Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Favorite Part of New York

I feel fortunate to have taken my first real "vacation" in a couple years earlier this month with one of my best friends. It was our first trip to New York and we did the typical tourist things...we saw the Statue of Liberty, visited Ellis Island, visited the top of the Empire State Building, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, ate huge bagels in Times Square and enjoyed the Guggenheim. We spent a great deal of our time either rushing to get to various spots around Manhattan or waiting in line (for the Empire State Building and the ferry to the Statue of Liberty).

Finally, on our last Morning in New York, we hopped a train to Brooklyn and Coney Island. For both of us, we felt instantly at home. While Manhattan is filled with a wide variety of people and interesting sights and cultural attractions, Brooklyn had a neighborhood feel to it. If I lived in New York, I don't think I could ever swing the high rents in Manhattan. But, I could picture myself living in Brooklyn.

Early that Monday morning, Coney Island and the nearby beach felt like a quiet, laid-back oasis after our running around in Manhattan. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, the pace was slow and I could feel an inner peace. We walked along the beach watching the older European immigrants and young moms with their kids. We did not take a ride on the Cyclone or the ferris wheel because it was still too early, but this place just oozed fun- we had huge smiles on our faces. Nearby, the new minor league baseball stadium had music playing and kids were playing baseball in the practice fields next to it. A little later, I enjoyed a hot dog at the original Nathan's. This is what vacation is all about!

It sounds like they are going to make some major changes around Coney Island very soon. Part of me understands why this change might take place. But my nostalgic side simply cringes at the thought. In Chicago, they have turned Navy Pier into one of our city's biggest tourist destinations, but it lacks soul. It feels fake. I sincerely hope that the special Coney Island magic remains there forever...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What is Your Procrastination Style?

I admit it – I am a professional procrastinator. I feel that I am probably better than most people at putting things off. Some of the things I’ve been putting off include taking a vacation (4 years), going to the dentist (4 years), getting my eyes checked (at least 5 years), getting in touch with old friends, flirting with that beautiful woman on the train, taking the cooking class I have been curious about, etc. You get the idea.

Recently, a few of these things I have put off came to a head in my life. Last weekend, I went on vacation and visited New York City for the first time in my life. I had an incredible time with a great friend of mine. Before my trip, one of my molars cracked. I have set up an appointment to visit my dentist this Saturday. While I do not look forward to this, I know it is necessary to make an appointment. I came to the realization this evening that I am beginning to confront a couple things that I have been putting off (vacation, dentist). What I am hoping is that by taking action on these things, I will begin to get a little unstuck in my life.

In the past when I have taken action on things I have put off, I regretted this avoidance. Almost ten years ago, I learned about Toastmasters from a group of people I met at a networking event. While I was always intrigued about improving my public speaking skills, I never went to a meeting. Five years later I got laid off from a job I liked. About a month and a half later, I finally went to my first Toastmasters meeting. I was hooked! I confronted my fear of public speaking. Today, I continue to see improvement in my speaking skills and confidence as I work to become a better speaker and leader. My biggest regret: not joining Toastmasters earlier.

According to Dr. Linda Sepadin, there are six styles: Perfectionist, Dreamer, Worrier, Defier, Crisis-Maker and Over-Doer. I guess you could say that I am a combination of a few of those styles. Sometimes my need for perfection stops me in my tracks from starting; other times, I am a dreamer and I am vague about what I need/want to do; I am also a worrier and sometimes I let my fears prevent me from moving forward (e.g. I worry that my dentist will find more cavities so by avoiding him, he can’t).
I will say this is not logical thinking. I hope to confront my procrastination in the next few months. I will start by taking small steps to move forward. By doing this, the small steps will, I hope, add up to big progress. At work, we are going to soon discuss “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. Not surprisingly, I procrastinate at organizing my paperwork. I hope these steps will help me to move forward in several areas of my life. So, what is your procrastination style?