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Create your Kipuka

Create your Kipuka

Kilauea is an active volcano on the Big Island of Hawai‘i where I live; she has been erupting and sending rivers of molten lava to the sea continually since 1983. (I say “she” for in Hawaii legend attributes our volcanic eruptions to the goddess Pele.)

In the earlier years of her eruption, Kilauea did quite a bit of damage to homes, forests and wildlife. However now, something wonderful is happening. Something bountiful. Kilauea has stopped taking, and started to give back.

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Since claiming her fiery path to the sea, and as her lava continues to flow, Kilauea has begun to give us the gift of creation Her eruption shows no sign of stopping, and I suspect it will be many years beyond our lifetime before the vast landscape of glistening black rock left in the lava’s wake becomes hospitable and inhabitable again. However meanwhile, we bear witness to the very birth of the land itself. The land mass of our island has grown substantially in these past twenty three years.

As the lava flows to our ocean it chooses a certain path; it does not cover everything as a heavy rainfall might sheet a window. Within the areas of destruction burned and scarred by the slowly advancing lava there are these pockets of land which are spared. The trees and wild grasses continue to grow there, and while some other plants may succumb to the surrounding heat, because the ground itself was untouched the soil remains fertile, and new growth will begin fairly quickly. Birds find refuge in the trees of these older land pockets, and it is their song which you first hear. Upon closer inspection, you discover these spared sections of land are teeming with life.

We call these oases of vegetation kipuka. They beckon all life to return to their nourishment so that life can thrive again. They are places of hope and of promise; of survival. They are tranquil places of calm and serenity. They are places of preserved histories which hold the seeds for renewed beginnings.

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Some will swear that when you sit quietly within a kipuka and look to the skies, you will see images in cloud formations you have never seen before, for the land was spared to connect all on earth to the heavens. It is true that the kipuka get the most rainfall, for they attract our tropical rain clouds like magnets pulled into their verdant green targets.

Many island watermen use the word kipuka as well. They refer to a calm place in high seas where rolling swells seem to part for their canoe, or deep places in a shoal where they can find the prized pāpio playing when they are fishing.

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Within our lives, we all have kipuka. They are our havens and safe harbors. They are those places where we feel we are our best, where we have the most energy, and where we can be our most resilient selves. They are those places where we feel creative, and we seem to get our best ideas. Within our kipuka we feel a kind of abundance, knowing there are so many new possibilities just waiting to emerge.

Every workplace, and every home should be a kipuka, a place conducive to having the very best in us take root in fertile soil, so it will continue to grow and flourish. However in our case, nature may not provide them for us as she does in the lava fields of The Big Island. We have to create them.

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Imagining your best possible kipuka, and committing to creating it, could well be the most important thing you ever do for yourself. A place where you enjoy learning and growing. A place where it seems you always get your best ideas. A place where you give birth to who you are meant to be.

Better yet, you can be the kipuka. You can be the one who provides the nourishment others need to they can prosper and thrive. It’s a good goal to write for ourselves, don’t you think?

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Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business. Rosa is the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. She also writes online at the Talking Story blog.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Literal Life Hack: Cut your window of time in half.

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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