Monthly Archives: December 2016

Enjoy The Quiet

The ribbons and gift-wrapping have been cleared away, and the kitchen and the dining-room table cleaned up. Hopefully you’re all enjoying the lull of The-Day-After-Christmas. Whether you’re sleeping off the big meal from last night or  simply savoring the quiet, in  just a few short days, this year will be over.

Kind of dizzying, isn’t it? Where did the time go? Seems like it was just two months ago that you were making plans to make 2016 your year, and boom —  2016 happened. Hard.

Now we’re almost done and here we all are, looking around at our lives. Where are you now? How are you doing? How far have you come from the start of the year? How much do you want next year to be better? Are you ready?

Take a good look at who helped you through, and don’t forget the people you helped, too. Give yourself credit for pushing through and making it. There may have been times you broke down and you had to crawl until you could get up, but you made it. You made it here, now. And for that, you get to stand at the start of a whole new year.

Maybe you’re already in the thick of carrying out the plans for making next year your best one yet. Maybe you’ve decided not to harp so much on getting everything done and made a resolution to pare down and focus on what really matters to you. Whatever you’re planning, whatever your goals, we here at wish you all the hope, success, and joy in all your endeavors.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Break It Down Again: Coming Soon, A New Year

How are your plans for next year coming along? Hopefully you’ve had some time to yourself to sit away from the holiday rush to work on them.

No pressure from this corner of the internet, really. And don’t beat on yourself if you don’t have next year’s goals written down and printed out in monthly and quarterly break-downs. We each have our own way of preparing for the future. We do what we can, when we can, especially when everything else going on right now on is tugging at our shirtsleeves to give them our attention, since ’tis the season and all.

A memory can make you grab pen and paper to remind yourself what to pay more attention to, and you have your trusty little notebook right there with you. Or maybe you catch your goals on the fly and capture the snippets with the note-taking apps or voice recorder on your smartphone — and your notes are happily synced across all your devices.

Perhaps you’re the type to open your day-planner and see neatly written notes and highlighted reminders already in place — and aren’t you glad Past-You did this for Now-You to rely on?

Block out quiet time for yourself : Planning for a good year is important, vital, and urgent for your own personal and professional fulfillment. Make sure you won’t be disturbed, since planning can have many moods.  There are serious ones–contemplative, sombre, and sometimes heavy with regret and intent. There are relaxed moods, which are open spaces for your idle day-dreams and thoughts to meander in. There are playful moods, where the sky’s the limit; no shame in dreaming, eh? There’s brainstorming, and asking questions, but in the end, there must be a plan. And if you want to plan better, you need to go back and review.

“X marks the mistakes.” What were yours this year?
Three things that can get us in trouble, and probably have in the past, are unrealistic scope, unrealistic deadlines, and unrealistic expectations. Continue reading Break It Down Again: Coming Soon, A New Year

Step By Step Into A New Year: Setting The Stages For New Growth

There are four stages that mark one’s growth in competence — like a ladder of skill — according to the ‘conscious competence’ learning theory:

Unconsciously unskilled
At any beginning, nobody knows what they’re doing.
We don’t know the skills that we don’t know, or that we need to learn them.
As rank beginners, we can look around, and then, we copy. We can copy without understanding. That’s what kids do when they start out to write, right?

Consciously unskilled
This means we know that we don’t have these skills, but we can practice so we can get better at them. Once we get copying down, we refine through practice and trial-and-error.

Going back to learning how to write, it means hours of inculcating fine motor skills and muscle memory practice until we arrive at a  recognizable, readable script. In the process, we learn to associate what we’re doing to the meaning behind the activity.

For example, in learning to write we trace letters and numbers in the process of learning to connect the scribbles on the paper to the understanding that precise scribbles mean letters and numbers, and letters in a particular order can spell out the word ‘cat’ or ‘box’ or ‘ball’, or numbers  and other things, like ‘5 apples.’

Consciously skilled
We know that we have these skills, and we can deploy them at will.
At this level, what we practice can become habit. Going back to hand-writing, whether we’re used to printing block letters, or can write in cursive, we can write easily and fluidly.

Unconsciously skilled
We put so much practice in this skill, it just comes naturally to us. At this point, we don’t have to think much about hand-writing and can write legibly while doing yet another task. And at this level, we can teach others.

Going to another example: Can you remember learning how to walk?
Conscious memory may help you there, although science and personal experience can clash as to how much toddlers and babies can remember of their earliest years. But from where you are now, can you remember?

If you can’t, have you ever witnessed a very young child learning how to walk?

They quiver and shake after they’ve hauled themselves up, hanging on for dear life to the side of the crib, or clutching their parent’s fingers.  They  keep trying: they overbalance, under-balance, fall forward and back and sideways and collapse — and then take their the first toddling steps.

Give it a month of watching them speed-crawl, and before you know it, they’re walking. They don’t care how goofy they look or how many times they fall down –as soon as the tears dry, they keep going. They’re purely focused on themselves.

Now what’s the difference between learning things as a kid and learning as an adult?
Sadly enough, sometimes it’s harder:  We’ve been exposed to more. We’ve lived longer,  and all our experiences affect the way we see ourselves, and how we see the world. So maybe there’s embarrassment at the thought of not-knowing something other people do.  Or shame at the thought of, “I should’ve known this already.” Continue reading Step By Step Into A New Year: Setting The Stages For New Growth