Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What resolutions have you made for 2016?

Happy New Year! It’s that time again; the time of year when about 45 percent of us make at least one New Year’s resolution. Ah, yes the resolution – a firm decision to do or not to do something; a decision that equates to change. We resolve to lose weight (which by the way ranks number one on the list for most), exercise, spend less money, stop smoking, find a new career, spend more time with family and on and on and on.

By the end of six months only about half of that 45 percent will have maintained the resolution(s) they made. Oops. How can we be so committed to something on January 1 and abandon it by June 30? Research cites a number of reasons. Our resolutions may be too lofty or unrealistic, we give up too easily, we have no game plan, we choose to view things from the wrong perspective or maybe we don’t really believe in ourselves enough to make it happen. Or maybe we are making those resolutions for the wrong reasons. Are we making resolutions because everyone around us is making them? Do we somehow feel obligated? If we don’t make them will people think we aren’t motivated to do better? Bah humbug, I say! And why do we have to make them at the beginning of the year? How about we make them any time we need them?

This year, rather than making resolutions, I’m going in a different direction. Why?  Because of this quote:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” (Neil Gaiman)

Seems to me making mistakes will be a lot easier than keeping resolutions; not to mention how much I stand to learn. And who knows where that will take me? It sure gives you something to think about.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

No packages, boxes or bags?

Christmas Day is now less than 48 hours away; and for some anxiety has overtaken the true spirit of the holiday. Lines in the stores are long; filled with shoppers trying to find that one last gift, parking lots have become an “every man for themselves” experience and tempers all seem to be equipped with a short fuse.

I experienced this scenario yesterday in a local bookstore. You could feel the tension the minute you walked in – it was crowded and people were pushing and shoving; some were muttering under their breath and some were shouting their displeasure for all to hear.

Rather than wander aimlessly through the aisles, I stopped by the Information Desk for help in finding a particular book. One of the salespeople seemed a little more than flustered but was doing her best to stay professional. A customer she was assisting had just called her “stupid”.  My jaw dropped.  What an ugly thing to say to someone; especially someone trying to help you. And yet this behavior is oh so predictable when things get down to the wire. Why? Because we forget in that moment what’s really important. And that has nothing to do with packages, boxes or bags.

Dr. Seuss explains it best in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?

With that thought, my wishes to all of you for a Christmas that means a little bit more.  Happy Holidays.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, December 18, 2015

Tell me something good…

Go ahead. Tell me something good about your day. That’s what the mother of Bert and John Jacobs (the youngest of six children) asked her children at the dinner table each and every night.  It was this nightly exercise that inspired them to start their now
$100 million Life is Good T-shirt Company.

Read an article on the Internet today about the Jacobs brothers and wanted to share some of that with you on this Friday before Christmas. Why? Because basically it’s a feel –good story that I believe is especially relevant at this time of year. It really puts things in perspective.

According to the brothers, the family often went through troubled times, but the daily exercise of finding something good about the day kept them energized and optimistic even when there was little to be optimistic about. It changed their mindset and motivated them to start their company with a mission to spread the power of optimism. Instead of focusing on challenges, finding the good can bring with it new ideas, new ways of doing things, growth and success. The company tag line says it all; “Life is not perfect. Life is not easy. Life is good.”

On this day that officially marks one week until Christmas Day, tell me something good and have a happy, healthy, safe and optimistic holiday.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, December 11, 2015

It’s a sticky situation!

I have to admit that I’m a “sticky note” person. They are all around me in assorted colors and shapes; reminding me of calls to make, things to do, deadlines to meet and other assorted tasks of the day. I put them on my desk, my computer, my purse, the dashboard of my car – everywhere. While this may be disturbing to others, I confess that at one time these were like little badges of honor – calling out my ability to multitask with the best of them. Not anymore. Why? Well, I did some research and found that basically it doesn’t really work.

First of all it’s not really multitasking; it’s more like multi-switching from one task to another. Instead of increasing your productivity, researchers have found that it can reduce your productivity by approximately 40 percent! Seriously the human brain is amazing but it can only handle so much. Switching from one task to another makes it hard to block out distractions, makes it easier to lose focus and actually slows you down. So much for the “Multitasking Badge of Honor”.

Multi-switching stresses you out and can even lead to inattention blindness; that’s when you are at a point where you don’t see the obvious in front of you. In fact, a 2009 study conducted at Western Washington University found that 75% of college students who walked across a campus square talking on their cell phones did NOT notice a clown riding a unicycle nearby! Even though they were technically looking at what was around them, it wasn’t actually registering. Think about how dangerous this can be in another circumstance; say driving and trying to text at the same time.

As one person summed it up, “Multitasking is the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.”

We all know that time is a luxury and focusing on one task at a time isn’t all that practical in the hustle and bustle of every day. One researcher suggests putting things in similar batches – for instance, answering emails, going through snail mail, returning calls – things that require the same mindset. Although you will be doing several things, your mindset is focused in a common area.

For me, going cold turkey on the sticky notes would be a little extreme. Maybe I’ll just start putting them in batches. At least it’s a start. How about you?

Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, December 4, 2015

Safety isn’t a seasonal thing

I read an article the other day focused on winter safety hazards and best ways to prepare for and avoid them. You know, things like tips to prevent falls when conditions are icy and how to prevent skids on slick roads; preventing frostbite; what to do if your vehicle gets stuck in the snow; the type of things you need to look for this time of year.

Each season has its own specific set of safety risks, but the bottom line is that safety – being safe, following safety procedures and always being aware of potential safety issues – should be a daily top-of-the-mind subject; especially in the workplace.

Safety in the workplace is not something that just happens; it is planned, implemented and practiced every day. It has to be for it to work. And every employee needs to take responsibility for it. It is a top priority, not something that can be placed on the back burner, not something that there’s no budget for or even an area where you can cut corners. People’s lives and livelihoods depend on it.

Safety is serious business. It doesn’t take a break for the holidays. Please keep it top of mind and have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

Posted by MJ Thomas