My Grandfather always used to say, “It’s a sad day when you don’t learn something new.” As one who loves to learn, I remind myself of this on a daily basis. I try and learn something new every day.
When we celebrate New Year’s many people are reflective, and I am no exception. Although I am not one who regrets, or wishes I’d done something different (after all, we learn best by our mistakes) reflecting on the New Year allows me to take stock of the things I’ve learned and incorporate them in to my life moving forward. Life lessons equate to wisdom, at least that’s my thinking.
I was recently having dinner with a friend who is about 10 years younger than I. We were talking about the aging process and I shared with her, “My 30’s was still about trying to impress people while making everyone happy yet not having a sense of who I was. When you enter your 40’s there’s this surge of confidence where you begin to realize there’s nothing you can’t do, however, wisdom hasn’t settled in yet, so some decisions are questionable. But when you hit 50, it seems like everything finally comes together. 50 brings confidence without arrogance, security without naivete, compassion without pity, insight without assumptions, experiences without expectations and relationships without conditions.
Last year was a year of new beginnings almost every day. I entered a new position without a clear understanding of what I was getting in to. Each day I learned what needed to be done and I set out to get it done. Each day, I realized that I had a choice to play the blame game, or to figure out what I was going to do to turn the ship around. Each day, I got to know the people around me and learn who was ready to go on this ride with me, or those who opted out. Some days were amazingly rewarding, while others were very, very difficult. Fortunately, I have an incredibly supportive Board and staff who believe in my ability to take the potential of the organization and run with it, without looking back.
So, there’s the conundrum, looking back. After all, isn’t that what the New Year is all about? Looking back and reflecting? Well, if you’re looking back to see how far you’ve come as well as lessons learned it’s healthy. If you’re looking back with the attitude of, “shoulda, woulda, coulda”, that will not assist you at all in moving forward. You’ve got to assess and progress. I look back simply to marvel at what life tosses our way and how, more often than not, we can surprise ourselves with what we’re able to handle. And with the things that aren’t handled well, it’s a learning moment, never a regret. Regrets do nothing more than set a roadblock for self-forgiveness.
With all that said, what did I learn this year? Here’s just a few of the many things I learned.
1. Never assume. Life is full of surprises so hone your flexibility skills and move along.
2. Communication is King. Unfortunately, not everyone communicates the same way so the best way to communicate starts with listening.
3. It’s never too late to change something that isn’t working.
4. Trust your gut, most often it’s right. Especially as you get older. (One of many perks of getting older).
5. It’s not how hard you’re working, it’s how much you accomplish.
6. If you trust someone enough to hire them, trust them enough to get the job done. (That’s under delegation 101)
7. Leadership can be lonely, surround yourself with great people. “Being a leader means finding the right solution, not the easy one.”- Kate Stull
8. Always remind your staff that their ideas and insight matters, they forget.
9. Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
10. Working hard doesn’t always mean working smart. Assess your work and ask yourself, “Does this matter? Is it getting me closer to my vision while aligning with my mission?”
I could go on and on with all of the things I learned, or was reminded of that really matter in life. I suppose, aside from the top 10 things I listed, I have to address the many wonderful people I have met. People are amazing and there’s no better learning opportunity than meeting new people and listening to their story. So I suppose, if you’re not learning, perhaps you’re not listening- bonus tip. 😉
Here’s to an amazing 2015.
By Nicki On January 6, 2014 6 Comments
O.K, I have to admit that every January I cringe when I see the ads for weight loss. The miracles abound and the “real” answer to weight loss woes are simply a click away. Too much belly fat? There’s a program for that. Excess holiday weight gain? There’s a drink for that. Get abs of steel with 4 simple steps. My response to all of those secrets to success is bull$&@*! After 30 years in the health and fitness industry I ask that you read the rest of this post knowing that what I’m sharing with you is fact. No hype, nothing earth shattering simply the honest to goodness truth about weight loss, why people are overweight and ultimately what the ONLY solution is.
First, let it be said that I made the conscious decision to sell my fitness business and walk away from the industry after 30 years. I was fried, frustrated and felt it was time to move on and find my passion and purpose somewhere else. I’m sharing that with you so that you understand I have no ulterior motives other than to motivate you to walk away from any “too good to be true” ads and prevent you from parting with good money for bad solutions. So, here we go.
1. Diets don’t work, period. Yes, yes, yes, we’ve all lost weight on them, self included but for the long-term they do not work. What works is CHANGING your diet. Each day,bit by bit, small change by small change.
2. Say good-bye to fried food, fast food and fake food. You can’t expect to make these changes over night, but I can assure you, if you get rid of the 3-f’s your body will respond in kind, i.e. you’ll drop some lbs. and feel significantly better.
3. Ignore the television ads and 3 minute solutions in magazines. Here is what you should always remember, if there were truly a drug, vitamin, piece of equipment that really helped you lose weight successfully, it would be on every news program, on the front of newspapers, etc. There isn’t one so the next time you see an ad that shares “Millions of people have already bought our product and been successful” they’re likely lying.
4. Here are the ONLY things you need to know to reach a healthy weight, reclaim your health and potentially get off of medication: Eat less, move every single day (even if it’s only 15 minutes), drink more water, limit alcohol, get a decent amount of sleep and love yourself. That’s it, that’s the secret, that’s the miracle.
Books, magazines and ads can spin weight loss any way they want to, but the truth is #4 is the ultimate solution. Of course, your expectations need to be in line with your lifestyle. In other words, if you like having that occasional glass of vino, you know that exercise daily may not happen and you still love your Friday night pizza, don’t expect miracles. But if you’re still eating better, drinking more water, moving more consciously (even if it’s getting up from your desk every 30 minutes to grab a drink of water) you’ll be ahead of the game by years end.
O.K. I feel better. Do you?
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it. Happy 2014!!
By Nicki On December 21, 2013 4 Comments
For the last 15 years I have experienced and enjoyed the holidays fully. When I was young, I had the all too common experience of divorce in my family which resulted in less than stellar holidays, and often some form of drama. My story isn’t unusual, but how I decided to change it all is important
From the time I was about 11, which was shortly after my parents divorced, I never looked forward to the holidays. They were painful, often included awkward moments debating where we were to spend Christmas, who bought what for whom and how much they spent on each child and on and on. It was never enjoyable. I was more excited to see the holidays end versus start of the season. My recollection is that the celebratory part of the holidays were nonexistent.Therefore, my best defense or my coping strategy was getting sick. Invariably, every Thanksgiving or Christmas I was sick.
Being sick kept me in bed and gave me a “free pass” to skip out on the holiday drama. I found it worked well. Unfortunately, when I started my own family the behavior continued. One summer I went to visit my relatives and we began reminiscing. We got on the subject of the holidays and my cousin asked about my family holidays, “I hate the holidays. It just stirs up all the old crap and quite frankly, I dread them every single year.”
She looked at me with cheerless eyes and said, “Oh Nicki, now is the time to create your own history. You’re doing yourself and your family a huge disservice by allowing the past to dictate your future. Why not start your own family traditions and build new, happy memories?”
Why hadn’t I thought of that? How selfish I was to allow my bad experiences to flow over in to my family. I started thinking about the time I had wasted having a pity party for myself. “What’s done is done,” I thought. What was odd is that I had managed to master the skill of leaving behind my past in so many other areas, yet the holidays I couldn’t seem to cut loose. That was until my cousin put things in perspective for me. Sometimes you’re just ready to hear things.
The following Christmas I made the decision to enjoy the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I vowed not to get sick and to enjoy MY family. It was time for our family to write our own history and most important for my children to experience great holidays. Trust me, it wasn’t easy but it really wasn’t about me now was it? It’s about so much more no matter what your beliefs.
This Christmas will be the 15th Christmas since having that discussion with my cousin. Each year becomes more fun, more enjoyable and we have built some pretty incredible memories. At the end of the day it really was up to me to discontinue the cycle of negativity and create an opportunity for my children to construct their own memories and traditions. And we definitely have traditions, special, wonderful, fun, loving traditions.
No matter your history, your future is yours to write, however you choose. We can continue to live in the past allowing it to dictate our future, or we can grant ourselves the opportunity to generate new memories making the past something to cherish. To me, that is the best present of all.
I wish you warm holidays, wonderful traditions and most importantly a story full of hope, love and possibility.
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.
By Nicki On November 25, 2013 2 Comments
One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving is that it’s not about the gifts, it’s about family. Coming together, sharing a meal, sharing stories and realizing what really matters. However, thanks to this crazy world of consumerism, we can’t even forget about the world around us for one day because stores have decided to open. I don’t know about you, but I really hate the idea.
If you look at the evolution of Christmas, this once very sacred holiday has become more about everything other than the historical meaning. People have become obsessed with shopping and getting the perfect gift. Money, greed and stress have replaced, peace on earth. Kind of crummy.
I know there are some people that cherish Black Friday as a family tradition. They wake up at the crack of dawn and begin their shopping marathon. Given that it’s AFTER Thanksgiving I figure to each his own. But now it seems no holiday is immune to the marketing ploys of big business. The one day a year when people come together, the good, bad and the ugly of holidays feasts and it’s now compromised because the world of retail has come up with one more tactic to part you with your money and your family.
Personally, I will not even think about going out shopping on Thanksgiving, it’s the one day out of the entire year where we sit down as a family, with no agenda, no place to be, no rushing off to work and we can just be a family. No cares, no worries. I always considered Thanksgiving the calm before the storm. The big exhale of the holiday season.
I don’t know about you, but I plan to stay toasty and warm without any plans other than being with my family. I owe it to them and to the holiday. It’s is a time to be THANKFUL. The idea of putting shopping before family just doesn’t sit well with me. As much as people have complained about losing Christmas or Chanukah to the world of retail, that loss now includes Thanksgiving, the one holiday I thought was immune. Sadly, I was wrong.
What will you be doing on Thanksgiving?
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.
By Nicki On December 11, 2012 No Comments
There’s no doubt that the holiday season conjures up a collection of feelings. Everything from reflection and melancholy, to stress and pressure. The pressure to pull off the perfect holiday is the most common, yet rarely admitted.
My holidays as a child is one big blur. We were all over the place and the only hard and fast tradition I remember, was the treat of opening our gifts on Christmas Eve. When I was about 8 years old, my parents started going through a divorce, War of the Roses type thing. Holidays were never the same after that. I’m sharing that because I’m sure all of us can remember a holiday where something went wrong or something stood out that resurfaces every holiday season.
The interesting thing is that between television shows, commercials, movies and magazine articles, there is a lot of pressure to have a perfect holiday. How ’bout those families in the Target commercials? Are they perfectly perfect or what?
For those of you that have had the unique experience of having nothing but perfect holidays, congratulations, you’re right up there with the big lotto winners. But for the majority of people, the holidays are always accompanied by an unspoken pressure to be perfect. But realistically, the perfect holiday is the one that is created by you, straight from the heart, creating your own traditions.
A number of years ago I was talking to a friend of mine and I told her about my struggle with Christmas and Thanksgiving due to family history. She said to me, “It’s never too late to create your own memories and start your own traditions.” That comment rocked my world. Wow, creating my own idea of a great holiday versus trying to recreate someone else’s.
The truth is that nothing is ever perfect, and it’s likely more common during the holidays. With a myriad of personalities, temperaments, expectations and so on, the holidays are actually tough. But with a little shift in mind set, losing the idea of a perfect Christmas or Chanukah you may actually start to enjoy the holidays more fully. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Take opportunities to spend 5 minutes alone during the holidays a few times per week to just be. Meditation, whatever, just quiet time.
2. Envision your idea of a great holiday, it may simply be to keep Aunt Marge and Aunt Gladys away from each other!
3. Keep expectations healthy. There’s always the possibility that the roast might burn or your grandson might throw up on your new carpet, or Uncle Joe has one too many Manhattans. Bottom line, you have to let it go. Deep breaths and lots of smiles. Create a mantra in your head such as, “It’s the holidays, a time for family and friends with unconditional love.”
4. If you don’t have the best memories of the holidays and they’re not particularly your favorite time of year, volunteer. Get out of your self and do something for someone who likely just wants a warm meal, and a soft bed to sleep on. It does put things in perspective, trust me.
5. Create your own tradition. The tradition I started with my family is every Christmas eve, my kids get to open one present and it’s a game. We spend the rest of the evening playing the game and laughing a lot. It’s simple. Is it perfect? I’m not a believer in perfection, all I know is that at the end of the day, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it.
Here’s to creating your own magic!