Dear December,

Who invited you here so prematurely, aren’t you arriving a bit sooner than usual?

Does anyone else feel slightly overwhelmed this time of year?  I woke up very early this morning which happened to be the first Sunday of December. As I flipped the light switch on in the kitchen, I saw the table just as I had left it at midnight; covered with cumbersome objects that whispered my name during the night and woke me up way before the sun sparkled its majestic hues over the valley.

Organized Chaotic Mess

What was speaking to me from the kitchen table? A few things: my leather planner with almost every day highlighted in either red, blue, or green coded appointments, my computer displaying 5,663 emails in my inbox, and a hefty pile of papers scattered across the table in a very organized chaotic mess.

The organized chaotic mess of papers consists of: two sentences for the blog you’re reading, my grocery list, my Christmas shopping list, business content deadlines, holiday parties, food prep, and repairs needed to be made to the house due to a broken water pipe and the uninvited termites that enthusiastically ate through the baseboard without asking my permission.

In addition to the tasks and work load, I had a flat tire yesterday, my garbage disposal died, and I started having breathing problems. Not to mention that my dog peed all over the kitchen floor during the middle of the night and I was out of paper towels to clean it up. Needless to say, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and anxious.

As I’m trying to organize my day, my week, and my month, it seems like all of these things are falling under the urgent/important quadrant of Stephen Covey’s time management matrix.  In my mind, nothing is unimportant or not urgent; everything seems urgent to me.

How about you, how’s your December going? Are you like me? Do you feel like a rat on a running wheel with the speed set in autobahn mode?

What Energizes You?

In the middle of slipping off of my rat spinning wheel, I had an idea. I asked myself something I frequently think about in these circumstances, “How would I help one of my clients facing a similar situation?”  I narrowed down my focus even further and I asked myself, “What gives me energy?” My response was, “prayer, music, loved ones, working out, and being productive.”

So it began. I was not about to call my loved ones or workout at 5 o’clock in the morning, but I was going to do the things I could control. I set my timer to allow myself 10 minutes to do tempo breathing exercises, pray, meditate and calm my mind down. I then put on my Warrior Soundtrack to listen to while I started focusing on my Urgent/Important Quadrant.

My Warrior Soundtrack includes:

  • The Last of the Mohicans Original Motion Picture Instrumental Soundtrack
  • The Hallelujah Chorus of Handel’s Messiah
  • The Russian Dance from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite
  • Def Leppard’s 1980’s hit Armageddon It
  • Whitney Houston’s rendition of The Star Spangled Banner at Super Bowl XXV
  • Elijah Bossenbroke’s I Give Up
  • Enya 1988 Watermark
  • Motown
  • Hillsong Worship’s No Other Name
  • Coldplay’s Life in Technicolor

Powerful Force of Music

As I was listening to my soundtrack, it dawned on me that music is such a powerful force. Have you ever thought about how music influences your own life?  It has the capability to tap into your very soul and elicit emotions you may or may not have known existed. I’m talking about the music or the artists whose genius work moves your heart, gives you chills, and ignites your soul. Music can inspire and empower the discouraged, further sadden the forlorn, or calm and soothe the weary soul.

As I continued to hear the playlist in the background, my stress hormones slowly abated and my mindset shifted. I was no longer focused on all the urgent things I needed to do, nor was I fixated on the inconvenience of having to schedule repair men and doctor visits to disrupt my already overtaxed schedule. I was caught up with the power of the artist’s music; their strong choruses and high notes. Bingo – that changed everything.

End 2017 on a High Note

I was encouraged and inspired to fix my mind on how I want to end this month, the last month of the year – I want to end it on a high note, a strong note, one that will move my heart and ignite my soul.

What about you, what do you need to do to end your 2017 on a high note, one that moves your heart and inspires your soul? Let’s look at 3 things you can focus on to help you get there:

Reflection

John Maxwell defines the Law of Reflection as learning to pause. This simple act creates insight that allows you to see things from a different vantage point. Without knowing it, that’s exactly what I did earlier when I intentionally made the decision to get off the rat wheel.

That one subtle pause allowed me to reflect on what I needed to do to stop the deluge of negative emotions I was experiencing and course correct myself. Reflection allows you to think; not with racing thoughts hijacking your brain, but with solutions-oriented thoughts.

Energy

When you focus on what gives you energy, you plug the holes on what is sapping it. As soon as I answered my own questions, I was able to take productive steps to getting out of the overwhelm I was experiencing. This allowed me to not only get a clear view of what I really wanted for the day; it gave me so much more.

It gave me insight and inspiration for the entire month of December. I wanted to end it on a strong note, just like the music I was listening to.

Character Strengths

The world is focused on what’s wrong with people and enamored with fixing problems. I choose to look at what’s right with people; believing they are resourceful, creative and whole. Those who learn how to tap into their strengths, discover solutions that are already inside of them. When you operate out of your strength’s zone, you are running on all cylinders, you’re motivated and able to have better clarity and walk in confidence in the direction you want to go.

3 Keys to End 2017 on a Strong Note

Understanding how reflection works, finding your own renewable energy sources, and learning to tap into your character strengths isn’t something that’s taught in school. But once you are aware of them and begin practicing them, it will reinforce their strength and create powerful paradigm shifts in your life.

1. Make Reflection a Habit

Reflection is not just about slowing down or going into what I like to call an “Adult Time Out” to reset. It is also not over analyzing your situation. Reflection should be:

  • Intentional
  • A Daily/weekly/annual habit
  • Creative

Learn to think like a lead detective or a young child; both of whom are led by their sense of curiosity. This mindset will help you discover insights and find the “deeper” issue at hand.

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“At the end of the day, you should play back the tapes of your performance. The results should either applaud you or prod you.” – Jim Rohn

2. Find Your Unique Energy

How do you recharge? I’m not talking about coffee or caffeinated energy drinks. The things that energize you fuel and inspire you; they make you feel rejuvenated, determined and motivated. Everyone’s energy source is different.

Some people are energized by being in the company of like-minded people, others gravitate toward solitude. Some people require action and forward movement while others must be still. The important thing is to find what gives you energy. What comes to mind when you feel the following emotions?

  • Invigorated
  • Refreshed
  • Empowered

Make a list of things that stimulate these emotions from you and strategically incorporate them into you daily/weekly schedule. Some things may be very easily accessible; like adding music or prayer to a hectic schedule. Others like working out, meeting with loved ones or people who recharge your batteries, may need to be routinely scheduled.

3. Utilize Your Character Strengths

When I shifted gears and started to ask myself questions, I had to ask myself yet one last question, “What character strengths do I have that will help me get out of where I am, and take me to where I need to go?” I felt defeated but as soon as I looked at my character strength’s list, I quickly experienced a glimmer of hope – I could immediately enlist two of my strengths: Resiliency and Perspective.

Using your strengths can have a profoundly powerful impact on your ability to navigate problems, improve relationships, and enhance your overall health. So what are your strengths?

If you are not familiar with your character strengths, I highly recommend going to: http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey and taking the character strength’s survey. The assessment is free but you will have to register and create an account.

Once you know your strengths:

  • Become familiar with them
  • When faced with a disruption or challenge, ask yourself, “What character strength do I need to enlist to power through this?”
  • When you are facing a new, exciting situation, ask yourself, “Which of my charter strengths will be my best asset to help me in this endeavor?”

Believe it or not, my day is done before midnight. It turned out to be an extremely productive, enlightening day and one that I’m very grateful for. I’m putting the finishing touches on this blog that just this morning had only two sentences to its name, I ordered 3 Christmas presents online, I did some but not all of my grocery shopping, and rearranged my schedule to accommodate the repair man and the doctor visit.

I discovered many important lessons today but one that especially sticks with me is that I learned that the things my mind LABELED urgent/important in the time management matrix were not as urgent as they felt.

Hope this Advent

More importantly than checking things off of my to do list, I’m thankful for hope; which is the theme this week of the Advent season. Hope gave me the ability to look beyond my circumstances, get off the rat wheel, and come up with a solution for my organized chaotic mess.

My wish is that it does the same for you.

I am now able to re-write my letter to December:

Dear December,

I am so glad you are here.  I love the magic that you bring to the table. I appreciate the warmth you add to my life and the memories you’ve given me with those whom I love.

Welcome, I’m ready to meet you with open arms and then bid you farewell on a high, strong note.

Rita Hudgens
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Rita Hudgens

Leadership and Personal Development Coach at Transform University
Rita is a Performance Improvement Coach. Her mission is simple; she helps entrepreneurs, achievers, and leaders make positive changes in their behavior. She empowers her clients so they are more in control of their present which in turn gives them a greater sense of self-confidence. She creates a safe environment for them and builds on their values, passions and strengths so that they can achieve their personal and professional goals.

Rita helps her clients:
• Embrace their true potential
• Change their limiting beliefs/thoughts
• Create Purpose
• Live Empowered, Confident, and Successful Lives
Rita Hudgens
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