I am back after what has felt like forever. I have been dealing with one illness after another sweeping through my family and so much business that I just couldn’t write a thing, let alone even sit at my computer for more than ten minutes. But I am back on track now and still working through my “Change Your Life Challenge”. If you don’t know what this is or need a refresher, you can check out this post.

I am warning you up front that because I am playing a bit of catch-up here, this post will be longer than normal. I will try hard to keep it as short as I possibly can.

Toolbox Step #5: Moments of Magic

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

Have you ever noticed how you can be with someone in the exact same place, experience the exact same event, but yet have two completely different memories of what had occurred? That is what this step focuses on. While you were both in that same space and time, you were both focusing on different things. Your focus created your reality of the event and whatever the other person was focusing on influenced their reality of what had occurred.

When we move through life without focus, all of the little tedious tasks that make up our every day tend to become automatic. We begin to shift to an “autopilot” mode.   Brook mentions in her book that, “Living on autopilot created days, weeks, months, and years of missing magical moments.”

I know that I am guilty of living on autopilot a lot more than I really want to admit right now, but I am here to be transparent, right? It’s those days when my husband comes home from work and asks what I did all day. I am sitting there stunned because I can’t believe it’s time for him to be home already? Where did the time go? What did I really do today? My kids did their school work, but that only took a few hours. There was lunch, but then that didn’t take long either. Do you see what I mean? How many moments were lost that could have been special on those days? How many memories could we have made?

Brook suggests asking yourself a few questions to help you realize how you can make “Moments of Magic” throughout your day:

  • Did you have coffee this morning? If so, were you aware of what cup you chose? Did you choose your favorite cup? — I had some hot chocolate and yes, I chose my favorite mug.
  • When you passed someone or a pet you cared for today, did you tell them so? — I did pass by my daughter and I gave her a hug.
  • Look at what you are wearing. Is it an outfit that makes you feel good? Did you pick it because you like it? Did you add any accessories? — I am wearing my favorite yoga pants and my husband’s hoodie. I am wearing them because we are in the middle of a snowstorm and I want to be comfortable. I do feel good wearing the yoga pants though because my husband always compliments me in them.

She has a few more questions in the book that you can check out, but they were not really relevant to me as I wrote this post. They involved being out and about, and well, I mentioned the snowstorm and that has kind of kept me inside. There is one question that Brook kept asking over and over that, I found important: “Is there something you can do differently tomorrow that brings simple pleasure and awareness?”

I am now more aware of the little moments, and I look for opportunities to create joy. Brook suggests using the index cards from the kit we put together at the beginning of this challenge to record these “Moments of Magic” so that you can look back at these special memories you have created throughout the years.

Toolbox Step #6: Soul Food

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.” — Frank Outlaw

I agree with that quote above so much. But I think that I would have to add, pay attention to what you watch and listen to because they become your thoughts.

This step is all about positive, inspirational quotes and affirmations. When we read these quotes and affirmations, they make us think good thoughts and well, you know the rest.

These cards are called the “Soul Food Personal Power Deck”. This is still a work in progress, but I will be sure to share some of these in the future on social media. There are some tips to help you make your own “Soul Food Personal Power Deck”:

  • Collect any inspiring quotes, affirmations, song lyrics, compliments, sentences from books or lines from a movie/tv show that you like.
  • Whenever you come across one of these gems or someone gives you one, write it down in your CAN.
  • Make some time on a regular basis to transfer these gems to index cards. You can use your own handwriting or make them on a computer and print them out.

Brook left a few sources in her book for inspiration: www.quotegarden.com, www.thinkexist.com, www.quoteworld.org.

Toolbox Step #7: The Five-Minute Rule: Stopping The To-Do List Virustoolbox

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“The Five-Minute Rule: If something can be done in five minutes or less — DO IT NOW!” Brook Noel tells us that we shouldn’t add anything to our to-do list if it will take five minutes or less. She writes that “It will take more time and energy to write down, manage, and keep thinking about than it will take to get it done.”

I love the “Do It Now” principle, but it doesn’t always seem to become a habit of mine. I am hoping with this challenge that will change and I am working hard to make that change. This rule applies to every area of our lives to even whether or not to answer the telephone.

I am finding that as I work on making this rule more of a habit in my life, my kitchen is looking cleaner and I don’t have clean laundry thrown all over the couch. Maybe I can get the rest of the family on board too.

Toolbox Step #8: The Five-Minute Relationship Miracle

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” — Carl W. Buechner

The Five-Minute Relationship Miracle is all about listening. Not just hearing passively, but listening actively. It is about honing our listening ability so that we can prevent miscommunications.

toolboxThis is exactly what we have been accusing our husbands of doing for years. They come home and we want to tell them things that have been on our minds all day. Rather than disturb them at work, we hold it all in. By the time these words come flooding out of our mouths it is so overwhelming that our husbands are only listening passively. This is especially true if there is something else vying for his attention like sports, kids, or in my house, the news.

Passive hearing is also present when someone is interrupting a lot in the middle of a conversation. They are not really hearing what is being said because they are more worried about what they are going to say next. They are not really responding to the other person’s side of the conversation because they don’t really know what that person was going to say. The other person was interrupted before getting it all out.

The Five-Minute Relationship Miracle can improve any relationship just be truly listening to the other person. Each day, choose someone you feel could benefit from your focused attention. This could be your husband, children, parents, siblings, friends, anyone you want to choose. Take five minutes and:

  • Focus only on that person. This means NO multitasking. I know as women, and especially mothers, we are the queens of multitasking, but that also means that your focus is divided and that is how active listening turns to passive hearing.
  • Listen to only that person. Try not to let your mind wander and do not think ahead to how you are going to respond.
  • See them for how they are. This is not about you. You bring no goals, agendas or preconceived notions to the table here. See this person for who he or she is and let that be enough.
  • You can use nonverbal communication. You can use touch if and where appropriate. Maintain good eye contact and make sure your arms are not crossed. That way they will feel more comfortable talking to you and listening back when need be.

I have been trying this with my husband lately and he has been surprised to find that I am really hearing what he is telling me. When he starts to repeat something because he assumes I didn’t hear him the first time, I can smile and say that I remember talking about that. I can tell that it makes him feel like he is important to me. Even in the little things.

Toolbox Step #9: The Five-Minute Motivator

“Our real problem is not our strength today; it is rather the vital necessity of action today to ensure our strength tomorrow.” — Calvin Coolidge

This is one of the steps in the toolbox that I think I need the most. I am a habitual procrastinator with a motto of “Do It Later”. This can become a never-ending cycle.

Brook suggests picking from one to my top Life Areas from my Action Plan. I only have about 30 seconds to do this to keep from overthinking my decision. I then set a timer for five minutes and TAKE ACTION. It is as simple as that.

Just deciding to take action and then setting the timer helps motivate you to move forward. This isn’t something that you put off, because after all, it is only five minutes and if something will take five minutes or less then we are told in Step #7 to “DO IT NOW”.

I have only really done this a couple of times so far, but I am hoping that the simple step of taking action rather than living by my old motto of “Do It Later” will be just the push I need. After all, five minutes isn’t really a long time. It’s about the length of the average tv commercial break. And Brook reminds us in the book that “someday isn’t a day of the week,” and that “whenever you are stuck, frustrated, or thinking too much instead of taking action, stop and do five minutes of a task.”

Well, there you have it. Those are the Toolbox Steps #5 – 9. I hope that maybe you are getting something out of these steps and blog posts. I know I am. If you know of someone who could use this information, please share it and don’t forget to comment below with your thoughts or suggestions.