Tag Archives: Urbane Lion

Connections, Expectations and Surprises: Lab-Rat Wrap Up Part 2

Back in August, when I launched the new version of Someday Syndrome, I put out a call for people interested in getting mentored around their somedays. Expecting one person to step forward, I ended up with four, all at different points in their lives deals with different somedays.

Throughout the next three months, I gave the four weekly exercises which I then dicussed on the blog here.

During the process I learned a lot about these four brave souls and a lot about myself. I learned that we are all different and have distinct challenges, but at the same time some pretty basic things motivate us: fear, desire, happiness and comfort.

Thanks to the inaugral Lab-Rats, my own ideas around Someday Syndrome have undergone a transformation. I now see how even the same motivation (e.g., fear) can manifest itself in many different ways requiring different responses.

So thank you Urbane LIon, Sal,Brett & Crista. You’ve helped me grow and I’m pretty certain I’ve done the same for you.

And now I’ll leave you with a few words from Crista and from Brett.

Crista

When I signed up to do the Lab Rat Experiment, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I thought it sounded like a great idea to achieve a few of my long-buried somedays, but I hadn’t anticipated the need to dig as deep as I did to arrive at my answers.

Each week, Alex’s questions provoked a reaction. The first week, I thought about giving him a “surface’ answer that probably would have sufficed, but I decided that if I am going to do this, I’m going to jump in. I think that’s the thing with personal change. No one really knows how much you put into it – except for you.

When this process started, I definitely felt unsettled. Aside from me being away from my family for several weeks, I had to take a look in the mirror and ask, “What do I really want?”. I had to confront the fact that I was using my family as an excuse for not pursuing and achieving my someday dreams.

Sadly, I was placing most of the blame on my husband.

Through this experience, we confronted some of those issues and we’re now in a better place. We’re sharing our someday dreams as a couple, while making sure we are fulfilling what we need individually.

Someone contacted me this week after reading one of my posts on the blog because she thought she could really use “something like that”.Her life was at a place where she was feeling frustrated, impatient, and unfocused.

Quite simply, she didn’t feel like she was achieving the things she was meant to in her life and she felt stuck.

I realized that this was how I felt when I started the Someday Syndrome journey and I’m past that now. This is definitely not what I was expected when I signed up. Thank you Alex.

Brett

I can sum it up as “time well spent”.

I have learned a lot about myself, and I have learned a lot from the experiences shared by Alex, and by my fellow Lab-Rats.

Perhaps, more importantly, I feel friendship and connection with everyone who went through this, and that is a good thing.  It is nice to know that I am not alone in my quest – while the end goal may be different, we all push towards that special goal.

We will get there, because we know it is right for us.

I highly recommend that anyone who wants to turn “someday” into “today” should contact Alex for help.  It will be time well spent.

P.S. My post from last Tuesday Dedicate Yourself to Life, Not Work was included in the second round of the Personal Development, Personal Finance and Personal Health blog carnival, developed by Jeremy Day of Insight Writer and hosted this week by Momentor.

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Measuring the Changes: Lab-Rat Wrap Up Part 1

  • Someday Lesson: Experiments have little value unless you measure the results.

Since we’re wrapping up the inaugural Lab-Rat experiment, I wanted to find out what changed for the Lab-Rats as a result of the experiment. Next week we’ll do the final wrap up.

I wasn’t at all surprised by the responses. The Urbane Lion who pretty much lives someday-free had very little to say. Brett, who was already well on his way towards achieving his dreams added a bit more, as did Sal for whom this experiment confirmed that he’s on the right path.

Crista had the most to say on this topic. Of the four Lab-Rats, her life is in the most upheaval (she joined the experiment just as she was about to go back to school, causing a major change in family routines).

So, with any further ado, let see what the Lab-Rats had to say in answer to the following questions:

  • What’s one thing that has changed in your life because of this Lab-Rat experiment? Why?
  • If nothing has changed, why?

Urbane Lion

One thing for sure, these exercises have allowed me to reflect on my accomplishments and give myself some well deserved taps on the back and also allowed me to identify some of my weaknesses. I now know what areas of my life I need to work on.

I also know that I am not alone and that helps getting rid of the self pity.

Brett

To your simple question, comes a simple answer – that is not so simple, if you dig deeper.

Rather than simply urgency of thought, I feel urgency of action.

In other words, not just talking the talk, but more and more walking the walk. I can actually see what was once a someday becoming a today, in the not too distant future – and a lot of it seems to have been unfolding in the last couple of weeks. It is very exciting!

As to why – seeing what you did by example, knowing that I can do it too – I think that’s the key. Interacting with someone who has done it, and with other people who are in the middle of doing it.

It has been a very worthwhile exercise.

Sal

I would have to say that the biggest thing that has changed is that I am now quite a bit further in my freelance career. Since starting this experiment I have become a more frequent blogger and have started to team up with a few individuals to work on bigger projects.

It seems as though I have taken that large step instead of those little tip-toes which would have gotten me nowhere fast. I am now hurdling through some of the stages and it looks as though 2009 is going to be a big freelance year for me and I look to be able to bring in at least half of what I am making in my current job.

Things are unfolding more quickly than I can even imagine. Alex, your experiment to get us out of the someday syndrome is a complete success in my life. I am looking back at where I would have been now, had I just continued down the same someday path I was on. I am so far ahead of that now, the line looks like a dot.

Crista

I don’t know if this week’s exercise was a simple one – it took me two weeks to actually put my thoughts on paper. It has been a wild ride for me the last three months. I left my family for three weeks and re-discovered a little bit more about who I am, I returned to school full-time and I spoke my “somedays” out loud.

My greatest someday challenge is “I will get around to it someday”. Somewhere inside, I had a false assumption that as a mother (and wife), I was obligated to put everyone else’s needs and “somedays” ahead of my own. In fact, I would literally tell myself, I will get around to it someday, when the kids are older, when my husband isn’t busy at work, when, when, when… I always had an excuse.

I realized this when I first came across Alex’s blog and volunteered to be a Lab-Rat. This is part of the reason I volunteered.

There are two weeks that stand out for me. The first was the Pooh-Bear exercise where we were asked if we were too optimistic. Writing that post was a reality check for me because I realized I did indeed use optimism as an excuse for not making decisions. I continue to be an advocate of optimism, but since writing the post, I have been very aware of my tendency to avoid making decisions and procrastinating because of it.

Writing about procrastination and why we choose to be unhappy really had an impact on me as well. To think that fear could be masqueraded by optimism was a bit of an awakening. But then to think that I, Miss Optimism (as a friend calls me), could be procrastinating on life because deep down, I didn’t think I really deserved happiness, was challenging to accept.

I realized that I was postponing the things that made me happy and optimistically told myself, “Someday I will get around to what I really want.”

Guess what? This wasn’t making me happy, it was making me resentful.  I confronted some of my fears and made decisions I had been delaying for years.

Has it been a fun journey? No. And Yes. The process of digging deep and inviting change and discomfort into your life is never fun. However, the relationships you make along the way, and the rewards of getting through the challenge are incomparable.

My self-talk has changed. I have begun to create more boundaries around my optimism. If I seem too hopeful for too long, I ask myself the tough questions, including, “What does Crista really need and want?” I am also more aware of when I am delaying my own “somedays” for others.I still do it, because I think that is part of being a family, but I am putting a voice to some of the somedays I have, not only those of my family and friends.

Participating in the Lab-Rat experiment has been life-changing and I look forward to following the next Lab-Rats!

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How Do You Compare?

Last week, I sent the Lab-Rats the following:

As someone who sees the world in patterns, I’m prone to comparisons. Unfortunately when we compare ourselves to others we set ourselves for negative emotions like jealousy, bitterness and despair.

I talked about how I felt I’d missed the blog superstar boat in this post: One of Too Many from January of 2007.

After you read this post, answer the following questions:

  1. Do you compare yourself to others much? And do you end up in a more or less favourable light?
  2. How do you avoid generating negative emotions when you see the successes of others who are doing similar things that you’re working towards?
  3. Daniel Gilbert in Stumbling on Happiness suggests that we would be happier if we followed the advice of people doing the same things we’re doing. How often do you ask for and/or follow that advice?

(Crista excused herself this week for a girls’ weekend in a New York penthouse – a very good excuse!)

So what did the remaining Lab-Rats have to say? Let’s see:

Comparisons: Good or Bad?

Sal’s very much like me. He tends to be hard on himself and sees how poorly he’s doing in comparison to how well others are doing. We’re both also very impatient, thinking that we should take 15 minutes to achieve what others took years to master.

Brett used to be like Sal and me but his many many years of life experience have given him perspective and he now realizes that it’s better to find commonalities than to compare. Given that he’s the same age as me, I’m tempted to compare ourselves and find myself coming up short – how come I haven’t learned this yet? 😉

The Urbane Lion, being the most – ahem – mature of the group has learned how to use comparisons in a good way to boost his confidence and inspire him to new actions.

Negative Ned or Positive Pete?

Again, Sal and I are very similar. We get all Negative Ned then we get active turning the impatience with ourselves into energy to get things done. Brett and the Urbane Lion, on the other hand, recognize everyone’s uniqueness and the futility of comparisons, making the Positive Petes of the group.

Advice: Do You Take It?

Given that being Lab-Rats was a voluntary choice, I’d be surprised if any of the three said that they didn’t ask for nor listen to advice. I, however, tend like to do things on my own unless that advice is offered in a certain way. If it’s done in a comparative or prescriptive way, I get all “you can’t tell me what to do” but if it’s offered as “hey, this helped me, it might help you, too” then I’m properly grateful and figure out how I can apply what I’ve just learned to improve what I’m doing. Brett and the Urbane Lion agree, saying that they reject advice from people who live in a winner-loser mentality (Brett) or if after thinking about the advice if it goes against their system of values (the Lion).

Overall, their answers this week (and every week) made me feel honoured to be working with them. What a truly great bunch of people I have as Lab-Rats! Every single one of them is open, honest about negative moments and willing to learn from others, which in turn means we can all learn from them.

Someday Lessons:

  • Comparisons by nature aren’t bad, as long as we don’t react emotionally to them.
  • When it comes to advice, the best advice is: take suggestions but alter them to fit who you are.
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Improvising Life: Do You Play Along?

What with all my procrastinating last week, I completely forgot to send my Lab-Rats this week’s post and questions, so yesterday morning I improvised and got two responses. I’m putting the Urbane Lion’s and Crista’s responses below and then asking the rest of you to play along. Next week I’ll do a roundup of your responses like I did yesterday.

Start by reading this post: The Grand Game then answer the following:

  1. Give me an example of when you shut down instead of playing the game.
  2. Give me an example of when you wanted to say no, said yes instead and created a success of some sort.
  3. Finish the sentence: When I feel completely stuck, all I want to do

Urbane Lion’s Response

1. Give me an example of when you shut down instead of playing the game.
I like playing games. And, I’m not talking about the game of life here. Just games. Playing video games will let me blow off some of the steam. Difference is, if I get stuck in a video game, I’ll just quit. At least for a little while. Then, I’ll change my approach and try again and eventually beat it. Because I absolutely love exploring and discovering new things, I don’t give up easily. As long as I’m discovering new things and the end result is worth while, I’ll stick it to the end.

2. Give me an example of when you wanted to say no, said yes instead and created a success of some sort.
I wanted to give our kitchen a rustic Tuscan flair to it. An ordinary stainless steel sink would have stuck out like a sore thumb. Instead, I decided to pour myself a concrete sink. The plan was fairly simple (at least it seemed that way in my head). Construction of the mold caused me a few headaches. Then, the actual pouring inside the house! This whole adventure spanned over quite a few weeks (months??). Images of me giving the sink a bad time with a sledge hammer were occurring more and more often and also brought a strange feeling of peacefulness. But, I stuck it out and I am now the proud owner of a 500 lbs sink.

3. Finish the sentence:
When I feel completely stuck and all I want to do is scream at the top of my lungs and charge ahead!

Crista’s Responses

I think I play The Grand Game a lot. So when I shut down, it’s a sign that I’m tired, or losing hope and getting sick of playing. Sometimes that can be a simple shut down – like not cheering up the grumpy grocery clerk at the store. Or, it can be a more profound thing, like in my relationships after a long, tiring day. In my work with bereaved parents, my initial internal response is always, “No, I don’t want to walk this path again.” But I usually say yes because I know it purges a layer of my own grief, and I feel like I’m making a meaningful difference to someone else and there’s always a sense of success.

When I do feel completely stuck, all I want to do is retreat and recharge.

I almost play “The Grand Game” in my own mind. I think about the people who bring joy and the experiences that bring me life. And thankfully, that has allowed me to continue playing.

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Having a Good Wallow

In this last week of the no-time-to-think Lab-Rat experiment (we’ll be back to normal next week), I’m changing things up just slightly. Everyone will do everything as normal, over the weekend I’ll add a post covering my thoughts on the past four weeks and choose the best of the Someday Lessons. The winner of the best Lesson will receive a copy of Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness (my current favourite book).

Often when we allow ourselves to do nothing, our thoughts turn negative and we start focusing on all the things that are wrong and could go wrong in our lives. At that point the doing nothing turns into a pity party. Now I’m all for a good wallow – it can be cathartic as well as productive – I’ve had some of my best ideas come from trying to shake myself out of a wallow.

In December 2006, I wrote about Cancelling the Pity Party because I’d been sick for eight weeks straight and I was tired of feeling yucky and blue. Let’s find out this week how the Lab-Rats deal with self pity.

  1. When worries and stress start to get you down, do you indulge them or shut them off?
  2. How do you break yourself out of a funk?
  3. What triggers a pity party in you?

Someday Lessons:

  • Now that you know a contest is happening, I’m sure I’ll see lots of great lessons this week. 😉
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Taking Time for Nothing

Welcome to the third week of the Lab-Rat’s new maze trials. As with the last two weeks, once the Lab-Rats have answered the questions below, you get to determine what the Someday Lessons are. Enjoy yourselves and I’ll be back next week!

So far in these experiments, I’ve had the Lab-Rats consider their goals, their fears and the actions – all active, serious stuff. So today, I was going to make this post about playing but then I realized that would have been too easy for the Urbane Lion – playing is his raison d’etre! Instead, let’s talk about nothing, specifically taking time to stare at the ceiling go off into your own version of AlexWorld and just simply exist.

In my December 2006 post, The Time Fairy, I wrote a cautionary tale about not taking time for yourself. As we pursue our goals we often push ourselves to a burnout point, especially if we have family and other commitments beyond work and our personal goals. Monica Ricci wrote on her blog about the trashy television she enjoys and Erin Doland at Unclutterer.com also talked about taking time for fun, but what about nothing?

  1. If I told you to spend at least 15 minutes a day on the sofa, awake, but not doing anything, how would you feel? Relaxed, guilty, lazy, sleepy?
  2. What distractions keep you from doing nothing for a part of the day?
  3. What might you do to remove those distractions so that you can do nothing?

Someday Lessons:

  • As usual, that’s up to you… And may the best Lesson win!
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Breaking Out of Your Life

Continuing on with last week’s new maze format for the Lab-Rats, I have another answer without thinking post for them. This time it’s all about breaking free of the expected.

In my December 2006 post, Endorphin Heaven,  I talked about spontaneous actions, happiness, and breaking limits and one of my favourite movies, Legally Blonde.

Once the Lab-Rats have read the post (and no they don’t have to go watch Legally Blonde, although I do recommend it as a great example of a formulaic movie transcending its genre), they’ll come back here to answer the following questions. After that, you all get to chime in and provide everyone with your ideas for some Someday Lessons derived from the Lab-Rats answers.

Questions:

  1. How spontaneous are you? Can you go off and explore sothing new on a whim or do you need to plan new experiences?
  2. If you’ve done something extraordinary recently, take a moment to compare it to a moment in the past – does it appear more or less extraordinary in comparison?
  3. Have you ever experienced a personal limit shattering moment? How did it make you feel?

Someday Lessons:

  • I look forward to seeing many of them in the comments! Remember – the writer of the best Lesson will be rewarded in November.
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