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Leap Year 2018

leap yearNo need to check your calendar. 2018 is not a calendar leap year. I have declared it as “my” leap year. Years ago, I received a copy of The Big Leap by Gay Henricks as a gift. Like too many of the books in my home office, I started reading it, but never finished (I’m working on this). I had crazy layovers while traveling recently and decided to take it with me. By the time I reached the end, I decided that 2018 would be the year for me to “take life to the next level.” 2018 became my year to leap.

It’s my annual practice to decide what type of year I want to manifest by choosing a word. My word for 2017 was “incredible.” I woke up each morning excited about having an incredible day. But in addition to wanting incredible things to happen to me, I wanted incredible things to happen through me. I purposely looked for ways to provide others with incredible experiences during our interactions.

the-power-of-words-1-728Did you know that the words you choose to describe your expectations are very telling and powerful? That “little member” called the tongue can be used to speak death or life. Perhaps growing up you heard, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Hopefully, you know by now that this idea is completely false. Words do and can hurt. Once they’re said, it’s too late to take them back. Think about it. Are you speaking negatively or positively about your situation, yourself, or others?

In addition to what we say, we have to be mindful of what we do. Don’t sweat the small stuff! It truly is small when you consider the big picture. AND, never lose sight that it’s just stuff. Be careful not to discard or discount the people in your life. We were created as relational beings. You need the person next to you as much as that person needs you. There is shared ownership in relationships so do your part. Although, we may not have it all together, together – we have it all.

Human-beings-NOT-human-doingsWhen I first received my cancer diagnosis years ago, I attended a yoga class. As the only person who showed up, it was my own private class. The teacher was full of wisdom. Of the many nuggets he shared that day, the one that I think about often is the concept that we are human “beings” and not human “doings.” We tend to get so busy with the “doing” that we are no longer “being.” Just be present with the present. The present is truly a gift for which we should be thankful.

In order for me to take “the big leap” in 2018, I had to change my mindset. Hmmm. So where do I set my mind? Establishing personal and professional goals was a great place to start. I came across this quote, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” I’ve got the goals and the objectives in place to reach them. (Think of objectives as the rungs on the ladder that you’re climbing in order to reach the goal at the top.) I have to be willing to do what it takes to reach that goal. For example, if an opportunity presents itself that is not in alignment with my goals, I have to pass. If someone is not supportive of what I’m trying to accomplish and where I’m trying to go, it’s better that I love them at a distance.

time-for-changeI am responsible for the change, or lack thereof, in my life. Change is never comfortable or convenient, but it’s necessary for growth. Change is a process that requires work. Although change can be difficult, NOT changing can be fatal. I don’t have to see the whole staircase. I just have to take the first step. In addition to taking steps of faith, I may have to take leaps of faith. I know that when I do, God will either catch me or teach me to fly.

The next “real” leap year will be 2020 (hint: it coincides with the Presidential election year). Please don’t wait until then to take  “the big leap” in your life. Yes, 2018 is “my” leap year, but there’s plenty of room on the train. Won’t you join me?

 

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C.H.A.S.E. Your Dreams

chase dreams

When it comes to the subject of dreams, we often hear “follow” your dreams. As a former teacher, I love words and know that their meanings are important. Therefore, the word “follow” doesn’t work for me. It sounds laid back and relaxed, as if it’s okay to take your time reaching those dreams. Don’t “follow” your dreams. Instead, “chase” them! This implies being active and not passive. It requires effort. We chase after what we want, right?

Do you have a dream? If so, are you currently chasing after it? If not, you need to get a dream asap. I encourage you to dream big, dream bold, and dream out loud. Take that dream and get ready to C.H.A.S.E. it.

C – Choose wisely

The choices that you make, or fail to make, directly impact your dreams. Choose wisely what you do with your time, where you go, as well as what you say and to whom. Don’t share your dream with everyone. Some may view it as a threat. Others may not believe in it, or they may not see it as valid or doable. Choose people you trust with your heart. Be careful not to allow people in your space who project negativity.

H – Have a plan

make it happen

“Dreaming after all is a form of planning.” (Gloria Steinam) If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. It’s essential to have a plan to reach your dream. Think of a ladder. At the very top, is the goal that you have set, the dream you want to accomplish. The rungs on the ladder are the objectives that will help you reach the goal. If your goal is to go to college, the steps to get there may include getting your high school diploma, applying to college and for financial aid, studying hard, and completing assignments.

 

A – Ambition & Alignment

Ambition is defined as the eager strong desire to achieve something. In other words, you have to want it. Sometimes the question is “How bad do you want it?” Bad enough to say “No” to something that’s not connected with your dream? Bad enough to say “No” and risk being talked about? This is where alignment comes into play. Your actions have to be intentional and in alignment with the goal you set to achieve your dream.

S – See it/Say it

dream clock

Having a vision is crucial because it changes your before and after picture. How do you see yourself? Can you visualize yourself walking across that stage to get your diploma? Do you see yourself greeting your first patient in the dental practice? Beyond seeing it, you need to say it. If you dream of being a doctor, use your voice now to put it in the atmosphere. Get used to hearing, “Dr. Suzy.” It’s also helpful to write it down and post it where you can see it as a daily reminder. If you say you can’t, then you won’t. If you say you can, then you will.

 

E – Embrace who YOU are

Notice the emphasis on the word YOU. It’s a waste of time trying to be someone else. That role is already taken. Why be a 2nd class someone else when you can be a 1st class you? Embrace your unique gifts, talents, skills, and abilities. Be careful not to get your placement (position) confused with your value (worth). Let me illustrate this using the math concept of place value. 3 looks small when compared to 7. However, a 3 in the thousands place has a greater value than a 7 in the ones place. Here’s another illustration. Look at your watch. When asked about its value, you don’t say wrist because that is where it’s placed. The value is about $50. Are you understanding the difference? Sometimes, people see your place (position) and assume they know your value (worth). YOU have to be clear about your value (worth).

As you chase those dreams, keep your momentum going. It’s hard to hit a moving target. Be mindful that your dream is under construction. And much like highway construction, you should expect detours, traffic jams, headaches, and inconveniences. This is an unavoidable part of this journey called life.

dream ink

Although you may be anxious to fulfill your dream, don’t skip steps. The lessons that you learn during the process are necessary. Besides, short cuts take too long and may even cut you short. Also, don’t settle for mediocrity. Wake up in the morning and realize that you don’t have what it takes to be average. You are stronger than the challenges before you of fulfilling your dream. Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go. They just determine where you start.

Chase your dreams and do something today that your future will thank you for tomorrow!

 

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Time to F.O.C.U.S.

Throughout the year, I reflect on my personal and professional goals, and evaluate my progress. With only 6 months remaining in 2016, the word that comes to my mind is FOCUS. As a former teacher, I am fascinated by words and their meanings. What I found in The Dictionary of Word Origins was pretty interesting.

Focus originates from the Latin and means “hearth.” At one time, the hearth housed the fire and functioned as the center of the home. We now say that, “Home is where the heart is.” In your personal and professional relationships, you have to know where your heart is. It’s equally important to be on fire about your purpose – what you were designed to do. When you stay true to your purpose, don’t expect everybody to understand, to agree, to like your choices, or the progress that you make.

The Latin meaning stems from the Greek “phaos” which means light. This is where we get the word photograph which is broken down to mean “light writing.” The word focus may make you think about photography and how adjusting the lens produces a clear image. Be clear about who you are and the difference that you make in the lives of others. Personally and professionally, it should boil down to service. Keeping this in mind makes it easier to remain humble and grateful.

As I thought about maintaining F.O.C.U.S., I realized the importance of not letting a Failure, Obstacle, or Challenge Undermine Success.

F – Failure. There is actually success in failure. It’s helpful to view failure as a learning experience with built in life lessons. I caution you to be mindful of the times when YOU think you have failed. Here’s an example. Recently, I was a contestant in an impromptu speaking contest in Maryland. Here’s how it works. You get the topic on the spot, you’re given a few seconds to think, and 2 minutes to give a speech.

As a first time competitor, I reached the highest level of competition and placed 3rd. However, I could only think about how I should have worded my speech differently to earn a higher ranking. It then dawned on me that my priorities were out of alignment. You see, before the winners were announced, a gentleman thanked me for the speech I gave. It forced him to rethink some of the recent decisions he made. That’s it! I had to remind myself about my “why.” I don’t speak to win trophies or medals. I speak to change lives. Losing sight of my “why” made me unappreciative of what I had achieved.

O – Obstacle. Take what you view as an obstacle and turn it into an opportunity. It’s really all about perspective. An obstacle forces you to think outside the box to find, or create a solution. Who knows? That solution may shift you to the next level. It may position you to fill a need that had not been previously considered. That obstacle may just be the best thing to happen to you.

C – Challenge. Every challenge will require you to change. Change happens whether we like it or not, whether we are ready or not. Change is not always comfortable, but it’s necessary for development and growth. The decisions that you make, or fail to make, determine whether the outcome of your challenge is positive or negative. 

Focus is heart driven. Focus starts a fire and ignites a passion that others can’t help but see and feel. Focus forces you to be clear about your life “what,” but more importantly your “why.” Focus won’t allow you to let a Failure, Obstacle, or Challenge Undermine Success. Remember, you were created on purpose, with purpose, to fulfill purpose. You are the solution needed by someone somewhere.

“Are you ready to do something today that your future will thank you for tomorrow?”

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