life begins at the end of your comfort zone/quote/

6 Patterns That Derail Success and Happiness

life-begins-at-the-end-of-your-comfort-zoneLast year, I leapt out of my comfort zone and launched a 4-month, virtual group program into the world. The program didn’t even have a name at the time, but nonetheless I began reaching out to women in my circle who I thought might be interested.

Have I mentioned that it’s super uncomfortable for me to show up without my Is dotted and Ts crossed?!

I’m so glad I gave myself permission to walk through that discomfort! I’ve just finished the second iteration of the Bold Move Coaching Program (yes, it now has a name), and I could never have imagined how much I’d love this incarnation of my work.

However, there was an alternate path sitting in front of me. I could have gotten stuck in a well-worn pattern of getting ready to be ready, making absolutely sure every one of those Is was dotted and every single T was crossed … and the program would still be languishing on my I’d-love-to-do-this list.

It wasn’t an automatic choice. As soon as I reached the point where I knew it was time to pick a date for the pilot and start the enrollment process, my inner critic (who often goes by the names of Fear and Worry) started in on me.

Inner Critic: You can’t put this out there! The details aren’t all nailed down!
Me: But I can’t work out the details without doing the pilot.
Inner Critic: But what if you’ve missed something important? That would be horrible!!!
Me: I’m quite sure I’ve missed something since I’ve never done this before. I’ll just fix it during the pilot.
Inner Critic: What?!! You’re going to jump into this knowing you’ve missed something? OMG, YOU CAN’T DO THAT!! What if you screw it up? What will everyone think?
Me: Well, if it blows up, which it probably won’t, it won’t feel great. But it’ll feel much worse to not even try.
Inner critic (in her snarky voice): Okay, just don’t blame me when …

You get the picture :-).

My inner critic was doing her darndest to keep me safely ensconced in my comfort zone by tapping into the pattern she knew I was most susceptible to: getting ready to be ready.

Happily, this time I took a deep breath and gave myself permission to step over the edge of my comfort zone – even though that’s the path of most resistance.

Even when they’re keeping us from going for what we want, comfort zones are comfortable places to be.

And we all have at least one pattern that will keep us stuck in our comfort zone, if we aren’t careful.

Are you thinking about a bold professional move? Here are the six common patterns most likely to flare up!

  1. Getting ready to get ready. This pattern has two flavors: “dot every I and cross every T” or “get everything else on my plate taken care of first.”
  2. All or nothing.  “I can’t get started until I can do it all at once.”
  3. Dabbling … dipping a toe into the water and quickly pulling it back out.
  4. Overthinking. You invest a lot of mental energy thinking about taking action instead of investing the energy to actually take action and go after what you want.
  5. Getting stuck in overwhelm. Exactly what it sounds like.
  6. “As soon as I have more time” syndrome. Sure, there are times when it doesn’t make sense to add something else to your plate. But if you’re frequently waiting to go after what you want until you have more time versus taking small, steady steps forward, that’s a pattern.

Which is your default pattern(s)? And what bold move is it holding you back from?

It’s absolutely within your power to change your pattern as long as you’re willing to give yourself permission to make a different choice. It will be uncomfortable, but it’s worth it – because you deserve success and happiness!

“You can choose discomfort or you can choose regret.” ~ Brene Brown

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Six Beliefs That Make Anything Possible

Not much has been happening on my blog for the past 18 months. Disappearing with no explanation is not my norm!

But 2015 kicked my butt in a way it’s never been kicked before. Early in the year my sister was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer and my mother’s life turned upside down with health issues. By the end of the year I’d lost five people I loved, including my mother in December. (My sister was not one of them; she’s doing brilliantly well.)

I’ve never been so happy to see a year come to an end!

The universe must have decided a balancing act was called for, because 2016 has been on the opposite end of the spectrum. The year has been filled with an abundance of goodness, including weddings, graduations, my sister’s good health, and awesome clients who are stretching their comfort zones, making bold professional moves, and shining their lights out into the world.

That would be quite enough, but the icing on the cake is watching my 22-year-old niece Alyssa taking herself out into the world in a seriously bold way.

Four years ago, she graduated from high school bubbling over with joy and possibilities. As I sat in the stands, I was surprised to find myself getting teary-eyed. Huh?! I’m the cool aunt, not the emotional parent!

But then I realized my emotion was my deep desire that she hold on to the feeling that she can create anything in her life. That no matter what bumps, moments of despair, or twists and turns her life takes, she never stops believing.

Fast forward four years.

Once again I sat in the stands, watching Alyssa graduate from the University of Maryland. This time I wasn’t teary. I was bursting with pride at the fact that she’s still bubbling over with joy and possibilities.

I’m so proud of the way she threw herself into her college experience. No dabbling for this young woman!

I’m so proud of the way she navigated the twists and turns her life did indeed take, including her mother’s breast cancer.

And I’m beyond proud that she’s followed her dream of moving to Denver, despite not knowing a single person there. Her comment to me was, “If I move to Denver and don’t like it, I can undo it. But if I don’t give it a try, I’ll always regret it.” She’s so much gutsier than I was at the beginning of my professional life!

Four years ago, I shared with her my hardest-learned lessons for living in possibility. I’m awestruck by the way she’s lived them all! Her life isn’t done taking twists and turns, so my wish is that she keeps holding these six beliefs that make anything possible:

Mindset matters. In the words of Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Action follows thought. Without action, not much is possible. And without a belief that “you can, why bother even taking action? Whatever your “it” is, choose to believe in yourself.

Commitment breeds success. I’ve always known I (and you) can do anything I put my mind to. I proved it to myself when I passed the CPA exam in one try and in many other ways at other times over the years. And I also have plenty of examples where I talked a good talk about what I wanted to accomplish but never did much more than dabble. It’s no surprise I wasn’t particularly successful in those cases. Whatever your dream or goal, if it’s something you genuinely, from-the-bottom-of-your-heart want, commit seriously to giving it your all.

Positive energy lifts you up and negative energy drags you down. Be intentional about the people you surround yourself with, the environment you create at home, and the places you choose to hang out.

Obstacles are made for climbing over. Life is filled with challenges. You can choose to be the person who rises up to meet them and who knows there’s more than one path to create what you want. Or you can view roadblocks as a sign that it’s just not possible. It all depends on your perspective. Please, please, please pick the first option. And speaking of obstacles …

Fear of failure is the biggest possibility killer on the planet. My biggest regrets are all about the goals and dreams I didn’t pursue out of fear. And the things I tried that didn’t work out as hoped? No regrets. Because the growth and learning that came from each of them, albeit sometimes painful, ultimately led to something good.

What you need always shows up when you pay attention … “randomly” crossing paths with a college friend who connects you to your perfect job right in the middle of your search … support from your friends in the midst of a crisis … or landing in a situation so miserable you’re finally compelled to overcome your fears and make a big change.

Choose your mindset. Commit to your dreams. Surround yourself with positive energy. Climb over the obstacles you encounter. Embrace failure as part of the process. Trust that what you need will show up.

When you do that, anything is possible.

“Our thoughts and imagination are the only real limits to our possibilities.” ~ Orison Swett Marden

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21st-anniversary cake/

21 Lessons I’ve Learned About Success and Happiness

21st-anniversaryMy business and I just celebrated our 21-year anniversary!

Twenty-one years. Wow.

It’s been, and continues to be, an amazing ride.

I’m so lucky and grateful that I get to work with incredible clients and colleagues who inspire me with their courage, brilliance, compassion, and commitment to being successful and happy.

And I never imagined that my business would be one of my greatest teachers.

I’m not sure why this particular anniversary feels like such a gigantic milestone. But it does.

Perhaps it evokes the long-ago memory of my 21st birthday, which was indeed a very big deal :-). However, unlike that celebration (which involved excitedly flashing my ID and drinking my first legal cocktail while listening to the Commodores croon Three Times a Lady (why do I remember that?!!)), I commemorated this 21st milestone with a list.

Yup, that’s me, partying down with a list!

(I also celebrated with dinner and a lovely glass of wine – no ID required.)

But back to that list.

In celebration of 21 years in business, I’d like to share the 21 most powerful lessons I’ve learned: the ones that have had the greatest impact on my success and my happiness.

  1. Professional development is personal development.
  2. NEVER ignore your intuition.
  3. Self-care is critical to success. You operate at your highest mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual capacity when you take care of yourself. And that will boost your success and make you happier!
  4. Breathing makes everything better. Yeah, really.
  5. Life is too short to worry or stress about things that won’t matter in a few years, let alone a few days or weeks.
  6. If you have to pretend to be someone you’re not, you’re in the wrong place.
  7. Make friends with Eb and Flo. Life, professionally and personally, has ebbs and flows. I personified them by giving them proper names. It makes it easier to welcome each of them when they show up and to truly embrace the notion that both are necessary.
  8. When you’re clear on what you want, the universe will align with you as long as you do your fair share.
  9. Be open to amazing things happening.
  10. Success and failure are 100% dependent on where you draw the timeline. Always.
  11. Show up – fully. It’s often hard, and it’s so worth working through the discomfort. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you have something to offer. Allow yourself to offer it. That’s what showing up looks like.
  12. There’s learning and growth in everything. It just doesn’t always come wrapped in a pretty package!
  13. It doesn’t matter how other people do things. Figure out what works for you. It’s the best way to set yourself up for success.
  14. Cultivate extreme self-awareness.
  15. Gratitude is good for the soul and has a positive impact on success. It’s one of the few things in life where there’s no such thing as too much.
  16. Mastering the skill of saying NO is the only way to say YES to what’s important to you and stay sane.
  17. You are the only one who can give yourself permission to be you, to be human (which means beautifully and perfectly flawed!), and to want what you want. Don’t wait. Give yourself permission NOW.
  18. A little bit of stretch in a goal is motivating. Too much of a stretch sets you up for feeling frustrated and stuck.
  19. Be willing to ask for, and accept, help.
  20. Mindset matters. Your mindset creates your experience, not vice versa. Action follows thought. And whether through words, actions, or vibe, your mindset impacts everyone around you.
  21. The way you live your day is the way you live your life.

You are braver, more creative, and more powerful than you can possibly know. Trust me on this one!

Now go claim success and happiness for yourself!!!

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~ Socrates

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My Magic Fitbit and the Power of Tracking

Barcelona eatingA few months ago I spent nine glorious days vacationing in Barcelona.

I fell in love with Barcelona – and I discovered that my Fitbit has magic powers. Thank goodness, because I basically ate my way through the city!

Fortunately, I walked as much as I ate. And thanks to my Fitbit, I know exactly how much I walked each day, both in steps and in miles. By the end of the trip, I’d walked 64.5 miles! And yes, I’m marveling that I covered that much distance.

It also explained the mystery of why I could still button my pants each day ;-).

Had I been Fitbit-less, I’d still have done plenty of walking … but probably not as much. And that’s why my Fitbit is the reason I didn’t spend the end of my trip trekking around in yoga pants!

My step count was always top-of-mind.

Maximizing my steps became a game. I looked for simple ways to keep moving (like walking around while waiting to be seated for my next meal), and competed with myself to beat the prior day’s count by a few steps.

Two months back into my normal life, tracking my steps is still having an impact … almost six extra miles per week. And the best part is that those extra miles have come from small actions: a few extra minutes of warm-up before lifting weights, an extra ten minutes tacked onto my dogs’ evening walk, and walking up and down the stairs when I make coffee or boil water for tea.

And therein lies the magic of tracking: it increases your awareness of choices, and it’s your choices that create your outcomes. And that doesn’t require a Fitbit!

You can create similar magic for any change or goal you’re working towards and any habit or behavior you want to sustain.

Consistently tracking data and information is powerful because it:

  1. Increases your awareness;
  1. Keeps you connected to your daily choices;
  1. Helps you see patterns and trends;
  1. Facilitates reflection;
  1. Gives you actual data that you can act on;
  1. Makes it easier to take small steps;
  1. Is like a having a friend who always tells you the truth :-).

You can use tracking to reduce stress, achieve specific goals, become more organized, improve communication and relationships, get more sleep, increase your sense of balance, step through fear, take your next professional step, cultivate new habits, expand your positive impact … and anything else you can think of.

Okay, so tracking steps is easy, but how the heck do you track some of this other stuff?

Here are just two examples of how my clients used tracking to create the conditions for their success:

  • Logging lights-out. Joanne was in the midst of an exceptionally intense time at work, her stress was going through the roof, and she’d developed a pattern of working into the night.She knew sleep deprivation was making everything worse, but she was having a hard time breaking the cycle.

    So she decided to track her bedtime.

    Within just one day, she started making different choices throughout the day and into the evening.

    And after three weeks, she was getting more sleep, which led to better focus, increased productivity, more delegation, faster decision-making, and less stress.

  • Leaning in. Kathy was one of three people being considered as the next leader for her division. She REALLY wanted the promotion and had no doubt of her ability to be great in the job. But she was holding back, not wanting to seem pushy or arrogant. (She’s neither.)We set up a “lean-in index” using a five-point scale, and she tracked how intentionally she leaned in each day. That simple act of monitoring gently pushed her out of her comfort zone, helping her advocate for herself.

    The outcome? Kathy was promoted to Senior Vice President of Operations!

Your turn.

What goal or change are you working on? What new habit or behavior do you want to sustain?

Track it!

It doesn’t matter whether you put pencil to paper, fingers to keyboard, or gold stars on a chart.

What matters is that you have a structure to increase your awareness of your day-to-day choices. And it’s your choices that create the conditions for success and happiness.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ~ C.G. Jung

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Stay or Go? It’s All About the Potential …

Stay or GoMy client Heather has been in a pit of professional misery for the last 12 months.

Yes, it’s as awful as it sounds. She’s stressed, frustrated, unhappy, unfulfilled, and feels like bits and pieces of her soul are slowly being chipped away.

It’s a hard place to be. And it’s even harder for Heather because she’s not used to being in this space.

She’s normally the kind of person who throws herself into whatever she’s doing with enthusiasm and always finds a way to successfully tackle whatever needs tackling. She’s whip-smart, inspires confidence, radiates positivity, and is kick-*ss in the best possible way :-).

But after 15+ years with a company she’s loved, things have changed.

At first, she chalked it up to the expected growing pains of a new executive leadership team. Then she tried to convince herself that it really wasn’t that bad. And when that didn’t work, she moved to the okay-it’s-bad-but-I-can-handle-it approach.

And the question “Is it time to leave?” created even more stress because she had no idea if leaving or staying was the right choice.

Hmmm … unhappy, stressed, frustrated, unfulfilled, and soul-being-chipped-away. Under those circumstances, you’d think the answer would be obvious, yes?

(Don’t answer, it’s a trick question!)

There’s a reason the answer to “Stay or go?” wasn’t obvious to Heather.
It was the wrong question.

Heather doesn’t want to leave.

She also doesn’t want to stay under the current circumstances.

What she wants is for things to be good again.

And recognizing that leads to an entirely different set of questions:

  • What needs to change for you to be successful and happy – to thrive?
  • What’s within your control?
  • What’s the realistic potential that the stuff out of your control will change?

An honest assessment of the potential for change is crucial, because if the likelihood of change is low, you’re left with a strategy of crossed fingers and toes, fairy dust, or wishful thinking. None of which are likely to help.

You’ll do your best assessment using both intuition and analytical thinking.

Intuition first …

If you stay in your situation, is there REAL potential for you to be successful and happy – to thrive?

What’s the very first thought that pops into your head?

[I’m pausing while you take note of your answer :-).]

That’s your intuition / gut talking. And whatever thought surfaced: yes, no, maybe, no flipping idea, [fill in your thought], I promise it’s useful. You just got your first piece of data.

Heather’s gut reaction was, “Not unless something changes radically.”

Now the analytic thinking …

To thrive professionally, most of us need to:

  1. Feel that what we do matters,
  2. Spend the majority of our time using our gifts and playing to our strengths,
  3. Feel energized by our work,
  4. Spend our time with people who bring out the best in us,
  5. Feel respected and valued for WHO we are and WHAT we bring to the table.

What needs to change for you to have these five thrive factors most of the time? How much of that change is within your control? And for what’s outside of your control, what’s the likelihood of change?

If your answer is YES, I can effect change, get to work :-).

But if what has to change is entirely out of your control and you see nothing external on the horizon to bring about that change, it’s time to start the process of letting go emotionally and deciding what’s next.

It’s not always easy to make the choice to let go of what’s not working.

But you deserve to thrive.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ~ Haruki Murakami

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5 Stories that Sabotage Success and Happiness

StoriesYou’re a masterful storyteller.

Trust me, you are; it’s what we humans innately do.

Our brains are wired to retain and organize information in story form. And stories are how we learn, grow, connect, and make sense of the world.

Yup, stories impact us in powerful ways.

And the most impactful stories are the ones we tell ourselves.

Stories about what we can and can’t do, who we are and aren’t, what we do and don’t deserve, what we should and shouldn’t do, and whether it’s okay to shine our light or better to play small.

Talk about potent!

You’re impacted every day by your stories, because they create the context within which you align your choices.

And it’s your choices that move you toward – or away from – success and happiness.

Powerful indeed.

Karin’s story.

When Karin first called me about coaching, she was a stressed-out, exhausted, hot mess.

A successful sales executive with two teenage daughters and one dog, cat, and husband, she wanted help getting a “little more balance” into her life.

And though she didn’t know it, she also needed a new story :-).

As she described her situation, I commented that it sounded like she let everyone else’s needs trump hers. Karin sighed and said, “I know. But that’s just the way I am; that’s never going to change.”


That’s the sound of Karin slamming into her story called That’s Just the Way I Am.

She’d crafted her story so masterfully that she believed it to be an inalienable truth: that she was constitutionally incapable of valuing her needs, wants, and desires as equal to those of others.

More balance? Not with that story!!

And she’s not the only one schlepping around not-gonna-get-you-where-you-want-to-go stories.

Here are 5 common stories that WILL sabotage your success and happiness if you keep them around:

  1. That’s just the way I am.
    We all have deeply rooted-habits, and we all have natural tendencies to be, act, or do in a certain way.

    But it’s not just the way you are. Hang on to that story, and you’ve effectively taken away the possibility of change. (Can you feel the intransigence, even militancy, of this story?)

    Turns out Karin was capable of change. She wasn’t just that way. The same holds true for you.

  2. I can’t [fill in the blank].
    If you believe you can’t, you can’t. That’s what makes this such a sabotaging story.

    Because 99% of the time you actually can, if you’re willing. Yes, it might be scary, push you out of your comfort zone, or conjure up visions of failure. But that doesn’t mean you can’t.

    Change your story to “I can” and you’ll open up space for what you want. “I can” is powerful and confident: I can be strong, I can take a stand for myself, I can find the courage to be me, I can deal with this difficult situation, I can be successful and happy.

  1. I don’t have time to slow down.
    I get it. There never seems to be enough time for everything that’s important.

    But you can’t afford NOT to slow down, because the more you slow down:
    — the clearer you think;
    — the easier things are;
    — the more self-aware you become;
    — the more breathing space you create;
    — and the more capacity you have to see choices.

    Ironically, the slower you go, the further you’ll get and the easier the road.

  1. If only X, then …
    If only will keep you stuck forever.

    And that’s because if only is magical thinking, a wish for something over which you have no control.

    Now is the time to start creating what you want in your life.

  1. I have no choice.
    … the mother of all sabotaging stories.

    You ALWAYS have a choice.

You are a masterful storyteller. And you get to choose whether to make your stories saboteurs or supporters.

Powerful stuff!

“You are what you believe yourself to be” ~ Paulo Coelho

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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

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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

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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


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Happy New Year 2015/

Happy New Year! And a Few Questions to Lead You Into 2015

Happy New YearIt’s hard to believe (at least for me!) that 2014 is now in the rear-view mirror and the New Year has arrived.

The transition from December 31st to January 1st is just a single second, as is the changeover from any day to the next, but energetically it’s far from an ordinary changeover.

For the briefest of moments, we experience a clear demarcation between an ending and a beginning.

The confluence of endings and beginnings isn’t unusual; it happens all the time. But other than birthdays and anniversaries, they don’t tend to happen on predictable, recurring dates. And that makes the changeover from one year to the next special.

So before you fully leave last year behind and bound, saunter, slink, leap, scurry, or skip into the year that’s just begun, take a few moments to do so intentionally and lovingly.

And yes, I did say intentionally AND lovingly!

Without an intentional transition, you miss the opportunity to honor all that happened in the prior year, so you can step into the New Year with focus and purpose.

And without bringing love into the equation, it’s far too easy to look back at what you didn’t accomplish and the ways in which you didn’t get your *%^$ together. And that tees you up to start the New Year thinking not-very-nice thoughts about yourself or coming up with a list of correct-my-flaws resolutions or (gasp!) both.

Let’s try something different this year, okay? :-).

Honor, celebrate, learn.

And then set the stage for what you want to create this year.

And to help you do that, here are a few questions to help you create the conditions for an intentional and loving transition into 2015, setting you up for a successful and happy New Year! Spend some time reflecting on both the questions and your answers … it’s a lovely gift to give yourself!

Honor, celebrate, learn

  • How did you grow in 2014?
  • What’s different today versus the start of last year? What did you let go of? What did you create space for?
  • Who did you become?

Creating what’s next

  • What do you want 2015 to be about?
  • What are you bringing into the New Year from last year? And what are you leaving behind?
  • How do you want to experience the year?
  • What do you want to create in your life this year? What do you want to learn, and how do you want to grow?
  • How will you honor all of your learning and growth this year? (Not just the pieces that come wrapped in pretty packages. All of it!)

And last, but most certainly not least …

  • Are you willing to give yourself permission to be YOU in all your glorious, messy, flawed, and perfect humanness?

From my heart to yours, wishing you a 2015 filled with success, joy, and sweet surprises!

Sherry Signature

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