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Friday, July 20, 2012

Expect the unexpected, especially when the going gets good

By Joy Mizzoni
AcitonCOACH Spokane

I listen to Dr. Tom Curran during my morning commute to work. Although I don’t necessarily agree with all the theological doctrine, his positivity and real-world application of the wisdom behind his religious philosophies are pure gold. Even when he is discussing a controversial topic that goes against my artsy liberal good senses, the way in which he puts forth his argument is amazingly compassionate. Never once have I heard him speak negatively about any human being. There are actions and decisions that he disagrees with, but I have never heard him speak unkindly about the person or group of people who are performing those actions.  

I don’t know Dr. Curran personally; having said that, I base my opinion solely on what I hear during his program.  I would like to think he doesn’t live his life in raving hypocrisy, but you never know.  Consider this my disclaimer that I am in no way endorsing him, his religious views, political stances, etcetera , etcetera, etcetera.  Moving on….

Today’s discussion was about the unforeseen challenges that ensue when one commits to incorporate faith into their daily lives.  Although he spoke of demonic forces awakening to thwart your godly intensions, one could also apply this to broader terms: committing to a goal, a dream, or a decisive way to live your life according to your personal values. 

He explained that once you make a commitment, you should expect trials and tests. 

In other words, life’s a bitch. 

And that got me thinking…..

It’s the truth. 

One thing I have struggled with consistently is maintaining course when life starts throwing daggers through my dreams. I always say that sunny days make for easy focus.  It’s all the other days in between that throw me off track.  

Think about that. How many annual days of sunshine does Spokane actually have? How many of your days are problem-free? 

I’m not a scientist or a sociologist, or any type of “ist”, but I am confident in guessing most of your days may start off with rainbows and butterflies only to end in tornadoes and tsunamis. 

The reason I get blown off track so easily is that I never expect someone to rain on my parade. I never expect the unexpected.  I have consistently remained the opposite of steadfast. For example, once I catch up on my bills and commit to a budget, I never expect something to break on my Jeep or have an overdue bill to suddenly rear its ugly head.   The same with goals associated with exercise, work, art and social commitments.  I don’t expect pulled muscles, sore throats, sick kids, mental fatigue, or just plain laziness.  I set goals with the intention of perfection. I make commitments without regard to reality. 

Why, before this morning, did it never dawn on me to expect trials and tests? Distractions, disasters, deterrents. 

Dr. Currans used the demon analogy. For you atheists and agnostics, good old Murphy and his crappy laws will suffice. If something can go wrong, it will. And it usually does.  Please don’t label me as a naysayer or petulant pessimist. That isn’t true.  I am frequently blinded by optimism.  So much, I can’t see reality. Or at the very least, I don’t prepare for reality.  

What keeps knocking you off balance? What overwhelms you?  What tests do you keep failing? What demons keep popping up like mad rodeo clowns? How many times have you shared a shot of whiskey with that no-good Murphy? 

I am well aware that everybody has challenges in their life. Heck, life is hard even for the rich and famous! But, I wasn’t aware that it’s just a given. Just expect it.  Stuff happens. Constantly.  Consistently. Sometimes congruently.  

It’s just like those signs on the side of the road that say ‘watch for falling rocks’.  It’s advice to be taken literally.

Links about Dr. Tom Curran:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Easy doesn't enter into grown-up life...

"Easy" doesn't enter into grown-up life.” 
Michael Cain (from The Weather Man)


By Joy Mizzoni
Team Support Specialist ActionCOACH Spokane

Easy sure doesn’t factor into grown up life.   But there are easier ways to approach obstacles.  Though the path less traveled sometimes offers unparalleled and unexpected beauty, and trust me, I am definitely one for adventure, there is something to be said for utilizing a well-worn path; mostly clear of ankle-twisting rocks and shin-scratching thorns. 

Someone already cleared the way. You just need to follow in their footsteps. 

Where am I going with this? 

Well, in some strange way, I am leading up to the benefits of proactivity. 

I once read the following description of proactive versus reactive: 

Two people are floating in the ocean. Along comes a big wave and takes them both by surprise.  A few minutes pass, and the one person starts scanning the horizon; trying to anticipate the next wave.  The other person is floating on their back, daydreaming in the sunshine, completely oblivious to the ocean’s patterns. 

Waves come and go, both in the sea and in life. The trick is to be prepared, somehow, some way, for what may lay ahead.  My old boss used to say, prepare for the unexpected...because it always happens. 

For someone like me, this can really be contradictory to my free-spirit, live for the moment attitude. Unfortunately I am finding that staying on track is not easy. You have to prepare for emotional let downs and brace yourself for gale force winds trying to blow you off course.  Typically, these gusts come in the form of people, significant others, flat tires, unexpected bills, and the stomach flu.
I am beginning to realize how long it takes for me to get back on course after a significant disappointment.  It’s been almost three weeks now, and I am just beginning to feel refocused on my personal and professional goals.  That is about three weeks too long. 

I am not at a point yet to really offer you any life-changing advice, tips, or tools. All I can tell you is that if you want to change, you have start becoming self-aware. 

How do you handle stress?  When the going gets tough, to where do you get going?   

Do you hold on tight to your convictions and find solace in goals?

Or…Do you put everything on hold until you get your balance back? 

I wish I could tell you that I am firmly rooted like an obstinate tree when it comes to achieving my goals. But the truth of the matter is that most times, I feel like I just stepped off the tilt-a-whirl at the county fair.  

Distractions sometimes invade your life like a swarm of gnats.  It’s just a part of life. Like mosquitoes. Like bees. Like spiders and wasps and creepy crawly things you smoosh with a rolled up newspaper.   We can no more control other people and circumstances than we can a rainstorm. 

Take a moment, the next time you feel a little overwhelmed, unproductive, or just plain stuck, and think about how you typically react to stressful situations.  What keeps tripping you up?  What are the one or two goals you are constantly trying to achieve but seem to never make any progress?  This relates to finances, weight loss, and professional endeavors; really anything you have set your mind to achieve but always seem just out of your grasp. 

Today I realized I do not brush off personal disappointments very easily.  It should not be week number three before I am shaking my head and going, whew, what happened?  Oh yeah, now I remember, there were these things called goals I was working towards. 

I am beginning to realize that most of the positive, self-help, productivity gurus really do have the right idea.  Try and try again. The next time something takes you by surprise, perhaps it will only overshadow your goals for a day or two; not for weeks at a time. 

Perhaps together we can navigate the road less traveled and maybe find our way to that well-worn path towards our hopes and dreams. Either way, you have to just keep on keeping on.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

S.M.A.R.T. Goals and Action Steps: Set Yourself Up for Success!

By Joy Mizzoni
Team Support Specialist
ActionCOACH Spokane

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a 90-day planning session called GrowthCLUB. During past workshops, there seemed little in the curriculum relating to my art business, but this time around, something has changed.

Perhaps it's been consistent sales during my shows. Or maybe I just realized that people aren't being just nice. Let's face it; in all my years of living, I have never been overwhelmed by the niceness of people. Suddenly, there is an epidemic of nice?

I have been extremely fortunate in the support I have received with my artwork. I would even dare to use the word lucky. And each day, I wait with bated breath for my luck to run out.

It just dawned on me, however, that I have another option. That option is called planning: setting a goal and then working to achieve it. This seems to me a much more optimistic approach.

Who knew you had control over your own success? Did you know this? 

So instead of gambling on luck, unicorns, and wishes, sitting before me are my very own "S.M.A.R.T." goals.

A=Agreed Upon
T=Time Bound

Sounds pretty straight forward right?

So let's take a look at my first attempt that day:

1. Focus on creating art.
2. Find people who like it.

Not bad, maybe a little vague...

Now, let's look at the revised goals (courtesy of Coach Jim Munro who, by the way, found my second goal nothing short of hilarious)...

1. Create an average of 3 new pieces per month or 18 new pieces total by 12/31/12.
2. Liquidate existing inventory by 12/31/12.
3. Sell 10 of the new pieces by 12/31/12.

As you can see, my goals were not very specific and much too vague to foster motivation. Additionally, it's very difficult to measure results if no numbers exist in your plan. Unfortunately, measurable means you must adopt a binary mindset to accomplish your specific goals; either you did it, or you didn't. That puts the accountability factor smack dab in your face. Ouch!

After you have defined your "S.M.A.R.T." goals, the next step is to break each goal down into action steps. These are tasks performed weekly and daily that will lead you to your goal. Then, these steps are put into your respective calendar system.

For example, one action step could be finishing my current painting in 4 days. My action steps would reflect the specific tasks over the next 4 days in order to complete the piece within the assigned deadline.

Ultimately, by utilizing action steps in a measurable and organized fashion, I work each day toward my goal which enables me to prioritize my time more efficiently.

Like anything, this approach works great in theory. But there is always a catch. The first catch is Procrastination. It gets me every time. Motivation comes difficult after the pep talks have worn off. The old "I'll get around to it after this nap" fever can blind side you if proceed unaware of your own weaknesses, habits, and the detrimental ways you deal with stress.

For me, one of the most common ways I talk myself out of proactivity (okay, activity in general) is my perceived indelible right to mentally check out when I feel overwhelmed, stressed out, or generally unmotivated. I tend to tell myself it's my "reward" for persevering; it's the same logic that justifies a cupcake after a hard workout in the gym. It's all self-sabotage and old habits no matter how much you cover it in frosting.

But the good news is that there are other options. There are tools. And yes, there are choices.

I have not moved forward with my action steps as of yet (oh hush) but at least I have three goals.


Not, "what ifs".  And for me, that is one fabulous start!

Remember what Julie Andrews said (you know, that goody two-shoes 'Mary Poppins')...

"Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th! 


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