Can We Really Have It All?

If you’re like most of us, you want an awesome life.  The most loving relationship, great kids, good health, successful career, money to spare, a social life to be envied, etc. etc. etc.  I recently attended a women’s conference and two of the speakers said,

 “You can have it all, just not at the same time.”  I couldn’t agree more.

We’ve seen those “reality” shows where these women seemingly have it all.  The relationship, material goods, perfect kids, perfect home and an endless supply of fulfillment and happiness. This is full on crapola!!  Look at how many of these women lost their homes in foreclosure, went through a painful, public divorce, and/or faced prison sentences for dishonest acts.  What they portray on these shows is NOT the real world.

However, just because Reality TV isn’t steeped in reality, doesn’t mean we can’t have a great life. Each area of life; relationships, health, finances, career, etc. require a time and attention commitment. Not for a short period of time, but for a consistent period of time.  If you want to nourish something, you give it your time.  If you’re building an empire, it’s going to take a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

If you want an area of your life to be strong, you’re going to have to give it the love and attention it deserves and then work at maintaining it.  Then you can move onto the next area.

I know you wanna, but multi-tasking doesn’t work.

You can’t build an empire focusing on five (or more) different areas all at the same time.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  Life is the same.  How do you create greatness in each area of your life?  By giving your love and attention to one at a time.  Master one, then move onto the next.

So where to begin?  Start by listing each area of your life, for example: Health, Relationships, Finances, Career, Spirituality, etc.  You may even break these into subcategories.  For instance, under Relationships you may list Romantic Partner, Family, Children, Friends, Co-Workers, etc.  Now choose one to start giving your time and attention to.  Is there an area that is not as healthy as you’d like it to be?

It’s simple, but not necessarily easy.

There will be many interruptions and challenges to keeping your attention on this area.  There will even be some things you can’t control.  But given enough time, you will begin to see an improvement in that area.  When you reach your goal you can make a plan to maintain, then move onto the next area of your life that requires your attention.

Something to keep in mind:  this is not a 6 week plan.  You can’t fix a relationship, build a career or completely turn around finances in 6 weeks.  You can improve these areas in that short of a time, but it’s not a sprint.  It will likely take a year or more of committed time and attention from you, to get this area of your life to a stage that will require less building and more maintaining.  See?  Simple.

Your turn.  Tell me in the comments section (I answer every single one back) what area of your life do you need to give more of your time and attention to OR an area of your life that improved once you did.

As always, if you need a helping hand to organize the areas of your life and to come up with a plan to turn your dreams into reality, I’m here for you.  Email me at AuthenticLifeChronicles@gmail.com to set up a FREE 30 minute strategy session.

Do You REALLY Know What You’re Saying?

I’m not asking this question to be fresh.  I’m really curious.  You know what words you’re using of course, and you may even be aware of your tone, but have you ever watched yourself interact with another person and observed only your body language?  (yeah, me neither.)

I am a huge fan of people watching.  I could watch people for hours.  Especially people interacting with other people.  There are so many observations to be had.  In fact, often when I’m interacting with others, I watch them very carefully to gauge how they’re feeling based on their posture, facial expressions, tone, words, etc.  I’ve learned a lot about human behavior this way.

But I missed the boat on something.

My own non-verbals were living an unmonitored life.  I was so busy trying to assess the other person that I completely failed to evaluate my own behavior.  Once I started paying closer attention, I realized that I had some work to do.  Your body language is often communicating how you really feel.  This is great in some circumstances, but not all.

If your body language is contradicting your words this can, at best, confuse the other person and, at worst, make you look insincere and maybe even dishonest.

According to various studies, body language accounts for 50-75% of all communication.

That means that what you’re saying is actually only half the battle.  I think for the most part, we are all aware of the most common non-verbal expressions and how they could be interpreted by others.  Generally, open posture communicates friendly, open-mindedness, whereas closed posture can indicate hostility, anxiety or disinterest.  OK, so this is all pretty common sense type of stuff.  You might be thinking you know all of this.

But I’m willing to bet that you have a body-language bad habit you’ve been overlooking.

At least I did.  I have a habit of crossing my arms.  This is usually considered a negative form of body language.  I do this because I’m often cold, but sometimes temperature has nothing to do with it.  Sometimes I just didn’t give a shit what the other person was saying.  Sometimes it was my passive-aggressive “F-You”.  But the important point here…

I wasn’t even aware I was doing it.

After reading Joe Navarro’s book, “What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People”, I found myself more aware of what I was doing.  Now I pay closer attention, and quickly adjust my non-verbal’s when I recognize the potential message I’m sending could contradict my words.

By keeping my posture open, situations that used to have the potential to get heated, typically don’t anymore.  Because my words, expressions and body language are in alignment, I help create a more open and relaxed mood, even in tense discussions.

Over the next few days, take notice of the body language you use with others.  How are your feet placed?  Are your legs, crossed (closed posture) or uncrossed (open posture)?  Where are your arms and hands?  Are you standing up straight or slouching? How is your head positioned?   Then, come back here and tell me in the comments section…what is your body language bad habit?

Need some support in aligning your thoughts, hopes and dreams with your actions and behavior?  Email me at AuthenticLifeChronicles@gmail.com to set up a complimentary strategy session.  Together we’ll find the best plan to help you achieve your goals.

4 Tips to Preventing Energy Overdrafts

Each day, you start your day with a supply of energy.  Where you put that energy is largely up to you.  Some circumstances will drain your energy (a long line at Starbucks) and some will feed it (a thoughtful gesture).  You must be wise about how you spend it.  Is it worth it to deplete a large amount of it on that inconsiderate, borderline reckless, driver on your way in to work?  If you expend so much of it so early in your day, what will you have left at the end of the day?  You’ll be overdrawn.  There will be insufficient funds of energy.

You start spending energy right from the moment you wake up.  You can spend it on worrying about a possible event in your day or you can spend it planning how you’ll respond to that possible event.  Which do you think is more energy efficient?

Ok, ok, so you get that.  But now you may be asking “How?”  Here are 4 ways to focus more energy on the positive and less on the negative:

Allow the Universe, Creator or Karma to take care of ‘da fools.  Why would you volunteer for that job?  It pays nothing.  You can try to “teach” people, but if they don’t know and respect you, you don’t exactly have a captive audience.  And are they sharing your lessons with others?  Probably not.  They’re more likely just talking about that jerk who tried to teach them something.

Being unaffected is really annoying to the haters.  That snotty co-worker who refuses to acknowledge your presence? Do you really want to give her some of your precious energy? When people are trying to get under your skin, they get pleasure by your expected reaction.  Act unaffected and you will successfully deter them.  Want to really piss them off?  Have a blissful expression on your face.  Bullies aren’t only in school.  They can be found in any group setting.

Taking the “high road” is not about them, it’s about you.  We know we can’t change other people, only the way we react to them.  But sometimes taking the high road can feel as though we’re letting the bad guys off the hook.  In reality, it’s letting us off the hook.  We have a limited supply of energy, let’s not waste it on the idiots.

Pay attention to the important stuff.  Everything is perspective.  If you recap your day by reliving the crappy driver on your morning commute, Dunkin Donuts coffee screw up, bitchy co-worker, unachievable assignment deadline courtesy of your boss, a difficult client and traffic heading home, how much energy will you have left once you get home? In the big picture of life, do you think you’ll be thinking of these things in your final moments?

Just like those people who come knocking on your door asking if you’d like to switch electricity providers, people and events throughout your day will be clambering for your energy.  You have to budget yourself and make the right choices for you.

You can surround yourself with people and activities that activate energy generation, rather than energy draining.  For some this is loved ones, for others this may be a walk in the woods or a drive in the car.  Be very aware of the energy generators and drainers in your life and make every effort to live accordingly.

Now I’d like to invite you to spend some energy commenting on what those “energy generators” are in your life.  What recharges your battery and feeds your energy supply? Share in the comments section.  Your response may be just what someone else needs!

Need a little help and support balancing your energy budget?  I’m totally here for you!  Send an email to authenticlifechronicles@gmail.com to set up a COMPLIMENTARY Strategy Session with me.

4 Tips to Getting into Focus

Think of all the different areas of your life: relationships, career, family, finances, education, hobbies, health.  Which of those areas are you doing well in?  Which area are you pleased with?  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  How come this area shines above the rest?  I have a theory…

I know I’ve covered this topic multiple times, but it bears repeating.  What you focus on becomes your reality.  This is great if you’re focused on something positive.  This is not so great if you’re focused on something negative.  Tony Robbins puts it another way, “Wherever focus goes, energy flows.”

Now think of an area of your life that you are not happy with.  Are you focused on it?  Let’s say your finances are not where you’d like them.  Are you spending your energy avoiding them? Are you focused on the fact that you don’t have enough money right now?

First, you can’t fix a problem if you can’t face a problem.  Second, focusing on what you don’t have won’t solve the problem either.  Here are 4 tips to easily adjust your focus:

  1. Define your goal – what is your end game?  How would you like this area to turn out?  Don’t be vague.  Be very specific.  Don’t just say, “I want more money.”  How much more? Is it just a one-time gain of $20,000 for example, or is it adding $20,000 to your annual “bottom line”?
  2. Make it compelling – why is it important for you to achieve this goal?  Make a list of why it’s important to you and have it somewhere you’ll see it every day.  A goal of losing 25 pounds is great, but why?  I want to be healthy, I want to lower my blood pressure, I want to have more energy, I want to be able to walk without losing my breath, I want to set a good example for my kids, etc.
  3. List 5 steps you can take – what five things could you do that would bring you closer to your goal?  Baby steps are fine and even encouraged.  Pack your own lunch 3 times per week to save $25.  Walk for 10 minutes each day.  If your steps are too big, you’ll run out of steam.  If you reach the point of feeling like you’re sacrificing, your steps are too big and/or your reasons aren’t compelling enough.
  4. Set yourself up for success – celebrate each step in the right direction you take and don’t beat yourself up if you get off track.

So what area will you give more of your energy to?  Maybe it’s a relationship that isn’t where you’d like it to be, or your career has stalled.  Maybe you don’t make enough time just for you and doing what you love.  Whatever it is, you don’t have to be a victim of your circumstances.  Be a champion and create your own circumstances.

We are a community of pros!  Won’t you share some tips you have in a particular area you’ve been successful in? School us in the comments section on how we can improve too!

Is focusing difficult for you?  Is staying on track a huge opportunity for you?  I get it, I’ve been there.  Let me help you!  Email me at authenticlifechronicles@gmail.com and let’s set up a complimentary strategy session to help you get clarity.

Why Lefties Really ARE Smarter and More Creative

Are lefties really smarter and more creative than righties?  I think so.  There have been debates and scientific studies about this and I’ve known a few lefties in my day, so I have a theory as to why.

Lefties are challenged with the design of so many common items.  Remember the right handed desks in high school and college?  Using them necessitates a virtual yoga pose for the lefties.  Scissors, even the lefty one’s I’m told, are useless.  Coffee mugs with the cute little sayings?  Yeah, oftentimes only the left-handed drinker is able to see the warning: “Avoid approaching until I’ve had my 2nd cup of coffee!”  Despite these challenges, lefties still work at right handed desks, use scissors and drink from cute little coffee cups.

So back to my theory of why lefties are smarter and more creative than righties.  They have had to adapt to this righty-designed world.  When you are forced to adapt, you have to be creative in how to do so without losing your authenticity.  The more you are required to acclimate, the more thinking and processing you are required to do to make a puzzling situation work.  What a fantastic exercise for the brain.  Might these regular adaptations add to your bank of knowledge, creativity and problem solving skills?

So while lefties only make up between 10-12% of us, I think we all can relate to having to adapt some aspect of ourselves to our environment.  We have all likely had to change in some way in order to live in concert with our world.  Change is growth. We grow and learn from each experience that requires us to adapt and change.  And by change, I mean change how we approach a challenge, not who we are at our core.

Adapters typically ask, “How can this work?”  They don’t stand still and complain about their challenges.  They figure out how to make it work.  This approach is much more productive than simply complaining about them.  So how well do you adapt?  Do you find ways to make your differences work in the world or do you stand still and let your “victim” badge shine?  Personally, I’ve done both, and I can honestly say, adapting was a much more empowering and positive experience.

While my theory is that lefties typically are smarter and more creative, I believe this is true of anyone who has had to adapt in order to coexist in the world, while staying true to their authentic self.  That being said, I’d like to wish my lefty readers a Happy International Left Handers Day this coming Wednesday!!

In the comments section, I’d love to hear how you’ve adapted to your world while staying true to who you really are!

Are you still struggling to integrate who you are with the world? I can help.  Fill out my “Contact Me” form or for AOL mail users, send me an email at authenticlifechronicles@gmail.com and let’s set up a complimentary strategy session.

22 Years of Lessons

Today marks the 22nd anniversary of my most rewarding, challenging and educational job.  Motherhood.  Today is my eldest child’s birthday.  And boy oh boy did I learn a lot from him and this role.  Before I share the lesson’s I’ve learned over these years, I’ll share a bit of the backstory.

I was a young mother.  While most of my friends were graduating college, I was graduating from my carefree youth.  I understood the importance of my role.  There would be no more partying or irresponsible behavior from me.  I embraced this responsibility and was certain I would be awesome at it.  And I was…sometimes.  I also sucked…sometimes.  Here are the key lessons I’ve learned (so far) from this role:

  • There’s no such thing as too much love – I learned how to love unconditionally.  There were conditions on what I approved of, liked and allowed, but never on the love.  There were boundaries and structure, but even when crossed, I loved.
  •  Things don’t matter…memories matter – No matter how cool the toy was, nothing could replace quality time with me.  The new bike was great, but the trail we rode on together was the memory-maker.
  •  Words are meaningless…actions are everything – I could talk and preach and explain all I wanted, but my actions were the lessons.  Most were good, some were not.  I had to learn to align the two.  I was an on-again/off-again smoker after having the kids, so when they called me out on it after preaching to them about never starting, I had to act…and quit.
  •  It’s really ok to be you…not what you think others expect of you – This was my toughest lesson.  Being a young mom, I felt judged by the other parents around me.  I tried to prove to them that I was a good parent and taught my kids the right things.  All this did was suck the fun out of being a parent (and probably sucked for the kids, too).
  •  Screwing up is part of the journey – There’s no owner’s manual for parenting.  So I screwed up…a lot.  And when I did, I said so.  Because this was a lesson for them too.  Not only to gracefully admit mistakes, but to learn from them and improve.

Every single one of these lessons have helped me in all areas of my life.  Business, relationships, as well as parenting.

Now I’d love to hear from you!! What “job” did you learn the most from and what were some of the lessons?

Tolerance v. Acceptance

Have you ever had to tolerate a difficult person and the more you tolerated them the more you resented them?  This may have been a boss, a family member, a friend’s spouse, a co-worker.  Over time, you may have found yourself making digs at this person or feeling agitated each time you had to be around them.  I’d like to suggest an alternative to tolerating them: acceptance.

Tolerance can build resentment and often houses anger and judgment.  Acceptance, on the other hand, is a release; an understanding.  This is a much healthier alternative than mere tolerance.  This approach has helped me and many people I’ve coached.  So how do you cross that bridge from tolerance to acceptance?

First, don’t try to change the other person…it’s not going to work.  In a diversity and inclusion workshop I teach, participants are asked to answer the following question: Are you oblivious to others?  The answers they have to choose from are: 1) Always 2) Sometimes 3) Never.  Ninety percent of the time, participants reply “Never”.  Ninety percent!!  If you’re oblivious do you really think you KNOW you’re oblivious?

Second, don’t mistake acceptance for agreement.  Truly accepting another person as they are doesn’t mean you agree with their approach or views.  (Phew!!)  In fact, when you accept each person “as is”, it’s easier to have a conversation because you’re not trying to change them.

Finally, understand that we are all doing the best we can.  As a general rule, none of us TRY to be annoying, inconsiderate or oblivious to others.  We want to be liked, respected and accepted by others.

So, what’s in it for you to accept rather than tolerate?  When you make peace with the idea of accepting someone “as is”, you will feel that peace as well.  You’ll find yourself less resentful.  Accepting someone for who they are, makes the annoying things they do and say, less personal.  They aren’t doing anything to you per se, that’s just the way they are.

The fact is that some people are inconsiderate, bossy, rude, condescending and in possession of other undesirable traits.  And, (here comes a bombshell), sometimes that person will be you.  Wouldn’t you rather be accepted than tolerated?

Share your thoughts on this approach in the comments section.

As always, if you’d like to work on a strategy to improve your relationships, your life and yourself, contact me for a free strategy session.  We’ll make magic together!!

Death by Preparation

How many dreams have died at the hands of preparation?   A lot I tell you.  Are you using preparation as an excuse to stall action?  Are you so busy acquiring credentials that you’re ultimately procrastinating on your dream?  Here are 10 clues that you’re preparing the life right out of your dream:

  1. You said you would take action after completing the last step
  2. The moment you’re on the cliff’s edge, you convince yourself you need “one more” piece
  3. You tell everyone action is coming…soon…but it doesn’t
  4. You don’t have a written plan of action…you’re just winging it
  5. Self-doubt creeps in as you’re approaching completion of a particular step
  6. You compare yourself to others credentials…and feel you come up short
  7. You disregard your own experience and instinct
  8. You are suffering from the Imposter Syndrome…just waiting for everyone to figure out that you’re a fraud (but you’re really not)
  9. You start many sentences with, “I’m going to….”
  10. You’re doing more planning than acting

Perfection comes from action, NOT preparation! You are not guaranteed success on the first try, but you will be a hell of a lot closer to it after each attempt (failed or otherwise).  Your goal should not be to avoid any failures in the pursuit of your dream, but rather to ultimately achieve success by learning from every misstep.

What dream have you been plotting and planning but have yet to take action on?  That’s the one I’m talking about.  Stop plotting and planning and get moving on it.  The most successful and innovative geniuses did not achieve their goals through planning, they achieved them by taking one step at a time.  Some of those steps were planned, but most were not.

You are putting your dream in jeopardy by not taking action on it.  You’ve got this.  I promise you.  It’s time to start doing and stop stalling.  There is little to be learned in the planning stages.  Your lessons will come from your actions.  Learn them in real time, not theory.  You are brave, you are strong and you will be successful…but only if you act.

Tell me in the comments section what action you are going to take to make your dream come true.

As always, if you need a little help stepping out of the planning stage and into the action stage, contact me to set up a FREE strategy session.  Isn’t it time you stopped circling around your dream and actually landed on it?

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s The Common Denominator After All?

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What’s your struggle in life?  Is it finances, relationships, weight loss, time management, career success or any other challenge?  Do you find yourself attributing this struggle to the economy, no ‘good one’s’ left to date, the environment, all the expectations others have of you, crappy bosses, or some other vague explanation of your woes?  Allow me to introduce you to the most likely contributor to your struggle…you.

I have contributed to every relationship I’ve ever had.  If it was a great relationship, I helped make it great.  If it was a shitty relationship, I helped make it shitty.  At one time, I limited this belief to relationships I had with other people.  But I found this was true in my relationship with money, love, food, time and success.

Sure, when feeling down in the dumps I blamed bigger things (economy, crappy bosses, etc.), but these were not things I could control.  I had to take control of my part in these relationships.  I had to look at my patterns and see how I was sabotaging myself (shock face).  My research indicated I was the common denominator in all of my struggles (duh!).

To illustrate, allow me to introduce my friend “Ray” (some details have been changed to protect privacy).  Ray is one of the nicest guys I know and would give me the shirt off his back if I needed it.  Ray loves his kids (ages 19 and 20), lives in a $500/month, one bedroom, 500sq.ft. apartment in Concord, NH and drives an unreliable 1992 Buick. He divorced when the kids were 5 and 6 and began paying child support then.  He works full time for the city making roughly $50,000/year. Ray is always complaining about money (or the lack of it).  He was recently notified by the state that his child support responsibilities were reduced in 2012 and completed in 2013 (when his youngest turned 19).  Ray had been continually paying the full child support amount until he was notified a few weeks ago.

See where I’m going with this?  He frequently complained about Obama, or the economy, or his low pay, or high rent or any number of external factors.  Yet, he never considered how he was contributing to his own struggle.

As I thought about it, I realized I had walked in those shoes a few times in my life.  I blamed external factors on my struggle.  Granted, those factors contributed to my issue, but they were not the sole cause.  I had a role in it.  A leading role if I’m being honest.  I had to be really honest with myself and commit to changing my own behavior before I started bitching about my problem (this was excruciatingly difficult).

Can you relate?  After considering your most pressing challenge, consider how you are contributing to it.  Then, if you’re comfortable, please share in the comments section your challenge, how you contribute to it and how you will (or did) take steps to turn it around.

As always, if you would like to “turn the ship” more quickly, and get a whole lotta support, contact me (via my contact page) to set up a FREE strategy session.

Circle of Friends

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I have some of the best friends in the world.  Some of these friends have known me for most of my life; others have known me for just a few years.  All of them are incredibly valuable to me.  Yet even some of them have scratched their heads at some of my far-fetched plans, ideas and goals.  It isn’t because they didn’t support me or didn’t believe I could achieve them.  But more that they may not have understood my “why”.

Here you are, all passionate about the latest scheme you’ve cooked up and you hear “crickets” and get the “deer in the headlights” look.  You begin to ask yourself if you should toss the dream or toss the friends.  Allow me to answer: Do neither.  You can (usually) keep the friends and the dream.

Should you ever find yourself in this situation I have some “Do’s” and “Don’t’s”.

DO:

  • DO: Share your new struggles with your friends (in a general overview kind of way)
  • DO: Share your new successes with your friends (in a general overview kind of way)
  • DO: Tell your friends specifically how they can support you
  • DO: Continue to support your friends
  • DO: Communicate any changes that may impact the friendship due to working towards your dream (ie: less time to hang out, etc.)
  • DO: Expand your circle by finding new friends with similar goals and interests
  • DO: Nurture these new relationships without feeling guilty

DON’T

  • DON’T: Make every conversation about you and your dream
  • DON’T: Get frustrated with friends that just don’t “get it”
  • DON’T: Allow their attempts to “protect” you, discourage you from achieving your dream
  • DON’T: Assume you can’t make life-long friends later in life
  • DON’T: Pass up opportunities to surround yourself with like-minded people
  • DON’T: Lose sight of your “why”
  • DON’T: Rule out the idea that you may have to let a friend go

There may be attempts, made by friends, to save you from yourself.  Appreciate the fact that they are trying to look out for you instead of assuming it’s because they doubt your ability to achieve your dream.

The idea of a loved one taking a risky, unfamiliar “leap” towards a dream is terribly frightening to some.  Just because they aren’t ready to play at that level, doesn’t mean they don’t support you.  They just may not be able to comprehend the possibility.

Change is scary.  When a friend is changing in some way, it is likely going to impact the relationship.  This may cause friends to resist the change out of fear of a changing dynamic.  I’ve seen this in career shifts, relationship changes, and moving out of a geographical area.

Be you, even if it’s a “new” you, unapologetically.  Be the best friend you can be. Be an advocate of your dream.  Just Be.

I’d love to hear your comments in the comments section.  What are your thoughts, experiences, opinions, and dreams.  I’d really like to know.