Life is like a puzzle…with a lot of pieces

A couple of weeks ago I bought a 1,000 piece puzzle for the family to put together. When I looked at all the pieces, scattered on one of our play tables, I realized it was a lot like life. Let me explain…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there’s no one clear answer for anyone. No matter what you’re struggling with or working on, there’s not one sentence, exercise, vitamin, book or coffee blend that will make everything right. There is no instant answer. Instead, each day is like a piece of a huge puzzle.

If we focus on placing one piece in the correct place, each day builds on the previous one — just like a puzzle. If we try to put a 1,000 piece puzzle together in one day what happens? We fall short, get frustrated and perceive our inability to accomplish the goal as failure. The thing is, unless you’re a puzzle genius, there’s no way you can succeed if you try to do the whole thing in one day. Simply put, your goal is too large.

When I started looking at life this way, it greatly simplified things. Each day, I could either place ONE piece correctly, or fail to place it correctly. Since it’s a 1,000 piece puzzle, some things would clarify after only a couple of weeks — while others would take years to take shape. This simple analogy is a great starting point to look at goals. (Click here for more details on this subject, or search keyword “Goals” in the search box on the right).

What am I really talking about here? Perception.

We either see a situation as hopeful or hopeless. If we believe we can accomplish something, we will. Eventually we will find a way. If we don’t believe, then we won’t. Either way, we’ll be right.

How you perceive your life defines whether you become a shining star, or a burnt out porch light.

I realized that if I shift my perception a few things immediately change:
– I use less energy being positive than I do being negative
– If I’m perceiving a situation as positive, then I’m more likely to think, speak and act positive. This draws positive energy to me like a magnet (just as being negative draws negativity to a person)
– It makes things better for the people around me. My positive attitude helps improve their lives. It puts them in a better mood, and I’m more likely to be helpful instead of a hinderance

Have you taken a look at how you perceive things lately? Here’s a link to an article called The 7-day Mental Diet. It can help you eradicate negative thinking, so you can create a better reality for yourself and your family.

And remember, you are not alone…

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A Fresh Look at Goals: for Parents, Kids & the Family (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about methods that help us define and develop goals.

Once you’ve clarified what they are, the next step is breaking each goal into down into manageable steps, so we can set out with a plan on how to accomplish them. This plan may need frequent adjusting. This is not only OK, but a healthy part of the process.

As we move along and things clarify, we sometimes find that part of a plan simply does not work. This is NOT to be considered failure, it is a mini-success because with the adjustment in our plan we align ourselves more closely with the end goal.

Ultimately, if we take steps on a daily basis (no matter how small) we can attain our goals. It’s important to remember that we may not reach our goals on the intended date. Some things are out of our control. And if you’re a parent, lack of time and energy are real obstacles that may hinder rapid accomplishment. Fear not, it’s still possible, as long as you become crystal clear about what you want and how you’re going to get it.

The good news is that if we do this ourselves, we wind up teaching our kids how to do it, too. It’s a winning situation for everybody.

Here’s snapshot of what my mentor, Zig Ziglar, says about the goals process. His fantastic book, See You At The Top, goes into great detail about this subject (see a full list of recommendations at the end of this article).

1)     Identify EXACTLY what I desire
2)     Spell out exactly why I’d like to reach these goals
3)     List the obstacles I need to overcome in order to get there
4)     Identify the people, groups and organizations I need to work with to get there
5)     Identify what I need to know (learn) in order to reach these goals
6)     Develop a plan of action
7)     Set a date on it. When do I expect to get there?

One additional thought. If this all seems overwhelming, that’s normal. You can’t possibly answer all of these questions all at once. If you’re just starting the process, you may not be able to answer any. But if you allow yourself to believe that you can do this, you will. If you believe that you can’t, you won’t. In other words, your perception will create your reality.

SPEAKING OF KIDS
It’s never too soon to help our kids learn to set their own goals. By this I do not mean us setting goals for them, that’s different (and also necessary).

For instance, my son Max is in kindergarten. I shouldn’t expect him to be able to answer the following: “So, what are your plans to get to college?”

But I can help him set some goals for the coming school year. Any extra-curricular activities he might want to partake in (ie: swimming or track and field…) I also like to discuss future goals with both him – from career to family plans. I do this with my 3-year old, too. It helps my boys develop their frontal lobe, which is so important in decision making and problem solving.

There are too many young adults that have not idea how to set a goal, or what to do with their lives.

OUR GOALS
I’d like to take a deeper look at the kindergarten to college analogy. ANYBODY who tried to look at this scenario as a point A to point B endeavor would be completely overwhelmed. Here’s a way it can be broken down:

Kindergarten (where I’m at) to College (the goal)
the step-by-step approach to accomplishing my goal:

– Section it off by grammar school, middle school, high school and college.
– Now break it down by grade (year): kindergarten, grade 1, etc.
– By semester
– By month
– By week
– By day
– By class

You get the idea. Each step leads us to the ultimate goal, but it’s much easier to build upon if you start from the “by class” goal. Now it’s manageable – a small enough bite that you can actually chew on it, instead of choke on it.

FAMILY GOALS
Family goals could be anything from spending more time together, taking a family vacation, helping each other get in shape, fixing up the house, etc…

Sometimes an individual’s goal becomes a family goal. For instance, my son Max wants to be a NASCAR driver.

This is his goal. But since he’s only 5, it’s my job (and my wife’s job) to help him attain it – making it a family goal.

My first step is bringing him to a kart race to gauge his interest level. Once he sees exactly what kids’ kart racing entails (this actually exists for kids his age), what does he think?

My responsibility is to help both boys set goals that are realistic and attainable (but not necessarily easy). I can’t expect Max to drive a full-sized car right now, but there are karts he can drive, or he can play a driving game on the Playstation, etc…

If we make goal setting a way of life for ourselves and our kids, we can all expect more fulfilling and less frustrating lives.

Is it easy? NO.

Have I accomplished everything? Hardly.

Is it worth it? Absolutely.

It’s a long road, but the sooner we get on the better off we’ll be.

And remember, you are not alone…

For further reading & listening:

Zig Ziglar
– See You at The Top (Highly reccomended book)
– Goals (audio CD’s)

Jack Canfield
The Success Principles
(also available on audio CD)

Brian Tracy

A Fresh Look at Goals: for Parents, Kids & the Family

Back to school doesn’t have to mean back to the same old daily grind.

This is true whether you’re a kid or an adult. Fall is the start of a new season, and with it comes opportunity.

You might be wondering – opportunity for what Daddy Brain? Raking up the leaves?

Nope. It’s an opportunity to take a fresh look at goals ­­– for ourselves, our kids and our family.

Gaining a clear picture of our goals is a huge step in attaining them. If we can “see them,” then we can move toward them. Think about it as if you were driving cross-country in your car. It’s the middle of the night. There are no street lights. No headlights. Not even a dashboard light (hey, this is starting to sound like a Meatloaf song).

Tough, right? How can we reach our destination, let alone see ten feet ahead of us, under these circumstances? I think you’ll agree it’s much easier to see with headlights. Now add a GPS and you’ve got both short term goals (headlights) working in tandem with long-term goals (the GPS), all focused on that final destination.

Very powerful.

It’s the same with goals. We can’t truly begin the journey until we can see where we’re going (which makes clearly defining our goals an important goal in and of itself). Depending on where you are in life, this could take some time.

According to Jack Canfield, “one of the easiest ways to begin clarifying what you truly want is to make a list of 30 things you want to do, 30 things you want to have, and 30 things you want to be before you die.”

Brian Tracy puts it this way:
“Imagine that 5-years from now your whole life has been made perfect in every respect. Every aspect of your life. All your dreams have been fulfilled; every goal has been achieved. What would it look like if 5-years from now your life was ideal in every way?

Where would you be in five years?

Who would you be with?

What would you be doing?

How well would you be doing it?

How much would you be earning?

What kind of home would you live in?

What would be your level of physical fitness?

What would your family be like and your relationships?

How would your children be doing?

If your life were perfect 5-years form now in every respect – what would it look like?”

He goes on to raise more questions before he mentions that the 5-years are going to pass. No matter what. “And if you’re crystal clear about what your life is going to be like in 5-years, your chances of making that a reality go up about 1,000%.”

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll examine what to do with these goals once we’ve defined them. How to take our goals, set a plan of action and attain them? We’ll also take a look at family goals &  how to teach goal setting & accomplishment to our kids.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related links:
A Fresh Look at Goals: for Parents, Kids and the Family, Part 2

For further reading & listening:
The Daddy Brain Book Guide (has many recommendations on the subject of goals)

Zig Ziglar
– See You at The Top (Highly reccomended book)
– Goals (audio CD’s)

Jack Canfield
The Success Principles
(also available on audio CD)

Brian Tracy