New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

Contributed by
Robert Salazar

New Year. New Me. So it goes, right? Every January we make little missions to live life more fully and expand our lives. “life” is a big word. It has so many definitions beyond just gym memberships and eating vegetables.

Luckily, smarter people than me have considered life’s possibilities, one of whom is Woody Guthrie, a folk rock pioneer and all around genius of life.

How can I call him a genius of life? Well, just look at his “New Year’s Rulin’s”

He starts out with what we all decide. “1. Work More and Better.”

We could all benefit from learning to work smarter, or, when we get back home, finishing that novel that has been sitting on our shelf. By saying “better” Guthrie implies that we can improve our work’s quality, not just it’s dividends. He gives us some advice as to how by saying, “Work by a schedule.” We all work via some system, and every system needs a reboot every once in a while.

He ends by saying, “33. Wake up and fight.” Again, he makes such an open and rounded suggestion that has many definitions. This year, I’m going to think about what I’m fighting for and begin my day with intention.

I want to give a special shoutout to the rulin’ “20. Dream Good.” I know this year, I’m going to give a lot of attention to my waking hours and how to be more productive, but I also need to remember to enjoy the little pleasures that come in the meanwhile. It’s my personal belief that everything you see while you’re awake is set dressing for your dreams. So if I keep on the colorful life path I’m on, I should have some great productions behind-the-scenes in my head.

New Year. New Dreams. I’m going to do my best to make them good ones.

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Freddie and the Four Agreements

Freddie and the Four Agreements

Contributed by
Freddie Beckley

No, I didn’t start a band. I started a resolution: to practice the Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, year-round. Let me tell you about the Four Agreements. But first, let me tell you about my friend Tony.

Tony’s a pretty cool guy, and he’s pretty smart. He’s the friend I seek out when I need to talk about life, and how best to live it. He’s brimming with interesting, philosophical, mind-blowing concepts. “The unexamined life is not worth living” kind of stuff, ya know? The last time we hung out, we debated Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for a few hours and walked away feeling enlightened. Everyone should have a friend like Tony.

Anyway, Tony posted about these Four Agreements on Facebook, and because I hold Tony in such high esteem, I checked ‘em out. Here’s how the first agreement goes:

1. Be Impeccable with Your Word

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

I read this and immediately thought, “I want to do this. Every part of it.” For years I’ve tried to ‘underpromise and overdeliver’, but I always fail. Too often I extend myself past reasonable expectations, letting down the people who trust in me. Wouldn’t it be simpler, instead of rushing to fulfill every commitment, to be more discerning with promises in the first place? I don’t know when I started devaluing my promises, but it’s something I want to take back. And if, along the way, I can stop throwing myself under the bus and cut down those occasional bits of gossip, all the better. At first I planned only to pursue this first agreement, since I connected with it so strongly. The more I thought about it, though, the more incomplete that seemed. That’s when I decided to investigate the next three agreements:

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstanding, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

So there you have it, the Four Agreements. As far as resolutions go, it feels refreshing. In past years, I had giant, looming goals to complete before December 31. This year, by contrast, I just have to stay present. I’m committing to a way of living, not a finite achievement. If I fail in any given moment, it’s cool, I just have to pick myself back up and keep going. Is this easier said than done? Yes. But that’s what I’m looking forward to about the whole undertaking; to do what I say, to live proactively instead of reactively, and to keep it simple.

Thanks, Tony.

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Choosing a Career

Choosing a Career

Contributed by
Eva Fleming

My nephew loves reading and by age 20 he had read a huge portion of the top recommended books in the U.S., having read a book a week for two years. So it came as no surprise when he announced that he was going to college to become an English professor.

This means that he will pursue a master’s degree once he completes his bachelor degree. His mother was so in tune with her son’s interests that she even said that she would not pay for a single college credit if he chose to pursue a career that did not align with his interests, like accounting.

My daughter, on the other hand, is an artist. She has always loved the arts, sculpture, painting and music, so when she announced she was going to the Art Institute to pursue technical training in Graphic Design, no one batted an eye.

My nieces and nephews have been fortunate because they know their strengths and with the support of their family they have been encouraged to pursue careers that are a good fit for them based on their strengths, values, personality and skills, not social status or social norms.

Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions an individual will make in his or her lifetime. We encourage parents to put aside their own ambition and encourage their children to pursue careers that fit their talents and passion.

The right kind of work provides us with an inner creative joy that no amount of leisure activities can replace. Dullness and boredom can turn work into a burden if we are not interested in what we do. Work can give us a sense of purpose and a channel for our passion.

This is why choosing a career requires some forethought. In order to choose well, you must first know yourself well. You need to get in touch with your strengths, values, personality and skills. Armed with that knowledge, you can then decide if a four-year college education or technical training will help you best embrace your life’s purpose.

Once you assess your likes and dislikes you can consider your options based on your interests. As you narrow down your choices, consider the impact your career choice will have on your life. Ask yourself, what is the financial impact of my career choice, what is the relational impact, and am I willing to live with those consequences?

Following a career path that suits you will enrich your spirit. The ancient proverb says, “the soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” So be diligent, be purposeful, and choose wisely.

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

When Life Gives You Lemons, You Make Lemonade

When Life Gives You Lemons, You Make Lemonade

Contributed by
Omaira Gonzalez

Recently my husband and I went for a long walk at a nearby forest preserve.  This was a new location for us, and we enjoyed exploring the nature around us.  After an hour or so we noticed that we had been walking in circles around the same spot!  We chuckled a bit as we couldn’t believe we never noticed that we kept passing the same bench or sitting area.  We began to search for a path that would lead us back on track to our car.

Our travelling plans have been somewhat of the same experience.  Our goal was to travel more this year; however, we have come across some paths that have kept us going in circles.  I call these paths the “unexpected,” like when life throws you a curve ball. However, as the saying goes “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade,” and we have learned to make the best of these moments and grow from them. My husband and I started to think of creative ways to continue exploring and traveling without spending too much money.  We started to visit the Forest Preserves in our area each weekend.  I started to observe that many families go on these trails,  going on walks and picnics. We were so encouraged by this that we started to take our family on our trail walks to enjoy some quality time together.  It is free, great exercise, and you can bring a picnic basket with some of your favorite foods.

Though my husband and I did not anticipate the setbacks that we came across this year, we did learn that there are so many other ways to appreciate each other, spend quality time together, and save money.  We did schedule a vacation trip to one of destinations on our bucket list and we allowed ourselves enough time to pay it off, all we need to take with us is spending money.

We know that when it rains it pours, and we have learned to keep an umbrella nearby and to not be discouraged. Difficult times have given us incentive to look outside of the box for opportunities to create valuable experiences.

You can stay up to date with my journey on social media with #OmairasJourney.

For more tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

Get Serious About Fun

Get Serious About Fun

Contributed by
Bill Ferrell

Last year my son turned 30, so we decided to do something special.

We surprised him.

My wife, daughter, and I flew to Boston where he is living with his wife and three daughters. He didn’t know we were coming. Only his wife did. We arrived at 1:00 am. That’s right – the hour after midnight. Hey, we wanted to surprise him.

Once we landed, we took an Uber to their place. We texted our daughter-in-law and she was waiting to let us in. Very quietly we walked to their bedroom and opened the door.

There he laid. Under the thick down comforter. It reminded me of when he was a little baby. My wife and I would steal into his room at night and watch him sleep. Listening to the steady rhythm of his breathing. Watching his little chest move up and down with every breath. Deep asleep. So restful. So peaceful. So innocent. So vulnerable. So content. So beautiful. Laying there like a precious little cherub.

And then as quietly as we had entered, we would walk out. Making certain not to wake him.

Now he was 30 years old. Some things had not changed. Oh – but other things had.

On my signal, the three of us jumped on the bed. I straddled his body with my wife and daughter on either side. We yelled, “SURPRISE. SURPRISE. SURPRISE.”

Like a rocket he sat upright in bed and screamed, “AHHHHHHHHHHHH.”

We continued to yell, “SURPRISE. SURPRISE. SURPRISE.”

He continued to scream, “AAHHHHHHHHHHHH.”

His eyes darted back and forth. From face to face. His brain was trying to make sense of all this. Was this a dream? Reality? A nightmare?

He continued to scream and we started to laugh. Hard. My daughter fell on the ground – trying not to pee her pants. My wife could hardly breathe. I continued to yell, “Surprise.”

Finally, after two minutes, he was silent. He grabbed his chest. His escalated blood pressure was beginning to return to normal. He swallowed, trying to catch his breath. Looked around. And then across his face a smile began to spread.

“You got me,” he said. Success!

We spent the next few days celebrating him and his birthday – going out to eat, playing basketball, talking, hanging out, recounting “the surprise,” and having fun. Lots of fun.

Children are a gift from God. Parenting is an incredible privilege and an amazing responsibility. And it can also be a lot of fun.

Make time to have fun with your kids. No matter their age.

For their sake and for yours. Fun is an important part of relationships and life!

Now, your version of “fun” may not be the same as “Ferrell Family Fun.” But whatever it is –Create memories that you will enjoy in the moment and for years to come.

 

For more tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.

Success is a Few Steps Away

Success is a Few Steps Away

Contributed by
Eduardo Morales

I don’t think that I have ever heard someone say, “I want to be a mediocre student.” “I hope my investments perform lower than market standards this quarter.” Or “I want to go up to the plate and strike out.” No, people want to be a leader in their industry, see positive returns on their investments, have thriving relationships, and I believe all of us want to hit a homerun every time we step up to the plate. Why? We all have a desire to achieve and accomplish. In fact, I believe we like to be victorious. We enjoy that sense of achievement, that feeling we get from overcoming a challenge, no matter how big or small. Who doesn’t like crossing a finish line after training every day for 6 months, or receiving a diploma after studying hard for 4+ years?

We all want to be successful at something. I believe in order to achieve success we have to know what success looks like for us as individuals. We have to look at ourselves and define what success means to us because there are a lot of standards out there. Some believe success is making six-figures, earning a college degree, or starting a family. But what does success look like for you? How would you define success for your own life? If we are going to achieve any type of success, we have to understand that success starts with us.

Realize. How do you want to be remembered? Looking at the big picture helps us reverse engineer our daily decisions and actions so we can realize our vision.

  • Who am I as a person?
  • What am I good at?
  • What do I enjoy doing?
  • What am I passionate about?

I usually do this exercise with elementary school students, but I think asking ourselves these questions can be validating for people of all ages. I believe if nothing else, it gives us a better picture of ourselves. Furthermore, it then begs the question of “Where am I going?” Identifying who you are and where you want to go allows you to start developing goals and things you want to change. We all need something to run at, a destination to journey to. Whatever goal you may have, write it down.

Research.

  • What is it going to take for me to reach my goal?
  • What is my starting point? What am I measuring my results against?
  • What is your plan of action? We’ve often heard that “If there is no plan you plan to fail.” Without a destination in mind and a plan of how you will get there, you end up walking around aimlessly.

If you want to get fit, you have to set specific goals, like losing 10 pounds by cutting sugar out of your diet and going to the gym five days a week. By doing research and setting specific goals, you can start seeing wins that motivate you to keep going. Start small; some things can seem so insurmountable that they become overwhelming and cause us to freeze in our tracks. Once we freeze up, our ideas and dreams just sit on paper.

React. We know what we’re capable of. We know where we want to go and what it’s going to take to get us there. Set small, focused intentional goals that will build up to the bigger goal, and celebrate your small successes along the way.

But what can you do today to get to where you want to be? One of the biggest things that I would encourage here is to have a support system. Who are the people in your corner that are cheering you on? Family, friends, teachers, mentors…it’s important to have these people in your life. I would also say that with these support systems, you want to find people, whether directly or indirectly, that have achieved success in the area that you are looking to achieve. They can serve as examples of what to model. They can be there for encouragement when things get difficult. But seek out support.

How can you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How can you run a marathon? One step at a time. Achieving goals is a process, but one in which learning, growth, and ingredients for future success are developed. Go out and do some great things!

For more tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.