Thursday, November 12, 2009

Going Backwards to Move Forward?

I was just working with a client who told me she was leaving for a trip to India on December 26th, the day after Christmas. As she told me this, I was thinking, "wow, what a tough time to leave for a long trip to a far away land." She continued to tell me her reasons for going and how the trip came about. It all made sense...but I continued to wonder how she'd manage it all.

As we talked, she realized she had many thoughts and ideas whirling in her head about how she would manage it all. We often make our lists of all the things that need to happen in our heads. And, what happens? We begin to feel overwhelmed. The picture we create in our heads is of a list a mile long.

The first thing we did was to look ahead to the day she was leaving. How did she want to feel? She wanted to feel that everything was in order with work and her family so she could leave and not feel worried.

The key for my client was to work backwards from the outcome. Next step was to stop, remove the list from her head and write it down. It helps clearly map out the tasks that need to be addressed. Writing it down serves three purposes. First, it allows us to see what needs to happen. Next, it allows us to organize the list into categories, or blocks. And finally, we're able put into action, each day, small pieces to accomplish the final goal.

As she did this exercise, she laughed and said, I'm going to write on an index card the things I need to do each day. A GREAT idea. An index card does not allow for lots of writing. It's big enough for only 6-7 tasks. And six tasks is plenty to accomplish each day towards that final outcome of leaving for a trip and feeling no worries.

The other beauty of an index card? You can throw it away when you've crossed the tasks off the list.

Next time you're planning something big or working towards a goal. Take the time to work backwards, write down everything then chunk it down and use an index card to celebrate each day's accomplishments.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Learning from the World Champions: Staying Composed

I watched with awe the six games of the World Series. I was in awe of the players’ focus and composure during a long stretch of intense games. Not only did the Yankees and Phillies endure a long, hard, season, they endured six very exciting championship games. The ability of players like Alex Rodriquez, Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, and Mariano Rivera to keep their composure during these key games displays the mark of true champions.

I often witness young softball or baseball players, especially in high stakes games, get upset or angry after they miss a play, strike-out, or there is a bad call. Championship games often cause young athletes to expect perfection. The pressure, a perfectionist’s attitude, and a player’s own high expectations can cause the players to play too tense and thus cause emotional upset when things aren’t going well.

The World Series proved a great testing ground for both the Yankees and the Phillies’ composure. The stakes are high, the want for the seasons’ hard work to pay off is great, and the duration of the intense games was drawn out. However,
when looking at the player’s faces while they were at bat, the same composed face appeared with each and every at bat. As Rodriquez was quoted as saying, “The goal was to come in and simplify things this year, and I've done that. I think it's a formula that worked this year, and it will work in the future. Winning is the only goal, and I've never experienced such an amazing feeling."

In baseball and in life, composure is an important skill. One the champion athletes have learned to master and one that we can bring to our own lives.
Just as ARod points out in the game of baseball, simplify things. In life we’re often faced with our own “world series”…having to stay composed while trying to reason with a two year old, staying composed before giving a speech, staying composed while going for an important interview or staying composed in a fast paced society. Simplifying allows us to stay focused, relaxed and in the moment.

Here are five ingredients to staying composed under pressure:

1. Keep it simple. Be aware of the pressure you put on yourself. Let go of perfection. Stay focused on what you need to do in the moment to do your best.
2. Prepare for each game/situation the same way each time. Routine preparation helps build confidence and allows us to stay focused. Again, keep it simple.
3. Don’t compare yourself or your team to the opponents. Size, numbers, nicer uniforms, etc. have nothing to do with how YOU perform. Stay focused on your preparation and your game.
4. Anticipate the challenges that you might face and have a plan to prepare yourself for them. Any game or situation will have challenges. Be prepared with a plan.
5. Butterflies and pregame jitters are normal. It’s your body’s way of saying you are ready. Take time before the game to gather the energy of the butterflies and guide them to fly in formation.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Meaningful Poem

A friend recently sent me one of those forwarded emails. This quote was part of the email. It's an important philosophy that we all can adapt.

"Life is too short to wake up with regrets.
So love the people who treat you right.
Love the ones who don't just because you can.
Believe everything happens for a reason.
If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands.
If it changes your life, let it.
Kiss slowly.
Forgive quickly.
God never said life would be easy.
He just promised it would be worth it."

Friday, July 24, 2009

What is fear?

Fear comes up when we want to make changes. Why is that? What is fear?
Fear starts in your mind. Fear is a reaction to what you are thinking within your own mind. Fear is not outside of ourselves. Fear resides within us.

When you sense fear, your body must be alerted to it by your mind. So, to understand that fear begins in your mind is the first step to overcoming it.

As I have said before on this blog; our thoughts drive our actions. Therefore, fearful thoughts evoke fearful physical actions. Like tension, sweaty hands, nervous stomach, weak knees, the want to retreat. Along with these outer bodily actions our stress hormones are activated along with our fight or flight response.

Everyone has fears. I had a tremendous fear of water. What's important is not that you have fears, but how you handle them. Think of any champion athlete who competes in a tough sport like kayaking class 5 rapids in the Colorado River. Champions learn to master their fears well enough to get the job done. Champions don't let fear stand in their way!

As I mentioned earlier, I had a phobia of water. My fear was huge. How did I learn to overcome my fear? Here are 10 steps to master your fear.

1. Remember fear is in the mind. Recognize this. Awareness is the first step.
2. Fear is another way of saying, "I can't handle it." Ask yourself what you can't handle? My answer was, "I can't handle the thought that if I get tired while swimming, I'll be exhausted, noone will see me, and I'll drown." Dig into exactly what you are fearing will happen or won't happen.
3. Take small steps towards building your strength. For me it was learning to swim. I joined a swim group twice a week, in the safety of a pool, to increase the distance I could swim. Take small, safe steps. Fear can stop us dead in our tracks if we allow it to. Taking any action towards it...quiets it.
4. Get support. My fear was of open water. I got support by asking a friend who was a very strong swimmer to accompany me in a practice open water swim. He stayed right next to me while we swam in a lake together.
5. To control your fear try singing! Yes, sing to yourself. It helps to control your breathing and calms you down. It's a great distraction from your mind.
6. Stay in the NOW. Focus on what you need to do in the moment...right now. It will inch you forward towards overcoming the fear. When I swam my first open water race...I just focused on my stroke. I did not focus on the water, my thoughts, or anything other than putting my arms into the water and stroking.
7. Think positive. Review the steps you have taken and see your progress. Create positive affirmations you can repeat to yourself over and over.
8. Embrace fear. Recognize it. Without the experience of moving past fear, there is no growth. You can't be successful if your not moving forward.
9. Remember the Wizard in the "Wizard of Oz?" He said, "Pay no attention to the mad behind the curtain." Pay no attention to what you create in your mind!
10. JUST DO IT! The fear you feel is nothing compared to the growth, excitment and success you will feel in overcoming the fear. So, go for it!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Small Changes...BIG RESULTS

It is so easy to get caught up in the daily demands of a busy household. Laundry, meals, driving to and from activities, meal planning and get the idea, the list can go on and on. As a step-mother and mother of five, I felt lost in motherhood. I felt like I had lost my first name. I was always referred to as someone's mother, wife or daughter. Taking time to do something positive for myself felt selfish. I was always pushing my needs off to give to my family.

I learned the hard way, but I learned. I learned that taking time for myself, fulfilling my needs and doing things I enjoyed made me a better person and mother. One important lesson I have learned is that there is no Someday in the week. There is only Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc. If there is something important to me, I no longer put it off. Like the name of my business and my philosophy...Now's the time. Because there is no better time than now.

I say all this to encourage you to take care of yourself, to take time to do things you love. If you aren't sure what you would do...take the time to discover your passions. Taking time doesn't mean you have to "abandon ship". It can mean making small changes. Small changes like putting the things on your "someday list" on your "Today" list. This is one small change that can lead to BIG results.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Smile and Move

This short video is great. It speaks to my feeling of making every moment count, to live life to the fullest. To make NOW the time to get moving.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Limiting Beliefs

We all have them. Beliefs we hold about ourselves. Some of them are what we call, Limiting Beliefs. We label them limiting because these beliefs limit what we think or believe we can do. For example, I enjoy training for sprint triathlons. Until recently I always thought of myself as a 3-4 mile runner. I never really ran more than four miles at a time. This belief about myself limited me from seeing myself as a person who could run say 8 miles. Believing that I could not run more than 4 miles and that I was a "4 mile" runner...did not allow me to be an "8 mile" runner.

So, how do you stop a limiting belief? The first step is simply awareness. Limiting beliefs can become part of our unconscious belief system...and we simply just go with it. Becoming aware that a belief is limiting key. Bring it out into the open. With awareness comes possibilities, new understanding and new choices.

Take a look at your beliefs about yourself. What's possible if you were to break them open? What's possible if you didn't buy into it? How might you change your limiting belief into a more empowering belief?

Today, I ran 9.5 miles. I no longer see myself as a "3 miler". I've broke open that limiting belief and now imagine what's possible. Perhaps a marathon one day. (Something I never would have even thought about being that "3 miler".) What's possible for you?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

From a Worm to a Butterfly

The steps a caterpillar takes in becoming a beautiful, colorful butterfly is a great metaphor. I often speak with my clients about the comfort of their "cocoon" and how the cocoon represents our habits, routines...what we know...whether it's working or's comfortable and safe.

To EMERGE as a butterfly...leaving the warmth and safety of the cocoon, requires six steps.

1. Determination: How hungry for success or change are you? Your want or hunger will fuel your motivation to see the results or changes you want. How big is YOUR want?

2. Inspiration: Why do you want what you want? What is inspiring your to see the growth you desire? Where will you get inspiration from?

3. Vision: What is your vision for yourself? What are you trying to accomplish? How will life look different after you have emerged from that cocoon? (Flying like a butterfly instead of laying in a cocoon!)

4. Initiative: You must take action to make it happen. Ask for help, do research or just take small steps forward. Chew a little, rest, chew a little more, rest. Just start nibbling.

5. Network: Create strategic partners, create a support system - ask for assistance. Who can support you in making the changes and taking the small steps? How will you create the support?

6. Believe: Rid yourself of negative and limiting beliefs. Believe in yourself. You are no longer a worm, you are a beautiful butterfly. How will you accept this new belief? Write an affirmation for yourself and post it somewhere you see it everyday and repeat it to yourself constantly.

What's ready to EMERGE in you? What's keeping you in the comfort of the cocoon?
Imagine the possibilities living life as a to fly above the trees, take nectar and pollen from flowers...spreading your beauty throughout the land.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Top 10 Ingredients to a Successful Visualization

Anticipating an event, competition, or a stressful situation can cause people to feel anxious, uncertain or even fearful. Anticipating the start of race, giving a presentation or giving birth (flying in a plane) can all elicit anxious feelings. When we focus on our “what ifs” that can run through our minds the anxious feelings only increase. The “what ifs” also play out in our minds in not only words, but in pictures as well. Our “what ifs” are the movie we’re living. What you see is what you believe.

Many of our challenges in life, sports and in business can be handled by changing our “what ifs”. How many times have you imagined an outcome to a life event that you were certain would not be favorable? The event probably went just as you imagined, right?

Champions in life, sports and in business use visualization strategies to overcome feelings of anxiety, perform at their best and to increase their energy and enjoyment. Every visualization has 10 important ingredients.

1.Begin by relaxing.
A relaxed mind equals a relaxed body.
Quiet your body and your mind. Relax your breathing.
2.It must be real, right now, in the present moment.
3.Use all of your senses.
Actively engage what it feels, tastes, smells, sounds, and looks like to perform exactly as you would like to.
4.Use repetition and small doses.
Practice your visualization in small doses. Start out with 5 minutes. Stop. Then do it again for just 5 minutes. Try to increase your time to a maximum of 20 minutes, two to three times a day.
5.Use different perspectives.
Imagine seeing yourself perform through the lens of a camera. Try the zoom lens and the wide lens. See yourself from the front, the back, and the side. See it from your mind’s eye and as an observer.
6.Utilize your emotions
Feel your excitement, your pride, as you visualize your performance.
7.It’s time to be perfect
The best time to be a perfectionist is in your visualization. See yourself performing perfectly.
8.Use past successes to fuel and energize you.
Recall past successes. Recall the emotions, your senses to energize and build your confidence.
9.Incorporate affirmations
Utilize positive self-talk. Repeat affirmations to yourself.
10.Practice, practice, practice.
Like any skill the more you practice, the better you become.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Be a Victor, Not a Victim

It's so easy to get into the mindset of being a victim. Easy to ask yourself why this or that happened to you? To feel like the sky is falling. To get so easily caught up in your own negative dialog. Feeling like a victim.

Feeling like a victor requires a perspective change. A victor sees challenges as opportunities. Opportunities to grow, learn, and expand. victorious!

However, when life feels like you are constantly on the receiving end of the "short end of the straw," it's hard to not feel like a victim.

So how might you move from feeling like a victim to a victor?
Here's some ideas:

1. Are you grateful? Check your pulse.
Find 3 things each day that you are grateful for. It can be as simple as your own pulse. Because having a pulse means you have been blessed being here. I'm sure there are others out there that would love to have a pulse...for one more day...but they don't.

2. Go out and do something nice for someone else.
Doing for others helps plant seeds for happiness. It also gets you out of your own rut.

3. Know that being a victim is an option.
You don't have to buy into the feeling of being a victim. You have a choice. Start one small action towards overcoming your situation. One small step.

4. See the challenge as an opportunity to overcome and be victorious.
Close your eyes and visualize yourself overcoming the obstacles. See how you will feel when your are standing, arms raised in victory. See how your life will be different, feel your strength.

5. Get support.
Sometimes a little support and guidance in seeing challenges as opportunities is needed. Research, ask friends, hire a coach.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Preparing and Planning

Last night I gave a talk to a group of high school baseball players on the benefits of mentally preparing for both practice and games. Mental preparation for sports is a great parallel to life. Just as in sports it's important to prepare mentally for your day.

Mental preparation includes imagery, positive self talk, relaxation or arousal techniques. In athletics, these ingredients prepare the athlete for performance in allowing them to rehearse how they want their performance to go, stay relaxed and prepare a strategy. Having the mind rehearse the performance builds inner confidence, positive thoughts and thus a better performance.

In life use this principal to prepare for your day. Take the time each morning to lay out your day. See yourself handling a busy day with calmness, stay positive and work your plan. Visualize yourself handling the unexpected things with calmness and clarity. While you can't predict what exactly will happen in a day, you do have choices about how you react.

Your thoughts are in your control. Your thoughts direct your focus, confidence and performance. Think positively, direct your focus, plan your day, then confidently perform your best.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Random thoughts, findings, and quotes about happiness:

*Happiness is not something that comes to you
*It's something you create, now, today.
*Waiting for something to change in order to be happy is waiting to live your life.
*It's not what happens that counts-it's how you react to what happens.
*Finding happiness is like finding yourself
*You can't find happiness - you make happiness.
*Do what brings YOU the most meaning and contentment in your life
*Know what you want. Not knowing what you want can be confusing and frustrating.
*Break-out of routine; routines can be an obstacle. Breaking out will allow you to see things differently.
*Know your personal values; and live by them.
*share your happiness. Make others happy and you become happy as a result
*The cause of unhappiness is attachment.
*"Attachment is an emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing you can not be happy. Again and again we need to let go." -Anthony de Mello
*We tend to look outside ourselves for happiness. (the right car, house, job, spouse, friends)
*Seek happiness from within; not outside. Happiness is a state of mind; a state of being. Not doing or having.
*"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly may alight upon you." - Nathanial Hawthorne

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Move Toward the ROAR!!

I recently heard a story about how lions hunt that is a great metaphor for life. The story goes like this: In Africa older male lions will line themselves up so that they are standing along side Gazelles. The younger male lions will place themselves in the opposite direction. When the older male lions give a loud, "ROAR", the gazelles turn and run the other way; right towards the younger male lions who will chase them down and kill them.
The interesting thing about this story, is that if the gazelles ran toward the ROAR, they probably would be safe. The older male lions could not chase them!

In life, when we embark on making changes in our lives. Our fears and our own voices get louder trying to have us stay where we are. Our loud voices and fears cause us to run the other direction. However, when we move towards the ROAR...we quiet the voices and move in the direction we really want to move in.

Move towards the ROAR! The pay-off is much bigger than the ROAR itself.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Magic of Thinking BIG

I've been having a great time hosting DreamBoard Nights. I think it's important to have a vision for ourselves. And, I like to challenge others to THINK BIG! Create a BIG vision for yourself. The real challenge is letting go of the "how tos" and the "I can'ts" and just let your imagination fly. Create the ideal life. Afterall, anyone can think small; most people do. Most people see themselves in the same place in life, doing or not doing the same things all because of limited beliefs or conditioned thinking.

Don't think about what is possible, think about what might seem nearly impossible, that would require you to grow, move, and shift beyond who you currently are. Think about what you have always wanted to do or have in your life!

"If you can dream it, you can achieve it." - Walt Disney

Thinking big equals going big. Thinking small means staying small. We all have the choice of how we think. I believe we have one shot at this life, so why not make it great? Make your life something that you are proud of.

Thinking big...or creating a DreamBoard does not mean "pie in the sky" suddenly having all you want or doing unbelievable acts. It simply means stretching yourself to grow into a bigger picture. Believing that you are capable of being all that you are.

DreamBoards and Thinking BIG...are a way to stretch yourself, your mind and your beliefs to grow into something you already are...but are afraid of.

So, why think small when you can think big? Thinking big opens all kinds of new, endless possibilities.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Endless Possibilities

A friend sent me a card a while back. Inside she wrote that she hoped that perhaps the passage would help others find their quest in life as I have. With that hope, I share that passage with you hoping that you too find your quest!

"Today your life holds for you endless possibilities. You have built a solid foundation, and you have worked hard for it. Continue to do what is necessary to move forward one day at a time. Write down your dream and tuck it away - entrusting that all things will come at the right time. Keep sight always of what is important in life. Remember that true happiness and purpose will be found in relationships - in the workplace and at home. Live each day open to guidance, and your purpose will be revealed to you. May your future be filled with love and acceptance."

Write down your dream...tuck it away..or not...and watch for the opportunities that arise.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

72 Hours

Did you know that when you have an idea or must act on it within 72 hours, otherwise the thought or idea just remains just that...a fleeting thought or idea. If you take action within 72 hours of the thought or idea, then the thought or idea becomes an action becomes more solid and real!

I led a workshop on Friday night. One of the women said, "I'm afraid I'll wake up tomorrow morning and all the thoughts and ideas that we're discussing right now will
leave me." She knew in order to make the changes she wanted to she needed to act.

Many times we have thoughts or ideas that we don't act on. How powerful is it when we take action? When we take action we're moving forward...often proving to ourselves that whatever had held us back in the past was only our thoughts about how big, long, or boring a certain task might be. Taking action, one small step, frees you to see what's possible.

Taking the first step is often the hardest. That's why 72 hours is the key. Push yourself to take action within 72 hours and your world will open up. One of the biggest benefits of working with a coach like myself is the accountability. If you knew someone would call you within 72 hours to see how you are doing and if you have done what you said, it's a great motivator. Just knowing someone else knows what you must do is helpful.

72 hours...or all it takes to get moving. What will you do in the next
72 hours that will move you from your comfort zone to your growth zone?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year!!

It's interesting to me as I bump into people or overhear conversations about the holiday break, the New Year and the feeling of new starts. I sense a feeling of renewal, of reflection, of hope and a yearning for change. It sounds like people enjoyed a slower pace during the holiday break as well as a break from the daily routines.

I enjoyed a very relaxing time away with my family in Vermont. I too, broke away from my daily routines and pace of life. The break allowed me to really remove myself from my routines. Now, I find getting back into my usual routines a chance to see them differently, to make subtle changes, to appreciate and embrace all that surrounds me. I find myself re-evaluating my life and making new goals, letting go of old ones and feeling refreshed and renewed with a new plan for my life.

Yesterday while at my gym a woman said to me, "You must be busy this time of year!?" She was referring to all the New Year's Resolutions that people make. She then said,"I should talk to you about my resolutions." She commented on seeing a group of women out running together that morning. She laughed as she also commented on wondering how long that resolution would last.

Resolutions do serve a purpose. They do get us thinking about making positive changes. But, resolutions, for most of us don't last. Why? Because resolutions are often too big. "This year I'm going to..." Well, after 6 weeks the idea is a faded memory, or you get bored, etc, etc. Resolutions also have no plan. How will you achieve it?

Instead of resolutions, set goals. Make them realistic. Break the goals down into monthly, weekly and daily goals. The small pieces help to create your plan. As the woman in the gym said to me, "You must be busy." Yes, busy in helping people get clear about what they want in their life, helping them to set realistic goals and developing the plan to achieve them. Nothing is more satisfying to me than seeing my clients make the changes in their lives, achieve what they want and have a smile on their faces.