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?

The Best Investment

Father’s Day is a perfect day to talk about the best investment adults can make.  It isn’t stocks or bonds; fine art or real estate.  It’s children.  All children, not just those you take part in creating or raising.    Your investment need not be monetary, as your investment of time will pay the most dividends.

Children are adults in training.  They are making determinations about life, the world, and how to navigate both.  What lessons are you contributing to?  Which children do you influence?

The kids today will be our leaders tomorrow.  They will run the businesses we work with.  They will make decisions that affect our schools, towns, cities, states and country.  They will change laws and change lives.

Their values and beliefs will be formed from a young age.  These will be influenced by their observations and experiences in life.  Their decisions will be determined by whether they believe most people are good or most people are bad.  Whether the world is worth saving or only worth surviving.

Our children (collectively) are lacking in positive role models.  Particularly male role models, but females as well.  So how can you help?  Here are 10 ways you can get involved in a child’s life:

  1. Volunteer to coach a sports team
  2. Big Brothers, Big Sisters http://www.bbbs.org/
  3. Volunteer at your local YMCA http://www.ymca.net/volunteer/
  4. Volunteer for a United Way sponsored program http://www.unitedway.org/take-action/volunteer
  5. Get involved at a church or other house of faith
  6. Offer your time to a local hospital
  7. Consider fostering a child
  8. Spend some extra time chatting up that neighborhood kid who always seems to be “around”
  9. Find an organization near you that focuses on mentoring children at http://www.mentoring.org/
  10. Seize every opportunity to make an impact on a child and show them the good in the world (grocery stores, restaurants, etc.)

Parents are so overwhelmed these days.  Single parents, economically disadvantaged parents, grandparents who have taken on the responsibility of childrearing and those with medical issues and addictions, tend to struggle the most.  We can judge them and their lack of good parenting skills or we can help out by investing in these children who are our future.

We are all busy, but if we don’t invest now, we will pay later.  Share in the comments section a time as a child when an adult taught you something or share a time you taught something to a child.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s and Father-figures out there today!! <3

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.

The Meaning of Life

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Are you searching for the meaning of life?  Like it’s a treasure hunt for only you to find?  Yet you look around you and see so many others finding their treasure and you wonder what the deal is.

Let me set the record straight. The meaning of life is not something you find…it’s something you create.

Stop trying to figure out what you’re meant to do in life, and instead, figure out what meaning you want your life to have.  Do you want to be known for your knowledge or financial success?  Or maybe how you impact a particular field of business or a group of people?

There is no wrong answer.  Do good and be great.  That’s it.  Maybe you’ll be known as an awesome mother.  Perhaps an entrepreneur who found a way to monetize a passion.  It’s possible you’d simply like to be that person who brings joy and happiness to all who know you.  Maybe volunteering is your passion.  Or cooking.  Or running.

There’s no barometer.  There’s nothing to measure yourself against.  This is a game of one.  Solitaire.  Your greatness has nothing to do with others’ greatness.  There is no competition.  I know this may be difficult to understand, but I promise this is true.

Whoever or whatever you’ve been comparing yourself to, you need to stop it.  It doesn’t matter.  We are all on our own independent journey.  It truly doesn’t matter where anyone else is on theirs.  It has nothing to do with yours.

What do you love to do?  What brings you the most joy?  Do that.  The answers to these questions may or may not be your career (aspired or actual).  That’s ok.  Being a great parent or partner may not add to the bank account, but it sure makes a significant difference in the world.

Making millions, saving lives, having the biggest home or most expensive cars mean little if you don’t love what you do.

I want my children to say I impacted their lives in a way that will carry on for generations.  I want my friends and loved ones to say I made their lives better just for knowing me.  I want my clients to feel that their lives are richer and more fulfilled because of my support. That’s it.  Can you measure that in a house or car or bank account?  Do I have to be featured in People magazine or win a Noble prize to confirm my accomplishment?  Nope, I don’t.  I just have to know I did good and I was great at what I did.  That’s it.

So what’s your dream?  I bet it’s awesome!  What would you like to be known for?  I bet it’s great!  Tell me in the comments section.

Consider me your “Dream Advocate”.  If you’d like to explore your dream in a safe, non-judgmental, supportive place, contact me (via my contact page) and we can set up a FREE 1 hour 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.

Top Ten Positive Qualities of Bitches

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When I think of the qualities I most want to possess, “bitchy” has never been one of them.  But maybe it should be.  Hear me out here peeps.  “Bitch” has several definitions, but I’m referring to the version used for women who behave in a demanding, dominant, dismissive and/or insensitive way.

So why would I EVER want to possess any characteristics related to this behavior?  Because, while this label is associated with undesirable conduct, there are some lessons we ladies could learn:  Here are my Top 10 Positive Qualities of Bitches:

  1. They are decisive
  2. They are clear about their expectations
  3. They communicate their needs succinctly
  4. They don’t let obstacles stand in their way
  5. They have a plan
  6. They aren’t concerned with what other people think of them
  7. They stay focused on their goal
  8. They make certain their needs are met
  9. They use all available resources
  10. They expect to succeed

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a recovering people pleaser.  I tried so hard to please everyone that it would slow me down in making a decision.  I also cared way too much what others thought of me, so my needs often ended up on the back burner.  I’ve found that embracing qualities that can be associated with being a bitch has helped me communicate more clearly and achieve more of my goals.

So while I’m not suggesting you now strive to become The World’s Biggest Bitch, I think as women we could benefit from turning our bitch up at times.  You don’t have to become a mean girl, in fact, please don’t, but be decisive, be assertive and expect to succeed. Communicate your needs respectfully, but unapologetically.

Everything is degrees.  Assertiveness is great, but if it’s turned up too high it becomes aggressive; turned down too low and it’s timid.   Fine tune your inner bitch and let her help you achieve your goals.

Tell me in the comments section which of the Top 10 Characteristics you could “turn up” to gain more satisfaction in your life.

How a Conversation with my Young Self Reminded Me to Play Big

iStock_000010510059SmallAt the risk of raising suspicions that I’ve been sniffing Wite-Out, I’d like to ask you a question.  When was the last time you had a conversation with your eight-year-old self (or any younger version)?

At the closing of a conference I recently attended, participants took part in a guided meditation.  During this guided meditation, we briefly glimpsed younger (and older) versions of ourselves who smile and point us on our way.  This exercise got me thinkin’!

If I was able to meet with myself as a child, what questions would she ask me about how life has been? This thought alone brought me a (surprising) amount of emotional pain.  See, as a child, I was optimistic, excited, curious, and filled with a hope that couldn’t be distinguished, (like most children I suspect).  While, for the most part, I’m still all of those things, there’s one thing that has dimmed.  I was a Fearless Dreamer.

By Fearless Dreamer I mean there was no dream too big for me.  I could be a firefighter, astronaut, college professor, lawyer, humanitarian, philanthropist…anything I could imagine.  I could drive a hot pink convertible Corvette, have a huge apartment in Manhattan and a beautiful country home in my hometown.  Yes, all of these, and more, were the things I dreamed about.

So why does the idea of meeting with my child-self make me sad?  Because I think I’d disappoint her.  I picture her excitedly trying to guess which of my dreams came true. “Are you a college professor? Do you have a Manhattan apartment with a beautiful view of the city at night? How many kids did you have? Did you change the world and make it better?”  On and on she’d go, ticking off questions quicker than I could answer them.

Then my adult-self would begin to say things like, “well, it’s complicated.  See, it’s not as easy to accomplish those dreams.  There are bills and obligations and responsibilities…” It’s at this moment, that her face goes from bright eyed excited curiosity, to confused bewilderment that shows on her furrowed brow, to a disappointed, shoulder drooping, sad glance down to her lap.  As if I told her there was no Santa Claus or Easter bunny.

This image makes me sad.  Very sad, in fact.

That is until I start coaching myself.  I’m all about perspective (as you probably know), so how could I shift my perspective to a more positive angle, while still being truthful?

Well that wasn’t as hard as I thought.  I imagined a new and improved conversation with my child-self.  I’d say, “Well, I didn’t accomplish those dreams in the way I thought I would when I was you, but I accomplished many.  I have an office that feels warm and welcoming, has lots of sunlight and the sound of birds chirping.   I’m not a college professor, but I’ve been able to help people be more optimistic, excited, curious and hopeful about life.   I’ve helped them to dream big, thanks to you.  And also thanks to you, I’ve continued to dream big.  In fact, I’m working on a big dream now!“  This is where she says to me, “So dreams really DO come true!”  She jumps up, gives me a big crooked-toothed smile that reaches her eyes, a tight hug and runs off towards that swing set she so loved to dream on.

All I know is that I have more work to do to make even more of my dreams come true.  Meeting with her reminded me to stop putting limitations or restrictions on my dreams.  If I can dream it, I can be it.  Care to join me?

Tell me in the comments section how you would feel meeting with your young self and what you could still learn from that version of you.

Fast Track to Authenticity – Stop Letting Others Define You

Do you remember being called something negative as a child?  Ugly, stupid, fat, skinny, short, etc.? Or maybe nothing THAT negative, but labels like, willful, stubborn, argumentative, flighty, absent minded or the like?

It amazes me how many of us, as adults, still unknowingly hold onto those labels.  How we’ve taken the words and actions of others and assigned them meaning in our life and in our identity, (keeping in mind that some of these labels were given to us by 7 year olds).  And we’re still buying into it, or trying to prove them untrue.

So much of our joy (and pain) in life is determined by our perspectives.  As a recovering people-pleaser, I get it.  For years I tried to be whatever others expected me to be.  I put so much value on the opinions of others and virtually no value on my own.

On the flipside of that, I would expend a huge amount of energy trying to prove people wrong if I didn’t like their opinion of me (all while wondering if their opinion of me was actually fact).

Worse than all of that was, at times, I would make assumptions about what other people thought of me.  As a 26 year old single mom, attending PTO meetings at my son’s school was awkward to say the least.  I was sure all those other moms were judging me.  Maybe they were and maybe they weren’t, but this colored my perspective of myself.  I put a high value on what I assumed these women thought of me.  That was not only unfair to me, but also to them.

So how did I stop caring what other people thought of me?  I didn’t. I still care what others think of me, I just don’t let it define me.  I define me.  I decide every day who I am and who I want to be.  Does it hurt when I have a hater?  Sure it can, but that’s ok.  I reflect on their perception, see if there’s any room for improvement and move on.

If I feel there’s room to improve and align with who I want to be, then I work towards it because I want to be the best version of myself.  For me. Not to prove them wrong.  Haters gonna hate! They’re not going to suddenly adore me if I change.

So what criticisms have you over-valued in your life?  What labels just aren’t true anymore (and maybe never were)?  Who do YOU want to be?  All your yesterdays are over.  You can’t change them.  But you can change your today and all your tomorrows.

What are you waiting for?  Tell me in the comments section which three adjectives best describe who you want to be.