Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

Fish and Decision Practice

If you don’t know, I’m a huge aquarium fan and a proud member of my local aquarium.  My mom is allergic to most furry pets, so I was only allowed to have fish for a long time growing up.  I don’t get too many chances to use my aquarium membership (or I should say I don’t use the opportunities. I actually could be there every Saturday morning, instead of sleeping, but I haven’t so that’s that). Last night I went to an open house at the Shedd aquarium.  It was fantastic.  I saw behind the exhibits, which sometimes was ABOVE the exhibit on a catwalk.  I really wanted to take a picture but I just imagined dropping my phone in the tank and the stingrays mouthing the touch screen.

While in the bowels of the museum, with HVAC engineer husband the conversation inevitably turned to piping and ventilation.  It would have been rude to walk away when the conversation veered somewhere uninteresting to me, but I did let my mind wander to where exactly did I go wrong, that these people got right, so that I’m not playing with fish all day but they are.  I love fish.

Or, maybe, I did it exactly right that I have enough spare money that I can be a member of this aquarium, and other museums.  I can do the fun part at each museum rather than spending most of my day in their underground offices, only coming out for open house.  I couldn’t ask. It wasn’t in the spirit of the day.

Fortuitously, the section that I read this morning in Nudge, my commuting book, touched on practice and feedback on important decisions. You get loads of practice on unimportant decisions, like grocery shopping.  You can learn your lesson about buying too much produce, when you go on vacation and have to throw out a ton of rotten fruit.  But not so much for the big ones like choosing a career, life partner, saving for retirement, etc. You only get feedback on the path you chose, not on the paths you turned down. You don’t get a do-over when you invest aggressively and lose all your money. Or invest conservatively, and miss a big win.

I find myself pining for a do-over careerwise, but I’m not pulling the trigger on a career change just yet.  I’m just not convinced that if I’d gone a different way I wouldn’t be peering down the market research path, longingly.

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Find your heroes where you can

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I found this book to be really inspiring. I love that this was a romantic comedy that didn’t end when the couple got together or start when a marriage deteriorated. Married people have hopes and dreams and problems, besides JUST their marriage! Yes, they do!

And, I love that the author found inspiration in Julia Child, a woman who just seemed so totally off the wall and inaccessible to me when I watched her PBS show.

Find your heroes wherever you can.

View all my reviews >>

How could they possibly help someone learn a skill that they themselves can't grasp?

I stumbled on a news story that turn out to be the sweetest I read this year.  These “therapy dogs,” basically dogs that are trained to be focused and calm while somewhere unfamiliar, are sitting with kids while they read.  With the dogs at their feet the kids stay on task, but don’t feel like anyone is nagging them or judging them (because no one is).

How does it work?  It just does.

I love dogs.  Don’t need to be shy about that disclaimer.  What’s amazing about dogs is that their “neutral” is happy.  Waldo, my dog, almost always wears an expression that says “This is awesome. What are we doing next?”

I was at the dog park the other day and a woman was throwing a ball for her yorkshire terrier.  When she stopped for a minute to talk to me, the yorkie would yip at her until she threw it again.  The little dog would run a quick circle no bigger than the length of his tiny body, full speed, while he darted after the ball.  Showing off, like a figure skater.  Watching him bound around was enthralling for me, amusing for her.  She shook her head and said “I wish I was excited about anything as my dog is about this stupid ball.”  While their neutral is happy, our neutral is bored.

Waldo’s not much of a fetch dog, but with little warning he’ll rediscover a chew toy or hone in on a stick on the ground.  He’ll dive for it, then prance around proudly, like this is the best day of his life.  Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I think I want to be around dogs because I think this will rub off on me.

Maybe it’s working, because I feel like I’m walking a little lighter after finding this sweet article.  This is awesome. What are we doing next?

Bucket List

I just encountered a website that made me smile, http://www.43things.com. I did and read a couple fun, quick things on my lunch break and copied them down for you, but what really tickled me was the tagged / word-clouded list of people’s goals.  “Get a dog” was the first one.  I know, I know – order doesn’t mean it was mentioned the most.  Just a nice reminder that I have checked a few important things off.

The site has some recommended rules for conquering the list, which are quite good, so I’ve copied them for you below.  But I’ve got a few recommendations for getting the most of this site and the community of people checking up on their goals.

1. Be public, but be anonymous.  Don’t use your real name and use a different name than you use on social networking sites, especially professional sites.  You don’t want your employer to know you have a long term goal of switching careers or your boyfriend of 2 weeks to know that you want kids, etc. Even if you don’t have a conflict now, don’t create a situation where you’ll need to limit your bucket list to goals that fit your image.

2. Let it all hang out.  It’s natural to want to be private about goal until you’ve made some progress at it. You’re among friends here.  Your anonymity allows you to keep something front of your mind without putting it in front of anyone else in your life.

3. Be general. If your goal is general, you can connect with people who are also pursuing (or have completed!) a similar goal. For instance, I want to teach my dog to fetch his leash so I don’t have to search for it when I take him for a walk.  (Hopefully, I can do the same with my keys).  I could write “Teach Waldo to fetch his leash,” which would be accurate, but I’ll miss out on the support I could get from the site unless Waldo is a more common dog name than I thought.  If I write “teach my dog tricks” my goal will link to anyone else who wrote “teach my dog tricks” on their list, and I can get tips or encouragement.

4. Get specific in the details section. That way, you’ll know when you’ve completed it.  You want to accountable to yourself, don’t you?

5. Don’t be afraid to cut a bad goal loose.   A couple reasons it could be a “bad” goal – it could be in conflict with another, bigger goal; you could find out that it was someone else’s goal all along.  This is better articulated below, but I wanted to point out these 2 scenarios where a goal go bad without repeating what’s been said.

43 Things’ Ten Rules for Creating and Conquering Your Life List

1. Make your list public. Making your goals public solidifies your commitment to them, holds you accountable, and helps you connect with others who share your interests. You’ll discover connections to social and professional networks that you didn’t know you had and gets lots of encouragement from the people who care most about you. So make sure to tell friends, family members, and coworkers about your list and post it on the Internet at 43Things.com.
2. Include serious and fun goals. Vary the scope of your goals and include some wild just-for-fun dreams. Also, don’t be afraid to complete less daunting goals first. Building momentum from these early successes helps you find the courage to tackle larger tasks.
3. Include undefined goals. Avoid overlooking a developing passion or interest by fearlessly adding goals even if you can’t totally articulate them. If you wake up one morning with the desire to create art, add it to the list. Let the idea simmer in your mind until something more specific emerges.
4. Document progress. While reviewing the list, record your progress and determine the next steps. Documenting progress allows you to identify behavior patterns or other obstacles keeping you from accomplishing goals-it can also show you how far you’ve come.
5. Make goals manageable but rewarding. Divide big goals into smaller tasks, but not so small that they become tedious. Taking incremental steps keeps you from getting overwhelmed by a monumental goal. For example, instead of vowing to “get organized” try listing “declutter the garage.”
6. Define the finish line. You’ll find it easier to complete certain tasks and track progress if you determine the duration, results, or final outcome you desire from achieving a specific goal. Revise vague goals such as “give back to my community” by specifying what kind of work you want to do. You may not be able to do this right away-as we said, undefined goals are good, too.
7. Prioritize goals. Arrange your goals to reflect what you want to begin working on right away. You may want to run a marathon and get a promotion at work, but rather than trying to find the time and energy to run thirty miles a week and put in long hours at the office, focus on the goal that’s more important to you.
8. Maintain a manageable list. Somewhere between twenty and forty-three is a sweet spot for many people. Limiting your life list to forty-three goals forces you to make some choices. Fewer than twenty goals doesn’t offer enough variety to keep you moving forward.
9. Review your list weekly. It sharpens your focus, keeps up your momentum, and reminds you of what’s important. As you review the list, ask yourself, “What have I done to achieve a particular goal this week?” If the answer is “nothing,” is this goal important enough to keep on your list?
10. Revise and remove goals. A life list should be constantly evolving-it should reflect what’s important to you right now, not what mattered in the past. Remember, there’s no penalty for changing your mind or tweaking a goal to better reflect your desired outcome or new circumstances. A short-lived passion for making pottery can be reborn as “find a creative outlet,” or ambitions to get straight A’s in chemistry can be tossed because sometimes a passing grade is enough of a victory.