A Year In Review

I have to apologize right upfront, I am not taking a look back at 2020 but rather want to talk about 2021.

As you think about the year ahead, what does it look like? What are you excited for? What are planning on accomplishing? What milestones will you celebrate?

In other words, when you take look back at 2021, what will you “Year In Review” look like? Just so we are clear, you are the one that will control what happens. Sure, there will be challenges, speed bumps and even set backs, but the focus on your goals and how you respond will determine your success.

I was able to gain incredible insights from the book “Essentialism” by author Greg McKeown. He states, “Essentialism is not about how get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done…it is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”

The ability to focus on what is essential is something I have struggled with but the times I do, my success increases exponentially. When I commit to using my energy to accomplish those items that are of most important, I notice my energy levels actually increase, not decrease because of the effort it took.

What are the essential actions you must take today, tomorrow, next week, next month to ensure you accomplish what you want to in 2021? How can you decide what are the essential actions or priorities?

Here is what McKeown shares:

1- Explore and Evaluate

2- Eliminate

3- Execute

Each of these items are pretty self-explanatory but if you want to know more of the specifics I suggest you check out McKeown’s book.

I can tell you that each step takes time to ensure you don’t short change yourself. You want to be honest with yourself so you get dialed into what are those most essential things you need to do. I love this takeaway McKeown shares. “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”

So I take us back to where I started, what is your 2021 Year In Review going to look like? What are the most essential actions you need to take that will guarantee your success?

This can be an awesome year if you want it to be. It comes down to your motivation and desire to focus what is most essential.

You’ve Got This.

Empowerment through embracement

There has been no shortage of thoughts lately on many different topics. One that has hit me pretty hard revolves around America and our democracy. The amount of contention, bullying, negativity, hate, mud throwing, etc. is taking its toll.

I personally have watched amazing people become bitter, hateful, mean and condescending online. As a result I have seen good people be emotionally hurt and become mentally damaged.

We live in country that has been founded on freedom. So I am all about people having their own opinions and feel it’s an important part of what makes our country great. But what we have witnessed this year is something I would never want to experience again. The blatant dismissal of human dignity from both Republicans and Democrats has been gut wrenching.

All that said, let me share some of the thoughts that have flooded my mind and heart. What happens when you mix the colors red and blue? Correct, you get the color purple. In doing some research on the color purple, here is what I found:

Purple combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. The color purple is often associated with power, ambition, creativity, wisdom, dignity, devotion, peace and pride.

The color purple has a variety of effects on the mind and body, including uplifting spirits, calming the mind and nerves, enhancing the sacred, increasing nurturing tendencies and sensitivity, and encouraging imagination and creativity.

Effectively purple maintains a connection with both the physical world and our soul, which makes it an excellent color to represent harmony and transformation.

If you look at the venn diagram below you will see a visual representation of what I see in my head. Let me ask you to ponder these questions as I am:

* What would America look like, feel like if we embraced those items associated with the color purple?

* What can I do to help get myself and potentially those around me into the color purple?

* What has caused me to distance myself from the color purple?

Now to make this very clear, in no way am I talking about policies or political platforms, nor am I talking about any politicians. What am I referring to the ability to co-exist with people who have different ideas, beliefs, values and even ways of expressing themselves. I am not going to allow myself to change what I believe because of how angry or hateful others get not would I want anyone to change their beliefs or positions. What I will do is strive to do my best to understand what others believe and think by listening. This does not mean I am going to change but it does allow for open communication. And guess what, if after a better understanding I take the time to learn more and if I feel that a change of my position is warranted, then I will make that decision.

I firmly believe the people are inherently good. Sure, there are going to be people who wish to do harm either emotionally and physically but that is not the norm. I do believe that we must be willing to stand-up and if needed defend what we believe. I do not believe this comes from rioting or violence, nor does it come from name calling, hateful speech, threats or bullying. Real, sustainable change comes after respectful, two-way communication.

There is no silver bullet per se but what my hope is that each of us can see how we can get closer to becoming Americans (aka purple color). It’s my belief that this is the only way that we can become a country of respect, compassion, service and understanding.

Sorry for the longer post and this does not come from a perspective of trying to start political fight. It comes from my heart as I see so many people hurting. No one wakes up in the morning hoping they get to feel hurt, people want to feel hope, happiness and stability. This will NEVER come from a politician or leader, it will only come from within, thus it is on each individual to find ways to become a great American.

America is amazing and that is because of the people who make up this country. This includes Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc. We are a country made up of many different races which is awesome. These different races are what fill our country with people that have different ideas, beliefs, values, skills and talents. What a true blessing this is and one I am so thankful for. I will end with this, there is incredible empowerment through authentic embracement.

COVID-A Personal Experience

What started as something that seemed literally continents away (6, 738 miles to be exact) and never to impact my life became as real as any life experience I have ever had. We would watch the updated numbers of Covid cases in Utah and think, that’s crazy, at least we are safe, so we thought.

I was at work when I got a text from my wife saying that someone she had been very close to had tested positive for Covid. Not only that, her husband had as well. I immediately let my supervisor know that I needed to leave to get tested for Covid.

Once I got home I went online and filled out the Test Utah pre-screen. After answering the questions, I was provided with a code, as was my wife to go get tested.

The process was fairly simple but if I am being honest, when they did the actual test, the words I can use to express my feelings were “extremely uncomfortable”. They swabbed up through our nose and I felt like they were touching my brain. However, after about 20 to 30 minutes the discomfort went away. Then the waiting game started.

Our results finally came two days after we took the test. My wife’s results was positive and mine was negative. There was for the first time a real feeling of fear and nervousness. We reviewed the steps we needed to take based on the information from the CDC. The same day we received our results I began to have symptoms of Covid. These included a cough, nausea, muscle aches and loss of smell/taste. Once we spoke with our family doctor he determined that I most likely was positive for Covid and needed to self-isolate.

Based on this information we had all three of our boys tested. Our oldest tested positive and our two others tested negative. Our home became an isolation and quarantine compound. At first things were fine as we all understood the need to take all the necessary percautions to ensure safety. However, that changed.

The change I am referring to is the mental toll that this isolation was taking on our entire family. For me personally I was riding quite an emotional rollercoaster. I had no idea how the inability to not taste and smell would have on my emotionally. I mean it created feelings of frustration, anxiety, depression, anger and loneliness. It is hard to explain exactly why I felt all these at different times but I did. As I take the time think about this there are some reasons these feelings became real. First of all was the realization that Covid was in our home after thinking for months that there is no way we would ever experience it, next was the fact that none of us could work which created an enormous amount of stress as we have bills to pay. Working from home was only an option for two of our sons. Thank goodness my wife’s boss was very understanding.

As the days went on, we all started to feel better, although I continued to not be able to taste or smell, which was important to help create feelings of hope and that we would make it through this experience. I have to say that I was so impressed how my wife handle the situation. She stayed very positive and really provided inspiration for our entire family.

At the end of the day, my personal experience with Covid was one that forced me to think a lot more about both my mental and physical health. It was a wake-up call of sorts. I am one who strives to be positive and uplifiting. I love making others smile but during these past couple of weeks, I have realized that ensuring that I take time for myself is important. I also realized how blessed I am to have friends, family and neighbors who care. Whether it was a phone call, text, comment on social media, dropping off Crumble Cookies or knowing prayers were being offered on our behalf, I am truly grateful.

All of this said, it is important to be thoughtful during these crazy times. Meaning, if you truly care about others then wear a mask, social distance as best you can, wash your hands often, if you feel any symptoms, quarantine and as needed, get tested. Covid is real and life is precious.

Thanks to all those who reached out during this experience.