Posted by & filed under Renewal.

Vacations are all about “R and R,” rest and relaxation. During my recent vacation at Rancho La Puerta, though, I learned they can also give us another “r”—renewal that lasts even after returning home. The fresh thinking I gained from this trip is too good not to pass along. Here are two great ideas I picked up from the experts during my stay.

Evaluate my week in a new way—with colors.

The owner and director of the ranch gave a talk about her life and philosophy. She shared her strategy for keeping balanced with priorities mindfully in place.

  1. Write your planning calendar in pencil.
  2. At the end of each week, erase those items that didn’t actually happen.
  3. Review and highlight each remaining event in color:
  • green to symbolize personal growth,
  • black to designate a “toxic” event or person,
  • blue to signal a task that could have been delegated, and
  • red to signify friends and family.

This technique enables a person to see how that busy week was really spent. More importantly, it can help in making decisions and changes to avoid future “black” and add more “green” and “red.” Isn’t this a great way to incorporate what you want more of in your life and to identify and SOLVE the issues that might be holding you back? It’s a method I’m adopting going forward.

Move beyond my comfort zone.

As one trainer put it, “We live in a Starbucks culture, which means that we all expect the same thing the same way every time. That is limiting thinking and prevents us from being more agile, flexible, open to new experiences.”

That trainer’s advice is right on the money. Doing only what we know best, day in and day out, leaves no room for spontaneity or adventure. Dedication to routine can rob us of creativity, too, and it can also get in the way of our goals for improvement. And isn’t bettering ourselves what self-growth is all about?

There’s nothing wrong with having a plan. In fact, as busy as most of our lives are, it can be critical. And a certain amount of predictability keeps us grounded and gives us a starting point each day. That’s healthy.

But if a person finds herself saying “no” to every new opportunity, every chance to try something different, perhaps it’s time to step back and examine why. What’s the real reason behind that decision? Think about the last time you automatically dismissed opportunity by saying “I don’t have time” or “I’m not interested in that.” Was that really the case? Or did that decision come down to fear—fear of losing control, fear of challenge, fear of embarrassment, fear of failure, maybe just fear of something new and untested? These are times when having a “comfort zone” is more hindrance than help.

This is the end of my predictable Starbucks ritual! From now on, I’m making a point to identify which routines in my world are really just traps—and better yet, finding ways to introduce a little adventure. (Coming up on my blog soon: a little about an activity I tried for the first time as my Starbucks-breaking adventure.)

Put these tips together, and you have a recipe for success. Now, while it’s fresh in your mind, make an appointment with yourself at the end of this week to evaluate how your time was spent. If you find there’s more “black and blue” than you like in your life, figure out why. Is “Starbucks thinking” playing a big role? Take charge!

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