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Creating a virtual retreat for personal growth planning April 19, 2017

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Get Organized.
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By Dennis Mellersh

In working on our personal development programs, particularly when this involves important internal mental work, it would be nice to be able to find some place of peace and quiet where we can focus on our challenges and goals.

I was reminded of this when I was reading a book describing “retreats” that various people had built in the countryside, in secluded places – little cabins and small cottages – where the people who built them could relax, recharge their mental batteries, improve their sense of well-being, work towards their goals, and bolster their creativity.

This might involve being able to meditate, or following particular personal growth goals such as learning to write, or practising glass blowing, doing oil painting or arts and crafts, and other efforts involved in expanding their personal horizons and capabilities.

Although most of us are not able to enjoy the luxury of having a physical retreat such as a cabin in the woods to help us focus on self-improvement, we can nevertheless build a virtual retreat for ourselves.

It is said that in Japan, where very high population density makes privacy difficult, people make a place in their mind where they can retreat, to create mental, spiritual, and emotional privacy.

A virtual retreat that allows us to focus on our internal work and goals can be created, as a start, through two processes:

(1) Establishing the habit of disciplining ourselves to do some work without fail every day on our self-actualization program. Ideally we should set aside a minimum of 30 minutes a day (at the same time if possible) to work on our program.

It’s the daily work habit that brings, step-by-step, the accomplishment we need and want in our growth program. It will be a struggle to “get in the zone” with our program without the consistency of disciplined action every day.

(2) We should also try to have a particular place in our home or elsewhere, such as a coffee shop, where we consistently spend these 30 minutes studying and thinking about our personal development program.

We can then spend parts of the rest of our day in the implementation phases of our program.


Personal growth paradox: Doing last things first March 20, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Get Organized, Personal Growth Books.
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The more we study personal development and growth, in our efforts to improve ourselves, the more often we will encounter the advice to “put first things first.”

Stephen R. Covey, in fact, as the lead author, wrote a 370-page book on this topic, First Things First*. Co-authors are A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill.

The implication is that most of us are often tempted to do last things first.

“Last things” being those activities that are not important.   In his time management matrix Covey presents a quadrant which is now familiar to many: (1) Important and urgent (crises, pressing problems, deadline-driven projects)

(2) Urgent, but not important (some phone calls, some reports, some meetings)

(3) Important but not urgent (planning, relationship-building, empowerment)

(4) Not important, not urgent ((trivia, busywork ‘escape’ activities, irrelevant mail, excessive TV)

In a chapter entitled, The Urgency Addiction, Covey goes into considerable detail about how to overcome the mistake of attributing the quality of urgency to things that are actually not important; how to distinguish between the demands of the four quadrants; and how to manage our time between the four elements of the quadrant.

The book contains this insight: “Urgency addiction is a self-destructive behaviour that temporarily fills the void of unmet needs. And, instead of meeting these needs, the tools and approaches of time management often feed the addiction. They keep us focused on daily prioritization of the urgent.”

With time pressures being so pronounced for everyone these days, we could all benefit from revisiting the ideas and solutions proposed in this book.

* First Things First, A Fireside Book, published by Simon & Schuster