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.

Celebrating Your Womanhood

This coming Tuesday, August 26th is Women’s Equality Day.  Want to know how I’m celebrating it?  I’ll be starting my “Stay-at-home-Mom-for-a-week” vacation.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve taken the first week of school off from work for my kids.  This year, I’ll devote this time to sending my youngest (almost 16) off to school with a healthy breakfast, lunch money and a clean, orderly home on her return.  I also prepare a delicious home-cooked meal for the family each night.

While she’s at school, I’m organizing, donating, cleaning and meal planning.  Doesn’t sound very “Women’s Equality” does it?  But here’s the thing.  While I should make equal compensation for my efforts and results in the workforce, and I should have equal rights and choices, I embrace my femininity. I’m perfectly happy preparing a meal and letting someone else change a tire.  Not that I couldn’t change a tire, but that I’d rather embrace my maternal attributes.  Does that make me less ‘equal’ to males or other females?  I think not.

To be clear, I also have the utmost respect for women who focus on their career path or embrace their masculine attributes, I’ve done this as well.  Being equal doesn’t mean being the same.  We are all different.  We are complex.  As much as I love taking care of my family, I’m also fiercely independent.  I need to do my own thing and have my own space.  I need to be selfish and focus on me at times, and I won’t apologize for it.

Ladies, this Women’s Equality Day, let’s keep three things in mind:

Embrace Your Womanhood – Recognize those attributes that make you, you.  Don’t judge them, don’t sweat the labels others give them.  I say “empathetic” someone else says “soft”.  Whatever.  You say “assertive” someone else says “Bitch”.  Whatever.  You and you alone fill out the “Hello my name is…” tag.

Unashamedly Share Your Successes – Nobody likes a braggart, but don’t be so polite that you fail to share your accomplishments with others.  You busted your ass for that promotion/degree/award-winning-garden, there’s nothing wrong with sharing it.

Celebrate Your ‘Sisters’ – I’ve often felt in battle with other women more than men.  We are not competing against each other (in the grand scheme of things).  There is NOT just one piece of the pie.  There is room for all of us to succeed and shine.  Sure, some may achieve things underhandedly, but they’re in the minority.  Celebrate the achievements of your fellow women.

Whether you’re a housewife or career woman; dressed like you just walked out of a J. Crew catalog or a tattoo parlor; dinner party conversationalist or raunchy joke teller or anywhere in between these, you are awesome and beautiful.  Embrace and celebrate this every day of the year.  Remember, we are setting the example for girls and young women.  It’s our job to empower them to do the same.

Happy Women’s Equality Day to the ladies, with a shout out to the men (of which I’m fortunate to know many) who support and champion this in their lives.  Now ladies, tell me in the comments section what part of you makes you an awesome woman.  And gents, share something amazing about a woman you’ve been honored to know.

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?

Dealing with Issues in 4 Easy Steps

So you’ve got issues.  Yeah, me too.  Such is life.  How do you get through them?   Do you hide under the  blankets? Charge at them like a warrior?  Cross your fingers that if you ignore them they will eventually  go away?  Think, worry and fret over them?  What if I told you I had a better way?

I know when I’m in ‘fight or flight’ mode, I’m not always thinking clearly.  I’m so focused on the issue that even attempts at figuring it out lands me right back into the worry stage.  So I have a few steps that can help put your issue into digestible, solvable and less stressful chunks.

STEP 1:  First, stop thinking about it.  Yeah, I know, it sounds ridiculous.  It’s very difficult to solve a problem in your head.  You need to write it down.  Seriously.  Write it down.  (like now)

Now take a look at your wording.  If you wrote something like, “I don’t have enough money”, you’re writing what you lack.  Not what you need.  So re-write the problem again stating what you need.  For example, “I need $500 more to cover all of my bills this month.”  Same problem, just a different way of looking at it.

One of the best lessons I learned with driving is to focus on where you want to go.  So if you’re skidding towards an embankment, looking at the embankment will have you more likely to steer right into it.  Whereas if you look at where you want the car to go you are more likely to achieve that.  Moral of the story:  focus on what you want, not on what you lack.

Sometimes our problems involve other people.  News Flash:  We don’t have control over other people.  So it’s important that we focus on what we can do and what we do have control over.

For instance, your issue might be that you want to be in a relationship with someone, but they don’t feel the same way.  Or you want your boss to like you, but they don’t seem to.  These examples are not issues you have complete control over.

So for these, you’ll need to dig deeper and figure out what you need and eliminate any other specific people.  So in the examples above it might be to feel loved and completely accepted by a romantic partner, or to feel respected and competent in your job.  Once you’ve identified what you need, you can follow the “write it down” step.

STEP 2:  Now that you wrote it down, brainstorm ways you could resolve the issue.  In the financial issue used earlier, you could include ideas like getting a part-time job, selling veggies from your garden, using less electricity, selling items on ebay, negotiate a payment plan with a bill collector.  Get the idea?

STEP 3:  This step involves letting go of what you do not have control over.  It may still be a large part of the issue that weighs on you.  This is where you say to God or the Universe or fate, that you trust that good will come to your life through this experience and you release your worry and have faith that the outcome serves a greater purpose, even if it’s unclear to you right now.

STEP 4:  Get going on your brainstormed list.  Start taking action and trying some of the ideas you came up with.  Add to the list, edit it, change it, but keep it growing.  You really do have all the answers within you.  Really.

Thinking alone solves nothing.  Imagine all the great thinkers of the world.  Are they revered for thinking?  NO!! They’re celebrated for taking action!!   Take action and your issue will be conquered!!

Now go to the comments section and tell me your thoughts on this post.  (Your mind is sexy…share it!)

Need some support with this issue?  I’ve so got your back!! Fill out my “Contact Page” (aol users have been having difficulty, so email me at authenticlifechronicles@gmail.com) and let’s clear this up for you!

 

Finding Forgiveness on your Night of Power

Regardless of your religious beliefs, wouldn’t it be nice to be forgiven for all your past sins, mistakes and errors before you die?  I’m not religious as much as spiritual, but I find religious traditions and practices fascinating.  This week marks the Islamic holiday, Lailatul Qadr or the “Night of Power”.

To sum it up quickly, the Night of Power marks two events in the Islamic religion.  First is commemorating when the Holy Quran was revealed to Mohammad.  Second, tradition says that by praying sincerely to Allah on this night will result in forgiveness for all your past sins.  (This is a huge oversimplification of this beautiful holiday, so you can read this article for a deeper look at it)

By now, you’re probably wondering if I’ve converted to Islam or if I’m looking to convert you.  Neither.  I just think the idea of being forgiven for all past mistakes is pretty awesome.  Which led me to wonder…

Are you carrying the emotional baggage of past mistakes you’ve made?  Beating yourself up?  Wishing that God, the Universe or other people would forgive you.  Or maybe it’s not your sins or mistakes that need to be forgiven, but someone else’s.  Someone who did you wrong.  Maybe you’ve wished that God, the Universe or other people would properly punish them for their sins against you.

I’ve been in both of those situations.  I’ve made mistakes, some little and some big that I regret to this day. But at some point I forgave myself.  Not until I punished and verbally abused myself ‘enough’, but I did ultimately forgive my mistakes.

I also had to forgive someone that hurt me deeply:  my former best friend of many years.  At one point, she found herself in a financial bind.  While she didn’t ask, I offered her a loan.  It was only a few short months later that she gradually removed herself from my life without explanation.  In retrospect, I can see how it unfolded, but at the time I was just hurt and confused.  After a couple of years and only half of the debt repaid, my anger and resentment towards her was palpable.  (As fate would have it, life still requires that I interact with her occasionally).  Ultimately, I realized that this anger wasn’t hurting her at all, it was only hurting me.  I was carrying around this negative emotional baggage that wasn’t really mine to carry in the first place.  So after A LOT of reflection, I sent her a letter.  I told her (and meant it) that I forgave her actions and even the rest of the debt.  And it felt good to let it go.

Do you have to wait for a “Night of Power” to be forgiven? I don’t think so.  You can make your own “Night of Power” anytime you’d like. What have you done that you’re ashamed of?  What has someone done to you?  Is it serving you any useful purpose to hang on to all of that?  I doubt it.  Learn from it, adjust accordingly, and move on.  It’s not about letting yourself or others off the hook.  It’s about you.  It’s about removing any negativity or bad energy from yourself.

So there are two things I’d like you to do:  Comment in the comments section your thoughts on forgiveness, then write a letter to yourself and/or someone who has hurt you. In it, tell the recipient that you forgive them.  Write it from the heart and mean it.  Then you can send the letter or not, but let it go.  If the wound is too fresh, just try the exercise.  You can return to it when it’s not so raw.  Remember, you’re not doing this to do anyone else any favors.  This is for you.

As always, if you need some assistance in transitioning to a place of forgiveness, I will help you close the gap much more quickly than if you try to do it alone.  Go to my Contact Me page to set up a complimentary strategy session.

Being Brave & Bold

Back in June, Greg Corning from Wethersfield High School gave the Salutatorian address to his graduating high school class (you can see it here).  He delivered this address in an unorthodox way that may not have been appreciated by some of the administration.  He communicated his message by using a language his peers would understand…music.

Are the youth the only bold and brave ones left?  Have we adults become so professional that we forgot how to communicate with our peers in a transparent and authentic way?  Have we become so judgmental that we frown upon others who “break the rules”?  I should hope not.

I’ve seen the “real” world take all the fun out of some people.  People who used to be fun and adventurous now seem dimmed.  That light they used to shine on everyone has faded to become more “appropriate” to their position in life.  I see this with parents, co-workers and friends.  Yes, there’s a time and place, but does that time and place exist for you right now?

How deeply buried is your badass?  Is the language of your youth hidden under so many layers that you’re more like a stuffy adult now?  I’ve found that those who bring aspects of their youth into adulthood are happier and more pleasant to be around.

When was the last time you really let your personality shine in a way that was authentic to you and who you are?   Do you worry that by showing your true self that others will give you some sort of undesirable label?  I say screw it.  Shout your beliefs from the rooftops.  Have fun and be kind.  You want to splash in puddles on a rainy day? Do it!  You want to passionately kiss your love in the middle of the town green? Have at it!

Make your own rules.   Be brave.  Be bold.  Be you.  Unapologetically.

Tell me in the comments section your favorite fun quality about yourself and whether you need to turn it up.

Need a little help embracing your own authenticity?  I can help.  Contact me through my contact page and we can set up a complimentary Strategy Session.

Where Do You Go When You’re Sad?

The other day, I found myself at a pity party for one.  Each time I tried to leave this party a new cup of Poor Me Tea was delivered along with platters of Succulent Self-Doubt.   All these enticements made it difficult to leave.  Once I successfully exited this party, (which took longer than I’m comfortable admitting), I replayed the scene over and over until I cracked the pattern.

There are two places we tend to time-travel to when we are sad.  The Land of Back Then and The Land of Wish I Was.  Reflecting on our past and wondering about our future can be good exercises in thought.  However, if we allow too much time in these places, we are robbing ourselves of the one thing we actually have possession of…The Land of Right Now.

Let’s take a peek at each time-traveled place.

The Land of Back Then

Short visits here allow you to see any short cuts you could have taken, any wrong turns you made or red flags you missed, and can help to prevent you from making those same errors again in the future.  Spending too much time here can result in a rosier view, which didn’t actually exist.  You’ll see the mistakes you made but you’ll be more likely to make them bigger than they actually were.  This is where your pity party will likely begin with an all you can eat buffet of missed opportunities.

The Land of Wish I Was

While taking a short trip here, you can see all the potential available to you.  Using all five senses will help you remember the feel, sight, taste, sound, and smell of each possibility.  Longer visits will envelop you in what could have been, which will be on the edge of perfection, of course.  Like a dream that seemed ‘so real’, a lengthy visit here can have the same lasting effect.  Also like a dream, it isn’t accurate.

Reality can be greatly skewed when visiting these two lands for too long.  I’ve seen these scenarios play out for myself and others.  The best way out of sadness is to seize the day and live in the moment.  One caveat: Visiting The Land of Back Then and The Land of Wish I Was, are natural during the early stages of grief.  Whether this is due to the loss of a job, a relationship or a loved one, it is part of the process when grieving.  Beyond this however, it’s important that we not spend too much time in either of these places.

We have no authority in the past or the future.  It’s the Land of Right Now where we hold the power.  This is the sweet spot where we can marry the lessons learned from our past and the hopes and dreams we have for our future.  Only by making the best of our Now, can we make our past mistakes worth making and our future dreams worth reaching.

I’d love to hear from you! Tell me in the comments section how you’ve been affected by spending too much time in the past or future or share any tips you have to stay in the here and now!

As always, if you could use some help staying grounded, while still reflecting on your past and planning your future, contact me via my contact page and we can set up a FREE Strategy Session.

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?