Posts Tagged ‘decisions’

Decisions, Decisions!

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Click here to read my English Usage blogs.

Should I take this job or that one? This one offers security but is boring and has little room for advancement; that one offers a chance to grow but carries economic risks.
Should I get this car or that one? This car gets better gas mileage; that one is more fun to drive but has fewer seats.
Should I buy a home or rent? Housing prices may still drop so maybe it’s better to keep renting; but if I buy now, will the tax break offset the higher price?
Should I try to get pregnant now or wait? My relationship with my husband is wobbly so maybe we should wait; but my clock is ticking, and what if I can’t conceive later?

Decisions, decisions! We face choices—big and small—constantly. Even the decision between two good things, such as a vacation in the sun or one on the ski slopes, can cause us anxiety. How do we decide how to decide?

Most of us poll our family or friends. After all, they know us and will probably have some good pros and cons to offer us. But have you ever listened to their valuable advice, nodding your head in agreement, then walked away feeling just as confused or undecided as before? Why is it that some decisions are so hard to make?

Indecisiveness is sometimes a clue that we’re not considering the right criteria. For example, if you’re choosing a car, instead of starting with the sticker price or the fuel economy, you might want to ask yourself what it is you want to experience. Are you looking for fun? Is status important? Do you want to reduce your carbon footprint? Do you want to drive on all the school field trips? Do you want the safest car, short of a military tank, because you have a teenager about to get her driver’s license? By asking what you want to experience, you give the message to yourself that you are worthy.
When you remind yourself that you are worthy of choosing according to your own intrinsic criteria, clarity is sometimes instantaneous. You may say to yourself, “Of course, this is what I wanted all along. Why did I make it so hard for myself?” Maybe all you had to do was clear out the other “voices in your head”—the ones that said “I shouldn’t want this.” “This is too nice for me.” “Others will judge me for wanting this.” “I don’t deserve this.”

However, even using your own criteria for deciding, you may still feel confused. Why? Because your mind and spirit may be arguing so effectively that you can’t tell who’s who. If you want to know what your spirit wants, here’s a quick exercise: Close your eyes and imagine a traffic light. Then think about one of your alternative choices. Quickly, what color do you see: green or red? Now think about the other choice. Quickly again, what color do you see? Green is your spirit’s choice. (Yes, it’s possible that your spirit will see green with more than one alternative because it may be fine with more than one choice.)

What if your spirit didn’t see green with any of your choices? Then maybe it’s time to look into more options. We can get caught up in either/or thinking: I can pick this car or that one, this job or that one. Maybe there are more alternatives that you haven’t even considered that would result in a green light. Don’t limit yourself prematurely, especially with self-talk like, “I would never…” I worked with a single woman in her mid-thirties who said, “I would never have children without a mate.” She also told me, “I would never marry a man who already has children.” Well, by the time she was forty and still single, she was questioning her strong stances. By forty-two, she had adopted two children and couldn’t imagine her life any other way. At forty-three, she met a man through her single-parent support group and guess what? She’s now married raising four children. When I last saw her, she laughed as she told me, “Jane, at 35 I thought I had to play it smart. I know now that all I had to do was listen to what I really wanted and things would work out.”

Things do tend to work out when we promise ourselves that we won’t regret our decisions as long as we honor our criteria, come from worthiness, and listen to our spirit.

Announcements

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For over 20 years, Jane Straus has coached individuals and groups, facilitated organizational retreats, conducted training programs, and presented keynotes for corporations and nonprofits nationwide.
To get exceptional results from coaching and training, you need someone who knows how to assess blind spots as well as enhance strengths. Jane’s coaching helps individuals and groups maximize their potential and improve their productivity and work relationships. Jane works to ensure that each client receives the wisdom, skills, and support he/she needs to succeed and often co-facilitates with industry-specific leaders who have chosen to mentor the next generation.
Contact Jane directly at Jane@janestraus.com to discuss your coaching or training needs or visit JaneStraus.com for more information and testimonials.

Click here to read Jane’s article in USA Today on the lessons we can glean from celebrity breakups.
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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation 10th Edition
Amazon’s #1 Bestseller in Four Categories!
#1 in Reading
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An indispensable tool for busy professionals, teachers, students, home-school families, editors, writers, & proofreaders. Click here to see the contents of the book online. Plus 161 Subscription Quizzes that can be done online with instant answers or downloaded and copied to your heart’s content! Only $29.95/year. Discounts available for schools, bookstores, and multiple copies. Click to order

When Opportunity Knocks…

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

…or as we say in California, when the Universe says “Yes!” Have you ever gotten exactly what you wished for and then, moments later, felt your stomach tighten, your heart race, your mind screaming the admonishment, “What have I done?!”

Why is it sometimes more comfortable wanting something than actually manifesting it? Recently, I worked with a couple who very much wanted to take a cruise. They had two children, a mortgage, and jobs that didn’t allow for a lot of luxuries. But they saved their pennies and then spotted a great deal on the exact cruise they had been longing to take. Without hesitation, they reserved their room. Minutes after doing so, they looked at each other in horror. The “what ifs” flooded in. “What if one of us gets seasick—or all of us? What if the kids are bored? What if the weather isn’t good and we have to stay inside our tiny room? What if the house needs an emergency repair and we can’t pay for it because we spent it all on the cruise? What did we just do?!”

This reaction to “pulling the trigger” is referred to by realtors and auto sales people as “buyers’ remorse.” It is characterized by a sudden emotional shift from elation to panic to regret, usually accompanied by the thought, “I’m a fool.” Why do we go through this kind of torture at a time when we could be enjoying ourselves?

One possibility, of course, is that we really could be making an unwise decision. But this certainly isn’t the only reason for beating ourselves up moments after getting what we have worked for or longed for. The other possibility is that we don’t really believe we deserve the cruise, the job, the car, the house—the relationship.

Two nights before my wedding twenty years ago, I had a sudden meltdown. My soon-to-be husband was baffled as I sat on the couch and cried, wondering if maybe I didn’t really want to marry him. But confused as he was, he realized that something else was at work when I blubbered, “If you knew who I really was, you wouldn’t want to marry me.”

What had bubbled up to the surface of my consciousness was the belief that I didn’t deserve him, that I was “damaged goods,” a “broken cookie,” the sum total of a somewhat sordid sexual past that included being molested and then behaving promiscuously. When I read in the newspaper last year about the “Runaway Bride,” I thought, “That could have been me 20 years ago.” (Of course, I don’t know her story but you get my point.)

My almost-husband, in the face of my “unworthiness,” consoled me with words that were sweet and kind, reminding me that he knew my history and that he didn’t define me by my past. I had to either take in what he was saying or be right about being unworthy and then call off the wedding. Well, the outcome is obvious but the lesson remains with me to this day.

Whenever I wish for something now, I ask myself if I have any lingering doubts about my worthiness. If I do, I try to work on this before booking the vacation, sending my latest manuscript to my agent, or pitching my great idea for a TV show to network executives. What I notice is that the issue of worthiness doesn’t necessarily have a price tag. Even small pleasures like a manicure can bring up the issue of worthiness.

So the next time you find yourself sucking in your breath after doing something loving, challenging, exciting, or healing for yourself, ask yourself if you are doubting your worthiness. If so, back yourself up from the edge of this cliff by practicing affirmations and rejecting limiting beliefs. Remind yourself that you are not a product of others’ judgments of you or simply the sum total of your past mistakes. You, like me, are worthy of self-care, compassion, and companionship.

Announcements

Create Your Abundant Life NOW!

at Club Med in Cancun!
June 21-28, 2008

Enjoy the beautiful beach, delicious food, and luxurious setting while experiencing enriching programs by renowned self-help leaders, including a NEW program that I am offering:

Create Your Abundant Life NOW!

How do you know if you have limiting beliefs around abundance?
Just ask yourself:
Do I believe that abundance is that which already exists?

If you can’t answer that question with a resounding YES!, then don’t waste any more of your life suffering in lack.

Here’s another test of your abundance quotient:

Do you feel that you don’t have enough:

* Time
* Money
* Energy
* Love
* Intimacy
* Fun
* Self-esteem
* Inspiration, or
* Direction

There is a Buddhist saying that no enemy can harm us as much as our own worst thoughts. Three kinds of negative thoughts stop us from manifesting abundance:

* Fear
* Self-judgments
* Limiting beliefs

Any one of them can sabotage us, keep us stuck in a rut, stress us out, cause us confusion, or make us want to give up.

You will experience cutting-edge strategies and intriguing processes so that you will begin immediately to manifest your spirit’s deepest desires.

Price: Get your Friend of Jane discount $1999 (regular price $2600)/$1000 for children under 18, which includes lodging, meals, airport transportation, and all programs. Check out this beautiful, newly renovated Club Med for yourself.
Luminaries Joining Jane as Presenters:

Cameron Johnson: You Call the Shots

Maybe you’ve watched Cameron on the Big Give with Oprah – now meet him in person. Cameron is recognized as one of the most successful young entrepreneurs in the world. Over the last eight years, Cameron has given hundreds of speeches worldwide. Cameron is also the author of the international bestselling book, “You Call the Shots.” Cameron will inspire you with his story and motivate you to the next level of success.

Teresa Rodriguez Williamson: Build Your Personal Mission Statement

Teresa is the creator and founder of TangoDiva.com—a worldwide online social network and travel magazine for women. She is also the author of “FLY SOLO: The 50 Best Places on Earth for a Girl to Travel Alone.” She has appeared on hundreds of TV shows, magazines, and newspaper articles around the world. Teresa will teach you how to create and build a mission statement that can guide you to success.

Chet Holmes: How to Double Your Sales

Super Strategist of the Fortune 500, Chet Holmes had more than 60 of the Fortune 500 as clients, taking his place as America’s top marketing executive, trainer, strategic consultant, and motivation expert. He is the author of the NO.1 bestselling book, “The Ultimate Sales Machine.” Chet will teach you how to double your sales – no matter what your business is.

Stephen Pierce: The Art of More

For many, Stephen Pierce’s name is synonymous with success. Recognized as one of the world’s leading Internet marketers and Business Optimization Strategists, Pierce wears several hats when it comes to his businesses. He will teach you how to expand your business in a competitive world.

Spike Humer: Consciously Creating Your Future

Dedicated to the passionate pursuit of creating joy, excellence, and positive abundance in life, health, relationships, and business throughout the world. He will help you create a clear and compelling vision for your life.

Contact Teresa Williamson at media@podium-pr.com for more information and to register. Put in your Subject Line: Club Med w/Jane Or call Teresa @ 650-759-1005 or Raha @ 925-915-1515

Dear Jane Podcasts

I’ve got 32 podcasts available for listening so enjoy!

Jane’s Coaching and Training

For over 20 years, Jane Straus has coached individuals and groups, facilitated organizational retreats, conducted training programs, and presented keynotes for corporations and nonprofits nationwide.

To get exceptional results from coaching and training, you need someone who knows how to assess blind spots as well as enhance strengths. Jane’s coaching helps individuals and groups maximize their potential and improve their productivity and work relationships. Jane works to ensure that each client receives the wisdom, skills, and support he/she needs to succeed and often co-facilitates with industry-specific leaders who have chosen to mentor the next generation.

Contact Jane directly at Jane@janestraus.com to discuss your coaching or training needs or visit StopEnduring.com for more information and testimonials.

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation 10th Edition Now Available

Amazon’s #1 Bestseller in Three Categories!
#1 in Reading
#1 in Lesson Planning
#1 in Vocabulary

An indispensable tool for busy professionals, teachers, students, home-school families, editors, writers, & proofreaders. If you buy the book through Amazon, please write a customer review. Reviews are immensely helpful at letting other consumers know that The Blue Book is a valuable resource.

What’s New:

* 60 additional pages at the same low price
* More quizzes
* Spelling / Vocabulary / Confusing Words

View entire contents online

* Spelling / Vocabulary / Confusing Words
* Grammar Rules
* Punctuation & Capitalization
* Rules for Writing Numbers
* More than Two Dozen FREE Quizzes in interactive format with answers

Discounts available for schools, bookstores, and multiple copies.

To view my English usage blogs, click here.

Empowering vs. Enabling

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blogs.

Dear Jane,
What is the difference between empowering and enabling someone?

I’ve struggled with this in my own life. I want to be compassionate, but how can I know whether I am helping or when I am supporting someone in believing they’re helpless? How do I combine a belief that we are 100% responsible for our thoughts and behaviors at the same time that I increase my awareness of our interdependence?

A few years ago a family came to live with us. They had been evicted from their apartment and because our eight-year-old daughters were friends, when the knock on the door came, we opened up, not just our door, but our hearts. They stayed with us for three months rent free…until at 6:30 one morning, the police banged on our door, arresting the mom for parole violation and theft. Two weeks later a credit card bill arrived totaling $3000+ on a card we had never used and that we thought was still in our desk drawer.

Some details I left out of that story: I knew something was amiss when I was shown the mom’s “ankle bracelet,” her house arrest monitor. On the first day of their stay, she admitted that she had embezzled $32,000 from her employer. She and her husband also admitted that they had defrauded their roommate, making her think that they had used her rent to pay the landlord when they had actually kept it.

So what did I do with this information? I counseled them; I fed them; I drove their daughter to school and events; I cooked for them. Clearly, I was enabling, not empowering, them. Why couldn’t I see that?

I have a habit of assuming the best in people. In other words, I’m gullible. But sometimes seeing something in someone that they don’t see in themselves can bring out the best in them. Hasn’t someone seeing something in you ever made you believe in yourself more?
I also cared very much about their little girl and couldn’t imagine throwing her out into the streets for the sins of her parents.

So, yes, I was an enabler. Yes, I was foolish and disillusioned for a while. I admit fully that I not only didn’t empower her parents; in fact, I made it possible for them to commit further crimes. I could have done more by insisting on their helping more around the house or getting a job or getting drug counseling. But I’m pretty sure that insisting would have made them feel too exposed, and they would have left looking for their next suckers. If I didn’t care about their little girl, this would have been just fine.

Empowering vs. enabling is often distinguished by how people receive our help. When people want to be empowered, not enabled, they don’t ask for pity; they ask for clarity. They don’t give excuses; they overcome obstacles. They show a willingness to change their thoughts and strategies. They take responsibility for their actions. They don’t try to get away with things; they want to get out of their ruts in order to thrive.

Because life is complicated, I still don’t always know ahead of time how my help will be received or if I’m being foolish, throwing away money or energy. I can always hope that good intentions will sow their seeds, even if I can’t know where they’ve been planted or when they will germinate. Maybe, just maybe, this little girl, basking in some unconditional love and living in a safe and secure environment for even a short time will help her not re-create her parents’ life. That little girl is now 15. She still calls us. That feels great. I’ll live with being a fool.

Join Jane at Club Med in Cancun
June 21-28, 2008.
I will be teaching a new, exciting program on Creating Abundance everywhere in your life.
More about this in next week’s e-newsletter.

Handle Stress to Boost Immunity presented by Jane at the KCBS Health Fair in San Francisco with Keynote Speaker Dr. Mehmet Oz
I was honored to be invited as a panelist, along with Melina Jampolis, M.D., host of Fit TV’s Diet Doctor and author of The No Time to Lose Diet; and Dr. Jacob Leone, Naturopathic & Integrative Medicine Practitioner, to discuss Boosting Immunity: Nutrition, Supplements, and Stress. I promise to have the contents of my presentation available for you on my Web site shortly.

About Jane Straus
Jane is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, www.stopenduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.

She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, www.grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Anger and Decision Making

Friday, October 26th, 2007
 
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Dear Jane,
I was numb in my marriage for over ten years before starting therapy. Now I recognize that I have been angry and resentful towards my wife and want a divorce. I was ready to tell her this the other night after dinner. But we were watching Dr. Phil and he told a woman who was in the same situation that she wasn’t ready for a divorce until she’d worked through all her anger and was clear headed. With a lot of conviction, he said that as long as she could get riled up at her husband’s behavior, she wasn’t ready to leave. Needless to say, that shut me up. Do you agree with Dr. Phil? Am I not ready yet? Do I have to wait until I’ve released all my anger? How will I know that I’m not just going numb again?

Dr. Phil’s advice is based on the premise that most of us don’t know how to work with our anger consciously enough to make good decisions while in the throes of it. However, as I write about in Enough Is Enough!, anger can give us important information if we learn how to listen to its meaning.

Anger is a secondary emotion. In other words, we may feel anger first, but underneath anger are resentment, hurt, fear, and/or sadness. If we want to make good decisions, we need to get beneath the anger to our more vulnerable feelings.

Hearing about your anger and prior numbness, I imagine that underneath it you feel resentment towards your wife. But underneath every resentment is a personal regret. What do you regret about your own behavior? Do you regret being numb for so long? Do you regret wasting precious years of your life without experiencing intimacy with a partner? Do you regret being too afraid to look at your marriage honestly before now?

Once you are honest with yourself about your regrets, the next step is to give yourself compassion and forgive yourself. Take whatever time you require to do this until you are no longer in self-blame. Then you will be clear enough to choose whether to stay or to go. Even though you may not be done with feeling all your anger, every time it emerges, you will know how to work with it to get to your deeper truth. As you become competent with your anger, it will no longer run you; it will serve to give you the valuable information you need to make self-loving decisions.

Announcements

Enough Is Enough! Seminar in New Orleans
I have been invited to New Orleans to give a workshop on November 18, 2007 for some folks whose lives were impacted by Katrina. During my stay, I will keep a video diary, which I will upload to my Web site, StopEnduring.com. If you live in New Orleans, you are invited to attend this free workshop. Contact me at Jane@janestraus.com.

Donation of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation to New Orleans Schools
I am donating 120 copies of the Eighth Edition of her bestselling reference guide and workbook, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation. If you know of a school in the New Orleans area that could use the book, contact Jane at Jane@janestraus.com.

Jane on TV January 10, 2008
I will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. I will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

The Enlightenment Secret that Economists Know

Sunday, June 24th, 2007
 
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We’ve all been reading or at least hearing about The Secret, which teaches how “the laws of attraction” work. But over twenty years ago, my husband, who is an engineer and, therefore, data driven and logical, first introduced me to what I believe to be a bigger (and better) secret. It is what economists call Sunk Costs. I still think of it as one of the most enlightened concepts I’ve ever learned and I try to apply it daily in my thinking and actions. That’s why I spent pages on it in my book, Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. When I define it, you will immediately get it. Yet it is one of the most challenging truths to embrace. Curious?

Sunk Costs essentially means that just because you have invested time, money, or energy into something, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should keep investing more. While economists and scientists are trained to discard hypotheses that don’t pan out, most of us tend to cling to what we’re already doing, even when the evidence is overwhelming that we’re wasting our resources for insufficient returns. This is why Dr. Phil’s question, “How’s it workin’ for ya?” is always so pertinent.

Here is a typical scenario we all face in one form or another on a regular basis: You’ve bought a ticket to an expensive play for Saturday night. Your good friend, whose taste is very similar to yours, sees the play on Friday night and reports to you that it’s just awful. He tells you that it’s boring and silly, a total waste of time. Do you still go to the play the next night? If you’re like most people, you will tell yourself, “I don’t want to waste all that money I’ve spent on my ticket so I’ll go.”

But is this logical? Isn’t it more logical to think, “The money I’ve spent on the ticket is gone whether I go to the play or not. (Sunk Costs) Why waste my time being bored at the theatre when I could do something fun or just stay home and relax?” If you truly embrace the concept of Sunk Costs here, you’ll never feel another twinge of guilt or remorse about tearing up an unused ticket.

Maybe theatre tickets don’t make you ignore the truth about Sunk Costs. But have you ever dropped more quarters into a slot machine or continued to roll the die at the craps table because you’d already lost money so your luck just had to change? The casinos rely on us to hold onto this “make believe” logic. They are betting and winning on our inability to embrace Sunk Costs. They know that the more we spend, the more likely we are to irrationally keep trying to make up for it.

Here’s another example: Your child signed up for a week-long day camp that cost you a pretty penny. After two miserable days at camp, she comes home bored and uninspired, telling you she absolutely hates it and would rather stay home and do nothing. Some of us might try to convince our child that maybe the next day will get better. But what we’re really thinking is, “If she doesn’t go back, all that money I spent will be wasted.” Sunk Costs reminds us that whether she goes or stays, the money’s gone. So presuming you don’t need to pay for a babysitter or your child isn’t about to drive you crazy at home (a big presumption, perhaps, but you get the idea), your child staying home for the rest of the week is a logical and legitimate option.

You don’t gamble, you hate the theatre, and your children have always adored camp? Okay, then have you ever stayed in a relationship because you’d already invested so much of your heart and soul, not because it was actually working or even healthy? Did you ever convince yourself that the crumb you were being tossed was a full meal, telling yourself, “I’ve given so much of myself to him. Maybe he’s really going to change this time. I’ll give him one more chance”? If we hold the awareness of Sunk Costs, we may find it easier to let go a little sooner or without quite as much struggle.

As we enter the 21st century, we are being challenged to embrace the concept of Sunk Costs in a big way. We know now that global warming poses an imminent threat to our very existence. We can’t afford to believe the old hypothesis anymore: that using up resources at an increasing rate can always be absorbed by nature. Sunk Costs may be the key to our very salvation. As Melissa Etheridge sings, “Now I am throwing off the carelessness of youth, to listen to an inconvenient truth: that I need to move, I need to wake up, I need to change, I need to shake up…”

It’s time for Sunk Costs to become more than an obscure economic theory. It is too profound. It needs to be one of our guiding principles—one we meditate on daily to up the sanity quotient of our individual and collective lives. We can embrace the truth of Sunk Costs one day, one theatre ticket, one relationship, one consumer purchase at a time to help us let go of the absurd with grace and hope.

Read excerpts from Enough Is Enough!, watch Jane’s interviews on TV, listen to her on the radio, or talk to her about becoming your personal coach by visiting Stopenduring.com.