Ambition

I am always impressed with people who have dreams or goals and manage to make everything happen the way they envision things, or just have a “to do” list and get things done.  They have ambition, self-initiative, and usually good time management skills.  I can never seem to be as productive as I would like to be, so I guess I’m partly just envious.  I know people who get more done by 9 am than I do all day long sometimes, but then again, I’m not a morning person.  They wake up on full throttle.  I have no clue what that feels like, and sometimes I spend more time thinking about what needs to get done rather than actually doing things.  I get great satisfaction out of checking things of my “to do” list and want to get things done, but I can’t always make things happen in the timeframe I would like to and should be able to, but it’s sometimes due to things out of my control.  Other times it is not. I can be very focused and productive though with the right motivation.

What really impresses me is when other people are willing to tackle projects or do anything that is out of their comfort zone, which seems to be a key factor sometimes.  They’re not afraid to try something they’ve never done before or figure things out as they go.  They just take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and run with it.  Continue reading

Impulse Control

I am astounded sometimes by the lack of impulse control so many people seem to have these days.  I certainly expect children to not be able to refrain from giving in to every impulse they have because they haven’t learned not to yet, but it amazes me how many adults never do.  The number seems to be on the rise.  So of course, I shouldn’t be surprised that teenagers who are learning by example seem to have difficulty with this as well.

Now that I am back in the classroom at the middle school level, it seems to be the biggest challenge.  Many students can’t refrain from sharing every thought that comes to mind at any time.  Or they just get up out of their seats and wander around the classroom if they feel like it.  They don’t understand that sometimes they need to wait to go to the bathroom because they’re going to miss some important instructions or information if they don’t. Any question is fair game at any time, even if they could easily figure out the answer for themselves.  There’s no sense of whether they should or shouldn’t do or say something because it might not be an appropriate time.  They can’t seem to do anything without talking while they are doing it.  And they don’t ask permission either.  They just do it.  It makes me wonder if anyone at home is teaching them to be conscious about this, whether this has just become more acceptable to more people, or whether it’s not really a choice for more people (because I know that is difficult for people with ADHD, for example).  It’s probably a combination of it all.

I wonder what kind of adults they are going to be if they have SO little impulse control as teenagers.  Thank goodness it’s not ALL of the students.  That gives me hope. However, when you combine the lack of impulse control to do the things that they want to do with the lack of motivation to do the things that they need to do, then I worry.  I see that in my own kids too.  I can be impulsive sometimes  and end up doing things that I hadn’t planned on doing (like when I sit down to write these blog posts), which prevents me from doing the things I should have been doing, but I manage to get done the things I really need to do and eventually find the motivation to get the rest done too.  It takes me longer than I would like sometimes, but life can’t be all work and no play.  It’s a balance, and it seems like too many people can’t seem to find that balance because they’re too impulsive.

Unfortunately, I think the vast amount of information at our fingertips and number of ways we can entertain ourselves with some sort of electronics these days plays a role in that too.  It’s too easy to impulsively pick up our phones and start scrolling through whatever social media accounts we have or text someone just to say hi.  How many times a day do we all do that?  Too many.  I’m guilty too.  It’s that instant gratification that’s hard to ignore. Unfortunately, I think that’s part of the problem.  We’re so used to instant gratification that we can’t go without it for very long.  So now those middle schoolers who were already hard enough to manage years ago because they are still children who need instant gratification are even more difficult to manage now.  They can’t wait to share a thought or ask a question because they thrive on instant gratification that they are so used to getting, now that they all have their own phones or other electronic devices.

It’s something we all really need to be conscious about … how impulsive we are, and can we set a better example for our children and help them learn to not be so impulsive themselves.  My job would be a whole lot easier if more people did that.

Timing Is Everything

If only I had a quarter for every time this thought has popped into my head over the years, especially recently. Sometimes it’s because of good timing, and sometimes not.

There are occasionally those days where things start going wrong, and they just keep piling up.  I have a near miss car accident, something around the house stops working right or breaks, my sink backs up, the kids are argumentative or throw at me some last minute plans that I have to accommodate, and so on.  I find myself asking why it all has to happen in one day.  I’m already frustrated from the first couple of events, so I don’t always react too well to the rest.  Each thing on separate days would be a little easier to swallow.  But then I find myself thinking at the end of the day that I’m glad it all happened in one day so that I can put it all behind me and move on, hopefully having a completely different kind of day the next day.  Sometimes I am lucky enough to have that happen.

Then there are the times where I am thankful for good timing.  Something good happens when I least expect it, and I find myself thinking, “Wow, just what I needed! Perfect timing!”  I might come upon some information at the right time to put it to good use, or I’ll have a conversation with one friend that coincidentally helps me with a particular situation.  Maybe a friend or relative will check in with me to see how I am doing, and it will be on a day when everything is going wrong.  The best example is meeting new people and feeling like they came into my life right at the right time. Sometimes I don’t always realize right away how good the timing is, but I get it eventually. The relationship I am in now is a perfect example of that.

Unfortunately, there were several years where it was pretty doom and gloom for me with more significant things going wrong all at the same time.  My kids were a major challenge, my marriage was falling apart, I was having various health issues, and so on. Those things were more long term and harder to put behind me and hope for a better tomorrow, especially dealing with all them at the same time.  Some of the time I could stay positive, but often it all got to me.  What helped was focusing on the things I could be grateful for, especially those little things that happened every so often that seemed to be good timing, like a friend checking in on me or my mom offering to help with something or just listen without offering any advice.  I think that’s why I tend to check in on my friends and family members pretty regularly because I know what a difference that has made in my life.

Life definitely has its ups and downs, and timing is sometimes not good at all for certain things.  Just when we think things can’t get any worse, it does.  We need those times to appreciate the better times, so it’s often a matter of perspective how we choose to look at situations and react to them.  We can’t always see that though while in the midst of the storm, whether it is a hurricane or passing shower.  But hopefully after it has passed, we can find the rainbow and appreciate the sunshine.  There’s never a bad time for those!

Honesty

Honesty is something some of my family members seem to struggle with, whether it is out and out lying, being deceitful, or purposely withholding information to be manipulative.  I have a child who prides himself on how sneaky he can be getting away with things, and he very much reminds me of his dad who has modeled that behavior for him over the years.  And he learned it from his family growing up, along with how to manipulate people, which he has also tried to pass on to the kids.  I’m sorry, but that isn’t a family trait to be proud of, how good of a liar you are or how good you are at being deceitful.

The thing is, there’s really no need for all of this.  Part of the problem is there is an assumption made that whatever it is that they want, they are going to get told no, so then they start scheming to figure out how to get what they want at all costs.  It’s more important to get what they want regardless of how many lies they have to tell in the process.  I am always more upset at the lies and the scheming than whatever else.  And much of the time, I would be agreeable to what they want in the first place, so it’s really not necessary.  I am a very straight forward person who doesn’t like to play games, so I would rather just have them tell me what’s going on or what they want and talk about options than to deal with all the dishonesty.

Another part of the problem is that they expect to always get what they want, which can’t possibly happen.  But I would be more apt to have it work out that they get what they want if there was more of an effort on their part to be honest, work together, and not react like a spoiled kid when they don’t get their way.  My work has been cut out for me trying to teach the kids that it’s better to be upfront and willing to compromise and earn what you want than find an underhanded way to get it with what their dad and his family has modeled for them.

Unfortunately, this is not just isolated to my family members.  I have experienced this with other people as well, even people who I have hired to do work at my house.  A big part of having integrity is has to do with how honest you are and whether you are willing to admit that you made a mistake, especially when you are providing a service for someone.  Trying to cover up your mistakes or keep from being caught in a lie, especially if it is going to make someone else look bad in the process, is never a good idea.  It’s even worse than just plain lying in my book, but I have been on the receiving end of that too.

None of us are perfect and never tell a lie, and sometimes there is a good reason to keep a secret or withhold some information to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or to protect someone somehow, but just to be manipulative and get what you want is not a good reason.  Every time we as parents tell a lie in front of our kids, no matter how small it is, is setting the example for them that’s it’s OK to do that.  So we need to be very conscious of how often and in what circumstances we are doing that and then explain that to them as well.  If we are always trying to get away with things and not follow the rules or are trying to cheat the system, then we can’t be surprised when are kids end up doing the same thing.

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The Dance of Non-Verbal Communication

I have been taking a couple’s dance class recently, which has been making me think about the importance of non-verbal communication.  It is absolutely imperative in social dancing.  The man has to clearly communicate what he wants the woman to do, and she needs to be able to interpret things correctly in order to follow his non-verbal directions.  That is such a perfect metaphor for any kind of relationship because both communicating and interpreting are very important.

Some people give off very few non-verbal cues as to what they are thinking or feeling. That makes them hard to read and can lead to confusion, playing guessing games, or even tip-toeing around issues because the other person may not know how that person will react.  That’s been my experience, anyway.  On the other hand, I have experience with people who give off almost too much non-verbal communication.   Continue reading

That Little Extra

little-extra

You never know when that little extra effort could really pay off, whether it’s because it will positively impact you or someone else.  Success often comes to those who are willing to put in a little bit more time and energy towards their goals.  It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut, but sometimes a little conscious effort to think positively can get you over the hump.  Perhaps a few extra minutes spent doing something like exercising would be good for you, or taking the time to call or message a friend might put you in a better mood.

There are numerous situations that come to mind where it would be so helpful or just plain nice if someone made a little extra effort rather than just doing the bare minimum.  For example, it doesn’t take THAT much effort to push a shopping cart all the way in the cart return and put it in the correct row along with the other ones of the same size and push them together.  It would keep the cart return from filling up so quickly and cut down on shopping cart dings and unavailable parking spaces. Speaking of parking spaces, I wish everyone took a little extra time to make sure they were parking in only one spot and straight. A little bit more order goes a long way.

My kids do a reasonable job clearing their empty bowls and cups off the table and even rinse them out, but then they leave them on the counter.  Apparently, it’s very scary for my teenagers to open the dishwasher, but if they did take that extra step of putting the item in there, that would be much appreciated. I can think of countless other examples like this where a little bit more effort on a few people’s parts would make a lot less work for someone else.

Then there are things like making a little more effort to be pleasant towards anyone you encounter throughout the day.  Just making a conscious effort to smile would be an improvement for some people.  Recently, I had a store clerk ask how my day was going so far, as if she was very interested.  It was a nice change of pace from the often meaningless, “How are you?” It was a very small thing that significantly improved my mood for the afternoon, so I really appreciated her asking.  If everyone made more of an effort to be kind to others, even in the smallest way, I think that would make a big difference.  Giving someone you know a random hug, asking if there is anything you can do to help them, or telling someone you have been thinking about them or appreciate them are all small things that can have a big impact on someone else.

What little extra thing are you going to try to do more often?

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.  If you would like to read future posts, please follow the blog or my Facebook page.

Winning At All Costs

winningMy son was somewhat perplexed following his volleyball games against another school yesterday and questioned his coach afterwards about some of his decisions.  My son was disappointed that, although his team played well, the other team won more games because they bent the rules and were encouraged to take advantage of our weakest player.  He thought the weaker player should have been subbed out for a stronger player.  Our coach explained that he was all about playing by the rules, teaching good sportsmanship, and being fair about rotating the players so that they get the experience to improve and build their confidence, especially at the modified level when the kids are learning the sport.  He also explained that at the JV level, what the other team’s players were doing incorrectly will get called every time, and those kids will look foolish and will have to relearn how to play correctly, whereas our team will not.

I told my son as I emphasized all the positives that I was more proud of him for playing by the rules, being a good sport, and playing with the right technique than I would have been if they won because they had bent the rules or played underhandedly.  I know it isn’t sitting well with him that the other team got away with playing the way they did, but it bothers me that he seems to be focused on the fact that his team didn’t win.

The whole thing makes me think of that whole mentality which some people have that it shouldn’t matter how you get the outcome you desire as long as you get it, even if you have to be deceitful, manipulative, bend or ignore the rules, or hurt people in the process.  Sports are one thing, but everyday life is another.   Continue reading