Affirmation (noun): the action or process of affirming something or being affirmed; emotional support or encouragement.
Like smiling, giving another person a positive affirmation is a simple yet significant gift. It goes something like this… I see this special talent/strength/value in you. It shows up in what you do and makes you a unique and wonderful person. The way you use this “specialness” is making a difference.
We all need affirmation at some time. People who are hurting regularly need it. All too often, they do not have caring people in their lives who nurture them. Strong positive words offer support and encouragement and they have a lasting effect. It’s a way to show we care and build a relationship.
Be specific; rather than saying “you are amazing”, try “your talent for cooking combined your ability to select food ingredients helps you bring people together in harmony over a special meal”. Emphasize behaviors and skills. An affirmation is an important mentoring skill. It is especially important because it helps another to “know themselves deeply”.
We Zapp when we give “positivity; we Sapp when we take away energy. Choose to say positive things to others 10x more than you criticize. It’s much more effective (and fun) in influencing behavior.
Affirmations can be personal as well (but is not my focus today). It’s the things we say or think to ourselves over and over. The idea is simply to change our beliefs.
“Whether You Think You Can or Can’t, You’re Right” – Henry Ford
We limit ourselves from living to our potential when we place arbitrary boundaries on what we can or can’t do. We say things like “we are not good enough to get promoted” or “I’m too old to learn to play the piano” (or acquire another skill) or “I won’t be a good _____”. We limit ourselves by living within the constraints of a perceived role description rather than taking the initiative to add a new responsibility or project.
Change is disruptive, uncomfortable and even stressful. Pushing personal boundaries is that way too. We offset limits with vision and dreaming. Vision should be bold.
It is our current beliefs about ourselves, others and situations that slow the transition. We must uncover these beliefs and challenge them. Ask if your beliefs are moving you toward your purpose and vision or if they are restraining you. Sometimes we need feedback to see the limiting belief.
My own “significant experience” in this area is recalling the feedback I received from one of my managers. I was told that I should spend more time “managing up” (engaging the next level above me). It was uncomfortable at first but then I got good at it and finally it changed my job performance. I carry this memory into my retirement career as a volunteer.
Where do you limit yourself? Why? Dream, think big, live a bold life…then take a small step every day.
I love Mathew Kelly’s writing on “everything is a choice”. He says that we need to learn to master the moment of decision and you will live a life uncommon. It’s an important concept to realize that we are where we are in life because of the choices we have made.
Choices have consequences. The choice to smoke cigarettes or eat fatty foods will likely shorten your life. The choice to not study at school will likely lead to lower grades and lifelong income (of course there are exceptions). The choice to have a child will change your lifestyle. The choice to not maintain your car will result in a shorter vehicle life. We make hundreds of decisions every single day, sometimes without thinking.
Daily problems (sometimes crises), regrets and missed opportunities are the consequences. We need to make the important decisions based on our purpose, vision and goals. This framework helps establish the priorities and boundaries of our lives. Courage and discipline are supporting character traits.
We must own our decision choice rather than blame others. We must think about the consequences to self, family, friends, projects and work results. We must think far enough ahead to understand the possible outcomes of a decision and their associated consequences. We should give more emphasis to long-term needs than short-term gratification.
If you want to change your life, start making different choices. It starts with mindfulness of our critical decisions and then “choosing to choose” rather than going with the flow of everyday life.
The phrase “live to your potential”, is a motivating one for me. This can be said in different ways. A friend says, “live your best life”. Matthew Kelly, one of my favorite authors says, “become the best version of yourself”. Potential reflects abilities, growth and how our time is spent (or invested). It reflects what is and what can be.
We prevent ourselves from living (growing, contributing, serving) fully in different ways:
- Weakness is related to character. It is choosing to not live by certain values or having loose personal boundaries. Examples are procrastination or not being able to make a crucial decision. It may simply be focusing on short-term wants vs. long-term needs.
- Mistakes are accidents, maybe a decision from ignorance, lack of skill or focus. Luck can fit into this category; being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mistakes are a part of life. If we allow ourselves to learn from them they are only short-term setbacks.
- Malice is choosing ill will, getting revenge or choosing to hurt someone with words or deeds. Some might say that it is living by non-altruistic values.
Living to our potential is about putting our life plan into action. How do you choose to spend your 168 hours per week? How do you balance relaxation, fun, necessary or interesting activity and satisfying or meaningful work? Address the weakness, mistakes and malice in your life. Let your purpose, vision and goals guide you.
We all have desires, dreams, hopes or wishes. Do you know yours? We need to satisfy three levels:
- Needs to survive. This includes food, clothing, shelter and transportation.
- Needs to thrive. This is the part about knowing yourself deeply, the things that need to be in place to live to your purpose and potential. I would add belonging and love to this list. The key word is need.
- Other wants. This is everything else and includes “stuff” like material possessions, promotions and experiences.
Going deeper on the need to thrive, I want to offer “heart, mind, body and soul” as a context. Said differently, what are your emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual needs? We each have a unique mix of needs to satisfy to thrive.
Here are some examples:
- Heart. Being in a relationship and knowing that you are loved for who you are. Having an emotional connection with a friend or person in need. Feeling empathy and compassion.
- Mind. Learning something new. Goal setting and accomplishment. Solving problems for yourself or others.
- Body. Taking care of yourself to avoid illness or eating well to maintain high energy.
- Soul. Having a relationship with God. Having some personal time to enjoy what you love without the demands of daily life. Silence and time to reflect.
Don’t just fill up your time with activities; learn to thrive. Take a few minutes and capture your needs to thrive on paper. When you truly understand them, set goals and act to achieve them.
Events can be meetings, time reserved to work on a task, taking the kids to a sporting event or an anniversary. Some are all-day; others are for a specific amount of time. Some get added seemingly on a random basis, others become a regular weekly or monthly activity.
Here are some ways to use the Calendar feature:
- Set an anniversary or birthday as an all-day event. Add-in the holiday’s and birthdays for the entire year.
- Reserve time to work on an important task or to simply think.
- Color-code the events to distinguish time at work, family or house-related things.
- Integrate multiple calendars into a single view.
- Keep a family calendar so that each family member sees the others’ schedules.
- Don’t fill up the hour. Schedule 30 or 45 minute meetings and practice the efficiency of shorter meetings.
- Schedule time for taking care of yourself…heart, mind, body and soul. Look ahead to reserve a day or a week off from work.
- Work in the cloud so that your schedule is portable.
Look at your calendar for the week ahead to make sure you’re spending time the way you really want to; cancel or reschedule the less important events. Living to your potential means that you maximize how you spend your time toward your goals and values. Adherence to your calendar schedule is also a sign of respect. We show people we value them when we simply get together and when show up on time.
We are bombarded with things that require our attention or action. How do you choose what to act on? How do you keep track of commitments and deadlines? Living to your potential requires a personal system to manage tasks.
Here’s how to get started:
- Make a list. You can do this in a physical planner, on paper or index cards or with software. I like the “to-do” apps because items are easily changeable and can be carried on your phone. Learn to “say no” so that some things never make it to the list.
- Categorize. Assign categories such as family, house and work. Keep only one list that combines work and home activities.
- Prioritize. The high priority actions should be consistent with your Goals and Purpose.
- Set due dates. Some tasks have obvious due dates, e.g. planning a birthday party or meeting a customer due date, others may be flexible and solely driven by you. Some tasks are recurring.
- Plan each day. Take five minutes each day to decide what needs your time and attention. I like to do this each evening so that I can immediately get started in the morning.
- Take action. You don’t have to be a slave to the list but accomplishing one (or more) important tasks each day can transform your life. Avoid procrastination.
There are many ways to do task management. Experiment and find the one that’s right for you, one that balances effectiveness and simplicity.