personal development

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.

How Body Language Helped Me Land a Job After Being Fired

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. 

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 Much Money Do Your Friends Make?

Let’s talk about your squad.  More specifically, how much money they make.  Tacky?  Probably.  Insightful?  Absolutely. 

Did you know that people who run in the same circles, tend to earn in the same wage bracket?  Coincidence?  Nope!  Research shows that you rise (or fall) to the level of the group of people who surround you.

Not worried about money?  Who are you?  Just kidding, kind of.  Well how about relationships?  Health?  Impact in the world?  Do any of those catch your attention?  Yeah, me too.

Academics call this phenomenon social contagions or clusters, where ideas, attitudes or behavior patterns are copied or influenced by those around them.   It’s a real thing, like a virus that can be caught.  Want to lose weight?  Surround yourself with people who hold health and fitness as a personal value.  Their habits will most likely rub off on you.

I remember once in youth group, our pastor had half of us stand up on a chair.  She partnered each of us with another person who stood on the ground.  We were instructed to grab each other’s hands.  The person on the chair was instructed to pull the person on the floor up to their level.  At the same time, the person on the floor was instructed to pull the person on the chair to the floor. 

You see where this is going right?  The person on the lower level wins!  Her point is that it’s much easier to be pulled down than to be pulled up.  Thus, who you surround yourself with will dictate your outcomes and is crucial to success in life.

And remember, we’re not just talking about money.  Although, let’s be real.  Who wouldn’t like to make more money?  Because even if you’re not all about the money, you could impact more people with your mission or your cause if you had more money.  Even if more money isn’t your end goal, it can certainly help in creating the life and impact you desire.

If you’re taking a look at the people you hang around the most, you may be asking if you have to give them up.  Not so fast.  I’m not saying you can’t associate with people who don’t have the same goals and desires as you in life. 

But you can intentionally seek out key people to add in, who will help you strive for higher levels.  You can intentionally decide to call the friend who has a positive outlook and will challenge your unhealthy habits instead of calling the person who will just wallow with you, deciding that nothing will ever change.  Because they’re right you know?  Nothing will change if you keep doing the same thing.

Now is the time to try something different in the area you’re stuck.  And you’re in luck because this week I am offering an in-person workshop called “Create a Life You Love – Vision Board Workshop.”  Several high-level thinkers will gather to dream and encourage each other to reach farther. 

If you live near Tulsa, Oklahoma, click here, to learn more. 

If you’re out of the area, promise me, no promise yourself, that you will take one small step to surrounding yourself with people who will challenge and encourage you to reach a little farther.  There’s no telling what you can accomplish with the right people supporting you.  It's time to uplevel your squad.

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The Science Behind Visualization

If the very title of this blog post makes you start mocking me in your head, you are not alone.  Many people question the validity of visualization and its use in attracting what we want into our lives.  I know this because I was one of those people. 

It all sounds a little too hokey for us left brained, mathematicians.  We need some concrete evidence, some data that either proves or disproves this theory.  What is visualization anyway?  And how do people use it?

Visualization is the act of creating compelling and vivid pictures in your mind.  In other words, the process of creating an image or feeling of what you want to take place. 

Ask almost any professional athlete, and they will attest to the power of visualization.  For decades now, athletes have completed their perfect performance or played their perfect game in their mind many times before the actual competition.  This increases their confidence as well as experience in handling a variety of situations because their mind is prepared in advance on how to react. 

It's called mental rehearsal, and I've used it for a variety of circumstances, including visualizing myself giving a speech with ease and excitement.  Then I walk onstage and do just that!

And its not just happening for athletes and speakers.  The science side of this is phenomenal.  You asked, you left-brained nerd, so we have to go here. 

It’s called the Reticular Activating System and it resides in your brain.  Now don’t ask me to get more technical than that without sending you to a lot of science based articles.  But let’s just dissect how it affects you and me on a daily basis.

This part of the brain processes information and brings relevant information to your attention.  Picture yourself walking through a noisy airport.  Flight announcements and delays are booming over the loud speakers all around you.  Fellow travelers are talking on their mobile devices.  Children are scuffling, releasing pent up energy between flights. 

But you are oblivious to all this noise, until you hear your name called on the loud speaker.  Your brain goes into action to bring this to your attention, even though seconds before they had been announcing a list of other names, none of which you can recall. 

This system in your brain helps you notice things or resources that have always been there, but you haven’t needed them until now.  Until the moment you ask.

So back to you and visualization and how you can apply this to your life.  If you’re even a little bit curious to try it, here are some practical steps to start adding this powerful technique to your success principles.

1)     Sit quietly and ask yourself what you want.  What do you want to feel?  What do you want to have?  What quality of relationships do you want to manifest?  Ask God to guide you to His purpose in your life.

2)     Imagine yourself sitting in a movie theater.  The screen depicts you as you go about your day and your life.  Set your intentions for how you want your day to go, conversations to go, each meeting to go.  If you have certain career goals, envision yourself in that job, how it will feel, what you will do. 

3)     Put concrete pictures to your goals by creating a vision board.  These are helpful in quickly bringing up images of things you want, feelings you want to create, bringing continuity and clarity to your goals and intentions. 

4)     Review your vision board daily, preferably first thing in the morning, right before bed, or right after meditation, as you tend to be most relaxed at these times. 

I know, I know, you’re still doubtful, and honestly, I continue to doubt sometimes too.  However, when I look back on my past vision boards and realize most of those things have come to pass, I get less sarcastic about this technique.  If the worst thing that can happen is me wasting a few moments being positive about my future, then I guess I’m willing to take that risk. 

Have you tried visualization?  What for?  Are you willing to give it a shot?