Small Steps the Kaizen Way, by Julie Mueller, LCPC
Have your New Year’s
resolutions crashed and burned? You’re
not alone. People often set high,
unrealistic goals for themselves to achieve in a short period of time. This can be a set up for failure and
discouragement. Taking small steps
toward continuous improvement can be a much better, motivating process. The concept of Kaizen (meaning constant and
steady, small improvement) is a Japanese term that has been circulated among
Japanese businesses for decades and is used daily by individuals across the
globe. It is the essence of Kaizen that
you seek small, often seemingly trivial steps toward the major goal in your
life. The philosophy is captured succinctly
and beautifully by Lao Tzu: “A journey
of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” The idea is to seek small increments and
change without regard to the importance or speed of change. For example, if you have set a goal to lose
20 pounds, this may feel overwhelming to you.
If you set a goal of losing 1 pound per week and stick to this goal, you
may achieve this more effectively and will stay motivated. Now you’re on your way. Try it!
Getting Back to Basics, by
Julie Mueller, LCPC
The world has gone
mad! Much of our consciousness is filled
with job layoffs, rising costs, plummeting investments, government bailouts,
climate change, wars, and other personal stress. As we try to make sense of the multiple
challenges that are impacting our lives, it occurs to me that we are faced with
the need to think more simply about the ways in which we live. Positive opportunities may emerge from crisis
and change. It allows us to be more
creative and mindful about the choices we make.
I remember watching School
House Rock on Saturday mornings as a kid.
I was taught to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. More people are coming back to this mentality
whether it be out of necessity or a renewed philosophy. The following are stress-reducing practices
to try: 1) Mindful Spending – asking
yourself, “Is this really necessary?”
This can greatly reduce your spending and help to prioritize purchases.
2) Cook from Scratch – It’s healthy and you can make it fun by inviting some
friends over to cook together, share meals & recipes. 3) Be
Kind to the Earth - Use your own shopping bags, high-quality water bottles and
coffee mugs. 4) De-clutter your Household - donate (or “freecycle”) to others
who might enjoy the stuff you’re no longer using! 5)
Build Community – Make efforts to connect with friends, family and
colleagues. Host a movie night or a back
yard BBQ instead of a more expensive night out.
If you change your perspective a bit, you won’t feel like you’re
sacrificing too much, but making the most of what you already have.
Getting Back to Family Basics, by Julie
Financial experts say that for many
families, entertainment costs are a budget-buster. Who wants to consider the
hidden costs of having fun? Being
creative regarding cutting costs doesn't have to mean a life devoid of movies, concerts,
restaurants, and other activities.
Here’s some ideas to
maximize your fun and minimize your costs:
1) Most communities offer “Movies in the Park” and “Concerts in the
Park” at no cost. Bring a picnic and
watch a flick or concert under the stars, 2) When dining out, most ethnic
restaurants charge reasonable prices and a family can share entrees while
you’re educating your children’s palettes!
Supporting your local, family owned diner for breakfast or lunch gives a
sense of community and typically is a great buy as well, 3) Outdoor festivals
in your community have great activities for the kids like arts/crafts, face
painting and dancing to live music.
These are low to no cost activities, 4) Don’t forget your local library
for free museum passes, story telling and other activities for the kids at no
or low cost, 5) Invite the neighbors over for game night. Families can play charades, board games or
cards while sharing home made snacks/meals, 6)
Many kids love to cook/bake with their families. This is a great activity to enjoy with
extended family, friends and neighbors.
There are endless
possibilities to explore that won’t destroy your budget. Summer in the Midwest seems so short. Take advantage
of the many options available to you in your community and beyond, by getting
back to basics with summer fun.
Downsizing That Everyone
Can Appreciate, by Julie Mueller, LCPC
Over time our homes can
accumulate large amounts of clutter.
This can produce a closed in, overwhelming feeling that can easily be
remedied with a bit of Spring Cleaning.
Here are some tips adapted from “10 Ways to Declutter Your Home” on
LifeOrganizers.com. As the saying goes,
“If you haven’t worn it or used it in over a year, get rid of it.” This can be
difficult for most, but you’d be surprised at what you can really do
without. And how important is it really
if you haven’t even thought about it for a year? Do you have a lot of hair and
skin care products in the bathroom? If
they have hardened, soften or changed color, get rid of it. Do you really want that stuff on you?! There are so many inexpensive ways that help
to organize items neatly and efficiently.
Get some stackable plastic storage containers for things that you do not
use daily. They come in just about every
size too. One thing you must absolutely remember when decluttering is you
have to throw or give away the not
used or not wanted. DO NOT just take everything out and rearrange!
That is a temporary solution and is not sufficient. When you have less clutter and more things put
away, your whole environment will have a more calm and peaceful effect. Try and do this about once per year and see
what a difference it can make in your life.
“Oh, Don’t Worry: You’ll Find Someone…” by Julie Mueller, LCPC
This is surely a phrase
that single people everywhere find a bit annoying. We have many clients that struggle with
being single in a couples-oriented world.
Some are trying to convince others that they’re really OK, even though
they are not partnered. Others are
longing for that special life companion and looking in all of the wrong
places. Others are struggling with
relationship issues of the past and are worried about how this will affect
their future. Here are some things to
consider about finding happiness while single:
Self care and self-reflection is always time well spent. Spending time on activities that help one to
be more balanced, authentic, healthy, and optimistic is key. When more of this is achieved, a person is
more likely to project this energy outward.
Taking up great hobbies, reading inspiring books, taking charge of
health, and spending more time with friends and family that you enjoy is a nice
start. Being aware of negative self-talk
about being single is important. This
tends to zap energy and feeds the assumption that “singlehood” is
permanent. Life is ever changing and
opportunities for growth are ever present.
Creating a positive relationship with self paves the way to great
relationships with others.
Holiday Blues, by Julie Mueller, LCPC
The holiday season
is upon us again. Balancing home,
professional, social and community life can be especially stressful around the
holiday season. It is a time of year
where expectations can take over and cause added pressure – we believe that
everything will or has to be perfect.
Unresolved family conflicts can cause added tension when the family gets
together to celebrate that “perfect holiday.” It is a time where some can feel
especially lonely and experience grief and losses more intensely. Commercial hype and societal expectations can
pressure some to overspend, causing financial stress. Excesses in food or alcohol can be especially
problematic for those suffering from addictions.
are some quick tips to make your holiday season a joyful and healthy one. Set realistic expectations and goals which
are possible to reach. Create new
traditions that fit your life style. For
example, consider donating some time to a soup kitchen or other charity. Have a “holiday cookie sharing party” where
friends make big recipes of only one or two cookies then create holiday
platters together. Take care of your health by watching food and drink
excess. At parties, put snacks on a
plate so you may regulate the quantity of what you’re eating. Watch your finances by making gifts or giving
the gift of service (i.e. one night of baby sitting or help in the yard). Play seasonal music to get you into the spirit
while you’re decorating with friends or family. Make a commitment to create the type of
holiday that you desire and don’t forget to enjoy!