I am developing a new habit, and so this weekend, as part of my effort to break the cycle of the old habit, I learned how to sew buttonholes. How can sewing buttonholes be the secret to forming a new habit?
To break a bad habit, we must choose to avoid what we’ve been doing. To form a good habit, we must choose to practice it repeatedly.
I’ll explain shortly. First, if you don’t sew, you cannot appreciate how hard it is to sew buttonholes. Niccolò Paganini wrote his wickedly difficult Caprice No. 24 in A minor so that violinists could learn it in lieu of learning how to make buttonholes.
I have a mechanical sewing machine that requires four separate steps for a buttonhole. The jazzy computerized machines sew perfect buttonholes in one step. It’s the difference between managing a team of horses and driving on cruise control.
I am not known as a domestic goddess, but once in a while I’ll trot out the sewing machine and make pillow covers. I decided this time that I’d finish them using buttons. That means buttonholes. Something I have successfully avoided since my high school life skills class.
“Would you just shut up for a minute and listen to me!” I shouted angrily. I drew in a long breath and let it out. Then, quietly, “please?”
When we listen with acceptance and without judgment, we speak volumes about how much we care.
Sometimes all we really want is for someone we love to hear us out. To not interrupt. To not offer interpretation. To do nothing other than to intensely focus on us, and to hang on every word we say. Continue reading
When we’re used to being the one in charge, the one who makes the decisions and directs others to action, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking we know it all.
The know-it-all is so busy trying to impress others with his knowledge that he fails to recognize that while everyone can hear him, no one is listening to him.
Once caught in that trap, we can think we have nothing to learn from anyone else, and that everyone else could benefit from our knowledge.
At a dinner party a few months ago, I had the painful experience of watching this know-it-all scenario play out. It was a small, casual gathering of old friends and newcomers. Partway through the evening, someone posed a question to an expert with multiple degrees in an area of highly specialized science. Very quickly, someone else jumped into the conversation. This second person, we had learned earlier in the evening, is an accomplished professional with an impressive career. But it became clear very quickly he had only limited knowledge in this area of science. Continue reading
We can live life by choice, or by chance.
We know when we’ve collected enough information and must make a decision, even though each choice has an element of risk and uncertainty.
When we live life by choice, we keep an open mind to new ideas and information. We do our research, seek the opinions of others, and consider many options. At some point, however, we quit gathering information. We make a decision, knowing that we have done the best we can with the information we have in the time we have.
When we live life by chance, we fall into the trap of believing there’s no such thing as too much information. We tell ourselves we need to know more. We suffer analysis paralysis. The reality is, we’re afraid we won’t make the right decision. Continue reading
As a child, fall meant harvest time. My parents grew up in farming families and so it seemed natural to them that we should grow and preserve at least some of our own food.
We plant our values in our children and realize the harvest when they mature into adults.
As our family worked to harvest vegetables from the gardens on our acreage in the country, the farmers around us worked to harvest thousands of Iowa acres of corn and soybeans. Continue reading
“I don’t have time.”
I hear that phrase in one form or another at least once a week.
We all have the same amount of time, so why do some people manage to get done so much more than others?
Usually from the same few people week after week. Some of these people are far less busy than I am.
When I hear someone say this, I ask myself, Is it true? How can you not have time when we all have the same amount of time? We all have 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, 365 days in a year.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?
~ “Seasons of Love,” from ‘Rent,’ the Broadway musical
The truth of the matter is we have all the time we need to accomplish everything when we are clear about our goals, are willing to set priorities, and we commit to managing our time well. Continue reading
At one time or another we’ve all had to adjust to changes in our place of work.
Life moves on. We can move on with it, or be left behind by it. The choice is ours.
Whether we own the business, work at the top of the pyramid or at the lowest level, all companies and the roles of employees within them must move and change over time.
Change does not have to be great or have tremendous impact on our daily lives to be unsettling. We all prefer to stay snuggly inside our comfort zone. A new boss, a new company policy, a new computer system, a new way of doing old things, a new location that changes our commute time and route.
Change is unsettling particularly when it is imposed upon us. We have no choice, no control, no say in the matter. In the midst of uncomfortable change, we do well to first remind ourselves: This too shall pass. Continue reading