Growth isn’t usually comfortable but is ever so worth it!

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.
~ Brian Tracey

What if …

Reach for the StarsOh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid?

It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.

~ Anne LaMott

Every moment is a choice

Every Moment is a Choice

Get Moving With 3 YESes and 3 NOs

yes-and-noA few weeks ago, my friend Margot shared her frustration that she never gets very far when it comes to her goals around self-care, balance, and happiness.

She sighed and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. No matter how hard I try, I fall apart after a few weeks.”

I’ve known Margot a long time, and there’s nothing wrong with her. She’s smart, kind, talented, and motivated. She’s organized, focused, and committed. In her professional life, she’s wildly successful with her goals.

But when it comes to her personal goals, there’s a reason she stays stuck in the same pattern.

She won’t give herself permission to achieve her personal goals.

Of course, that’s not what it looks like at first glance. She sets specific, measurable goals and enthusiastically lays out a “realistic” plan.

There’s a reason I’ve put quotation marks around realistic.

Her plan fails to address the obstacles that derail her every single time. She doesn’t give herself permission to disappoint anyone and she never says no. She puts everyone else’s needs first, withholding permission to put hers first.

Twenty minutes into our conversation, she asked if I had any advice. But of course :-).

3 YESes and 3 NOs

Getting unstuck, creating what you want in your life, and finding the intersection between success and happiness always involves stretching out of your comfort zone. And any time you bump up against what’s uncomfortable, permission to let go of – or embrace – something is required.

The challenge is figuring out your somethings.

More often than not, your somethings are habits, fears, behaviors, patterns, or mindsets you think – or hope – you can power through, skirt around, tip-toe past, or ignore entirely. There’s a reason “comfort zone” includes the word comfort!

That’s where the three YESes and three NOs come in. It’s a process I frequently use, for myself and with my clients.

It starts with a two-part question.

In order to create what you want, what will you say YES to and what will you say NO to?

My first time through this process was 15 years ago when I decided to launch my coaching practice. I’d already been in business for five years and was very comfortable being self-employed. And I was crystal clear that my passion was helping professionals create success and happiness.

But as I started the shift from corporate strategy consulting to coaching, I slammed into the edges of my comfort zone. It took some time to zero in on my most critical YESes and NOs, and it was time incredibly well invested – it’s what got me past my sticky-comfort-zone-edges!

We all have our own unique ways of withholding permission from ourselves, often without even realizing that’s what we’re doing.

It wasn’t until I took a brutally honest look at how I was getting in my own way that I was able to begin acting differently. Here’s my original list of YESes and NOs:

  1. YES to being uncomfortable
  2. YES to being authentically myself
  3. YES to making mistakes
  1. NO to worrying about what anyone else might think
  2. NO to making things perfect before putting them “out there”
  3. NO to wanting to be right

I’m positive I would not have been successful in my goal to build my coaching practice and to be happy had I not committed to those three YESes and three NOs.

And that holds true for every other go-round with 3 YESes and 3 NOs I’ve had since then.

Your turn :-).

Are you feeling stuck on something you’re trying to create in your life?

If yes, get yourself moving with the following steps:

  • Choose your 3 YESes and 3 Nos and write them down. Consider both the doing and being aspects of your life as you make your choices.
  • Give yourself permission to act on each of your YESes and NOs.
  • Keep your list in a place where you’ll see it multiple times each day.
  • Commit to a small action for one YES and one NO. And as you build momentum, add in small actions for each of the others.

You hold the keys to creating the life you want … but first you need to grant yourself permission to use those keys.

“We are wired to be brave; that’s why we never feel more alive than when we’re being courageous.” ~ Brené Brown

 

What are you growing?

Your mind is a garden
Your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or
You can grow weeds
~ Rita Ghatourey

You are the common denominator in all your experiences

whereveryougo

What to Do When Life Feels Like Monsoon Season

UmbrellaI’m in on one of those when it rains, it pours phases. Yes, it’s monsoon season in my life!

In the last 45 days:

  • Gems, my miracle cat, finally ran out of miracles.
  • My mother, who lives alone on the other side of the country, was in a serious car accident that surfaced issues she’d been masterfully covering up.
  • My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • And yesterday Elsie, my 90-pound dog, had surgery.

Monsoon season.

My twenty-something self would have been in an OMG, OMG, stress-pouring-out-of-every-pore state. Thankfully, my years of practicing the skills of choice, awareness, and perspective, as well as lots of yoga, are keeping my fifty-something self a bit more grounded.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m feeling the stress. The fact that I’ve had laryngitis for a week is proof of that!

But what I know, learned one painful lesson at a time, is that while nothing’s going to make this easy, there are ways to make rough patches either more or less hard.

I’m going with make-it-less hard :-).

And so I’m using these seven tactics to increase my sense of control and keep myself grounded. You don’t have to wait for a monsoon to use them. These tactics work anytime you need them.

  1. Make a conscious choice to make things less hard.
    The physical and emotional torment that comes from letting stress and worry spiral out of control doesn’t help anything.

    Yet in the moment, it’s easy to forget that you can make things either more – or less – hard.

  1. Strategically share what’s going on.
    This is not the time to use your energy pretending nothing out of the ordinary is happening. There are better uses for that energy!

    I’m not suggesting you share every detail with everyone you know. But for the people who will notice something’s up, you’re better off giving them an explanation instead of leaving them to make assumptions (which are rarely connected to reality).

    Plus, those people can offer support – even if it’s just a sympathetic ear.

  1. Be realistic about what you can and can’t do.
    That’s a combination of redefining good enough, intentionally deciding what’s just not going to get done right now, AND giving yourself permission to be human.
  1. Amp-up your commitment to self-care.
    In times of overwhelm, crisis, or simply too much going on, the first thing to go is usually self-care. And of course it’s the last thing that should fall off the list.

    That’s why it takes an even stronger commitment than ever to make sure you’re doing something to replenish yourself.

    These last 45 days my normal workout schedule has been blown to bits. And I’ve made it to exactly one yoga class. But I’ve dragged my butt (that’s exactly how it feels some days) onto my yoga mat for at least ten minutes a day every day to sit and focus on my breath. And there’s not been a day that the return on those minutes hasn’t been tenfold.

    So remember to replenish yourself when you’re tempted to let self-care fall by the wayside.

  2. Breathe, breathe, breathe.
    During times of stress, it’s an automatic response to hold your breath.

    At least once an hour take 3-5 deeps breaths. It will help tremendously.

  3. Control what you can.
    Even in the midst of things over which you have little control, there’s always something you can

    For instance: spending a few minutes getting organized in the morning, intentionally choosing your mindset, making conscious choices, and that hourly deep breath.

    The more you focus on what you can control, the more you’ll increase your sense of control.

  4. Practice gratitude
    Even in the deluge of the monsoon, I’ve been amazed at how much good luck we’ve had.

    My mother’s accident was a blessing in disguise, as it surfaced issues that could have resulted in a far worse outcome. Plus, we’ve found amazing resources to help her. And my sister is going to be fine.

And it’s all given me a great appreciation for how many monsoon-free years I’ve had. Gratitude has been a gigantic umbrella during this downpour!

Where in your life do you have the opportunity to make things less hard?

Monsoons don’t last forever, nor do thunderstorms or rain showers. But if it’s raining in your life in any way, commit to the seven steps above and I promise you’ll feel less stressed and more grounded, and you’ll have a greater sense of control.

Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. ~ Gilda Radner

 

Love and genius

Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.
~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The best version of you is fully being yourself

Golden Egg

Are You Unintentionally Sabotaging Your Resolutions?

January is prime time for “how to” advice on pretty much everything. Whatever your New Year’s resolution might be, there’s a how-to solution floating around.

You’ve probably seen the basic summary a hundred times.

Clearly articulate your goal. Define small steps. Have a timeline. Measure progress.

It’s good advice. Without those pieces your resolutions will quickly fall by the wayside.

But it’s not enough.

There’s no shortage of smart, committed, successful people who set clear goals and have a solid plan but aren’t seeing progress. Within a few months (or even weeks), they’re frustrated and wondering, “What’s wrong with me?”

Sound familiar? I’ve certainly been there!

It’s the inner game that gets in the way.

The clearest goal and best plan on the planet aren’t enough.

Your thoughts, attitude, and choices are the foundation for creating what you want.

If you’re not making the progress you want, or if you’re just flat-out struggling to even get started, it’s time to look at how you’re getting in your own way.

Do any of the following seven internal barriers to success strike a chord?

1.  Deep down inside you don’t really believe you’ll pull it off.

Your friends give you a million reasons why you can do this. But you’ve made this resolution (or something similar) umpteen times before, it’s gone nowhere, and you’re not confident this time will be any different. Or you’ve set a new goal, and you’re feeling anxious about whether you can pull it off.

Either way, your inner critic is whispering (or shrieking), “Oh come on, what makes you think you can do this?”

Committing to a goal is a leap of faith. It’s choosing to trust and believe that you’re fully capable of getting where you want to be.

Without faith, you’re defeated before you begin. Yes, you might have to choose to believe five, ten, even twenty times a day. And that’s okay.

2.  You’re scared.

Most goals will require you to let go of comfortable patterns, habits, and mindsets. Stepping outside your comfort zone can be scary.

Chances are the resolutions you’ve made are about moving into an even better version of yourself, more fully inhabiting your potential. It’s exciting and a tad (or a lot) frightening.

So, acknowledge the fear, take a deep breath, and give yourself permission to keep going.

3.  Your focus is on the outcome.

Of course we all want that feel-good moment of “Yay, I did it!” But too much focus on the outcome sets you up for a win-lose situation. Accomplish your goal – “I won!” Miss the mark – “Sigh, I failed.”

When the only two possible outcomes are succeed or fail, it’s far too easy to quit when it gets hard.

But here’s the thing: the path is rarely a straight line. It doesn’t matter if your goal is super tangible (run a 10-K, grow your business 20%, make a career change by X date), or a bit more broad (have more balance, improve your leadership skills, be more organized). There’s a 99.9% chance you’ll hit tough spots.

Instead of focusing on the outcome, focus on the process. Then your attention is on learning and growth, not success or failure. And as counter-intuitive as it may seem, when you shift from outcome-focused to journey-focused, you’re much more likely to achieve your goal.

4.  You’re all head, no heart.

Obviously, not literally ;-). What’s real, though, is that your intellect has been the major driver of your success. But there’s tremendous wisdom that lives in your heart and your intuition. The information that comes from those places is just as important – sometimes even more so – than what comes from your head.

As you work towards your goals, give as much credence to what you’re feeling as to what you’re thinking. You’ll be amazed at the brilliance you can access when you get out of your head.

5.  You never stop moving.

You’re running to meetings, slamming through your to-do list, flying from place to place with barely a moment to catch your breath. “Stop moving? Are you kidding? I don’t have time for that, I have goals to achieve!”

The irony is that slowing down helps you create what you want. You need quiet time to access your inner wisdom and to clear your mind. Ten minutes of quietly sitting, a meditative walk, yoga, a long soak in the tub … anything that creates a sense of calm, space, and stillness will boost your success.

6.  Your internal conversations are filled with negative self-talk.

“Why am I so undisciplined, lazy, unmotivated, [fill in your favorite]? Who am I kidding, I can’t do, be, change, [place your word here]. Oh bleep, it’s only a matter of time till I’m busted and everyone realizes I’m not smart enough, good enough, ____ enough.”

Say things enough, you believe them. Good or bad.

Choose the thoughts you want to hold, the ones that will support you. Otherwise, your thoughts will kick your goals to the curb.

7.  You don’t make time for self-care.

Taking care of yourself – physically, emotionally and spiritually – is an act of love. It’s an act of love for yourself, for the people you care about, and for the impact you want to have.

Self-care is what fuels you. It keeps your passion alive, gives you the energy to focus on what’s important to you, and keeps you healthy and grounded so you can take on new challenges and stay the course when things get tough.

Are you unintentionally sabotaging your success?

It’s an essential question.

Your inner game is the key to creating what you want, to having and doing what’s most important to you. The work you do to get out of your own way is the best investment you can make in your success.

“The road leading to a goal does not separate you from the destination; it is essentially a part of it.  ~ Charles DeLint