Posts Tagged ‘Self improvement’

It’s official: I have become one of those people. Or at least that’s what my husband repeatedly tells me, with obvious disdain in his voice.  The annoying thing is that he’s right. I am constantly checking my smart phone for missed calls and e-mails. When I’m bored forCrackberry longer than three minutes (know how we supposedly live in an “ADD nation”? I could often be the posterwoman!), I whip out my phone to read the latest news headlines, check in with friends on Facebook, or play a game of solitaire. I must fess up — my name is Dina and I am addicted to the technology of a smart phone.

It all started so innocently. I promised myself when I purchased the phone (for work purposes, primarily) that I would not become dependent, engrossed, or driven by its advantages. I merely wanted to check e-mail as needed so that I was not tied down to my computer during the day. I envisioned the smart phone as freeing, granting me even more mobility with my freelance work.

But know the first thing I do when I wake up each morning? Check my phone for e-mail. First thing I do before bed? You got it, check my phone for e-mail. In fact, when the phone blinks an orange light to notify a new e-mail, voice mail, text message, or missed call, I check it every time — immediately. Sometimes I try to ignore the blinking, but it somehow tempts me with every blink of bright orange light: Message! Message! Message! I just can’t resist it.

I suspect that some may wonder whether this phone-checking habit of mine is of any real consequence. Our society readily embraces the idea of accessibility as an asset, and I am merely one more person taking advantage of our ever-ready communication abilities. Indeed, technology can be helpful, even life-saving at times.

However, I think the explosion of technology begs the question: Where is the balance? I’m not suggesting that we all toss our smart phones out the window, but rather, perhaps we should consider whether we could actually benefit from turning it off every now and then. Take some time just for you, your family, and friends. Allow yourself to be in the moment, be bored in the store checkout line, relax at a red light while driving.

One of my primary goals in life is to maintain a calm, balanced, and peaceful existence. However, if I am completely honest with myself, my recently excessive use of technology is incongruous with that goal. So I’ve decided to take a few steps to avoid becoming a slave to my smart phone, including placing it out of eyesight while working so that enticing little device of a phone can no longer bait and trap me into procrastinating. I also am creating a personal ban of any e-mailing or texting while engaging in other activities, such as conversations, walks, and drives.

Smart phones interrupt face-to-face conversations, quiet time, vacations, and relaxing weekends. We should use technology to enhance the balance and calmness in our lives — not infiltrate our lives with stress and less connection with other humans. I hope my new personal parameters bring about peace, or at least more balance, in a technologically-advanced, hurried world. And I can avoid the Crackberry Addict label, to boot.


Read Full Post »

quit-signTwo weeks into a new job, I realized I had bit off more than I could chew. I was working late every night, I was stressing about meeting deadlines, and I was generally feeling stressed and unhappy. What was I to do? My gut and intuition were telling me to quit, particularly before I became more invested in the company, colleagues, and projects, after which it would be harder to make a clean break.


I encountered a similar experience one year ago while working for a client that required jugging schedules, relying upon others to complete their work, and partnering with colleagues who did not respect my personal time — all factors I find particularly difficult to deal with. Despite my misery, I continued working on the project, ignoring my intuition and the multiple signs chauffeuring me away from the job, as well as the very real problems of my constant headaches, tense muscles, and restless sleep. If I continued on with this new job, I risked failing to benefit from the hard lessons learned from this previous experience. 


So why couldn’t I just pull the trigger and fire off the resignation e-mail? Rationally, I knew quitting was the right step for me; I could spend at least 20 minutes giving a detailed description of all the reasons I should quit. Yet I questioned whether the situation would improve and wondered whether I should try harder to make it work.


Several days of hemming and hawing later, I had an “ah-ha” moment while discussing the topic with my mom. My problem was that I equate quitting with failing. Quitting, to me, meant admitting that I was wrong. In this case, I was wrong for accepting the job, wrong for being unable to complete the task, wrong for disliking the work. But in reality, quitting is about taking control of your own life and setting clear parameters for yourself. When you realize that an action, project, friendship, or situation does not fall in line with your particular boundaries, you must take steps to self preserve.


That doesn’t mean that you were wrong for trying something new. We were not meant to do everything. We are not perfect. The best thing we can do for ourselves is clearly identify our own limits and balance them with new endeavors, recognizing that not all of our goals will be realized — and that’s okay. Instead of believing that quitting a venture that is too painful or not worth the effort means that you failed, consider quitting a step toward controlling your own life, digging the boundaries in deeper to secure your balance.


Personally, I value time with my family and friends more than I value a high-powered career riddled with stress and pressure. Since this new project was requiring longer than I wanted to give, it wasn’t right for me. It doesn’t matter how my husband, friends, or family might have been able to respond under the same conditions, since parameters and boundaries for balance are inherently personal. All that mattered was I became conscious that this particular career move was compromising my life/work balance. So I sent that resignation e-mail and, not surprisingly, immediately felt relief. I had succeeded.


Next time you find yourself in a situation that feels out of control, consider whether quitting would preserve your mental well-being, overall health, and balance. Quitting just may be the most successful step you can take.


Read Full Post »

new-years-resolutionsI don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions. But I do believe in periodically reflecting upon my life and then determining which conscious steps I can take to improve it.


This might sound like oxymoronic thinking, but consider this: We all know several people who have made a resolution, only to break it shortly thereafter, often within the first two months of the year. New Year’s resolutions are so popular that the federal government keeps track of the most frequently made resolutions. (I know you’re curious, so here a few of the most common choices: lose weight, manage debt, get a better job, quit smoking, drink less alcohol, reduce stress.) Yet a Google search on “New Year’s Resolutions” results in 2 million Web sites promising to help you keep that resolution. Why do we continue to make resolutions but always need help with their upkeep?


It’s my personal belief that New Year’s resolutions fail because they are made for the wrong reason – a sense of guilt due to societal expectations and pressures. People might say something like this to themselves: “I don’t want everyone else to think that I am not interested in improving myself” or “I don’t want to be left out of the resolution conversation among my friends,” thus leading to an arbitrarily made resolution. We may not consciously connect all the dots and follow that same thought process, but the end results are the same – empty promises made with no real intention, or desire, to keep them.


These resolutions are driven by an outside, unrelated factor of a new calendar year. But there’s no passion and drive to actually implement improvements because they are not internally driven and created after introspection and reflection. No one is going to successfully quit smoking or lose those extra pounds just because we bought new calendars. Our bodies don’t understand these outside factors and, as a result, our spirits won’t respond with the follow-through needed for success.


Instead, we should resolve to improve our lives, health, relationships, habits, and well-being – but only after being personally stimulated to do so. I make conscious choices to change my life for the better all the time, but never starting on Jan. 1. Just in the last year, I have started eliminating sugar from my diet and incorporated Eastern medicine and philosophy into my life, which are two changes that have drastically improved my quality of life. All of these decisions and improvements have been successful and fulfilling and were driven from my internal desire to create a change for myself. None of these resolutions began in January.  


So spend some time really analyzing what aspects you want to improve in your life, do some research to decide which methods or steps you want to take to achieve that goal, and then wait until you are spiritually motivated to act upon that desire. Then, and only then, will you be successful.

Read Full Post »