Validation.

Not everyone can admit that they like to feel validated in who they are and what they do. Validation is something we all seek after unconsciously or in a very conscious manner. Why is this? Because we like knowing that we are doing good, that we are doing okay. It can be an extremely strange feeling wanting someone to say something about what we are doing but when they say something it can be the sweetest moment.

Have you ever wondered why we enjoy being validated, it’s a reassurance that what we are doing is making the cut. The understanding that our efforts are being recognized by others helps us continue to pursue the best direction in our personal and professional relationships. As business professionals, we need to know that the hours we toil on projects are paying off not only for our personal portfolios but for the organization who employs us. The projects we are able to successfully complete can be stepping stones to greater success in our chosen field of employment. The failures we experience will also be stepping stones of evaluation and remapping our pathways to successful days of validation in the future.

In our personal relationships validation is key in the sustainability and health of your relationship. If your partner or friend does something right let them know, give them a pat on the back, a hug of gratitude, or simply use your words to say “Thank you.”. We need validation in our relationships as reinforcement for the rocky times that are guaranteed to happen throughout the life of any relationship.

Being able to be genuinely grateful for the things your partner or friend does can build up emotional storage of affirmation and validation that can carry a friendship through the dark times.  We need to remind ourselves that from time to time we will not be in the best emotional state to be a good friend, but to be a friend who needs a good friend to drag us out of the muck we are laying in, clean us off, cheer us up, and help us move forward with life.

We need to remember to be a good friend who is grateful to our friends, acknowledging and validating their good traits, so they know where your friendship stands then can be there when you need it most. Providing that feedback isn’t always an easy thing to do, it is, however, an essential thing to do often in healthy relationships.

Thank you, friends, for reading this simple message. May you find a way to validate your friends for the good people they are and help them become the people they hope to be.

Time.

Being a bit of a nerd I held off a while month before dropping a Lord of the Rings reference, so here is one that truly sucks out to me as something to think on. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’” – Gandalf to Frodo in the fellowship of the ring. I think about time often, because I never feel that I have enough of it. I’m always feeling if I had more time I could do _____. If only that extra time was available to me right? I’d never miss out on anything I wanted again. Not so.

We are all handed the same amount of time each day. 24 hours a day, a few hours to sleep, a few hours for work, a few hours of to do’s, and never enough time for recreation. As busy people are handed the balancing act of trying to figure out where to invest our time. We are required to choose what we value most, choosing one thing over another can be terrifying because we’re afraid to hurt the feelings of others based around choosing one thing over another.

As something we all experience we can admit the balancing act is difficult, we know that choosing one thing over another could mean missing out on the little things. Those little moments we share with others are key to keeping relationships alive and healthy so choosing the relationships to maintain can be a challenge of monumental proportions. Choose wisely who you spend your times with, trusting your relationships to benefit both parties in the friendship.

Don’t be afraid to be open and honest with others about the health of your friendship, it can be hard to admit that your bonds aren’t as strong as they once were. Knowing where you stand in any relationship is vital for your own health and wellness too.

Youth.

What do I need to say that would convince you that you need to live a little more each day than you did the day before? Today I had a friendly reminder from my Grandpa and his friend of how quickly life can pass you by. They explained to me I needed to spend less time in front of my damn phone and more time outside fishing with friends before I was forced by age to spend my days inside in front of the tv. We laughed together for a moment and my Grandpa’s friend casually said, “I’m not kidding, don’t waste your youth.”.

Obviously, that got me thinking about what I’m doing every day to live a full life. Over the past few years, I’ve lived by the line, “Live and die on this day.”. I borrowed the life from a film called The Grey, I’d never think of this film as anything other than a wild story of a plane crash and just under two hours of Liam Neeson action-packed goodness.

However, the words inspired me to live each day as if it were my last. They’ve helped me to be more of a yes man when I’ve needed the extra push to get out there and accomplish something that could be a life-changing experience. After all, you never know if today will be your only or last chance to do that something.

We all know people who are older than us, who’ve lived good lives and have countless stories to tell about the grand adventurers of their youth. I’ve learned that is because they really lived, full lives of adventure and experiences they’ll never forget. Perhaps my Grandpa and his friend were right, I should put down my damn phone and not waste my youth.

With that being said, I’ve committed to a big summer of hiking, cycling, and more time fishing with my friends. Hopefully, that’ll be a good start to living a little more.

Take a walk.

How much time would you say you spend doing something “just because” you can. One thing I enjoy doing “just because” is walking, without a real destination or plan, just letting my legs take me places for the hell of it. It’s not because I have nowhere I’d want to see, it’s because walking with no particular destination allows me to spend more time in thought as I go.

Having a clear head for me is a full result of walking daily for at least thirty minutes. The days when I’m feeling down, annoyed, or upset about life are usually made clear by taking a walk to think things through. Based off my experience walking is a good avenue to seeing many things new and old, but also cleaning the weight of the world we know.

I work in a mildly high-stress environment, where anger due to misunderstanding is never far away. When I take a break I usually try and walk around the building to relax and think of simple things such as the mountains, my dog, jokes that I’ve heard, of the happiest times I have with friends and family.

Taking a walk “just because” is what I enjoy doing to reset and prepare myself for the next wave of discussions I will have with others. It prepares me to be a better listener, a more patient teacher, and a better friend to those I will be communicating with. I’d recommend this to anyone who works, period. Just taking a little personal time to breathe and reset can not only impact your day at work but can change your everyday happiness level.

We all know about and talk about happiness, we all are aware of what others have done to become happier people. How often are we happy? What are we doing for us that makes us happy? Personally, taking a walk for the hell of it makes me happy.

What makes you happy? Why don’t you think about it while you take a walk?


React.

It’s been said that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it. I believe that there are times we react extremely well to what happens and others aren’t shining moments we look back on. Much of our days are spent reacting to what is happening around us, we are constantly making reactive decisions that steer us onward to our destination.

So many times unexpected things can happen to us, someone can cut us off in traffic, we can be blamed for something we didn’t do, or something can treat us terribly leaving us hurt and angry. These moments bring on emotions that are often hard to control. Reacting when we are angry, hurt, or scared often leads to actions taken now that we could regret later on. Our spontaneous reactions are rarely our proudest moments.

The key to reacting is to pause for a moment, or a few minutes and think. What happens when you react poorly? What happens when you don’t accept the responsibility for what you will do, are doing, or have done? It’s surely easy to react poorly then blame circumstance for our poor behavior. I have been there, I know how easy it is to point the finger of blame towards another’s behavior, forgetting the three fingers pointing back at me and my reaction.

Life isn’t meant to be easy, life is meant to be constant movement from one experience to another. Moments that can be heavy with sadness or filled with blissful happiness. How we look at what we are handed directly relates to how we view the world around us and the situations we put ourselves in.

Look at Derrick Rose, a basketball player who started his professional career on top of the game. He was known for his abilities and he was headed toward greatness, then it all crashed. Years of unprecedented injuries warped his career and reshaped what others thought of him as a player. He was traded, traded again, waived, then resigned to a less prestigious team where many thought he would spend his final few years as a professional warming a seat on the bench at best. He remained positive through the years, waited patiently, and this season has had the highest scoring game of his career against the team that waived him just a year before.

He has proven to us that sometimes the way we react to unexpected detours can lead us to where we need to be. We may stumble, we may get hurt along the way, we may even be derailed completely. However, if we are willing to stay the course toward what we want most we’ll make it where we are needed to be. Derrick Rose reacted to what he was handed and still stands among the best players in the NBA even after so many struggles.

In the end, take a moment before you react. Keep your end goal in mind and move towards it even when the unexpected derails you for a short time. You’ll get there just think before you react.  

Acknowledgment.

Have you ever sat down to rest after completing a hard task at work or around the house and breathed a relaxing sigh of relief that the task was complete? Then looked back on your work and hoped that someone would see the good work that you have done? Have you ever hoped that someone will ask how the project went or how you are feeling now that you’ve completed the task? Are you looking for someone to acknowledge you for your efforts to provide that refreshing phrase we all need from time to time when we’ve poured our energies into a seemingly impossible project?

If you said yes to any of the above then you are not alone. These moments can define how we see our work and the progress we are making as an individual or professional. Acknowledgment is extremely satisfying feedback when it is given with praise and rewarded with non-verbal confirmation. Each human seeks this reassurance to know where they stand in the eyes of others, as individuals it’s good to know our efforts in friendship are paying off and trust is being built. In day to day, professional work feedback and acknowledgment are essential in finding your footing with where you were, where you are now, and what direction to continue going to make the biggest impact in your field.

Feedback can be rough to receive at times because much of feedback is either watered down and fluffed to not hurt your feelings or overly blunt and tactless upon delivery. There is a fine balance between what we want to hear and what we need to hear to allow for the best opportunities for growth. Acknowledgment throughout the process allows us to see the good in our efforts and allows us to have real-time feedback as we go.

I’m not saying that you should hold someone’s hand each step of the way. What I am encouraging you to try during a larger task is to have scheduled check in’s every few days or once a week to follow up on the progress of a task at hand, offer praise where it is due then offer constructive feedback that allows for reflection and direction towards the desired end goal. Having these quick pow-wows should allow for a trusting relationship between two people who might be family, friends, or manager and employee.

These sessions of acknowledgment and direction can be used for personal evaluation too. Following up with yourself creates personal accountability that will help you see your strengths and weaknesses and help you realign your goals to your desired destination. Is it easy to hold yourself accountable with challenging goals? Nope, but you’ll be happier because of your perseverance to the finish line.

Take a moment today, write down 5 things you are good at, that makes you a good person, and that encourages you to keep doing you. Acknowledge yourself for the good you bring into the world and know that you’re great. See where you might need to tweak your behavior to make life a happier place for you and see where you go from there.

Listening.

Listening is a challenge for me. If you know me I a great at talking and participating in the conversation at hand but terrible at times at listening. I’m not saying that I never listen to others, I do a pretty good job more often than not. What I am saying though is that at times I have a hard time sharing the stage with others.

I think there are many out there who can relate to this thought about themselves that they are not the best at listening all the time. It can be a challenge to practice active listening when you have the greatest tale to share. However, allowing yourself to be patient and listen can dramatically change the depth of your relationships. Listening is a key element to real relationship depth. The ability to give more than just words to any situation opens the doors to genuine relationships.

Over the past year, I have started having to listen more due to my new job. Being active in listening and responding at the correct times. There are times when I’d rather be anywhere else but listening to someone complain about their frustrations and misunderstandings. When I am able to fully listen to the person I’m talking with and walk with them on through their frustrations it creates a better experience for both of us.

I have had many repeat conversations with these frustrated people when they remember our last conversation and have the confidence that we together through speaking, listening, and working together can make the troubles of the day less of an annoyance and more of a process to a better understanding.

Along with listening in the workplace, listening to friends, family, and new acquaintances that might become friends will be extremely rewarding as you work towards stronger ties with those you want in your life.