How to Make Acronyms for Personal Development

This post is about self help / personal development. Or, specifically, how to make acronyms and use them for self-improvement. The process of making them can be challenging, but using them is easy and rewarding. At New Year’s cusp, people always think about resolutions but shouldn’t we be thinking about them all year long? Trying to reinvent ones self once every year can have some value but ongoing changes throughout the year yields greater results. I usually make my resolutions around August because that is where my teaching work year renews itself. Continuous improvement is what I strive for and I use self-invented acronyms to make it happen.

These funny little words really work!

There are many quality online personal development courses that attest to the power of acronyms. The reason I use acronyms is because they are easy to remember. Usually all goals can be narrowed down to three words. That’s the perfect length for an acronym. The word you create becomes your personal thing and you carry it with you while traveling toward your goals. This past new year’s eve I read about a great worksheet and used it to develop some of my goal words for the year. Check it out here.

The first three goals are your creation!

At the beginning of the process, write down three words you want to focus on. You might write many and narrow them down to the three best. For example, a horse trainer might list:

patience, people, volume

Each word has a lot of idiosyncratic meaning to the horse trainer. You can imagine what these three words might mean in a horse trainer’s life in contrast to that of say, a lawyer.

Next in the process come up with a three letter word you will use as your acronym. It doesn’t matter if it’s related to the three words you just chose or not, but you should find the imagery of the word pleasing. You may find this list of three letter words intended for Scrabble players useful. This is in a way the game of your life.

To illustrate these first 2 steps, let’s say the horse trainer chooses the goals listed above and then chooses the word “ACT” as his acronym.

That leads to the most fun and rewarding step in my opinion. It’s also the step that takes the most time. The step is to come up with three words that start with the letters A,C, and T. Each word should represent one of the word-meanings you came up with when you started the process ie; patience, people, volume.

This can take a lot of trial and error until you get it right but once you are done you “own” the acronym. Take this as a possibility:

Allow (patience)
Culture (people)
Tons (volume)

The words you assign to the acronym don’t have to be exactly the same meaning as your goals but they should have enough to do with the original goal for you to remember the goal when you recall the acronym.

Now the horse trainer can go to work thinking about his meaningful acronym “ACT.” He has given his job and life a more precise focus.

I chose nouns for this example, but you can choose action verbs as well.  A resource you might find useful is this list of action verbs by letter. You can even make up a sentence like “I will Always be patient,” where Always is the A part of the acronym. This is helpful when you just can’t think of a word to match the goal.

When it comes to personal development and self-improvement, I swear by my acronyms to improve memory and other stuff. I think once you give it a try, you will too. If you are a trainer or a mentor, acronyms can assist you greatly with your time management training program. On a last note, you should check out this make an acronym engine, it is helpful.

So What do You Want on Your Tombstone?

tombstoneNo this isn’t a pizza commercial. It’s a blogger way to refocus ones goals. The idea is that by imagining the end we can do better NOW. I write movie reviews here and thus I see a lot of lives on the screen. Watching the characters move toward their goals is what makes movies interesting to me. I invite you to try this as a personal growth exercise. What to you want on your tombstone? Here are two questions to ask before you decide your own epitaph:

1) What would you like to be said about you at your funeral?

2) Think of a deceased loved one – what is the one thing you’ll remember the most about him/her?

As for #1, this is an interesting question. I think it morbid to fantasize about my own death, so I’m going to try and not do that. Instead, I will imagine what I would want my kids to remember about me and then translate that into a snippet on my tombstone:

Loving dad, disciplined artist, and student of life.

(make your own tombstone)

As for #2, this one is easy. My maternal grandfather died at 85. I will remember many things about him, he had a dramatic impact on my golf game and the formation of my personality. If I had to say one thing I will remember most about him it will be this statement (You have to be a golfer to understand it’s life application):

Keep your head down, take a big back-swing, and follow through.

That’s how I try to teach, play, love, and live . . . thanks to Gramps for those early mornings at Cherry Hills. I’ll never forget that crisp cold air and the lessons I learned in his shadow all those days.

This isn’t an editorial piece but rather something to keep you thinking. When you have passed from this life, what will you leave behind? It’s psychology we all could use because it helps us define ourselves. I think George Bernard Shaw said it well when he said:

Life isn’t about finding ourselves, it’s about defining ourselves.

One final time: What do you want on your tombstone? If you have a blog, make a post on this topic. If you don’t, feel free to answer the questions in the comments.

Plan to Go Big

Vegas is a great place for thinkers and visionaries to go. It goes “at the speed of life” to every extent of the phrase. I was in Vegas the last 4 days and the same subject to write on was underlined everywhere I went. While in the casinos, I noticed the new ones had gigantic, multi-level parking garages. They of course aren’t filled yet but I am sure they will be soon and the new casinos will be ready. We stayed in one on the older end of the strip our first night and were barely able to find a spot. Let me remind any of you who have been on vacation with a family how much bad parking situations suck.

The newer resorts we stayed in had mega parking. They are thinking ahead. We stayed in a total of 3 resorts and in the third one, everything seemed geared on going big in the near future. The folks at the Red Rock Resort in Summerline (about 10 miles off the strip) have created a “wide-open” atmosphere. Of all the places we stayed, it allowed me to relax and open my mind to new ideas. That is exactly what I need when I go to Vegas or anywhere else for a vacation.

I got the message to “plan to go big” for my teaching, blogging, and leading my family. What good is a temporary place when you can plan to be now in the vision you have for tomorrow. Maybe the founding fathers didn’t plan big enough and now we have all this “occupy Wall Street” bullshit going on. Or, maybe they just didn’t have enough information and now we have to rewrite the constitution. Either way, They planned and here we are.

Be rad, be quality, burn baby burn … in the end we are all just melting snowflakes so plan to go big. You already know what to do if you don’t go big but what if you do? Be ready.

On my tombstone, I would have it say 2 of 3 things:

1) Here lies Damien, he planned to go big but never did.
2) Here lies Damien, he went big and planned for it.
-or-
3) Here lies Damien, he went big but didn’t plan for it.

Plan big, because epitaph 1 is better than 3.

Strength in the face of adversity . . .

Columbia, SC: Kershaw Co. man cuts off own arm

I read this story and was so inspired. Not because I’d like to cut my arm off, but it shows the capacity we have as humans to do what we have to do, however horrific, to survive. This article is truly an example of a possibility thinker in action.

KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) – A Kershaw County man is sharing his story of survival. He faced a life or death decision when his hand got stuck in a piece of farm equipment, and then a fire broke out around him. What he did next might shock you, and we have to warn you that some of the details might be disturbing.

Save Today's Sun for Tomorrow's Rain

When I’m in raw nature, I get inspired and feel peaceful. I think about the beauty around me as I swim, hike, relax, and make bonfires. I don’t miss a thing. One thing I fail to consider sometimes is that I am recording memories that I will summon throughout my life. I can use these as an escape from any stressful situation. Continue reading Save Today's Sun for Tomorrow's Rain

Stay Curious My Friends

imageI’ve always wanted to see Ireland. One day, I hope to. Other friends in my vicinity have more exotic wanderlusts, like China or Borneo for example. For me, those places are a little scary, not to mention quite costly. Still, I want to go “farther out” with my curiosity. Everything seems odd when it hasn’t been experienced. Conversely, when you are familiar wit the “other,” it can become a favorite of yours, a close companion, even a place where you belong. With all the hue and cry over illegal immigration lately, I find myself encountering more and more xenophobia all around me. Facebook messages show poor people being shipped back on trucks to Central America and the caption reads “Go Home!” I find this sickening. I don’t think you should be allowed to voice an opinion until you have seen the conditions in the country they are fleeing. To them it isn’t a preference or a wanderlust, they are fleeing for their very lives. It’s really a spoiled attitude some Americans have and I wish it would stop. But back to topic.

I remember tasting sushi for the first time, I loved it! Most people I know who haven’t tried the “raw fish” say it’s disgusting. I remember trying Kun Pao Chicken in the early 90’s and loving the flavor. Back then, a lot of people told me I was odd for liking Chinese food. Little by little, customs and food come into our country from “afar” and it is a wonderful thing. I think we are at a point in American culture where it is time to embrace as much of the world’s ideas as possible. Some of ours are fading and actually failing in many ways. The more we replace the fear of the unknown with curiosity, the better chance we have as a country to survive. Xenophobia is alive and well and ain’t that a shame. I’ll open the comments to you with this question but feel free to “wander:” What favorite foods or customs have you admired from other countries? What do you think of the quote? Did it have an entirely different meaning to you than what I wrote about? If you’re a blogger, You might write about it and pingback here so others can read it.

Customer Service and its Conundrums

receipt1I grew up in retail. My first job was at a grocery store then I spent over 10 years working for Pizza Hut. After that, I became a teacher where I have needed to handle customer satisfaction issues with students and parents from time to time. The first lesson of customer service is: never lose your cool. They are there for a reason and you need to take their complaints/needs 100% seriously. Without them there is no system. The measure of an argument’s success with customers is how well you kept your cool and how well you satisfied their complaint. This is simple logic that anyone in teaching or retail needs to remember. If we don’t remember this, no one is happy and that can lead to a breakdown of any company or system.

So what about when the customer is wrong? It’s been said, “The customer is always right.” That’s an illogical statement. What you can say, if you are using absolute statements like “always,” is that the customer is always “the customer.” Sometimes the customer is right and sometimes they are wrong. Being kind as you are realistic about what you can do for the customer should be second nature to anyone dealing with the public. We should never get so set in our ways that we let “gut reactions” cause us to be rude or even yell at them. Let the payoff be that you can celebrate when you’ve kept your cool. It is very gratifying also when you can get to a win/win with the customer, you feeling good because you solved the problem and them feeling good as well. If you ever get a direct complaint from a customer, return their call right away because if they want to talk, they are still open to resolving it with you. It’s not always true but sometimes when they go above your head they aren’t interested in resolution, they want blood (metaphorically). Good luck as you navigate customer service and its conundrums.

Counter Culture Mindset

I was watching “Doomsday Preppers” on the History Channel the other day and it never occurred to me before but did at that moment that I have something in common with them. They are outside of culture and I strive to be, at least mentally anyway, outside as well. My remote-ness is different in kind but “apart is apart” I hope to be different from the propogandish life protrayed on television and elsewhere in modern culture. I should call that life a lie because it really is. Some channels are deeper lies than others. In “my book,” counter culture is cool because it sustains a purity, at least in theory. A primal urge to meet ones needs and live with as much excess as possible is the goal. Recently I noticed there were two new movies coming out about the Beats (AKA the “Beatniks,” “Beat Generation.”) This is exciting for me! To see Jack Kerouac, William Buuroughs, and Allen Ginsberg on screen would be a treat. They have been like mythical creatures for me most of my life. The Beats represented counter culture and apparently movie makers want to spread that message today.

We live in a time that is for all intents and purposes: “The Matrix.” All we lack are the plugs for the backs of our heads. I don’t find much contentment in the “Doomsday Preppers” since they say the world is going to be taken out. They may be right, but I don’t want to focus on that. I’d rather focus on the now and what I can get from it. It is really all we have. A life that works toward that is my brand of counter culture. To learn is to conquer and I want that in excess. To be made aware of ones shortcomings and suffering is along the path. To obey ones instincts and find happiness in a new and untrodden way is my life’s ambition. This is rarely touched on in modern media. If you don’t measure up to what they tell you, then you can never be happy. I’m out to destroy that cultural myth. Success is the best revenge. I hope I remain counter culture until my dying day. When we dare to break out of our societal constraints, we can see with CLARITY what we need to do for ourselves.

One way to gain clarity on the issues of ones life is via meditation. There are many great books and websites that have been published on the topic. My brand of counter culture seeks calm and clarity through meditation. It isn’t just trendy yoga either. The mere act of a sigh can trigger the relaxation response. When you pay attention to your own body and relax it, your body will take better care of you. While in those relaxing time, I often have realizations about what my life needs. I try to follow through on that. Notice that though I praise the Beats I do not require drugs in my brand of counter culture. I don’t think they required it either but they do carry that stigma so I’m providing a disclaimer. Counter culture is cool, in my opinion. I think the more counter culture movements that arise the better. Obviously the debt and unrest in this country is an indicator that the status quo life we are fed in the media isn’t working for the majority.

The More You Learn the Less You Know, When You're a Teenager

Teens need to understand that a project worth its salt takes work, time, and dedication. Not much is instant like a video game. The question is, how do we teach this with minimal pain.

Youth is the time for being risky, for being bombastic and loud. I can say that through my teens and twenties I was the loudest around, and often the most annoying. I would make my feelings known on any topic without holding back. Through that time I learned through trial and error that our perception can change on a given subject that we never imagined before. My son has a hard time seeing that truth, he’s 14 and I am 43. There’s a big gap of life lessons in there.At my age I am very aware of the fact that the facts may affect my view of something. In fact, they often do. My son is sure he can play a gig with his “band” that has only practiced once together.

He himself has been playing (according to him) 3 months. The band has practiced once. I will probably pay the $5 admission to the ASB show they asked his band to play at. I will hope for one of two things to happen: Either he will impress me with what one practice did or he will come to realize it is embarrassing to perform music when you have nothing to offer. As for now, he knows I am wrong and a mean old man for being so critical. I just want to see him be real and make the best art out of his life that he can. To have an influence, you have to have your act together. He may “know” that isn’t true now but the more he learns by experience, I hope he “knows” less than he does now and has a more open mind. And, of course as his dad, I am always open to be proven wrong.

Everything Looks Different When it’s the Last Time

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” -James Dean

I am a huge fan of traditional ceremonies: graduations, retirement dinners, birthdays, and other rites of passage. Life is unpredictable but tradition gives us a chance to plan and react slowly instead of abruptly. You never really know when it’s your last time to do something. For example, when we had a ceremony for the last day of AYSO soccer for my son, I didn’t know that would be the last time I would coach him. I planned to do it many more times but alas, it would never happen again. If my wife and I hadn’t held that ceremony at Nick’s Pizza and handed out trophies, we would have lost that season to scattered and chance memories. As it is, we have photos of Nick’s Pizza and the smiling kids’ faces that I recall coaching and helping to have fun that season. I was thinking today about how we don’t know when what we are doing is about to end. I think it is natural for us humans to think as if what we are doing is eternal, or at least something that will go on a long time. The truth is, people are plucked from this ethereal delusion every day. It may sound morbid but what about the guy or girl who gets killed by a drunk driver on the way to her/his wedding? Or what about the guy who teaches guitar and then loses his fingers from diabetic complications to never play or teach guitar again. These are bummer thoughts I admit so I will step away from them now. I am not really talking about death or other “unhappy endings” as motives here. Instead I am talking about transforming ones consciousness. I’m appealing to you the reader and trying to get your agreement that everything, when it’s the last time, looks different. Still, I want to drive home the reminder that we are not really in control of whether we continue or discontinue even in terms of living or dying. So, we should live in a state cognizant of that.

I would recommend that we live each event and moment as if it is our last. There is more consciousness and awareness in that place than in assuming there will be more. It also is an excellent antidote for boredom. It is impossible to be bored when you know something is almost over. As a teacher, my kids sometimes get bored when we are reading a story aloud or watching an educational video. When I tell them, “This is the end part,” I always see them pay closer attention. What if we could get into that habit in all the tasks and experiences we go through. The result would be deeper experience. We might give more time to our children if we knew we didn’t have as much time as we thought. Tonight, at my daughter’s dance class, I know we won’t be back. We may try tumbling but the experiences here have not been the best a customer could experience. As a result we are moving on. I guess that’s why I am writing to you tonight to enjoy any classes or games or recitals you may get the luck to attend as if it’s the last time. In a way, everything we do always is. You might say there is a last time for everything.

“Life is always walking up to us and saying, “Come on in, the living’s fine,” and what do we do? Back off and take its picture.” -Russell Baker