Relationships are a Necessity, Not a Luxury

Last night, we reconnected with my second cousins to watch their daughter in a prominent role in the Nutcracker.  My great aunt traveled to Dallas from Columbus to watch her granddaughter with her son’s family, and my brother joined our family in our family’s carefully chosen back row seating.  Happily, my daughters were in rapt attention during the entire musical–completely engaged.  My two year old kept pointing to the stage saying, “That my cousin.”  By the end of our time together, my daughters were certain that they too were elegant ballerinas and danced all over the Eisemann Center lobby.  The lights in their eyes showed the impact this one beautiful experience wrapped in loving relationships had on each of them.

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One of my favorite authors, Dr. Henry Cloud, says succinctly, “Our brain runs on three things: oxygen, glucose, and relationships.”  

From the moment of conception, we are shaped by relationships and depend heavily upon them for the rest of our lives.  

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The holiday season is a unique time in which most of us set aside time to reconnect with those people who have been influential in our lives. Often times, this is family.  Many times, this circle of deep relationships includes friends, coworkers, and other relationships.  Wouldn’t it be nice to sprinkle a bit of this warm feeling throughout the year?

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Unfortunately, as life gets busier and busier, relationships seem to be the first thing to be put on the back burner. 

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How can we prioritize relationships better in this coming year?

Following are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Recognize that great relationships are in necessity, not a luxury.  Spending time with people is central to life.  When life gets busy, nurturing healthy and enriching relationships can unfortunately be the first thing to go!  When we are isolated, however, our souls can deteriorate.  Our perspective can become warped.  We think too much of ourselves and too little of others.  Don’t let that happen in your life.  You need people, and they need you.  (To explore more on this, check out Henry Cloud’s latest book The Power of the Other.)
  2. Put relationships on your to do list.  Consider including relationships in your planning process.  As you plan your to dos, use a tool like our To Be / To Do Concept Clouds to prompt to yourself to think of those around you. With whom do you want to connect?  Whom can you serve?  Who is moving through a major life transition right now?   Who do you miss?
  3. Sketch ideas you have to connect with these people in the Dream Phase of your yearly Think Time.  Would you like to plan a camping trip with one family?  Meet up at the playground with another?  Go on a mission trip with another?  Attend an art exhibit with another?  Invite a neighbor for dinner?  Babysit for a young mom?  Mow the yard or hang some pictures for an elderly friend?  Let the ideas flow, and when you get closer to scheduling them, you will be able to sift and sort which ones will fit into your real life in the Decide Phase of Think Time.
  4. Identify and maximize your relational strengths. What do you bring to relationships? Do more of it! Brainstorm how your strength can impact even more people.  Are you great at organizing parties?  Keep doing it.  Are you one to rush to the aid of someone in need?  Allow that strength to be used in even broader ways.  Do you have a listening ear?  Take a moment to think of who may benefit from having a chance to share their thoughts and feelings.  Do you have specific skills?  Carpentry? Mechanics?  Design?  How can you serve those around you in the coming year? Take initiative and see how you can bless others by being more fully YOU in your relationships.
  5. Do some internal work. Take some time to evaluate what type of person you bring to the table when you bring yourself into a relationship. What are some of your strengths and what are some of your weaknesses? Get some feedback from those around you and get to work on your stuff.  A trained listener such as a counselor or a life coach can be invaluable for this process.
  6. Schedule it!  When you have an idea to get together with someone, pencil it in the Do Phase of Think Time, and follow up!  When you see someone that you really want to get together with or someone comes to mind, get it on the calendar! It is better to have it on the calendar and move it then to go months or even years without connecting with that person. Pull out your Think Time and write it down.  Set up reminders on your phone to follow up and make it happen.
  7. Be fully present.  Focus and full attention are the premium gifts in a relationship.  Make eye contact.  Prepare ahead of time thoughtful questions and listen fully to their responses in the moment.  When your nieces and nephews are showing you something, ignore that notification that just buzzed.  For portions of your time together, consider placing your phone on Airplane Mode to protect your time together.  If you are an introvert, schedule time by yourself before the holidays and take quick breaks during them to maintain relational energy.  Soak in these special moments…you only get to live them once.

These are some of my ideas?  What are some of yours?

Christine Wilson

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Co-Founder, Creative Director of Think Time

 

Blog Highlights:

“Great relationships are in necessity, not a luxury.”  Christine Wilson @thinktimetweets think-time.com

“You need people, and they need you.” Christine Wilson @thinktimetweets think-time.com

“Our brain runs on three things: oxygen, glucose, and relationships.”  Dr. Henry Cloud @drhenrycloud

“Identify and maximize your relational strengths.” Christine Wilson @thinktimetweets think-time.com

“How can you serve those around you in the coming year?”  Christine Wilson @thinktimetweets think-time.com

“Make it happen.” Christine Wilson @thinktimetweets think-time.com

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Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.

Live Your Unique Story

Take a moment to look at your fingerprint.

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If you are like me, it has been years since you reflected on the uniqueness found in such a simple task.  Take a moment to reflect on the uniqueness of your fingerprint.

No one else has the same one.

Sure, there are patterns of types of prints the helps us to categorize fingerprints, but NO ONE has one quite like yours.

Remarkable!

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Now, think about your unique personality design.

Are you energized by being with people or being by yourself?

Are you a person who lives in the world of tangible things you can touch or in the world of ideas?

Do you tend to lead with your heart or your head?

Do you live within defined time and space parameters, or do you wait until later to decide what seems appropriate?

Do you work in a logical or sporadic sequence?

Do you like to hear the high points or all of the details?

Are you quick to start something you are energized to do or are you motivated to minimize unnecessary change?

You are likely somewhere on a continuum of each of these categories as unique as your fingerprint.  Sure, we can think of areas that help us to understand our uniqueness, but the fact remains that each of us is one person as unique from others as our fingerprint.

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Now think about your unique story.

Where were you born?  Who were your parents?  Who were your friends?  What was your community like?

What did you notice as a child?  What places made you feel alive?  What relationships inspired you?

What tragedies have you lived through?  What obstacles have you overcome?

All of these things and more tell the unique story which is our life.

These uniquenesses of our lives can also hint toward our purpose.  Our past–including the most glorious and the most tragic moments–can be used to bring good, truth, and beauty into the world.  In the realm of purpose, nothing is wasted.  Oftentimes, comfort flows from us to another because we have lived through unique experiences.  If we are willing, we can offer ourselves–life on life–in comfort to another person as our experiences give us custom lenses through which we can view the world and recognize things others don’t.

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We are unique.

Our time is short.

There will be no repeats and no do-overs.

Time is marching on, and we have one life to live.

Let’s maximize our unique place in this world by embracing our unique design and living our life to the full–just as we are.

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Check out our collections of Think Time tools-Think Pads, Smart Planners, Ponder Prompts, and White Space White Board Walls.   Each tool is designed to help you to engage your deepest desires and both sides of your brain so you focus on what matters most as you live your irreplaceable story.

 

The best blogs are dialogues.  What makes you unique?  What do you see that no one else sees?  Please comment in the comments below!

 

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

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Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.

 

 

 

 

This is Your Life. Fight for it!

Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song,” after only one year on YouTube, has reached over 239 million views.  After only three years, Disney’s Frozen “Let it Go” is approaching a billion views.  These songs obviously strike a chord in our hearts today.  Why is this?

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Both songs center around a theme of reclaiming our hearts and our lives.  Whether we have not been heard by others or whether we have chosen to keep our voice silent, our inner beings were designed to express themselves.  If suppressed over time by others or ourselves, they may demand to make a debut–even if it requires an “explosion.”

Let’s look at Rachel’s song.  Her video begins with a glimpse into her personal grief.  In a torn shirt she scribbles down her thoughts in journals.  As she sings “prove I’m alright” her lip quivers…  She is losing her friends and missing her home, but there is a fire that is burning.

“Fight Song” Lyrics (excerpt)

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

Songwriters: Dave Bassett / Rachel Platten
Fight Song lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

In “Fight Song,” Rachel reveals that she was ready to use her voice.  Even one word could make a heart open.  She would no longer wait for others to hear or to believe.  With renewed hope, she discovers the strength that she possesses.

But, you can’t miss the word, “fight.”  More on that in a minute.

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Let’s now look at Elsa’s journey.  Having been given a gift of being able to turn things into ice and cold, she learned at a young age that the immense power she had could be used for good or for harm.

Instead of harnessing the gift, she sought to hide it from others and herself out of fear.   When it was clear it could not longer be hidden, she explores her strength in the safety of isolation while singing the following song.

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“Let it Go” Lyrics  (excerpt)

Don’t let them in,
don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel,
don’t let them know
Well now they know

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway

Written by Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Emanuel Kiriakou • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Walt Disney Music Company

In both of these songs, each person recognized that to express their strength they needed to separate themselves from others’ thoughts and feelings.  Somewhere in the past a line between themselves and others had been blurred.  Each expressed feelings of storm, rage, and anger in this process of realization.  What is this all about?

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In the process of becoming a counselor, my graduate program required that I go through counseling myself.  I distinctly remember one point in a session.  After sharing a story, my counselor looked at me and simply asked me, “How do you feel about that?”  I returned only a blank stare.  I had no idea.  Realizing in that moment that I was completely emotionally illiterate, I asked, “What are my options?”

Other people must have been just like me because she literally had a little board on the floor beside her chair with words like, “anger, sad, hurt, fear, shame, and joy.”  I don’t remember what word I chose at that time, but the realization that I had no language for understanding the feelings inside me struck me to the core.

Fast-forward another year or two.  I was interning at a psychiatric day program in Dallas.  One of the young counselors was teaching the clients in a psycho-educational session about feelings.  She discussed how feelings are “flags.”  They point to things that have happened or actions we need to take.  For instance, feelings of sadness indicate that there has been a loss.  Guilt indicates action needs to be taken to correct something.  Notably, she taught that anger is often a feeling that tells us that a boundary needs to be drawn.  

 

From the time that we are toddlers, we know as humans that it is extremely important to define what is mine and what is not mine.  Things that belong to us are our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, actions and behaviors.  Things that do not belong to us are others’ thoughts, feelings, attitudes, actions and behaviors, the weather, the rotation of the Earth, and a trillion more things.  In healthy development, a toddler learns what is his or hers and what is not his or hers.  This is why his or her new favorite word–though often overused at first–is “NO!”  This is also why he or she may breakdown when this separateness (at his or her current level of understanding) is not honored.  He or she has discovered a new thing–my own personal power to be separate from others and to create unique change in the world.

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Life affirms or denies what we know intuitively–that we have personal responsibility for our lives, we are separate from others, and we are to uniquely impact this world with our design.    For many of us, these healthy boundaries were either affirmed or denied as we continued to grow.

Judging by the number of views of “Fight Song” and “Let it Go” it seems safe to say that many, many in our day are feeling a need to better define and communicate their boundaries.  We feel the inner voice inside us that is designed to speak.  We feel the strength in our souls that is designed  to stand firm.  We recognize our unique gifting and personality is designed to make a creative change in this world.

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When we realize that our boundaries have been violated, we may experience feelings that resemble the words in the above songs like “explosion,” “storm,” and “fight.”  Healthy boundaries should ultimately lead to resulting feelings of peace as the Think Time Serenity Circle Tool implies.  However, the recognition that the drawing of initial lines is needed may be accompanied by feelings of anger that fuel the strength to buffer these storms.

Rachel Platten knew she was only one person, but she was capable of changing the world with her carefully chosen words and her unique voice.  Nearly a quarter of a billion views later, she has proven that her words can open hearts, her voice can be heard, and her small waves can set things in motion.

What is your fight song?  What waves are you ready to set into motion?

 

 

Blog Highlights:

“Our inner beings were designed to express themselves.” Christine Wilson @thinktimetweets

“We all have immense power that can be used for good or for harm.” @thinktimetweets

“Harness your gift.  Don’t hide it out of fear.”  @thinktimetweets

“To express our strength or gifting, at times, we need to separate ourselves from others’ thoughts and feelings.” @thinktimetweets

“Our feelings are ‘flags.’  They point to things that have happened or actions we need to take.” @thinktimetweets

“Anger is a feeling that tells us that a boundary needs to be drawn.”  @thinktimetweets

“It is extremely important to define what is mine and what is not mine.” #serenitycircle @thinktimetweets

“Things that belong to me are my thoughts, feelings, attitudes, actions and behaviors.” #serenitycircle @thinktimetweets

“I have personal power to be separate from others and to create unique change in the world.” #serenitycircle @thinktimetweets

“We have personal responsibility for our lives, we are separate from others, and we are to uniquely impact this world with our design.” @thinktimetweets

“What is your fight song?  What waves are you ready to set into motion?” @rachelplatten @thinktimetweets #myfightsong

 

 

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

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Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.

Being Thankful for Thankfulness

Let me start this blog with a “thank you!”

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Thank you for giving me an excuse to look more deeply at the practice of gratitude.  While I knew gratitude boosted energy and brightened outlooks, I have grown to appreciate more the specific, research-based, measurable impact that practicing gratitude can bring into our lives through this study.  So, thank you!

I have never quite had a year like this past year.  As I reflected on it with my Timeline Tool, I realized that this year was uniquely filled with both very high highs and very low lows—often stacked right on top of each other!   One of the anchors that has carried me through this wonderful and difficult year has been that of regular thankfulness.  Even in the midst of loss and sadness, we can focus on the good in the world and the givers of good in the world through thankfulness.

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Brene Brown is a researcher, story-teller, and TEDx speaker with millions of views.  She described to an interviewer what she expected to find as she began researching the topics of joy and gratitude.

Prior to her research, she expected to find that those who were joyful would demonstrate the most gratitude.  As the data arrived, however, she found the exact opposite to be true!  Those who regularly practiced gratitude experienced more joy. 

Pretty soon, her family started adopting regular habits of gratitude—such as identifying something they were thankful for before each meal.

Wow!  Everyone is searching for the key to happiness!

Who knew it was in gratitude?

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Cicero said, “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.”

After looking more deeply at the research, I can see the truth of this profound statement even more.

Robert Emmons is a gratitude researcher—(cool job, eh?).  In 2013, he released his long-term findings in his book called Gratitude Works!.

One of the specific practices of gratitude that Emmons endorses is keeping a journal in which you write down your thoughts and feelings related to gratitude (see also Think Time).

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When this practice of gratitude and others were studied, 6 different categories of significant findings were noted.

 

1.  Practicing gratitude increases emotional well being.  People feel more joy, happiness, and overall well being.

2.  Practicing gratitude improves relationships.  People get along better with others and find that their relationships are more fulfilling.  They feel more connected and less lonely.

3.  Practicing gratitude can reduce depression.  In mild or mild to moderate depression, practicing gratitude can help in remediation of depression and help prevent future episodes of depression.

4.  People practicing gratitude achieve more.  They are more goal oriented and more effective at accomplishing the goals they set for themselves.

5.  People practicing gratitude were more resilient to trauma.  Gratitude became part of a person’s psychological immunity system.

6.  People practicing gratitude experience better physical health.  In this newest line of research, measurable, quantifiable data correlates practicing gratitude with people exercising more.  These people also sleep better and awake feeling more refreshed.  They are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol, and they are more likely to adhere to medication prescribed by a doctor.  Also, links to lower blood pressure, healthy lipid panels, and better kidney health were discovered.

Wow!  What a list!

If you are like me, you are adding practicing thankfulness to the top of your daily priority list right away!

Would you join me as I bump up thankfulness to the top of my priorities?  

How about you?  What are you thankful for today on this Thanksgiving ThinkTime Thursday?  Please comment below!

 

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

2016-5-6-tt-logo-gray-cropped

Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.

 

Create More Margin for Special Moments

Does it feel like the special moments are too few and far between?  Do moments just pass by at the speed of light?

We used to savor the little moments.

Where did they go?

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Sitting by the fire with a good friend.

Playing pretend with children.

Throwing an awesome party!

Are those just things of the past?

They don’t have to be!

Let me tell you a story…

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This week, Keith and I were honored guests to a very fancy tea party.  The table had been prepared the day before.  Grandma’s blanket served as the table cloth.  Play dishes from the kids’ kitchen were meticulously set, and a playdoh feast of cake, sour candies, and tootsie rolls adorned the center of the table.  Most of all, hot tea and sugar cubes were set in advance, and guests were invited excitedly to attend.  Keith and I sat for a good 20-30 minutes without hurry soaking in the moment—catching eyes many times at how adorable the entire setting was and laughing a lot.  As I sat on the floor, I relished in thankfulness that we had been intentional over the weekend to provide the margin for a moment like this.

Most of this past year had not been as relaxed as that fancy tea party.  Together, Keith and I had added to our plate more than we realized.  Keith was not only in charge of a very special and very complex architectural project, he was also promoted…twice!  Increased responsibility such as this certainly takes time to acclimate into your schedule.  Just prior to this, we had decided to launch a small business called Think Time together!  On top of these changes, this year also held a season of personal change, grief, and growth for us as a family.  So, we were squeezed emotionally, physically, and in every way.

This weekend, following another demanding week, we sat in our living room and just breathed.  We gradually reflected on this past year.  We decided that we are ready for a season of rest—even if that means that we cut some important things or delegate some tasks to others.  We simply cannot keep up this pace and maintain our values and priorities.  We want to protect our time for relationships.  We want to simplify and to be present in each moment.

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Because we had taken time to reflect on our year together, on our highs and lows, I had a head start when I took time Sunday morning to Think Time.  As I visualized the future, my visions included a sketch of Keith chasing our kids during focused family time that we would carve out of each evening. My Rosebush included going to bed and getting up early as a prize rose.  I decided to prune doing the housework late at night and/or by myself.  I specified activities that could be delegated to my little helpers.  After all, it builds into their character for me to slow down and to let them help—(which is yet another long term, high return goal).

Watch me Think Time this process here: A Little Dreaming.

One of the best things I do each week is evaluate how my routines support my goals and tweak them as necessary.  After brainstorming my to-bes and to-dos and filtering my big picture goals for the week through the Decide Grid, I started working on my calendar tool. For Keith and me, investing in our kids and being present with them is a long-term, high return goal.  However, the demands of life fight against us.  Nevertheless, because this is a prize category, as we take time to Think Time, we fight back by working goals such as these into our routines…FIRST.

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To really succeed, schedule your long-term, high return goals first.

It is like paying yourself first when you make a monthly budget or scheduling appointments with yourself to complete your most important task.  Keith and I have found that there is rarely a convenient evening to have a date, but when it is pre-scheduled, it happens, and we are always thankful.  In twenty years, we want to be happily married, so we make our deposits now.  In our high-pressured world, there are few good times to check in with an elderly neighbor, call a friend, or write that note.  However, if we start with a vision of WHO WE WANT TO BE, then our priorities then become clear, and our actions begin to follow.

Start with a vision of who you want to be.  

For me, this week it meant simply evaluating our afternoon and evening routines.  We were doing the same activities—just at different times and in different ways—to free up time and space for our larger goals.  I envisioned first what I wanted our evenings to look like, then it became clear what needed to move to make that happen.

You may just flip your priorities on their head.  You may find that playing with your baby or helping your toddler sort silverware becomes a priority because it is supporting your long term, high return goal of cultivating a close relationship and raising a capable, responsible adult.

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Conversely, picking up the slack for someone at work may move down on the priority list.  It is an immediate, low return activity that will only repeat the more you do it.

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What about you?

What are some long-term goals that you would like to work into your routine? 

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Please comment in the comments below!

Thank you for your time

…because your time is your life.

 

 

Blog Highlights!

“Protect time for relationships.”  think-time.com @thinktimetweets

“Be present in each moment.”  think-time.com @thinktimetweets

“Simplify.”  think-time.com @thinktimetweets

“Cut important things or delegate tasks to promote a season of rest.”  @thinktimetweets

“Be intentional to provide margin.”  think-time.com  @thinktimetweets

“Work activities that build into your long-term and short-term goals into your routines.” @thinktimetweets

“If we start with a vision of who we want to be, then our priorities then become clear, and our actions begin to follow.” @thinktimetweets

“To really succeed, schedule your long-term, high return goals first.”  @thinktimetweets

“Start with a vision of who you want to be.”  think-time.com @thinktimetweets

“The demands of life fight against us.  Fight back!”  think-time.com @thinktimetweets

 

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

2016-5-6-tt-logo-gray-cropped

Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.

On Living with Productivity and Purpose: Two Simple Questions Bring Clarity

When you look at your large list of to dos, oftentimes you may feel overwhelmed and not sure where to start.  The question may come to mind, “How can I get this done?” 

To boost your productivity, turn the question around just a bit.  Productivity guru, Kevin Kruse, recommends asking yourself instead the following question: “How can this get done?”  Do you see the one word that is missing?  That’s right.  The tiniest word in the English language.  “I.”  Take “I” out of the question, and open up doors of creative problem solving.  You may be surprised to discover how many things you can achieve if you tweak this one self-question.

Remember…

The most productive people delegate as much as possible.

So, see what needs to be done.

Just free yourself from having to “do it all.”

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This leads us to the next question, for surely we wouldn’t want to delegate everything.

That’s right.  We want to delegate as much as possible to enhance our productivity.  However, if we delegate everything, we run the risk of delegating ourselves right out of the role of living our unique purpose.  The question to ask yourself when you want to live your life on purpose is, “What can only I do?”

This question brings tremendous clarity as you consider what only you can do…or only you should do. This question may lead you to think of your unique design and giftings.  It may lead you to think of your unique experiences in life.  It may prompt you to consider the way you are uniquely situated in your professional position or in a relationship.

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You may be moved to fulfill a vision only you have or to be there for someone uniquely dependent upon you.

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The same productivity guru mentioned above, Kevin Kruse, not only delegates as much as he can, but he also sets time aside for purposeful activities that only he can do.  In fact, he has spent a large portion of this year planning a special father-daughter trip to Italy for his daughter who will soon go to college.  While delegating as much as possible, he has recognized his irreplaceable position as “father” to his daughter and is orchestrating his life to support this unique role that only he can fulfill.  This is living on purpose.

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Remember…

Countless things can be done by anyone.

Very few things can only be done only by you.

Identify these few and bump them up in your priorities to live on purpose.

 

These are my thoughts…  What are yours?

Please share in the comments below!

 

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

2016-5-6-tt-logo-gray-cropped

Think Time Life Leadership System

Make the most of your time. 

Shop now at think-time.com.

 

 

 

 

Trash Bags and Tough Calls

Recently, my husband Keith and I ran out of trash bags.  The next day, I went to the grocery store, and what do you think was the one item on my list I missed?  Of course…trash bags.

A lot of garbage bags rolls

So, for about two or three days, I was making due with smaller sacks, but mostly, I just allowed our recycling bin to pile up and eventually to spill over.  I literally was stepping over empty apple sauce containers to get to the laundry!  Simple tasks seemed difficult.  Our rooms were seemingly becoming smaller!  My trash cans were growing full as I sought to utilize every square inch of space remaining in each little white “tall” kitchen bag.  At some point, I think I started to smell something.  Ew.

Thankfully, this didn’t last very long.  It was just long enough to be uncomfortable and to be quite thankful when the new trash bags arrived.  Keith swung by the store on the way home from work, and we quickly removed all of the excess trash and recycling that had uncomfortably accrued.  Wow!  What a contrast.  I felt like I could move more freely in my own home.

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This experience caused me to reflect on the importance of constantly and intentionally removing things from our lives.  When we don’t, even for a moment, “life” begins to build up and we start to feel crowded.  Our schedules are packed.  We bounce from activity to activity.  Our actions become inefficient.  It takes more steps to do a simple task.

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Do you have a process to regularly remove things from your calendar?

It sounds funny, doesn’t it?  We usually say, “I am going to put that on my calendar,” not  “I am going to take that off of my calendar.”

This week, as you take time to think time, consider, “What items do I need to remove from my life?”  “As I have drifted, what has crept its way onto my schedule and into my life?”

Here are a few easy ways to get started with this:

  1. Clarify what is important to you.  Identify your top priorities for this season.   You can use our Rosebush tool or simply create a graph, web, or list.  When you have clarity on what is important to you, it is a LOT easier to let go of actions that do not support these priorities.
  2. When you are evaluating the lesser important things, ask yourself if they fall into the following categories.  If they fall into these categories, you may do well to make the tough call to purge them from your life.  Are they…
    • Obsolete.  Something is obsolete if it served a great purpose in the past, but those goals are no longer relevant.
    • Unproductive.  Something is unproductive if it produces some results but not with the “bang for your buck” that you really need to reach your goals.  
    • Good, but not the best.    Some things are  genuinely good, but not the best.  There is only so much of us to go around, so we must choose carefully and wisely.
  3. Double check your calendar to see if you have removed enough.  While you may think that you have been ruthless with your tough calls, the truth may be that you need to go back and double your effort to cut some more.
    • Place your top priorities in your routines.
    • Evaluate what habits you can develop that support your goals.
    • Schedule your chosen activities.
    • And take a good look.
      • Did you leave enough free space to absorb the curve balls that life brings?
      • Did you remember to include margin for maintaining health, balance, and relationships?
      • Do your scheduled actions support your most important priorities?

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Good job!  You have officially done the hard work of making tough calls that will free your life for what is most important to you!

The only thing left is to look ahead and decide how to regularly evaluate your priorities and purge what does not support them.  If you already use our Think Time journal-planner, you are doing this on a yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly basis in our seamless dream, decide, do, and review process.  The habit of constantly prioritizing and purging is becoming second nature.  As we like to say at Think Time, “We are the only planner that encourages you to cross things off your to-do list before you do them–simply because they are not the most important.”  

If you do not yet have a Think Time journal-planner, you can buy one today or you can schedule reminders in your current planner to incorporate this practice into your more intentionally lived life as you take time to think time.

Because..your time is your life and it matters.

 

These are my thoughts…  What are yours?

Please share in the comments below!

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

2016-5-6-tt-logo-gray-cropped

Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.

All You Need is Love

 

If you were to ask anyone what the world needs, you would likely start singing with the Beatles,All you need is love. Da da da da da… Love is all you need.”  And, you would be right!  Kindness, compassion, and love.  These have been identified globally throughout the centuries as the most game-changing characteristics that can belong to a human being.

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Another word that can be tossed in that top notch mix is empathy.  Empathy can be defined as “the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.”   While an empathic response is not the equivalent of love, when we put ourselves in the shoes of another person, we are in an excellent position to move into kindness, compassion, and love.

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Here, then, is the million dollar question: How can one grow in empathy?   Is there anything that we can do practically on a regular basis to boost our chances of having an empathic response toward those around us?

Interpersonal Neurobiologist, Dan Siegel, suggests that “self-understanding is foundational to empathy.”  Dr. Siegel studies interpersonal relationships and the way we impact each others’ bodies and minds.  He has found that as we grow in self-understanding, we can actually avoid behaviors that harm human relationships and move toward actions of kindness and compassion.  In essence, when we are in touch with ourselves, we are better able to be in touch with others.

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So…

To grow in love, grow in empathy.

To grow in empathy, grow in self-understanding.

But, how can I grow in self-understanding?

 

We are glad you asked!

 

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When we take time to think time, we allow our inner selves to emerge onto paper and into our lives:

  • We evaluate our personal experiences when we reflect on our highs and lows individually or with others using our Timeline Tool.
  • We acknowledge our aspirations when we ask ourselves what “wild success” looks like using the Envision Box.
  • We identify and validate our desires when we ask, “What do I want more of?”  “What do I want less of?”
  • We face our failures and successes squarely when we take time to review, asking ourselves “What worked?” and “What didn’t?”

 

Thus, when we think time regularly, we are promoting our own self-understanding. 

 

And, as we grow in self-understanding, we grow in our capacity for empathy.

As we grow in empathy, we grow in our capacity for love.

And, all we really need is…love.

 

These are my thoughts…  What are yours?

Please share in the comments below!

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

2016-5-6-tt-logo-gray-cropped

Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.

The Transformative Power of the 20%

When  you lay your head on the pillow at night, what goes through your mind?

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If you are like I used to be, you plunge into bed later than you want–exhausted from a day working super hard.  Then, you only think of what is still left to do–disappointed at what you were able to accomplish, and wondering if your time was well spent.

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There has to be a better way!

Thankfully there is!

In this blog, I am going to introduce you to (or remind you of) the tried and true 80/20 rule introduced by a 19th century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto.

Through a series of events, Pareto discovered the principle that in life approximately 80% of our results are derived from only 20% of our activities.  The converse is also true.  About 80% of our activities only generate 20% of our results.  This explains why some people are able to accomplish great things with relative ease while many people who are extremely hard workers never seem to generate the results they want.

If you want to generate more results with equal or less effort, the most important thing you can do is to prioritize your action items.  You want to be sure that your actions are chosen intentionally to produce the greatest results.  You don’t want to spin your wheels!

Here are some quick and easy steps to do this.

  1. Write everything down.  When you feel life coming at you at a million miles an hour, grab a pen or pencil and write down everything on your mind.  You will quickly realize it cannot all get done, and you must prioritize!
  2. Divide your actions into two groups.  Draw a line down a piece of paper, draw two big circles or…you get the idea.  You are going to divide these actions into the “get BIG results” pile or the “other” pile.
  3. Do the 20% first.  You don’t have to choose to never do the other items.  You just want to focus on the 20% first because you have already stated they “move the needle.”  They make life happen.  They get it done.
  4. Enjoy the results.  When I started taking time to think time, I used the 80/20 Rule to identify my most important actions, and my life was changed.  The most noticeable difference for was feeling content at the end of the day.  I had accomplished what was most important, and these actions were driving results that led to my treasured immediate, short term, and long term goals.

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Tomorrow morning, instead of diving into the day in the morning and diving into bed at night, take time to think time and enjoy the feeling of contentedness as you reflect on your results.

 

These are my thoughts…  What are yours?

How do you feel at the end of the day?  What do you think would drive real change?

Please share in the comments below!

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

2016-5-6-tt-logo-gray-cropped

Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.

 

Good Neuroscience + Your Life Planning

We have learned so much about the brain in the past years.  Why do we plan the same way we did decades ago?  In this blog, we will look at some basic truths we know from neuroscience and how they can be transformative when applied to our life-planning.

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After graduate school, I had the privilege of working as a counselor intern with patients who were in rehabilitation from traumatic brain injuries.  I served on a multi-disciplinary team of neuropsychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and physical therapists to empower our patients to achieve their highest level of functioning following their injuries.  During this season of my life, I soaked up everything I could about the brain.

In this blog, I want to highlight just a few things we know from basic neuroscience that can be useful in our everyday lives, especially as it relates to setting our goals and accomplishing them.

 

 

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A relaxed state of mind is best. 

With regard to planning, we do better to plan in a relaxed state of mind.  We actually have better brain function due to increased oxygen flow in a state of relaxation than we do in a state of stress.  You know of this idea already in the opposite sense.  When we are stressed, our body moves in the fight, flight, or freeze mode.  When this occurs, access to the forward thinking, executive functioning, emotional regulating, and reasoning portions of the brain are cut off.

So, when you want you do your best planning, take time to think time. Take a walk.  Remove yourself from the hustle and bustle.  And, relax.  You will plan better.

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Think about your thinking.

Did you know that 90% of your thoughts today are the same ones you had yesterday?  Our brain is wired so that we think in patterns developed over time.  This works well for us in many ways, but what do we do when we need to think differently?  How do we get to a higher level?  Over an obstacle?  Or, to a new place?

The answer is to think about our thinkingWhen we choose to not just be lost in our thoughts, we are able to get above our thinking and to actually observe and evaluate it.  This new center of attention changes things, and voila! new neural pathways begin to form.

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Use both hemispheres of your brain.

Most of us know that our brain has two main hemispheres: the left-brain and the right-brain.  The left brain can be described in words like logical, sequential, orderly, verbal, linear, and focused on parts.  The right brain can be described as more creative, emotional, imaginative, nonverbal, artistic, and seeing the whole.

When you think about the typical planning tools and processes, for which side of the brain are they designed?  That’s right.  The left brain…only.

You were designed with two parts of your brain, and your best planning will incorporate both sides of the brain.  We definitely want to continue to utilize logic, sequence, order, words, and looking at the parts when we plan.  However, there are very important aspects of the right brain that are important to consider when we are planning.  Did you know that the right brain has more thorough neural connections to the rest of the brain than the left brain and uses these to form decision-making rules over time?  These rules that contain our life wisdom are then stored in a nonverbal form.  To gain access to these deep truths of life, we do not need to sit down and make a list of things to do.  We need to allow for daydreaming, creative thinking, emotions, pictures, images, and a view of life that incorporates big picture “whole” perspectives.

Planning with your left brain only can lead to a tragic result–a very efficient life lived in the wrong direction.  Do your best to avoid this tragedy by including your wise right brain in your life-planning process.

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Allow your mind to drift.

There are two main benefits of allowing your mind to drift: aha! moments and social connection.

The first is the “aha!” moment We know when our best ideas finally come together…when we are not trying!  We are doing something “mindless” like washing the dishes, walking the dog, or taking a shower.  During these times, we are usually allowing our mind to drift. While you might think the brain is less active during these times than when we are concentrating or focusing on a problem, it is actually as much or  more active.  Believe it or not, parts of the brain crucial in executive function–planning and focusing attention–are particularly active.

When you have a problem to solve, the best thing to do is to define your problem (using your left brain), do your best to think of a solution, and then let it go.  Do something else.  You are wired so that your right brain will still work on it even while you are “not thinking about it.”

The second benefit is social connection.  Another surprising discovery about drift thinking is that when we allow the brain down time, we think about ourselves, others, and the relationships in between us.  The brain could have been designed to focus on anything during this time–nuclear physics, logical reasoning, or categorization of animals and plants.  Instead, we are designed to default to thinking about relationships.  We need them, deeply.

Allow time for your relationships.  Allow your mind to drift.

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When we say, “take time to think time,” this is what we mean.  A relaxed state of mind is best.  Think about your thinking.  Use both hemispheres of your brain.  Allow your mind to drift.  Use good neuroscience in your daily life.  It’s 2016, y’all.

For thinking tools to support each of these practices, please visit think-time.com today and click the orange “Buy Now” button.

These are my thoughts…  What are yours?

Please share in the comments below!

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

2016-5-6-tt-logo-gray-cropped

Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.