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Half Empty

Susanne Johnson
| November 28, 2016

So many blogs are written about that everlasting topic “Is the glass half full or half empty?” This one is different. I want to show you that sometimes a change in perspective (and even just a little action) can change the entire situation.

Five days, 12 hours, 5 minutes… that is the countdown to our event. I am responsible, and panic sets in about goals, expectations, organization, time table… stop!

There is no reason to panic. I know what my tasks are, I know what I’ve done and I know what I still have to do to make this event a success. The part of my brain that fills with panic and worry, also often referred to as the itty bitty (crappy) committee, is often giving me incorrect information. It’s solely up to me if I believe those thoughts or if I believe my notes, my talent, my experience and my strength. I can feel very, very different if I concentrate only on the list of a million things that I still have to do, or if I take a moment to look back and enjoy with pride how far I have come and how many items I have already crossed off that list.

Don’t let that panic team take over! Keep calm and do the following:

  • Divide your endless and overwhelming to-do list into smaller parts, or even one task a day if needed.
  • Check the items off as you have finished them and just consider the things you have to do in the next hours to be on schedule.
  • If you continue to shift the entire to-do list back and forth on your desk for hours, you are not going anywhere, but may be becoming nuts over the attempt. Take a break and return to it with a fresh mind, making sure to concentrate on only one thing at a time.
  • Leave yourself plenty of time to catch up unexpected items and last minute deals on the final day.

Voila… the event is a success and all works like clockwork. In the example above, I didn’t let a countdown overwhelm me. I didn’t look at a job half done, or half not done. I looked at each item as it came up on my list and mastered my way through it worry-free and pain reduced. My glass was not half full or half empty, my glass just was.

In another scenario, I’m selling tickets for a charity event. We have a total of 200 seats to fill for a banquet to make it a successful fundraiser. The first one hundred tickets sold in no time. A bunch of repeating attendants immediately jumped on it. Wow, that was easy! But now the clock it ticking and nobody seems to be interested in buying another ticket for a whole week now.

Looking through a positive lens at the first hundred (sold) tickets, I might say, “No worries, the rest will also sell like hot cakes.”Looking through a negative lens toward the remaining two hundred tickets, I might think, “Oh my God, how will I ever find one hundred people to join the party?” Or, instead, I can stop, and take one thing at a time.  I may choose to grab 20 tickets, a bunch of flyers, and go out for an afternoon visiting businesses to inspire people about my charity cause and this event. Once they are sold, I can go home, have a cold soda, take the next 20 tickets and go back out. My glass is not half full or half empty– I choose action and smaller steps to sell the rest, and reward myself with some nice air conditioning and a cold soda every time a step is reached.

In a third instance, I fertilize the lawn in my front yard. Somehow in my mind I believe the advertisement on the lawn fertilizer bottle– a picture of a lush green, perfectly cut, and weed-free lawn. I apply the stuff as directed and spend the next two weeks dreaming of a magical transformation from that crappy field of mine to a golf-course-perfect performance.

You know what? That lush green lawn never appeared. Some of my grass did get thicker, some parts became greener, and in some places I had burned it with too much nitrogen and it left brown spots. Not only my lovely tall fescue is growing, but the dandelions and clover were also exploding in healthy growth. That was NOT the plan, and I feel disappointed. I could see that it really looked better than before (“half full”) or I could see that the weeds are flourishing (half empty). But I can also say that I knew that a miracle wouldn’t be done through one application and I needed to have some patience and repeat the action to get results.

You see, looking at a goal in either an optimistic or pessimistic way can be devastating for the result, your mood, or your emotions. I don’t look at a glass half-full or half-empty.

For me, I need to open my cupboard and take out a smaller glass and fill it completely. Or in other words, I divide my goal into smaller steps because smaller goals feel great and manageable and are always very positive.

So, if you find yourself thinking that the glass looks half empty, and you need look at it differently, just remember to open your toolbox and find a different glass altogether. Divide your goals (the full glass) into steps and make it happen. Living with optimism and joy can be learned. You are the master of your thoughts.

You control your thoughts, don’t let your thoughts control you and your actions. If life is not up to your hopes and you can’t change your life or a given situation, change your expectations. Adjusting my expectations is a great way to find joy in life. Change your glass… perhaps it is simply too big.

In your recovery, don’t compare yourself to others. Your glasses and their contents come in all different sizes. The size of your accomplishments matter much less than how successful and joyful your life and your recovery can be during all the smaller steps. Change your expectations and make do-able goals in life and in your recovery. Do it step by step– take baby steps or tiptoe if needed, but keep moving forward and adapt your glass size to the water you have.

Keep moving forward, even if it’s as slow as a turtle in warm peanut butter. Look up and smile, use your tools and change the size of your glass according to your personal situation. Don’t just change your perspective, get active and change the situation. Life is good!


We do recover.

Susanne Johnson

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