower your self-esteem.

What I’ve learned is that it is during those slow periods that the most important work gets done. This is time you can finally work on that idea that had been brewing in the back of your mind. Or you may spend some time, addressing low priority issues that you never had time for before.  Pitch that idea to your boss, rearrange your work space, clean up your inbox, research aspects of your company’s business that you know little about. Whatever you do during this time will feel more rewarding because it was something you chose to do and not something pushed on you when you are already maxed out.

Idleness is a bad habit to pick up. If you do it long enough, you will find it very difficult to get back into hard work. Always keep a few “Someday/Maybe” items on the back burner that you can work on when there is a lull in activity. I find that I am happiest when I’m constantly working towards a goal. Even when waiting at the dentist office I’ll review my active task on my smart phone. You may think that would lead to stress but by always being on top of things I actually maintain a relaxed state. It’s when I let things slip or don’t follow through on something, that my stress level increases.

The key is to maintain a state of relaxed productivity and avoid getting into crisis mode.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

February 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Posted in Life, People, Productivity

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Clear Your Clutter And Take Back Your Space

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Having a cluttered home is a constant drain on energy, focus and can drag you down. A home should be a place where you can move about freely and the things you need are in easy reach and the things you cherish are there for you to enjoy. Finding the shoes you want for a special occasion should not be a grueling adventure.

To live our lives we need a proper space in which to work and play. Everyone has a junk drawer where we toss those items we are not sure we’ll need again but for some their homes are their junk drawers. The key to maintaining a proper space is to not bring in unnecessary items  in the first place. When you do need to bring in more items it is important to let go of old items. Buying a new pair of pants means you should toss or give away and old pair.

Maintaining an uncluttered space is counter to our consumerist society. We are constantly told that we need things to be happy. If we follow the advice of advertisement we find ourselves more unhappy than before, but then they tell us to purchase their totally cool new organizational system – more stuff.

Toss, Give Away or Keep

It is important that we question the need for everything we currently have and then make a decision – toss (preferred), give away or keep (boo!). That TV in the basement collecting dust could be used by a college student who is working his way through school. A family who is going through tough times could use those old clothes you will never wear again. Just imagine some kid somewhere wearing that old coat as he goes to school in the morning.

Give it away if you don’t plan on needing it the near future. If you find you do end up needing it you can visit a thrift shop and get another one when you do.

When in doubt, throw it out. If you are not sure someone could use it, throw it out. Some may argue that we should reuse everything we can to save the planet, but for some that kind of thinking keeps them in a prison of their own clutter. We’ve kept things for years on the slight chance someone could use it but unless it is something practical like clothes or a useful appliance, we are fooling ourselves that someone needy will suffer without that fondue set (Seriously, who gives someone a fondue set for Christmas?!).

Don’t Be a Collector

One of the most despicable phrases in the ad world is the term “Collector’s Edition”. There’s the presumption that if we keep this item long enough it will be worth a lot of money some day. Do yourself a favor and don’t get caught up in the collection disease. Nobody is going to spend big bucks for your old copy of the “Die Hard The Ultimate Collection”. On Ebay I saw the original VHS version of Rocky (1984) sealed for $21. Someone kept that treasure in their basement for over 20 years and all they can expect is $21. They didn’t even get to watch it.

Of course some things are more collectible than others. Vinyl LPs do have a market but even then we are not talking big money unless you have something extremely rare. If you do want to keep a collection make sure you have the space and that you get enjoyment from it. If you have a den where you like to display your old comic books then that has personal meaning for you and brings you pleasure. Still, I’d rather collect experiences than items.

Be a Disciplined Consumer

Buy only what you need or enjoy. Don’t make spontaneous purchases. You should make a list of things you need before you go shopping. If you see something else you like make a note of it for possible future purchase. I like to think of stores as my personal storage units where the things get better the longer I leave them there.

There was a widescreen TV in Best Buy I had my eye on a few years ago. I decided I didn’t need it right away so I would leave it at the store until I did. Years went by and the technology has advanced to make that item obsolete. Now there’s a new 3D-HD 65 inch display that I’m currently not purchasing until I need it. The truth is that my current TV is fine and I can continue using it until it stops working. Sure, I’d love the newer features but it’s not worth my money, time and space.

Your space is more valuable to you than any item you bring into it. Any thing you buy or keep has to prove its worth before it can take up any of your space.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

February 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Life, People, Productivity

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Rocky Balboa Quote About Self Respect

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I watched “Rocky Balboa” again today. I’ve been a fan of the Rocky movies since I saw the first on TV as a kid. There’s something about the story that really hits home and can touch a person deep inside. We’ve all had our underdog moments just as we’ve all had our moments of achieving greatness against all odds. You can criticize the Rocky movies as adolescent and macho or you can see them for what they truly are – a poignant story about rising to challenges.

Since I had seen “Rocky Balbo” a few times already, I meant to just scan through. I don’t have time to watch a lot of movies so occasionally I’ll just skip ahead to those scenes that I like. With this movie it was all great. I had to take my time and appreciate every line and nuance.

I came to a scene where the current heavyweight, Mason Dixon was asking for advice from his old trainer, Martin. What Martin has to say can apply to anyone.

Martin: You got everything money can buy, except what it can’t. Its Pride. Pride is what got your [explicit] out here, and losing is what brought ya back. But people like you, they need to be tested. They need a challenge.

Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon: But you know that ain’t never gunna happen, there ain’t anybody out there Martin.

Martin: Theres always somebody out there. Always. And when that time comes and you find something standing in front of you, something that ain’t running and ain’t backin up and is hittin on you and your too damn tired to breathe. You find that situation on you, that’s good, cuz that’s baptizim under fire! Oh you get thru that and you find the only kind of respect that matters in this world, Self respect.

That’s some heavy stuff. This is the kind of advice we should be giving our kids. This is the kind of advice we need to help us get through our challenges.

when that time comes and you find something standing in front of you, something that ain’t running and ain’t backin up … You find that situation on you, that’s good, cuz that’s baptizm under fire… You find the only kind of respect that matters in this world, Self respect.

Success is not about the money, it is not about status or fame. Success is about living up to our own image of who we want to be. Anybody with millions of dollars can buy a fancy car.

It takes someone special to live a principled life and to never give up trying to be who they want to be.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

February 7, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Posted in Life, People, Thoughts

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Treasure Different Viewpoints

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I maintain a list of blogs that I read on a regular basis. On that list are some blogs that I don’t enjoy or agree with (Don’t worry it is not yours). I make it an effort to read these counter blogs as often as I can. I do this so that I am not viewing the world through the I-agree-with-everything-you-say goggles.

It takes great courage to think outside of your beliefs. There is a fear that if you consider other opinions that you may lose hold of your beliefs. Don’t let that stop you. If you have a belief that can’t stand scrutiny than that is not a belief, it is an illusion. You want to examine those illusions and eliminate them.

For example, some believe that most people are evil and/or stupid. They will have blogs where they rant on about the ills of society and people in general. Nowhere in their minds are they ready to consider that they are an example of what they most despise.

I believe everyone is basically good and that only 50% of the population is below average in intelligence. This belief that I have is somewhat of a blind spot that may make me miss the evil intentions of others. By reading counter blogs I get to see things from a different perspective and maybe gain insight that I would not have on my own or by reading other blogs with positive outlooks.

I’m not just talking about different opinions, I’m also referring to different tastes. I don’t care for fashion or sports but I’ll occasionally read article related to those topics. (I have yet to find a blog devoted to both fashion and sports but I’m still looking).

To grow you have to step outside of your comfort zone. If someone thinks different from you, that is a goldmine of varying perspectives. Don’t pass it by.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

February 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Posted in Learning, Life, People, Thoughts

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To Begin Anything, First Know The Purpose

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It doesn’t matter what you are trying to accomplish, the first thing you need to do on any project or action is to determine the purpose. Want to lose weight? Why? What’s the benefit? Would the benefit outweigh the cost?

Without knowing the purpose, it is easy to get sidetracked and that goal ends up on the stack of unfulfilled expectations.

Don’t just verbalize the purpose. Write it down. Write it down. Write it down. Did I mention that you need to write it down? Writing down the purpose is extremely important. This action tells your brain that this is not just some flight of fancy and that you are really serious about accomplishing this goal. If writing down the purpose seems like a waste of time then you don’t really want to accomplish it.

With the purpose written down, you can refer to as needed. When you are about to commit to an action or decision you can then ask yourself if this would serve the purpose. Once you determine that an action serves a purpose you can move forward with confidence.

It is also important to determine your purpose in life. Your purpose in life drives all your other purposes. My purpose in life is simply: To Help Others. That may seem like a very broad purpose but I’ve broken that down into more direct goals with their own purposes. Everything I do has to in someway align with my greater purpose in life. Knowing that I’m working towards that purpose assures me that my contribution to the world is valuable and that I am valuable.

For help discovering your purpose, I found an interesting technique at: How to Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes

Once you know your life purpose and have a good inventory of goals that work toward that purpose, you should then audit the things in your life right now and remove all those things that don’t contribute to your life purpose.  Trust me, when I say that this is an extremely difficult step to fully commit to.  You may need to wean yourself off the habits that you find are holding you back from your purpose. In my case, I found I was spending too much time watching TV, reading fiction, playing video games … the list goes on.  I had also decided to stop drinking alcohol as I believed it worked against my purpose of helping others with substance abuse problems (I miss beer, sigh).

You don’t have to eliminate all the activities that you do just for fun. Whatever your life purpose is, you aren’t going to get far if you are not having a good time. I can’t help others feel better about themselves if I am miserable myself. As I write this I was considering amending my life purpose to be: To Help Others and Have Fun Doing It. I’m just afraid that could be used as justification to fall back into bad habits.

As I was writing this I had to stop several times to discuss charity work we have planned for the Epilepsy Foundation. That is just one of the charities that we contribute to but it’s all part of our greater purpose. This living for a purpose is not something you do once in a while. It has to drive you on a daily basis.

Once you give yourself over to a purpose, life is better. It’s as simple as that.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

February 5, 2012 at 11:47 am

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Great post by Goss Coaching to start the day

Goss Coaching

I woke up this morning with a song in my heart. There is nothing special that I have planned for this day. There is no event or occasion. I feel happy for no reason at all, and it feels wonderful!

So often we feel like there has to be a reason to be happy. Often that reason is out ahead of us. We tell ourselves that we will be happy when we lose weight, get that job, have a certain amount of money, meet that deadline, recover from an illness, etc.

How would your life be different if you could let yourself just be happy anyway. How would it be different if you could be happy on your way to losing weight, getting that job, meeting that deadline, recovering from that illness?

Every moment that you deprive yourself of feeling good is like putting yourself in jail and…

View original post 368 more words

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

February 4, 2012 at 9:45 am

Posted in Business, Life, People, Thoughts

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Speak Up! Or Be Ignored

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There is so much advice out their preaching the value of listening. We also hear it is best to let the other person do all the talking. Well that may be fine advice for some situations but from what I’ve seen in meetings at the workplace is that most people tend to remain silent. When the host of the meeting asks for feedback there are usually only a few  people who speak up and it’s always the same people.

Employees will grumble about how they are not appreciated or the opinion doesn’t matter but when given the opportunity to speak, they don’t take advantage of it.

I was at a meeting the other day where several project teams were asked for updates on their projects. I talked about how my work was going and asked a few relevant questions. Other team leaders gave very terse answers when pressed but would not contribute any input to the group. I was a little surprised that with the amount of work that was being done that they chose not to share a little more.

After the meeting, I learned that the program manager was upset about the lack of feedback from the other teams.

I’m not entirely comfortable talking in front of large groups of people, but it is part of the job. If you can’t communicate effectively, you have no business managing a team of employees.

If you are not going to voice your opinions, you have no right complaining when others go in  direction you don’t agree with.

Also, when you do get the courage to speak, raise your voice. I don’t know how many times I’ve been in a meeting where I can’t hear a word they are saying. I know the old trick about how you should speak softly so others will pay attention, but if you can’t be heard at all, you give the impression of meekness. The only people who can get away with speaking softly for effect are those who normally speak clearly. If you are quiet as a mouse, people will think you are a mouse.

It’s kind of ironic that I’m giving this advice. Throughout most of my life, I’ve been a bit of a low talker and that was when I dared speak at all. Now I will adjust my volume as needed to meet the needs of the situation. If I didn’t want to be heard, I wouldn’t speak at all.

I think part of the problem is that most people still have the worker mindset where they must wait for direction from their leaders. The leaders, on the other hand, are being taught to encourage collaboration and increase employee engagement. When employees don’t speak up it gives the impression that they don’t care. If you don’t care, quit and stop wasting the time and resources of the company you are working for.

Even if you don’t feel confident, speak up anyway if you have something to say. When you are nervous, you may stammer and stumble on your words the first 2 to 100 times, but if you do it enough that nervousness will eventually get under control. It won’t go away completely, but you will be able to deal with it.

Life is so much better when you are an active participant.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

February 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Posted in Business, Life, People, Thoughts

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Multitasking is a Myth

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It is impossible for the brain to focus on one thing at a time. When we claim to “multitask” what we are really doing is constantly shifting focus from one topic to another. Information about each task is usually stored in short term memory and is soon forgotten. This may be fine for watching TV while chatting on the phone, but tasks such as studying require a person’s full attention.

Even when we aren’t trying to multitask the brain may be thinking about stressful events while trying to do something else. If someone is talking to you but your brain is somewhere else it can be difficult to follow the topic of conversation. This is why we are often told to “Live in the moment”. If we are thinking about the past or worrying about a future event our focus is compromised and this can cause stress.

To prevent the mind from wandering try to limit the number of active projects you have going. Focus on getting each done one at a time. It is helpful to schedule reminders for yourself so that you are free to let something go until you are ready to work on it with your complete attention.

We’ve all had the feeling after a day at work where we felt that we didn’t get anything accomplished. We may have moved forward on a number of things but there are still as many thing left undone as there were at the start of the day. Before you leave for work each day come up with one thing you want to accomplish that day. Focus on getting that one thing done before moving to the next big thing.  By getting at least one thing accomplished, you can forget about it and free up your mind for other tasks.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

January 28, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Business, Life, People, Thoughts

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Don’t Do Anything When You Are Angry

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Anger is dangerous. Anger is an emotion left over from our hunter-gatherer days when it was needed to fight lions and tigers and bears – oh my! Now it is typically an overreaction to a perceived threat. When someone doesn’t replace the toilet paper in the bathroom it is not usually a life or death situation.

The urge to let out our inner caveman and just react is there. When someone cuts you off in traffic or bumps you on the street don’t you just want to scream in their face. Don’t give in. You won’t feel better afterward, you’ll just get angrier as they yell back.

Sending out angry emails is a terrible mistake. When you say something hurtful that you later regret you can’t take back the words but at least they are not going to sit in someone inbox as a constant reminder of what a hothead you are. Wait a day and then decide if you still want to send it.

And don’t think it is fair game when you are at home with the family. If anything you should treat these people with gentler words than anyone else. Just remind yourself that they have access to you when you are sleeping.

People are playing with fire when they act out of anger. Once I saw a woman swearing at a fast food crew because they were taking too long. How could she eat the food they eventually served without being a little worried? It would so easy to leave a little something extra in her Quicky Burger.

At work when I get angry, I just stay quiet or just respond to direct questions if I must and I don’t send emails. Today at work a coworker had asked me for help with something when he had been given clear instructions many times before. I had my hands full with my own work and it angered me that someone, who ignored my previous instructions, now wanted me to walk them through a simple set of steps. I swallowed my anger and helped him out. Problem solved and I felt better afterwards.

Don’t use humor as an outlet for hostility. I’ve done this and it never works. “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because you suck!”  That may get a few chuckles from others but the target of that joke is going to be hurt and angry. Good luck getting them to go halvesies on a holiday gift for the boss.

Next I’ll describe some things I observe that help me practice self-restraint. If you are guilty of any of these things just remember that admitting you have a problem is the first step.

Talking Loud On Cell Phones

I once heard a woman discuss in graphic detail about post-natal body issues which included the topic of flatulence.

Everyone has heard someone yelling at their significant other on the phone in a public place. Don’t they realize that cell phones don’t come with a cone of silence?

Worse than just talking loud, but talking on the cell phone while I am making purchases at their register.


Haven’t we all learned from all the PSAs not to litter? Even a small cigarette butt is littering especially when tossing it out of a moving car. Get an ash tray or quit, just don’t make your problem everyone else’s problem.

Spitting on the street

I was walking with a friend to lunch when he casually spit on the street.

I put a hand on his shoulder and said, “Are you okay?”

He looks back at me confused, “What do you mean? I’m fine.”

“You just spit on the street, so I though you might be sick.” I said.

He laughed and shrugged. “Nah, It’s a habit.”

“Well, stop it. You look like an a**hole when you spit.”

I tried to stay calm and explain that it was also illegal to spit on the street but, as it turns out he was, in fact, an a**hole. (I didn’t say we were close friends)

Taking up two parking spaces so their sports car doesn’t get crowded

First of all the only one impressed with a car is the owner. Nobody over 17 cares that they own a brand new Mustang.

My car has a few scratches on the sides from other people opening their doors. So what? It’s an appliance like a washing machine or a vacuum cleaner. It’s just stuff and it doesn’t make you a better person so be considerate of the masses that have to drive functional cars.

Applying Makup On a Train/Subway or (gasp!) While Driving a Car

It’s nice that people want to look their best but I don’t want to see someone twee-zing their nose hairs on my way to work. Actually, I’m willing to forgive someone applying lipstick or eye makeup on a long train ride – saving time is a virtue. However, unless traffic is stopped, applying makeup while driving a car is just wrong. I’ll save discussing the stupidity of texting while driving for another day.

Getting Offended At Any Attempt At Humor

There are people out there who can find even the most innocent humorous comment offensive.  I get it that everyone has a right to their opinions but without a little tolerance this world is going to be extremely boring. This is why comedians get paid, because they say the things we wouldn’t dare. It is kind of ironic that the excessive drive for tolerance is making this world a less tolerant place. People can get fired for one slip of the tongue.

Don’t get me wrong. When someone says something that is out of line they should be called out. But once an apology has been made and there is no evidence of malice, its time to move on and consider it a learning experience.

At work I am very careful not to discuss anyone’s gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. I’m okay with that but I also have to be careful not to make any political comments. Anyone talking politics in my office only do so in hushed tones. Am I conservative or liberal? I’ll never say.

Years ago, a friend of mine had to visit human resources about a conversation he had with another coworker. Someone overheard what they were talking about and found it offensive so he was reported. The topic that offended this person enough to file an official claim was the topic of clowns. You read it right, it was clowns. The offended was scared of clowns and did not want the topic discussed in the office. To be honest, I’ve always been a little creeped out by clowns myself but for the life of me I can’t understand how a person would want to cause another distress over an innocent conversation. If she had approached my friend and asked that he not talk about clowns in front of her, he would have respected her wishes without question.

I hope you appreciate the irony of my rants in an article about dealing with anger. I just wanted to show that while there are plenty of reasons to get angry, some of the reasons may be silly like my own pet peeves. The more things you let slide, the better life will be. I’m sure there are things I do that would show up on others angry list – ask my wife and she’ll provide you with more than a few examples.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

January 27, 2012 at 10:22 pm

You Can Do Anything … Or Can You?

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The other day my wife and I watched an episode of Saturday Night Live which had a skit that was a hilarious take on a topic that had been on my mind lately – unrealistic self expectations. See the skit at: You Can Do Anything

This current generation was raised in a culture that promoted that idea that a person could be or do anything they wanted to be as long as they believed in themselves. We’ve all been told to do what we love. Whether you like philosophy, basket weaving or Victorian glove making then you should have a career that lets you do that. There’s a problem with that line of advice and college graduates soon find themselves with no marketable skills.

In the computer programming field I’ve worked with people who had once aspired to be something else. Below is a short list of broken dreams I’ve heard:

musician, elementary school teacher, physicist, librarian, guidance counselor, music therapist, poet, park ranger, video game designer, artist

Now these are all viable careers to some extent but each of them required a level of sacrifice that the dreamers were not willing to make. At some point the need to earn a living overrides the be-anything-you-want-to-be attitude. If they really and truly wanted to have these jobs, they wouldn’t be working 9 to 5 in a corporate office.

I’ve wanted to be a computer programmer since high school so I lucked out. I am doing what I love and getting paid well for it. There were times when I considered alternate paths. For a few years I wanted to be martial arts instructor and later a fiction writer. Fortunately, I had something practical to fall back on as I soon learned the odds of making a good living from those careers were slim to none.

When my nephew was first contemplating what major to take in college this is the advice I gave him- “You can be anything you want to be … once you are able to support yourself and pay for your dream job.” He majored in business, graduated and is now doing very well for himself. He is still young and now he has the financial stability to consider other careers if he decides to do so. As it stands now, he is very happy doing what he does.

Rather than “Doing What you Love”, we should strive to love what we do. My wife has a job where she has to do deal with finances for a medium sized company. I guess she’s like an accountant or something, I don’t get it. I remember when she chose to switch jobs to do this. There was no financial incentive for her to do so as her previous job paid well and had potential for even greater opportunities. But she saw an opportunity to do something that she enjoyed while still contributing to the household.

I guess my wife and I were too poor when we entered the business world to afford to “do what we love”. We had to settle for doing whatever put food on the table and kept the lights on. Now years later, with the financial stability we’ve work hard for, we are very happy and fulfilled doing what we do.

Any career can be rewarding if you put your heart and soul into it.

As a disclaimer I will admit that I am only talking from my experience and observations. I accept that I could be wrong and would be open to hearing opinions to the contrary. As I’ve said in the beginning this is a topic I’ve only started to contemplate. I had yet to find any worthwhile references that would support my observations.

Written by Tim ThinkAuthor

January 26, 2012 at 9:07 pm