The One Mind Shift That Will Change Your Life

When it comes to personal development, true purpose and happiness there is one shift that will generate the most benefit (and, yes, change your life): Taking responsibility. This is not an easy thing to do. It is much easier (and feels better in the short-term) to blame others for our woes and put our attention there. But it’s much more beneficial for us to carry our own burdens. And not just carry them, but examine them. Turn them around, explore, investigate and analyze them. Work out those demons. The only way to do this is to own them.

When you own your piece of every situation, you take back control. One distinction I must make is this means taking responsibility for your OWN burdens. You cannot take control of someone else’s. Taking responsibility means taking responsibility for what you bring to every relationship, goal, experience and situation. You can’t control others and you certainly can’t control all the events that occur in your life, but you can control YOU and how you react to life’s many twists and turns.

The next question then is, How? How do we turn that mind shift into action? Here are 12 ways:

  1. Focus on your strengths – During challenging times, we tend to focus on our shortcomings and weaknesses. A mindset on what we are lacking will not usually show us the best way out of a situation.
  2. Be clear on your goal – Whatever the situation is, you have to have clarity around what you ultimately want to happen.
  3. Focus on what you can do – It’s common to feel trapped in circumstances we are not in control of. However, there is almost always something we can do to improve any situation.
  4. Consider your options – We tend to consider the two most obvious options. We can either do this or we can do that. But there are always more than two options. Consider all the possibilities.
  5. They’re wrong, you’re right, so what – Spending a whole lot of time on how you’ve been wronged, shafted or victimized will do nothing to change your situation, no matter how right you may be. Being stuck in that thought pattern only leads to learned helplessness.
  6. Change your view – Easier said than done, but when you consider other views of your situation, you may find a solution right out in the open. Imagine how various people in your life would view this situation. You don’t have to agree; you just want to try on their perspective.
  7. Reassess frequently – Look back on the steps you’ve made and determine what you did well, what could have gone better, and how you would handle it differently now. In other words, learn from your actions.
  8. Get resourceful – Just because you’re taking responsibility, doesn’t mean you can’t call in reinforcements. Asking for help IS taking action.
  9. Know the difference between ‘action’ and ‘perfection’ – When you take responsibility, you are stepping up to take action, not to be perfect. Trying to be perfect will get in the way of moving forward.
  10. Mitigate your weaknesses – We all have them, but if they are taking power away from you, you need to take steps to strengthen them. (See #8)
  11. Trust yourself – You have a ridiculous amount of knowledge and experience. You have the answers within, you just need to trust that and then seek them out. You’ve got this!
  12. Know when to take the lesson and move on – When we take responsibility, it doesn’t mean we just keep showing up for the sake of showing up. After we’ve given what we feel is our best, we may have to take the lesson from a situation and move on. That’s not failure; that’s growth.

Share some goodness: what’s a situation in your life, that once you took control of your role in it, things changed for the better? Share in the comments section.

If you would like some support on designing and creating the life you desire, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of a complimentary strategy session!

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Your Search for Meaning

Are you searching for the meaning of life?  Does it feel like 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.

I have been around so many people who are waiting for the next clue or the big reveal that will finally show them what their meaning and purpose is. They’re waiting for someone to tell them what to do as if there is only one right way. Allow me to 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 parent or loving partner.  Perhaps an entrepreneur who found a way to monetize a passion.  Or maybe someone who performed their job, no matter what it was, to the best of their ability. 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 your corner of the world.

Making millions, holding power, 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 work to influence others and challenge them to be better because of my support and leadership. 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?  What would you like to be known for?  Tell me in the comments section.

If you would like some support on designing and creating the life you desire, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of a complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

*A version of this post was originally published in March of 2014

Fillers & Dippers

We all need energy to get through our days, accomplish everything on our to-do lists and take care of those around us. In order to have this energy we must eat well, get our sleep and just generally take care of our health. Depending on how well we do those things determines how much energy we start our day with. Then, as we progress through our day we come across people who add energy (Fillers) and those who take energy (Dippers).

Let’s identify some of the characteristics of both.  Let’s start with Fillers:

  • Fillers celebrate you – They give you that pat on the back or “Happy Birthday” text.
  • Fillers support you – In a bind? They show up. Need some help? There they are. You don’t even need to guilt them into it.
  • Fillers energize you – They get you excited and motivated. They’re fun and energizing.
  • Fillers make you feel good – Maybe with a sincere compliment or downplaying a mistake you made. Just being around them and their joy feels good (think giggling babies and baby animals).
  • Fillers find what’s good about you – They focus on what makes you awesome.

Now for the Dippers:

  • Dippers complain about being unappreciated – They are like human ‘Eeyore’s’ (you know, Winnie-the-Pooh character!)
  • Dippers can be very self-absorbed – Even though you’re checking your watch and talking to them while walking away, they don’t seem to notice that you’re in a rush. They are hyper-focused on their issues – not yours.
  • Dippers are needy – They are high-maintenance and don’t always consider how they are sucking the life out of you. They can be exhausting and endless victims of some injustice.
  • Dippers can be uncooperative and argumentative – They always seem to be there to throw a hurdle up and make your life more difficult. Nothing is easy with them.
  • Dippers can be depressing – They may focus on all the things that are terrible about themselves, their job, their world, etc. and share it with you…often.

Here’s the thing. We are all Fillers AND Dippers. As much as we would like to see ourselves as only the Fillers, sometimes we are the Dippers. And that’s okay! What’s important is the balance. Are you filling more often than you’re dipping? Replay some conversations you had with others this past week. Were you filling or dipping? Were you giving or taking?

When you do have to “dip”, be considerate about it. Pay attention to the needs of your Filler and try to make it an exchange of energy instead of just a one-sided deal. Check yourself to ensure that all things considered, you aren’t taking more than you’re giving.

How should you deal with the Dippers? Very carefully. Limit how many you allow to just take from you. Sometimes you have to tell a Dipper, “No”, or that you unfortunately can’t help them right now. This doesn’t make you a bad person, this makes you an “energy conserver”. In order to take care of yourself and your responsibilities, you have to monitor your energy. Also, sometimes Dippers don’t know they’re dipping. They are just consumed by their “stuff” and are clueless that others are dodging them at every turn. They may need a loving, but candid, tough love talk.

Now you tell me: how do YOU fill others? What special something do you add that makes others walk away with a little pep in their step? Or, share how someone has filled you up…give them that public shout-out right here!

If you would like some support on designing and creating the life you desire, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of a complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

*A version of this post was originally published in March of 2016

The Top 4 Stressors and How to Combat Them

We tend to think of the “big things” as the most dangerous stressors.  Like health issues, sick parents, loss of a loved one, job loss, things like that.  Yet, that isn’t entirely true.  Other chronic stressors that impact our health and well-being include things like traffic jams, noise and credit card debt, all of which weigh on us.

Stress is the greatest ager of your body in general.  In an American Psychological Association survey on stress, the top 4 sources of stress are money, work (if employed), family responsibilities and health concerns. Let’s talk about ways to minimize the stress in those 4 areas.

  • Money – There are numerous FREE resources on this topic, but here are some “back to basic” tips
    • Awareness – It’s important for you to know exactly (not roughly) where you are spending your money. Backtrack or plan to note every expense for an entire month.  Putting this information in black and white in front of you will likely be very illuminating.  Just like you can’t play your hand until you know what cards you were dealt, you can’t make a financial plan until you know what you’re habits are.
    • Plan It – Once you have an awareness, you can come up with a plan or budget to get yourself in a healthier financial state. Don’t eliminate all “feel good” expenses, just get more creative about them (have a picnic dinner in your backyard instead of going to a restaurant).
    • Make it a Family Affair – Don’t hide your financial situation from your immediate family. Improving this area will require efforts from the entire family.
    • Earn More – Many financial experts state that no one gets rich by working more but rather by investing more. However, some circumstances require more immediate action.  Offer up your talents to friends and family or get another (short-term) job to supplement your income.
  • Current Job – Yes, these tend to pay the bills, but that’s little comfort if you have to drag ass to get there every day. Here are some tips to improve your work situation.
    • Plan Your Day – To the best of your ability, try to foresee obstacles. Reacting to fires is more stressful than preventing them.
    • Take Regular Breaks – Granted, there are some days when we are bombarded and can’t take five minutes to pee, but these should be the exception, not the rule. Stepping away from your work space can do wonders.  Take a walk, find a quiet space (your car or a bathroom stall if you have to) and just chill.  Breathe, meditate, relax.  This will re-energize you.
    • Consider Your Perspective – If an outsider looking in would scoop up your job in a New York minute (and most would), give thought to the lens you’re looking through. Are you spending too much time focused on the crappy parts of the job and not enough on the parts you love?
    • Prepare For and Check-Out the Other Side – No one gets paid enough to work long-term in a job they hate. If there is no end or reward in sight, it’s time to polish up your resume and see what’s out there.  Check employment sites and start getting your name out there for consideration.
  • Family Responsibilities – Often these float our boat, but other times they feel like they could sink us.
    • Talk About It – Talk with others who have walked (or crawled) this path before you. They likely have tips to help you.
    • Give Up the Guilt – There’s no training manual for being an awesome partner, parent or caregiver. Do what you can.  You’re going to screw up, make mistakes and maybe even fail in an epic way.  Learn from your mistakes, move on and try to do better next time.
    • Share the Pain – You don’t have to do it alone. There are plenty of resources available to you.  Using them doesn’t make you weak…it makes you resourceful.
  • Health Concerns – Sometimes these issues are within our control and other times they aren’t.
    • Control What You Can Control – If you’re at risk for something, take any steps you are comfortable with to prevent it. If you are already battling something, do what you can to minimize the effects. That’s all you can do.
    • Eat, Sleep, Love – Eat nutritious, healthful foods, get your sleep and love and laugh often.
    • Stop Wondering – The anticipation of something is often worse than the actual exam. Get that mole checked out.  Get the colonoscopy, mammogram or pap smear you’ve been putting off.  You know when something doesn’t feel right, get it checked.  No one cares if you’re being paranoid.

In all of these areas there is one super important step you must take: Take care of yourself.  You need to take some time just for you.  Your family is depending on you, your job is depending on you and you are depending on you.  Take care of this machine that is your body and mind.  It has needs.  Meet them, maintain them so that you can provide all that you do in the other areas.

In the comments section, share a tip that could help someone else who is walking a path you’ve already traversed.

If you would like some support on designing and creating the life you desire (including a self-care plan), then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of a complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

*This post was originally published in June 2015

How Your Expectations are Shaping Your World

How are your expectations shaping your world? We have all had experiences that have taught us something. Often, these lessons began in childhood and are reinforced time and time again. Then, as we get older, we start predicting the outcomes before they even happen.  This is because our brain naturally creates connections between events. We then take these connections and apply meaning to them (often with the help of others).

Sometimes these connections are helpful, such as understanding that jumping in water without knowing its depth, can be dangerous. Other times these connections are “power of suggestion” baggage.  For example, you expect someone is going to give you a hard time about returning something and there’s a good chance they will.  Could this be because you are putting off a defensive vibe that makes them want to challenge you? If you think kids these days are rude and without manners, you’re going to find that to be true more often than not. Is that actually true, or are you conveying disdain for this generation and they are just responding in kind?

The problem with this baggage of expectations is that you don’t just hide it away in a hall closet somewhere.  You hand those expectations out like candy on Halloween. For the recipient, it’s like getting a bruised Macintosh apple instead of that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup they really wanted. The world is a blank screen waiting for us to project our expectations, beliefs, ideas, and even baggage, onto it.  If you find that you are often attracting less than kind people, dig deep to discover if you have those expectations. You may be projecting onto others, which will influence your experiences.

This reminds me of a long-told story:

A man gets off a train in a foreign country and sees an old man sitting by the entrance of a village. The traveler says to the man, “Old man, I’ve traveled far and wide. I’m weary and tired. Can you tell me if the villagers here are kind and welcoming?”  The old man replies, “Tell me first what kind of people you’ve encountered thus far.”  The traveler says, “Oh, I’ve met the lowest of the low. People who are selfish and unkind and care only about themselves without regard to travelers like me.” The old man replies, “I’m sorry to say, but those are exactly the type of people you will find here in this village.” The traveler turned and went in another direction.

Days later, another traveler gets off a train and also approaches the old man and says, “Dear sir, I’ve traveled far and wide. I’m weary and tired. Can you tell me if the villagers here are kind and welcoming?” The old man replies, “Tell me first what kind of people you’ve encountered thus far.”  The traveler says, “Oh, I’ve met the kindest most helpful and generous people who are willing to sacrifice their own needs to assist a stranger such as me.” The old man replies, “I’m happy to say, those are exactly the type of people you will find here in this village.”

See what “baggage” can do? Perspective is so much more important than many of us realize. Now ask yourself, what kind of “traveler” you are. Think of how you would describe those in your personal and professional life. If you’re expecting the bad, you will likely find it. If you’re expecting the good, well, you’ll likely find that, too. Question your assumptions and look for the people who will light you up, and don’t forget that “someone” may be the one in the mirror. When you bring joy and kindness to others, you will attract similar people to your life. While this is easy when people are at their best, it’s more challenging, and more impactful, when they are at their worst, so use your patience, grace and kindness then.

Share something uplifting. What’s a positive expectation you usually have and find to be true more often than not? Share in the comments section.

If you would like some support on designing and creating the life you desire, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of a complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

 

*This post was originally published in February 2016

10 Leadership Qualities the World Needs Right Now

Everyone is in a position to lead. While not everyone steps up to that potential, we all have it.  Some are leaders in the workforce, others in the home, still others at church, school or within clubs and organizations. Leadership is being criticized and redefined every day, but there are certain attributes of great leaders that are the foundation to any leadership style. Being a leader is a privilege and should be treated as such. Leaders can choose to use leadership only for their own advantage, but the exceptional ones use it in a way that benefits others. Below are my top 10 characteristics of great leaders (and, boy, does the world need more of these right now):

  1. Leadership is Not a Title – Leaders know that a mindset of leadership is what allows others to view them as a person of influence, not a title.
  2. Leaders of Self – Great leaders lead themselves first. They work on their individual goals with the same qualities they use to work on professional goals. They show self-control and discipline. This doesn’t mean they’re perfect, only that they are self-aware and can positively control their own behaviors.
  3. Treat Others with Respect – Leaders treat others with respect regardless of title, influence, or beliefs. They may disagree, strongly even, but they do so respectfully and professionally.
  4. Give Value – Great leaders are valuable contributors in all that they do. They do not wait for others to request it or praise it, they just lead and add value for the greater good. They are able to look at both the big picture and the details within that big picture, as well as the finer aspects that include individuals and the impact their contributions make on smaller groups.
  5. Team-Focused – Leadership is an opportunity to utilize the individual strengths of the team in such a way that everyone succeeds. Great leaders pride themselves less on being great leaders and more on being great team builders. They don’t showboat their individual accomplishments, but they do celebrate those of the team.
  6. Integrity – They have it or they don’t. There’s no half-way. Integrity is a daily decision. Mistakes may be made, but they are up front and honest about them and genuinely work to be better.
  7. Earn It – No matter what their resume says or the number of personal and professional recommendations they have, they recognize that only their behavior will earn respect.
  8. Action Takers – Listening is a valuable skill and one they use regularly, but they take action on new information and look to constantly improve themselves and their teams.
  9. They Step Out – Leaders don’t hide. They step out and show their pride and their humility. They look others in the eye during shining moments and dark ones. They are transparent and willing to be vulnerable.
  10. Opportunities & Continued Growth– They look for and appreciate opportunities to learn, grow and improve, even when they don’t like how these opportunities present themselves. They seek out perspectives in order to understand how they’re being viewed and work to improve in any area necessary. They strive for greatness, not perfection.

There you have it, my top 10 leadership characteristics. If all leaders strengthened and exhibited these qualities, we’d all be better for it. The best place to start is with ourselves.

Now I want to hear from you! Which of these 10 are you strongest in? Are their other qualities that you believe makes a great leader? Share all that and more in the comments – I want to know what YOU think.

If you would like some support on designing your life and strengthening your leadership skills, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of a complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Looking for a Sign When Making a Decision

When we have tough decisions to make – decisions with no crystal clear right choice – we often look for signs. In a recent conversation, I was asking someone which path they were going to take and their answer was they were just going to sit on the fence right now until they got a sign letting them know whether to go left or right. Of course, it would be nice if we received confirmation from the Universe that a decision is the exact right one, but that’s not usually how life works.

We have all faced decisions where we just weren’t sure we were making the right one. During this time of uncertainty, we likely “sat on the fence,” too. Trying to keep a foot in both places while awaiting the confirming sign from the Universe. But if you’re at the crossroads of a decision, the Universe has already sent you the sign. The sign is a change is necessary. THAT’s the sign. The beauty of the human experience is there are rarely two options with one being clearly right and one being clearly wrong. There are many options, with some better than others, but all of them come with pros and cons.

When faced with a difficult decision, the lesson may be found in the deciding, not in the actual decision. There have been numerous studies that show once we make a decision, we tend to believe it was the right one. Although perspective has a lot to do with this. If you are looking for reasons why it was the right reason, you’ll find them, but if you’re looking for reasons why it wasn’t, well you’ll find those, too.

You always have the resources to make a decision. Whether that’s based on your own gut instinct, life experience, or logic, the answer lies within you. When you are clear that there is an unhappiness, unsettling or some other ongoing discomfort alerting you to the need for change, that’s the Universe telling you that you’re ready for it. It’s only when you get lost in your head, and doubt your intuitive skills and abilities, that you start questioning your readiness for change. Trust that the Universe is sending you a sign – a sign that you’re ready. You’re ready to face this uncertainty. You’re ready to find the answer. You’re ready to make a change. You are being challenged to change. It may be a small change or a big change; it may be a change in your behavior or your perspective, but change is necessary.

Stop doubting your ability to make this decision. You are resilient and life is trying to provide you with another beautiful lesson. Embrace it, lean into it, and move forward.  The sign is there, it’s within you, it always has been. But you cannot truly move forward while keeping one foot firmly planted in yesterday. Commit to forward movement, even if today it’s just a baby step. Trust that you have all the tools you need to make a decision, because that’s the sign the Universe is trying to send you.

Your turn! Share in the comments section a time you trusted your inner wisdom and made a tough decision.

If you would like some support on paving your own path, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of a complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Using Personal Accountability to Improve Your Life

Have you ever caught yourself complaining about your circumstances…the unfairness of it all? I know I’m guilty. There have been many times when I have become so wrapped up in my “story” that I wasn’t able to find my way out of it. These are dangerous places to be. This is being a victim, and no one likes being a victim…unless, of course, they do. I’m guilty of that, too. When I get wrapped up in my “stories,” I am living the life of a victim. I’m powerless and not taking action that will change my circumstances. While there may be truth to some of my story, swimming in the injustice of it all will change exactly nothing. I can honestly say that when I take responsibility for my role in every circumstance, I live a much happier and healthier life.

When we place our happiness in the hands of others, we are setting ourselves up to be a victim. This happens more than we think. Each time we place expectations on others, we are placing our happiness in their hands. When we focus so heavily on what others are doing instead of how we can react to it we are placing our happiness in the hands of others. It is only when we take responsibility for our own happiness that we can truly be happy.

If you’re playing cards and you’re dealt a crappy hand, you have three choices: you can carry on about how crappy your hand is; you can quit the game; or you can suck it up and play it to the best of your ability. While you may be right about how crappy your hand is, which version do you think you’ll be happiest in? In the first version, you may start bringing more “story” to your circumstances. You’re never lucky or the dealer set you up on purpose or other unhelpful tidbits that bring you further into victim status. If you quit the game there will be new, likely unpleasant, circumstances to face. In the play what you got version, you’re taking action to change your circumstances. You’re not attaching any particular meaning to the occasion – just a crappy hand that you’re going to do your best to play. Imagine if you reacted to all life’s “crappy hands” that way.

Taking responsibility is not easy. We have been creating stories and attaching meaning to our circumstances since childhood. Having an awareness is the first step. Pay attention to when you’re creating a story or being a victim. Try to quickly transition out of those and take action by being personally accountable to your own life. The added beauty of this is that you also don’t try to carry others’ responsibilities. You recognize that we all have to take responsibility for our own lives. You can’t carry the weight for other people. They have to deal with their own personal accountability.

This week, try to pay attention to your reactions to life’s circumstances. Instead of creating a story around the aggressive driver on your commute, understand he’s got to be accountable for his actions and you’ve got to be accountable for yours. That means you just carry on and drive like you know you should. Instead of whining about a challenging initiative at work, you figure out how to use your experience and skills to make it a success. Because you’re accountable for your piece of it, so make your piece shine.

Share in the comments section a time you took personal accountability for a crappy situation and how it helped you find greater happiness.

If you would like some support on becoming more personally accountable, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of a complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

How Habits Influence Who You Are Today

We all have habits. Good ones. Bad ones. In-between ones. But we’ve got ‘em. These habits have greatly influenced the life we are now living. I think of people in my life and how their habits have impacted them. The cousin who has protected her skin from the sun for the past 30+ years, looks 15 years younger than her peers. I know someone so bitter over a divorce that happened over 20 years ago and she can’t figure out why she has such a hard time connecting with men. Then I think of my habits and see which ones I happily broke (smoking) and which ones continue to haunt me (procrastination).

Our habits make us. Whether our habits are eating sweets or having an optimistic attitude, they are impacting us today. Habits are sneaky. You don’t always see them until they’ve already made themselves at home. Like a houseguest that doesn’t leave until you make them. And that’s just it, really. You have to make the bad ones leave and invite the good ones to stay. In both cases, there’s a period of adjustment. Even though you know that mooching houseguest was no good for you, you still may miss her. She was crazy and no good, but damn, she was fun. Then there’s that good houseguest who you know is good for you, but he’s just so…boring. Like an uncle that is trying to interest you in reading more intellectual works and all you want is to watch a trashy TV show in peace.

Here’s the thing. You have to look these habits in the face and really decide if they stay or if they go. It’s not gonna get any easier. You’ve got to do the hard work. The you tomorrow is not going to want to do it any more than the you today. So stop waiting and just get to work.  Don’t you wish you could say, “thank goodness my younger self did that hard work then so I wouldn’t have to today.” Maybe you can say that about some things, but I’m willing to bet there are other habits that you’ve been carrying around for a while now.

It’s time to figure out which habits need to go. What is something you can do today to start developing that good habit and evicting that bad one? You don’t create a habit in a day, but you can start it in one. Figure out a first step and do it now. Right now. Find someone who already has this habit developed and pal around with them. They’ll be a good influence and will support you while you work on developing the habit for yourself.  Want to get better at saving money and spending less? Want to get off the couch and hit the gym? Want to start seeing the good in life instead of all the bad? Whatever habit you want to break or start, today’s the day. Write down 10 things you could do to make or break that habit and get started on just one of them today. It won’t stay difficult. It will get better and easier. Do your future self a favor and start today. Baby steps count. If you want to start living a healthier lifestyle you can start as small as committing to eating an extra serving of vegetables every day. And then do that every day until it becomes a habit. Then you can add something new to start building into a habit. Easy-peasey, right?

Now it’s time to share some wisdom. How did you make or break a habit? Share in the comments section.

If you would like to work together on developing healthier habits and living the lifestyle you desire, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Coping Mechanisms That Get In Our Way

We all have stress to varying degrees. It’s how we deal with that stress that determines if we reduce it or increase it. Sometimes stressors are external like a looming deadline, demanding boss or difficult family member. Other times, they are internal like when we worry what others think of us, try to uphold an image, or live a perfectionist lifestyle.  No matter what your stressor is, you likely have coping mechanisms that are in place to help you deal with them. And that’s good…maybe.

There are plenty of coping mechanisms to choose from. They are all intended to make us feel better, but over time, they may actually have the opposite effect. If we find a way to ease our stress, that’s not so bad, but these coping mechanisms become habits. And when that happens, instead of just being along for the ride, they start driving our decisions. I’ll use one I see A LOT: wine.  Me and many of my lady friends love us some wine. Long, stressful day at work? Wine. Argument with a spouse? Wine. Something to celebrate? Wine. Before long, this habit permeates other areas, because the triggers start to increase. At first the trigger was stress. Then, since wine usually comes out in the evening, it started showing up not just on the stressful nights, but every night. One glass turns into 3 glasses and now a habit has formed and you’re stressed more because you just don’t feel good anymore.  See how sneaky those little buggers are?

What to do? First, identify your coping mechanisms, the unhealthy ones, I mean. Alcohol seems to be a pretty obvious one, but there are plenty that are more insidious. Smoking, yelling at people, guilting others into or out of things, emotional eating, complaining, playing the victim, excessive exercise, over working, spending too much time on social media…the list goes on.

Then you need to identify your triggers. What is going on, in your life or in your mind, right before you start using that coping mechanism? Looking for a pattern will help you uncover them , too. Like the wine example I used that started off as a stress reducer and ended up being an evening habit. Sometimes there are a few layers to these triggers before you find the original one. For example, maybe when you were 16, your high school sweetheart broke up with you. You consoled yourself with a container of Chunky Monkey. The next time you hit a stressful moment (that chemistry test) your memory reminded you how good that Chunky Monkey made you feel. Now you’re 47 and guess what you turn to when stress hits (or even when it doesn’t)?  You guessed it…Chunky Monkey or whatever naughty food you’re into now. You now have the added stress of weight gain, sugar crashes, and the like.

Once you’re clear on the unhealthy coping mechanism and its trigger, you are ready to replace that bad boy with a healthy coping mechanism. These are things like going for a walk, playing with the dog, meditating, talking your feelings out with a trusted friend, getting a massage, listening to relaxing music, and whatever else you can think of that you feel would be a healthy coping mechanism to reinforce.  As with any, it’s not hard to overuse any one, so be cautious that you’re not using any coping mechanism in excess, even the ones that seem healthy at first glance.

One thing is certain and that is stress ain’t goin’ nowhere, so we have to learn to deal with it in a healthy, productive manner so that we can reduce it without causing other stress (for ourselves or others.)

Alright, that’s enough from me. It’s your turn. What’s your favorite healthy coping mechanism? Share in the comments.

If you would like to work together on developing healthier coping mechanisms and habits, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com