goals

Values-Based Decisions

One of the things I have struggled with for pretty much my whole life has been authenticity and strength of will. One reason for this is that I am very open-minded to other people, other ways of life, and other cultures… perhaps too open-minded. In many of my travels, I have encountered people and ways of life that I learned from; then, I have adopted many conflicting beliefs and values into my life as a result. This resulted in a gargantuan amount of confusion that I have been trying to sort out for the past year or so.

The other reason is that for most of my life, I have felt pressured to change myself to please other people. Even to this day, I struggle with sharing myself, my beliefs, and my opinions with others. I’m afraid that other people will laugh at me, tell me that I’m stupid, and say that I’m completely wrong and that in order to be valid, I have to switch over and agree with them/their method/their viewpoint. Therefore for most of my life, I have changed myself, my personality, and my beliefs/values to fit in and be accepted by others.

In one of my online courses, I am studying the chakras and learning how to balance them. This past week, we defined our top values, so as to balance our solar plexus chakras. I had a really hard time with this exercise, based on my past, but I came up with the following for my top values:

1) Individuality/Uniqueness

I believe strongly in the individual. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be different, be authentic, be themselves, and be accepted for doing so. People should be honest about their truths and share themselves vulnerably with others, so as to receive emotional support back.

2) Intelligence

I really enjoy both the learning and the application parts of knowledge. Researching, studying new information, looking deep within myself, and then growing myself. I also enjoy using the new information to do critical thinking, problem solving, and planning. Change means making a smart decision and then taking action!

3) Creativity/Fun

I am a very creative person because I play two instruments and write. Not only that, but I love coming up with creative ideas and solutions to think outside of the box.

4) Love of all people

Not only do I love all people based on their individuality and uniqueness, as well as their special skillsets and talents, but also I advocate for equal rights of all people and equality in friendships/relationships. I believe that friendship is the best kind of relationship because it is equal in definition.

Furthermore, I am a very loyal friend. I will stick by anyone who does me a kind favor, especially when I am having a very rough time. I will also pay it forward and do my best to help others whenever I can.

5) Personal Accomplishment

I have many dreams and ambitions, both personal and professional. To me, success means accomplishing my goals, achieving some measure of financial success in my businesses, and working hard with grit and endurance.

6) Health and Self-Care

I am very much into healthy living and self-care in all areas (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, and tasks/chores/responsibilities). I want to be successful in my life at the same time as taking good care of myself. Never sacrificing one for the other.

 

So the secret to having a strong will is to live completely by your values system. Every decision that you make should be made by your values.

Here are some decisions I’ve made recently:

  1. Leaving my old business to build my new business
  2. “Getting back together” with my mentor

I decided to leave my old business opportunity because I didn’t feel that it was authentic to me. Now, I can clearly see why. In that business model, uniformity was valued so that you could “duplicate” your business into a large-scale model. That meant that there was no room for individuality, uniqueness, or creativity. Not only that, but they were big on “submission” and “following the established process,” which meant that neither intelligence nor equal relationships were valued. Finally, many people who built that business to a successful level did so by sacrificing their health, as well as other important things like family and relationships. The only thing that I did value that they valued also was in the area of personal accomplishment, but even that was not entirely the same because I want to be personally accomplished specifically in the fields of writing and music.

So, leaving the business was the right decision, though it was a very hard decision to make. I now know that I am better off on my new path of online teaching and course creation. My new pathway agrees with all of my values. My offering is unique and showcases my individuality. The process involves me using both my intelligence and creativity to make my online course. I can love on all types of people with my product, as well as be personally accomplished. I can still prioritize my health and self-care as I am becoming successful, and there is nobody there to pressure me into feeling bad about that decision.

Now, clearly from my last two posts, I was struggling hard-core with leaving my mentor. I just was not happy with that decision and I didn’t know why. I actually have a really good understanding of it now though. I couldn’t, in good conscience, leave a really good person who had been there to help me during one of the lowest points in my life. Someone who had invested so much time into me and helped me completely recalibrate my life and my relationships. Someone who had poured belief into me even when nobody else did. I just couldn’t do it. It felt very disloyal and against my values.

Luckily, he and I were able to chat about what had happened. Turns out, there was a pretty large miscommunication and we were able to sort everything out to be friends. We have talked pretty much every day from the time we made that decision, and I literally feel so much better and so much more at ease.

He doesn’t know this yet, but I’m planning a way to give back to him in the future to show my loyalty and gratitude for what he has done for me and my life. I don’t have all the details sorted out yet, but I’m hoping it will make him really happy. Because that’s all I want.

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Presence

The other day, I was walking through Barnes and Noble when I felt a Spiritual Intuition. I followed the feeling, letting it guide me around the store, not sure where it was taking me. Suddenly, I found myself standing in front of the journals section.

I picked up journal after journal, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do, see, or find. At last, I found it: the Mindfulness Journal.

Intrigued, I picked it up and brought it home with me. I am so glad I did!

For some time now, I have felt unable to be present in The Moment. My mind always seems to be preoccupied with something or other, whether it’s planning for the future, thinking about the past, thinking about current issues, etc. I find that I am often too distracted, too weighed down, and too overwhelmed by life’s demands in the Big Picture, to have fun and be present in The Moment.

This might seem a bit strange, because for those of you who have known me awhile, you’ll remember that I used to be extremely present in The Moment. I used to be very present, very able to enjoy myself, very spontaneous, and very able to relax.

All of that changed once I finished school and needed to find a job. Suddenly, I had to worry about long-term and short-term finances, errands, chores, to-do lists, cleaning, and administrative work. I had to worry about being early, commuting, and traffic patterns. I had to worry about eating healthy and meal-prepping. Not to mention, I had to worry about all the components of proper self-care, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

As someone who eternally struggled with time management and planning, I really did not like this aspect of adult life. Yet I realized that my poor time management skills and poor planning skills needed to change, because they resulted in me being eternally late for every appointment and they resulted in tasks continually falling through the cracks because I couldn’t do everything by myself.

These days, I am proud to say that I have Become a Master of Time Management. Yet in spite of that, I feel that I need to elevate my standard of mastery in this area even higher. I need to master time management even further, such that I can both take care of myself and my responsibilities, as well as relax and enjoy the moment.

This insight came directly from following the prompts in the Mindfulness Journal. The first exercise it had me do was to turn off my phone (!) and other devices (!!) for 1 hour. Then I had to write down everything I had observed.

The results were so startling!! I took a walk in my neighborhood. I noticed businesses, shops, and boutiques that I had never seen before (despite passing by them literally every day). Without my iPod on, I noticed the sounds of the birds chirping and the cars whizzing past. When I went to CVS, I actually browsed the store and saw what was there, aside from the item that I needed. I even was present while I was waiting in the checkout line.

Takeaway #1: Technology is VERY distracting. I am going to start putting my devices on airplane mode in the morning until I actually need to interact with other people.

Next, the Mindfulness Journal told me to observe and describe a moment that I was fully present. I chose to do this at my last orchestra concert.

Again, I was only “mindful” for about 1 hour for the first half of the concert. I was again very startled at the results of this experiment.

This time, I didn’t just notice things like the fact that I was extremely focused in playing my part of the music, that I was actually playing to the audience, that I was actually enjoying how the whole thing sounded overall, and that my concentration was so much better that it had reduced 98% of my playing errors. This time, I noticed and was aware every time my mind started to wander.

What did I think about in that hour? A whole wide range of topics:

  • How I didn’t have work the next day so I didn’t need to think about preparing for that.
  • The chores I needed to do this weekend.
  • Summer finances.
  • My recent “breakup.”
  • My life in Nevada (my old apartment, sunshine, warmth, my friends there, Trader Joe’s) (??? wtf lol)
  • How I “suck” at time management and how I don’t respect myself because I don’t follow my own schedules.
  • How maybe I should be more In The Moment, because I do want to be fun, creative, and carefree, and words really do matter. Do I really need to focus on body language as much??
  • If I change myself again (change myself back), then I don’t know what personality type my future husband will have.

!!! Wow. That’s all I have to say.

Takeaway #2: I don’t think I even knew that I spent so much time thinking about all these different things, but apparently things like that run through my head all the time and I don’t even notice.

No wonder my ear lost its hearing.

Anyway, after that experiment was over, I had a weekend of very deep thought and planning. I did my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s instead of Wegman’s, and I discovered that it’s a lot less expensive and it has my fruits and nuts mixture that I realized I had missed. I tweaked my schedule to include more flexibility and relaxation time. One of the main reasons I didn’t like following my own schedules is that by nature, I’m a spontaneous person, and I don’t like feeling over-structured. I decided to have my morning and work routine be structured, but then have my evenings always be relaxed and spontaneous. I also added time on the weekends to plan for variances in my schedule in the coming week, so I can accommodate for them and not have things fall through the cracks. Finally, I added time each day where I can just think about my feelings and emotions. Maybe now, with better planning and strategy, I will be able to be more present.

Managing Negative Emotions: A Breakthrough and A Realization

Guys, today was a super important day in my life. Not only did I just have a HUGE breakthrough, but I also had a really important realization as well.

The Breakthrough
For many months now, I have been working on the way that I process and manage negative emotions. I have been trying to learn how to do it in a more effective manner. Due to my personality type (bossy controlling impatient domineering choleric, efficient, and leading), I have always had trouble maintaining mutual respect in disagreements. With my ability to be frank, direct, and to-the-point, I would immediately enter into attack mode in a disagreement and give the other person a piece of my mind whenever I felt hurt, unloved, disrespected, attacked, and/or criticized. Unfortunately, the anger and the emotional haze I felt would frequently result in very harsh feedback that would sound hurtful, unloving, disrespectful, attacking, and criticizing to the recipient. (Interestingly, I subconsciously made the other person feel as terrible as I felt in the conflict).

I always wondered why we were never taught in school how to manage negative emotions correctly. Along with “Money 101: The Skinny on Budgeting and Finances,” “How to Avoid Getting Scammed in Legal Contract Writing,” and “How to Actually Earn Money in this Sh*t Economy,” the courses titled “Loving People Through Conflict” and “Managing Negative Emotions Correctly” were noticeably absent from the curriculum. If these topics were actually taught to people in school, there would be a lot less A) alcoholics, B) drug addicts, C) people who eat their feelings, D) people who don’t eat their feelings, and E) people who don’t f*ck up all their relationships from needing to release their anger. Among other things.

Not only were we not taught how to manage negative emotions correctly in school, but it didn’t seem like anyone else knew how to do it either. Until I met my mentors in my former program, I didn’t know a single person who could actually manage their negative emotions correctly or who could love someone else through a conflict.

In my research on this subject, including some books and online courses, I have already learned some invaluable information about how to overcome these negative emotions.

Step #1: Release the emotion

For me, I have thought of several ways to do this that do not involve lashing out in anger at an actual person:

  • The best way is definitely critical thinking, if you have time to do it. This process can take anywhere from 30 minute to 2 hours depending on the complexity of the emotions involved. More often than not, it’s just not feasible to exit a conversation for that long.
  • For smaller amounts of time, depending on if you can, you can do some strength training, power walking, yoga, etc. Again, this is not always feasible due to your location and weather, as well as timing.
  • Another location-dependent one for me is playing piano. This one really helps me (but, I need a piano handy).
  • If you can take a 5-15 minute breather from the conversation, what works best is to b*tch it out by yourself. Either speak into thin air or write it down, but let the person have it (although, they will not be there to receive it).
  • For on-the-spot treatment, I’ve found the best way is to carry squishy desk ornaments in my purse. It feels GREAT to dig my nails into them when I’m pissed off. If I’m at home, I then start using my Chinese stress balls to relax. This can be done mid-conversation if necessary. Then I take some deep breaths, work to calm my facial muscles, calm my throat, and try to have empathy.

Step #2: Understand the Emotion

  • Again, critical thinking is by far the best. I would marry it if I could.
  • Have index cards handy that have your patterns laid out in front of you. Instead of becoming angry, demanding, and controlling next, what do you really want? What need are you trying to have met? How else can you meet it?

For me, when I become angry, demanding, and controlling, usually it’s because I feel unloved and I need emotional attention. I can meet that need myself by 1) talking to God and the Universe, or 2) writing in this blog (which do you think I picked today? lol).

  • Just think about it. Why are you so upset right now? What is this triggering? What does this remind you of from your past?

 

Today, I am very proud of myself for what I accomplished. I was having a conversation over text where I became upset. Because I was at home, I practiced piano and released my anger. As I was practicing, I started thinking my way through the emotion. I started asking myself, “Ok. WHY am I so upset right now? What is this reminding me of?”

And then I had my answer. I responded to the person in a very calm and respectful way. Then I filled my own love tank by writing in this blog 🙂

My whole processing time for the negative emotions and the response was 30 minutes. Progress over perfection! This small victory only added on to my really important realization earlier in the day.

The Realization
Not only did I not know how to process and manage my negative emotions in the context of conflict situations, but also I would have the same problem when I would deal with very strong emotions by myself in dealing with anxiety and panic.

As mentioned above, my primary need to fill my love tank is emotional attention. What I would do in the past was just dump my emotional load on anybody and everybody who would listen, with no warning or no consideration for what they were doing. All I could think about was that I FELT horrible, and I just needed someone else to listen to me so that I would feel better.

Understandably, most people became so tired of this that they stopped talking to me and stopped offering to give me emotional support. I drew the conclusion that all people sucked, didn’t want to give emotional support, and didn’t value vulnerability and authenticity in relationships.

The issue with this was not that I wanted to share myself with others. It was not that I was being vulnerable and authentic. It was just that I was sharing myself with no consideration for others, therefore making others feel like I was using them for emotional attention.

I have since learned not to use people as an emotional dumping ground. Now, I see emotional sharing as a negative deposit in the relationship, because it is something that I want to gain from the relationship instead of something that I am giving to the relationship. The only way to have a good relationship is to give more than you receive back. I have begun investing more of myself in my relationships in general to really show people that I care about them. The emotional sharing conversation itself has to be built in a mutual manner to the point where the timing is right and the other person will be receptive to hearing about the emotional pain. This is the right way to go about emotional sharing and support.

Not only that, but I have realized that most people actually DO value vulnerability and authenticity in a relationship. In fact, most people PREFER their friends and family to be vulnerable and authentic. It’s just, the sharing has to be done in the right way for it to work.

I no longer have to stay silent on issues that bother me or hurt me so as not to offend or disrespect anybody. I no longer have to feel isolated and alone. I no longer have to pretend that I’m ok when I’m totally not. I am SO GLAD that I had this realization.

A New Year, A New Hope (lol)

Happy 2019 everyone!!! Hope you all made wonderful New Years’ Resolutions that you actually plan on keeping.

I wanted to share with you my New Years’ Resolution for 2019. This resolution is a special one because it’s actually my second year working on it.

Just so you know, I’ve never done this before. I’ve never decided to have the same resolution two years in a row before. However, this one is so important, and while I have made significant progress in it, I am still not where I want/need to be with it, so I am continuing it again.

Last year, I wrote the following:

“This year on my birthday, I decided to have a chill night in and watch Legally Blonde, a movie that I have not watched for a good 10-15 years. I watched it, stunned, as I saw a woman struggle with moving across the country and then not belonging there, and then being eschewed from society with a firm hand.

She’s just like me! I thought. But, Elle Woods handled her situation far differently (and more successfully) than I did; she never lost sight of who she was and she learned to be successful by being herself.

On the other hand, I seem to always lose who I am. I am a very open-minded person, and I am very committed to my own personal growth journey, which is an extremely good/bad thing. Throughout my life, I have been in many different places and met many different people, all with seemingly their own conflicting opinions about who I should be, what I should do with my life, what I should believe, what I should value, and how I should act. I always felt like I needed to adapt and change myself in order to fit in with my surroundings and make friends; plus, the perfectionist in me always strove to improve myself to be a better person so as not to disappoint anybody or put anybody off. You would think that those would be great qualities to have, but I’m really seeing now that they are not good qualities at all. There is nothing worse than having every single group of people or association that you join tell you that you have to change your entire being in order to please them and to fit in.

In my personal experience, I’ve found that with everybody always correcting me, and telling me that I’m doing everything wrong, and that everything about me is wrong, it gets really confusing and disheartening. After awhile, I lost sight of myself because I received such conflicting information from all sorts of different people, and I changed myself to please all of them, and then I didn’t even know who I was anymore. But seeing this movie again made me realize that this year, for my New Year’s Resolution, I resolve to just be myself in all situations, regardless of who I meet or where I end up. The first step is to filter through all this bullsh*t and remember who I actually am and who I want to be (“You used to come here and eat toast…” -Sophie Kinsella).

Let me tell you right now the things I am definitely NOT:
-I am NOT a morning person. Every morning, I hit the snooze button for approximately 1 hour and I am the crankiest person in the world before I have had my first cup of coffee.
-I am NOT a structured time-blocking person. Take your restrictive, boring nature somewhere else.
-I am NOT a Christian. Sorry.
-I am NOT a conservative, discriminatory, judgmental person.
-I am NOT a logic person. I enjoy watching romantic comedies and reading trashy romance novels and crying because they’re so good.
-I am NOT someone who wants to punt everything important to me, compromise my values, and be 100% serious to be successful.
-I am NOT an introvert. I enjoy talking to other people, getting to know other people, and hanging out with other people. THIS IS NOT WRONG, PEOPLE.
-I am NOT someone who likes boundaries. People set boundaries with other people in order to control them, and they have no intention whatsoever of following the other person’s boundaries in return. It’s their way or the highway (I find this to be extremely disgusting and disrespectful).

This is what I AM:
-I am ENFJ personality (I decided. My journey has been ESFP to ENFP to ENFJ to INFJ to INTJ back to ENFJ).
-I am smart and creative, but I care more about being creative than I care about being smart.
-I tend to share entirely too much personal info with other people, and that’s ok. That’s how you build meaningful relationships.
-I give people too many chances because I always want to believe the best in them.
-I believe in Hinduism (dualism) and transcendentalism.
-I am loud and obnoxious and enjoy singing and dancing whenever possible.
-I have a really dry, twisted sense of humor.
-I have a work hard / play hard philosophy.
-I will tell you the truth if you need to hear it, and that is NOT RUDE.
-I love all people, regardless of their race, gender, age, and sexual orientation.
-I believe that it’s possible to change yourself if you change your mind. I am literally walking proof of this, so if anybody else wants to quote Einstein at me and say that it’s impossible to change yourself without outside help, you can go f*ck yourself.
-My purpose in life is to be a musician and writer, and to help other people through sharing my experiences and teaching them to love art.

So anyway, that’s it. I am a flawed, imperfect person and that’s ok. 2018 is the year I fully embrace myself for being myself, and I will no longer change myself or adapt to try to fit in with people who just don’t value me. If Elle Woods can do it, so can I. Happy New Year!”

That being said, I did learn, over the past year, that:

  1. It is not healthy to snooze for 1 hour every morning and I am currently working on breaking this bad habit.
  2. While I am neither conservative nor discriminatory, I can at times be highly judgmental of others.
  3. I do lead with my emotions but I can also back them up with logic. I am actually quite practical! Who would have thought.
  4. Good people who have a giving heart will do boundaries correctly. I had to see it to believe it, but there are actually people out there who will both set boundaries correctly and then also respect the boundaries of others in return.
  5. Most people, unfortunately, are unreceptive to blunt and direct feedback. For it to be effective, you have to add some flowers.

Everything else still applies and I stand by it.

Over the past year, I have become much stronger in myself, who I am, what I believe, what I value, and what is right/moral/ethical. However, I still often feel like I have to compromise those things in order to gain other people’s approval. Thoughts I continually think to myself:

  1. Even though I hate the rigidity of structure, I haven’t been able to find the same efficiency as a spontaneous person. Hmm, what to do…
  2. I still need to take some time and occasionally watch romantic comedies and read trashy romance novels and cry. Not to mention, sing and dance and harmonize and do arts and crafts and take long walks in nature.
  3. It’s really, really hard to become an extrovert again after you have been acting like an introvert. Sorry. Working on it.
  4. Still learning how to be vulnerable and share stuff and have it all turn out ok in the end. Hopefully this post goes over well.

Generally speaking, 2019 will be the year that I finally become comfortable in my own skin. I will truly embrace myself for being myself, flaws and imperfections and all. I will learn how to be myself despite pressure from others who want me to change. I will be able to retrain my thinking of personal growth from perfectionism to mastery and be able to distinguish a good change from a bad change. This will be the year that I will shine bright like a diamond.

The Rumination Antidote

Do you find yourself continually lost in thought? Do you find that as you go about your daily business at work, at home, or out with friends, negative thoughts seem to intrude into your consciousness and distract you from being present in the moment? Do you find that your mind swirls uncontrollably as you recount past negative experiences, one after the other? Once you start, do you find it impossible to stop and feel as though your mind has completely taken over?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you could suffer from rumination. Side effects of rumination include anxiety, depression, stress, fatigue, health problems, selfishness, and sour relationships. If you are prone to ruminating, don’t worry. The good news is that you’re not alone — and I know the secret antidote!

For many years, I myself suffered from rumination. When something bad happened in my life, I found it nearly impossible to move on from it because I felt like my mind kept mulling it over and over and over and over. Even if something bad happened three years previously, my mind would ruminate about it like the bad event had happened yesterday. There was no escape! I felt like my mind was continually holding me as a prisoner. For many years, I felt helplessly enslaved to my own mind.

It took me a long time, but eventually I realized that the situations that happened in my life were not the problem. The problem, I discovered, was that I kept ruminating about the negative situations in my life. It was the ruminating that paralyzed me from moving forward, not the events themselves.

Once I understood this, it took me awhile before I discovered the secret antidote. Eventually, I discovered the antidote in a book called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. In this book, Carnegie describes the critical thinking method, which is by far the most invaluable piece of advice that I have ever received in my life. By practicing critical thinking every day, I was soon able to gain control of the thoughts that continually swirled around in my mind and I was able to think of solutions to move forward. Not only that, but I could actually take action; as a result, I could cease thinking about the same problems over and over again.

So how does it work?

Good critical thinking skills employ the following steps:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What is the cause of the problem?
  3. What are my goals?
  4. What are all solutions to the problem?
  5. What is the best solution to the problem?

All you have to do to unpack a problem– ie) controlling the swirling thoughts that ruminate around in your mind– is to sit down and write out the answers to these questions on a piece of paper.

Absolutely revolutionary. What. A. Genius!

Not only does the critical thinking method allow you to remove the thoughts from your mind, but it also allows you to unpack the problem and actually think about solutions to the problem. In addition, it helps you to reframe your mind from one of negativity (thinking about a problem) to one of positivity (thinking about your goals and solutions). Huzzah!

Once you practice critical thinking, then you will start to really think through the decisions you make. Eventually you will become so good at this that you will start to make really good decisions on your own. Consequently, you will rely less on other people’s advice and perspective and rely more on your own. As a result of this, you will build a self worth and a trust in yourself simply because you have the knowledge that you can make great decisions all by yourself.

When you think about it, rumination is actually a combination of 1) anxiety, 2) unforgiveness, and 3) victim mentality. People who ruminate frequently are paralyzed with fear of taking action because they do not know how to avoid repeating the same negative event or circumstance again in the future. People who ruminate frequently are simply blaming other people or circumstances for their own misfortune in life. They do not know how to move forward because they are stuck in the same bad circumstances from the past, as bitter victims.

As I learned, the best way to un-stick yourself from the past is to learn how to forgive the people who hurt you and to cultivate an accountability mindset. Learn how to examine the situation from both sides to determine what role you played in causing your own current situation of misfortune and then learn how to grow from it. Improve yourself to be better or to act differently so that you can avoid similar misfortune in the future. Lastly, cultivate a mindset of accountability and responsibility.

Remember: You, and you alone, are responsible for your current circumstances and your life. If you do not like something, then think critically about it and then take action to change it. This is the secret antidote.

 

Align Your Purpose(s)

In my last post, Become a Master of Time Management, I discussed how to organize your schedule for maximum efficiency. Not only that, but I gave advice on how to incorporate your “sub-goals,” or daily habits, into your schedule in order to work towards achieving your life goals. But what do you do when you have multiple life goals that all seem to conflict and collide with each other? How do you move forward in all areas when you seemingly need 28 hours in a day instead of 24? Read on for some tips on how to Align Your Purpose(s).

For me personally, I have always been double-, triple-, even quadruple- and quintuple-minded. As a musician, writer, and business entrepreneur, I have always had many goals and ambitions for myself and my life. In addition to my professional goals, I also wanted to prioritize the more common and widespread goals of living a long life and being a responsible person. As a result of this, I have always found it hard to focus on and prioritize just one thing.  So confusing! No wonder I had issues fitting everything into the same day.

To make matters even more confusing, when I first started thinking about goals and time management, I was trapped in a standard 9-5 corporate job which actually ended up taking over my entire life. I therefore had no time or energy left over to actually work on my goals at all. In spite of this, I stayed at my job because “I needed to earn money to pay my bills so that I could work on my passions, goals, and dreams.”

Unfortunately at that time, I did not understand the vital flaw in this logic. Maybe I did understand it on a subconscious level, but that didn’t mean that I actually knew what to do to fix it. The result was increasing frustration, irritation, and helplessness with my life on the surface and not understanding what was causing it.

Step #1: Prioritize Your Values

The first thing I did solve this problem was to compare my ideal list of values (how I would like to spend my time) with my actual values (the way that I was actually spending my time). My lists looked like this:

My ideal values:

  1. Living a long life
  2. Music
  3. Writing
  4. Business
  5. Job
  6. Housework

My actual values:

  1. Job
  2. Living a long life
  3. Business
  4. Housework
  5. Music
  6. Writing

Writing these lists, as you can see, was pretty jarring. It woke me up to the fact that I was, for the most part, prioritizing all the “responsible” aspects of life and was not really delving into either of my passions. No wonder I felt so frustrated and unfulfilled! I decided to do something about it.

Step #2: Quit Your Day Job

I know, this decision is not for everyone. That being said, it was definitely the right decision for me. I realized that if I wanted to live a life of true authenticity, I needed to make my music and writing more of a priority. So I rid myself of the largest time-sucker of all: the 9-5 job. Once I quit my job, I decided to earn money as a professional musician and as a business entrepreneur.

Once I quit my job, I felt much more comfortable and secure in the fact that the life that I was living was far more in alignment with my values than it had ever been previously. That being said, I still struggled with music goals vs business goals, and I hardly ever had time to write.

What was causing this problem? Each category had its own goals, sub-goals, and daily habits, there turned out to be not enough hours in the day to prioritize everything at the same time. Even though I tried my best to streamline, combine, and shuffle things around, I still felt too overwhelmed to fully focus on everything at the same time because I felt like I was way too overly extended to be successful in everything.

For example, I would make some success with my music in piano, but then my viola would suffer. Or I would prioritize my viola and my piano would suffer. Or I would have it on track with both instruments, but then I would never go to the gym. Or I would have the gym on track at the same time as the housework, but not do any music. Or I would have the gym and both instruments on track but neglect the housework. That’s not even mentioning my writing or my business. Sheesh.

See? Too many variables. No good. All it did was make me upset with myself for not being able to consistently follow through on anything because I had too many things going on at the same time. Because of this, I still felt deeply unsettled and unsatisfied. While I had made a large amount of progress, I had not yet achieved perfection (lol).

Step #3: Establish Mutual Purpose

Next, I decided to really look into each category and see if they were all truly important to me. Then I asked myself why they were so important to me and what was my purpose that was driving me towards completing goals in each area.

When I answered these questions, I still said that yes, all of these things are f*cking important. Clearly. Even though I still wished that I could hire a personal assistant and/or marry a hot husband who did all the housework, so that *I* didn’t have to be the one to do it, it was still important to me that someone did it.

Housework aside, what was really interesting when I completed this step was that I actually did manage to establish a mutual purpose behind my goals of living a long life, music, writing, and business.

My Mutual Purpose:

  1. I want to overcome to become. I want to overcome the negative, toxic, and scarcity experiences from my past to become a happy, healthy, and wholesome person who lives a life of abundance.
  2. I want to use my knowledge and experience to help others overcome negativity and toxicity and also live happy, healthy, and wholesome lives. I want to break others out of scarcity mindset and help them also live lives of abundance.

I was both relieved and pleased to discover that I was actually using three different channels to achieve the same mutual purpose. However, this still did not solve my problem of not having enough hours in the day and not being able to achieve long-term consistency in any category.

Step #4: The One Thing

While I had established that all of my goals were noble and that they all did serve the same mutual purpose, I had to take a good, hard look at each category to determine the order and the level of impact for each. Which one category allowed me to facilitate success in the other categories? Which category helped me the most in my own overcoming and healing process? Which category helped me the most in my quest to help others?

Another way of thinking about it is like a row of dominoes. Which domino is the most powerful that, if you could knock it down, it would result in the others also falling down? This is what I set out to find.

When I completed this step, the results were pretty shocking. I realized that while in the past I had achieved great success in my overcoming and healing process through my writing, I actually was now currently achieving better results with my personal growth through my business opportunity. While I still enjoyed writing, I realized that it no longer served me to write novels the way that it did in the past. Thus I decided to put novel writing on-hold for the time being and instead write about personal growth in this blog. See what I did there?

For my music, I realized that while I am currently making a difference with my students and with my performances, I will be able to make even more of an impact when I have the funding available to create my own Grand Performance Academy. In starting my own music academy, I will have control of the environment and culture, so that I can ensure that I am only teaching students (and parents) with the right attitude and mindset of abundance. Therefore, in order to become more selective with my music, I realized that I needed to first focus on building my business. The change and movement that I will make in the music industry will therefore be a byproduct of the results of building my business.

As a result, I decided to focus and concentrate first and foremost on building my business. Not only does building my business help me with my first goal of overcoming to become, but it also helps me in my quest to help others overcome to become. Not only that, but down the line I can make an even greater impact and change in the music industry once I have the finances in place to be able to do so.

Therefore, my order of priorities has now shifted to the following:

  1. Living a long life
  2. Business
  3. Music
  4. Writing
  5. Housework

Which therefore made it possible to streamline all of my daily habits and fit them into a 24-hour day, actually even less-than. Ironically, since making the decision to focus more on my business, I have since spent more time playing my instruments, going to music concerts, and writing. I call that a triple-minded success!

Become a Master of Time Management

For some people, time management comes very easily. Starting from the time that they first crawl out of the cradle, they already know how to be early for things, wake up in the morning, and set up a schedule with all of their activities neatly aligned and time-blocked. These people know how to plan very effectively. These people also know how to correctly estimate how much time it realistically takes to do everything.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I am not one of these fortunate people who came out of the womb with all of her ducks in a row. Time management skills are not a talent that have ever come easily to me. For the past two years, I have agonized and struggled to become even  proficient at this, let alone become a master. That being said, the good news is that if I can learn it, anyone can! Read on for the tiresome fruits of my labor my tips.

Step #1: Figure out exactly how long it takes you to do everything.

I’m not even kidding. Become attached to your watch, or your phone, or however else you tell time (a sundial? is that even still a thing?) and write down how long it takes you to go to the gym, clean the kitchen, brush your teeth, commute to work, scroll through Facebook, etc. You may need to do this a few times to get a consistent idea of how long each activity actually takes you.

Side note: commuting to work (or commuting anywhere for that matter) does not take the exact amount of time that it tells you it does when you research your route on Google maps. Not only do you have to drive there (the amount of time that you researched), but you also have to walk from your house to your car. Then you have to put all of your stuff into your car. Then once you arrive in the work parking lot, then you have to walk from your car into the office with all of your stuff. Then you have to punch in, get coffee, and be “early” to impress the higher-ups. Translation: a 15-minute commute on Google maps actually takes at least 30 minutes, if not more. And that’s not even accounting for traffic jams, lane closures, road construction, and detours.

Once you know how long it takes you to do everything (realistically), the next step is to organize everything you need to do.

Step #2: Organize everything.

It’s not just about deciding what time of day that you should do certain things on your list. It’s about also thinking realistically about what time you actually gravitate towards doing certain things. If you do not take the time to do this, chances are you will not be very successful in following through on your schedule (unless you have super-human long-term consistency skills, accountability skills, and emotional stability).

For example, you might have the best intentions to wake up at 5 am to work out. But will you? Or will you just end up hitting the snooze button 30+ times because you’re not a morning person and you don’t want to wake up, and then get mad at yourself for not following through on your commitment to yourself (guilty)? Maybe you will be more successful if you put your workout after work instead, because then you would be working in your strength zone (being a night owl). Working with yourself, instead of against yourself, is key.

That being said, this step in particular takes quite a bit of practice if you are not used to thinking realistically about what order you should do different activities. You may need to create different versions of your schedule, try them out, and then revise/tweak them until you find a progression of activities that actually works well for you and your energy needs.

Step #3: Managing your to-do list.

Before I studied time management skills, I always felt completely swamped and overwhelmed by what I coined “annoying phone calls” – aka spending three hours on the phone with some company trying to resolve a conflict or issue and then having it turn into a huge ordeal/crisis each time.

Pro tip: call at a time when not many other people are calling. At first I thought that calling in the morning was best, but in reality almost all other people also call in the morning. Generally people think that they are being smart and so they try to call before they have to go to work, but because everyone else also thinks that they are being smart by calling in before work, it simply does not work. I’ve found that calling in the early afternoon (1 pm) is best. If you call at 1 pm, not only are you calling in after all the lunch break callers are finished, but you also have the benefit that the person you’re speaking with also probably just took their lunch break and is now in a great mood, therefore actually wanting to help you. Problem solved.

In addition to refining the timing of when you call, also make sure to divy the calls and errands up into small chunks each day so that they are not so overwhelming. Invest in a daily planner and write yourself a note to call your credit card company on Monday, the insurance company on Tuesday, the bank on Wednesday, etc. What I find helpful is to spend a little bit of time thinking and planning your errands and phone calls for the week each Sunday and then divying them up into your personal planner.

Step #4: Actually completing the household chores.

For those of you reading this who aspire to some day hiring a personal assistant to take care of all this #$*%, I feel you. I am one of them. If you have a spouse or a roommate who actually enjoys doing these things (just like natural time managers, some people come out of the womb and actually enjoy cleaning. Again, I am not one of them.), then I am somewhat jealous of you but also wish that you would be more selfless and help that person out. If you already have a personal assistant who does it, I hate you.

If you don’t have an obliging spouse or roommate and you do not have a personal assistant, the good news is that once you have steps 1-3 down, step #4 should be a piece of cake. Once you know how long it takes you to clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, do laundry, clean your room, change your sheets and towels, water your plants, back up your computer, update your iPod, go grocery shopping, cook meals, do your budget, do your tax log, and do your mileage tracker, then you are already in pretty good shape. Knowledge is power.

The next step is, of course, to organize (step #2) and divide and conquer (step #3). When do you feel more inclined to complete these chores? Some people prefer to lump-sum all of them and dedicate their whole Saturday towards doing it. Other people prefer to split it up and do some of it each morning before work. Other people split it up differently and do some chores on the weekdays and some chores on the weekends. Again, no two people are alike and you can totally customize this to your strength zone.

Step #5: Handling a crisis.

Ah, the crisis. This one will be very quick. Is it really a crisis, or are you just procrastinating on the work that you actually need to do???!

Ahem.

Step #6: Prioritization.

Once you generally know how to schedule according to your strength zone, and once you have all the annoying bits in check so that you can truthfully refer to yourself as a Responsible Person, then the next step is to prioritize and fine-tune your schedule so that you are working every day to achieve your life goals.

What if you don’t have any life goals? Well, get some! Become passionate about something and go for it. Develop some #ambition (or in my case, #BlondeAmbition).

Once you have a list of your goals, you will need to spend some time planning the sub-steps (or “deadlines,” if you prefer) in which you will work to complete them. Once you have the sub-steps identified, then you can determine the daily habits that you need to put into place in order to get yourself there. Then you can update your schedule accordingly to include your daily habits. This may require some juggling and shuffling in other areas in order to prioritize your daily habits, but it will all be worth it in the end. Trust.

Help! All of goals seem to collide with each other and there are simply not enough hours in the day for me to complete everything!!! What do I do???!!!

This was me for a very long time, so I feel you. The good news is, I worked my way through it, and so can you. In my next post I will cover this topic in more detail.

Anyway, there you have it! If you follow these 6 Steps consistently and work to improve, then you will become a Master of Time Management in no time.