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I was talking recently with the wonderful Laamie Young of Blank Verse Jewelry.  We agreed that so many of us suffer from too much-itis.  We do too much and find it difficult to say no to anyone.  Whether it’s for our job, our business, a friend, loved ones or just anyone in need.  It’s like we’re all obligated to say yes all the time.

Perhaps, as Laamie pointed out, it’s a matter of policy.  Of knowing what your policy is.  A nice, tight description of what you will and will not do, before the request is proffered. At the moment of asking then, you know what to do, how to answer.  And don’t have to automatically say, “Sure!”  You are aware of either what you will or will not do, or have tactics for buying yourself some time before you agree.

We’ve talked about boundaries in the personal growth world for a long time.  It’s a great tool to keep balance in your life.  It helps you to relax, knowing where you belong. That if you decide to step over those boundaries, you do it knowing full well what it means.  But if not, you can stand firm beside the policy you’ve created.

Restrictions are created by others, by outside influences. Boundaries are self-created and based on things like making sure we don’t do too much or stretch ourselves too thin.  That we stand by our principles.  Remembering that if we don’t take care of ourselves, we are of little good to those asking for us.

We all must make our own policies, set up our specific boundaries.  Based on who we are and what we want, what our goals and beliefs are.

I find this an interesting concept.  I believe in intentions.  If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever get there?  I have also found that life has a way of sweeping me this way and that.  Having intentions helps to stay on track and grounds me in what I have decided to do.

But unlike goals – which tend to be solid and unchangeable – intentions can be more flexible.  You can hold them more lightly.  This was what I intended to do today, but if I don’t or can’t, I can easily shift it to tomorrow, without a lot of bad feelings.

Intentions can change, too. Today I might intend to be open to giving to others. Whereas tomorrow I may not come in contact with many others, so I’ll make my intent to be more trusting.  I might have an intention to get that job.  But if it doesn’t play out the way I wanted, I can have an intention to land another job.

If I hold too tightly to my intentions, I create the potential for disappointment.  If I, instead, hold them more gently, I can use them as a guide for my steps, a reminder of what I wanted to do. But if life changes and it’s not possible, I can allow the intention to change shape, while it’s still in my hand.

I’ve had a thought recently that I need to be using what I’ve got.  But I wonder what, exactly, that means?

Perhaps the first thought might be about using my talents to achieve my goals.  That seems kind of obvious.  Is it possible I have other things I can use like resources, connections, and knowledge, too?

What about my tools, supplies and equipment?  Most of which are within arm’s reach, requiring no expenditure or effort to use.

There are other things I can use that are not as readily apparent.  Within the categories of resources, connections and knowledge, have I trully mined all that’s there?  In the back of my closet could be just what I need: Something I learned in business class many years ago.  Or someone I did something for last year who might be just the person I need right now.

This gets me sharpened to notice all the little things I have that can make the journey easier.  Music, for instance.  Pandora or various listening devices.  I only have to remember them. There are tricks of the trade that I’ve learned, support I had forgotten about.  An exercise that could reveal the exact piece of information I’d been missing.  Have I tried that resource over there, yet?

In all of this, it’s important to think in terms of all I have that I can give to others.  Most of these things I can share.  My time, my expertise, my concern can also be offered.  I have plenty of encouragement that I can give generously, at almost any time.  To myself and others.

I believe there is help wherever you look. The answer to a burning question might be uttered in the next movie I see.  Or a tossed off comment I overhear.  The secret is to stay open for precisely what is needed.

It’s kind of sexy, isn’t it?  A person who uses what he or she has.  It’s not about being self-reliant, but interdependent.  Like infrastructure excites some folks, interdependency does the same thing to me.

Using what you have feels like integrity to me.  Whole.  Using everything you can to enhance and expand your capacities.

In networking we learn to turn over every stone, contact everyone we can think of.  That our networks are no longer separate.  My friends, my colleagues, my comrades, all are my network and all a resource for me.  And I can be for them.

I want to use what I have to more fully give and receive.

I create New Year’s Intentions every year. This year I’ve been spending more time than usual on it. 2013 has brought changes in my circumstances such that I have more space to create something wonderful!  Maybe a few things.

Truthfully, in previous years I have overloaded myself, thinking a bit bigger than my current reality could produce in the future. So, this year, I thought I’d do it a little differently.

The first step was to think about how I want to feel in the coming year.  What are the qualities I’d like to express?  Like letting go of more negative thinking.  And clearing away blame – especially of myself.

After that I thought about things I could do to let go of negative thinking and clear away blame. Like practicing moving to a better feeling thought.  How about a ritual, like going to the beach, to clear away blame? I also kept in mind my Purpose to Uplift Hearts with my Words.

When I had my Intentions down, I wanted to write some affirmations to keep me on track.  One I’ve used with success in the past is “I am Willing to__ ” and another with statements of what I choose.  I got a little hung up on what the difference is between the two.  I am willing, for instance, to try some new things.  However, I choose to stick to my health routines.

Choosing are concrete action steps I can take and measure.  It is a commitment, a solid given.  Willing is more of a promise.  It’s internal work, an attitude.  A willingness to plant seeds I hope will sprout. It only took one page, filled with things I am willing to do for the year and things I choose.  It felt good, like I’d set something down with a firm foundation.

Another new tactic I took was to keep a separate list of Goals for the Year.  As 2012 came to a close, I noticed quite a few things on my Intentions list that I wasn’t able to, for one reason or another, make happen.  I like the idea that I can maintain my Intention of making my home a more pleasant place to be, without having to kick myself that I wasn’t able to get the new deck furniture.

It feels like it’s going to be a Good Year.  I wish you all abundance, prosperity, good health and the realization of all your New Year’s plans.

I am beginning a new journey.  I am going to give something every day between now (or rather Monday) and Christmas.

In previous years, I’ve been a real grouch about Christmas, always complaining about the over-commercialization and that most of the people I know don’t really need anything. If they need socks or underwear, it’s probably best if they go purchase those things for themselves.  I hate Christmas songs – especially when used in ads.  I can take a little Christmas music, for a few days.  But by mid-December I am so sick of the same old simpering songs, I want to spit.  Don’t get me started on the whole shopping and decorating obsession. Family is a good thing, but not all of us can be with our families just because it’s December 25th.  Which only serves to make it that much harder . . . Not very positive of me, huh?

So, I’ve decided this year to fight back. I may not be able to volunteer every day.  Some days it might just be reaching out to an old friend or offering someone a ride.  I’m sure I’ll be giving away some food, clothes, money and who knows what.  I have a number of things on my list, but I’ll be doing research, poking around, asking questions and watching for what comes up.  It should be interesting.

I give credit to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for all this momentum.  Not to mention some faith that I’ll actually pull it off. It’s effects have been very positive.

It started with a pledge at the beginning of November to spend a specific amount of time on my novel.  (See The Secret Gem Inside NaNoWriMo.)   Not wanting to be boring about it, I also set a few goals.  I’m happy to report that as I close in on November 30th, I have accomplished nearly all my goals.  (I do have a little more time left.)  What did it, I believe, was sticking to that schedule I set for myself.  Not quite as sexy as finishing a chapter, but that’s what did it.  I promised that I would spend at least some time on the book, on the days I knew I could. Whether that was scanning a few pages, reading over something I’d written or giving it 20 hours, as I did over the recent Thanksgiving Day holiday.

It was the Time I gave it, which eventually piled up into something concrete: progress. It was simply a matter of paying attention to the project.  Some days I only had a few minutes, other days I had several hours.  I just stayed with it, doing a little bit when I could and so when Thanksgiving rolled around, I had accumulated quite a lot of attention, so it was easy to fall into working on it for long stretches of time.  I was into it and excited about it.  I applied a small amount of effort over and over and this is what I got!

I’m letting that flow into December onto this Giving Project.  But there’s so much of it, I thought I’d spread it around. The novel, this time around, is about fun. Keeping my fingers in fiction and my critique group happy. But I have this other project – Love Letters From Your Soul – that I want to apply the same process to and see what happens.

So, two projects.  The Giving is every day.  The writing is on a schedule that works with everything else in my life.  Like Harry Potter in The Prisoner of Azkaban, who was able to do the Petronus Charm because, through a twist of the Time Turner, had already seen himself do it.  I know I can do this: I’ve already done it.  Whether I’ll be able to prepare the Love Letters for publication by the end of December, I don’t know.  I only know I will give it Time and that will create progress.

P.S.  You will see reflections of my Giving Project throughout December.  I will be sticking to the subjects of Giving and Gratitude all month.

This funny sounding thing is just National Novel Writing Month.  Though I tend to prefer the shortened version of NaNoMo.  November is the month.

The premise is that if you make the commitment, you can write a novel in 30 days.  Now, as a novelist myself, I don’t quite buy that. I believe that writing a novel requires a good bit of rewriting to reveal all its inner workings.  But, I do see that with diligence and 30 days you can have a really good start or a half decent first draft to call your own.

Perhaps the greater gift of joining in the fun is what I call the writing “head of steam.”  When you wake up at night with a solution and scribble it down, hoping you will understand it in the morning. When you hear the perfect dialog in the shower.  Or when you’re doing other things, like going to your job, eating or being with other people, but all you can think about is when you’ll be able to get back to the desk!  If you’ve religiously done NaNoMo so far, you probably have caught that fever.

In previous years, I haven’t participated in this ritual.  Mainly because I didn’t have a novel to work on.  Perhaps I felt a little intimidated by it, as well.  This year, I have decided, with a novel in hand, to play.  Though by my own rules.  There are a number of projects on my plate, so I’ve set aside time I know I can give to it, including a big chunk over the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Wanting a little more than, “I’ll spend some time on it,” I set a few goals, too.

I’m finding there’s a momentum building. I’ve stuck to my promise, so far. I’m making progress and feeling good about it.  And I’m planning what I’m going to work on in December.  Perhaps on the same kind of schedule.  If this keeps up, just think what I can get done!

From the book, “The Energy of Money,” by Maria Nemeth, Ph.D.

In this chapter, Dr Nemeth makes a clear distinction between goals and tasks.  Tasks are things you need to do, but don’t pull you out of bed in the morning.  They don’t give you a feeling of enthusiasm and glee.  She uses the Webster definition of goal: “an area or object toward which play is directed in order to score.”  Now that’s a goal I’m game to go after!  Tasks, she says, clear the field so you can “play for your goals.”  Another way she distinguishes goals from tasks is to ask if you will feel relieved when it’s done. If so, that’s a task.  A goal makes you feel joy, she says. That wonderful feeling of accomplishment and success, not just, “Whew, glad that’s done!” Goals, too, Dr. Nemeth suggests, are within a time frame.  “Your hero’s journey is enhanced by your ability to create and sustain interest in a genuine goal that takes time to achieve.”

Goals that are not connected to your Life’s Intentions take on what she refers to as the “whim factor.”  Goals you’re not entirely sure why you’ve chosen.  Dr. Nemeth states that intentions “anchor your goals and provide conduits for energy that bring these goals into physical reality.”

The acronym SMART is often used for creating real and lasting goals. S is for Specific.  You have to know what you’re going after.  M is for Measurable, so you know when you get there.  A stands for Attainable.  Dr. Nemeth says it should not be “dependent on luck or chance.”  It has to be something you can attain.  Your goal should be outside your reach, otherwise you’d already  have it.  It is a game we’re playing here.  There’s no fun playing the game if you’re certain you cannot win or if there’s no chance you will lose.

R is for Relevant.  This deals with that whim factor. “Is it relevant to who you are and what you want to be?”  It also helps to connect it to your Standards of Integrity. Will you have to side step what you believe in order to have this goal?  Sounds like you’re setting yourself up to fail.  Dr. Nemeth also ask us to be sure we really want this goal.  On a scale of 1 to 10.  You’re unlikely to stay with if you’re not juiced about it. 

The final piece is Time based.  This makes the goal more concrete.  Based in reality instead of just bouncing around in your head.  Having it time based also keeps you moving forward – a time when you will complete this goal and move onto the next.

I like the final point she makes about goals.  They need to be positive, not negative. My coach, Lauren Graham, the Coach by the Lake, keeps reminding me that you need to phrase it as a Want, not a Don’t-Want.  Losing or stopping something doesn’t have the same pitch behind it as a positive statement.  Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” (which says, I don’t want to be over weight) you say, I want to wear fabulous clothes or I want to be physically fit, or I want to be a mountain climber. These goals hold a lot more momentum.

Next comes a series of “Exercises for Creating Your Goals.”  Dr. Nemeth describes it this way, “Like a Magician’s Notebook, it’s precisely crafted to help you engage your dream more quicky than you’ve ever imagined.” That sound pretty cool to me!

Part One: How do you Feel About Goals?  You are to quickly write everything you think and feel about the word goal.  This keeps it flowing without a censor or judge.  Just spill it all out.  She suggests noting how your body feels.  After that, list 10 goals that would take “time and money to accomplish.”

I have done this work for a long time and the word goal produces a good reaction in me.  There are 6 goals posted on my desk that fill me with energy and enthusiasm.  Dr. Nemeth says many people feel heavy about goals, though.  Perhaps that comes from mixing goals and tasks. I have to admit though that coming up with four more goals was not so easy.  I needed more time and space to make them SMART. I really enjoy doing these kinds of lists.  I think it’s helpful, every once in a while, to write down what you want.  If this is difficult for you, Dr. Nemeth provides some help.

Part Two: Opening the Door to Your Dreams.  This is a guided meditation.  I will give the gist of it.  First of all, before you do any kind of guided meditation, you need to sit comfortably and relax your body.  Feet flat on the floor.  Close your eyes and notice your breath. Release any tension in your body.  Do I need to say: give yourself a chunk of quiet and undisturbed time.

Take a long, slow breath.  Then, imagine you are 10 years old and think about what you wanted then.  Imagine it in as much detail as you can and try to capture the feelings.  Take another deep breath and come back to the present day.  Imagine you are in a seat of power – however that may look to you.  I used my desk chair.  “In this seat,” she says, “anything you truly want to have, do or be can be made real. All you need to do is let yourself know what it is.  What brings you joy?  You only have to ask for what you want and you will receive it.”

After the meditation you are to write down any goals you can think of.  Don’t stop yourself because of any reality-based objections.  If it feels good, write it down.  She says, “Let the goals come from the top of your head and the bottom of your heart.”  Dr. Nemeth suggests digging until you come up with some that make your heart sing. If you can’t come up with anything, she says to let it simmer for a few days and see if any day or night dreams deliver any ideas.

Part Three: Refine Your List. This is the same process I’ve been using in Creating Space in my life.  Deciding what’s really important.  “Thus you cultivate the ability to generate energy by letting go of insignificant elements that dissipate it,” Dr. Nemeth tells us.  It really is freeing to say you may have thought you wanted something, but really, there are other things you would really rather have.  There are better places to put your time and energy.

Part Four : Be Sure that Your Goal Is Powerful.  Run your goals through the distinctions:
 1) Is it SMART?
 2) Is it positive?
 3) Does it make you feel joyful?
 4) Is it connected to your Life’s Intentions?
 5) Will it help you to live more aligned with your Standards of Integrity?

Treasure Map Exercise: Mapping Your Goal
I’ve seen and done a number of these collages.  Some are called Vision Boards or Focus Boards.  Dr. Nemeth’s Treasure Map is a little more complicated than the boards.  She defines the treasure map as ”your best effort to create a comprehensive, mental visualization of how your life will look when you have attained your goal.”

It’s really a lot of fun to do. Dr. Nemeth says to select on goal. These are the tools she wants you to gather:
* Scissors and two glue sticks.
* Poster board around 18 x 24.  White is best.
* Colored construction paper (about 5 pieces).
* Magazines, brochures and catalogues to cut out colorful pictures that might be connected to your goal.  Publications, too, that might have inspirational phrases.
* Calenders with dates at least 1″ high that you can cut out.  (I managed to cut dates out of the magazines.)
* A recent photograph of yourself and whoever will be in this goal with you.  (She wants you to be sure to get permission to include anyone else.)

Like I said, it’s a bit more formal than some of the other collages: She wants you to come up with a phrase that describes your goal, in the present tense, with a date.  Such as, I am signing a publishing deal by October 10, 2010. Next, you need to put your picture on the board.

Now comes the fun part: perusing the magazines for phrases and pictures that speak to you of your goal.  Dr. Nemeth says you must not draw anything or write on your Treasure Map.  (I have to admit, I made a few things on the computer that I just couldn’t find.)  This was a big process and I went about finding travel brochures and looking for a Borders publication so I could have their logo on my Treasure Map. It took me several weeks to gather all the pieces. 

She wants you to fill the entire map.  And says you can use the colored construction paper to glue your words on so that they stick out. See if you can find feeling words.  Some of her suggestions are admiring, adoring, amused, appreciative, cheerful, ecstatic, glad, joyful, playful, thrilled, zealous. Put on your map a date by which you hope to have this.  And try to piece together words that tell of the intention that it is linked to.

An interesting alternative to this is to get another person, tell them what you want and let them make it for you, while you make one for them. She suggests having others around to bounce ideas off and find things you hadn’t thought of.  It is a fun afternoon’s (or so) project that can really help you create something. 

The idea is to hang it on your wall and look at it every day to remind you what you are after and place your request in the Universal flow.  Have fun!

1) Heat.  There’s nothing quite like the heat of knowing that someone else is going to notice if you don’t do something.  Moving ahead on your dreams requires a whole lot of baby steps that are often barely acknowledged.  Having even one other person who will know creates a fire under everything you do.

2) Structure.  If someone is holding you accountable, you better be able to say what it is you’re going to do.  This forces you to be clear on what it is you’re going to accomplish.

3) Help.  I believe that we are not meant to do things alone.  It always helps to have an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, or a hand to help you up when you slip.

4) Support.  Every job becomes easier when you know they’ll be applause or acknowledgment on the other side.  A cheer now and again smooths the way to do more.

5) Resources.  When you’re working and sharing with others, you open yourself up for ideas, suggestions, advice, connections and all kinds of tools.

A wonderful way to create accountability is to join Libby Gill’s Accountability Club.  On each monthly call she brings in one of the latest and greatest thinkers and practitioners in the field of creating the life you want to share tips and techniques.  After that, everyone in the club is invited to talk about his or her Milestone for the month. These are goals which are a stretch, may be out of your immediate control to make happen.  Libby’s web site offers tools to help you discover the Milestones to your dream. Then, the participants share what Libby calls “Game Changer Goals.”  These are the feet-to-the-fire steps that you can take to move toward that Milestone. Throughout this process, Libby offers her formidable coaching skills. It’s inspiring to hear how others are working to hold to their commitments.  Each story provides insights and new tools.  It’s a fun and effective way to stick to your goals.  You can join at or through

What a wonderful world it would be if everyone had this kind of support to manifest their dreams!

From Traveling Hopefully by Libby Gill

I enjoyed this chapter because I feel I’m at exactly this point: defining and honing my goals.

“Sometimes you’ve got to look all the way down the road in order to see which path you should take to get you where you want to go,” Libby says.

I love the notion of defining goals as “Dreams with Deadlines.” It puts them on the physical plane of accomplishment. However, I do tend to get hung up in the time frame and have been known to give up if it doesn’t happen when I think it should.

The first Tool in this chapter was to define goals under Professional, Personal and Possessions. Libby calls them the 3 P’s.

Krista and I are both planners and goal setters, so these came out easily. I was pleased to note that there weren’t a lot of Possessions I want right now. (Which is handy in this economic climate.) I continue to dream of a custom-built house in my “perfect ” climate and work toward it. But the little things along the way? I’ve got most of what I want. I was, however, overwhelmed by my list of Personal Goals

The second Tool asked us to put our goals to the “Timeline Test.” I wasn’t too surprised to note that most of the things on my lists I want to accomplish within 1 year. I pile things up and expect to do it all right away. Krista used N for things she’s doing Now.

Seeing the goals laid out in front of me, helped to gain some perspective on them. I was able to narrow them down to within 2 months, 3 months, or 6 months. It was very liberating to be able to put aside a few of my goals, for now. I’m full of ideas – Oh my, I’d love to do that! But, ooh look at this, what about that one over there? I see myself charging madly after this butterfly and then one that’s even more beautiful. These timelines helped to ground and control that willy-nilly flittering. I’m better off if I focus on what’s really important.

I’m looking forward to moving ahead on these goals and keeping the Momentum going.

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