Monday, July 28, 2008

Catch-Up Days


The website is definitely up and crawling. It should be up and running soon! Please visit and send me any suggestions or comments for improving it---or just congrats on having it out there (finally)!!! (The subscribe part of the e-newsletter signup isn’t working yet, so if you’d like to be on my mailing list---once every two weeks plus breaking news on rare occasions---please send your email address to me at from your email---not from the website. It should be fixed soon.)

Look for an announcement soon about a UPositive opening celebration being scheduled for September or October. We’re actively looking for a room, and a date. It’s going to be fun, with door prizes and comedy-relief included! I’ll post the time/date/place here as soon as I have it!

Catch-Up Days

No matter how much visualization, planning, organizing, and scheduling we do, life has a habit of jumping up and grabbing our time and attention. Things take longer than we thought, steps show up we hadn’t thought of, and distractions arise that turn into either needed breaks or necessary additions to our goals lists.

After a week or two, when we review our to-do lists or goals outline, it’s natural to wonder where the time went. Didn’t we plan right? Didn’t we choose the right steps? Are we out of sequence? Where did we go wrong?

It’s worthwhile to check ourselves and correct any mistakes or miscalculations we’ve made. Think of goal attainment as sailing…you don’t get from here to there in a straight line. You tack from side to side, using the weather and the wind to power your journey.

Sometimes, though, it’s not what we’ve done but just life itself that “gets in the way”---and not necessarily negatively. Trust me, if Robert Redford knocked on my door I’d throw my entire to-do list for the week away in a heartbeat, invite him in, and take as long as possible to have a really deep conversation. (Of course, that conversation is on my goals list, it’s just not scheduled into my DayTimer this week.)

So what do we do?

Expect the unexpected. An old adage with a lot of wisdom to it.

What does that mean? For me, it means scheduling in what I call a “catch-up day.” I try to do it every two or three weeks, before the “leftovers” from my DayTimer turn sour or proliferate to overwhelming proportions. Knowing I have the space and time to catch up also releases the stress from seeing leftovers on my to-do list.

A catch-up day is on the schedule with nothing much else around it. I might take a break to go for a walk, or to the gym, but that’s about it. I take out my daily planner, and my goals lists and spend some time reviewing where I’ve been, where I am now, and anything that might be missing. I add and subtract items from the goals list. I go through my to-do lists from the past few weeks and make a list of things I didn’t get to do. Then I schedule those into the next week or two. I update my calendar.

Usually I take the time to re-visualize my goals. Closing my eyes, returning to my relaxed state, I pull up the visualizations of my life five years from now, then three, then next year. By then I have re-energized myself, and I’m ready to get going. This also serves to shortcut the guilt trip I might otherwise pull: “Oy, I should have done that last week”; “How could I have forgotten to call my friend?”; “The meeting was two weeks ago and I haven’t sent my notes yet---why bother, they’ll have forgotten me anyway.” I, like many of you, can go on and on with that goblin-voice in my head. Re-visualizing quiets that voice. Excitement is always more powerful than worry.

After all the organization of my catch-up day morning, I might spend some of the afternoon making some calls or sending some emails that were lost in the rush. Do the follow-up from networking. Send thank you notes. Send great-to-meet you notes. If there are small, quick tasks that fall by the wayside, I might do a few of those, just to check them off the list.

Often, after a catch-up day, I feel refreshed, reorganized, re-inspired. And I try to remember the goals listed under “mental health/relaxation/replenish my mind-body-spirit.” Catch-up days are great for the bubble bath or manicure I’ve been putting off because I’ve been running around too fast trying to GetItAllDone.

So take a day every two to three weeks and play catch-up with yourself!

Do you have your own version of catching up with yourself? Please share it with us along with any other thoughts about this post!!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Aha! vs Just Do It! Creativity Controversy


The website is up and crawling…there are some editorial changes and some additions still in process, so it won’t quite be up and running for a few more days (next week?). Please visit! Please give me feedback at

The Batya Sez… shop (you can reach it through the Shop page on the website, or directly through is working! It needs a lot of editing, and so far has only T-shirts and mousepads for half the motivational/inspirational/slightly cynical/and just plain funny sayings that will soon be there. At some point in the near future, there will be caps and mugs, magnets and coasters, bumper stickers, and more…and nine more sayings! Check it out---get yourself or someone you know a gift…and come back often! (I don’t think the Thank-You page is connected yet, so let me say Thank You now!

The first eBook….The UPositive Guide to Goal Attainment for Creative People…is waiting for its isbn number and for me to figure out which server(?) to attach it to. So…foreseeable future!

The Aha! or Just Do It! Creativity Controversy

I’ve been joining a lot of social/business networks lately, and visiting some interesting forums. This week, one of them focused on the question of creativity and moods, or style of creativity. The musician/songwriter wondered if people thought it better to create from those moments of inspiration or from sitting down and forcing the creative act. Here’s my response, with a bit more detail than I fit in the post:

I think it's (d) all of the above.

The more you use your right brain, the more open it is to receiving input, and the more available it is to you. Although that's not quite right.

The right brain is always receiving input: sensory, emotive, whole-picture (forest-type), metaphorical. The trick is opening the path from right to left brain---bringing it into awareness and available thought (left brain). It's cleaning up, calling in the road crews, and widening the corpus callosum, which is the connector between right and left brains. The more you use it, the easier its use becomes. You want to introduce your right brain to your left brain and get them talking to each other.

Personally, I sometimes write with that sudden "Aha!" inspiration. Other times, sit me down in a nice comfy chair, with pen(cil) and paper or laptop, tell me "write!" and it happens. When I was working on Barbie fashions, I could grab a piece of material and a doll, without any preconceived idea, and just start draping. Sometimes, though, I’d walk through my workday with an image of a dress floating just behind my eyes, rush home, and execute the piece---with or without a sketch.

I realize not everyone works this way, and I'm not saying it's the best or worst way to do it---the creative process and judgment don't go well together, until you get to the Edit stage.

First---figure out your own style, and encourage it. Organize your time as best as possible around those activities or triggers that already invite your Muse in. If you write best in the morning, wake up early with your inspiration open. If you design best late at night, clear a space in your home where you won’t bother others as they sleep. Maximize what already works for you.

Then, encourage your brains to talk to each other any time, everywhere. Beckon up your Muse: invent a chant, light a candle, find a talisman---create a small ritual to call him/her present. With some repetition, this works remarkably well. The Muse, after all, comes through the right---symbolic---brain.

Practice, practice, practice. Sweep and stretch the corpus callosum, let your right and left brains sit down to coffee together regularly. Train them to pay respectful attention to each other, to inform each other of their needs.

Any other thoughts on the Aha! vs Just Do It creativity controversy?


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fear of Success/Fear of Failure


The new August-September 2008 videos will be up by the end of the week. The new UPositive Creativity and Life Coaching Goal Attainment Tip is about making decisions, and the Creativity Challenge focuses on synesthesia (“joined perception”). Take a look/listen at Thank you Lance!

The first items from Batya Sez… UPositive’s product line of motivational, inspirational, slightly cynical, and just plain fun sayings on caps and T-shirts, mousepads and mugs, magnets and more should also be available by the end of this week. You can find them through the Shop link at or through (I haven’t tested this link yet…if it changes I’ll post the new one here next Monday). The second batch of items should be available in another week or so.

The Website,, is semi-functional!!!! There are some important changes that will be posted in a few days; the eBook is ready but not yet connected to the site, and the Links page is not up-to-date but will be soon. Feel free to wander around the site and let me know what you think!

Look for a big grand opening party in mid-September! Details will be available by the end of this month!

Fear of Failure/Fear of Success

In the past two weeks, the topic of fear in relation to creative activity and/or goal attainment has come up a number of times. I’m not going to address the difference between the fear of failure vs the fear of success here, because the results are the same: we become stuck, inactive, unable to accomplish our desires, and often depressed.

Fear is an interesting emotion. Most of our emotions reside in the right brain. Fear, on the other hand, seems to originate in the left brain, jump the dividing line of the corpus callosum, and take up residence in the right brain. There, it masquerades as an intense emotion rather than the belief(s) that it is.

“I might fail,” is a thought, not an emotion, and the resulting beliefs, such as “I’m not good enough,” or “Then I am worthless,” or “Then no one will love me,” or many other possible thoughts jump up with it. Sometimes they’re just under the surface of awareness, but with a bit of scratching through, we’ll find them.

When we allow fear of failure/success to run our lives, to make choices regarding actions on the to-do list of attaining our goals, we often fall into a depression, which further shackles our forward motion. Often, breaking through depression requires taking action no matter what: whether we feel like we want to or not. (Biochemical depression might need a biochemical response as well as taking action). Even very small activities can engender increased energy.

I think the most powerful tool to fight the fear of failure/success is courage. Courage is often a doing-it-anyway attitude. I’m going to try whether I fail or succeed. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “the only true failure is in not trying” or some such wording. Courage is something we all have because it can be made up. Courage can come from “living as if” as often as it comes from some personality strength. It can be derived from stubbornness (“I won’t let that stop me!”) and from rebelliousness (“So, left brain, you think you have the last word? I don’t think so!”). In breaking through fear of failure/success, it doesn’t really matter where your courage comes from. Gather it together and use it.

Take a look through the Shop page at (well, in a week or two). If you need a reminder, the “Do it Anyway” products, with their inner-goblin faces, will remind you that you’re not alone in this battle against your fears.

The other recommendation I have for addressing and conquering the fear of failure/success is to let go of your desire for perfection. We’re human: perfection belongs to God/gods/the Universe (whatever your belief, please translate to your own understanding). Accept that you’re going to fail at being perfect.

The Dine People (Navajo) added a dream thread to their weavings, which wandered through the rugs at a meandering diagonal while all the other threads were at right-angles. The Japanese build a flaw into their pottery. Both do these for the same reason: what they create should not be perfect, cannot be perfect, isn’t meant to be perfect. They’re human. Even their most successful creations are imperfect. And they see a beauty in that.

The August-September UPositive Goal Attainment video about decision-making addresses the fear of making choices, and offers a process to break through and make the best-possible choice of the moment. Take a look: it might be helpful to you.

There’s a lot more conversation possible about fear of failure/success. I’d like to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and experiences about it. Please post your comments and stories here.

Note: Primal fear---of such things as loud noises, falling, possibly the dark, large animals with sharp teeth growling at us, and, in Romania especially, Dracula, arises from our Reptilian brain, but is not the topic of this conversation.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Welcome to the Age of the Right Brain

As I sifted through a pile of months-old New York Times papers, I came across an interesting article in the Business Section of April 6th. It caught my eye with the title: “Let Computers Compute. It’s the Age of the Right Brain.” Yes!

The article, in a nutshell, emphasizes not only the importance but also the need for creativity in the business setting. This certainly isn’t a new thought, but it has taken a number of decades for it to gain some weight in the business community.

As the NYT article states, we have entered a “Creative Economy” and the “Conceptual Age.” It points out the somewhat obvious: that computers and cheap labor in Asia are now doing much of the left-brain work of the previous American workforce. The left-brain work of creating and using computers, which can now handle many of the sequential skills of that hemisphere, has made much of its own work obsolete.

The left brain is outsourcing and automating itself. For instance, can you remember the last time a live person answered a business phone? Or when customer service for a product didn’t start out (and for the most part complete) your problems by computer?

Business Coaches may well be at the forefront of encouraging creative thinking in corporate America. They use brainstorming (a right-brain activity), drawing, journaling, and other right-brain activities to teach problem-solving from new angles. Thinking outside the box is now encouraged in many major corporations, at least on the management level.

That’s great news!

I think, however, that it’s going to take a while for it to trickle down to the mid-size company, and certainly longer to trickle down to below management level, if it ever does. Is that a hint of cynicism? Yes. I’d love to hear experiences that prove me wrong about it, though.

It’s a good sign, anyway. Certainly, the fact that creativity in the business setting is addressed by the New York Times Business Section, means that the topic is up for conversation. Entering the awareness of the general populace, creativity just might have a positive effect in places we can only imagine (yup, with our right brains!).

It’s my firm belief that the more we use our right brain in all areas of our lives, as individuals, as groups, as communities, as businesses, as a country…the better off we’ll be. The right brain sees the whole picture---it sees humanity as one thing, for instance---rather than categorizing. Certainly, there are more than enough prejudiced artists, writers, singers, et cetera in the creative community, but taking an educated guess I imagine the percentage is lower than in the general population. The right brain tends to be inclusive and sees similarities; it puts things together in patterns the left brain is too busy categorizing to notice.

And anything that encourages creative productivity in any form is on the plus side of my ledger-of-life.

So I’m on board to welcome the “Conceptual Age”---bring it on! My right brain is ready: is yours?


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Best Laid Plans...

I’ve been contemplating the realities of life lately, after hearing stories from a number of my friends about not reaching their goals. What happens when you’ve envisioned your goals, set them, planned the steps to them, taken the steps, remained positive, and still not reached your goals?

My first response is to revisit the process: Is the vision detailed? Anchored through the senses? Can you really feel the accomplishment when you imagine it? Have you held that vision with you during the process, revisiting it over and over? Were there steps that you skipped? Was your positive attitude surface only, or were you committed to it?

These are not questions to make anyone “wrong” but a review similar to what is done in any business to learn where to improve, where to tweak the process, where to redirect energy.

Other questions arise: Is this the goal you really want---or one you think you should want? Is there another path to take to reach it?

Can you still work toward the goal? Is it the timing you set for yourself what you’ve failed at? If so, readjust your calendar. Find alternate steps to take. Perhaps there’s a skill you need to learn, new people to meet, someone you need to hire to help you along the way.

If you’ve decided to abandon this particular goal, there are some steps I recommend while doing so. (1) Take a good look at how much you’ve accomplished and learned along the way. (2) What other goals did you accomplish to get as far as you have? (3) How does the process you’ve been through apply to your future?

I truly believe that every honest endeavor we undertake has value. Perhaps gleaning the value from what we term “failure” is the real treasure.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Have there been times when you did not reach the goals you set for yourself? What did you do? What have you learned from the process. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!