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MARCH 28, 2003     PAGE FOUR      
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                  Power Of Change
                               
    "The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live."       — Flora Whittemore



For this issue, we are pleased and honored to bring you an article written by guest columnist, Jo Cordi Sica, a skilled performance improvement and training consultant in Jacksonville, Florida. Jo is a valued member of our forums here, and never fails to be a support to all. Enjoy her great article!

                                  "Providence has hidden a charm in difficult undertakings,
                             Which is appreciated only by those who dare to grapple with them."
                                                                      Anne-Sophie Swetchine

A little background...

I have a wonderful family, a great life, and a job that I love. My daughter is well-mannered, trustworthy, honest, and a great student. My husband is my best friend and the love of my life. I have a good day nearly every day. While I don't think anything is perfect, I have an outstanding life. If the angels came for me tomorrow, I wouldn't have any regrets nor would I feel that I missed out on anything. Not that long ago, it was a completely different story.

Five years ago, I was a physical and emotional basket-case. I was hosting the pity party of the century. I was entitled to be miserable! My life story would have made a great country music song. I grew up an abused child with an alcoholic father. I picked abusive and dysfunctional relationships time after time. I married a man with whom I had nothing in common. I had three miscarriages. I had two children 21 months apart and a high-pressure job complete with annual downsizings. My youngest had heart surgery at 3 months of age and again when he was 2 years old. In between the surgeries, he was in and out of the hospital. I had to have my jaw reconstructed after biting down on a screw that was in a salad. (No kidding!) Three months later and two months before my son's 4th birthday, he drowned in my own backyard. I couldn't function at work and I hated my job. I was living on Ben & Jerry's ice cream (a 2 pint a day habit) and weighed well over 200 pounds. Some days I would forget to shower or dress. Be thankful you didn't know me. How and why my friends stood by me is still a great mystery.

I do believe that I had some Divine intervention. God must have reached down and whacked me upside the head, because one day it occurred to me that unless I changed, the downward spiral was going to continue. There were more setbacks, but I learned to work through them and have faith in God and myself.

What follows has become my foundation for living. I sincerely hope you find the peace and happiness you deserve.


                                             


                    The Power of a Positive Attitude


The greatest power we have is the power to change. We have the power and the ability to overcome any obstacle life presents to us if we have the right mindset. With the right attitude, we can accomplish any goal. Whether you are looking to lose weight, change careers, or embark on a journey of self-improvement, a positive attitude will make all the difference in your success. Before undertaking any major lifestyle change, use the following attitude checklist to make sure you are ready.

  1. Ask yourself if you really want it. Too often, we attempt to change because others have told us we need to. Whether or not they are right, unless the change is something we really want, we won't be successful. Take the time to ask yourself why you are making the change and what benefit you expect to receive. When the benefits of changing outweigh the comfort of not changing, you will find the internal motivation to get started and stay the course.

  2. Commit to having patience with yourself. We are only human, and therefore; will make mistakes. Mistakes are not failures; they are merely lessons along the road to success. If you aren't making any mistakes, then you are probably not trying. When you make mistakes, learn why you made the mistake and how to avoid repeating it in the future. Don't agonize over what went wrong, just vow not to make the same mistake twice. A lifetime of habits will not be unlearned overnight. Reward yourself when you are successful and celebrate each small victory. Every small victory brings you a step closer to the goal.

  3. Accept that change is never easy. There will be difficulties along the way, but they make the sweet taste of success so much sweeter. As Dick Vermeil said "If you don't invest very much, then defeat doesn't hurt very much, and winning isn't very exciting." Set realistic expectations that will challenge but not frustrate you. Promise yourself that no matter what, you will stay the course and not give up. Remember, if it were easy you would have done it long ago. Keep in mind how good you will feel when you reach your goal.

  4. Eliminate all the excuses. When we make excuses, we are giving ourselves permission to fail. Accepting responsibility for our actions is difficult but it is also very powerful. Everything in life is a choice. We don't have to do anything; we choose to. When faced with challenges or tough decisions, recognize that you are making a choice to do or not do what is right. Taking responsibility for personal choices gives us tremendous freedom and enables us to make better choices. On those occasions where you choose the wrong path, start over at #2.

  5. Take control of your destiny. We can control our thoughts and our behavior. In fact, those are the only things we can control. We cannot change others actions or attitudes, only our responses to them. Do not allow yourself to become a victim of others' opinions or ideas. Ask those close to you to help by being supportive of the changes you are making. Keep in mind that fear and jealousy often cause others to try and derail your progress. Reassure those around you that you are going to be the same person, only better. If they still cannot be supportive, you may want to evaluate their place in your life. At the very least, learn to control your reactions to their negativity. If you don't react, they will stop "pushing your buttons."

  6. Develop a support system that includes accountability. Create a network of people who will encourage and support you on your journey. Ask them to help keep you on track, reassure you when you make mistakes, and celebrate your victories. Surround yourself with as many like-minded influences as you can find. Find others who have succeeded to mentor and inspire you. Above all else, be accountable to yourself. You chose this path because it is something important to you. Give yourself every opportunity to succeed. Minimize or eliminate factors that may tempt you to get derailed.

  7. Track your progress in reasonable intervals. Seeing progress provides additional motivation to stay the course. Make sure that you are allowing sufficient time to achieve each milestone. Set smaller goals to achieve along the way to your larger goals. As stated before, your goals should challenge, but not frustrate you. There will be times when you exceed your goals and also times when you fall short of the mark. Do not give yourself permission to give up, but do give yourself permission to adjust the goal. Lifelong changes are more of a marathon than a sprint. Every step along the way is moving you toward the finish line. Speed isn't always an advantage in the long haul.
You are now ready to embark on that journey. Congratulate yourself for making a decision that will bring about many positive changes in your life. Be proud of yourself and excited about your decision. Choose to find the bright side of every situation. Even the toughest of days will have a benefit; practice at overcoming obstacles. On the tough days, use a mantra to remind yourself that only you are in control of your destiny. My personal favorite is Og Mandino's "Today, I will be master of my emotions." Picture yourself achieving your goal. Focus on the positive feelings that vision evokes. Let the warm feeling wash over you and a smile will work its way across your face. Now, keep the smile on and think about the great day that you are going to have. Enjoy your newfound success - one day at a time.


                  Jo Cordi Sica
                  SPHR Organizational Development and Training
                  jwcordi@aol.com




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