Cara Lumen, Your Idea Optimizer, creator of the Magnetic Content Development System says, “A good decision-making process will consistently help you make choices that produce the best results. Having a conscious system for making decisions is very freeing. Once you establish your individualized technique and learn to trust it you will be unstoppable!”
The pilots call it “down time.” Musicians may refer to it as “between sets.” It could be the time between jobs or between tasks, but whatever you call it we’re referring to those unfilled moments in which you find yourself with nothing to do. How you fill those open spaces can make all the difference in what comes next. Here are six ways to use those open times for inner work.
1. Reflection: What did you accomplish?
I particularly like the week between Christmas and New Year. For me it is a time to examine the year just completed, to acknowledge what I accomplished and plan the year ahead. I begin by looking for what really worked. That acknowledgement is very important. If you take time to list all you have done you may be both surprised and pleased. Maybe you want to call it a “Gratitude List” rather than an “Acknowledgment List.” Write down your successes, you’ll find you have a lot to be grateful for.
2. Contemplation: What do you want to change?
Of course, some things didn’t work and we get to give gratitude for them too because they contained our lessons. We found out that we didn’t know how to do it, or people didn’t want it, or the timing was off, or, or, or… Looking at our less-than-successful ventures gives us insights into what not to do next time or how to do it differently if we choose to try it again. What lessons did you learn?
3. Decisions: What do you want more of?
Some things were absolute joys for us so of course we want more. What made them happen? What parts of it made it so invigorating? A little examination of what happened, what its components were and why it happened helps us take a giant step toward attracting more of the same. What do you want more of in your life?
4. Values: What qualities do you want to attract?
Whether you are contemplating next year or next quarter or next week or next day, what qualities do you want to be there for you? I’m a bit too much of a loner so I’ve decided to embrace the quality of willingness to be more social. Within 24 hours I had a most rewarding conversation with someone I knew only slightly. We deepened our understanding of each other and it warmed my heart. The next day another new friend felt comfortable in asking me to drive her somewhere. Another friendship expanded all because of my willingness to be more social. What qualities do you want to have evident in your life?
5. Choice: What you focus on you get
It’s very simple. What you look for you will see. What you focus on you will attract. If you look for negativity you will see a lot of it. If you look for positive reinforcement you will see how much there is of that around you. Notice the words you use. Are they “I can’t,” or “I can” phrases? Notice what you expect to happen – good things or bad. Once you are aware of what you are focusing on you have a choice to consciously start focusing on and expecting only the good.
6. Take charge: You are the director of your life
I play weekly cards with a woman that when I first started I found to be very, very judgmental about how I played the game that was new to me. It showed in the tone of her voice, in her judgmental sighs (you’ve heard those) and her attitude. Now I know that I always have a choice: I can hang out with people whose positive energy I like and not be with people whose energy is negative. I privately mentioned to another one of the card players that if that judgmental-ness kept up I might not play cards. It was just a concerned comment and the expression of an awareness on my part that I had a choice. I have a feeling she told the woman for the latter gradually began to change. And a few evenings later the woman said, “This is so much fun!” Because she had changed her attitude, that had changed our responses to her.
You are the director of your life. What you say, what you think, what you look for, what you do, all influence those around you and their reactions to you. If you do nothing else in those quiet, reflective spaces of time, look at what you want to change about yourself. What do you need to let go of? What do you need to do more of? How can YOU change? Then do it.
Use your open time to contemplate, to rest in the unfilled spaces and simply see what shows up. Look within and see how balanced you are. What does your body need? What does your soul need? Use these pauses to reflect and make new choices based on what you find within. Open spaces are for inner work. Use them wisely.
I have never fit in. I’ve always been marching to a slightly different beat. Oh, it may not have been terribly noticeable – I am socially acceptable – but I felt the difference in the choices I made and the areas that drew my interest and my passion.
I get bored with people who are only reminiscing. Give me people who are planning and thinking and visioning of what they can do next. I love to create new projects and I am not suited to simple maintenance once it exists.
I settled for helper jobs when I was in the work force rather than taking the leadership position. Part of that was because I took 16 years out of the work force to raise a family. When I returned to work after a divorce, I had changed and I couldn’t catch up.
What if I had been a man? I was a television personality in my 20’s. What if I had continued to pursue that? A man could have a family and continue his career. Women do it now today to a certain extent – in my day not so much. I love my children and I love my brain. I’m glad I’ve gotten to enjoy both in my lifetime.
You make your own path
When you don’t feel you fit in, when you are not attracted to repeatable tasks in a job, or buck at not being in control of the direction you are being led, you need to go chart your own journey. And that means finding your passion and following it. What do you love to do? What cause touches your heart? What do you value most? What gifts have you been given that you have a burning desire to share? Let your passion and your gifts guide you into your perfect place of service.
What needs fixing that you can change?
Seth Godin has made public his Domino Project in which he is teaming with Amazon to change how books are published. It will eliminate the middle man and because the books will be virtual there is unlimited shelf space unlike book stores. He’s creating new opportunities an area of service that is being forced to change because of new inventions like all the reader platforms. That’s being a thought leader.
What I saw that needed help was the difficulty entrepreneurs continually have sorting out all the ideas that continually spring up in their minds. The hardest part of starting anything new – a business, a book, a course – is in having so many ideas you don’t know where to begin. So I have created a repeatable system that helps you make your best decisions and filter your ideas into the perfect format to reach and teach your target community.
Look around at your target community – those people you have chosen to serve – and see what they need from you that you are willing to provide. Then go make it happen.
Be your own guide
I started to write “be your own boss” until I realized that is a word from being employed and we are taking about the freedom of being unemployed by others. So when you choose this route you have to be your own guide, your own motivator, your own planner, your own leader, your own visionary and inspiration. There is both freedom and responsibly in that. Not everyone wants to take that path, but if that’s you, then that’s the role you have to take.
Join your peers for support
A peer mentor happens organically. I have two and may have found a third. One has been my friend for 12 years – we share similar interests but her expertise is different than mine so she knows things I don’t. The second one I met when we shared a professional training. She is forward thinking and is exploring a similar direction so we share interests. She too knows things I don’t. In both cases we share resources and talk over ideas and coach and encourage each other on our process. Keep an eye out for your own peer mentors.
Follow other thought leaders
The beautiful thing about the internet is the rapid circulation of ideas. Find people in your field who are ahead of you and learn from them. Find people who are thinking ahead, who are challenging what exists and add their ideas to your thinking as you create your own journey.
Being so true to yourself that you are unemployable by others is beautiful. Guiding yourself along your passion is magic.
© 2010 Cara Lumen
by Cara Lumen
Every quarter I take time for a look around to see what’s working – and what’s not. And I ask myself some questions that help me decide what I want to do. Am I having a good time doing it? Is it getting results? What is missing in my life? What is the project I’ve been putting off that is perfect to do right now? How can I think bigger? Do I want to grow bigger or am I the right size for a healthy balance right now? Asking yourself the right questions will help you clarify your desires and make the right choices for this point in your life.
What do your emotions tell you?
We’re living our lives because we have a gift to give – an idea to share – someone to inspire. We are hopefully following our passion as we make our choices. How do you feel at the start of your day? Are you excited? Or would you rather go back to bed? When you are aligned with your passion you will go charging off into your day with enthusiasm and full commitment. If you are not aligned you will know it – it’s simply not as much fun.
Let your emotions be your barometer. How do you feel when you are around that person, or working in that group? Fire some friends if necessary; get new ones that will support you in the direction you are moving. You deserve it. Make yourself happy by your choices.
See what is needed and how it is looked for
I had an interesting insight from something my friend Sharon Sayler www.sharonsayler.com said. She suggested I write down the words the people used on Google to find the type of services I offer. I’m Your Idea Optimizer and I help you organize and focus your ideas into products and content that inspire and motivate people in your chosen community. But guess what, no one is going to go type in “organize my ideas” when they search on Google. So I have to get clear what they are looking for and what problem I will solve for them.
I think the people who will want what I have to offer have a lot of great ideas and 1) are bouncing around from one to another because they don’t know how to choose the best one and 2) they know a lot and want to teach it to others. So their problem is they don’t know where to start and how to select the best ideas for each project. So words like “great content” or “information products” express their need.
See what your target community needs that you offer and how they search for it on Google. Then adjust your content to reflect those phrases.
Identify how to communicate what you do
In all my content, my landing pages, my information products, I need to find words that help my target community identify with a problem I fix and to emotionally appeal to them so they come check out what I offer. What questions will they ask? What words will they look for to identify their need?
In my case, someone may search on “how to create information products.” Or “how to make money on the internet”. Or “how to write good content for my blog.” What you type into Google determines the accuracy of your search results just as the questions you ask yourself about what you offer and why you offer it determine the success of your content.
Decide what you want to offer – then offer it
You can’t be all things to all people. You have to choose. My problem is that I can help a lot of people do a lot of different things and that’s too broad a niche. I need to choose. I need to look at my passion and see what makes my heart sing. For me it’s writing – organizing ideas into content that enlightens and motivates and changes lives. That makes my choices very clear. I focus my services and products around helping people organize their ideas into meaningful content.
Are you asking yourself the right questions?
Asking yourself the right questions will clarify your focus. It will help you change direction or keep going the way you are. Make a list of questions you can ask yourself that will make you weigh and consider every choice, that will help you identify your passion and help you follow it, and will make certain the people you are meant to serve know what you can do for them.
Getting the answers to the right questions will keep you in touch with your passion and guide you on a rewarding journey of service.
2010 Cara Lumen
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- How to Stay Positive During Rocky Times
- How To Talk About What You Do So People Get It
- Build your Online Business through Signature Information Products
- How to Organize Your ideas So People Get What You Say