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?

Mommy Memories

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So for this week’s post, I enlisted the help of my kids.  I asked them to share some of their most memorable Mommy moments.  I gave them total control over what they shared and let them know I would be posting it today.  They could share funny, embarrassing stories including those where I completely screwed up.

I was expecting some stories about close calls: That time when Vince was in 5th grade and I washed my underthings with his pants that happened to have Velcro pockets…(see where this is going?).  Caught in time, but it was a close call!  Or maybe a few of those dinners that didn’t come out, um, edible?

For the happy moments, I was sure Sabyl would mention Disney World and Vince would mention his car.  Two huge expenses that both were so grateful for, but neither of which were mentioned.

I wasn’t so surprised by what they did share, but more that these were the first to come to mind.  So here goes:

Sabyl:  I remember when you were yelling at me for something and I just started bursting out laughing, because of my tendency to laugh in awkward situations, but you just started bursting out laughing and beating me with the stuffed banana. (Is there a DCF statute of limitations?)

Vince: When you came to my first sponsored skateboarding competition and stayed the whole day to watch us compete.

Sabyl:  All of the lunches we spent together just talking about anything and knowing I can tell you everything.

Vince: After I got my driving permit, you taught me how to drive standard and stood behind the car on a slight hill, telling me if I didn’t pull forward in time, I’d roll backwards over you. (I don’t recommend trying this at home, but hey, I recognized that he possessed his mother’s superior driving skills!)

Sabyl:  When we went to the grocery store and you would talk in a British accent to the cashier purposely to get me mad.  (It wasn’t just to get you mad dahling, but perhaps if you weren’t being such a bloody nincompoop, I wouldn’t have had to resort to such methods!)

Feeling in the spirit of things, I then asked them to tell me what piece of advice or life lesson that I gave them, do they most live by today.

Vince: Think before you act (hearing this made me smile, but he continued with…”I ask myself that question before I do a lot of stuff, but when you used to yell at me for doing stupid things, I heard that a lot.”

Sabyl:  Be trustworthy.  Be the friend that doesn’t share secrets. (Girl Code, ya know?)

So while I would love to say that these examples fully represent my parenting skills, that would be untrue.  I just have very compassionate kids who were kind enough to not share my many, many mistakes as a mom.

I share these to show that you just never know when one tiny memory, seemingly forgettable, will end up being a child’s fond memory.

Their memories reminded me that it isn’t the things, the big events or even the toughest lessons.  It’s just the time.  The time that they felt I was 100% present with them.  I wish I knew this as a young parent. But I know it now.  I know that no matter how old my children are, they will always crave my undivided attention when they need it.

Another thing I know now…I’m just really, really lucky to me a mom.  Happy Mother’s Day to all you mom’s out there and all you wonderful women who have supported and cared for another living thing.  It’s your day too!

In the comments section, I’d love if you would share a special Mommy memory you have.

Are Lap Dances Cheating?

A couple weeks ago a woman called into the local radio station.  She wanted to ask the listeners if they thought her boyfriend getting a lap dance at a strip club was considered cheating.   So in essence, I guess she was wondering whether to be mad or not.

I got the impression that “boyfriend” told her he was going to the strip club.  I also got the impression that he told her he got a lap dance.  Regardless, I couldn’t figure out why she was asking the question.

What if the majority of callers said, “Yes, that is absolutely cheating and unacceptable”?  How would she have reacted?  Or, what if the majority of callers said, “No way, that’s totally ok”?  She seemed so clearly neutral to the situation and just wanted to know which socially acceptable “team” she should be on.

While most of us don’t come by our beliefs from the radio, do you ever wonder where you acquired some of them?  How you came to believe them?  If you even really believe in them anymore?

One of my favorite questions to ask is “why”.  This is especially true when someone has a limiting belief.  This typically drives my friends and clients crazy, but it really gets to the core.  So for instance, I recently spoke with a 40-something-year-old, who said, “I could never change careers now”.  I asked her why and continued to challenge her limiting beliefs.

In another conversation a woman thought she had nothing to offer the world because she didn’t finish college.  I asked if she truly believed that or if she just thought everyone else did.  I could rattle off a bunch of successful people who didn’t finish college.  Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Russell Simmons, Ted Turner, Brad Pitt, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, Oprah, Tom Hanks, shall I go on??

Moral of the story?  Don’t let others define your rules.  You’re the boss of you!  If you want to “cut off” your boyfriend because of a lap dance, have at it.  If you couldn’t care less about lap dances so long as all involved retained possession of their own DNA, that’s cool too.

On the other hand, if your beliefs are limiting what you can do or enjoy, ask yourself why you are hanging on to it.  The most inspiring stories come from those who challenged both their own and other’s beliefs.  The 4 minute mile was at one time deemed impossible by experts…until someone did it.  Then someone else broke that record.  Bob Wieland lost both his legs in war.  Yet he’s run numerous marathons…entirely on his hands.

Do you have a belief that you let go of once you realized it wasn’t truly yours?  How about a belief that’s unshakable to you.  You believe it to your core.  Share in the comments section what those are for you.

Exploring Your Negativity

I’m a very positive, non-judgmental kinda gal.  However, recently I drove by a billboard that had a woman decked out in German attire holding a nice big mug of beer.  She looked kind of silly.  Well not “kind of”, she looked ridiculous.  As I drove beyond it, I couldn’t stop wondering what she was thinking posing for that billboard dressed like that.   How does she respond when her friends tease her about it?  What about when she’s grocery shopping?  She must get those odd glances from fellow shoppers.  How does she feel about being the “Billboard Lady”?

Then I started wondering: Why do I care? Why am I spending so much energy trying to get in this woman’s head? Why am I feeling such negativity about it?  And then it hit me.  I would never have the kahunas to dress like that and have it plastered on a billboard.  I’d be too worried about what other people thought about it.

I’m all about embracing your authentic self without regard to how others judge you, and yet here I was.  Feeling negativity towards a woman who clearly didn’t give a crap what others thought about her billboard image.  In fact, maybe she felt pride to be the one pictured.  Maybe that’s her German restaurant and she’s damn proud of it.  Either way…You Go German Girl!!

This incident has led me to reflect on my own insecurities when I have a knee-jerk reaction to judge someone else.  These are the questions I ask myself:

Why do I care? – This is the first question to determine where the negativity is coming from.  If it involves harming someone or something else, then I’m probably justified.  Otherwise, it’s likely pointing at an internal issue.

What’s my issue with it? – That middle aged mom clearly wearing her teenage daughter’s clothes.  I’m not the “Fashion Police”.   What’s my issue?  Am I jealous that she can pull it off?  Am I insecure in my relationship and concerned she’ll steal my romantic partner’s attention?

How can I work on this now? – Once I’ve identified the insecurity, I can work on it.  Using the example above, I would ask myself if I’m not confident in my own appearance, what can I do to change that?  Or, if I’m concerned about a straying partner, what work needs to be done in the relationship?  Is that insecurity because I’m not confident in my appearance or is my intuition telling me something is going on?

Ultimately, I’ve found this type of reflection incredibly beneficial to understanding what aspects of my life I need to focus attention on.  Exploring the root cause of any negativity helps me understand myself, and others, better.  Look within first.  It’s a good practice to living a positive, authentic life.

Tell me in the comments section how this resonates with you.

Hurry Up and Wait – 4 Steps to Achieving your Goals

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I sure am ready for Spring!! Right around the end of February each year, I start to get that itch to go outside and do things.  (That ‘itch’ is in hibernation pretty much from November through February for me!)

As Spring in New England approaches, I plan hikes and excursions and bike rides and picnics and parties and horseback riding and on and on and on.  There’s just one little thing…I don’t actually DO half of it.  I talk about it excitedly, even research where I’ll go or how I’ll do it, but ultimately, it’s the same old, same old.

I’m in this big rush to do stuff, and then I wait for the next weekend or holiday or season.  But when November returns, I realize I really haven’t done what I was so excited about in the Spring and Summer.  So how is this year going to be different? I’m so glad you asked!

First I’m going to identify my goals.  My youngest will be college-bound in only two years, so I want to put an even bigger emphasis on quality family time.   I want to be more physically fit than I was last year.  I want to focus on delivering more innovative, kickass results professionally.  I want to build relationships with more people beyond my inner circle.

Then I’m going to brainstorm actions that support those goals.  I will consult with family members to come up with activities we can do that everyone will enjoy and commit to.  To meet my physical goal, I will reach out to those who can help keep me motivated and challenge me (I have WAY too many “Mud Runner” friends!!!).  I will avoid “death by research” and take action on my findings each week.  I will schedule time to network or take advantage of opportunities that will expose me to new people.

Weekly ‘pulse’ checks will keep me on track.  I will review my week every Sunday to see which goals I met and any periods where I went off track.  Then I will look at the week ahead and ensure there are enough actions planned that align with my goals.  As new opportunities arise, I will ask myself if they will contribute to, or take away from, my goals.

Finally, I’ll yell it from the rooftop!  For a little accountability fun, I’m going to make sure anyone and everyone is aware of my goals AND schedule a time to Pay the Piper! There’s nothing like a weekly blog for this step!! SOOOO….my November 16th, 2014 blog post will be my “Pay the Piper” post (say THAT ten times fast!!)!

So tell me in the comments section, when do you find yourself ‘hurrying up just to wait’, which of the four steps above would help you the most and what tips do you have to ensure you accomplish your goals!  I’d love to hear from you!!

Shutting the Pie Hole – 10 Tips to Being a Better Listener

Have you ever had a conversation with a person who looks like a fish out of water when you’re speaking?  The one whose mouth keeps opening and closing as they attempt to say what they need to say even though you’re not finished yet?  Annoying, right?

Listening can be so hard but it is so important.  Everyone has great words of wisdom to impart on others.  But in our rush to help, solve or just provide evidence of our superior intelligence to others, we may miss the best parts of what someone is saying.

This lack of listening is not always done with bad intentions.  For instance, I used to frequently (and still do occasionally if I’m being honest) try to finish people’s sentences.  I did (do) this to either help them out if they were struggling to find a particular word or to show that I was (am) paying attention and TOTALLY got what they were saying.  The only problem with this was my accuracy was only like 90%.

I didn’t realize how annoying this was until other people started doing it to me.  I also became hyper-aware of people doing it to others.  (The ‘fish out of water’ analogy is based on these observations).

People have so much to say, blah, blah, blah.  Shutting the pie hole is THE BEST way to learn where another person is coming from. And if you need to influence them in some way with your words, you really need to know where they’re coming from. Here are 10 tips to help you become a better listener:

  1. REMOVE ALL DISTRACTIONS – silence cell phone, hold calls, close doors (if possible) and tell any unexpected visitors you’ll catch up with them later.
  2. MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT – this communicates that you are intently focused on only the other person.
  3. KEEP YOUR BODY LANGUAGE OPEN – uncross arms and legs and lean towards the speaker.
  4. NOD YOUR HEAD to indicate understanding and attention.
  5. GIVE VERBAL CUES that encourage the speaker to continue – like ‘mmhmmm’, ‘yes’, ‘right’, ‘I see’, etc.
  6. TAKE NOTES only if appropriate – this includes what they are saying and any responses of yours you don’t want to forget
  7. DON’T INTERRUPT! – no matter what you’re feeling, allow the speaker to share their perceptions and feelings.
  8. START YOUR RESPONSE WITH A QUESTION – once the other person is done speaking, FORCE yourself to start your response with a question.  This could allow for further elaboration (ie: “When you say ‘yelled at you’ do you mean increased volume or tone of voice?”) or to confirm you understood them correctly by paraphrasing (“If I understand correctly, you feel belittled when you raise an argument. Is that accurate?”).
  9. AVOID COMPARING your similar ‘story’ to theirs – this is not a competition.  Avoid trying to ‘one-up’ them with your ‘bigger’ story.
  10. KEEP YOUR DEFENSES DISENGAGED – how they feel and perceive things is NOT up for debate.  Defending your actions, thoughts or feelings is unnecessary.  Listen to the other person and share your perspective tactfully without trying to counter their perception.

There are times when simply acknowledging the other person and their perception can be enough to avoid any escalated issues.  So never disregard or minimize what another person is feeling.  Perception is reality to that individual.  Respect that.

Odds are that if a person feels heard and understood, they will be much more open to considering opposing perspectives.  “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  – Stephen R. Covey

Your turn:  Share in the comments section a time you listened fully and how this helped prevent an ‘issue’ from forming!

3 Easy Steps to Writing Your Personal Mission Statement

I was always a “go with the flow” kinda gal.  An Eternal Optimist.  In my youth, I was so open to whatever was coming, that I didn’t seize opportunities.  I stumbled upon them.  Or rather, they stumbled upon me.

This is a great way to live…when you’re 20, but not as effective beyond this.  At some point, we need some direction.  A plan.  A goal.  Something to live up to and become.  So this year, how about, instead of “going with the flow” of life, you create a mission and purpose for the year?  Nothing too specific.  A “theme” if you will.  C’mon…I’ll help you!

The key to making a great mission statement is to keep it short and to the point.  You should be able to memorize it pretty quickly.  It will provide just enough information to help you determine when you’re on or off track.

  1. What are you committed to?  I am committed to…
  2. How do you achieve this? By…
  3. Why do you do this? So that…

That’s IT??? Yup, that’s it!!

Here are some examples of what some might look like:

I am committed to living more healthfully this year by eating and preparing more natural foods and increasing physical activities.  I will do this so that I set a good example for my children and feel better.”

I am committed to improving the quality of time spent with my family by having more family meals together, day trips and more focused attention when communicating with them.  I do this so that my family knows I love them above all else and strengthens the bonds we have with each other.”

I am committed to investing in my own personal needs by meditating every day, reading more often and planning alone time.  I do this so I am able to be more fully present in the other areas of my life and feel less stress.”

You can expand on these if you wish, but make sure you can remember your statement.  It should be broad enough to allow for many opportunities that contribute to your mission.

Post it in places where you’ll see it regularly.  Share it with friends and family.  WARNING: Do not get upset or angry when you make choices that conflict with your statement.  It’s not about perfection, it’s about the big picture.  If you are aiming to eat more healthfully, and you do this most of the time, don’t feel bad when you opt for that special treat.  It’s a marathon, not a race!

You can create statements for any area of your life: romantic, professional, parenting, spiritual.  It can also be a fun exercise to create a “couple’s” statement or a “family” statement.

Here’s mine for 2014:

“I am committed to stretching my comfort zone this year by taking more risks and meeting new people.  I will do this so that I accomplish more successes and learn more about myself and others.”

If you’d like to share yours or offer any tips you have, click above in the “comments” section just below the title.  As always, thanks for being here!! <3