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Tag Archives | Evolve

Is Life Really That Complicated?



Life is complex, but sometimes I think we make it more complicated than it has to be. (Feel free to tweet that :)

I am blessed or cursed (two-sides, same coin) with an immense curiosity about oh so many things, some very important and useful things and some trivial, nonsensical things.

For example, today I have been wondering about why some people are happy and some are not,…why some are strong-willed and some more passive…what we can do to solve our financial crisis…why my sister got all of the imagination and artistic skills while I got the head for numbers and facts…how I can make my youngest son clean his room and hand in his homework…why I can’t remember to run the dishwasher…and why we can make electronics that talk to us and think for us, but we can’t make pants that don’t collect dog hair…

I like to make sense of things, to put them in order, to pick them apart and look for answers. It’s the ultimate paradox of information – attempt to search for and ingest every piece of information on a topic available, then try to compress it all down to a simple, straightforward answer.

It often drives those around me nuts…

I want simple answers to life’s complex questions…and I think you do as well.

The point of what I do here on the Productive Life Concepts blog is not to choose the most popular keywords and to try to write the most eye-catching headlines so that I can get the most website traffic. It doesn’t provide my income (in fact it costs me money and countless hours each month.) It’s not my job…but it is my passion.

If I’m looking for better answers, I suspect others are as well. If I’m curious, I suspect others are as well. If I have an opinion, I expect others do as well. If I’m struggling, I expect others are as well.

It’s an excuse to indulge my curiosity, to ask interesting questions, to find answers that help me and that might be of use to others. And as I evolve, so will it, as will we all…one can only hope.


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The 3 E’s – What Do They Mean? Why You Should Care?

To my way of thinking there are three aspects or necessary components to growing in life, work, fulfillment, success, balance, relationships, anything really.

Explore, Expand, Evolve

This sort of sums up my philosophy of both my work and my life.

You really need all three to be your most effective, to live your best life, to have your most successful career. They work together, building on one another and circling back and forth to form an intricate web which is the foundation for all growth, in business and in life.

But what do these words mean? How do they apply to you? To your business? To your life?

Here’s the boiled-down Cliff Notes version of my understanding and my practice.

Explore = Assess

  • Look at the situation, the problem, the reality, the goal
  • Learn more about options, choices, motivations, thought and behavior patterns
  • Generate ideas, contemplate possible solutions
  • Who am I? As a person, as a professional?
  • What am I doing? Or not doing?
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • What is missing? Or what is not working?

Expand = Move forward

  • Be more productive
  • Formulate a plan
  • Take action
  • What do I need to do to get from A to B, or A to F?
  • Where can I get help?
  • How can I best use my time?

Evolve = Change

  • What do I need to change?
  • What isn’t working?
  • Where am I stuck?
  • Do I need to shift my focus?
  • How do I need to revise my plans and strategies?
  • Do I need to modify my behaviors?
  • Are there patterns or habits that need to change?
Your Mini-Mission for this week: How can you apply the 3E’s to your life or business?

Leave a comment or share on our Facebook page.

Just joining us… Find all of the Mini-Missions here…

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Why You Need to LET IT GO

10 of 365 - Let Go
Image by admitchell08 via Flickr

We often get stuck in the status quo, not quite understanding how that is contributing to our frustration or unhappiness. We live in a cycle, just as does everything in nature. There will be ebb and flow, contraction and expansion. Life is not meant to be stagnant, but in order for that to happen, we must recognize the need to move forward. The first step in that process is learning to let go.

What do you need to let go of?

Have you outgrown your job, your partner or a friendship perhaps? Do you need to let go of something physical like your home or belongings? Is there a habit, routine or tradition that no longer serves you? Do you need to release negative thinking, judgement, criticism or control?

It can be scary and uncomfortable, but it is necessary to let go of the old to make room for new experiences, change, and growth. (You can tweet that…I like to share)

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The Secret to Creating Positive Habits


Forming new habits is hard; breaking bad habits can be even harder. Trying to change our patterns of behavior isn’t easy once we’ve become accustomed to doing (or not doing) things a certain way. That’s why they’re called “habits.”

The main reason so many resolutions fail is not using the right strategy. You can stack the odds of success in your favor by understanding the nature of habit and by following a clear strategy.

Assess the habit you want to make or break

Observation is key to understanding the habit or lack of ability to create the habit you want. The three components are the Trigger, the Action, and the Pay-off.

Determine the Action

  • What habit do you want to create/stop?
  • What is the specific action that is happening or that you want to happen?

Determine the Trigger

  • Think about what happens right before the action.
  • What situation, person, thought, or circumstance triggers the action?
  • If you’re creating a habit, what could you use for a trigger?

Determine the Pay-off

  • Why do you do this action? Or why do you want to?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • What are you really looking for?

Make a change

Change whichever of these is the problem.

Break a habit:

  • Think of a different behavior that will give the same pay-off.
  • Question if you really want that pay-off.
  • Change or remove the trigger.

Create a habit:

  • You know the desired action.
  • Can you think of a trigger you can use or create that will remind you to take the action?
  • Make sure your reward is strong enough.

Two examples

The afternoon candy bar – During the midafternoon break you hit the vending machine for your daily Snickers bar.

  • Action – The action is pretty clear here.
  • Trigger – What happens right before? You look at the clock, others in the office are taking a break, your stomach grumbles.
  • Pay-off – What is the real pay-off? Are you hungry? Bored? Tired? Need to get away from your desk?
  • Solutions – go for a walk, eat a piece of fruit, close your office door, etc.

Morning exercise:

  • Action – Get your butt moving.
  • Find a trigger – Put your sneakers by the side of the bed or in front of the coffee maker, arrange to meet an exercise buddy, set a reminder on your phone, etc. For me it’s the school bus. Every morning, when my son leaves for school, I wave goodbye, grab my sneakers and go. Odd trigger, but it works.
  • Make sure the pay-off is strong enough – Fitting into my skinny clothes isn’t strong enough for me, but staying healthy, strong, and active for my grandson (and future babies) is. Grandma in the rocking chair doesn’t cut it for me. He loves to bounce and giggle while he’s in the jogging stroller and I carry him in one arm while I vacuum with the other – he weighs a lot, so I need some muscles. As I age, I want to run up and down the soccer field or run around the bases without getting winded, ride bikes, go hiking and more.  This is very important to me…important enough to lace up those sneakers when I’m dying to sit and have another cup of coffee…

Some important tips

Change one habit at a time – You’ll see the best results if you focus on only one habit at a time. We only have so much energy and attention to spare. The secret is to build one habit on top of another, letting one success propel you to the next. Momentum is a beautiful thing.

Make it defined and doable – Be very specific about the behavior to be changed. I want to run a marathon, lose 20 pounds, earn more money are goals, not habits. Habits are specific behaviors done consistently that form a pattern. Take a walk every day, do my most important task before I check e-mail, go to bed by 10, make my bed every morning, be on time for appointments, those are all habits.

Small and simple – Smaller is generally easier. Sweeping change is incredibly difficult. Gradual and lasting change starts with small changes and builds. Exercising for 20 min., then as that becomes easier make it longer. Instead of getting up or going to bed an hour earlier, try moving it up slowly. Swap out the afternoon cookie, then tackle the late night snacking.  

Accountability – Track your success (or failure) as you go along ( on paper or electronically.) Tell someone and ask him or her to check in on a regular basis. Get a habit buddy. Establishing accountability strengthens our commitment and acts as incentive.

Most of us have a list of habits we want to change, but we just haven’t been able to get it done. Contrary to popular opinion (usually our own) it’s usually not because we’re lazy or weak-willed, it’s just a matter of having the right approach.

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Why a Better Life Is So Elusive For Most

Most of us will admit to a profound desire for a better life. We want more, better, easier.

But what exactly does a better life look like?

For some reason, probably many reasons, the answer is startlingly difficult to explain.  Ask around, see what kind of answers you get…including the answer in your own head. You’ll probably hear a lot of…Hmm…Well…I think…

The biggest reason that many of us aren’t living our version of “a better life,” is because we don’t even know what that means.

We’re just tiny ants being drawn to a picnic – a promise of the bountiful life – that we can’t see, can’t exactly understand, and worst of all, somebody keeps moving the feast.

So, before we start chasing the rainbow, perhaps we ought to know what we want to be in the pot of gold…

I’ll be pondering this question right along with you…I’ll share my answer in the next post and I hope you’ll share yours.

One thing I do know… Your answers and mine will help shape the direction and focus of this blog, my career and the decisions we all make tomorrow and beyond.

Consider carefully…

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