Do This Before You Obsess About New Year's Resolutions

Even the best laid plans don’t always work out. You don’t have to look farther than my 7th grade school photo to know that. Let’s just say that a girl with naturally curly hair shouldn’t get a perm. Even if all her friends are doing it. Unless of course, her dream is to look like Little Orphan Annie. If so, then I nailed it.

Anyhoo, its only January 2nd, and I already feel behind. I had planned my last week of the year as I do every year. Year-end review, goal setting, vision boarding, word of the year. All. The. Things. For a goal setting junkie like me, this time of year is nirvana.

Fresh clean calendar. Check.

Brand spanking new set of colorful markers and inspirational stickers. Check.

A few days off to reminisce about last year and dream about the next. Check.

A nasty virus from the rugrats (aka my adorable nieces and nephews). Check.

Hmm, that last one threw a kink in my well laid plans. And I was, well--laid out. For a week. If we’re keeping score on Netflix hours logged, I’m the winner. But my productivity. Not so much.

My type A, achieving self reared it’s ugly head yesterday. I’m so far behind! I haven’t done anything in days!! How will this year start without MY PLAN??!!!

If you can relate at all, it’s time for a pep talk. I gave myself one this morning, so I’ll pass it along to you just in case.

It’s going to be ok. Just breathe. Now breathe again. Press the easy button. Look at only what must get done today. You can work on your word for the year later. Or maybe you can choose it now. How about relax? That’s a good one.


And before you start working like mad on New Year’s Resolutions or goals, maybe take some time to look back at 2018 and take account for all that is good.

In our last mastermind meeting of the year in December, I gave our group a few questions to answer before diving into 2019 strategic planning. I’ll include them for you below. But promise me one thing before you get started. Take a deep breath and know that everything happens on time at the right time and for your ultimate good if you’re willing to let it.

End of Year Review:

What did I do, create, or experience this year that I’m really proud of?

What mistakes did I make that taught me something? What lessons did I learn that I can leverage?

What were my fondest memories?

Am I closer to friends and family? Why or why not?

What books and mentors had the greatest impact on me? Why?

What did I procrastinate on and fail to get done? Why?

What did I accomplish in 2018 – big projects, milestones, new habits, new thought patterns, anything that achieved a positive result.

What is one thing in my business that got the best results?

What really worked this year?

What were the biggest revenue generators this year?

Do a quick brain dump of dreams / goals to possibly pursue in 2019.

What kind of person will I need to be to accomplish those goals?


The Beginner's Guide to Starting A New Habit

Have you ever wanted to start a new habit really badly, but you just couldn’t get going? I sure have. Most of the time, I know exactly what I should be doing, but I just don’t quite get around to doing it. I can get excited and set the goal, but I don’t follow through on the actions I know it would take to get it done.

Many people wait until January 1st to start a new habit because they think they need that new year mojo to get going. I used to be one of those people. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good new year’s kick in the butt. However, you don’t have to wait until January to implement something you know you need in your life now.

Speaking of January, let’s talk exercise. Now stay with me! I promise, it’s not a dirty word!

We all know the reasons we should exercise. We are basically a sedentary society who consumes more calories than we have the opportunity to burn in a day with our desk jobs and relentless screen time.

Just in case, here are a few reasons to exercise to get you started:

· Increased energy levels

· Decreased illness and disease

· Decreased stress hormones

· Increased feel-good hormones that are mood elevators

· Increased focus

· Feel good in your skin!

So why am I talking about exercise when you’re worried about the next employee you need to hire? Or how you’re going to make payroll this month. Or where you’ll find the next client. Or how you should run after on a new opportunity but you’re afraid you’ll fail.

Many people feel they don’t have time for exercise because of the demands on their life. But each of those scenarios requires you to be clear, focused, and fresh to make the best decisions. The number of crises you handle in a day highlights your need for an outlet for stress release. So, let’s figure out how you can put movement in your day to be ready for what the day will bring you.

I recently read a book called Atomic Habits – Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear. He does a great job breaking down how to create a good habit. So, here’s an executive review for you.

Law #1 Make It Obvious

When I was on a big health kick about 10 years ago, I learned that supplementation with vitamins would seriously benefit my goals for a healthy body and lifestyle. But I couldn’t remember to take the vitamins on a daily basis. Thus reducing the overall cumulative benefit I desired.

To remedy this problem, I used habit stacking, also known as habit pairing. I first learned this amazing tool from Gretchen Rubin’s work. Habit stacking capitalizes on a habit you already have in place. Because I brushed my teeth every morning, this seemed like a logical time to add in taking my vitamins. After that day, I’ve never missed a day of vitamins.

How could you make this work for you? Fill in the blank: After [current habit], I will [new habit]. Simple right?

Here’s another idea for you. To make working out in the morning a consistent habit, I laid out my workout clothes the night before. My habit stack was After I [wake up], I [get dressed in my workout clothes]. This helped me make my new workout cue visible and obvious. I also got the added bonus of eliminating a decision. Instead of “should I work out this morning?”, I just got dressed.

Law #2 Make It Attractive

In the book Atomic Habits, Clear introduces temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.

If you know me at all, you know that I LOVE listening to podcasts and books on audible. I love learning, and this way, I can be learning all the time.

Back when I used to run every day, I tricked myself into running by temptation bundling. Even though I didn’t have a fancy title for it, it worked like magic. I would pick out a podcast or book I really wanted to listen to, but I couldn’t listen to it unless I was running. I would actually get excited to go for a run because I was excited about the episode.

How could you apply this law? What do you love to do that you could do before or during a workout as a temptation bundle? For example, my coach doesn’t love to bike, but he does love to get together with friends. After they bike, they all meet for coffee. The possibilities are endless. Just make it work for you.

Law #3 Make It Easy

I give major props to people who can get up and drive to the gym across town to work out. But I just couldn’t make that work personally on a long-term basis. So, I made it easy on myself. I signed up for an online workout video program. I keep my weights out and handy, so all I have to do every morning is press play. The less you have to do to actually do the habit, the better.

What you need to realize is this will be different for everyone, so find what’s easy for you. Additionally, it may be easy in one season for you, but not another.

After having 4 surgeries in one year, I was having difficulty getting back on my video routine. I couldn’t even do the 30-minute routines let alone an hour-long strength session. Instead of giving up completely, I adopted a make it easy strategy.

If I moved for 10 minutes, I counted that as my movement for the day. I would either go on a 10-minute walk or do this 7-minute yoga routine by Tara Stiles. Most of the time, just getting started on the walk would induce me to go longer. But on days I still didn’t feel like it, at least I had done 10 minutes and it helped my sense of accomplishment as I was rebuilding and recovering.

What would make it easy for you to work out? Meeting friends? Hiring a trainer to hold you accountable? Finding a gym that’s on your way home from work?

Law #4 Make It Satisfying

Part of what makes it hard for most people to start exercising is that results are not seen or felt right away. In fact, it can feel really hard in the beginning as you’re building strength, stretching new areas, or building stamina. Finding ways to make it satisfying on a daily basis can really help.

My favorite method for this is habit tracking. I print off a month-at-a-glance calendar and tape it to my refrigerator door. I write my movement goal of exercising 6 days a week on the top of the sheet. Every day as soon as I get done exercising, I get to mark a big X on the day. I set the bar low at 10 minutes of movement (yoga or walking) to count for an X. That way I can keep up my streak even when I’m busy, traveling, don’t feel like it or am just tired.

When I used to do all or nothing with my workouts, I would completely stop my programs altogether if I had to miss a day or two because of my schedule or traveling. That would get me off for the week, and I’d fall on the workout bandwagon for months at a time.

Now that I have a tracking method that allows for life to happen, I keep up my streaks and end up exercising at least 3-4 days every week, year after year. It’s much easier to keep up this habit than to stop and start repeatedly. And much better on my health overall.

Let’s face it, building new habits and breaking old ones can be extremely difficult. But by building a few of these systems into your day, you can set a new habit and expect success. Your biggest goal is only as good as your smallest systems. So decide which of these tactics you’ll use to set up your system and get started today.

I’d love to hear what ideas you came up with. Comment below on what you’ll implement next.

I got fired. Then I did this.

Have you ever studied body language? I must admit, I haven't been a student of this fascinating subject until the last few years. Well five years to be exact. How do I know when I started studying it? Because it was a matter of life and death to my career. That kind of gets you to sit up and take notice. Pun intended.

Let me explain.

I had just been fired from my job as President of a community bank. Like many heartaches in life, I was about to learn a few of the best lessons a setback can provide. The first of many being, the best path to success after a setback is to put one foot in front of another, one day at a time.

One of those daily actions was to start interviewing again. But to be honest, I didn't feel like it. I felt like a loser. My mind bombarded me with thoughts of "you're not good enough" on repeat. I wasn't sure I had it in me. But I had no choice. As a single mom with two kids to feed, I had to find a way to persevere.

So I scheduled interview after interview, whether I felt like it or not. Mercifully, I ran across a Ted talk by Amy Cuddy on body language. In it I learned how to use body language to communicate with myself and increase my energy level that I portrayed to the world.

Let's try a quick example so you can feel what I mean.

Let your shoulders slump forward and your head tilt down. Imagine talking to someone in this position with a quiet, down trodden voice, looking up from downcast eyes. How does your energy feel? Sluggish? Low?

Now pull your shoulders back, lift your chin, and imagine you're looking someone right in the eye with the corners of your mouth turned up in a slight smile. Now how's your energy? Higher right?

Body language communicates to the outside world, but even more importantly, it communicates to your brain too.

Have you ever thought about the international body language sign for victory? Think about a boxer who's just won a fight. Or about a runner who's just crossed the finish line in first place. What do they all do, around the world, no matter the language?

They throw their arms up in a high V, for victory.

I use this often when I'm running to tell my mind that my body is strong and can keep going even though my mind is complaining and trying to convince me to quit because it's hard.

When I learned we can communicate to ourselves through our body language, I felt like I had hacked my system.

Before interviews, I would go into the bathroom and throw my hands up in a HIGH V for victory. Or I would stand in a super woman pose, smiling and laughing at myself in the mirror.

By the time I got into the interview, I wasn't the poor, dejected fired girl my brain had tried to convince me I was. Instead, I was the skilled, experienced, and proud, yet humbled, business woman that any company would be lucky to have.

Even the amazingly talented Shonda Rhimes describes her strategy for using her superwoman pose to increase her feelings of greatness in her book, The Year of Yes.

I told this story last week during some live trainings I did on Facebook and wanted to share it again with you because sometimes I think we need to be reminded that we have greatness within us. We may be tattered and bruised on the outside from life. But inside, that victorious human is just waiting to get out and be seen.

Who do you have in your life that mentors you and wants to see you win? Who’s throwing up that victory sign with you as you stretch for new goals or recover from a setback?

If you are missing that group of people who cheer you on, especially when it's tough, I would like to introduce you to my Momentum Mastermind groups. These are groups of women who thrive on supporting one another and rising to the occasion when needed. We open these only two times per year. You can learn more about them here.

In the meantime, chin up buttercup. I'm serious. Let's try one more exercise, just in case. Chin up and throw your hands in the air in the high V. I think you'll like how it feels.

I Lost My Motivation

“We’re not sure what we can do,” the cardiologist explained to my Mom and Dad as we sat in his office hoping for a second opinion that was, well, more hopeful. 

What you need to know is that my Dad has ten stents in his heart.  Yep, he’s going for a record.  This guy is bionic man for sure.  But when he had yet another blockage, this time at 100%, his doctor sent him on to discuss open heart surgery. 

Of course, no one wants to have open heart surgery.  But when it’s your chance to live, then it’s what you take.  But he was telling us that open heart surgery was no longer an option.  He was however, willing to discuss other procedures with his team and see what they might come up with.

Skipping to the good stuff, they were able to try a relatively new and riskier procedure on him that made it through the 100% blockage, giving him the ability to gain his 11th stent.  I told you this guy was tough!  The surgeon was amazing and God is good!

During all of this, I was juggling closing loans at the bank, serving my coaching clients in my leadership coaching business, and developing content for a new course.  Needless to say, I was spent, both physically and mentally. 

One day I was feeling particularly stressed and completely lacking in motivation.  But I had a client to see soon, so I knew I needed to get it together.  And even though I didn’t want to in that moment, I knew I could.

Because you see, I’ve been here before. 

  • I know what it’s like to feel defeated, depressed, and discouraged. 
  • I know what it feels like to have NO motivation for the task you’re about to do, even when it’s something you typically love. 
  • I know what it’s like to feel like the only thing you want to do is get back in bed and sleep for days.

Because I’ve been here before with my own health and setbacks, I also know how to quickly change my state, even if just for the time being, so I can get a job done.  We all have situations and hard times to deal with.  But part of the process is figuring out how to continue on in the face of an obstacle.

So here’s what to do when you’ve lost your motivation:

1)     Phone a friend.  Sometimes just taking a couple of minutes to let it out can release the tension you’re holding on to.  Be sure you’re calling someone who lifts you up.  Because then, when you’re done with your venting, a good friend will help you find the next step for today. 

It’s not a life plan. It’s not ignoring your problem and pretending it doesn’t exist.  It’s just a new perspective for today.  Something you can do to lift your mood. 

 

2)     Change your state.   Not as in drive from Oklahoma to Texas.  But change your mental state by changing your physical state.  There are many ways to do this.  You could take a quick walk outside, notice the wind on your face, meditate, laugh out loud, smile, or change your posture from slumped to upright, shoulders back. 

When I called my friend on this occasion, she told me put on my favorite song and dance it out.  Brilliant!  I love music and I love to dance!  It is scientifically proven to lift your mood.  Not only dancing, but physical movement in general can completely change your physiology, which will lift your thoughts and your mood.

As scientific proof, just watch Meredith and cast on Grey's Anatomy as they dance out their troubles.  Hey, if it’s on a medical show, it’s got to be correct, yes? ;)

 

3)     Decide to worry later.  This one is strange, I know.  But I learned it from a therapist years ago and it’s so helpful.  You are not stuffing the emotions down, pretending they don’t exist.  It’s ok to be scared, angry, or worried.  But sometimes those emotions don’t serve you presently.

So when a worrisome thought keeps persisting, I’ll imagine myself putting that thought in a box, putting it on the shelf, and deciding on a time that’s better to worry.  Say, after work at 5:00, right?  When the time comes, I’ll do what I need to do to process that worry.  It may be writing out those feelings in a journal, praying about it, calling a friend, or scheduling time with a therapist. 

 

4)     Practice self-care.  I say practice, because that’s really what it is, a practice.  You will need to find out what is helpful to you.  But the main one I suggest is sleep.  Almost anything will improve with a good night’s sleep.  Your ability to deal with major challenges will improve significantly when you’ve had sufficient rest.  Pop in a quick 15 minute siesta over lunch if you have to.  Just take care of yourself.

Like the flight attendants tell us before every flight, put on your oxygen mask before you help those around you.  In the same way, be sure you are filling up your own tank before you try to serve anyone else. 

Some of my favorite self-care practices include yoga, meditation, naps, massage, walks outdoors, float therapy, and hyperbaric chamber sessions.  Do what replenishes you and you’ll be able to face your day and your situation with more peace and clarity.

As much as we would like to stay motivated all the time, it’s just not realistic.  Life happens.  Unexpected detours happen.  Discouragement happens.  But with mindfulness and intentionality, you can develop strategies to get back on track quicker and find your motivation again. 

I Owe It All to My Designer Shoes

The day we chose our career path based on our college degree, I marked out two fields in dark black marker with a vengeance. 

The first I marked off was accounting. I had recently switched from an accounting degree to a finance degree after the former almost made me forsake my higher education forever. However, I quickly found out the latter had just about as much accounting. I had not done my homework.  So I was still neck deep in FIFO and LIFO, and ready to get as far away from accounting as possible. 

The second I marked off was banking. Because, well it was at the bottom of the income earning potential for the finance degrees.  And I had high hopes for a corner office, killer suits, and Jimmy Choos. So duh. I marked it off too. 

Here’s where it gets good. My first job out of college was as an adjunct professor of FINANCIAL ACCOUNTING. Hilarious God. Really. Really. Funny. 

My second job was in, you guessed it, BANKING. For crying out loud. What a great planner I turned out to be. 

Have you experienced something like this?  Your best laid plans, suddenly go awry. As if your opinion on the subject was ignored. 

Does this sound familiar?  You’ve worked for the promotion. Done everything by the book. But you’re passed over without even a glance. 

You’ve given your heart to a company, only to have it ripped up when they “rightsized” your position. 

You’re working along, pleased with your salary until you find out the guy next to you doing the exact same job (not as well mind you) is making more than you. 

So what’s a girl to do?  Give up on her dreams?  Throw in the towel and forget the Jimmy Choos?  I hope you’re screaming a resounding “No!”

You see, all the little side bars. All the frustrations. All the hurdles. They make you who you were meant to be. 

If I had never had the accounting job, I would have never known I loved to teach and speak.  Nor would I have been asked to be a credit analyst at my local bank. 

Later, I wouldn’t have been able to understand my banking clients’ needs as their loan officer, helping with financial decisions to run their small businesses. I wouldn’t have been able to understand how to help manage the assets and liabilities of a three hundred million dollar bank while on the board as the President at that bank. 

And as a leader in a growing bank, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to train and develop leaders. I wouldn’t have known the hurdles that women in particular often face in the workplace while balancing their career and personal life.  

So what does this all ad up to?  Here's the bottom line. 

What you are doing now matters. Nothing is wasted. Please read that again. I mean it. Nothing is wasted. 

If you are in what seems to be a holding pattern right now, it’s possible and even likely, that you’ll one day look back on this season and say, “Oh, I get it now!”  

So don’t waste it. Be smart while you’re waiting. Learn all you can. Keep a positive attitude. Help others succeed along the way. I bet you’ll come to appreciate the path you’re on. And hopefully you’ll be rocking a killer pair of heels. 

4 Proven Tips for Overcoming Obstacles in Life and Business

I always pass people on the hills when I run. Because I’m super-fast?  Nope. I’m typically one of the slowest people out there.

Slow and steady wins the race?  That’s me. Except the winning part. I’ve never won a race. Ever. They tried to make me run in 3rd grade because I was small and looked fast I guess. That ended in a pink participation ribbon for dead last.

So, no, not because I’m fast. But because I lean in. I don’t quit. I tell myself my legs are strong. I don’t give up. I tell myself to push while people are backing off to walk.  I tell myself I’m getting stronger with every step.

You know I’m going to turn this into an analogy for life and business, right?  So, buckle up.

Did you know that some of the wealthiest people get rich during a recession?  Yes, while people are dumping stocks and going out of business, there are people poised, healthy, and ready for an opportunity to get into business at a good value.

Ever heard of Warren Buffet?  He’s reported to have made upwards of $10 billion dollars as a result of buying stock in companies during the 2008 recession.

During that same housing bubble burst that caused the devastating recession, I was in a panic as an executive at a community bank.  I followed all the national news and headlines, devouring The Wall Street Journal and every financial medium I could find. 

This was the fist major event of my career in banking.  We were struggling with past due loans and increased foreclosure rates.  It seemed every day brought more bad news to handle.  But thankfully a mentor of mine got a hold of me early in the financial crisis.

I told her of the sleepless nights I experienced as I worried about our business and those of our clients.  I’m sure she could hear the anxiety hanging from my every word as I recounted all the horrible news of the day.  But her reaction surprised me.  She told me I was in charge of how we made it through the recession starting with my thoughts about it. 

She instructed me to change my outlook and change the words I spoke to my clients and my employees.  Here’s how she told me she was handling it in her business.

She said, “We didn’t sign up for this recession.  It’s business as usual.  We are smart and competent business leaders and we will navigate our way through this leaner and stronger than ever.”

Wow.  I didn’t realize you could choose whether you signed up for the recession.   This was a huge lesson for me and one we can all use in life and business.  When it gets challenging, when faced with an obstacle or a hill, this is where a lot of people quit, slow down, and give up. 

So how do you become a person who makes it up the hill?  Here are my lessons learned when dealing with the hills:

1)      Look in front of you, not around you.  There’s no reason to look around and see what other people are doing.   This is your race.  Do what you can with the tools you have right now.

2)      Talk about the situation you want, not the situation you have.  Rehashing and rehearsing the same negative situation will get you more of the same, and leave you in a perpetually bad mood.  Instead, speak in language that creates a positive outlook on what you expect to happen.  Your words have power.  Use them for good.

3)      Keep moving forward.  The only way to get up the hill or around the obstacle is to keep moving.  If you stop completely due to fear, it’s harder to get your momentum going again.   Make a list of what you can do to move forward.  Chunk it down into small, achievable steps, and get to work on making them happen.

4)      Remember your goal and let it motivate you.  Why are you out here anyway?  Find your why again and run towards that.

So, what can you do today to make it up that hill?  Promise yourself you’ll lean in.  You’ll find a way.  No matter if it’s a recession, a legal battle, bankruptcy, or growth pains as a startup, you can do it. 

You are strong.  You are competent.  You are resilient.  You will come out of this leaner and stronger if you keep the right focus.  Onward and upward friends.

10 Tips to Rock Your Morning

For my entire life, I’ve had the habit of hitting the snooze button every morning.  I’d set the alarm with intentions of getting up early, but just hit snooze instead. About 10 times. No joke. Finally, I’d drag out of bed and start yelling at the kids to "get up, we’re late!"  Duh.⠀

But one day, I chose a new habit.  Maybe I’d finally had enough of the constant stress of running behind. Or maybe one day I finally had a purpose.⠀

My purpose was I needed to have more energy. I also wanted to be sure I spent some alone time with God first thing, instead of trying unsuccessfully to shove it somewhere later in the day. I wanted to meditate so I had better peace throughout the day.  I wanted to work on starting a new business.⠀

You see, the difference in where you are and where you want to be is in what you do on a daily basis.

We all have habits.  Whether or not they are good ones that serve us is another story.

What are your morning habits?  Do you flip on the news?  Read your email?  Scroll social media?  Are your habits serving you well?  Or are they like my snooze button habit that isn't necessarily bad, but certainly doesn't move me closer to my goals.  

Now I'd love to tell you that the prince got his girl and I'm now a morning person.  But let's get real.  I would love to stay up half the night watching Suits or The Crown and sleeping in until I felt like waking up.  But most nights I remember my bigger purpose and get myself to bed at a decent hour.

With a firm purpose, I started managing my mornings so I could rock my day.  Here’s what you can do if you have the same desire:⠀

1)  Set your alarm (or phone) across the room.  As you get up to get the alarm, turn on the lights on your way there.

2)  Change your alarm to a fun song that will get you moving.

3)  Get in bed with enough time for at least 7 hours of sleep.

4)  Lay out your workout clothes the night before and get dressed immediately upon getting out of bed.

5)  Write an affirmation before you go to bed and read aloud every night.  Describe how you want your morning to look. “I get up with energy, fully rested and ready to work out.  I take care of my body because it gives me the fuel I need to fulfil my purpose in life.”⠀

6)  As soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning, tell yourself “I’m up, I’m up”. Go immediately and splash water on your face or hop in a cold shower.

7)  Drink a glass of water to rehydrate from your 7-8 hours of sleep. :)

8)  Record a big list of affirmations that talk about your ideal day, your ideal clients, your ideal relationships, your goals, dreams, and desires.  Press play every morning and let these be the first thoughts that form your day.

9)  Start a routine that you do in the same order every morning.  Don't think about it, just do it.  The fewer decisions you have to make, the better.

10) Most importantly. What is your purpose?  Have you been longing to write a book but don’t have time?  Have you been meaning to get back in shape but can’t seem to stay committed to working out in the evening?  Knowing your why can be just the motivation you need to join the 5:00 club.

So which one of these will you try?  Pick one and try it tomorrow.  Then let me know how it goes!  I love hearing from you!  🌞🌞

How Affirmations Took me to Canada

Hello, from Toronto, Canada!  The weather is a gorgeous 75 degrees.  Yesterday we toured a castle, took in breathtaking views from the CN Tower, and ate a scrumptious dinner on Lake Ontario last night watching the sun set over outgoing sailboats, 

I wanted to share this with you because I'm living out one of my affirmations.  And I want to help you create your own powerful affirmations, because they work!

A couple of years ago, I journaled about how I wanted my life to look.  In great detail I described how I wanted to travel.  I love an adventure, and seeing new places really floats my boat.  I named several places I would like to see, and feelings I would like to have as I traveled with my family around the world.  

I also wrote about relationships, income goals, and earning enough for irrational generosity.  I covered it all.

Several of the things on that page have already come true.  And in even better ways than I played them out in my head.  God says He will do more than we ask, think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21).  And I've found this to be true over and over again.

Here's how He surprised me this time.  While I was dreaming of traveling, I was thinking I needed to earn enough and save enough money to travel.  Which of course I do.  However, this trip came as a gift to me through volunteering with Rotary International. 

I have been part of Rotary for about 10 years.  We do good in the world and in our communities by helping people in need.  Over one million Rotarians around the world focus on providing clean water, eradicating Polio, helping women and children, and the list goes on.  I'm proud to be a Rotarian, and even more excited that recently I was selected to serve as President of my local club in 2019.  

Because I am President Elect this year, I got to travel to our international conference in Toronto.  And as President next year, I'll travel to Hamburg, Germany.  I never dreamed this.  I was dreaming but God had an even bigger dream for me.  To get to combine two things I love, Rotary and travel, is a great gift.  

So how do you work on your own dreams?  I love using affirmations because it plants positive thoughts in your subconscious mind, and then you're open to all the opportunities that come your way disguised as luck.

Here's how to use affirmations on a daily basis:
1)  Write out in great detail what you want.  Don't worry about how you will accomplish this.  Just write what your heart really desires.
2)  Choose one goal or desire that really speaks to you.  
3)  Write out a sentence as a positive affirmation of what you want as if it has already happened.  Begin with, "I am so happy and grateful now that...."
4)  Write it out on notecards to carry with you or leave on your desk so you see if often and read it aloud any time you do.
5)  Write this statement 10 times/day.  Each time you write with your hand (not typing), it drives those thoughts deeper into your subconscious mind, forming new neuropathways, helping raise your belief that it can actually happen.

Next, I'm off to see beautiful Niagra Falls.  What will you dream of?  Take some time today to write out your affirmation and believe it (or something better) will happen. 

How have you used affirmations in your life?  Comment below.  Your wins help others in our community to help build their beliefs.  

Proven Step-by-Step Guide to Get Unstuck

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt stuck.  Or like you just can’t will yourself to pull out of a slump.  You’re trying all the things.  And nothing seems to work.  Two hands up over here.

Recently, I’ve been dealing with a couple situations in which I felt stuck.  I felt like I had pulled down a dead-end road and couldn’t figure out how to even turn around and get back down the street.   I knew what I needed to do but wasn’t doing it.

Bob Proctor calls this the Knowing Doing Gap.  That's the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it. 

It’s when you know that if you eat that 3rd cupcake, it will not be good for your health or your waistline, but you do it anyway.  It's when you know you need to make more sales calls but organize your desk instead.  Its' when you know you should turn in your paperwork to get clients billed, but you check your email instead.

Why don't we do what we know we need to do? 

It’s called our paradigm.  Weird word, but basically, it’s just a collection of our patterns or habits that form how we move about in life. It shapes what we think about ourselves and about others. 

If you say, "I ate that cupcake because I have no willpower", it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Because your subconscious mind believes whatever you tell it, you will believe you can’t resist eating the cupcake.  

Instead of trying to understand paradigms and why we do what we do, let’s just skip to a basic exercise to change what you’re doing.

Step by step, let’s change your mind, so you can change your behaviors.  Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and let's get going.

Step 1.  Write about the negative situation that you want to change in your life just how it is now.  Write it out in all its gory detail.  Don’t hold anything back.  Just write.

Step 2.  Write about the situation as you would like it to be.  Again, just write.  Don’t judge whether you believe right now that you can make it happen, write what you want to take place.

Step 3.  Highlight or underline all the actions in each of these scenarios, good and bad.

Step 4.  Label each of the actions as a Non-Productive Action or a Productive Action.  Does it help you achieve what you want or not?  It’s that simple.

Step 5.  Write out each Non-Productive Action, then write the productive action that could replace it. 

Step 6.  Use this list of Productive Actions as affirmations that you read aloud daily.  Just quickly review out loud every morning with feeling even if you don't quite believe it yet.  You are training your brain to form a new belief in this area.

Here’s the thing.  You have been thinking in a negative way about this situation for a while.  So, it won’t change overnight.  But each time you reinforce this new way of thinking, you’ll start forming new neuropathways in your brain towards the new actions, and letting the old ones die. 

You’ll be amazed how well this works.  I’ve done it over and over with many situations in the past and I’ve changed outcomes for myself instead of staying stuck and you can too.

Let me know how you use this powerful tool and how it works for you.  I always love to hear from you.

The Power of the Minimum Baseline

Seven days.  Seven days is the longest period of time that I’ve refrained from washing my hair.  Please don’t judge.  Here’s how it happened. 

You see, I have thick naturally curly hair.  Before you say, “lucky!”, let me tell you that it’s no picnic.  I could never take one of those ‘I woke up this way’ photos.  Unless that is, it’s for a contest for a lion’s mane.  Upon waking I’ve been called Bozo the Clown (by my Dad-thanks Dad), Medusa (you know, the Greek mythology monster), and other terms of endearment related to skydiving or electric sockets.  Got it?

It takes forever to wash, dry, and style this mop of hair.  So over the years I’ve noticed that I could skip a day or, ahem, three, and my hair styled better and I could get ready in a fraction of the time.  Win!  The day I learned about the messy bun changed my life.  The day I first used dry shampoo, I fainted.  Praise be.

Armed with my new tools, I now mostly wash my just twice a week.  Again, no judgement.  I am showering daily, ok???  However, once or twice I’ve accidentally gone over my minimum baseline of shampooing twice a week and I have taken an extended week to get back on track.  Now that is not optimal.  In fact, it gets gross.  So I pretty much do whatever it takes to get in my two washes a week.  I feel like an old woman at this point.   I wonder when I’ll just start going in once a week to my beautician for my hairdo?  Now that I think about it, that would be fabulous.  I digress.

Enter the concept of minimum baseline.  I know what works for me as a minimum to wash my hair, so why not apply it in other areas?   I started doing so last summer unwittingly with my workout routine.

Typically, I have enjoyed working out intensely.  One of my best friends told me if I didn’t puke at the end, it wasn’t a good enough workout.  So that’s pretty much where I lived most of my adult life.  Until I reached an age, and health status, that proved that practice stupid and useless.  I was injured more than I was working out.  And after several surgeries, I wasn’t in any shape for an hour long intense lifting session or run.  

But I knew I needed a daily routine because sometimes I went weeks in between workouts as I recovered from the last punishing session.  So, I started by adding a 10-minute yoga video every morning.  It was easy enough to implement and felt great to my creaky body.  No matter what, whether traveling or recovering from a late night, I hit play on that video because that’s what I said I would do.

After a couple of weeks of this, it was a habit.  I couldn’t miss.  It was a new minimum baseline for me.  So, when I added a 10-minute walk to that, it was no trouble, because I had already made time in my schedule for my ‘workout.’

A few months later, I was ready to add a more strenuous workout in.  I chose an 80-day program with online videos.  The workouts were an hour long.  There were some days I didn’t have time for the full hour because I got up late.  But guess what I did?  Yes!  The original 10 minutes, my minimum baseline.  I never got off track, and recently completed the 80-day program.

Now I didn’t know to call this process a minimum baseline, but I heard the phrase recently from Brooke Castillo, on the Life Coach School Podcast.  And it makes total sense.  She shares how setting a minimum baseline helps you learn to honor your commitments to yourself especially when its just as easy to NOT do the thing as it is to DO the thing.  You’re not doing the thing because it will bring huge results but you’re helping your mind be disciplined to do what you ask yourself to do. 

So how do you use the minimum baseline to your advantage?  Easy.

1)     Start small.  Make it ridiculously easy.  Choose the new habit you’d like to implement and make it easy to accomplish.  This will build your habit as well as trust in yourself that you can complete it.  For example, if you’re trying to add exercise, make it for 5 minutes, 3 times a week or whatever you can easily handle.

2)     Don’t focus on the results you’ll get.  Focus on honoring your word to yourself.  Focus on stopping the brain chatter about why you can’t do it.   

3)     Print a blank calendar.  Hang this on your fridge or somewhere you see it often.  Mark off the days you complete and get excited as you see your progress.

That’s it!  Keep up the minimum baseline for one thing at a time.  Commit to the minimum.  As you do this, you’ll learn how to honor your word to yourself.  You’ll build trust in yourself to accomplish more whether it’s drinking less, eating in ways that honor your body, or working on a project you’ve been putting off. 

What is a minimum baseline you already have in your life?  How can you use this simple principle in a new area?  I’d love to hear how you use it.